Yesterday this post looked a lot differently. I shared it with a very wise woman and she told me,
"It's not the act of falling on hard times that makes us relatable, it's the willingness to let people in."
Wow. That hit me hard. I'll be honest, at first, I was a little irritated. I have spent a long time pondering on what makes me unrelatable or intimidating, as I have been called. I'm a private person. It was instilled in me as a child. My Dad (step-dad) has taught us that "your private business is YOUR private business". I felt by sharing hardships I showed weakness and was asking for pity. I never considered the idea that people would feel more open to me if I were more open....
I have witnessed others who have publicly displayed their trials and tribulations and it appeared to me that people related to them because they liked to know that those people weren't perfect...I thought they liked see other's imperfections to make themselves feel better.
And NOW...........this new perspective....UGH! It has got my wheels turning. How differently I am seeing things.....That's hard for me, I am set in my ways. Stubborn some may call me (do not ask my husband!!)
I'm not a people person and I would like to get better at it. With this new perspective, I would like to share a few stories of mine, glimpses of my past, to be a more open person. I would like to be relatable. I kind-of like to think that I am a nice person: giving, kind, honest, and compassionate...but maybe I'm biased.
I am going to open up and hopefully, you can get a better picture of ME. Here is part one of my series:
My parents divorced when I was 3; my younger sister was 2 and my older 6. It was not amicable; no where near amicable. My sisters and I were caught in the crossfire a few times with some scary stories that I'm not quite ready to share. But I will share the tale of my wicked stepmother….
Wife number 2 of 4 for my father was a monster, to put it nicely. My father and step-monster would come to pick us up every other weekend. It was a 2 hour round-trip, which the step-monster never failed to complain about the entire ride to and from her house. Other than those complaints the car ride was pretty pleasant. She would smile for my father and ask how our weeks had been. Of course as little children, each and every time we would buy into her act, thinking “things would be different this time.”
By the time we reached their home it was nearly bedtime. We played with her children for a bit and then, we were off to bed with the reminder “No one makes a sound before 10 am or you will be on my Shit List” (direct quote from the step-monster). As small children between the ages of 4-8, it was really hard to stay quiet all morning waiting for the step-monster to wake up. Trust me, you did not want to be on her “Shit List”! Keeping all the kids quiet was on the shoulders of my older sister starting at the age of 8. If we were quiet until the step-monster got out of bed, between 10 - 11 am, we were rewarded with breakfast. But as soon as breakfast was cleaned up, we had to head outside...for the rest of the day. Rain or Shine. There were some exceptions, if my father was home (he worked most of the time), we could spend a little more time inside. Of course, extreme weather allowed us a day pass inside; however, that was something we never wanted!
“I'm not putting up with you brats all day.”
It wasn't all that bad; we were kids, we loved playing outside. There were 6 of us and sometimes more with neighborhood kids. We had a lot of fun, playing in the woods and having adventures. Once the darkness started to settle in we could head inside. There usually wasn't any lunch. Maybe it was because we weren't even allowed out of bed until 10 or 11 am or that we were forgotten about once we were out of sight? We had dinner, some TV, and then, bedtime.
When my younger sister was 4, she had a little toy phone that was her favorite. Everyone knew not to mess with it. Well, the step-monster decided she wanted to make a mix-tape and we all needed to be quiet. (great idea with 6 kids in the house between the ages of 2-8, right?!) She recorded her tape and all seemed well, until, she listened to it. She played one part for us over and over. A little voice could be heard “my phone”. She demanded, “Whose voice is that?”...we all knew. As punishment, my 4 year old sister was made to sit in the bedroom ALONE for the rest of day (it was early afternoon!!). I sat outside the door crying and holding her hand for the whole day. All of that over a mix-tape!!
When my older sister was about 10, she brought a library book to my father's house for the weekend. One morning, our 6 year old step-sister grabbed the book and started to rip the pages. My older sister took it from her and the step-sister screamed. The step-monster came barreling in with a belt and my older sister learned not to wake the monster. My Mom pressed charges creating a whole new shit storm. Yes, it was the right thing to do, but we still had to spend time with the step-monster every other weekend and that only made things worse.
Oh my poor Mama. I can't imagine how hard it was for her to let us go. It's not like she had a choice; we had to go. The law said so. I was just a very little girl and the finer details are blurry. I know as I got older, I could see how sad she was when we left, no matter how hard she tried to hide it. As the details are fuzzy, and I still have a poor relationship with my father, I can't remember at what age he and the monster divorced...somewhere around the age of 10, I think.
I have some really great stories and some not so good ones. I'm human after all. I'm not looking for pity and I certainly don't hang on to any of the hurt and anger. I'm stronger for it all. I know a lot of people have suffered far worse and I am not trying to take anything away from them. I'm just sharing a tiny, little piece of my life to show its imperfections, be a more open person, and find some relatability. I leave you with this:
“When you look at a person, any person, remember that everyone has gone through something that has changed them.” Be Kind, Always.
Peace, Love, Plants,
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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