Monday, June 21, 2010


One particular prayer has been a daily part of my life for the last 22 years, until today.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Until shortly after my 33rd birthday, anytime that I ever asked God to do anything for me, it seemed selfish.  The struggle continues to this day regarding serene acceptance of things I cannot change, especially when I see abuse, hunger, war, and the fucking BP oil spill bullshit.  My Mom used to say that if you ask the Lord for the same thing twice, it was a sign of an absence of true faith. TRUE faith is praying a sincere and selfless prayer and believing in it being answered if it was really God's will, according to Mom.

What are the things we CAN change?

My family's life events would make some heads spin. They did mine. Yes, we had the whole mixture of success stories, social prominence, drugs, spousal abuse, alcohol abuse, adultery, prescription drug abuse, molestations, and a reasonable degree of overcoming it all (depending on your definition of overcoming). Why would anyone want to overcome social prominence or success stories?  The road to both were paved with pain and veiled in blindfolds. Things are not always as they seem from the outside looking in.  If I could have changed the negatives, I would have. I was missing one important ingredient in the formula for change, and still do.

My brother and I were talking over a smoke the other night, and somehow the topic of death came up.  He shared with me
You know Cathy, since Mom and Dad died, anymore I'm just numb to death.
It was a sad admission, but I agreed that I too feel the same.  Neither of us have lost our compassion for those who suffer a loss, however our entire family with the exception of ourselves, are now dead.  Mom, Dad, sisters Margaret and Nancy and most recently, our oldest brother Richard. We aren't really numb. We're emptied of that kind of emotion because two of the three most devastating losses one could experience, have already occurred for us. Parents, Siblings and I pray I never know the third.  My brother and I do love each other.  Both having no one left for advice but each other, just look at each other and laugh whenever we ask each other a deep question of life.

With everyone else but us now gone (of the original family unit), I told him I hoped he wasn't numb about my death when it comes, but he certainly has permission to get that way after the funeral if he so desires it. Without him, there's no one left to give a damn.  Permission to grieve has been mutually granted.  We both feel like orphans at times, but we suck it up and move on because ultimately; what else can we really do? That's where that whole serene acceptance is force fed down your throat as if a rape was taking place.  It is utterly and completely against your will, you MUST accept the loss.

We both went through counselling for our losses and experiences at different times in our lives.  Neither of us found it to be too productive to rehash the losses and relive them over and over again while paying someone to listen to it.  Never once were any suggestions made on how to overcome, deal with or move forward.  They just sit there with pen and paper, scribing your "condition" that eventually evolves into the medical tablet of judgement - a permanent record of your depression, feelings of loneliness and contempt for any deity in existence; immediately followed with a script for a brain chemical altering drug that is supposed to make you feel better about it all. We paid for that?

Aren't family funerals off the charts?  People you hardly know apologize to you for the death of your loved one. "I'm so sorry". "Who the fuck are you?" (I always wanted to say but never did). Then there are the family members that you either haven't seen in years, or have never met at all, come out of the woodwork out of some freakishly fake obligation.  I'd like to break their kneecaps, those fuckers. If you want to see me, don't wait until I am dead to gaze at me with a blank stare on your face. I guess that's some of those THINGS I cannot change but would like to. I digress.

Understanding how to be serene and accept things I cannot change is the battle of a lifetime for me. Changing the things you can doesn't take courage, it takes compassion and will.  Fortunately, my compassion is still in tact, and some days I will, other days I will it not.

Wisdom to know the difference.  I know how to accept things I cannot change. I don't call that wisdom, it is simple common sense.  Does it really take courage to change the things we can?  No.  It takes influence. Can we change ANYTHING without influence?
in·flu·ence [ ín floo ənss ]

(plural in·flu·enc·es)
1. effect on something: the effect of something on a person, thing, or event
2. power to sway: the power that somebody has to affect other people's thinking or actions by means of argument, example, or force of personality
3. special advantage: the power or authority that comes from wealth, social status, or position
4. somebody who can sway another: somebody or something able to affect the course of events or somebody's thinking or action
Without influence, we're back to praying for serenity to accept the things we cannot change.  A vicious fucking cycle of redundant bullshit crappery.  Without influence, second verse, same as the first.

Sure, I can change my hair color, curtains, sheets, clothes, friends, employers, spouses or significant others,  the clocks back or up an hour on demand, the temperature in the room, the water in my dog's bowl, the slipcover for the sofa, or other menial crap that means nothing in the big picture of life.

When it comes down to it, changing anything really meaningful where your footprint remains upon it as a positive, forced from within the chambers of your heart; influence is required.(Random acts of kindness are omitted from this example)

My new prayer is:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can for the good of my life and that of all mankind as I am able; the influence required to fulfill those goals without boastful pride; and the wisdom to know the moments I should be still enough to hear your voice of counsel when the serenity, courage or influence are absent. - Cathy J. Cross - June 21, 2010. 

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