1halffull's Blog

Feel it first; be strong later….
July 28, 2015, 5:03 pm
Filed under: Change, Emotions, Strength | Tags: ,

Today is one of those days that marks endings and beginnings.  Not for me, but for my daughter-in-law.  It’s her last day at work in a place, for the most part, she has loved.  It was both a difficult decision and yet a seemingly easy one, all things considered.  She took her time with it and ultimately came to one conclusion – it was time to make the change, to move to the next level – and so she is.  But even though the decision is made, that doesn’t mean there isn’t sadness over leaving what has been good.

This morning, I wished her a happy but sad last day at work.  She responded that she was having a sad morning but trying to remember all the exciting stuff on the horizon.  My response?  Let today be today.  Let yourself feel it.  It’s better if you do and that’s okay.

BAM!  Like a gunshot in my own soul, that comment went off because, while I totally believe what I told her, I’ve rarely afforded myself the same opportunity to ‘let yourself feel it’.

It started when I was just a child.  My home life went pretty much awry and I started having to be someone else, someone much older than my childhood would wish for.  Always doing the right thing, always taking care of everyone else, squelching every feeling, always holding back, never letting it out, taking care of everyone but myself with no one to take care of me.  It was very frustrating.  I held in a lot of feelings, actually most of them, except the smile plastered on my face so no one would know.  I learned to pretend pretty well.

As I got older, that didn’t change.  When my mom died, my grandmother, who lived with us and was part of the ugly party, squeezed the back of my neck and told me I had to be strong for my dad’s sake.  (I still have a weak spot in that part of my neck where everything I’m holding in still goes – ouch!) So I pretty much had to hold it all in and smile while I was melting inside.  It was a terrible time.  After the funeral, I ran to my neighbor’s house – someone who was a grandma herself – to hide out because the sound of everyone laughing and talking like nothing had just happened hurt so much.  I just couldn’t stay there and be strong any longer.

When my dad died, a month after our son was born, inside, I was struck down, laid low, immovable.  But outside, I had to be strong steelfor everyone else, get them through.  I went to the funeral home the afternoon of the family viewing long before anyone else and asked to see my dad.  The director, who was a friend of our family – and most of the local families – didn’t think this was a good idea.  I remember telling him I had to do it so I’d be able to help the rest of them through it.  He let me in.

Later, when we all went back, dad’s mother (another grandmother) from whom he’d been estranged, came in wailing.  It was horrible, especially in light of previous behavior.  I was so furious with her; yet I held it in along with my own anguish.  Next morning I warned her that should she do that during the service I would personally come drag her out of the service because no one needed to hear her fake wailing.  If I had to be strong then she could not be ridiculously emotional.

Calling hours were limited to an hour before the service.  Dad was laid out in the receiving area.  There I stood for an hour, looking at his lifeless form, hearing the comments of the guests as we greeted them, holding in for all of dear life so I could ‘be strong’.  When it was time to close the casket, all I wanted to do was throw myself across him and scream for all that was now lost – never seeing my son, never playing with my daughter again, never teaching them how to fish, no more chasing them around the living room, oh just so much lost in one moment of time!  It was unbearable and yet I was expected to bear it and be strong.  It made the coming months very difficult and I did have to see a counselor for a while.  But old habits die very hard.

Since then, I’ve spent a lot of my life ‘being strong’ when all I felt was weaker than ever before.  The ingrained attitude of strength is okay to a point, but, my belief is that when forced upon you to the limit of never being able to express your weakness, it is extremely detrimental.  It’s important to feel what you feel and to let it out appropriately; turning it inward just makes you sick.

So, people, my advice to you is this:  whatever you’re feeling, embrace it, examine it, see if there’s anything to be done about it.  If so, do it; if not, let it go.  Then be strong for others by helping them learn to do the same thing.   LLHHKK


After the Charleston murders, another thought….
July 14, 2015, 1:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Just three weeks ago, a young man walked into a church and sat down during a Bible study.  He interacted with the assembled group who received him, spoke to him, tried to make him feel welcome.  He was white and they were black.

How they responded to him wasn’t enough to change his mind about what he’d really come there to do.

He stood up, pulled a gun and without regard, shot nine of them dead.  When he was done, he told one lady that he was going to let her live so that she would tell the story of what had happened.

That statement made it clear that what he’d done had not much to do with them and everything to do with him.

pd_dylann_roof As I looked into the face of that young man in the ‘mug’ shot, I saw nothing; his eyes seemed soul-less, his face had, what they call in the psych world, ‘flat affect’.  Looking out from the photo, he appeared to me to be hollow.  I couldn’t help wonder what had happened to him in his short, 21 years that could empty him of his humanity?

In other cities recently, the death of innocent African Americans has been followed by riots.  Not so in Charleston where people of all races came together to mourn and love and care for one another. This purely race-driven crime, instead of driving a wedge between them, brought all sides together.  They came together in love and resolve to see that it would not happen again.

This act also caused dialog about the Confederate flag flying over their capitol building, a sign of racism and belligerence that had been going on since Lincoln freed the slaves back in 1865 when the South lost the Civil War.  I admit, I’d never thought of the Confederate flag in that way.  What did I know?  I’m a northerner.  To me, that flag was about The Dukes of Hazard.  But as I think about that show, they were also renegades after a fashion, so it was instinctive for them to carry that flag of rebelry.

Another good thing came of those nine deaths:  because of what happened, now the Confederate flag that hung over the state house has been removed and relegated to a vault in a local museum.  Of course, that can only change things to the degree that the hearts of the citizenry is changed as well.

As I thought about Charleston and what happened there, I couldn’t help think about the numerous, seemingly unnecessary, killings of other African Americans recently – Missouri, Cleveland, Chicago.  What is going on?

I could take the easy way out and say, oh, it’s always been this way.  We’re just more aware because of the media’s penchant for hyping these crimes.  I could do that but I won’t because at the same time, I couldn’t get the following idea out of my head.

When then presidential candidate, Barack Obama, made claims of how he would bring on change for the better for every president-obamaAmerican, the people really wanted to believe him.  They hung on his every word and came to believe that here was a guy who could do what he said, so they elected him, believing that he would make a change.

After Mr. Obama was elected what changed?  We plunged into a huge recession with hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost; people lost their homes in greater numbers than ever before.

Over all, we, as individuals of a stricken middle class, have experienced change all right – negative change.  We’re constantly worried, frustrated, angry.   Pensions are gone; we work two or three part-time jobs just to keep life together; there are no extras.

The guy who told us there would be change, forgot to mention it would be ugly change.  Instead of being seen as someone who changed us for the better, under Mr. Obama’s watch, things have gone further downhill.

That being said, here’s the idea I couldn’t let go of:  Are people taking out their frustration and anger on innocent people of color over Mr. Obama’s negative changes ?  Could that be what’s really behind all these killings?

The Writer’s Crisis
July 3, 2015, 11:27 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

So, I said I was back but then I didn’t post anything.  What’s up with that?

Here’s what’s up with that:  I’ve had a writer’s block for over two years – or has it been three?  Even though I wrote again for the local newspaper, when it came to my blog, I had nothing to say.  Or rather, I had things to say, but didn’t think I could, or should, say them here.  Too personal and better left to my on again, off again journal – yes, even with that I’m selective about what goes on the page.

Then there’s this other ‘thing’.  I can best express it (and of course I’ll feel compelled to explain it) this way:  Lily Tomlin, who has been one of my favorite comedians since the first time I heard her say “One ringy-dingy….” also said this:  “Sometimes I worry about being a success in a mediocre world.”

I feel her pain.

Years ago, when Erma Bombeck (look her up) was still alive and writing a daily newspaper column along with her many books, you really had to be almost a stellar, one-of-a-kind writer to be invited for an interview on shows like TODAY or CBS This Morning.  Not that those interviews were the pinnacle of a writer’s career, but that accolade was pretty darn special and didn’t hurt your book sales one bit!  Now it appears that anyone can get a gig on these shows.  In fact, it’s nothing to see several writers pop up on any given day.

One such writer is touted as one of the best this generation has to offer.  Someone gave me a copy of one of her books which I dutifully read.  It was so below the ranking of mediocre that I tossed it in the trash rather than subject anyone else to its contents.

I asked my son, because he is a writer and understands these things, how these people make it to the TV set?  I have to say I was horrified, yet not at all surprised, by his answer which was this:  If you write a book, and you have a blog with a lot of followers – think over 80,000 give or take a few – versus some mom in the sticks who’s written the greatest thing since The Kinsey Report, the chic with the blog will win.  TV people see her as someone who can potentially bring them 80,000+ viewers to add to their ratings and for them, that’s all that’s important.  Not the person.  Not the writing.  Just the ratings.

Why am I so surprised by this?  Actually I’m not.  Instead, I’m insulted for all of us that they choose ratings over excellence, which more often than not, enhances the culture of mediocrity.

So I question:  Do I want to be a success in a mediocre world?  No, I don’t.  However, like Erma Bombeck before me, I do think I have something to say that people can relate to.  And for that reason, I will continue to write.  It may not often be stellar, but it may make someone laugh, or cry, or realize that they are not alone on their journey.  And for me, those responses make it worth the effort.