Disclaimer: My tummy hurts and I can’t focus on work so my head is swimming and if I know me, this is likely to be ramble-y and a combination of several posts I’ve thought about making in the last month and have lots of run-on sentences and no certain point. Or maybe I’ll amaze myself and have a killer ending paragraph to tie it all together, but don’t count on it. 🙂
Well it’s official. I’m growing up. I’m 27 now you know. I’m very responsible and adult like (despite the fact that I’m being irresponsible right now and blogging at work and wearing flip flops at work). Okay so maybe I’m not always responsible and adult like. I do have three Glee soundtracks in my car I listen to non-stop, along with all three High School Musicals, Camp Rock, and The Hannah Montana Movie soundtracks, and lets not forget The Jonas Brothers and all of their cds that also live in my collection. BUT I am growing up. I have had my first full time adult job for 8 months now and have managed to make all of my clients, even the difficult (crazy) ones like me. Just this week one of those cra.. I mean difficult ones told me I was a tough cookie and she was glad I was her case manager. See! Me.. a tough cookie. That’s growing up. Another reason I know I’m growing up is because of this past birthday I just had where I got further from 25 and closer to 30, where I almost decided that I was officially too old to celebrate birthdays because of the day… Allow me to share.
Okay so it was my birthday and every birthday I always plan out my outfit in detail, buy a new outfit or something fun like that. I mean it’s your birthday! You have to look cute. So of course, I did. Bright yellow dress, gray and yellow stripped cardigan, cute owl necklace, good hair day, you know, great birthday outfit! So my coworkers and I had decided to order out to Copeland’s for lunch to go and eat it in the office for lunch. Well if you know me and my quirks, you know I have a tendency to be a control freak and to get stressed out when things don’t go smoothly. Well in true Kasia-fashion, since no one else volunteered to take everyone’s orders and organize everything in a time that I thought they should, me and my control freakishness did it. And then of course, I got stressed out because people wouldn’t hurry, we didn’t order on time, people changed their orders, etc. So I placed, called in, and collected money and cards for all 10ish orders. One coworker did help collect the money. So then I went with all my separate labeled in detail envelopes with the money and cards with two other girls to pay and pick up everything. I paid the tip and paid for two people’s orders (on my birthday), who eventually paid me back but it was over a week.
So we get back with the food, and everyone’s food is there… except mine! So of course I’m already stressed out and aggravated, and then no food for me! Except my cheesecake was there. So while my friend went to pick up mine, I started eating my yummy banana fudge cheesecake. I mean it’s my birthday okay, I can eat dessert first! So whilst eating said yummy cheesecake… “Kasia, line 3.” So I answer and its a dropping a bomb of a call full of crazy stuff I’m going to have to fix and deal with, which on any other day, sure would have been stressful, but following the events of the day already and the fact that it was my birthday… well I didn’t handle it to well. Not too many details, but it lead to me having to call police, call protective services, lots of allegations, illegal drugs, stealing, etc. So as I get off the phone and start to complain and freak out and inquire about what to do now, I hear, “Um, Kasia. You have chocolate on your dress.” I look down and it not just on my dress, it’s ALL OVER my dress. I’m talking from the frilly scoop neck to my knees. So I lay my head down on my desk and just cry for about 30 minutes. Then spent 30 minutes using an entire tide pen getting it all out, which I did. Then I got fussed at about something else so went and sat on the bathroom floor at work and cried for another 30 minutes. Then cried in my car all the way home.
Now I did end up having a good birthday. Against what I felt, I wanted to just lay in the bed and cry, but I went to a women’s ministry thing that night, wore a sombrero, heard the happy birthday song and had great company. And the next day I went out with some wonderful friends for dinner and a movie and it was in fact a redeemable birthday. And I’m not gonna stop celebrating, yet. But, I know I’m growing up, and just growing as a person, because even though I was hypersensitive because it was my birthday and it just stunk, I cried all the way home and on the bathroom floor because God was speaking to me and showing me huge things.
I’ve been going to counseling for almost two years now and the counselor I have had since August is just amazing. Every day isn’t great. But there isn’t a week of my life that I can’t look back and see how I learned something new about myself or grew in someway or took a baby step of some sort. I’m not where I wish I was, but facing your past, a stolen childhood, a dysfunctional history, and learning from it and how to fix it and change things about yourself that are your fault and some that aren’t, doesn’t happen over night. Becoming who God wants you to be is a process for anyone, but even more so when there are so many things in the way that affect how you see God, yourself, how you trust, and fundamental things that are vitally important to living the life God wants for you. Thursday is counseling day. Friday was my birthday.
That Thursday I had one of the many revelations I’ve had about myself through this whole counseling and going through God’s refinery process and then saw it unfold before my eyes all day Friday. I always knew I had to deal with things as a child that a lot of adults have never even had to deal with. But I didn’t know that meant something. My reading for counseling that week had been about growing up in a dysfunctional family and how living in constant unpredictable crisis after crisis affects you and how children of those families often lose their childhood. My first thought was so what, big deal, how does that affect anything. But as always, as I read my homework from this book that I swear was written by me from the future or something, it hit me like a ton of bricks. My friend Stacy and I used to joke about how, because of how we grew up and things that had happened in our families, we always have just lived in survival mode. I’ve prided myself in living in survival mode. When people told me I was strong to have dealt with stuff, in my mind I shrugged and didn’t feel like I was strong. I just felt like I survived, because it’s what I knew how to do. And thank God for survival mode then, I needed it. But now as an adult, I’m having to learn to let go of it.
My entire childhood and adolescence was lived from crisis to crisis. When you grow up like that, you learn to not trust when things are calm, to always expect a crisis and to live your life focused on whatever crisis is at hand. As an adult, the way it plays it self out is in sabotaging your own success. As I read every example of how adults do this, my heart sunk. I saw myself in every single one: you tell yourself that you don’t deserve to succeed, you tell yourself that God doesn’t want you to succeed, you tell yourself the good you desire will never happen so you might as well quit trying, you tell yourself that whatever you have accomplished has been fake because you were wearing a mask, you cultivate an addition to work (or volunteering or activities) that keeps you in a state of near exhaustion, you give in to fear just before you reach a major goal, you tell yourself the future will never come, you maintain a commitment to stay on the edge of success without ever achieving it. Now, I’m not a negative person usually. So I’m not saying I consciously said or thought these things ever, or was even aware of them, but as I read them and the more in depth descriptions, I saw myself and so many things that I do. I understood parts of myself for the first time.
And then (and by the way Mr. Blog, I know you have fallen asleep and are no longer listening to me, but that’s okay, I am good at talking to myself, it’s a very complicated talent I’ve developed) reading the book I wrote in the future and published under some other name and sent back to the present, about a lost childhood, just wow. It talked about how a child loses that is by becoming a caretaker, by abuse, by learning to turn off emotions, and by choosing to survive in a harsh family situation. All of which are things that happened and I did without even being aware. I was just surviving, but it happened. And let me say, I love my parents. And am so happy to be alive and that their DNA and only theirs made and could have made me. But life is messy, things happen. We are fallen people that live in a fallen world. We make mistakes and those mistakes affect generations. Not on purpose, but they do. But when you live in crazyland full of crisis after crisis, the adults have bigger things to focus on than making sure a child is nurtured as a child should be. My parents always provided. My mom even as a single mom even always provided. We never missed a meal (obviously), we always had a house, clothes, and basic physical needs. But children have emotional needs. They don’t know they do. And sometimes parents don’t know that the child does either, but it’s a fact.
Children need to play, they need to know emotions are okay, they need to feel safe, they need to believe mom and dad will be there tomorrow, they need to know someone will be there when they are hurt, they need to know certain values are honored in their family, they need to know someone will listen, they need help knowing what is real. To a child shadows move on their own, monsters live in the closet and under the bed, their best friend doesn’t like them because they threw a rock at them, it’s a parents job to do all of that. Big scary job, but it is. If home isn’t a safe place, if its a dysfunctional crazyland, that doesn’t happen. Kids brains aren’t developed. They don’t know what they are doing. They are just surviving when life is crazy. They don’t learn how to feel. They don’t learn what emotions are okay or what emotions you should feel about something. So a child makes an unspoken decision to become a caretaker. In the words of the book,
“She musters all the strength she can find, she starts taking care of things and people. The child becomes a fixer of people. She learns to smooth out rough spots in relationships. She becomes a problem solver. She covers for her parents when they make mistakes. She may even do some very impressive things to bring honor to an otherwise dishonorable situation. This child is now a caretaker. Caretakers do not have much time to be children.”
During childhood is when you develop the ability to trust. If something happens to take that away, children learn that trusting is too dangerous and not to do it anymore. They become bullerproof and lose the innocent trust of childhood. In healthy families, when something bad happens, a child can talk about it later and ask what it meant, why it happened, and if everything is okay. In dysfunctional families, nobody says anything the next day, or the next, or ever. Things are never talked about. This is what I read and felt it sink and sink and sink into my heart and awareness of myself.
So Friday, the birthday, I see it everywhere. I saw it in everything I do. In every way that I handled the events of the entire day. I watched myself being a caretaker over something as small as taking lunch orders. I watched myself not trusting others enough to do it. I remembered time after time when I’ve done it in the past. It’s like a movie playing in my mind all day. A mix of my childhood and adulthood and so many things that now made sense. Understanding why I freak out and why I can’t imagine a future and why I can’t believe God’s promises for me. I saw myself not trusting that anyone will stay in my life. I saw myself as the fixer of people, of everything. I saw myself living from crisis to crisis. I saw my walls and how I don’t let anyone in and let anyone help me. I saw how I hide from my emotions. I saw so many instances of sabotaging my own success. I saw my relationship with God. I saw what the past two years of this sometimes really difficult season of my life have been. I vividly saw the picture described in the book I wrote in the future and sent back to the present (the book is called Making Peace With Your Past by Tim Sledge). The author said,
“…it’s like trying to hold down a bunch of balloons under water. The balloons are all trying to rise as you try to keep them down. Someday you will get tired, and the balloons will shoot out of the water because you will say: I’m tired. I can’t hold them down any longer.“
As I sat on the bathroom floor at work, as I cried my eyes out all the way home, I saw it. I was in the big ol’ Camp Garaywa pool. The balloons were red. I was crying and yelling at the sky, “No, no. I can do it. I can fix it. No not that one. I have it. I can take care of myself.” And I heard God saying in a calm, loving voice, “Just let go. Kasia… just.. let.. go.” And I realized this, this whole process, balloon by balloon, sometimes inch of balloon by inch of balloon, God’s teaching me and showing me how to let go and how to trust Him, and other people. I’m not there yet, but it’s a process. The definition of process is to work, to shape, to form. Blood, sweat, tears, effort and all, I’m not there, but I’m on my way.
Please don’t hear me complaining. I am not at all doing that. I 150 percent believe God gives you the parents and family He meant to. He doesn’t make mistakes. And I love and appreciate every sacrifice my parents made. I am alive because of their sacrifices. But I also believe God is the Master Crafter and Orchestrator and Play-maker of my life, of our lives. I believe and know He uses everything, the good, bad, ugly, dysfunctional, crazyland, baggage, issues, mess of life, all of it, for good. I believe He pushes the right buttons in my heart for all of this to come up and to surface so I can break the cycle. So I don’t have to keep passing the dysfunction down to future generations. And so that I can help other people. Like I said, life is messy. For 25 years I survived in my safe survival mode pretty wrapping paper covered package. But God decided it was time to get messy and deal with the mess that affected me in ways I never knew. He decided it’s time to be broken, and maybe for a while, and sort out all the pieces, so He can put them back together.
So I know I’m growing up. Because yes, I had a crappy birthday with no princess cakes or candles or train rides in formal dresses, but I saw God. I saw God in a friend who cared enough to get my forgotten food. I saw God in a tide pen. I saw God on a bathroom floor. I saw God in a red balloon. I saw God in the encouraging words of several friends I don’t let in enough. I saw God in an ugly sombrero. I’m growing up by growing… as a person, as a friend, as a child of God. I’m growing up by discovering the truth about myself and who I am, and who God is. I’m growing up by tearing down my walls one brick at a time. I’m growing up by slowly letting the red balloons go one by one.
And so… I’m 27 now. And I’m going to keep listening to the Jonas Brothers and being obsessed with Harry Potter, but I’m also going to keep growing.