The photo above is of my Auntie Lorraine, my sister Loretta front right, and me in the red dress. The photo surfaced on Facebook after my Aunt posted it.
There are some things I don’t remember about being small, and others that are suspended in my memory as though they happened yesterday. I’m glad I have photos of those times my mind seems to have forgotten.
I feel being 44 years old will be significant. Being 43 proved quite challenging, thought provoking, intense and filled with strife.
44 years of life unfolding before my eyes; this will be the year I set myself free. It’s taken a long time to let go of things I can’t control, and as year 44 approaches, it became clear that letting go would become a year of victories. Friday I celebrate 44 years.
My tongue? Like bullets. As I was thinking of what to write about my 44th birthday, the mental image that arose was a .44 Smith & Wesson.
I’m a huge Clint Eastwood fan, so of course his .44 magnum came to mind.
I thought to myself, “Yes, my mouth is like a .44 just ask those who have tried to manipulate and lie to me.”
One of the things I let go of in year 43, was believing that if I just keep my mouth shut, and bite my tongue, everything will be okay. I would keep silent as though that would control a situation. The things that would go through my mind like word bullets, and then being loaded into my mouth were:
“How will this affect the other person’s state of mind? Am I going to hurt them by saying this, even though they need to hear it?”
“What if they never want to talk to me again? Should I say it anyway?”
“I need to protect myself, but what if that means others will find out the truth about my family members?”
Ever have thoughts like that? I do all the time. They are the control tactics I have had dominating my mind and heart over the last 43 years. But you see, you can’t control what other people will think, do, see, feel, or how they will react. You can try to control it, but in the end, it doesn’t work.
I believe we cheat ourselves and others when we stay silent about things of a sensitive nature. I used to cover over, protect, and hope things would improve. Then I realized that I was a part of the problem if I do that!
Really! Think about.
Would you like your reactions to be buffered by someone not telling you the whole truth? How about those with good intentions that claim they don’t want to make waves, cause problems or other nonsense like that?
My mouth is like a gun, and my tongue is the bullet.
You might think it’s incredibly cruel to have a mouth like a gun, but this mouth of mine does not shoot off unless it has a target aimed at injustice, lying, manipulating, and double talk. It’s a part of me that I’ve come to accept, embrace and enjoy. Others who have felt the blow of my words, are not so accepting, nor have they embraced or enjoyed it.
Forty Four…what does it mean to me?
Pure and simple, forgiving is the most important part of my 44th year of life. Forgiveness means releasing myself from the bonds of others. It frees me from anger, hostility, bitterness, and the pain of years of silence I’ve held onto, as though they were a badge of honor. Silence is not a badge of honor, but of dishonor. I have dishonored my own soul by not speaking the truth about sexual abuse perpetrated at the hands of my father. I am an incest survivor who today, chooses to be more than a survivor…I choose to thrive.
At the end of my 43rd year, I opened my mouth and spoke the truth to him, confronting him about sexually abusing me as a young teen. You see, I forgave him and tried to forget, but he never asked for forgiveness, and I just decided to hide that from the world, and bear it in silence. It is a badge of dishonor to my own soul to stay silent. To allow such violation to be covered over. With my whole life I honored my father, but by being silent, I only made my situation more terrifying.
By speaking the truth, my mouth became a gun, and my tongue the bullets, as I pierced through lies that have cloaked my relationship with my father. As a result, he denied he ever did anything wrong, said I have a mental disorder, and finally, he disowned me. Yet, still, I forgive him, because by doing so, I set my own soul free. Disowning me as his daughter has freed me from having to look at him, or talk to him for the rest of my life. By speaking the truth and holding him accountable, he chose instead to turn his back on me, and deny me the chance to forgive him openly.
Forgiveness doesn’t imply that the offending person is now free to walk all over me…no, forgiveness simply sets me free. It allows me to trust others, and it enables me to have long lasting healthy relationships with others. Forgiveness isn’t a free pass, it’s the emerging beauty of the heart of one that loves deeply.
Being open to life and all the possibilities that could come our way is important in my 44th year.
Religion has absolutely no place in my 44th year. Religion was very important back in my younger days, when I thought I needed to control everything. You see, that’s what religion does. It seeks to control everything. Don’t believe me? It’s true!
Religion is NOT the same thing as having a relationship with God. Religion is about controlling what others say, do, where they go, and what they talk about. Religion is the furthest thing from the will of God I have ever seen or experienced. People who are religious, will be angry right now as they read this. So be it!
Religion is often a cloak for the darkness many hide. You can’t cover darkness, but it can be exposed. Most spend their whole lives trying to hide the darkness. Just because someone may have served in the church their whole lives doesn’t make them godly. Especially if he is a narcissist who violated his own daughter, and then threw her under the bus, so to speak. No, that kind of religion has no place in my life.
Any religion that would seek to cover over such an offense and protect the person from the repercussions of their actions, no matter how many years ago it was, is not a religion I’m interested in. I can say this with full conviction because I was a religious person who covered over offenses rather than have others disrespect someone in my family. That’s godly right? What I walked away from concerning religion, was the need to control what others thought of me, how they saw me, and most importantly, I walked away from needing to control others.
I choose to speak the truth, even when I want to remain silent. Being silent is sometimes louder and more deceptive than speaking what is right and true. Being vague, partially telling the truth, trying to bend the truth, or leading someone on with half truths and leaving someone to rot with half information is manipulation at best. Manipulation is not truth. Ever.
Continuing to yield my life to my God. He set us on an adventure four years ago before coming to New Mexico, and He has shown Himself to be faithful, restoring all that was lost to mold contamination and the displacement of my family. I’m grateful for the love He has shown me and my family, and for giving me the courage to follow His leading when we moved to an unknown state.
Having fun and playing is something I will do more of. I don’t have nearly enough fun, but I’m learning!
Seeking more opportunity to talk with my children. I have three girls who live away from home, who I always miss like crazy. I have this weird phone phobia which is prohibitive to having conversations with others. I’m working through this problem. I know it must seem weird to have such a phobia, but I do. I could never have a job that involved answering the phone.
I’m trying to break my phone phobia, because this flaw of mine could cause others to believe that I don’t love them or that I’m uninterested in their lives. And even though my family knows I suffer (I get literal sweats and anxiety when talking on the phone, and I start to panic which comes through my voice as being angry), they still make the attempts to call me. Sometimes it isn’t easy for my family to handle, and they take it personally.
I am unbroken and whole. I used to think I was broken, used up and discarded by others, and then I realized that living unbroken is perfection. Some people make a point throughout their lives to say, “What do you expect from me? I’m not perfect!” or “your not perfect you know! no body’s perfect.” I believe people who say things like that are broken. They’ve been thrashed emotionally, have a hard time forgiving and trusting others, and now feel the need to make qualifying statements before they speak. Qualifying statements are things like, “I don’t say this to sound mean but…” or “The last time I checked…” or “I’m not questioning your judgement but…”. Qualifying statements are supposed to tell you what the speaker intends to communicate before they actually tell you. Broken people who are unwilling to heal their wounds, tend to make many qualifying statements before saying what they want. To be unbroken means that you are perfect, and all together lovely. I am unbroken. I have forgiven myself and others for any harm that has been done to me, and I enjoy living a whole life.
I recommend it. Get rid of qualifying statements, stop making excuses like “I’m not perfect” and start realizing the value you have to those around you. Even when others think you are less than perfect.
The 44th year of life is about responsibility. My responsibility to love myself as I am. My responsibility to speak truthfully without fear of rejection. It’s also my responsibility to stand up to injustice and not allow myself to be used for the entertainment of others. I had to make a stand to let my father know that my family and I are off limits as far as his fiction novels go. He writes books, and has a habit of using the likeness and personality of others in his books. Often without their permission. It was my responsibility to make sure that my family was not used to benefit him financially or to lay claim that his books bring glory to his god. I will have no part of such claims.
At this point, my mouth is a gun and my tongue the bullets, and what I’ve said may become the death blow to my relationships with extended family members. It has taken much for me to say all this openly. But this is my life, for which I am extremely grateful to God for, so pretending would be completely inappropriate. I have no control over the the thoughts and actions of others.
All these things I’ve learned. While others may go through a mid-life crisis, I am going through a mid-life renaissance.
I’m 44 years old and loving every moment.