Tag Archives: Ya-Ya’s

Unpacking day. (Wednesday’s Wisdom)

"Fragile" Stickers on a PackageI had a nice, long chat with my Ya-Ya in Kansas yesterday. I needed it. Seems she always has the right words, especially when I’m sifting through the “ugly junk” in my mental closet. I don’t hoard in my home, but can often forget the volume of junk I’ve collected in my mental closet. Over the years, I’ve tucked away boxes and boxes of hurts and secrets and shame and doubt and sorrow. Sometimes, I pretend if I bury them deeply enough and allow the dust to collect, they don’t exist. And, sometimes, I truly forget they do–for a while. But, like the boxes in the back of my bedroom closet, even when I’m not looking at them, sitting in the corner, gathering dust, they take up space. Space that would be better used by filling it with me. Genuine, authentic me.

Most of the boxes contain lies, stories that aren’t true, never were, but were expressed with such certainty, I was sure they were true. I packed them with care, as though they should be kept forever. Like my high school yearbooks, they’re packed away, gathering dust, taking up space, carrying the past into the present.

There’s the afternoon I sat with my 7th grade math teacher for individual tutoring. After 30 minutes of continued failed understanding, he told me I was too stupid to understand and that I was wasting his time.  I’m not stupid, but I’ve had a hard time convincing myself  otherwise despite the success I’ve had in my life. I’ve carried that struggling 7th grader with me ever since that afternoon.

Or there’s the time I was teased on the playground for being “chubby.” The little girl who was teased packed away the hurt and has carried it with her since. As an adult, I remember looking around in disbelief when a doctor referred to me as “thin.” It didn’t matter that I was; I didn’t see it. It was the chubby 5th grade girl who sat in his office that day, not the 38-year-old woman I had become.

Or the boys who presumed I was promiscuous because I developed early. I wasn’t. But, it didn’t stop the advances or the accusations and I often felt my bra size was the only measure of my worth.

Or when…

I could go on, but I’m not here to unpack boxes–today. However, whether or not I think I am ready, I’ve already begun unpacking more. The stories above came out of my “easy boxes”; the ones that hold the lies and scars from long ago, but are easy to dismiss with my “logical mind.” In the last few weeks, there has been a rumbling within the depths of me originating in the boxes in my mind. I didn’t go in search of  them. I was content to let them sit, unopened. Especially at this joy-filled time of the year. Without peeking inside, I already know what’s in most of them. At least the big stuff, I do; the stuff I packed away in the dark because it hurt too much, scarred too deep, felt too real. The stuff I foolishly thought I wouldn’t have to touch again if I just kept it boxed up. The stuff that pits my stomach and pushes the taste of bile into my mouth. It fuels insecurities and doubts and fears.  The stuff that leaves me hiding in the dark and dims the light I was meant to share.

We all have stuff. And, we all have a light within us. A purpose. An authentic self. The little girl or boy inside that was sent here with a gift that only he/she can bring. It is the person we  bury when we “check ourselves”, as my Ya-Ya says; those times we look to the right and to the left and deny who we really are just so we can fit in. When we believe the stories that someone else tells us about ourselves or we are hurt by an abuse of our trust, we bury a bit more of ourselves. Often times, it’s the lies we tell ourselves that do the most damage. And sometimes, we have no idea how we lost touch with our authentic self, we simply did.

It wasn’t until I became a mother that I really began thinking about who I am, who I was, who I really wanted to be. And, I thought about the boxes I carried. I had lived much of my life with the definitions and burdens others had assigned me. When I held my daughter for the first time, I knew that if was going  to teach her to love her authentic self, I had better start learning to do the same. There are times it has been excruciatingly painful and times it has brought me abundant joy. Like a sculptor carving a piece of marble, I haven’t rushed the process. Discovering the masterpiece within a piece of marble requires patience; discovering the beauty within oneself deserves no less. I’ve already opened and discarded many boxes. With each one, I let in more light and can see further into the corners of myself. More than once, I have found a hurt I didn’t know I still carried, and, often I’ve discovered strength I never knew I had.

There have been painful memories and I have faced more than one demon. I don’t doubt there will be more, but I’m prepared. Meditation, prayer, my journal, this blog, and honest talks with my Ya-Ya’s are all tools I use to dig deep. Yesterday, it was a Ya-Ya that walked with me through the dark and back into the light. Across the miles, she held my hand, and my heart, as I opened one of my ugliest boxes. I’ve been into it before, many times, and closed it up just as many.  Yesterday, I looked deeper inside. There was pain I didn’t know was still in there, and I took another step closer to healing and finally discarding the lies contained within. It is a story I know I will share here.  She helped me see that I will, when I’m ready.  This is a box I’ll “handle with care,” but handle it and share it, I will.

It’s been quite a journey to excavate me, and the journey continues. It must to move forward in life. It’s often messy. At times, it feels scary, even overwhelming, and I’m tempted to quit. But, that won’t get me to where I want to be. To become a better wife, mother, friend, and woman, I must first uncover who I was in the beginning and embrace my authentic self. As a child, and even as an adult, my father always called me “Little Mary Sunshine.”  I finally understand why, and I like who she is.

Are there boxes you are ready to unpack?

©2011 Mary Lanzavecchia/TransitioningMom

One is silver, the other is gold. (Wednesday’s Wisdom)

I wasn’t a Girl Scout growing up. My mom wouldn’t let me. Yet another example of my deprived childhood. That door had been closed by two of my older sisters. While away on a troop camping trip and desperate to come home (because they had been split up), they rolled in poison ivy. It worked; they were sent home and dismissed from the troop. There would be no more Girl Scouts in our home. Truthfully, I never really wanted to join, but even if I had, that’s the story I was told.

It wasn’t until my older daughter was in the 4th grade that I thought about the “opportunities” available through Girl Scouts. She joined, and her younger sister became a Brownie. I became a troop leader. Though short-lived, ours was a good experience. All two years of it. No poison ivy rolling, but then again, I was with C when she went to camp. One thing I did take away from our weekend camping trip was the “Friendship Song”–or whatever it’s called. It’s a song about friends, new friends and old friends. One is silver, the other is gold. Great lesson in that song–get out there and make new friends, but value those that are already dear. One I’ve tried to stress to my kids.

However, sometimes in the busyness of life, I can forget to do the same. I hold up in my little cocoon barely making time to pop out and visit with my Ya-Ya’s. Let’s face it, all relationships need nurturing to grow. Without attention, marriages grow stale, children get pissy, and friendships wither. But with only so many hours in a day, an invitation to coffee with a new friend is easily declined. And, declined invitations can mean missed opportunities for growth and laughter.

Growing friendships is much like dating. There are awkward moments and probing questions. There are bridges built and similarities and differences explored. This past month I’ve intentionally opened my schedule to add some silver to my collection of gold. It’s meant that I’ve had to shave time here and squeeze my schedule there. It’s meant that I’ve said no to some invitations and let go of other obligations. But, it’s also meant that I said “yes” to the invitations of 3 really neat women, giving me the chance to get to know each better: one I’ve known casually for 4 or 5 years, another I met through our town’s Japanese sister city/host family program, and the third I met just a few weeks ago when she gave a talk about “finding purpose.” I share commonalities with each, and each offers me unique gifts in who they are.

Additionally, through my month-long 2BloWriMo and my new Transitioning Mom Facebook page, I’ve gotten to know some of my fellow bloggers and “cyber-friends” even better, bonding over similar interests, frustrations, and offering mutual support in writing, motherhood, and life. When I started writing this blog, I never imagined the relationships I would make in the cyber-world. And, now they are as much a part of my treasure as the three new friends I sat with face-to-face in the last few weeks.

I believe the most magical aspect of friendship is that, with proper nurturing, silver turns to gold. A casual coffee chat often plants the seed that grows into the tree that offers me shelter during the storms, a place to play in the sun, and a safe place to store fears, tears, and laughter. It takes effort to make room for friendships, especially new friendships. Schedules often need to be tweaked and squeezed to meet all my current obligations, and I’m often too tired to put on my best “date face” to make a new friend. But, this past month I was reminded to always make room for more treasure in my life.

Are you making room to add some silver to your gold?

©2011 Mary Lanzavecchia/Transitioning Mom