We all have lessons to share, thru the stories from our past. The lessons have value, the stories do not. So it is with hesitation that I will share my stories, with the intent that you will glean the meaning from the lessons.
For those who saw the Movie "The Big Fat Greek Wedding", it serves as a fairly accurate backdrop of the "noise" I recall from childhood. While I am 3/4 Italian and only 1/4 Greek, it captures the family dynamics of love and angst - with the demands to live up to cultural expectations of how and when to marry and move through life, respecting elders. I followed none of the expectations, though I did get roped into a larger than intended wedding at barely the age of 19. Later I delivered the family shame of divorce as I turned legal at only 21. I was 42 before committing again to marriage, having missed the window of opportunity for the large Catholic Italian family that would have met with familial praise.
What have you done under the pressure to please? Seriously, we had an oversize guest list to make Mom happy. Every Mother dreams of her daughter's starlit wedding and the pats of approval for her birthing and raising a princess. I look back now at how beautiful a bride I made, but felt none of it then, riddled with insecurities. Hormones took center stage and I was zeroed in on sex without judgment. In that time and place, this meant Daddy's blessings, counseling by a new young priest clueless on relationships, and a shindig harrowing to the shy young bride. Living together without marriage never crossed our Catholic conditioned minds as a possibility.
Second only to sex, was my desire for babies. Not grown up costly, disrespectful kids, just cute cuddly babies. Disregard the fact that my groom expressed no interest in rug-rats. Did I expect to change his mind? I really don't recall what I was thinking - and suspect there was no thinking at all. No worries, the pre-marital counseling prescribed by the Catholic Church would surely resolve the dilemma. And there it was, explicitly directed in our session with the newly ordained priest at The Shrine: "Do you both commit to raise your children in the Catholic Faith?" Yes! Of course said I." Then without any sign of obligatory Catholic guilt, my fiancee says "I don't want children". Holy crap! In this vestibule of sanctity I expected he will be struck by lightening. Or at least a serious reprimand from Father Ed. But nothing. Worse than nothing. With only two weeks until our vows, the Priest says "you will work this out with time. Well, I gave it approximately two years - with no forward progress. We loved each other, but with zero concept of how to talk without defensiveness, we quickly compromised our way out of the marriage. Have you ever wanted to please someone so much that you second guess what they want, disregarding your own desires? We both did so daily. And now I see how far explicit communication, adapted to our differing MO's, would have gone.
Chalk this wedding up as my greatest episode of denial of every spark of intuition firing in my brain. I could have cancelled the wedding and returned gifts, but oh how I loved the treasures. Especially Aunt Mamie's hand painted casserole - used only on Thanksgiving and taking an entire shelf to store. Finally I have even let that go - to someone who will love it. I'm thankful for the wonderful time we did have together, and baffled that he then quickly remarried a woman who had a child. Wow, those little things in life are ouchies. And confusing. But, the fact is, we don't always get to know the answers to every "why?". We do get to embrace the perfect sequence of our lives.
"Everything happens for a reason", he says. And it did. Jim Antonopulos, my Father, was the quietest Man I've ever known, then he says something this simple and profound to me. He told me he is quiet to allow Mom to talk so much - and because he had only one vocal cord. His right side was left paralyzed following removal of a brain tumor, when I was only three years old. I only knew the quiet man. My Sisters and Brother knew the Businessman, Athlete, Hunter that he was before the 1957 surgery that left him long in a coma. Mom was barely 40, with 5 children and now a husband in rehab. Every one of her children has a completely different memory of those years.
As life marches forward, at an alarming pace, I continue to look backward to the patterns that don't serve. It is amazing how many decades they have crossed. While life is more fulfilling now than ever, there remains a mountain of molehills to be cleared. Forgiveness of myself, God and others is ongoing. Gratefulness for the amazing journey this has been is immense. And all the credit goes to Jim & Clara. I do so Love my parents, and recognize what a gift we all had in them. - Pam
You may be snowed in up North & the Southern Mountains, or relaxing and basking in the glorious weather to the South. Invest a few minutes, or hours, to play with this exercise I assign to select clients. Favorite Pen is important...words flow with more grace. I suggest a tiny quality notebook to carry with you, or a blank sheet of paper will work. Now begin. Create your ATAP REVERSE Bucket List. Yes, we don't care what you want to do. List the meaningful and amazing moments, adventures and travels of your life. WOW! Look what you have already done! Oh The Places You've Been! - Dr Seuss
Next, ponder the activities you enjoyed as a child. Include the sights, sounds, smells and feelings if within your reach. That's it. Watch your mind play with the implications. Are you still doing the things you love? Or living in a state of "Have to" obligations? What might you shift to achieve an "I GET to" state of being - without walking out on responsibilities? We must all work against the grain at times - but joy comes in those aligned moments. Find them and en-joy.
Writing to you, knowing how unique our viewpoints may be. When resisting, ask yourself "What Else is Possible?". My experience and personal truth in any moment is just that - mine for you to consider. All Things are Possible - ATAP