Buy Long-life Milk

I am in the process of packing up Anna, Ben and my home (along with Sophie, Rufus and Muffy and our latest foster, Lloyd) to move to a more manageable place that we will doubtless come to love as much as every place that we have ever lived, regardless of the circumstances that led us to move.

During the sorting and packing, I have found many things including my knitting and sewing from grade 9 (maybe my Home Economics ability was an early ‘heads up’ that wife may not be my calling); my wedding speech (I can still remember my second one, so yes, the one spoken at the marriage to the father of my children); as well as much that represented the wonders and disappointments of my marriage(s).

And as I say goodbye to the parts I have grieved and take with me the parts I have loved (as well as the Le Creuset pots), it has made me think of my friends who have begun the journey of divorce. This post is for you.

  1. Don’t for one moment think that this will be your ‘new normal’ indefinitely. Having your dreams crushed or crushing those of someone you once loved , while trying, among other things, to parent, friend and earn, while being emotionally battered as well as consonantly forgetting to buy milk for that soothing cup of tea, IS NOT NORMAL, new or not. Contentment, a strong and healthy sense of your identity as an individual, showing vulnerability and having it lovingly and graciously received and reciprocated is normal. As is buying long-life milk in bulk.
  2. Time does not heal just because time passes. If it mattered, you will need to intentionally grieve what you lost, even if it was just the dream of your marriage. Go through the stages in your own way and in your own time. In the beginning,  dating felt like cheating, as in the infidelity kind. Forever becoming never is like a time-machine gone wrong. Bad drugs couldn’t even take you on that trip
  3. When you are ready to date again (there are countless variations of ready), try and keep a few things in mind:
  4. If the answer to “How did you contribute to the breakdown of your marriage?” involves, I don’t know; my ex is…. ; I tried so hard to love him/her but….; RUN (like Usain)
  5. Being dry humped (absolutely terrible phrase, I know) while kissing him goodbye at the door is not a good sign. I have foster dogs who are also lonely and desperate. Say goodbye and come to my house where the dog will add a lick in the face too if you’re into that. And I will make soothing tea with my long-life milk.
  6. If he/she wants to marry you within six weeks because you are perfect, do not be flattered. Wait until he/she has shown he/she loves the whole you, good and bad, and that you feel the same before even considering a commitment that involves life-long promises.
  7. Don’t waste time with people who don’t think you are beautiful. Beauty is the sum of all your parts. Anyone who dates you and implies your beauty is conditional, may be considered a beast (Or a narcissist, *insert swear word here).
  8. If your ex meets another woman/man (no matter when or how or where), and he/she spends time with your children, be gracious (medication may be necessary). You may believe you have control over what goes on in his/her house, but I assure you, you do not. Being bitter, blaming, self-righteous and pretending it is ‘in the childrens’ best interests’ fools nobody, least of all your children. This is a first hand account. I am not proud of it. Neither would you be, my precious friend.
  9. There are so many good people in the world. Open your heart to them once you have experienced their goodness (not just been told) and have made sure you can love their badness too.
  10. Most importantly, always remember that you are loveable no matter what. And allow yourself to be loved by those who love well, with generosity of spirit, openly and unconditionally. You are so worth it.

And don’t forget to buy long-life milk.

Entitlement

Entitlement: the right to have or to do something

“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude” Brene Brown

There are times when one’s eyes are opened and realizations become clearer. After reading Gary Chapman’s, “Desperate Marriages-Moving Towards Hope and Healing in Your Relationship” (2008), I have become increasingly aware of the attitude of entitlement in my own life and in those around me. Notably, I have learned the most about entitlement from the grace and authentic demonstration of gratitude in others who do not demonstrate entitlement in any way.

Gary Chapman talks about a concept he calls “Reality Living’ in which one chooses to face life with a positive spirit. He believes in six realities that can facilitate focus and provide direction.
1. I am responsible for my own attitude –this has a profound influence on our physical and emotional well-being.
2. My attitude affects my actions- we can be part of the problem or part of the solution.
3. I cannot change others, but I can influence others.
4. My emotions do not control my actions.
5. Admitting my imperfections does not mean that I am a failure.
6. Love is the most powerful weapon for good in the world- love is less an emotion and more an attitude that is demonstrated with appropriate behaviour.

Something I have come to realize is that entitlement is an attitude that is shaped by the responses and boundaries of those close to us, especially in our early years.

As part of my wish to better understand entitlement and the effects on my life, I have been reading a book called Gratitude and Kindness: A Modern parent’s Guide to Raising Children in an era of Entitlement (Fry, C and Ferarri, L, 2015).
Fry and Ferrari believe that gratitude and kindness are important because they can increase our happiness, decrease our stress, increase our ability to reach goals and allow for more caring friendships and social connections. They believe that giving to or making life easier for our children is great unless we do either to such an extent that our children expect and demand from us or others. An attitude of entitlement can make life difficult, as once advantages are assumed to be deserved, disappointment, anger, hurt and resentment can easily follow.

I have been thinking a great deal about the relationship between entitlement, grace and gratitude. Reading Philip Yancey’s “What’s So Amazing about Grace?” (1997), he talks about the primary reason for doing good being the overwhelming gratitude for what Christ has done for us. This could apply to kindness and compassion being an overflow of the gratitude we have, which is the antithesis of an attitude of entitlement.
Fry and Ferrari believe that gratitude is a way of being. It is an affirmation that there are good things in this world that we have received as well as the recognition that the source of the goodness is outside ourselves.

I have found that those who are grateful for what they have tend to be more gracious towards others. And it is far easier to be gracious and generous to those who do not have an attitude of entitlement.

My hope is to cultivate a deep sense of gratitude by being aware of everything I have to be thankful for. And through this gratitude, may there be more of a sense of privilege than of entitlement demonstrating itself through unending grace towards others.