Wednesday, January 23, 2013

30 Things - Relationship With Parents


#3 Describe Your Relationship With Your Parents


For an explanation of 30 Things and past posts, click here:

Childhood (up to 12 years old)

I have a horrible memory for my life when I was a kid. I once told my brother that I didn’t remember him at all from my childhood. When he looked upset by that, I simply reassured him that it was okay, because I barely remembered me from my childhood. So, I don’t really know exactly how my relationship with my parents was.

I do know that, because my mom stayed home, I was very close to her. Apparently, when I was a baby, I was pretty easy to take care of. All Mom had to do was stand in the kitchen and I would play at her feet with the pots and pans. One of my favorite baby pictures is me with a red strainer on my head. I followed Mom wherever she went and happily played near her. I remember her making me tuna fish sandwiches served with Cheetos every day for lunch during kindergarten. I remember coming home from first and second grade and joining my mom on her bed at the end of her nap and talking her ear off about my day while we cuddled. I’m pretty sure I told my mom everything, I loved spending time with her, and I felt better about myself when I was with her.

My dad worked hard and was in the Stake Presidency all through this time. So unfortunately, he wasn’t around much. But when was, I loved it. On days that he would get home late after we were already in bed, he would come upstairs and cuddle with me for a bit, then with Sarah (we shared a room) and stay with us until we fell asleep. As the baby in the family, I had a tendency to get picked on. Dad paid attention and when he could see me getting hurt by it, he’d make sure the big kids stopped. If I was just frustrated or mad, he’d let them continue and maybe join in himself, but as soon as my emotions crossed the line to pain and hurt, he’d step in. The thing I remember most often was the sound of Dad locking the front door every night when we went to bed. I loved knowing that not only was he providing for us at work, but he was protecting us by keeping the scary things of the dark that wanted to hurt us from coming in (or at least that’s how I saw it). I always felt safe as soon as I heard that thud and knew he was watching out for us.

Teenage years (12 – 18)

The first year or so of my teenage years was a little rough. But after being grounded for 2 months straight once, I decided on my own that I wanted to change, so my relationship with my parents improved drastically after that.

During high school, I considered my mom my best friend. There was nothing I liked more than sitting around and talking with her about anything and everything on my mind. I valued Mom’s opinion more than anyone else’s (well, of course as a teenager there were a few times I cared more about other people’s opinions, but it was definitely not the majority of the time).  Mom often encouraged me to serve a mission when I grew up, emphasizing the fact that because it was the best preparation she could have possibly had for life, she wanted me to experience that as well. And she had faith in me that I could be a really successful, powerful missionary. It was good to be believed in, with the expectation of triumph, rather than failure.

Dad was no longer in the Stake Presidency when I was in high school, and started having Fridays off, so I saw him more. He did what he could to support me in my activities and go watch me in the marching band as often as he could. I wouldn’t say we were super close at the time, a fact that I really regret and wish had been different. I think this was partly because he didn’t know how to relate to me and mostly because I didn’t really give him the chance. I respected him and looked up to him, we just didn’t have much to talk about. And that’s okay.

Undergraduate and Mission years (18-23)

Growing up and moving away definitely changed my relationship with my parents, many times over. Of course there is the awkward stage of trying to figure out how to have an adult relationship with your parents. Then there is the part where you realize that your parents aren’t perfect, which is hard in some ways but really good as well because you realize that they are human too. It’s a confusing time, but I think my parents handled it great.

With my mom, the first few years of college I did what I could to stay as close to Mom as we had been before. I would call at least a few times and week, sometimes every day just to talk or get her opinion on things. Mom tried not to call me very much because she wanted me to see that she saw me as an adult and didn’t want to force herself upon me, which was good, but I also always wanted her to call me more and feel the desire she had to talk to me. When I went on my mission, Mom sent me great care packages and let me know how proud of me she was (actually she would say “greatly pleased” to avoid the “sin” of pride, which I thought was cute). She wanted to know everything I was experiencing and was so happy to see me experience what she loved so much.

Dad and I didn’t keep in touch as much when I first went to college. Any time I called and he answered he would ask a few questions and then, assuming that I just wanted to talk to Mom, hand the phone over to her. Any time I was in a financial bind or needed help flying home, he was willing to help as much as he could. I was to be as financially independent as possible, and only go to him when I really needed it, which I think I did well at not abusing, and it was good to know that I could always rely on him. On my mission, Dad really stepped it up and wrote me a letter every week. It was mostly just his weekly journal that he would print and send to me, with a few adjustments here and there. It meant more to me than he could possibly know. I trusted in those letters, knowing that they would come every week and it made me feel safe and loved, feelings that were semi-rare during those times. I think I got to know him through those letters in a way I never had before, and I loved seeing little bits of him through his writing. Some of my most prized possessions are a few letters he wrote by hand when he was unable to type or print. My dad doesn’t like to write and doesn’t like his handwriting, so to know that he still wrote me anyway was so special.

Graduate School (24-current)

Moving back near home, only an hour away, has changed our relationships again. I got used to not talking to Mom as often while on my mission, so I no longer call just to talk, except in rare situations. Also, I’m crazy busy, and so is she. But when we get together we talk too much and always end up being together longer than we should (which usually ends in me driving back to Houston at 1 in the morning). I value Mom’s opinion just as I did before, but I no longer feel like I need it as much. I used to need to know what she thought about anything before I could make a decision, but now I am confident that I can make my own decisions and she will support me. Which is such a good feeling. I think we are finally, after 7 years of me being “an adult” and navigating the waters of emerging adulthood, I feel confident in myself, I know that she is confident in me, and we are able to relate as adults, rather than as parent/child. Mom cracks me up and I love spending time with her (and wish we could see each other more). I know that she wants the best for me and trusts that everything will work out. Though our relationship is different now, I really believe that Mom was the exact right mother that I needed; all of her strengths and weaknesses exactly matched to what I needed to develop and learn to become who I am today.  To see more about my relationship with Mom, here is a letter I wrote for her birthday last year.

I think my relationship with Dad has been much better and closer since my mission. Though we are completely different and often don’t understand each other (nuclear physicists and marriage and family therapists are on completely different wave lengths), I know that he loves me. Even though he doesn’t always remember exactly what it is I am doing with my life (but really, do I?) and gets uncomfortable around too much emotion (which I thrive on), I know that he is interested in me and cares about my life and success. Just like he did when I was a kid, he knows when he can tease me about things, and when he better back off and he sticks to it. I think he probably knows me better than I realize because of this skill he has, which I just realized tonight while typing this. I am glad he is my dad and proud of the heritage he has given me as a dimple-chinned Lovell! (The first thing Dad checked on all of us when we were born – to see if we had the Lovell chin). And, Dad gave me the BEST Christmas present ever this year, so he’s pretty much the bombdotcom.

I love my parents a ton, quirks and all! Parentals, thanks for everything you’ve done for me, all the support you’ve given me, and all the love you’ve shown me. I couldn’t be where I am today without you!  You are the best! Love you!!!

*Sorry for the lack of pictures recently, I got a new computer and haven't transferred everything over yet. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Finally!

I made a page titled Book List  LAST YEAR in January, put an "Under Construction" note on it, and haven't touched it since.

Well, in one of my attempts to avoid studying (which will end FOREVER in a mere 15 weeks when I graduate), I thought, "hey, I should update that..."

So I did.

Enjoy!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

This I Know


Do you ever feel like you forget who you are? Like there are so many different things smothering you for time and attention that you slowly lose yourself. You can see pieces of you slowly leaking out and away but there’s nothing you can do to stop the continuous draining.  Until it feels like nothing is left.

I’ve been feeling like this lately. Probably because of my anxiety-ridden licensure exam coming up in 3 weeks. But for many other reasons as well, I’m sure. I do know the main reason I feel like I’m losing myself, unsure if I’ll ever get those pieces back, but I’m not quite ready to talk about that just yet. It’s coming though. It’s the main reason I haven’t written anything in 7 months.

Did I mention I’m sorry about that? Not only for those few of you who care about what I write. But also because I’ve had plenty of ideas to write during my hiatus, but I didn’t record them anywhere, so now they are lost to me. And that’s sad. And so I am sorry.

But really. 2012 was a very hard year for me. I am so relieved it’s over. And desperately hoping 2013 is better.

So…

What do you do when you feel like you’re losing everything that makes you, well, you? It’s an incredibly unsettling feeling. Especially when you’re trying to become a therapist and help others only to realize that you need so much help yourself. That’s okay though, right? I’m allowed to be human, too, aren’t I? Sometimes I need that reminder. That permission to be fallible. To make mistakes. To feel those emotions I help my clients deal with. But still… it’s hard to give yourself that permission. Especially when you really haven’t given yourself permission for much, ever, which is my unfortunate tendency.

The only thing I can think of right now is hold onto the pieces of myself that are still there. That I can identify. That feel real. And true. That make me happy, despite everything. And since discoveries, especially of the self- variety, are what I really like to share here, this is what I have come up with so far. This I know about me - myself - Rachel.


1. Maxi skirts. Who knew that such a simple article of clothing could come to feel so right to me? I feel so comfortable in them. So free.

I really hate clothes. Especially when they constrict. And I especially hate pants. I made it all summer with only wearing jeans once. To me, that is a beautiful thing. My discovery of maxi skirts helped free me, once again, and in another way, from society’s expectations for me. Or my perception of society’s expectations. Whatever.

I hope to one day have my wardrobe full of maxi skirts. Other skirts are nice too. And maybe someday I’ll break down and get some leggings to go with my boots. Cause I sure feel great in boots too. I think that if you had to define yourself in terms of clothing, I would be a maxi skirt. Comfortable. Free. But classy. And flowy. Cause what better word to describe yourself is there than flowy?


2. My hands. And how I adorn them.

For some reason, I am at peace with my hands lately. I bite and tear at my nails incessantly. I’ve tried to stop. I can’t. I don’t really care to anymore. I have owned my short, sometimes jagged nails. They like to be painted fun colors, but have been sad because I’ve been to busy, or lazy, or both, to give them the color they like. Sorry nails. I’ll try to do better.

I’ve not worn rings since I was pretty young, except for a CTR ring. Until I lost my CTR ring and the others I had didn’t fit comfortably. I always wanted to wear rings more, but I got my dad’s hands and my fingers are just thick. Which makes it very hard to find a ring that actually fits and looks good.

Then.

This summer at West Yellowstone I found the ring. The one ring that actually flattered my fingers. And excited my eyes. And brought a smile to my face. It was a big turquoise stone with the most beautiful veining. And a small-ish silver band. I can’t do just small bands because then my finger looks huge. But a small band with a large stone on it? Oh yes. Yes, that I can do. And I have loved it ever since.

Then.

I finally got my eagerly, and not-so-patiently waited upon ring from my beautiful Grandma. She collects them. And got enough for all her granddaughters to have one of her rings. My sisters and I were among the last to receive ours, but only because we live so far away. We semi-hesitantly trusted Mom to pick our rings for us when she was on a trip to Utah. She called me to discuss the options, but I had to go off descriptions because her phone is ultra-ghetto and won’t send or receive pictures. I was unsure how they looked, and nervous that the picks for the 3 of us would not quite suit us. Finally it came.  And suit me it did! Large smoky quartz stone in a beautiful antique-esque silver band. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. Sarah and Becca’s were beautiful, too. Geez, my grandma has exquisite taste in rings. I hope to glean more of her ring knowledge from her this summer. Because this is knowledge I need. Desperately. One of these two rings is on my finger every day. Except when I forget them and upon realizing my mistake, curse myself and feel naked and so un-Rach-like all day long.

I have also recently added a charm bracelet to my left wrist. It was also bare since I lost my CTR ring in March, 2011. I had the most perfect watch that I would put the ring on for safe keeping when I wasn’t wearing them. Well, the gremlins in my mom’s van stole them after my MFT interview at UHCL. I hate those gremlins. No matter the searching I did, I never found any watch, or other decoration, that accurately said “I am you. I make you more yourself. You need me. Right there, on your left wrist.” And so it’s been naked. And alone. And sad.

Then.

James Avery had a sale on their new bracelets. Buy two charms, get a bracelet for free. Sign me up, I declared! I looked at the charms for probably an hour. Because picking a charm is no light business for me. Especially the first charms. Finally I found the ones that not only called for me, but fit within my poor-grad-student budget.

A music note. Because few things affect me like music does. My dream life is still playing French Horn in the pit of broadway musicals. Please, if you ever see a charm with a French Horn, get it for me. I’ll pay you back. You know how most people, especially girls, always have something on their minds that they are thinking about and planning? That doesn’t happen for me. When I don’t have something I’m actively thinking about, I have music playing in my head. It’s completely unconscious. And completely beautiful.

Also, a dove. This was a more abstract pick. I wanted something for my chosen-if-not-exactly-dreamed-of profession. A marriage therapist. But what would a charm for that look like, exactly? A couch? No. So I thought about what my purpose would be in that profession. To help people.  To pull marriages up through the muck of pain they’ve been slopping through. Or. To give hope. To give peace. Which is what a dove represents, after all. (Not to mention the religious significance of a dove, which is also important to me).

I have two more charms ready to be added. My best friends forever half-heart that fits together with my thank-goodness-she’s-still-around-and-loves-me-cause-I-love-her-so-much best friend, Malorie Leyva, given to us by her mother at my graduation. And my Texas heart charm. Because my heart is always in Texas. And Sarah is getting me a nativity charm soon, which yes, will be on the bracelet year round, because what more could I want than a constant reminder of Christmas and that amazing and dear little Baby who saved me?


3. Reading. Oh, reading.

I am consumed by it. In a wonderful, coming-alive sort of way. All my worries slip away as the story weaves through me, lifting me to something higher. I am changed, yes, but in all the right ways, by the books I read. I think more critically, feel more deeply, desire more strongly because of being swept away to new places. Places I could never explore if not led by the hand by these authors with the most beautiful gift of words. I find myself in those pages. In those words, between those lines and through those experiences of characters so different from myself.  And what have I found?

A desire. A desire that has always been there, but never came out into the light for me to really see and examine. It was there, but out of focus and blurred differently each day. But it has stepped out into the light. I’ve seen it, felt it, studied it. And now this I know:

I want to be a writer. An author. I want to lead people by the hand, as I have been led so many times before, and take people where they could never go without my help. Into the recesses of my music-filled mind. Into the nooks and crannies, shadowed corners and vaulted ceilings of my imagination. I haven’t even really been there myself, but I want to go. I want to make a record of my journey and share it with others. For no other purpose than enjoyment. Fun. Hope. Peace. For me and for them.

And can I share a secret? I’m terrified. This desire (which was brought into the light by Veronica Roth and Divergent, by the way,) scares me to the core. I don’t know how to write a novel. I’ve never written more than 25 pages in one work. I’ve never written more than what has been required me by my professors. Never once have I written creatively, with the exception of my blog. But that is all based on life experiences, not pulling a story out of nothing. I only ever took one literature class, which I loved, but wasn’t even in the genre I plan to write in. I don’t know the first thing about any of this writing business. AND I’m about to get a degree in therapy!

And somehow I have the audacity to think that I can do this. That I can (with plenty of practice, mind you – I don’t expect this to come easy or naturally) write a story that other people would be interested in, maybe even pay money for. I partly think I must be having delusions of grandeur, because this desire seems so unlikely, so impossible.

But I want it. I want to write. And read, because every writer knows you have to read at least as much as you write. Maybe I won’t ever get published. Maybe I won’t ever get past a short story. Maybe the only people to read it will be myself and those few friends I trust to share in the intimacy that comes with writing from the heart. But I want to do it. I want to try.

I don’t really know how to work this out with school and licensure and a profession looming. But I’ll figure out a way. Because somehow, I feel like the only way to find myself again, after losing so much, is to write.

And read.

And so that is what I plan on doing.

Love,
Rach


And thanks for patiently waiting for me to get my act together. I do hope I can do better in the future. J

(What is your favorite piece of clothing that makes you feel you? What are your accessories that scream at you that they belong with you, on you?)

(And for the love of all that is holy, AM I CRAZY? Those of you who have read my writing, is this possible? I need some encouragement cause like I said, I’m awful scared.)