Gratitude

I don’t do it well.

Thinking back on my life I have been a real horses ass pretty much since I exited the birth canal. So many ways can I recall that I was promoted to assume my shit didn’t stink. Social, familial, all provided nurturing that lead to my egoism.

A huge example, and a sore spot in my adult mind, is how I was raised. My mom and dad where not married, they had a civil court hearing regarding custody. I would live with my mom in Illinois and my father would have parenting time during the summer months, I would visit him in Virginia. He also had to pay my mother child support. We spoke on the phone every Saturday as well. I will never forget how every phone call with my father ended, of course I wasn’t very talkative, in my silence or whatever, he would eventually say something like, “well listen it’s my dime so I love you buddy bye”. It was his dime, and my mom never encouraged me to call him (making it her dime) she would always encourage me to wait for him to call me, making me a “special person”, setting me on the path of self-centeredness and egoism. But disappointingly this was only a spiteful agenda by my mother, but I was the victim of it, I would grow to be an entitled jack ass.

At the end of every school year I would get a hair cut, get some new cloths and shoes, and be driven to the airport where my father would have already landed and where he and I would depart for Virginia. Already this is a self centered event focused on me. Moreover, I can only now see since i have children of my own, that my mother must have embedded in me a superiority that I manifest as coy, shyness, and detachment from my extended family in Virginia causing them to be required to kiss my ass in order for me to even participate in anything they offered me during the summer. This is a shameful reality that I am jut now realizing. Forgive me.

Couple this dysfunctional nurturing with the division of family influence and I can clearly see that I have become a self centered egotistical man. Imagine, as a boy having relationships in school, rather then spending summers reminiscent of the movie “the sandlot”, instead I am flown a thousand miles away to spend summer with my father who worked 40 hours a week, to be “entertained” by my grandmother, and my four aunts and cousins. This made for no lasting relationships built during my early years of socialization among my peer community. Leading to not participating in team sports, not have summer jobs, not having a girlfriend, not having real relationships. It’s as if not having annual geographical divisions, and not having a divided family would have provided me with a more well rounded identity that conformed more to the standards of my community and found identity among a peer group. In defense of traditional marriage, defense against divorce and against allowing marriages to fail, against children born out of wedlock. I can think back on many peers whom no doubt had an intact family and whom found themselves not social misfits.

Truly the likelihood of a man with my life becoming a criminal are increased. I did drop out of high school, I have no real social relationships, I could be characterized as a social misfit. I was a misfit.

For most of my life I have had a very poor work ethic. I have had immense difficulty dealing with authority, on account of my nurturing providing me with the inaccurate perception that I was special, that I was above or deserving of special treatment. An additional reality of this, that causes me to experience problems socializing, was being in special education. Either I truly had a learning disability (diagnosed ADHD / ADD), or my nurturing had me so far gone from the standards of my peer community that I refused to work without my hand being held and my ass kissed the entire duration. Because that is exactly what I experienced in public school.

Not only did my familial nurturing negatively impact my work ethic so did half-assed Marxism professed in the feminine virtues I was exposed to at home, such as welfare, and the fact that I never saw my mother work. I saw my father work, but he didn’t have the parenting skills or the time to express what it meant to work. An example of his attempt to explain this to me, can be seen in yet another quote – he told me once that I was “free, white and 21”. He also recited Pink Floyd to me, in saying: “welcome my son to the machine”, regarding my lament with how hard life was for my little pampered ass. Taking that half-assed Marxism, I entered the work force and had a very difficult time earning, I would imagine I was not just a man- child, I would imagine that my labor was the end all be all, and that it deserved the utmost. God was I wrong, but all of these self-centered, ego-serving ways where nurtured into me. I am not sure if every person deals with how to balance what they want with what they have, and what they need and what they must do to get it. But I found it very difficult to believe that the things I needed and wanted I didn’t already have an entitlement to posses.

Even worse, amid all this educational, familial and social nurturing that made me into this adult I am, was a church community that was sort of exploited by my mother for my personal gratitude. This church would pay for my summer camp experiences, as they saw me as charity. This church paid for a gym membership for me. This church would literally kiss my ass because I was some poor kid from the neighborhood who had no dad and whose mom was sort of manipulative with her personal victimization narrative that landed many perks bestowed on me.

So who did I become from all the ass kissing that was given to me, that was encouraged in me to expect in many settings – I became a friendless, high school drop out, who has never worked one place longer then two years. Yes it could be worse. Sometimes I feel as though I am a delusional grandiose man, I am good at manipulating people into believing I have more value then I do, but this only lasts for a short-time.

However, I am changing. I have three children. I have been humbled by life. I have many personal failures that have given me integrity, and an understanding of my place in society. However, I still feel the creeping feeling that I find it difficult to remove from myself. The thought that I am owed something from others, from organizations, from life. This feeling, these thoughts creep up on me as anger, or frustration, and are usually directed at the the people, groups or institutions that have authority over me. I must be mindful to overcome this, as doing so will give me a better life.

In terms of interpersonal relationships, I do not have a community or peer group. I am not sure how important that is. But I do have a wife who I adore and who I feel I have overcome the debilitating relationship dysfunction of my egoism. I feel I am able and willing to serve my wife as she deserves to be served by a husband. I strive to be mindful of her and my duties to her. In-fact doing so has given me a very gratifying relationship with her. Being a father and a husband has changed me. Being a divorced father has changed me. My ex-wife, the mother of my oldest children, had a similar set of nurturing circumstances that lead her to have the similar egocentric dysfunctions. I guess it was those dysfunctions that brought us together. It was my awakening that lead me to divorce her.

I still fail, and some days I find it very hard to accept authority over me, to accept blessings that are not extravagant or that do not serve me in the highest. I degrade my gifts, and I degrade the positive things in my life because of my ego. It’s the desire for more that overlooks what I have. A desire to be treated like I am special or more deserving which causes me to degrade what I have. But I am working on it everyday. I have a great life, I get what I give. I don’t always give what I should. Mercy and grace do exist and I benefit from it. I am learning though that I do not deserve it and ought not to rely on it and have seen the value in life punishing me for my actions, rather then evading punishment. Justice must be served and It ought not to be in my favor. I am not worthy, It took 33 years to realize this. I desire challenge now, I desire to be tested now, not coddled.

Forgive me lord for my infirmity, my decrepitude, my own desire to escape wrath, work, challenge, fear. I pray for strength to be courageous, to be a man of integrity, to be upright and fearlessly face to face with what may come. Not manipulating myself to construct a god that serves me. or to construct a false identity that causes others to serve me without justification. Tell me who I am lord. Show me my weaknesses and my strengths, let me be of service to those who need me. Forgive me.

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