Apparently, it’s not the act of practicing gratitude that I had an issue with when PollyAnna assigned it, it was the fact that I was being told what to do. And apparently, I have a problem with that….. who knew?
This morning I pulled out the old gratitude journal and added a couple of entries of things I was grateful for yesterday- my daughter having an amazing day at school, her being awarded quiet seat in her after school club (anyone who knows my little girl knows that’s as rare as a unicorn for her to be quiet), my son having a good time at his first lacrosse practice, and his being nominated into Upward Bound.
And if I am honest with myself, finding things to be grateful for is a tough one. But the other night as I was brainlessly scrolling through my facebook feed I came upon this that Lysa TerKeurst had posted:
Bad attitudes breed bad attitudes.
Grumpy Hearts breed more grumpy hearts.
Ungratefulness breeds ungratefulness.
On the flip side, praising God breeds more
Reasons to praise God.
Thankfulness breeds more thankfulness.
And a person who practices both praising and thanking
Has a rare joy that very few people possess.
Today, let’s choose to be people who give praises
To our God so we can become people overflowing
With joy from our God.
Ouch! It’s true, I can rarely see things to be grateful for unless they are “huge” in my world like the things above were. So I am working hard to be more mindful of the things I need to be grateful for, the little things that are a blessing.
And at the other end of the spectrum is my dad. He calls me just about every day (and sometimes multiple times in a day). I almost always pick up. Occasionally I am having a bad day so I don’t answer, but in the past week I have talked to him 1 time on Tuesday, he called 2x on Thursday but I only was able to answer 1 time, I talked to him 1 time on Friday and he called on Sunday. I just didn’t have it in me to talk so I ignored the call. he called yesterday while I was teaching my co op class (only one more YAY!!!) and he left me a rude email about the fact that I must be mad at him because he has called me 3 times over the last couple days and I don’t get back to him blah blah blah. So I get that pit in my stomach- the same one I used to get when I was a kid and knew I was going to be in trouble, and punched in the numbers. Now let me explain- he lives in a nursing home, he refuses to pay to have a line put in his room. So I have to go through 2 menus, get the nurses station, ask for him, they have to transfer me to a portable phone and bring the phone to him.
So- I go through all that, and when he gets on the line he proceeds to berate me for not talking to him in a long time, that he gets my voicemail too much, that I never call him. I explain to him that it’s not an easy process to get through to him, I can’t just dial and he pick up the phone, (what I don’t explain is that I HATE talking on the phone with all of my being). I remind him that I talk to him almost every day, and that my brother and sister don’t talk to him nearly that much. He then moves on to being ranting and raving about how one of the nurses there looks like his step father, and does his bandage on his hand too tight, and how everyone is sick so they have locked down the floor, and how angry he is that he has to get up at 3:30 in the morning in order to be ready every day (he only has dialysis 3x a week so technically he could get up that early 3x a week and sleep in the other 4), and honestly if he weren’t so vain he wouldn’t have to get up that early. He HAS to shave, he refuses to use an electric razor and won’t let anyone do it for him… well he is right handed, he lost his right ring finger, and has necrotic tissue and may end up losing his hand as well… so he has to do everything left handed, and he was yelling at me about it. I wanted to ask him how all the Pepsi and devil dogs tasted now, but I held my tongue- and let him make me feel small like I always do. He then tells me that I am volatile- what does that mean? I asked him, he said he feels like I could have a nervous breakdown at any moment (now let’s stop here- if he feels this way WHY on God’s green earth would he provoke me, and treat me like that – oh yeah he’s a narcissist). I told him I had a nervous breakdown two years ago, this is the aftermath. After that he decided he didn’t want to talk anymore and hung up.
Why? Why can’t I just cut him out of my life? Why do I care that he’s mad at me? Why do I listen to his condemning words and believe them? He is alone because he drove everyone away. We all left him at some point- me when I was 17 I left home and lived with friends of my husbands (literally strangers to me I met them for the first time the night I moved in), my mom, my sister keeps him at arms length, his long strong of girl friends after my mom and he split up, his last girlfriend/fiance of 11+ years. He’s alone because he’s a miserable, mean human being. And so maybe I keep answering the phone because he’s my dad, the only biological father I will ever have. Maybe it’s because I know he’s lonely. Maybe I still have this need to please him deep in my bones. But why do I let his words hiss in my ear, reverberate in my brain for days. “you’re not good enough”, “you’re doing things wrong”, “you don’t love me”…. on and on. His words are echoed by satan day after day after day… I’m all wrong. I’m not good enough, I will never enough……
I think a big part of that is the reason I struggle with understanding the love of a Heavenly Father. I get Jesus. I understand His love. But from a very young age from my father I received ridicule, condemnation, hurt….the scars are there- honestly they aren’t even scars they are gaping open sores, that he aggravates every time we talk. It’s something my counselor and I are going to explore- how to have a relationship with him, whether I want to, the pros and cons etc. (PS new counselor still doesn’t have a name).
I have been trying to be more mindful of that nagging gremlin voice in my head that convinces me that all the bad thoughts are true- but as much as I notice the gremlin, I am still listening to him.
Another thing that my counselor and I talked about today is the fact that I can’t understand emotions. I get the extremes- happy/joyful and angry/irritable/sad/anxious. But everything in between I don’t get it. We were talking about her wanting me to track my moods. I told her I have been, since the first of the year, but that I am struggling right now, because I don’t really know WHAT I feel. The best I can explain is blah. She said that’s depression. I guess you don’t have to be angry/irritable or crying to be depressed. I told her for me it’s like a skein of yarn that you are trying to unravel because it’s all tangled. I have one end untangled in a small ball and that’s happy/joyful and the other end has some untangled and rolled in to a ball and that’s angry/sad/anxious and the two are connected with this huge mess of string between them that’s everything else, and that being in the middle is confusing and uncomfortable for me. That I would rather stay where it’s ordered, comfortable (because of familiarity not because it’s comfortable) even if that means I am sad and angry. This blah business is hard.
Well I guess that’s all for this time. At least I had something good to say. Something positive to share. And I think that this new counselor and I are going to get along good- she doesn’t touch door knobs either 😉
Until next time…