Scrolling through the newsfeed on Facebook these past few weeks has been instructive.
I notice people having varied reactions to their quarantine experiences.
There are people posting fabulous photos of themselves going for fabulous walks in the woods or along glistening waterways.
And there are people swearing and ranting about what a shit show the government is making of this whole thing.
There are people threatening to kill themselves if the imposed shutdown is not soon lifted.
There are people making delicious foods and photographing them and sharing the recipes.
There are people photographing the animals they live with and the animals they come across out of doors.
There are people saying how lonely they are and there are people saying how grateful they are for the love in their lives.
I am making a decision.
I've been feeling it brewing.
And I'm realizing it is simply a decision.
Simple as pie.
I'm going to direct my conscious effort to being kind.
I know about fake kindness where you're judging and disgusted on the inside but you're saying nice words out of your pinched face.
That shit don't fool nobody, and you know you're not trying to fool anybody when you do it.
My mother looks at me with such disgust, looks me up and down with her eyes, as she says some saccharin fake nice thing to me.
I've been spoken to that way all my life.
So I know exactly how to do it.
I have never looked at one of my children that way because I have always known it's a brutal and wrong way to parent.
But....and I say this with humility as I confess....I have spoken this way to every man I have ever tried to love.
I have only tried to love three men in my whole long life.
The first guy, I married at twenty-one and divorced at twenty-three.
He was super nice and played twelve string guitar but I felt very superior to him intellectually and eventually I couldn't take that any more.
The next guy I was with for fifteen years and we had our three wonderful children together.
He was as smart as I am, he was very handsome and in better shape, he didn't like a lot of things about me including that he always thought I needed to lose weight, through three pregnancies he was disgusted by my appearance, I wasn't a zero body fat runner like he was, I was never thin enough.
I spent too much of his money, or I spent small amounts of his money on things he didn't agree with.
He didn't like my singing or my songs.
He would look me up and down as he spoke to me, with the disgust not meant to be hidden at all, and speak to me in any tone he pleased.
I couldn't take it.
But in that relationship there's no doubt in my mind that I did the same to him, because I know how, because I didn't know any better.
Now I've been "staying with" this nice man, the music producer, you know the story, I came back from New York in debt and discouraged and he allowed me to live at his house because the only other option was to stay with my mother.
This is the fourth year here for me.
I have tried to control the situation by being disgusted by things he does.
I feel myself roll my eyes at things I don't like.
I'm sure I have been unsupportive of things like him sitting up late at night with a package of cookies on his desk, eating cookie after cookie.
My own mother's words running like a recording in my mind, "Really Courtney, do you think you need another cookie?"
But God bless Rob, he's a free man, he loves himself, and he has stood confident and steadfast in his self-love, stood strong against my deluge of complaints and criticisms.
And Rob is actually thinner than when I moved in, so there's nothing to even criticize.
But he doesn't love me like he used to.
I see he's more guarded with me.
I ask him and he says he doesn't trust me to be kind.
He can't trust me to be loving.
I don't hit my dog.
I know that if I'm mean to my dog in any way that he won't be as trusting with me.
I want my dog to love me.
I feel the same about my children.
I want them to love their mom.
When I see my mother, all my life whenever my mother comes into a room, I tighten up inside.
Mostly it's fear.
I love my mother but she has made me fear her disapproval.
I do that to Rob.
Of course it's not as bad at all.
Of course it's much less cruel or obvious.
But I want a beautiful relationship with the man I live with, with the man I've chosen to love.
I was given the opportunity of this relationship.
The relationship with Rob is a gift from Rob and a gift from God.
I can't squander it.
I can't ruin it with my bad habits and fears.
I want to learn to relax into real love.
If I really love Rob will I start eating packages of cookies late at night?
If I really love Rob will all my dreams fade because I will become content and complacent at too low a level of worldly success?
These vague thoughts have kept me from embracing real love.
Vague thoughts of wanting more, wanting to do better, wanting to reach a higher level, have kept me from embracing the relationship I've been given.
I'm making a decision.
I made it two days ago when my middle daughter told me I could drive out and stay with her in Colorado for a while and maybe "start over before it's too late".
She got it into her head, and mine too, that I'm somehow being held back here from my potential to succeed.
I got off the phone, I walked around this little humble house, I went out in the yard and looked at the small tree I planted last summer in Rob's garden.
I thought about the hope I have felt here all along.
There's big hope here.
There are big dreams residing in this home.
Rob envelops them, Nina upholds them.
Big dreams dwell here.
I think my missing piece is to never ever again let my mind tell me that the man I love isn't enough.
If I love with the tenderness I'm capable of, and I know I can because I do with my children, then I believe I will have completed my goal.
My goal has been to eradicate the evil that I was exposed to as a child in my family.
There was evil there and my brother, my mother, and my father were all part of it.
I don't know how or why they all were like that but they were.
My brother really didn't have a mean bone in his body, he was just really screwed up, but he still had a negative effect on me.
My dad maybe just got screwed up by being around my mom, but he was mean to me inadvertently.
But my mom, I'm telling you, there is evil in there.
Real and true.
I have written books to get rid of it.
I have sung songs to get rid of it.
I have endeavored to purify my soul.
I don't want to ever ever ever look at anyone the way my mother looks at me.
It crushes your hope.
It dims your light.
I know that I have stoked my own inner fire with my music and my writing in order to make sure that my light was too bright to be extinguished by her.
I know that I love clothes because my clothes are my shield against her disgust.
I dress up and I am saying inside, "Here, take this, you can't squelch me!"
My decision is to never again dim anyone else's hope with my judgement.
My decision is to help everyone I encounter feel their hope grow.
I want to help everyone feel hopeful.
I want to love Rob one hundred percent.
I've made my decision.
God help me.
May the Sun shine upon you and may you feel the great love that is all around you, meant for you, everywhere you go.