old (2010), Uncategorized

going placidly among the noise

I received a comment in response to my previous post, which I won’t publish — not because it’s rude and negative (which it is) but because it’s anonymous. It’s easy to be critical of others when we don’t have to face the consequences of our words and actions. That being said… the comment asked why I don’t tell people that my older son lives with a man who isn’t his biological father and “doesn’t want to have anything to do with” me.

There are plenty of reasons I don’t talk about specifics of my relationship with my children. First, I don’t think it’s appropriate for a public venue; the details are just as much theirs as they are mine, and it’s not my place to share things publicly that would embarrass them. It’s difficult enough being a child in the world without having to deal with the often cut-throat world of the blogosphere.

Second, it was never the purpose of this blog to talk about my children. I started it after Jack died, to try to come to terms with the grieving process, and along the way some other things were thrown into the mix. That’s life.

Third, I don’t know any respectable writer who airs his or her dirty laundry for the world to see. I’m not a public celebrity, I’m not a politician, and I’m no one important. Whether or not my children live with me — and why they do or do not — isn’t really anyone’s business except the people involved. The fact is that we all have complicated personal relationships, and sometimes they are less than ideal. And many times, the reasons why they are less than ideal are largely out of our control.

That being said, I want to address what Anonymous said. The implication, as I understand it, is that I’m less of a person or should be less satisfied with my life because my children — especially W — don’t live with me. (Though I do see him at least once a week and we talk often… contrary to the opinion expressed.)

No, my children do not live with me. Why that’s the case is complicated and no one’s business except ours. But I do take issue with anyone who wants to use it as an indication of my being a “bad” person or “lying” or a “bad mother” or whatever else Anonymous’ intention was.

Yes, my life in many ways isn’t perfect. In fact, in some ways my life is quite odd and non-traditional. But how that’s supposed to impact my happiness or make my life “bad” instead of “good” is beyond me. I truly do try to live by the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.

There are a thousand (or more) things I can’t change about relationships with everyone, including my children and including W. I have made a lot of mistakes, some of them a long time ago and some of them as recently as yesterday. I’d like to know the person for whom that statement would be false. But I do pray to have the courage to do the “next right thing” on a daily basis — and sometimes I actually succeed! I do, though, have character flaws and fears and problems and  just like any other person.

I feel no need to either apologize for who I am, nor should I have to make a public profession of all of my wrongs and failings just to be able to say I have accepted my life as it is today and that such acceptance brings me joy.

I also read Desiderata on a daily basis, focusing especially on the last stanza:

And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. 
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, 
it is still a beautiful world. 
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. 

I don’t know anyone whose life or behavior is perfect, nor do I know anyone whose pasts are not littered with mistakes and regrets. There are things I have done that some people will never forgive or forget, no matter how many times I apologize — but I can’t control that. There are also mistakes I’ve made that I’ve attempted to set right through amends — and it’s been a small miracle for me every time someone accepts my apology.

So, then… I’d like to get back to being okay with my life as is. Maybe people outside the recovery community think that means that I don’t think I need to grow, improve, do better, or make progress. That’s not true — I know I can and should do all of those things. What I can’t and won’t do is wallow in how much I have yet to accomplish instead of taking solace in how far I’ve come since getting sober. I prefer to focus on the things I can change rather than beating myself up for things I can’t control. I suggest everyone else — Anonymous and otherwise — do the same. Though, of course, I can’t make you. Namaste.

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