“Do you wanna be stupid? If I took you to school you wouldn’t last a day.”
My mother’s words still pinch my psyche everyday; I’m not sure a day goes by where I don’t think of those words, but they make a heck of a punch line on stage. Recently I read last year’s entries from my personal journal. I was baffled by my own words. I found a common occurrence in my entries that made me laugh and feel angry at the same time.
I’ve been complaining about the same things for over a year.
Yuck! How could I not notice such repetitive whining in my own writing? It’s easy to speak, harder to write, but both easy to brutally screw-up.
My mom and I have struggled with our relationship for a long time, mostly because we both said things to each other throughout our lives that we regret.
“Enjoy your control over me while you have it...because a time will soon be here when you will have zero control, and you’ll never see me again.”
How do you respond when your teenage son says and feels that way towards you? I can’t speak for my mom, but I’m sure it didn’t make it easy for her to want to even be MY mom.
After graduating High School, I was broke as most of us are. Eventually, I got a car and job and would often sleep at work. The more time I spent around my family, the more fights and arguments would occur. Many of our arguments were about my father’s favoritism for my much older brother. It’s pointless to starting whining and naming one by one examples of it, but two amusing instances stick out in my mind.
One time my father called me a thief (yes, he said “thief”) for borrowing a pair of my brother’s jeans that I didn’t even realize were his (they were identical to a pair of my own). My dad said that I needed professional help for deliberately trying to steal my brother’s jeans (our whole family needed professional help but not because one of us was a “jean thief”).
The other occurrence happened later in life, when I was often sleeping at work. I came home late one night after work about 2 a.m. after everyone was asleep.
I tell you I will never forget what I saw when I walked into my room…
My brother, sleeping in his bed, with all his belongings in my room. I then checked my brothers room and found my bed neatly made, all my things placed neatly around...my desk...my dresser. In fact I had never seen my things more well organized.
Then guess what happened.
Rod Serling stepped into my brothers room smoking a cigarette and said…”What do you think Chris...has your brother stolen your room...or have you stepped into...The Twilight Zone.”
The next day I confronted my family about what had happened. Perhaps in your family this kind of behavior is acceptable, but if the roles had been reversed and I had stolen my brothers room...me…the “Jean Thief”, I would have been kicked out of the house (no exaggeration here).
During the fight of fights between me and my parents, my brother remained outside the kitchen, listening, never entering as he usually liked to stir a pot without tasting the soup. My dad and I screamed at each other. I told him he’s never been there for me; only to hear him shoot me down, constantly driving some kind of weird competition between us. He denied his favoritism, telling me “You don’t see things how they really are.” I replied, “I can clearly see in my own room which is now no longer my room, exactly how things are.”
“No, you don’t see things the as they are.”
“Yes, I do see them exactly as they are.”
“No, you don’t!”
“Yes, I do!”
This time I stood up and got in my dad’s face and said it loudly. My dad being small looked scared which surprised me, I’d never win a fight against anyone except my seventy-four year old dad (the irony is if any of you have seen him lately I hope I look half as good at 70 as him, because my dad ages like Bilbo Baggins).
I look back at this comical scene and now most days I laugh.
All of it is kinda funny when you think about what we were arguing about. It would look hilarious in a movie and that makes me laugh the most. The point is, it may take time (lots of time, maybe years) to fully heal when your mom says hurtful things that still affect you as an adult or when a dad shows a little favoritism to the older brother or whatever it is in your life that holds you back.
My mom once said to me that I was so terrible that if she took me on “Dr. Phil” or “Maury” She said, “Maury would tell me that I’m right!” Then I said, “No, Maury, would tell you that ‘I AM NOT THE FATHER’!”
Sometimes there seems to be no funny side. I promise you, every family has their battles. Some things are inexcusable, but for most of us we can move on and decide not to hold a grudge. It’s such a waste of your life to hold onto things that are no longer part of your life. Remember, we are “present beings” we cannot live in any other time but the present.
Tell the truth to yourself.
Let’s really be honest now. None of us are angels. My parents made a lot of mistakes, but God gave me the same gift of choices that He gave my parents.
I have made and do make so many poor decisions. When I left Valley Forge Christian College, I was so depressed I used anything to try numb the pain. Sometimes I’d abuse medication. There was even a few months all I did was bathe my liver in alcohol. I’m lucky God stopped the dominos from falling in that direction or I may not be writing or doing anything at all. I couldn’t believe the level I had debased myself to. I wasn’t just embarrassing myself...I was embarrassing everyone around me, (mostly myself because I didn’t have a lot of people around me to embarrass).
That’s been a major problem my whole life. I never surrounded myself with people that care who I could trust to call-up in in the middle of the night and say,
“I’m panicking...I need prayer...can we meet or just talk me off the ledge.”
It’s hard to take those kinds of giant steps because it means we’re vulnerable and forced to ask for help, which is the last thing I ever want to do because…
Now that person knows I need HELP!
And realistically we all do. Reach out to people who’ve been around the block not a hundred times, but a thousand. No one but God will ever fully understand your feelings, but if you want to stop the monotonous feelings, stop the monotonous behavior.
DO NOT ISOLATE YOURSELF!
The more you isolate, the more comfortable you’ll become with your anxieties.
It’s a challenge to be completely honest with yourself, I know, and believe me I’m not honest with myself every single day.
Lately, I’ve been very depressed and not opening up to my wife as I should. As I read my journal entries that I mentioned earlier I was angry, but also glad because at least I was seeing the negative repetitive behavior.
The selfishness...the obsession with self is a poison.
There are many days where my mental condition genuinely holds me back. It immobilizes me completely, but I know there must also be some days where I allow myself to feel weak. Some days I choose not to fight and let the anxiety, depression, panic, all of it just creep right in and take control.
Reading Craig Groeschel’s study on Samson’s life (from the bible), changed my life in many ways. Samson had everything. Groeschel describes him as the superhero of the Bible. Yet if you know anything about Samson’s life, you know he couldn’t quite get things right. He may not have had anxiety when he killed a thousand Philistine warriors using a jawbone of a donkey, but he probably did when he was betrayed by the woman he loved, hair cut and eyes gouged out.
Like Jesus must of felt anxiety, living life as a human for 32 years. Waiting to be betrayed by one of his closest friends with the most tender of actions (a kiss).
“You have gifts to use for God’s glory. You are chosen and set apart. You have battles to fight. And you have the right weapons to fight with. You have a fight you must win. And you have God, who has already given you the victory.”