Archive for the ‘relationships’ Tag

Co-Dependent   Leave a comment

The trouble with people is two simultaneous facts.

One: You can’t live with them.

Two: You can’t live without them.

Ever notice this?

You are a human being so by definition you are interdependent with other humans.  You are a part of a culture and civilization on a broader level, and you are part of a family, community, non-profit, neighborhood, something.

Closer in, you rely on your family and close friends.  You are counting on them to be who they are and to do what they do that keeps your world running.  Reliance.  That’s what you do in reference to those you spend most of your time with.  If you don’t believe me, imagine your life without the people you live and work with.  Of course (you probably notice this more often) others also rely on you.

You have chosen to commit in love or friendship to those who are closest to you; at the same time that you rely on them, they do not belong to you.  They are their own.  You cannot command them and demand their love and care.

What they chose to give you is what you may have of them.

They are not required to be what you want them to be.

They do not have to do what you think they should do.

They are not yours to command, but they are yours to love.

 

 

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Posted April 12, 2017 by swanatbagend in relationships

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Broken   Leave a comment

What’s one of the most distressing events that can happen to a child?

That’s right.

Something they love gets broken.

And mom and dad cannot fix it.

I have memories of something lovely getting irreparably damaged, and how distressed and grieved that made me as a child.  We had Christmas ornaments of blown glass, colored globes surrounded by extremely thin spiraled wires.  Even the bracket at the top of the ornament was a work of art, all fine silver made of tiny detailed patterns.  When one of those broke, because they were already old by the time I was old enough to love them, it was painful.

That’s an ornament, a thing of beauty, but nonetheless just some heated and blown sand.

How much more distressing it is when things of more importance are broken.  And how distressing it is to find that one continues to break things on a regular basis.

It seems to be inescapable.  I once thought that if I just tried hard enough, I would always and only be a force for good in the world.  I thought that somehow I would have the ability and the will and the power to always do the right thing.  Knowledge was power, and I knew what was right.  It was my goal in life when I graduated from high school to love and be loved and be happy.  I had no idea how truly difficult that would be.

Despite my best efforts, I damage and destroy what is good.  How is it possible to be aware of the beauty, of the import, of the good in people and the world, and still be the cause of damage?

I realize that I too am broken, and that my brokenness damages others on a regular basis.

I’m not saying that I never do anything right.  Like you, I work hard to be a good friend, a good parent, a person whose heart is attuned to God so that I can spread the love around.  I want to love others well.  Most of the time, I do a pretty decent job.

But, some of the time my brokenness rises to the top, and that is what other people get from me.

Thank God that he has made peace with me and covered me with his righteousness.  I was far away from him.  I am still farther than I want to be.  However, my distance and brokenness does not stop him from pulling me closer.  Because of Christ, he has brought me into his presence and I stand before him redeemed.  He is transforming me.

He is transforming me, and it starts right here, from the point of my acknowledgement that I am broken.

Posted February 8, 2017 by swanatbagend in reality, reflections, relationships

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And Autism Took That Away   1 comment

Last night, my husband and I almost had a fight over something I said to him.

I’m thankful that after 27 years, he knew me well enough to know that my intent wasn’t to hurt him.

I had a really long day after a really long two weeks, and I did not think I could do one more thing for anyone.  I wanted him to know that I needed a peaceful evening with nothing else added in.  But the way it came out made him feel as if I thought he always comes barging in thoughtlessly demanding fifty different things from me when he gets home from work.  Of course, that’s very untrue.  It hurt his feelings.

The thing is: I was trying to communicate well.

I thought I was doing fine.  I thought I was being pleasant, but still letting my spouse know what I needed.

Utter fail!

I didn’t greet him first, didn’t ask how his day was.  I hugged him, but my words were, “I need to not have anyone demanding anything from me tonight.”

You’ve had days like that, I know.  And it’s important to communicate your needs, so your spouse will know them.  But this was not the way to do it.

I was mentally catapulted straight back into Mr. Dilbeck’s seventh grade social studies class.  I was distraught because I had been told some boy liked me.  The thought apparently terrified me, and I had no idea how to react.  Other things upset me that day, and by the time I got to that afternoon class, I was a complete mess.  When attendance was taken, in some sort of desperate attempt to get help, when my name was called, I didn’t say “Here.”  I said, “I’m here, but I wish I wasn’t.”

I stayed after class that day to discuss my disrespectful response, with a teacher who turned out be kind once I explained myself, but I learned that there are certain forums which you don’t use for expressing personal angst.

At least–I thought I learned.

But I didn’t, fully.

That certainly wasn’t the only socially inappropriate thing I did as a teenager.  By far.  I rolled off my chair in a Sunday school class one time when I was just about dead with sleep, and got my entire class in trouble with our long-suffering teacher.

I complained to my biology teacher that she didn’t care that I didn’t understand what she was talking about, and spent time helping her to clean up and organize the lab as a way to make up for my misbehavior.

All this fallout was brought on by stressful situations overcoming my social abilities.  My friends would ask me, why did you do that?  And in hindsight I always realized I should not have, but I never had any reasonable explanation for my ridiculous behavior.

I obviously learned something from those experiences.  But apparently not enough to only have one of those experiences.

There are other things that a neurotypical person may routinely expect to do that I cannot.

Autism takes away the ability to attend concerts and any large, loud or frenetic events.  It’s scary and overwhelming.

While I rode my fantastic intellectual abilities to the top in high school and college, there aren’t any good grades to be had working and living and interacting with other people each day in the rest of one’s life.  Autism means that I cannot have a career which involves change, unpredictability, and random events.  I think I’d say waitressing and air traffic control are out.  I did work as a camp counselor, and I do have children, but I’m definitely done with the camp counselor days, and in my own family, we’ve all found ways to help each other out by keeping our general life routine pretty predictable.  If work is changeable, it’s much too stressful, and while I can handle noise and chaos for a time and in some emergency situations, my tank drains really rapidly.

Having autism means the ability to be flexible is extremely compromised.  Friends, now you know why it is impossible to get me to do anything at the drop of a hat–except maybe go get an ice cream.  If you think of it last minute, I say no.  Sorry.

Autism takes away a natural ability to comprehend many of the mysterious ways that relationships work.  I work hard to maintain friendships.  But if I have been mistaken in your level of interest, and you drift away from me, I won’t understand why.  I just can’t comprehend how friendship could evaporate.

I still for the life of me cannot determine when people are being sincere.  I’ve always been naïve, and while I thankfully haven’t ever been permanently damaged by that naïveté, I still routinely look forward to receiving future invitations that never come.  A year later, I will finally realize that the person was dropping a meaningless social nicety when she said, “Let’s do this again soon.”  And it’s not like I haven’t been told that these kind of comments are almost never meant specifically and actually.  I know that.  It’s just that when I’ve wrapped up a fun time or an enjoyable conversation, my mind can’t detect any insincerity.  Why wouldn’t we get together again soon?  I actually spent about a year once waiting for two different people to get back to me about a proposed get together.  Sure, some of that was depression, some was being stubborn, but what person in her right mind really believes that after a month has passed, she’d get an actual invitation?

No matter how old I get, I still say the wrong thing, even when I’m specifically trying to be appropriate and adult.  Even when I try to communicate my thoughts and feelings, while maintaining respect for the other person’s position, or love for the other person, I fail to do so.

Offending people is the last thing I want to do.  I’ve always wanted to be liked more than just about anything.

But sometimes, autism makes that impossible.

Posted May 23, 2016 by swanatbagend in autism

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Relationally Apathetic?   3 comments

I’ve lived in 11 different cities or towns in 9 different states.  I have moved around a lot in 48 years, less than some people, but enough to develop sufficient social skills to make friends wherever I go.  At least so said some friends of ours from one of our old churches when the subject of how I interact came up.  I was glad to hear that was their perception of me, ’cause that is what I like to do.

I lived in one town between the years 1994 and 2006, and what I’m wondering is this.

Did our culture irretrievably change during that time period, so that making friends became ten times more difficult when I moved nine years ago, or did I just move to the most relationally apathetic place I have ever lived?

Which is it?  both/and?

I know people are busy.  I know, because I’m busy too.  My children aren’t inundated with activities but when you add together homeschooling, doing the planning for that, doctor and therapy appointments, vacations, family events, each person only has so much energy.  Then there are church commitments if you’re part of a faith community.  I appreciate that our church keeps those to a minimum, where you can wisely allocate your time to meaningful ministry, outreach, living, without getting bogged down in obligations just to keep a program running.

Busy is understandable.  We’ve all been there.

I suppose it could be true that I just need to revamp my own priorities and try harder.

Possibly, and I’m processing this one, I need to consciously decide to invest less time on the things I do on the internet, and redirect that toward contacting friends another way and spending time with people in person.

And, I am thankful for the gems we get to spend time with (many of them those very hardworking, busy women I referenced in my recent blog post “A Day with a Friend?”).  Our family has been blessed with several lovely families whose company we have really enjoyed for many of the past nine years.

I just haven’t figured out why, despite making continued efforts to develop friendships, my efforts haven’t borne the fruit I expected, nor the fruit that an equivalent amount of effort elsewhere, in the past, would have done.  It seems as if what used to work doesn’t work any more, and I find myself wondering if there’s been a new class in Friendmaking 101 that I have completely missed.

Have you had this experience?  Please share your thoughts.

Posted October 21, 2015 by swanatbagend in community, friendship

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Electronic Community?   1 comment

I object to it, because it’s a myth.

It’s ridiculous to think that having a social networking site is going to assure community, connection and relationships.

This, my friends, is impossible.

In a world where introductions have shrunk to a mere first name, soon forgotten, true, intimate relationships are difficult to build.  And, they don’t happen on a website.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook.  (Most of the time; sometimes I hate it.)  That site has made many things possible.  I’ve reconnected with long-lost friends.  I would have had no other simple way to find them nor they me.  I now am able to talk with Becky from third grade in Alaska, Rosanne from fifth grade in Montana, and any number of dear friends from junior high and high school in Oklahoma.  I can keep up with current friends where I live now.  But I can only do it in black letters on a screen.  And I can only do it with people who like to sit and type black letters on a screen.  If they aren’t using the tool, I’m not connecting with them at all.

And there’s something to be said for being face to face.

For one thing, it takes a lot more time.  It takes effort to schedule a time that works for both of you.  It takes energy to get yourselves to the same location so you can be in each others’ presence.  It’s a lot of work.  It’s just easier to be at home, email when I’m ready, text if I want to, and check messages when I darn well feel like it.

And the current reality is that information is disseminated and projects organized entirely on the internet.  Churches are now set up where you get all your information online.  I just need to accept that reality and make it work.

I’m having a bit of trouble with that.  In some of the groups on my church’s website, there are almost no members.  If I go to the group and it tells me there are 2 members, 50% of whom have “engaged” today, and I can clearly see that 50 % is me, and also observe that the website’s apparent definition of “engagement” must be “turning on the internet and going to this particular website,” (because that is all I just did) frankly, I call that insane.

That is not engagement and no community was strengthened in that moment.   You can call it engagement, but saying so ain’t going to make it so.  It’s just an electronic interface.  If people aren’t using it, it doesn’t connect them.

Now, that can change.  As more people become aware of this particular group on this particular social network, it will introduce us to each other and help us help each other.

In my experience, the bottom line for relationship building is time spent together–face to face–working, talking, sharing, living alongside each other.  That is what builds relationships.  Eating dinner together, laughing, arguing, making up.  That is what brings joy, intimacy and community.  Suffering together, helping each other.  That is what matters.

I think I’m done with the internet for today.

 

 

Posted October 31, 2014 by swanatbagend in community

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