The military proved to be the single most valuable decision I had made for my career. After relocating to Tennessee, job offers were seeping in from every where I applied. If a degree was required the employer would be willing to consider the service experience on my resume. This made me feel very successful, it was my goal to never be trapped in a system of assistance in raising my children and I felt powerful in knowing that we did not have to struggle financially. Finances would become the single most important thing to me. I had a dream of The Jones', & I was determined to live that dream.
Armed with the funds from my GI Bill, I even took advantage of enrolling in college. This would be the second time I attempted to finish my education. The first was when my daughter was 6 months old in California, but it can be very demanding to juggle marriage, children, & education. & soon I would finally sacrifice my dreams of a college degree to devote myself fully to the career I was already developing for myself. Some probably would have thought I was going to say, devote myself to the children & to the man I was shacking up with. At this time in my life, I literally had no clue that that is exactly what my kids needed and it was what I should have done. But I was too busy running inside myself, feeding my need to survive with the career that would give my kids everything they could dream of. Hind sight always proves to be 20/20!
I was far too much of a teetotaler! I would set these massive goals, and take on things that were nearly impossible for anyone's mind or body to achieve. I worked a full time job, went to school at night, still tended to the kids, homework sometimes until 3am, and work again at 6am in the morning. I could not do anything in moderation, like the addictions I had been raised around, I became completely addicted to survival, to proving something to myself and to the world which was not even necessary to the journey of life. I had to better myself in a crazy, twisted self fulfillment prophecy of sorts. I was very good at creating this wonderful picture of success in the outside world, when it was my inside world that needed all the attention. Both worlds would consistently collide, leaving massive amounts of wreckage.
Because I did not tend to the inner most workings of myself, I still struggled desperately with being a good mother. I was a screamer, and I had no patience with the children who needed their mother to invest just a little of that hard work ethic into their own lives with nurturing & loving attention. I could not see these things, I was working to give them things I never had & I viewed my children's sacrifices as part of life. I was a working mother, some kids just did not get Betty Crocker and that was that.
Oh yes, you are thinking where is my son's father? He was right there living in our lives, but he was not the greatest help. He had begun a routine of working and quitting, & he was very mentally abusive. A complete mirror to my mother's behavior as I was growing up. This was the cycle we hear so much about in our lives, I was attracted to people whom reflected my mother's behavior, completely unaware of it I would have told you I had broken the chain. I was a whore, a bitch, & the list goes on, my mom's & my son's father's words. I would work hard to build the empire I imagined in my own mind, and he was the one who consistently worked to tare me down.
Now I am not going to tell you I was a victim, I was very much capable of exploding emotionally myself. I wasn't very classy with the words I chose to express myself either. My mother had the mouth of a truck driver, insults came far more often then compliments, and I love you's were hardly spoken of. I had very little knowledge or know how in expressing myself in a useful or loving manner.In my own mind I was a victim, but I know now that we only victimize ourselves.
Here is where I will visit my relationship with God. Maybe some how bring all the pieces together before entering the next chapter into the massive roller coaster of destruction or what I have always called My Journey Into Rock Bottom!
My Great Grandmother took all of us children to church every weekend we stayed at her home, which was very often in the younger days of our youth. You just did not stay at grandma's house & not go to church. I would also attend churches my friends invited me to, & I did get a basis of structured religion, the basics to understanding The Lord, & Jesus Christ. This did not extend to my own home, and to this day I can hardly remember my mother ever mentioning Jesus Christ or God in our house. Unless, of course, you counted the profanity or there could possibly be a time she bargained with him about something or another. My point is, organized religion was not in any way the foundation of our home. My step-father was Mormon, & still to this day I have no clue how their belief system is structured. But he definitely loved us children, and tried desperately to give us a sense of normalcy. His unconditional and unwavering love was very God like, and I feel it was a safety net in a home with a mother who was not connected to her children. I disagree with the idea that maybe somehow the lack of a solid religious foundation was the reason my childhood was horrible, love is God, and if there was more love by my mother I do not believe that life as a child would have been so tragic.
My relationship with God was very much as conflicting as my relationship with life. I prayed often when I was young about the things I needed and the pain that I felt. Children are only told to follow the structured rules that are set in organized religion, believe, and pray. God listens, God gives, and God loves. I felt jaded, like he left me to suffer when I needed him most. I would pray long hours into the night, expecting that relief would be on the horizon. Only to be left feeling alone to endure the tragic childhood of a sick mother. I begged and bargained with God, becoming angry when he did not answer my prayers. I remember telling God I would not speak to him within times of my inner frustration, only to pray again and again. I could imagine God with a sense of humor as I got down on my knees telling him all of my woes. I look back now wondering how many times he was thinking, "Hey kid I thought you weren't talking to me!"
Now I will not debate religion. I think everyone has a right to structure a foundation of God, & a relationship with the divine source in which ever way works best for them. This isn't about needing to know that God answers in due time because I wasn't on that waive length in my youth & into adulthood I had simply moved on to something else. God was always there for me, I just needed to do the work blah blah blah. I understand this now, I even understand that God doesn't always need to be found in only the ways the masses seem fit. So I have a freedom in my relationship with God now, that I had never had before. It is a too each their own concept, as I know that many find strength and hope in organized religion, it only brought me full circle to a place where I was lost again and again. Going to church every Sunday brings peace, strength, and hope to some, and I think that is wonderful. It just did not hit home for me, and it just did not bring comfort to me. Once I freed my selves from the rules of how one finds God, I would truly feel the closer I had ever been to his spirit. But that would come many years down the road, and until then I would be unconsciously angry with him & would try desperately to return to the church again and again. Only to be left disappointed, not by God, but by the congregations that constantly reminded me of the heathen I had become. There are great churches out there, but just like everything in my life, I attracted the ones that did not help my journey & sometimes hindered my progress even more.
I think God understands our relationship, it is a personal and beautiful journey we have taken together. He has been there through so many facets of my life, like any other relationship, me and my God have built a strong and powerful bond during the journey we have shared together. Good & bad times have strengthened the foundation of my own relationship with the divine source of unconditional love. I do not judge any one's religion, where they find comfort or whether or not they live by the rules of a society driven religion is a personal journey. I have found that as long as your journey is one of love, and that you find the time to connect with your spirit, that wonderful source of your life within you, you are the closest to God one can ever be. The vehicle of choice is never as important as the arrival into a truly spiritual and wonderful relationship with the God of your image. Mine will forever be the same God I have always known, I have just found my own personal journey into his arms and by his side. I let go of the pressure of rules, labels, and judgement...& in this I found freedom!
Of course, there would be a longer road to travel before I would find this freedom!
(More to come...)