Saturday, June 17, 2006

When I first saw this incredible double rainbow, I was convinced that the end of it landed right on top of our house. Our new friends and neighbors, our home and our slower-paced lives certainly feel like we discovered a pot of gold.

I realize that I have no right to complain about anything. I have been lucky and blessed in all areas of my life. And the truth of growing up poor and in a violent household is that it gave me an awareness of the plight of others who are less fortunate. It also helped me decide how I didn't want to live. Having two parents who despised one another and solely communicated through yelling was agonizing. It was tough being the designated whipping-boy for all that they hated about their lives. Our lives were always on edge - waiting for the next emotional outburst to spew forward and hurt those in its path.

Now that I can look back at my childhood from a distance, I can see that I gained dividends of knowledge about life, relationships and discipline. Here are a few that I developed:

  • If you're unhappy about your income, get off your butt and do whatever it takes to improve your lot in life. Don't just sit back and nag the spouse. Go to school, read a book, get training that you can use to get a (better) job.
  • Being incessantly over-critical will shatter your kid's self-esteem.
  • Keep the house as clean as possible. Mental decay can easily set-in when the piles become too big to deal with.
  • Jealousy is poison. Stalking is destructive.
  • Do not ever, ever move-out of the house without a word. The heartbreak that you cause your kids will last a lifetime...along with an inability to fully trust.
  • Do not hit your kids on the head.
  • Do not yell in public places or in the backyard for all of the neighbors to hear.
  • Use the tough times to pull everyone together instead of allowing it to splinter you all apart.
  • If you're miserable and unhappy, talk to someone about it. Keeping it bottled up inside will slowly drive you mad to the point where you can no longer deal with normal life. You'll be at risk of suffering from a breakdown. And family members won't understand because you never shared any of the challenges. In fact, your silence will cause them to think that You are the Problem.
  • Most importantly, don't blame your spouse for you lot in life. If you don't like it, get out there and improve it. Nobody ever got what they really wanted by being a victim. It usually just delivers more misery.

I'm always wistful when I see magazine articles about Daughters Reveal The Best Advice Their Mom's Ever Gave. I didn't have a mom who shared wisdom from life's experiences. I didn't have a dad who could role model integrity or devotion. But together, they taught me alot. Through their actions, their procrastination, their continuous yelling and fighting, and their steadfast secrecy about their unhappiness and hardship.

For all of that, I am grateful...and yes, very lucky to be able to finally, finally see all of it for what it was. Not a predictor or mandate of a life that would be similar to theirs...but a string of lessons that opened my heart to others and helped me focus on what I really wanted to do and be.