For The One Who Birthed Me. (excerpt)

I used to pick fights with
the parts of myself that
seemed to resemble you.

The idea of me that lived up
to your impossible expectations
and the lies I told so often,
they eventually became true.

The difficulty I have now comes
riddled with self doubt because
the one I relied upon did not
know how to meet me half way.

Captured by your adverse opinion,
when all feelings are fleeting.

I will miss you, yes–but I know now that
I am not responsible for your unhappiness.

I will not cut myself open
because you refuse to let me grow.

A Decade to Go.

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In less than 2 weeks, I will have a 9-year old at home and it amazes me how fast time flies by. I miss being able to pick up and carry my daughter–who is now almost as tall as I am. I also miss seeing her try to walk for the first time or experience new things with a sense of awe and wonder. There are still many big moments to come–some of which, like dating, I have no desire to experience ever. But I look forward to surviving and thriving through them all, regardless.

One of the things I aim to have with Jenesis is an open communication policy. I want her to know that she can come to me with anything, no matter what. Sometimes, it is difficult to drill this type of policy into the hearts and minds of children. Their ability to see the long game is skewed and their overall opinion of time is that it is torture. They also do not want to suffer consequences for their actions and fail to see that hiding the truth only makes the problem worse in the long run.

For instance, Jenesis has a habit of “forgetting the truth” when she does something that she knows is wrong. Last week, I found her watching a mature show on Netflix, “Glee”. It is Rated PG-13, and I have allowed her to watch certain episodes–particularly the singing portions when we are together. When I brought it to her attention she told me, “You said we could watch it together”. She failed to realize that watching it by herself was not the same thing as watching it together.
I try to limit her exposure to a lot because innocence cannot be regained once it is gone. I want her to remain young and carefree for as long as it is in my control. However, children have a natural curiosity for adult things–always wanting to know more when they are not quite ready.

I was raised with two differing styles of parenting from my childhood. My parents are divorced and thus had different ideas of how to handle/or not handle adult content in the home. My father and step-mother allowed us to watch adult content when they were present but told us to “cover our eyes” when an adult scene came on. The funny thing is, we could still hear sounds and conversations and I feel this approach only served to increase our desire as children to see what was going on behind our hands. Pretty soon, when we were not being supervised we found ourselves secretly watching adult stations trying to figure out what our parents did not want us to know.

My mother similarly watched adult content while we were around, but did not instruct us to cover our eyes. Part of the time we would cover them out of habit, but other times we would look to her for direction. When no direction came, we figured it was okay to keep watching. I can tell you as an adult now, that it was not. Passive parenting inspires confusion and leads the child to make mature decisions with little to no guidance. A lot of my adolescence was spent making poor choices based on my limited point of view.

jencosby_blog_parenting_decade to goAs a parent now, I chose to go a completely different route with my daughter. I did not want her exposed to anything that was not meant for her age. I do not watch adult content in front of her or listen to music with adult themes. The problem with my method is that she spends a large amount of her life in a school where I cannot protect her from the influence of peers. Everyone she comes into contact with has a unique home background and when you mix all of these kids together you are bound to get a host of conflicting information. If I do not give her the right information at home, she may eventually make bad choices based on what she learned from her friends.

So, this past week I chose to sit her down and have an open and candid conversation about this mixed up world around us. With her growing interest in adult material, I know it is my responsibility to give enough information so that she is informed but not enough to taint her innocence.

Some of the themes in “Glee” include: teenage pregnancy, homosexuality, drugs, sex and the list goes on and on. I wanted to know which of these themes she saw and what she thought or knew of each one. I explained my expectations of her as a little young lady and addressed what was right vs. what was wrong for her age. I felt the need to even detail her upcoming menstrual cycle and the changes that will come along with that.

I know parenting is not a perfect process and many mistakes will be made along the way. But children are the highest blessing and it is our responsibility as parents to give them the absolute best we have. I will never take this honor for granted. I pray God will continue to give us all the grace to grow and teach our children well before we release them into the world, on their own.

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-Jen.Cosby

 

Even the Righteous Need Breaks.

I wonder what happens to beautiful souls who lose their courage to the bitter realities of life. A part of me knows decisions are made that subtract from happiness and cause undesirable consequences–but another part of me cannot begin to analyze the cost. Instead, I look out of my window at clouds that promise oncoming cold and heavy, relentless rain. Because even nature releases its burden before it starts all over again.

The cycle of life reminds us of how precious time is while we attempt to live out our plans and work towards individual designs. We are planners and organizers. Dreamers who spend hours thinking of ways to get the very best of everything. Yet sometimes, we intentionally procrastinate against the necessary hard work required of us. Turning our backs on the truth of who we are.

jencosby_blog_inspiration_lessonsThere are times of testing that give way to amazing moments that we could have never achieved without grace. In these difficult moments we forget what is important and get defensive when our ideal is lost. When I personally measured my commitment to others I found I could have done more when my friends were hurting. Instead, I chose to bury my head in the sand and act as if nothing was happening. I ignored those public posts and dismissed their agonizing cries for attention–assuming that a person who needed help would just come out and ask for it. But it is difficult to anticipate help when you are ashamed of your actions.

For the better part of a year I ran from every single one of my callings. I dug in deep with isolation and spent quality time in my own self-imposed rejection. At the time, I felt wounded by so many things that I became accustomed to and accepting of pain. It became a daily habit for me to wake up and go through the day like a zombie–oblivious to the hurt I was feeling. Eventually, that hurt became a part of the way I communicated. I lashed out and broke confidence with people who wanted more for and from me. Now, I realize I could do nothing for them unless I wanted more for myself.IMG_2204

Now that I want more I need to take consistent steps in the right direction. It means I cannot run from difficult conversations or fill silence with resentment and apathy. My calling requires me to be active in the pursuit of my emotional, physical and mental health. When I am wrong, I must admit it and walk down the path towards reconciliation and forgiveness. Likewise, if someone hurts me (accidentally or not) it is up to me to be honest about my feelings.

What they choose to do with my truth is NOT my responsibility.

 

Patient Lines.

 

I am waiting patiently with bated breath
for you to tell me I am different. That in
all of the numerous love affairs from your life–
I am the only one you could never set free.
I crave wistful imagination and wide
set eyes of hopelessly smitten affection.

I wanted you to look over at me in
the middle of the night with
a vibrant sort of expression.

But I am the one who lies awake–staring
at the cracks in my ceiling while you sleep
blissfully unaware next to me.
From the moment that I was able to believe
in love, I always thought those who are meant
to be were connected by more than just feelings.

We tread the line somewhere between
wishful thinking and absolute destiny.
Stacking expectation until it all falls down.

Can we exist in moderation? Will walking
narrow paths fit our individual goals?
Or are we squeezing the right shapes
into completely wrong holes?

I honestly do not know.

I just hope we learn to recover,
before we are forced to let go.

Flames of Glory.

Flames of glory for the one who lost all control.
I picture this broken body with its propensity to feed
off my soul. Truth bears down on me, forcing me to
overcompensate. For my vanity. For my sadness.
For the bittersweet memory of my never forgotten
mistakes. You dropped your intentions in the middle
of a losing battlefield. Breaking dawn with our
destructive tendencies. I create out of darkness
what you can only obtain in peace. They said
there is no real hope for you or for me.
Tears wet my face as I violently shake the truth
from my mind. We are better together, no matter
what happened the last time. I wish declaring
what you wanted had the power to set you free.
But smoke is in the way and this fire is all-consuming.

300 Words or Less.

“You could die and it wouldn’t matter at all to me.”

Words like this ring in the ears and consciousness of a person who is mentally unwell. Most of the time the words are not verbally spoken but the feeling of distance grows until that person spirals out of control. I could tell you that this type of reaction is dramatic–that the person feeling this way is unreasonable. But the truth is, some of us were gifted with an abundance of emotion.

Sometimes, that emotion has nowhere to go.

I run from confrontation. In the middle of a conflict, I will pick up my feelings and take off in the opposite direction. Where I was once fully willing and open to sharing my heart, I am currently opposed to being broken down and disregarded. It is difficult to be vulnerable. As it is, most people just want to know what is wrong so they can pass your issues on. Why would I ever believe this type of person is FOR me? In the past I have hidden my issues, allowing overwhelming levels of grief to take over my life. But I have also trusted others with my truth and found that no one was willing to stay by my side.

Now, I stand on my own terms of independence, wanting to believe the future will be brighter than where I am today. To be quite honest, I do not feel any different. I still feel hurt and abandoned, lonely and distant–no matter where I sit in the congregation. I still feel broken, beyond all repair. I wait quietly and observe everyone secretly; hoping just one person will care to see me in my entirety. But instead I sit alone on the outside, looking for a way to regain some control.

 

Losing Battles.

I wish I could call off this spiritual battle
between light and darkness that wages
its constant war within me. My dark night
no longer relents or gives way to the dawn
I was promised, in the morning. Instead, I
have bloodshot eyes that do not recognize
joy or eternal happiness. Do not pity me.

It was written that some will perish,
some will rise, and still others will die
before their expected time. This means
more to the ones who are doing the dying.

I wish I knew how to live in a deep well of
pain without affecting the people around me.
Maybe I could feign peace or acquiesce to
their expectations of health and pretend to be
perfectly well–but I am not in the business of
letting myself find strength in the arms of
another. Or in the habit of trying to recover.

I do not know how to restore what was taken
or apologize for what I’ve forsaken or fix the
brokenness from the arrows that penetrated
my heart before I even knew how to fight.

But I know I am empty. Barren and bereft.
Helplessly left bleeding in a battlefield that
I did not desire for myself. I wish I knew why
anger and abandonment are the major themes
in my life. Maybe if I knew how to do that,
I could learn to survive.