May 20, 2010
The Prodigal Returns
Woody in his native place, Seal Beach CA 2008
The Prodigal Returns
A little meditation on the word forgive can throw some rather surprising light on our understanding of the word.
We are asked to forgive those who have injured us. Unless we have first judged and condemned them for what they did, there would be no reason for us to forgive them. Rather we would have to forgive ourselves for judging
Scripture says: “Judge not that ye be not judged” If we do not judge-no matter how great the injury or how pre meditated- we are at fault. Following this train of thought to its logical conclusion, we can see that we can forgive only ourselves. In doing so, we also forgive the person whose action we have resented
“thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” tells me I must first make peace with myself before I can learn to love others. I must remind myself constantly that I can never know any other person’s motives and conditioning. I must for my own sake, accept them as they are a large ingredient of that acceptance is loving tolerance.
Father, forgive them for they know not what they do…Luke
And forgive me for judging and retaliating. Help me to forgive myself . I know this is the first step toward spiritual security
From One Day At A Time in Alanon April 29th reading
I find myself fearful that these good times wont last…I have not had an extended period of peace and happiness in my life in decades There has always been something to come along and mar the beauty of a moment. People think I am overly negative… Im just reporting the news
I talk to my therapist about this. I talk to my “Moms” these are two ladies near to my mother’s age that I have adopted as my surrogate mothers. One is a retired social worker with a gift for listening and asking penetrating questions that spur me to greater efforts in my recovery and life. She is wonderfully supportive with phone calls notes and little outings. The other lady is a neighbor. She is a witty, worldly wise woman, 5 times married (twice to husband number 3) and is not afraid to say what needs to be said to me. Both ladies love Abigail, and will walk her when needed. I have used all of their support these past few weeks as I have confronted the past and tried to integrate my new outlook on life with a reality that I knew would finally come to pass.
. Just when I thought that things were going to settle… I had a phone call from Woody a month ago . Out of money, out of friends, out of people’s good graces, he was given some money and told to be gone. So much for the childhood friendships of a lifetime…. These were the friends that he wanted to emulate, that I believe deep in his soul he longed to be a true brother, a part of their family…
Those friends that he put ahead of me so many times...When I think about the past and those people it burns me up… Every Saturday, it was them, every birthday weekend, “ Oh the boys are going for the opening of Del Mar…” I was never included in their gatherings and many of them never bothered to be introduced. When he was with them he spent money like the big money people they are… I don’t know what to think of them, but I do know that once Woody didn’t have money anymore they didn’t want Woody.
I wonder how that must have felt. These men were a part of his life that he cherished. He wanted to belong to this family to this group all of his life . To have them treat him like that…yet, they all know that he spent his money and hasn’t worked. They know what happened here with me. Perhaps there just wasn’t any sympathy left for him.
So he comes back here to NW Arkansas. It is cheaper here, and people are more accepting I think. I have certainly found it so. But that doesn’t mean its easy here. This is, as one friend put it a, “right to starve “ state. Very little in the way of public services, no general relief, and I was never able to qualify for any public assistance. I am not unsympathetic. Woodys situation is sad and scary to me. He is nearly 60. His hair is nearly white, pretty though, but he has aged poorly, is unsteady on his feet, and not well. He has high blood pressure and diabetes that is not well controlled… He has no family left, certainly none here and no prospects for a job. He has now gone through his little bit of cash and as soon as he gets kicked out of the little camping cabin hes renting for 100.00 a week, he will be back to living where he was living when he first came back here, in the parking lot of the Walmart Super Center , Pleasant Grove.
He is in good company, there are a dozen families living there, camping in the evenings. I know the staff there at the super center, as that is where I have done my after work, after midnight shopping for several years. A few nights ago I was there and as I parked I saw a old style van pull up from the back of the parking lot and out piled a woman and five small children… they walked in and went straight to the bathroom, to the shaking of heads of the associates… I told them that Woody was my former husband, and they remembered him and said they would look out for him if he came back there, and that it was a shame that a vet is homeless after serving our country like he has…
I don’t know what to think about this situation… Alanon and my program stresses detachement . This is not my problem I didn’t cause it I cant cure it and I cant control it. All things I have had to learn this past year. Woody made this happen How many times did I ask him to get work and not to spend his retirement his savings on crap that had no value. I have said what I can and now it is time to leave it. I don’t own any of this, and will not take it on as baggage
But I cant really, because he didn’t look back when he left me last summer, down to my last dime. Frightened, alone in many ways, the people around me not sure what to do or how to help me…if they should help me… or do we have to help her just because we are related… Thank God and a few brave, trusting, friends that believed in me, that I too didn’t end up sleeping in the Walmart parking lot. One snowy afternoon I was with Abigail in my van and I was watching the snow fall… I had been working about a month and said out loud to my sweet Abi how wonderful it was to have a warm bed, and a safe place to sleep and to live. I will never, never, never, forget how close I was to homelessness, and to those who choose to look down on the less fortunate I am here to tell you that most people cant help it that they are in this situation. Even Woody, who I believe is ill and not mentally capable to manage his affairs, this is not all his fault. Yes he could have done differently, but he has yet to discuss this with me, I don’t understand his thinking and perhaps never will. I don’t have to but perhaps there would be closure… I don’t know.
Woody is not moving in with me. I have an agreement to not take a room mate as my landlord doesn’t want to deal with subletting issues. I don’t blame him. I have been firm about how much contact I want…and even that sometimes is difficult for me. I see him and am reminded of the rejection and the pain I suffered while being married to him. Woody will never admit he is to blame for a lot of our issues, hey I have my issues as well, but the truth is I was reacting to him, for that I am sorry but he was doing stuff to make our life abnormal and impossible. For his sake, his not working and going through that money was a horrible mistake, the pain and heartache that caused me, as I worried about it I have often thought that he did it just to watch me suffer, a control issue. I know that I did a lot of things based on his behavior that were hurtful. I’m sorry for that as well.
And so it goes. An impoverished old age is my future which scares the heck out of me, and Woody, I don’t know what life will bring him already it is sad, pathetic even. He says things to me when he comes to the house… like my being there and having what I have is a surprise to him and that some how magically I have all of this…my home and my dog and my life… DAMN IT I WORKED SO HARD TO KEEP WHAT I HAVE AND NEVER GAVE UP, THAT’S WHAT… hed have a life too if he had fought just a little to keep what we had, if he’d taken the lead in our home and family and done the right thing…now… it was because he didn’t give two cents about me about himself or anything else. He cares now, but that’s because it is pretty awful to go without bathing and living in your stolen car…yes stolen because hes not made a 700.00 a month car payment in many months. I don’t know what will happen when his loan people catch up with him and turn him out of his home… I have a number of friends that think it is ironic that he is living in his car, since it was a car that started the incredible downhill slide that has lead to the events of the last year
It’s a long way from the Mauna Lani to this place we find ourselves in, I feel at a loss many times… just lost. Its bewildering.
But I press on
My friends, Barbara and Diane both tell me that I need to somehow move on from my feelings about this situation, Move forward…but its really hard when I am looking at the past… looking him right in the face and cant say what I feel. I look at him and can feel love towards him but I also feel the pain… the word “rejected” burning in my forehead once more… When he came to see me the first time I felt like a plant that had just begun to bloom in the early spring only to have winter come back and freezing the tender leaves, turning them black and ugly…The ugly are the wounds that hatred and rage burned into my inner being, that have only recently started to heal. I found that I couldn’t write, even letters or in my journal, let alone on line, I couldn’t hardly talk to my therapist about it, I have all of these feeling stuffed deep down inside of me. Feelings that want to come out, that need to be let out. My therapist gave me a project… to read the book of Job, and write about seeing myself in the book and how God dealt with me. That wallowing in the past only made me more depressed. I have given up that track and now am reading and trying to see how God is dealing with me in the present moment and that is going a lot better. It turns on the Gratitude meter , and I find more joy in the daily journey.
I have the opportunity at intervals to talk to him. I sometimes stop by Pleasant Grove on my way home from work. As we talk over trivia, I am pretty much frustrated at Woody’s lack of understanding and willingness to talk about the issues of the past. I want to let it go but I am confronted by the past every time I see him. There has never been closure or resolution at all… The conflicting feelings of anger and angst, my concern that he will be spending a very long time in a parking lot because I have my doubts about his employability, and my desire to not be involved and the feeling that as a Christian I have a responsibility to help, after all one can get divorced, but one can never become unmarried to someone. All of this leaves me baffled and confused. I reach for my Conference Approved Literature
and read about detachment and affirmations of self worth… I say Diane’s mantra over and over “I am worthwhile…I am worthwhile…” that seems to undo the predations of enduring Woody’s destructive behavior.
The darkness cycles. I see him, I do his laundry, the laundry of a homeless man with issues that make it a penitential act to do this. I think about how Jesus touched lepers, and cared for those people that others rejected. Woody is no longer feeling like a well loved child of privilege. I wonder how he feels. I have always hoped that I underestimate his level of feeling but much of the time it appears that he isn’t the feeler or thinker that I am. I fold the clean clothing and place it in a trash bag, and deliver it to a dark parking lot and ask God to help all of this make sense to me. I believe with all of my heart that He has a plan for each of us. We just need to have the will to pray for the will to carry it out
Labels: AA, Family History, Personal Growth, Relationships, Woody