Friday, August 20, 2010

A Cup of Tea

One evening recently I wrote the words, "I choose you!" at the top of my journal. Earlier that day I'd been writing about a difficult experience during an otherwise great visit with my two sisters this summer. A question came from a tender place.

"Would my sister choose me?"

Some history is needed to put this in context. Sometimes I struggle to believe and to trust my sisters' love for me. Most of the time I know it, but invariably when all three of us get together an old familiar pattern gets triggered and I lose hold. Old feelings of being on the outside and never in the "inner circle" drift in and stay.

As I let the question linger for awhile, a memory came back when I was a little girl. One of my sisters had a secret club with a close friend of hers. They had a special box, a special language, and even a special password. Their creativity was quite impressive and they had a blast playing together. One day I asked if I could be in the club. Sadly, the answer back was "No". I'm sure my little heart was completely broken. As an adult I understand the dynamic and impulse between siblings, but that little girl in me still hurt very much.

A bit later that day while pondering this memory, I saw a picture of myself as a little girl and with no one to share her tea. I hurt for her broken heart and for the seeds of rejection that often get planted at a young vulnerable age. I felt much compassion for her. I imagined going up to her and saying, "Hello there. What'cha doing?" She looked up shyly and I asked if I could share a cup of tea. She smiled and immediately poured the invisible tea into our tea cups.

"This is a very pretty tea set." She smiled again and showed me the beautiful flowers on the cups and saucers. I find her completely delightful as I sit in the tiny chair holding the tiny cup from the tiny tea set. "This tea is fabulous. May I have more?" and she asks, "Would you like some cookies, too?" We talk a bit and I ask more questions and then she begins to chat on and on as little kids do carrying on a one-way conversation that I don't completely follow. It was delightful. She was delightful.

In the course of working through our difficulty, my sisters asked me something that in some ways startled me. They asked me to trust that they love me. Years ago a dear friend told me something I've never forgotten. We were walking through a rough patch and I wanted to pull back and retreat into a protective shell. At some point she said, "I trust the God in you". Her words conveyed to me that she trusted the God I knew and she trusted His working in my life. It meant so much to me that she was not going to leave our friendship.

Parts of me wanted to pull away and question my sisters' commitment and love. My pattern is to choose this path, but for some reason I didn't take it this time. I rehearsed over and over again during the sleepless night that my sisters both love me and are committed to me. I could see each of their faces saying these words and I clung to this during the struggle.

Maybe I won a battle that night as I chose to resist the temptation to disbelieve their commitment. Perhaps maybe in this sleepless night I believed I too am worth choosing.


Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.
Hebrews 13:5

UPDATE: Yesterday, I shared my blog post with a dear friend and she later posted the tea set photo on her Facebook with the words, "Tea anyone? Lisa?". Brought joy to my heart, so I had to attach to the blog post. She took this photo at a tea party with her granddaughter who supplied the bunny crackers and gummy bunnies.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tornado Dream

Lately, I've been thinking about a poignant dream I had back in the spring of 1997. I still remember it quite clearly and it comes back to memory frequently. Not all my dreams are significant, but this one seemed different. At the time I'd just started journaling again and I recorded the dream in my new journal. It is the 2nd entry, the first written several days earlier while on a plane for a week long business trip with two colleagues. It was on my mind when I wrote my last post and also on my mind recently when I saw the word "surround" in Psalm 17.

My God...hide me in the shadow of your wings...from my mortal enemies who surround me. (Ps. 17:8-9)

The dream was about a fierce tornado that swirled angrily overhead in an attempt to consume a building where I took cover. When it failed, it then shriveled into a "drunk man". I've always called it the tornado man. Here is how I described it that day in my journal.
I was with hundreds of people and a tornado was coming. We had plenty of warning. P.C. [My manager at the time of the dream] was in charge and delivered the message to take cover under the cover of this big building. In my thoughts I said, "this is crazy because the worst place to be in a tornado is in a big open room". But somehow I was told that the building would stay strong and would not collapse, bend or break with this tornado.

I watched as the tornado approached the building. [At this point I was watching the tornado from outside the building much like a changed viewpoint in a movie.] It came close, then backed away. Then suddenly it enveloped the building trying to suck us all out. I kept hearing the words to stay put. We would be okay as long as we stayed under the cover. Just then several people fled from the building. As soon as they left they were totally thrown about.

Then the tornado turned into a man and started walking on the ground with a knife as if to kill someone. The tornado man looked drunk. Someone tackled him from behind, brought him down and was going to kill him with a gun. But the tornado man turned and spoke the words "it is not for you to kill me" and then looked directly at me indicating that I must slay him. Indicating that next time it was important for me to do this.
As I reflected on this dream the other day, I wrote these words in my journal, "Tornados are unpredictable. They are fierce and yet majestically scary. Seeing the size of this F4 in pictures this morning scared me [especially this one]. They are not to be taken all. Tornados are a destructive force. They swirl. They churn. They consume. They burst apart. They destroy."

Thinking about my dream took me back to some painful memories during my senior year in high school. The big building in my dream was actually the band room at my high school. Much like I did with the "Pretty Blue Dress" in the Talbot's window, I'm going to see where this connection takes me. We shall see. Perhaps I'll get to recover a precious story. :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Finding My Stories

In my attempts to "Reach Out" more in 2010, I want to share some of my stories. Maybe it's actually getting back my stories. Last week at lunch with my Wednesday lunch friend, I shared about an "untangling" that's happening in my life. A painful, but good untangling.

This is an old, old pain and one with lots of layers and a long cyclical history. Some of the tentacles are from being a "causality of war" in a family confronting its own issues and the resulting family dysfunctions and coping mechanisms that inevitably result.

As we talked something in what I shared evoked a memory in my friend of an NPR story from several years ago. Out of pure giving, a man sat on the Washington DC mall with his typewriter and listened to people's stories. He then typed up a short paragraph on what he heard, in essense giving back their story. Tears welled up in her eyes. I asked why. Her answer was, "I would be so honored to give people back their stories."

I don't know exactly what this means, but it touched a broken place in my heart. Perhaps because in some ways I feel like my family after at least 35 or 40 years of sobriety have never dealt openly with the wreckage of addiction and codependency. In the hidden turmoil, I think I lost my stories or lost those things most precious to me. Maybe this "reaching out" is a way for me to reclaim what's most meaningful to me.

Recently my city was hit by several damaging tornados. Dear friends of our neighbor lost their house. They've returned to the property several times recovering what they can and hoping to find their most precious things. (We recently heard they found a very dear 1929 banjo; a treasured possession of the wife who is an artist and musician.). We all know it's a long painful process for this family. They are grateful to be alive and now they face the destruction; sifting, sorting, remembering ... keeping, tossing ... weeping, expressing gratitude.

They can't just walk away from their house and possessions and yet it feels like my family "walked" away from the wreckage once sobriety came. Few acknowledgements of the dysfunctions that contributed to the addiction or that grew from coping with the confusion.

At lunch my friend also shared a story from the Big Book that so aptly applies. Here is the full text:
The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil. We feel a man [*or a family member] is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough. He is like the farmer who came up out of his cyclone cellar to find his home ruined. To his wife, he remarked, "Don't see anything the matter here, Ma. Ain't it grand the wind stopped blowin'?" (pg. 52)

[* comment added by my friend.)
So I take courage from those facing the turmoil and loss from the tornados and I begin sifting through my stories. I hope to find those most precious to me even if they might show water damage, broken glass, or only a partial picture.

I am believing there is beauty even in these.

NOTE: Tornado photo courtesy KOCO.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pretty Blue Dress

There is a pretty blue dress in the Talbots window that I've been seeing these past few weeks on our way to Starbucks. It keeps catching my eye, but I didn't realize until today that it evokes sadness. I decided to find out the message in the little blue dress and here's what came to me.

It reminds me of a similarly hued hand-me down from my sister. I loved this dress especially because it was, what one of my nieces' calls, a "twirly dress". I also loved how the dress looked on my sister. It complimented her sweet personality and she looked beautiful and happy.

I'm the youngest of three girls and envied everything about my middle sister. Through these last several years I've come to terms with the reasons and worked through most of it (I hope). I've come to appreciate our differences and very much cherish our friendship and growing trust.

This is a little bit strange, but I think what hit me deeply about the Talbots' dress is this: this is a dress I think I'm supposed to want to wear, but it wouldn't look good on me. For one thing, powder blue not a good color on me, but more than that the style doesn't fit my personality.

I think I tried to live in this view of myself for a long, long time. But this isn't me. I'm not sure what dress is me, but today I'm realizing I don't have to choose, nor wear this pretty blue dress.

I may just go out to the Talbots web site and find a pretty dress that screams "that's me!"

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Resetting Expectations

I've been thinking a lot about level setting expectations these last few months. I'm currently working with a team to develop a new software product. As it turns out it is a fairly visible project within our organization. I hate this. I much prefer to work under the radar. Since it's more visible it needs more "care and feeding" so to speak. We have a standard process for managing projects which includes something called Risk Management. The idea is to spend time up front identifying risks, defining a mitigation plan either to eliminate the risk or a plan to reduce its impact should the risk manifest. The idea is to think through potential issues first before they blow-up and impact the cost, schedule or scope. Important, but not easy.

Earlier this year I hit a wall (not literally) of frustration. Normally, the project manager is responsible for identifying and managing the project risks. Although on past projects, I've been the project manager but on this project I have a different role. Unfortunately, the project manager hasn't focused on this. We've stumbled our way to completing the first phase and will release the product on Monday, but it hasn't been easy and it hasn't been pretty.

During my fit of frustration my husband gave me a new metaphor to approach this project. My expectations were that we deliver the product successfully, but also by following all the processes. The problem is we have too much to do in the time alloted. He helped me to see that maybe this is more like a first-run marathon. That we finish is the success, not that we finish first. Not an easy thing for a recovering workaholic and perfectionist.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

One, two, Three...the answer is Three.

A funny memory came back to me today. My co-worker has a candy dish on his desk full of Hershey kisses, starbursts, jolly ranchers, and tootsie roll pops. I haven't seen a Tootsie Roll pop in ages. My defenses were down (stress up) and I grabbed one of the suckers. I instantly remembered when I was about 9. My middle sister (11 at the time) decided she would answer the question posed at the end of the famous commercial. She licked and licked and licked and licked...each time keeping track on a pad of paper.

Me on the other hand. One, two, three...crunch.

P.S. Guess what my sister does for a living. She's an accountant. Me...not an accountant. :)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Front Windows and my 2010 Word

I love sitting on my couch looking out the front window. As the seasons change so does my view. Today this is what Abbie (my dog) and I see. We've experienced a wintry mix during this storm, so the tree limbs and branches are encased in .5 of ice and 6 inches of snow cover everything. Our power lines are still intact but drooping heavily.

It's been awhile since I last blogged. I miss it. I miss not finishing our home improvement chronology ( turned out beautifully) and documenting my "Unravelling" journey through photography.

Several weeks ago I read a post from the creator of the Unravelling course about picking a word for the year. I pondered the idea for several days and wondered if I'd like to try.

While driving back from the grocery store (or maybe Starbucks) two words came to mind: REACH OUT.

I like them. I am intrigued. I'm intimidated and scared...but I'm interested and willing. I'm not exactly sure what this will mean to me or for me, but I know it has to do with being braver in connecting. In know it means blogging more, especially about topics busting within me.

So, we shall see what a year of reaching out looks like for Small Glimpses.