I dreamed a dream, in times gone by…

<Edited to add: I know I said that this weeks post would be about UU theology and why I thought the world needed it. I think I did an ok job of it here, but it changed a little after the week described in this post. Sorry if it created any confusion.>

I’m having one of the roughest months in memory. My Significant Other and I are trying to orchestrate a move that would fully combine our lives, finally and nearly irrevocably. It will entail finding a house for her, I, her 3 kids, my 2 kids, and my disabled mother. Our budget is actually quite limited, for reasons that go far beyond the current state of the economy.

In the mean time, I am trying to make sure that my mother is receiving the care she needs, to stay healthy enough for the doctors to treat her recurrent cancer. She’s also suffered what I am certain is a mild stroke (though no doctor will just come out and say so) which has left her short term memory in shambles. Things that happened 10 years ago or more, she knows as well as she did 10 years ago. Things that have happened in the last 6, are a confused mess. Things that happened yesterday? She’s often completely lost. This makes it pretty hard for her to manage her own affairs. And it has been made quite clear by the family that I am alone in making sure she is cared for.

Additionally, the last week and a half, my girls have been in town for one of the longest stays in the last 2 years, since their mother moved to Houston. It has been great to have them here, though the timing could not have been much worse. I know they need to see that family things will happen when they are here, and that every visit with Daddy is not going to be Six Flags (in fact, no visit has; again, finances), but I am stressed out about being so stressed out during their visit.

Then, a couple of nights ago, the younger of the 2, who is 7, started really missing her mom. That part is understandable, but it broke my heart to have her sitting in the living room of my house, telling me she wanted to go home. She was not quite 2 when my ex-wife asked me to move out of our house, and I realize now that even though her mother and I split our time with the girls 50/50 for the first few years while we were living in the same town, my little girl has never thought of my house as home.

I am trying to build a life from rags. I put so much into that family that, when my time with their mother was over, I had nothing to show for it except the girls. I put my education, my aspirations, and my life on hold while their mother finished her degree, thinking that I was doing what was best for the family. It was 6 years of my life, and I’ll always be 6 years worse off because of them. The only thing positive about that time has been my girls, who are my only two blood relatives in the world. That’s why it hurts so much more to be reminded that I am not central to their idea of home or family.

I am in the process of having to redefine my idea of family. I’ve got a teenaged boy, where I had given up the idea of having a son of my own. I’ve got a mother who is about as capable as a teen of managing her own affairs, for whom I am now responsible. I’ve got a woman who I am trying to trust, when I’ve been let down so many times. I’ve got my own kids, whom I clearly owe so much more too than what I’ve been able to give them over the last few years.

I am trying to be the center my family needs, all 8 of us. I am trying to raise children who can make choices that will positively effect their communities and those around them. I am trying to life up to very high-minded Principles. I am trying to be an example where no one really wants one. I am trying to live a life of meaning, where just living can be so hard some days.

It is times like this when I doubt my inherent worth. It is time s like this when it feels like the Universe expects too much. I find myself feeling like I give everything I’ve got almost every day, and I still don’t see where I am supposed to find my own fulfillment. In a way, I am doing exactly what I want to be doing with my life; I’ve always wanted to help others. But I know that my mother will never truly get better. I know that my children may never come home to me. I’m helping people who might not ever appreciate it the way I want them to. I just hope that it is a lesson I can learn, and apply to something greater in the future.


7 Responses

  1. Sounds like a really rough time for you. (((hugs)))

    “I am trying to live a life of meaning, where just living can be so hard some days.” – I can really relate to this, and there are a lot of days when just living can be a struggle. Just knowing that others are out there with a sorta similar struggle helps me find the inner strength to keep going on the really rough days – so thank you very much for sharing what you’re going through right now.

    • Thank you. I was a bit torn about posting. I haven’t gotten that personal on the blog in a while, but I figured it is the kind of thing I need to be able to say. I hope to be there for others, and part of doing that in a healthy way is admitting when you are near your breaking point.

      I think we all face struggles that test us. What seems debilitating to me may be an average week for someone else while I might dream of living a bad day in the life of a celebutaunt. What matters is how we approach our hardships, and whether we choose to learn from them. I am trying so very hard to see how to be a better person for all this.

      Thanks for your support. It is good to know that we can commiserate and console others out there whom we might never get to meet in person!

  2. I can relate. Although my situation is without the children and mother, I feel my life has been on hold to make everyone else happy. Obviously, I can’t give any advice but I hope knowing there’s someone else out there who feels the frustration of life’s blockage of unfortunate events can give you a little comfort.

    • I’m glad that it helps to know that you aren’t alone, and I assure you that you are not. It is fine to take care of others, but never let it damage your sense of worth or purpose.

  3. Thank you for your courage and your post. We UUs need each other and to be reminded that others need us too… through the good times and bad. Thank you for all that you do for our faith!

  4. I wish I could say that I feel your pain, but I don’t. I can’t. Sorry. I have never been in your shoes.

    But the principles and I have been where you are. Remember, they are not rules. They are not paralleled by the 10 Commandments or anything like that. They are merely stuff we think is true when we have time to think about such things. They’re actually like spiritual sticky notes – reminders, not cosmic weapons. They’re there for those times, like the times you’re going through, when doubt seems too big to handle.

    But day to day, they can seem rather large – and reading the them the way you’re reading them can be less than beneficial.

    Try thinking of them not as benchmarks or measuring sticks, but as guideposts. Try reading them this way:

    – Don’t forget, you are just as worthy as the next soul;
    – Don’t forget, you deserve a fair shake, so give yourself one;
    – Don’t forget, people love you and want you to succeed and be happy;
    – Don’t forget, nobody can make you think something;
    – Don’t forget, everyone has only one mouth and two ears;
    – Don’t forget, we’re all together working for a goal, you’re as much a part of the goal as you are a part of the work, and;
    – Don’t forget, everything is the same thing and you’re part of it, not apart from it.

    My personal favorite is the fourth one, but I’m a big Byron Katie fan. Inner peace is entirely within your control, whether the evidence seems to support it or not. Ask yourself: Where would you be without that thought.

    Peace through your rough patch.

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