Friday, October 21, 2011
I don't know who originally came up with that saying, but I used to hear it from my foster parents a lot and I never fully understood why they would say such a thing to me. First of all, how did I make that life? My life was not what I made of it because I had no choices that I could make on my own. I was just a kid. Even though I had been placed in foster care, I still felt helpless and like I was nothing but a victim of circumstance. I couldn't make anything of my life because the beginning was so horrible, so unimaginable, there was just no way for me to make any kind of decent life. Afterall, you can't make something from nothing....or can you?
As I grew older I began to realize that we all live an average of 75 to 80 years, that means we get to spend 3/4 of our lives trying to make something of ourselves, we get to make our lives. Once we become old enough to go out there in the world on our own we get to begin to make the choices that will determine who we are and what kind of life we will lead. We get to choose our destiny. We take what we have learned and we make our choices based on that, good or bad we make our lives from that point on. Our past, our upbringing will definitely influence our decisions but we get the final say and we make our own choices in the end. So what happens to those, who like myself, have grown up with nothing (or worse than nothing)? How do we make decisions that are good and wholesome and make for a good life? How do we take nothing and turn it into something?
My personal answer to that is I take that nothing and I do everything I can to make opposite decisions. Am I perfect? NO! I am far from perfect and sometimes I make a wrong decision in the heat of the moment. I will yell, I will lose my cool and say something mean and hurtful, I will copy what I learned out of instinct because I still have trouble controlling my emotions. I never hit, never physically follow the path that was taught to me. I do not lock my child in his room, I do not strike him except occasionally with my words. I know it's wrong, I know I need to control that urge to yell and call names, but it's not always easy. I struggle with this part every single day. My son has ADHD and ODD and he is a HUGE challenge most days of the week. I can't remember the last time we had an entire 24 hours where he didn't push my buttons to their limits. He's active, he's loud, he's defiant and challenges everything you say out of instinct. The ODD (Opposition Defiance Disorder) makes him want to challenge authority. The ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) give him impulse control issues along with the attention and hyperactivity issues. The impulse control makes it hard for him to control the defiance urges and therefore we battle a lot. It's not even the big things, it's the little things like taking out the trash or recycling. It's things like taking a shower or doing his homework. Lots of times he will do all his homework except for one problem and he'll leave that one because it gives him that little bit of defiance. Of course then I have to fight him, I have to win and make him finish that homework or take out the trash because he needs to learn. It's hard to not become my egg donor with my words and lose my cool. I start yelling, I start raising my voice in frustration and then I lose my emotional control. In my frustration, I too lose my impulse control to a certain degree. So what's the difference between me and my egg donor? How am I so very different from her?
There are really two major differences between me and her....The obvious is I never strike my child. I maintain my control enough to know when to walk away and not allow that evil to grow inside me. If I have to I will tell my son to go to his room for a few minutes or to sit on the couch while I walk away and take a few deep breaths. I know when I am so frustrated that I have to separate myself from the situation. I can feel the darkness boiling up inside me, I know how easy it would be to strike the child down and make him comply, but I also know the cost of that compliance and I refuse to allow myself or my son to go down that road. I make the choice to do the right thing, to know my limits. Second, I feel majorly sorry for yelling and I immediately apologize for my poor choices. I show my son that I know I am not perfect, but I know how to make the right choice in the end. I know my faults and I am willing to admit to them. I show him that the stronger person admits their faults and does their best to fix them. I know I will never be perfect, I know I will forever make mistakes, but I will do my best to show my son that life is what we make of it, life is about the choices we make once we have the power to make those choices.
I know, I know, children can choose between right and wrong. Children can choose to be good people with their friends and family, and as parents it is our job to teach them which choices are the right ones to make. But in all reality, children do not have a ton of power over their choices and for many kids like my son, they're simply wired differently and it's even harder for them to make the right choices even when they are taught right from wrong. Their brains tell them one thing but their gut tells them to defy, to fight against authority, to stand up and be acknowledged regardless of what may come. They do not comply, they do not simply do as they are told. They need to be approached differently to get what you want and I am slowly learning how to get what I want without him realizing it. I still give direct orders here and there, he needs to learn to deal with life and fight that urge to defy authority, but he will not learn by constantly fighting. So I work hard to change my tactics, to explain his situation to him and help him understand why the battle is worth it in the end. It's hard for him to look into his future and see a good man that people want to have working for them and with them. It is hard for him to imagine what life could be like if he learns to control those urges to fight back. It was just as hard for me to look forward and see a life without abuse and I need to remember that when dealing with my boy. I need to remember that he is young and he doesn't understand the saying of life is what you make of it. I just need to work every day to help him make the choices in his future that will help him understand it when he's 40 like me.
I wanted to take a moment to explain something about Thoughtful Thursdays. Lately I haven't been writing stories about specific events, I have been more about my thoughts in general. This is because I feel the events of my life have been just one horrible tale after another and it does no good to hash them over one by one. I feel that in doing so I am only prolonging my pain and I do not wish to do that any longer. I have come to the point in my life where I am ready to just have thoughts and not have to remember specific events in full detail. Life sucks and then you die....that's what I used to say. It's true to an extent but at the same time it's not. It can be that way if you let it, if you hold onto that pain and relive those memories over and over again. OR you can chose to make a change for yourself, for those you love, make a change for the better. My old saying needs a rewrite...Life sucks and then you heal!
Let the healing begin!