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I try live my life without expectations when it comes to the actions of other people, because I cannot control other people. This is, rather than being hopeless or pessimistic, is actually very freeing.
This means that I am free to give unconditionally to others without fear of rejection, or lack of appreciation, or reciprocation. I can be myself, without worry or fear of judgment.
I do not worry about being taken advantage of. The idea really doesn’t even bother me. But the reason for this is not necessarily so pure as this ideal in my mind of giving. It is simply that, where I give myself permission to be giving to others without fear, I also do not give anything of real value or at any cost to myself to those who do not reciprocate.
And when I do give, I do it for the selfish reason of knowing that the smile or moment of levity of another soul is something that I contributed to.
I am not selfless. I am just learning how to be absolutely and wholly myself, without fear. I need to be able to give to others in order to be happy, to feel right. But I cannot send all my energy into a black hole. I will give as much of my time, energy, money, and attention as I can to those around me while still protecting my ability to take care of myself; and to preserve the best of who I am for those people in my life who love me, and who give as good as they are getting in return.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in the past month running over the course of my remembered history (short as it might be – as I’ve been reminded often, 24 years is still so young) – reliving my relationships and my choices in my mind.
Yesterday, I ventured into the last relationship, the last love, that I had before my husband. The first thing that comes to mind is “rollercoaster”.
And really, it was. There was never a moment of stability. And at the time – and for quite some time when it was over – I viewed that madness as one large mistake. A grievous error in judgment. Clear evidence of my immaturity. Obvious proof of my failure to be strong and to respect myself or to demand respectful treatment from others.
Sure, it was that. When things were bad, they were really quite painful. And I definitely did not present my best self during those times. I behaved as a person who does not believe they deserve better – does not deserve to be loved, wanted, or valued.
But on the other hand, the highs. I have never been brought so high. I have never wanted, never felt, never dreamed, never experienced so much joy or pleasure or love or desire. There was pain, but there were moments of total peace that I had never imagined that I could feel. And there it is, really – he brought out of me such depth and breadth of emotion as I had never believed it was possible for me to experience. Scope.
And so I loved him. And so I hated him, for a while.
I did not believe he valued me, and I still do not know for sure. I reflect on it now and remember moments where I believed I had some part of him that was enduring. Perhaps I did. It simply no longer matters.
Melodramatic as it sounds, I did give much of myself to him during the course of our relationship, and that part of me that belonged to him is still his – it is just no longer part of who I am in the current moment. There is a void where that piece of my heart used to be, filled up now with memories instead of real-time passions and choices to be made.
I’m okay with that. I never again want to feel that level of hurt as a result of my failure to honor myself or to expect good behavior from the people in my life. I do not resent him for his choices or his actions – they were his choices to make and he has his life to live. I wish him well.
I think it is necessary for someone to have that power to cause you pain in order for them to also give you that level of peace. And I think the greatest joy comes from knowing that someone could hurt you, that they have the ability to stomp your guts out if they chose, but that they choose each day to be conscientious of you and to honor you instead.
Another year gone by, and I return again to my customary Thanksgiving reflections. I love this time, because it allows me to see that regardless of what I might feel in the moment, I truly do have a blessed life. It helps me to reset my worldview to that of the “bigger picture”, when it is so easy to get sucked into the minor details and the little (or even the not-so-little) obstacles.
Every day when I journal I try to find something to be grateful and joyful about. A love, a dream, an event, or a thing that gives me cause to pause and give thanks. This larger list, one for each of the 27 days up to and including this holiday, is merely the bulk collection of these daily remembrances.
Historically, my list has been very people-centered. And where that has not necessarily changed, I’m finding more and more that I am becoming increasingly appreciative of ideas and concepts. Feelings.
Without further ado, and in no particular order, here’s my Thanksgiving list of 2014:
- My parents. Beyond any doubt, they are absolutely my first loves, the first people who loved me, and the only people who have always and unfailingly had my best interests at heart. The people who support me, who uplift me, who believe in me, and who have never given up on me. The journey to this realization has not been an easy one, and I appreciate them all the more for it.
- The Army. The single best decision that I have ever made was the decision to commit to my enlistment. Growing pains have never been so sweet, and faith has never been so demanding. My relationship with this organization has broken my heart, turned my expectations and my dreams inside out, and driven me harder than any other experience of my life.
- My siblings. My first friends and my partners in crime.
- Three meals a day, a roof over my head, and clothes on my back. The littlest things can become luxuries in an instant. I pray I never become complacent or comfortable enough with my life that I no longer appreciate having the simple necessities available to me where so many do not.
- Humanity. No shit, I have learned more in this year about the human capacity for generosity, compassion, encouragement, and love than I have in the previous 23 years altogether. It is absolutely incredible the lengths that people will go to in order to help complete strangers, to put a smile on someone’s face, or to show someone that they are valued.
- Having all fingers, toes, and internal organs in good working order, with very little wear-and-tear.
- Nicholas Schmit. God bless and keep him, and may the time until we all see his face again pass like the blink of an eye.
- My ever-growing love of and profound addiction to physical fitness. Whether it be running, weight lifting, PiYO, or just getting out and being active. I am grateful for my body’s growing strength and ability, and the confidence that it gives me. I’m grateful for sore muscles and sweat and PRs. I’m grateful for the chance to help others be healthy.
- The Bailey family. Laura, Glen, Dan, and all those individuals closely associated with them who have given me more love, support, faith, kindness, understanding, and compassion than I have perhaps ever received before them. Their friendship is invaluable to me.
- My Army family. My Battles. My mentors. My brothers and sisters.
- This deployment.
- Christopher Sizemore. Father of the most beautiful children in the world, a strong leader of soldiers, and a Non-Commissioned Officer who is absolutely dedicated to those he leads.
- Music and Dance. Two of the most uplifting things in my life.
- Josef Peot. Jo, you have been one of the most loyal and forgiving, understanding and motivating people in my life. Good times or bad, you never fail to stand ready to remind me that I am capable and strong, and you never give up on me, even when I feel like giving up on myself.
- Lenae and Jessica. Thank you for being mothers to the greatest blessings I have ever encountered. Thank you for being friends to me.
- Them Sizemore kids. They have taught me more about love in the time that I have known them than I ever thought possible. I have never been so motivated to be a better person as I have been since I met them.
- Writing. The ability to convey my thoughts, dreams, ideas, emotions, and prayers in a form that can be shared and understood by all. A release of my emotions in bad times, a reminder of my blessings. The ability to create.
- PRK. Having eye surgery in January of this year was a life-changing event for me.
- Old friends and new.
- Freedom. A driving force and motivation, my Raison d’être. Freedom to love with abandon, to give without restriction, to be happy and uplifted without fear. Freedom to be giving and kind to others without being constrained by the idea that I must be only reactive and that my behavior should only reflect others’ treatment of me. Freedom from expectation.
- The struggle.
- Cards Against Humanity.
- Personal development. The availability of materials and persons in the world ready and waiting to share skills and experience in order to help others to learn, grow, and become better and stronger leaders.
- My scars. My past, my defining moments, fears and obstacles overcome.
- Love. In all its forms, long and short-lived.
I don’t have nightmares often. But I did today. I woke up UNDER my bed.
There’s no real reason why I would be having bad dreams now. Certainly not 6 months into what has been a mostly uneventful (save for the marital issues) deployment. But considering the content of the nightmare, I suppose the marital issues combined with the death I so readily stuffed down the rabbit hole might be part of the reason.
I didn’t want to deal with Nick’s death. I don’t want to go home to deal with this divorce.
There. I said it. Public forum.
I’ve mentioned before that, in spite of being often labeled by others as “too trusting”, I really suffer from a total LACK of trust in those around me – and in myself. There are few areas of my life that aren’t affected by this. In fact, I can’t think of one right now that isn’t.
I don’t trust others to stay in my life. I don’t trust others to support me when I am in need, or to keep my confidence, or to accept my weaknesses.
I don’t trust myself to deserve any of the above. I don’t trust my intuition to guide me. I don’t trust myself to be ENOUGH.
This has absolutely led to a lot of bad decision-making on my part. Unhealthy relationships, opportunities that I have let slip away.
The times in my life that I have been hurt, disappointed, or have missed out were times in which my intuition and my instinct told me what the correct answer was, and I ignored it. I knew the truth. But rather than trust in myself, I listened to the voice – internal or external – that told me that I am too rash, or opinionated, or that my initial reaction was too strong. Unfair. “Not everyone is like that.” Rather than heeding that voice which is meant to guide and protect me, I gave in to doubt.
If I don’t trust myself to make good decisions, to be able to understand and perceive the truth of a situation, or to be deserving of positive relationships and support, then I cannot trust anyone else.
By Dawn Kennedy
Eyeballs in my feet
I see what’s on the ground
I wasn’t made wrong
I was made round
I hope you see no faults
With my tongue on my arm
And my ears on my elbows
And my heart in constant harm
I wear it on the outside
It beats to a tune
It beats to the tune
At the beckoning of the moon
And sometimes it will stop
As if it wants to sigh
Because beating for so long
Makes it want to die
Feel no sorrow for it
Feel nothing at all
Because it is the way to be with your head in a brawl
I think of yesterday, and the day after that
I think of future things, and of the place that I am at
It is dark in this place because I killed the light
But with eyeballs in your feet
It is not a pretty sight
© Dawn Kennedy, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.
My first love was a man who was level-headed and logical, where I am passionate and opinionated. Our opposing personalities made for polarized viewpoints and heated, intense debates about every topic under the sun. And it was during these debates that I fell in love with him. Because it was having these regular debates, and these very different opinions and viewpoints that enabled me to open up to him completely where I might have once pushed him away. To trust him where I might have been very guarded. I was safe with him – we were so different, but I could always be unabashedly and unreservedly Myself in his presence. With him, I was valued where no one else had valued me and where I certainly did not value myself.
I do not mind at all when a person expresses their opinions to me, that are about some aspect of my life. My love life, my mistakes, my professional life, my faith, my finances, my friendships, my physical health, my appearance, my personality – all of these topics are well and truly open. I enjoy listening to what others have to say.
The only topic that is absolutely not open for debate and where others’ opinions are not welcome, is my goals and dreams for my life. No one gets to touch that.
Unless you have already achieved what I am striving for, or you are already where I want to be, I don’t give a rat’s hind end what you think. Because all this means that either you are not even headed in the same direction that I am, or that you are not achieving success yourself. Therefore, your opinion is worthless to me.
“When you see someone who has what you want, do what they do.”
Writing is theraputic for me. It always has been. As much as I’ve been writing about Ode and Iyesa lately (yes, yes, I am aware I haven’t updated any excerpts for a while), I still write in my journal every morning.
But this medium, too, is one I use for that purpose. Not because I feel that I should share all my hurts and pain with the world, but because it makes hiding from myself impossible. Once it’s on the internet, it’s forever, they say.
You know, I have always had an appreciation for men who are straightforwardly only interested in sex. Not because I want to get involved with them, understand. Or because I want to go for a roll through the hay (already covered THAT whole kettle of fish).
But the expectation is clear, there. I know exactly what to expect. I know exactly what they have to offer, and what they want in return. Equivalent exchange. It only gets complicated when you try to read more into it than what there is.
It’s the ones who stay that are suspicious to me. The ones who sit and listen to me ramble on, saying nothing – or those who will debate and converse actively with me. The ones who seem to endeavor to get to know me, or who find ways to entertain or lift me up. They are the ones I do not trust. Because you never know what you are going to get.
A man who is only interested in sex might bruise the ego – they leave some scratches when they go, sure, especially for the tenderhearted. But the ones who listen, the ones who engage, the ones who learn and who share – they get their claws in. And when they go, they tear big chunks out of the flesh, and leave scars.
Perhaps I’m cynical; and with no doubt, I’m absolutely opinionated. I’m not ashamed of that fact, even when I am wrong. I’m passionate about what I believe in, and I get riled up easily. And the more emotional I am, the more I rant and spit out rash generalizations.
I enjoy being told that I’m wrong. I enjoy debate – I enjoy having my opinions and beliefs challenged and dismantled by an opposing view.
I feel closest to those people that I can actively and vehemently disagree with. I respect those people who challenge my views, and force me to defend myself. I don’t mind being wrong. I have a right to be wrong – a right that I exercise on occasion, with gusto.