I shared a guest post with you yesterday from MeLissa Hicks. I shared it because I can relate to it. Her sense of what was normal was different from everyone else’s perception of the term. I think we all have a different “normal.”
When I was younger I thought everybody had broken families; I had exactly two friends whose parents were still together when I was in high school and remain so to this day. I’ve seen my best friend’s parents dance in their living room to music that nobody else was listening to while their kids teased them about how “mushy” and “gross” they were. That is what is supposed to be normal, but to me it was strange and wonderful considering my parents (& most of my friends’ parents) were divorced & both remarried. My childhood normal was…tense…and you can bet I never saw any combination of my two sets of parents slow dancing in the living room like they actually loved each other. That sweet moment with my friend’s parents is one that has always stuck with me & I hope someday I’ll hear my kids complaining about how gross their dad and I are.
As tense as things were when I was a child, as I got older I began to notice and appreciate how close certain parts of my family are. I believe my mother’s side of the family in particular is how we got through a lot of heavy things. My granddaddy was there every single time my mom, his brothers, one of his grandchildren or anyone else he loved needed him. There was not a thing he owned that we couldn’t have also. My grandmother had the kindest soul & the sweetest spirit. She was also, sometimes unintentionally, the funniest person I knew. My mom is like the best parts of both of them. She is the strongest & most wonderful woman I’ve ever had the pleasure to know, and she raised my siblings and I to always love and care for each other no matter what. She has come literally halfway across the world to be with me when I needed her, and even when we don’t necessarily agree we respect & support each other. My family is very loving & supportive, so I was appalled to learn that not everyone is similarly blessed. I mean – don’t get me wrong – I suppose I always knew it, but I didn’t really let it sink in until I was an adult.
I have friends whose families disregard their very existence and won’t lift a finger to help them unless there is something in it for them. I don’t understand how families can be that way toward one another. I understand tough love, but what I’m talking about has nothing to do with love of any kind. Sadly, it’s more common than I’d like to believe and in this situation, I know my family is the odd one. I’ve had several people tell me they have never met another family like mine; so eager to help & lacking the usual squabbling & family drama that has come to be depressingly common in other families. We have our share of dysfunction, for sure, but my grandparents & great grandparents made sure our roots were so firmly planted that there isn’t anything in this world that could truly break us. I’m thankful for that.
Over the last year, I’ve had a recurring revelation; I’m sick of scorecards. No, I’m not talking about sports. We need scorecards in sports because otherwise no one would ever hear the end of Peyton Manning’s 3-in-a-row touchdowns. I’m sure plenty of you hear enough about it as is, scorecard or not.
I’m talking about scorecards in our relationships. Spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends, family, friends, coworkers…doesn’t matter what category the relationship falls into; the rules are still the same: someone does something for you – you owe them. Period. Right? Isn’t that generally how we approach things? Your coworker shares her lunch with you because you were in a hurry and forgot yours and you don’t get paid for another week. So what do you do? You, perhaps guiltily, accept her offer to share, but in your mind you’re thinking about what you can do for her to pay her back. Replace her lunch. Give her some money on payday. Give her your first born. Anything to erase the feeling of being indebted to someone because they showed you some kindness. Come on now…don’t you think that idea is a little flawed?
I’m not saying never repay anyone. I’m just saying there’s no reason to feel guilty or beholden simply because someone in your life made the choice to extend their hand to you. People have different perceptions of how scoring works and how many points to give for each act, as well as how much is adequate (or not) when they’re cashing in their points. How can this ever be an impartial, indisputable way to keep track of who owes who? (Who’s on first? What’s on second?! Sorry…couldn’t help myself.) You might think offering someone a meal is no big deal, while your friend thinks that sharing her food with you is on par with running into a burning building to save you or something. You might try to pay your friend back by offering her a meal the next time you approach a Wendy’s together, but she’s thinking she at least deserves an Olive Garden sized payback. See what happened here? You and your friend just scored her kindness differently. You gave your friend one point for sharing. She gave herself 10 points. So now you owe her. Your fast food is only getting you one point with her and you’re over there looking like a schmuck because you’re thinking the two of you are even now, but you still owe her 9 points & your firstborn son. And maybe an endless salad bowl and some breadsticks?Then, inevitably, over time, your friend has racked up some serious brownie points for herself and you’re still in the red because nothing you can do for her compares to everything she’s done for you, at least in her mind.
Pardon my candor (Divergent reference anyone?), but I think that’s bullshit. When you care about someone, you naturally & sincerely want to give to them. You want to share with them, help them, you care about their wellbeing. In a healthy, abiding relationship the score is never really balanced and you know what? No one effing cares. You know why? Because you’re supposed to do things for people out of kindness, and a desire to give & help. Not because you expect something in return. If you get something in return, great. Consider it a bonus. But don’t do anything with the deliberate & entitled thinking that this person is going to owe you & you’re going to collect one day. And most certainly don’t archive it just to pull it out & parade it around later when you’re disappointed with them. If you never expect anything, how can you ever be disappointed?
In my family, it works like this: If I’ve got it, you’ve got it and vise versa. Not to the point that we’re crippling or enabling each other of course; no one is abusing anyone’s personal boundaries or anything. It just means that we support each other in a healthy way, unconditionally. If my brother is hungry and I’ve got food, he’s welcome to it. And then later, if I need a tank of gas and he’s able to help me out he does. But neither one of us keeps track of who did what for whom or how much it costs. We all do so much for each other that it’s impossible to keep score and I wouldn’t want anyone to. To give without expectation is more fulfilling than to give with the hope that we’ll get our backs scratched. And when we learn to receive another individual’s sacrifice with genuine gratefulness rather than indebtedness, we honor the sincerity of it. I appreciate my family, particularly my mom & granddaddy, so much for raising me that way.
I still battle that feeling of indebtedness every day. Every single time someone outside my immediate family does something even the tiniest bit nice for me, I feel like I owe them. And then I want to kick myself in the face because I truly believe that’s no way to live life (it’s just a hard habit to break). If all my relationships are is a series of business-like exchanges where I’m sorely indebted to every person who’s nice to me, or spends time with me, then what’s the point in having relationships at all? Especially when you consider that you’ll likely never be even?
How can you repay your mother or your father for all the love & nurturing they gave you, or still give you? All the sacrifices they’ve made for you? You can’t. And most parents (the good ones anyway) don’t want you to. I know I want my kids to live full, happy, productive lives because I love them and I want the best for them. I just want them to live. Completely. Fearlessly. I’d like them to take every lesson I have to teach them & use it to their benefit to grow and ultimately become better people. The best way for them to pay me back is to bless the world with their kindness, their smiles, & their genuine hearts. I wouldn’t want them spending their lives feeling enslaved to the task of repaying a perceived “debt” to me when every sacrifice I’ve made has been one I’ve been more than happy to make. Why would anyone expect another person to view their kindness in this way? Like it’s a service you’re providing that you must be compensated for…EFF THAT.
Don’t hoard every thoughtful thing you do for someone in a vault, waiting to cash in on it, or brandish it like a sword to cut people with later when you’re hurting, angry, or feeling spiteful. People don’t need to have your benevolence flaunted in front of them every time you feel like they’ve slighted you somehow. They know what you do for them, not all of it, but for the most part they know. And I believe most people appreciate it greatly, but maybe the ways in which they show their appreciation don’t register for you because you’re keeping score differently than they are. So take the score out of the equation. If you’re being grossly undervalued or taken advantage of then either sprinkle a little tough love on the person(s) in question, or just remove yourself from that person’s life, but for the love of all that is holy – stop keeping score.
I hope that when I die it can honestly be said that I never used my kindness like a weapon against anyone. As far as I’m concerned, every single tally mark I’ve ever made for you or for me is wiped out of existence. This is one instance where I believe in participation trophies for everyone. 😉
It’s been a while, yes? More than a week anyway so that may not constitute “a while” for the rest of you, but it is for me. I didn’t even make a July 4th post which is odd for me considering I’m an Army wife and way proud of our soliders.
So Happy *belated* 4th! I hope everyone enjoyed your long weekends to celebrate our freedom!!
Our weekend wasn’t filled with music, warm weather, face painting, American flags and celebratory fireworks like I hope everyone else’s was, but it was a celebration in its own kind of way. See, we’re supposed to be at home in Georgia right now, but instead, we’re still in Germany. Where does the celebration come in, then? Mostly, it stems from the fact that we’re even alive.
The day we left for the airport was June 28th (& my G-ma’s b-day R.I.P!). We picked up a friend who was going to drive our truck back from the airport for us so we wouldn’t have to pay for long-term parking and then we went on our way. I was sitting in the middle and hadn’t had much sleep the night before so I laid my head down on my knees and fell asleep. About two hours into our trip while driving on the autobahn, I was jolted awake (briefly) by the feel of the truck swerving heavily, but I don’t remember the vast majority of what I’m about to tell you after that part because I was knocked unconscious shortly thereafter. The story was put together for me by our friend, my husband and a tiny bit by the kids. It turns out a little orange Audi TT cut in front of us in the fast lane causing my husband, who was driving, to have to slam the brakes in order to avoid hitting him. He was about a foot or less away from slamming into the cars rear when he swerved to miss it. We were doing about 90mph so when he swerved, he lost control of the truck, we slid across 3 lanes of traffic – miraculously not hitting anyone – until we landed in the dirt and started flipping. The truck rolled over anywhere from 3-5 times, but I only felt the first one because that was the point at which I hit my head on either the dashboard or the steering wheel and passed out. Apparently, I was thrown over my husband and could have potentially gone out the drivers side window, but he grabbed me, turned his back to the open window and held on for dear life. We even made a nice little path through the trees before we finally stopped in one place with the truck landing on all four tires. And the Audi that started the whole thing? That asshole kept driving.
I can’t really see it that clearly, but this was a picture of where we slid through the trees, taken by the friend that was with us almost immediately after the accident. Supposedly you can see the shape of the truck back up in there somewhere, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t see it.
I find this whole experience to be ridiculously full of miracles. I’m listing them in chronological order – not order of importance because the most important thing is, of course, that we’re all alive.
First of all, going across 3 lanes of traffic on the autobahn, where there really is no enforced speed limit unless it’s raining (and it wasn’t) and not hitting any other oncoming traffic? I believe that counts as miracle number one.
2.) No one else was hurt or caused to wreck.
3.) The back seat of the truck, where our children were buckled in, was untouched. The windows and doors…everything…was still in tact and aside from being shaken up & scared, the kids were fine. No broken bones, no serious injuries. Little James had a cut on his finger, Krysta has a scratch on her forehead & Kira has a few tiny cuts on her fingers and a black eye. That was it for them and to say I’m thankful is the understatement of the century. They were my very first thought when I felt us swerve and start to roll that first time and apparently they were my last thought for about 10 minutes or so because I got knocked out after that.
4.) The other passenger we had with us in the front was free of any serious injuries as well. He got a pretty nasty-lookin’ bruise from the seatbelt and whiplash, but other than that, just the normal bumps and bruises. He helped get our children out of the backseat and made sure they were okay. I’m incredibly thankful that he wasn’t hurt because my husband and I would have harbored a crazy amount of guilt if he had been, not to mention the unbearable pain it would have caused for his family. I’m grateful that he was such a help to us with our children as well and I’m also 100% positive that he will never get in a vehicle with us again…
See, my sense of humor lives on 🙂
5.) The whole drivers’ side of the truck was caved in where my husband and I were and yet we’re still here.
6.) The air bags did not deploy and (yes, I’m going to say it again) we’re still here. Also, my husband is dead set on a law-suit because of this. He said, “Dodge is gonna buy us a new house & two new vehicles! From Chevy!” <—Isn’t that like the ultimate middle finger to a car company? It’s like walking into a McDonald’s with a Burger King bag or meeting Britney Spears just so you can get her to sign your Christina Aguilera CD (which I totally want to do, by the way).
I know without a doubt in my mind that someone or something was watching over us that day because we wouldn’t be here otherwise.
My husband has 2 broken ribs and bruised lungs. I have 3 broken vertebrae’s, my lungs are bruised like the hubby’s, but I also have some blood built up in them and we both have to be very careful in following Dr.s orders so we don’t develop pneumonia. I have a pinched nerve somewhere that is causing my right arm to drive me insane, but hopefully that will loosen up soon. I’m tired of having my last 3 fingers feel like they’re asleep when my thumb and index finger feel fine – it’s so weird!! I hit my head repeatedly so my face is pretty beaten up and swollen, but all the injuries, bumps and bruises that we have are expected to heal completely. Can I just say THANK YOU, GOD over and over again? And a GIANT thank you to my husband, too, because if he hadn’t grabbed me and held on, my injuries would be so much worse right now. I ♥ you!
I don’t remember having the following picture taken because I was in shock at the time and I had so much head trauma that I literally couldn’t remember anything the first 10-15 minutes after I came back from the land of the unconscious. I couldn’t have even told you my own name at the time and I kept asking the same questions repeatedly. I bet that was annoying…
I did remember the kids though and I’m sure they got annoyed with me, too, because I kept asking them over and over again if they were okay.
Shortly after that, I did get it together though and started remembering everything. They took my husband and I to two separate hospitals and (after cutting my first ever Victoria Secret bra!! *sad face*) put us both in ICU. I didn’t get to talk to him until the next day. Meanwhile, our friend stayed with the kids in the hospital until they prepared a place for them in the children’s clinic. He came up when he was able to see me and took this picture because I was morbidly curious to see what I looked like at the time.
The kids were in the hospital for 3 days, but since they were fine, they were released before I was so some amazing & wonderful friends of ours graciously kept them while we were still in the hospital. James actually got released the same time the kiddos did, but he refused to leave me at the hospital and stayed with me while I was there another 2 days. I’m sure he was supremely uncomfortable, but he never left me and was so unbearably sweet the whole time. The German girl I was sharing the room with told me at one point “your husband is so beautiful to you.” And he really, really is. I won’t get into all the details because I don’t want to embarass him, but I will say that I am incredibly blessed to have married him and he has turned into such an amazing man, husband & father – even if he is a little rough around the edges ♥
When I was finally able to check facebook again (from my husband’s phone) I was so completely overwhelmed with all the prayers, well-wishes, we-love-and-miss-you’s & get-better-soon’s that I still don’t even have words to express how much it meant to me. It’s an amazing feeling to have so many people thinking about you and wishing you well – it’s fantastic to be loved! 🙂 And I genuinely do appreciate every single one of you! When we got back home, we had friends offer to cook for us, help us get our recycling taken off, offers to take us to doctor’s appointments or wherever else we need go in the next few days, help with chores and the kids…seriously – thank you all so, so much. I feel like I would be taking advantage to accept everyone’s offers to help, but just knowing that so many people care enough to even make the suggestion makes me want to cry.
I will admit that there was one thing that annoyed me and it has nothing to do with those whose offers of help and friendship were genuine. Over the course of 3 days, I got 10 friend requests on facebook from people who have never shown any interest in talking with me or being my friend EVER, but right after the accident, my facebook was flooded with requests from people who pretty much just wanted to be a part of the gossip. It’s safe to assume I denied ALL of those and it irks me so much that some people are so nosy & ill-mannered that they feel the need to try and make their lives more interesting by gossiping about events from someone else’s life. Also there were rumors flying around at first that we were in a plane crash, our injuries were depicted inaccurately and some people were even saying that the only reason my husband and I were flying home is to get a divorce! So, I guess there were 2 big annoyances if you want to count the rumor mill, but that will always be in effect everywhere you go. Maybe I should have added the gossipers so they could at least keep their damn story straight?!
Ok- tiny bi-polar rant over 🙂 I’ll go back to being thankful and happy now.
Here is a picture of me the day after the accident when I got moved out of the ICU and was finally able to shower. BTW – you would not believe the amount of dirt and glass particles I found in my ears and everywhere else – scary!
I thought I should smile because I looked really scary otherwise…
I took another photo the day we came home because there was a lot of talk on facebook about seeing what I looked like and people who had pictures were not posting them out of respect (thank you!!) so I figured “what the hell?” and posted my own pictures. I didn’t smile in this one because I wanted to be able to see the blood in the corners of my eyes (because that is so bad ass! :P), but I’m thinking I really should have because I totally look like a zombie.
On the other hand, the hot pink color on my eye-lids was kinda pretty (before it started turning all yucky like the above picture) so I may be investing in some eyeshadow soon.
And this is me today:
Heehee…who says I shouldn’t be having a little fun right now? I know what my makeup will look like on Halloween 2011!!
Also, I did some with effects because my husband is gone cleaning all the stuff out of the truck (and trying to find his and Krysta’s glasses that are hopefully still in there and not broken) and I’m really very bored right now.
Alright, enough of that. I’m not taking pictures of all the other bruises I have because I can’t see most of them except in the mirror right now and also because that would just be creeptacular…although, if I could reach the one behind my ear to take a picture of it, I totally would because it’s such an odd place to have a bruise that I’m fascinated with it.
Here are some photos that hubby brought back with him of the truck:
Can you believe the air bags didn’t deploy after all that?
There are a ton more, but this is all I feel like sharing. Should I reiterate the whole “Thank God” thing again?? No? You got it? Okay…good 🙂
I’m so tired of talking about this so I hope this helps clear up the curiosity for the rest of you 🙂 I am going to take a Tylenol 3 and attempt to pass out somewhere.