Over the last couple of months, I have been in the process of redefining, redesigning, and restructuring parts and pieces of Farr Better Matches. Part of that process was working with the talented folks who created my website. We wanted to get a fresh look. It was time to clear out the old, and bring in the new. Get rid of the parts that didn’t work or didn’t fit anymore. Then add things that fit more with our mission and making the site and program user and mobile friendlier. So one of things talked about was adding a blog spot that I would post to regularly. It sounded cool so I said, “Sure let’s do it.”
So over the course of days, weeks even, I’d start writing this and that, random thoughts, different things that jumped at me. Then go back in a day or two and add a bit more. I spent more time in my head thinking, and trying to organize my thoughts than I did writing. I just wasn’t sure exactly how to do this. So of course, I do what many of us in our culture do when we want to learn about something, Google it! There it is…’8 Must-Have Ingredients of a Successful Blog Post.’ I carefully read and re-read the article. I hung on words like ‘must,’ ‘essential,’ ‘content marketing,’ ‘strategic,’ etc. and thought to myself, OMG what have I agreed to.
I began to panic, the voice in my head was saying “I can’t do this, how is what I have to say relevant, it doesn’t matter.” What was getting in my way? I like to write. I believe in our mission. I believe in the work I do with my clients. I was getting in my own way. Ohhhhh yeah, me with a splash or probably more like a tidal wave of shame, vulnerability, doubt, and fear just to name a few. Then, ‘ping’, as I get a message from a client. The universe has an uncanny way of giving us exactly what we need sometimes. The message read, “I know it’s your day off but I think you need to know you are challenging my thoughts and reactions, helping me to go inward and look at why I react as I do. I’m learning to not push people away because they create an uncomfortableness in me that has nothing to do with them. For that I thank you. Have a great day knowing YOU are appreciated!! And you do important and sacred work…just sayin!!” I was moved to tears, gratefully responded to the message, and said to myself, ‘Ok God, I get it. Write the blog. Therapist Grow Thyself!!!’
Remembering Dr. Brene` Brown’s work on vulnerability and Daring Greatly, I decided to get in the arena. Since so many of my clients reveal who they are and where they come from, I thought to myself, it’s only fair. Fair for me to share a bit about who I am, where I’ve come from and where I’ve been. As well as, where I plan to go.
And so my story begins…
Born into a lower middle class family in a tiny Pennsylvania town is how my story began. I was the 5th surviving child, later to be followed by the birth of my younger brother 2 years later. My maternal grandparents both passed within several months of each other prior to my birth. I remember the story my mother always told, that around the time of my grandfather’s funeral she realized she was pregnant with me. So, grief was shadowed by joy or maybe joy shadowed by grief. My mother had several miscarriages and the loss of a daughter, Julie – her 4th child. Julie died after 2 days from what my mother was told was SIDS. She would always say that she was one of God’s angels and that he had called her back to be with him.
That’s right, 6 children! Four boys and 2 girls, all spaced about 2 years apart. This is where I first experienced relationships. This is where I began to take information in like a sponge. I suppose it’s no wonder that I came to my career with a strong interest in relationships and how they work. There were all sorts of lessons in those early days and relationships. Slowly, I began to ‘know’ how relationships were supposed to work. I also learned what to do when they weren’t working. It’s funny the conclusions that I came to believe and how I’m still reinventing, relearning, resifting, etc those lessons some 40 years later.
My father was employed at a factory in a nearby town where he retired from some 44 years later. He was a hard worker. Earlier in his life, he enlisted in the army and served his country for several years. My mother quit school in the tenth grade. She married my father at a young age; he was 6 years older than her. My mother was a stay at home mom for most of my childhood, entering into part-time employment only later as my siblings and I were older and more independent. She was caring, and nurturing, and completely overwhelmed.
I look back on my childhood and adolescence fondly, with mostly gratitude and appreciation. I feel blessed to be able to say that. However, that time was also intertwined with challenge, struggle, disappointment, grief, etc. and I’m not naïve enough to believe that I didn’t experience some really difficult, painful lessons along the way also. As a mother of two boys, 8 and 10, I have had the comfort and pain of coming full circle. You other parents know what I mean by that. Becoming a parent has allowed me a deeper understanding, compassion, and in some instances, forgiveness for my parents, AND acceptance of the belief, “they did the best they could.” With every stitch of my being, I believe that. They did the best they could with what they were given and what they came to know.
AND…knowing that doesn’t change the fact that some of it sucked, really sucked. Hold on. I love my parents deeply. I mean them absolutely no disrespect. They have been there for me, and my children, in so many ways that I will probably never be able to acknowledge or fully express my gratitude for. They have also offered the same support to my siblings’ and siblings’ families. However, they were also absent and unavailable in a lot of ways. Their absence and unavailability was sometimes clearly understood and for obvious reasons. However, sometimes, for what appeared to me as a child and adolescent, there was no apparent reason. And definitely not one that made any sense to me. But through it all, I always knew they loved me. But sometimes, I didn’t or couldn’t believe it, or even feel it. But I always knew.
I believe my story is similar to others. Not necessarily in specifics, or dynamics, or in social class, or geographic location, but rather in its functioning or purpose. How families and every member come to live, grow, survive, and evolve. It is the perfect place of offering neutral, positive, and negative teachings. Families are where we come to know ourselves, our parents, our siblings, and extended family, and all the hurts, triumphs, complexity and complications those persons bring to those relationships and therefore to the lessons. It has been those early experiences that have come to intrigue, confuse, shape, inform me of who I am, who I’ve been, and who I want to become. It’s only one piece of the puzzle. And I am on a mission. A mission to fully understand, at least the best I can, or can for today, what it all means. How it fits together; how it doesn’t fit together; and anything and everything in between. I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned along the way, what I am still learning, and what I hope to learn one day.