Thanks for ForGiving

The holiday season is a very joyous time. A time to reflect on the year of ups and downs and to be grateful for blessings.  It's a time to come together with loved ones and to share the closeness of families and friends.  It can also be a very stressful and lonely time for those who deal with loss and regret.  It can be a time of isolation and of despair for those have nots.  Never be too complacent because we all are one step away from being one or the other. Sometimes the people with the biggest smiles can have the heaviest hearts.  Be careful to always extend your best to others ( not just during the holidays... but it helps)....

When you have stuff that you are going through, don't be afraid to take off the mask and to ask for help dealing with it.  It is tough to let people know that you are vulnerable in certain ways ( either because you're afraid that they may use it against you later or because they just may not care).  Hopefully the people you are surrounded by are not so wrapped up in themselves that they won't listen to someone who does need them...* and if YOU are needed, take the time to lend an ear... it makes all the difference in the world.  "wow, Carmen, where's all this coming from? "  Well, it's really simple.  The holidays have been tough for me for a long time.  It has slowly gotten better as I have learned to share and be more transparent about how I feel... but it will never be easy... I get that, and it's ok.  

People who know me have heard this and they get that it shapes my character in many ways.  It is also a bit of a cautionary tale about broken people and broken relationships and the effect it has on families. If I go back to the beginning, we'll be here through Christmas .. So I will give you the Cliff Notes version.

My mom and dad married young. They struggled with 6 kids. He was a serial cheater. She was mentally ill. I was 9 years old when a few days before Thanksgiving, she shot herself in the chest.  (She did not die then, Bless God)... but the memory of her descent into madness and her attempt at suicide, has profoundly affected my life.  She stayed married to my dad until she died 9 years later... still perpetually heartbroken, but maintaining a family for the sake of her children ( at least that is what I have to believe at this point, because I never really saw my dad be affectionate toward my mom after her wound)... I know she loved him and I know she loved us. I also know he continued to cheat and made no secret of it to the point of humiliation.  

For a long time, I hated him.  My mother was my best friend.  I adored her. She introduced me to faith, to loving myself, to being a lady, to so much of who/how I am... But after the wound, much of her was gone... lost to the endless amounts of mood altering/hormone regulating/ medication that it took to keep her lucid and alert.  Even still, those that knew her, loved her in a way not many people get to be loved.  She was just genuinely GOOD.  Not perfect, but GOOD.  Everybody, except the one person that would have mattered to her.  We moved away, and back again, leaving my dad to pretend he was single for awhile... ( but child support for 6 kids was a monster... even back then... so he wooed her back with a things will be different and we'll rebuild the family blah blah blah).  She ate dinner alone with us every night. We lived in a bit of self imposed isolation because we were afraid to have our friends over if mom was.. "acting crazy"...( I am still ashamed of myself sometimes for being ashamed as a kid)...

And then... when I was 18... June 13th... she died.   9 Thanksgivings remembering cleaning up the blood and wondering what I had done to make her want to die. Was I annoying?  What could I have done to help her get away, find someone to love her... all of the stuff no 9 year old should feel.  And I hated my dad, because I faulted him with the hurt. I would never trust a man... I would never allow myself to feel for someone who could hurt me like that...ugh, right?  

Wow.  For the longest time/ years/ I wouldn't speak to him.  I let my kids have a relationship simply because I didn't want to color their perception of him with my pain. (I figured he would mess it up on him own.)  But after a whole bunch of soul searching and spiritual growth... i understood that I had to forgive him or the hate would kill me too.  I had to let go. I have to understand that there was something inside of him that was hurting too... that allowed him to hurt us the way he did.  I had to not need an apology anymore, because it wouldn't bring her back. i had to find peace in who she was to me and be better to my own family.  

I do not hate him anymore.  I love my dad.  It is a love that is far removed from the kind of closeness that I shared with my mom.... but it is love nonetheless.

So this year, having dealt with pain/ I am Thankful for forgiveness.  I know God has had to forgive me, and I can only be expected to follow the example.  So friends, whatever stuff you are holding on to... I encourage you to forgive, it will certainly free your heart to be truly Thankful.


  Much Love,  Carmen



Carmen, what an incredibly powerful story! It's so amazing to learn the true story behind your beautiful smile. I am deeply touched. Keep singing, beautiful one
Wow... Moved me to tears. I love you and, though it has been hard for you, your experiences have made you into a wonderful person that I absolutely adore! You are an inspiration! <3

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