Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Good Girl Rules

Could I have this dance…?

I can’t get this song out of my mind. It reminds me of my first sabbatical leave when I was teaching at the seminary. It was the late 1980s.

My father absolutely forbade dancing in our family. The devil’s tool! Intended to lead young men and young women astray. Another way for saying dancing was all about sex.

As was the ‘worldly’ music and carousing that, of course, accompanied all such worldly pleasure. No matter that God created these bodies of ours with their sometimes strange yet enticing urges.

Of course I didn’t understand all that back then. I just knew dancing was forbidden. My father made a small exception when I had square-dancing lessons in junior high. But that’s another story. More embarrassing than not being allowed to dance at all.

So, back to my first sabbatical. Of course I did the obligatory research and writing, etc. But that wasn’t enough for my rest and fun-starved spirit and body. If I couldn’t go overseas somewhere, I could go to another strange and foreign land. The land called Arthur Murray Dance Studios!

It was sheer heaven on earth. I continued with lessons for well over a year, captivated by how much my body and my spirit loved to move to music. And still does.

So here’s my pick for today, one of my favorite songs that invites me into that magical space. In honor of my partner of over 50 years who has stumbled and floated along with me and helped pick me up from the floor more times than I can count.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 August 2017
Image found at pix11.com

Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Partner

The Shape of Healing

Describing the unspeakable
Welcoming the unbearable
Embracing the unimaginable

These phrases came to mind this morning when I saw the Daily Prompt. They capture what recovery looks like for me, an adult survivor of childhood trauma within my family.

No erasing the past, no magic pills, no overnight miracles, no shortcuts and no looking back. Sometimes I think I’m finally ready to be born. Or maybe it happened somewhere back there on the road to recovery, and I’m now an adolescent?

Today I’m working on the last piece of my series on The Shape of Forgiveness. I can scarcely believe I’ve lived to see this day. Much less write about it.

This week I’ve recalled seemingly random circumstances in the last 30 years of my life. I’m stunned by the way pieces came together. People, programs, books, articles, blog posts, conversations, life circumstances and more. They reinforced each other and kept me, inch by inch, moving in a direction, one trembling step of faith at a time.

Am I there yet? It doesn’t matter. Though the process is demanding, the payoff makes it all worthwhile. I’d rather write and rewrite my Grown Up Girl Rules than keep Daddy’s Good Girl Rules any day.

I think about you out there, on the other side of whatever I’ve posted. You’ve been my public audience at each step. The twists and turns of life will continue, as will my healing. Today I celebrate where I am right now. And you, my dear readers.

Have a lovely Sabbath!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 April 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Heal

Strange Visitors


Unplanned events
Crash into my life
Force change and create confusion

Chaos
Leers at me
Foils attempts to ‘sort things out’

Indecision
Haunts my behavior
Especially on days without sunshine

Lethargy
Creeps from head to toe
Lulls me into dreary gray oblivion

Dare I welcome
These strangers in
For tea and conversation?

I fight the urge
To show them the door
As though they didn’t exist

I want them to disappear
Like the unrealities
I want them to be

***

As a girl child I was instructed at home, in school and in church to avoid or get rid of all things negative. That included lying, cheating, pouting, complaining to my parents or fighting with my sisters.

Though this was supposed to make me good and happy, this negative approach seemed to border on magical thinking.

Avoid this or stop doing that, and you’ll win the Good Girl Lottery! It might not always be fun right now, but it will be spectacular later on—especially after you die and wake up in heaven.

And yet, with all that goodness drummed into me, I wasn’t protected then or now from difficult situations. Instead, my upbringing instilled voices and unhelpful habits that drive my behavior more than I like to admit. They kept me from exploring and celebrating my voice, and the woman I was becoming then and now.

I’m just beginning to recognize the way these drivers work in me, and let them go. They’re named in the litany I wrote about here:

  • My desire for security and survival
  • My desire for esteem and affection
  • My desire for power and control
  • My desire to change the situation

Saying I’m letting go is relatively easy. Living it out is difficult. It’s difficult to let go of what I’m not willing to understand. I want to welcome these desires as the realities they are, capable of supporting life or of putting it at risk. I don’t want to slam the door in their faces. They might be my best coaches—or at least helpful visitors I dare not silence or ignore.

So how do I welcome these strangers and listen to them? How and why did they become powerful and controlling in me? Who put their insistent, insinuating voices in me, and why? And how does this affect my responses to unplanned events, chaos, indecision and lethargy?

More fodder for self-reflection during and beyond this Lent season. Thanks for reading!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 March 2017
Photo found at islamforchristians.com

Queen for a Day Bans

grandpa-gury-jer-egr-erf-2-dec-1944_0002

I hate the word ‘banned’
My father was the King of Bans
My life as a child was ruled by Bans
My father’s list of Thou shalt Nots
conveniently fenced me in
and robbed evil of its hate-filled power

Wrong!
A thousand times wrong!
The wrong on the tip of my tongue
The wrong in the imaginations of my heart
The wrong in my never-delivered tirades
The wrong my father, and then I did to my body and soul
Haunts me seven decades later

I’m a Queen
though not by succession
I sometimes proclaim myself Queen
Crown myself and decide for myself
What I will and will not do or say
In the secret places of my mind and heart
from which I banned my father

I hereby proclaim myself Queen for a Day
And designate my personal bans for this day–
The 103rd anniversary of my deceased father’s birth

I hereby ban
self-neglect of my female body and soul
that minimizes its need to be respected and cared for
as a gift entrusted to me by God

I hereby ban
All assumptions about my father
Including whether he would or would not
accept my forgiveness

Finally, I hereby ban
Any shred of fear or self-righteousness
That keeps me from opening my heart
to God’s overwhelming love and acceptance of me.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 October 2016
Photo of my father, maternal grandfather, mother and me, 1943/44

WordPress Daily Prompt: Banned

PIT or Carrom, anyone? | Story #4

1967 Jun Game time Elouise and Diane

Elouise and Diane (Sister #3) playing Carrom in Savannah, Georgia, June 1967.

When I was young, I became addicted to at least two ‘parlor’ games. They may not have been the greatest games going, but neither was on my father’s list of R-rated games. Besides, Read the rest of this entry »

Rules for Good Girls

I grew up in a strict, rule-oriented household.  Actually, there was only One Main Rule:  Good Girls shall obey their parents in all things.

But the proof is in the Big Picture.  So just to make things perfectly clear, here’s what the One Main Rule looked like on a daily basis, Read the rest of this entry »

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