That’s me. In a nutshell. I have been trying for a while now to change the way I look at life and the world around me. While it is hard to be optimistic these days about the world, my life on the other hand, well, there is plenty to be optimistic about. However, as a result of my childhood and the difficulties my parents faced, I have always been a pessimist. This is a learned behavior, and it is very difficult to unlearn.
My mom and dad worked very hard (see happy-birthday-to-me-2008/) , but there always seemed to be more bills at the end of the month than money. We often would have been homeless had it not been for family and friends. We never went hungry – EVER, but there were times that, say, in the summer, we would go without gas so we could keep the electricity on (let me tell you – cold showers – OMG! I even had a boyfriend who would come in town on leave and would stay with us – he never complained about the cold showers – must have really cared about me, huh?)
When we were little, we really didn’t realize these things. We were kids and we played outside (me reluctantly, of course, being my girlie girl self) and went to school and that was what we did. I don’t remember many Christmases from when I was little, but one in particular stands out. The church took care of our Christmas that year. My sis and I went to the church basement and there were all of these toys! A kids wonderland, really. We thought it was great! I remember I got a black cat, with a red nose and a purple ribbon around it’s neck. This was the year that adoption dolls became very popular. Christmas morning, My sis and I both got one. This was a big deal, looking back and knowing what I know now, how expensive they were at the time, and how little money we had.
As the years went by and both of my parents health went up and down – and of course, my dad’s drinking (sorry daddy – it’s true), we moved many times. Sometimes into our own place and sometimes in with family. By Junior High, I realized the differences in the “economic class structure” .. sure, we are all the same, but people who lived in the big expensive houses generally were not friends with people like me.(ie: Duckie and Andy compared to Blane and Steff in Pretty_in_Pink ) It wasn’t that they really thought they were better than me, it was just how society was, and still is maybe, not anyone’s fault, just the way it goes. I got very lucky. I made friends with some of the “big house” kids. Back THEN we all thought these cliques and what not were so important….anyway, that’s another blog.
By the time I hit high school, times got very hard. Dad’s health was pretty bad, though he had quit drinking! 🙂 Mom’s health too. So I worked. I paid bills. Life happened. The utilities were cut on and off. Once, the water was cut off, and we got a water key so we could turn it on at the street to use it when we needed to.
They worked their asses off, don’t get me wrong. I know they did. They did the best they could and I am grateful each and every day that they did. Not everyone is lucky enough to have parents who do.
We were also not an, how would you put it, emotional family? Well, that’s not entirely true – anger is an emotion. There weren’t hugs, kisses and “I love you”s” …we grew up in a very cold home. Not abusive. Just cold. I think I can count on my hand the number of times my parents told me they loved me – and though I am pretty sure he was, I never really felt as if my dad was proud of me.
With a childhood like this, it is hard NOT to be a pessimist.
I realized a few years ago, though, my pessimistic view of life was aging me well before my time a making me quite unhappy. It was also rubbing off on my kids. I didn’t want that for them. I didn’t want that for me.
So, my children never go to bed without knowing that I love them. I tell them often that I am very proud of them – and not just a generic, insincere proud – specific parts of them so that they know I mean it. They don’t leave the house without knowing I love them.
It is difficult these days, with the world in the shape that it is in, to be positive all the time. I catch myself falling back into the same rut. I have to make a conscious effort to not be the pessimist I was. I hear myself – my old self – out of my youngest’s mouth all the time and it worries me. I tell him all of the time he is going to have a heart attack by the time he is 15. He thinks I am kidding. I am afraid I am not.
Life isn’t always sunshine and roses, but it isn’t all rain and manure, either. I wake up everyday. I am healthy. Heck – I had cancer and only found it by sheer luck. My children are healthy and smart. I have a wonderful husband. I have a roof over my head and shoes on my feet.
I hope that everyone can remember that. No matter how hard life is, it could always be worse. Someone, somewhere always has it worse. Pray for them and thank God for good things you have.