Sara Blackthorne says: “Who are the women in your story, the ancestors, who have walked the path of their own true stories? How do you find your beautiful reflection in the world? How do you tend and nurture your core story, as you would tend a tree in the forest?”
Have I “found the answers to my seeking heart? Have I learned that witnessing—the silent watching of our actions and adventures” adds value to my life?
When I was young, I was told that I had a beautiful complexion. That was usually followed by the words, “if you only lost some weight, you would be very pretty!” It took a long time to discover that I was pretty the way I am, just not perfect in the eyes of others. And it took a little longer to realize that in the eyes of some, I was quite beautiful just the way I was. And to one person in particular, I am the most beautiful person he has ever seen, because of the way that I am – inside and out. He and the children that we made together out of love, are the only ones that count. Their love feeds my soul. Their love is pure and unconditional.
I learned at an early age the importance of loving oneself. I attended Catholic schools since 5th grade and I believed what they told me, “You are loved!” “God doesn’t make junk!” “You are unique and special.” I knew my talents were gifts and that my existence on this Earth had purpose and value.
My mother had me later in life. Not too late by today’s standards. She and my Dad had two children within the first few years of marriage. 13 years later, I came along. They called me “their surprise baby.” They always corrected people if someone said that I was an accident. My Mom told me that I was a blessing and that I came at a time in her life when she needed me most. She said I kept her young. She also said on occassion, that I would be the one to take care of her when she got old. And I did.
Being the youngest in my family and also in my generation on both sides, I wasn’t sure where I fit in all the time. I typically stayed in the shadows. I watched and listened to what my brother and sister did, how they acted, and how my parents reacted to what they did. People said I was shy. I just kept quiet most of the time, taking it all in. I observed everything. My family was fun, loud, boisterous, outgoing, friendly and loving. I didn’t have a voice to match all the adults and their personalities! But I was just like them. It wasn’t until after I was married and had children of my own that I felt that I completely fit in.
When my brother got married in Washington D.C. years ago, my husband and I attended with our small children. It was your typical exciting family wedding, festivities coupled with sightseeing and meeting the new in-laws. My parents were there and we all stayed with my brother and sister-in-law to be in an old three-story brownstone in the city. They got married on Thanksgiving weekend, so it took a lot to coordinate a two-family Thanksgiving, the rehearsal dinner, and the wedding. Jennifer’s family lived in Alexandria, VA and we came from California, so everyone was out of their “element.”
On the day of the wedding, I helped by making sure everyone was in the right place at the right time. Jennifer’s father made an observation and statement that has stayed with me from that very moment on. He said, “Melissa, you are the glue that hold’s this family together.”
I am the glue.
That is an important job.
That is my purpose.
I didn’t realize it up until then. I needed to hear it. I hadn’t quite figured out my role yet. I am grateful for Dave’s witness. It was the first time I became aware of someone outside my immediate family “silently watching my actions and adventures.” I love the analogy, too.
It is a blessing and a curse to be the “glue.” You have to be fluid and pliable, while maintaining your strength. In my family, and typically with my friends and at work, I am Switzerland. I remain neutral. Because of this I am the one everyone opens up to and comes to with their problems. My ability to observe and keep my opinions safeguarded has made it possible for me to see all points of view. People can count on me not to judge them and to provide honest, thoughtful advice when asked.
My gift has helped me with my parenting skills as well. I am fair, yet strong with my three sons. I believe they are comfortable coming to me when they have questions or problems. They value my opinion and respect me. I had a similar relationship with my mother once I was in my twenties.
I turned to her for everything. I called her many times a day. I could tell her anything. I shared all the best and worst moments of my life with her. From childhood on she gave me wonderful advice and calmed me when I was worried. She was the youngest in her family too. She understood about age differences. She guided me through life having had the same perspective that I do in so many aspects. She warned me about boys and other dangers. She counselled me about relationships. She empowered me to explore and have adventures. She showered me with love and acceptance. She was bright, kind, proud and beautiful. I hear myself saying things that she said. I feel her presence constantly. I do believe I am a reflection of my mother. And I have been told often, “You have your mother’s complexion!”
Join A Year With Myself. . .