In Defense of Me

I had a little text exchange earlier today.

My sister sent me a picture and two videos of the kitten she is giving me in the fall.  I did not want a new cat as I have three and that is enough.  But my sister cleverly sent a picture first and then asked me if I would like to have a new kitten.  She would pay for all the shots, the spaying, and bring her to me from N. Carolina since they were coming up anyway.  It was a cute cat, and my sister always gets her way, and one of my cats is 19, so how long would I have to wait to be back down to three cats anyway.  So, I said yes.

Now my sister sends regular updates via text, which is considerate, I suppose.

Today I felt compelled to thank her for her efforts which are allowing me to see my kitten grow up even though she is hundreds of miles away.

Instead of responding with a “you’re welcome” she texted back with “You’re welcome to come down and see her and bring her back with you.”

Gahhhhhhh!

Why would I want to drive myself all the way down to Asheville, NC to pick up a cat (that I probably shouldn’t have said yes to) when you’re coming up to New York anyway in September???  In fact, all of this was your idea to begin with.  In fact, about a hundred whyshouldI’s raced through my mind when she responded the way she did.

The safest answer I could come up with was, it wasn’t in the budget to make a big trip this year.

Her answer:  Budget?  It’s a couple of tanks of gas!  We have plenty of room for you.

Gahhhhhhhh!

This convo was exactly like nearly every exchange with my mother.  No matter what I say in answer to any question, large or small, my answer is up for grabs, correction, improvement.  How did these people get so far into my brain?  Why do I have to defend everything all the time????

It’s the boundaries again.  I never learned good boundaries.  Neither did they.  But they are okay with it and I am not.

I can not be okay with poor boundaries.  I will never get better if I don’t firm up the boundaries.

And why am I still thinking about it and turning it over and over in my mind an hour later?

I get so stuck sometimes.

I probably should have sucked it up weeks ago and turned down the kitten even though she is super cute.  But I didn’t and now I am entangled.

My answer that shut down the exchange: I would have to fly.  That’s a hell of a drive and I’m not up to it these days.

She had nothing but an “oh, okay” for that one.

Score!

Such small successes in this journey, but I’ll take it.

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“Ripen into Your Authentic Self”

The phrase “ripen into your authentic self” was part of my horoscope from Rob Brezsny this morning and it was one of those aha things that I just love.

I’ve been having a little bit of trouble with a family situation lately.  We haven’t heard from our oldest son in over a year and it is bothersome.  Luckily with the internet I can keep faint tabs on him, but still.  This is the kind of situation that most parents dread and are confounded by.  I am no different.

Fortunately, I found a recent blog post he wrote–the sign of life I’ve been wanting.  The subject matter is one I am quite uncomfortable with personally.  However, it is not a surprising subject.  It is consistent with the kind of person he has always been.  Which makes his absence from our lives quite understandable.  He is being considerate of our feelings as well as being true to himself.

I was pleased to see that he is a fantastic writer.  And a person with integrity.  His interests are not interests I can share, but I can respect them.

I feel very proud of him.  But it is still strange and uncomfortable for me that I cannot just call him and say, awesome blog, tell me more.  I have to give him the kind of space that most parents would be uncomfortable with.  And I miss him.

It’s hard to know what to do with a relationship of this nature.

But the thing we have in common, and that all people have in common, is the desire and need to be our authentic selves.  And for many of us that takes a great deal of time.  Some people never accomplish authenticity.

I had to learn to get out of my own way to even begin ripening into my true and authentic self.  I think my son had to learn the same thing and over a year ago he made his move.

So here is to all of us finding our true, authentic selves and the peace that it can bring.

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Scarred for Life!

I read an article recently that discusses what happens to children who have been traumatized at certain crucial stages of development when they grow up.  The author’s opinion was that trauma during the terrible twos and again during puberty had a permanent effect on the individual.

Awhile back I read a different article about a study.  The study involved a group of children who had been bullied at certain ages and checked in with them at intervals for their entire lives.  The study reached the same conclusion–that particular childhood stages were very vulnerable for psychological damage and that the damage is virtually permanent.  The bullied children as adults tended to remain unsuccessful outsiders throughout adulthood no matter what.

Well, I could have told them that!

It’s kind of nice to know that the way I turned out is not my fault.  I did not choose to hang onto the past and fear the future.  I did not choose to wallow in grief or get lost in worry and anxiety.  Instead, this is basically what I became “made of” due to the timing of events and how those events mixed with my “self” during my childhood and youth.

This means to me that my task is not about weaknesses or flaws.  I don’t need a cure.  I need to accept who I am now.  I need healing and purpose.  My task is to keep finding my way.

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Getting Overwhelmed

I woke up “early” today, at 9:39 am to be precise, and I am, in this moment, trying to transition from the anxiety of nighttime to the, hopefully, calm state of daytime.

Sometimes it feels like my brain is my own worst enemy.  For example…

Yesterday turned out pretty cool. A friend and I drove to Rochester to pick up our t-shirts that we will wear when we belly dance on Saturday in a Shimmy Mob for the first and last time. But oh, the stresses attached to this endeavor.

My friend found this program last year when it was too late to sign-up, so we vowed to sign-up this year. In the meantime, we split from our troupe and had to deal with that issue all year.

Naturally, when the time came to sign up for Shimmy Mob, our old troupe suddenly decided to participate here in our little town while we decided to join the team in Rochester. Awkward!

Then the choreography turned out to be a bear to learn, meaning that we had to put our own personal dancing on hold for the past two months. We had questions for our out-of-town team that were hard to get answers for. Well, we could have just stayed with our old troupe for that!

It was looking like everything would be last possible minute and that was quite stressful.

Then yesterday we got word that we could pick up our t-shirts early. Yippee! We would know early if they fit and could actually do something about it if they didn’t. We’d know what color so we could plan accessories accordingly. We could talk to a team member instead of meeting them all for the first time on Saturday. And as a bonus, she lived in a part of the city I have been to frequently, so our trip was uneventful in a good way and I could have that added feeling of accomplishment yesterday.

Every day I wonder if normal people just take things like this in stride and waste not a moment of thought or worry on tasks such as yesterday’s undertaking: The Great T-shirt Unveiling!

Years ago I was one of those people who could just drive to “the city”, meet a new person, get a t-shirt, drive home, and let the experience melt into the past without dwelling on it. How I miss those days and that self.

There has to be a happy medium somewhere in there. Maybe that is a definition of wellness: Doing things with some kind of presence of mind and without getting stuck in the fear and worry.

Saturday will come and go as does every other day of my life. Shimmy Mob will be memorable for what happens and for what I learned. It will turn out to be not as bad as it felt at times while we struggled with someone else’s choreography. And I will have no desire to try it again. Not because it was hard but because my time will be better spent on my own creativity which I tend to put on a back burner far too often in this life.

Then again, nobody knows what next year will be like and maybe it will be something else altogether.

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Re-Reading

My journaling and blogging are both pretty sporadic even though writing helps my depression a great deal.  I guess I just don’t like to be in a routine for too long and need to change things up regularly.

During my down times, though, I do go back and re-read what I’ve written.  It gives me a new perspective on things which is also helpful.  I consider the re-reading to be an important part of my journal and blog writing.

Last night I re-read most of this blog and was pleased that some of the entries actually seemed to be well-written.  I still think someday I might write a book, but it would have to be a well-written book or it wouldn’t be worth it to me.  So, that dream still lives on for now.

I was also happy to come across an idea I had forgotten about over the past few months from this blog post:

https://pennyplant.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/abracadabra/

In that blog I wrote about asking myself the question, “If I were happy, what would I do right now?” which I then acted on and ended up feeling so much better for some reason. After finding the idea again, I decided to bring it back as a strategy because I have entered into a slump and was out of ideas for how to turn the corner and begin making progress again.

Sometimes we know ourselves better than we realize when we are in the trenches.  You just need some time and distance to be able to see it.  Re-reading my own work is a way to achieve that for myself especially since I don’t have a therapist and rarely confide in other people.

Maybe everybody re-reads their own writing and this is not a new idea for others.  But it helps me a lot and I haven’t seen it addressed in other blogs yet so I figured I’d put it out there just in case.

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Golden Girl

I’ve been watching Orange Is The New Black for a couple weeks now.  When it first came out, I had zero interest in watching it.  I thought it would be exploitative and cliche–oooh, women in prison, oooh.

How wrong I was!  A really well-done show or film is about the only thing that engages my mind fully any more and OITNB is really well-done.  I get so caught up in the characters and story-lines.  I love the way it is filmed.  I love the humor.  I love the complete frustration of the situation, probably because it reminds me of so many times and situations in my own life.  It gives me a lot to think about.

Last night I saw the episode where an evil character escapes the prison grounds only to be run over by the prison van driven by a prisoner dying of ovarian cancer who has also escaped, at least temporarily.  Oh how satisfying that was to see the evil one get her due!

I also like how all of the people in the prison, employee and inmate alike, wonder just what the hell has happened to their lives.  All of them are trapped in some way.  All of them are misunderstood.  Doesn’t everybody feel that way, at least sometimes?  No wonder it’s such a popular show.

Anyway.  Today is the fourth anniversary of quitting the Terrible Job.  I don’t really call it that anymore.  It doesn’t take up as much space in my mind as it did for so long. I will call this progress.

I like the idea of an anniversary, though, because I like being able to measure and assess things.

This year I have realized that as far as I have come since my nearly complete mental and emotional breakdown, I still have a long way to go.  And the way to go is not going to be in the direction I once imagined.  I’m not going to “get back to normal”.  I’m just going to become me, whoever that turns out to be.  I have scads to learn yet.  And I will do most of this learning as an old woman.  And being an old woman will be a surprise too.

Of all the characters on OITNB, it’s the oldest women, the Golden Girls, who are the least three dimensional.  The show does a pretty good job with some of them as individuals.  And I’m only on season two so maybe I will be pleasantly surprised as I watch more episodes.

Probably the relative lack of depth is because the makers of the show just haven’t gotten there yet themselves.  It’s not their story to tell.  It’s really not even mine yet as I am merely peri-menopausal.  But my awakening is occurring much closer to old age than to youth.

It’s a way to go.

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Quiet weekend

Looking out the window to my left, I see that the-neighbors-I-don’t-hate have unfurled a brand-new American flag for their front yard.  Sometimes I think we should unfurl our American flag because we live in such strange times now and it might be better to be seen as more patriotic than not.  But our flag is one that has flown over the capital because that is the kind of flag you receive when you re-enlist in the Navy.  I would just hate to see it get all faded and worn out.  So inside it stays.

I was feeling a little stressed this morning.  Several weeks ago I had responded in the affirmative to a Facebook invite to a Redneck Wine Tasting today that a friend’s daughter was organizing to benefit our local hospice house.  Back then I thought, oh that sounds like fun and it’s a good cause and I will probably want to go.

This morning I weighed my options to see if I could just not show up and not seem like a jerk.

Nearly four years since the big nervous breakdown and I am still not my old self.

I did go, though.

It was harder than it needed to be because I had to go by myself which I hadn’t expected at the time I accepted the invitation.  And there were other concerns that had me second-guessing myself.

My friend is a very conservative, very religious, very enthusiastic, very loyal person.  We were friends from a long time ago when I was a different, more hopeful person and she was maybe not so religious and conservative.

Sometimes I worry that this is a friendship which perhaps should not have made it into this part of my life.

But she keeps reaching out to me and I think maybe I shouldn’t just blow that off.

The wine tasting was held in what I would call a dive bar.  I’ve never actually been inside before, though I drive by quite often.  Back in the day, when the police came to raid it, prostitutes and customers alike could climb out a window and swim away in the nearby creek.  Creeks can be very handy things!

Nowadays, if there is a raid, there probably wouldn’t be any prostitutes.

It was very crowded when I got there half an hour into the thing and they were already running out of raffle tickets and some of the foods.  My friend was all dressed up as a redneck.  She had put her hair in braids and wore some hideous fake teeth and a plaid flannel shirt and gave me a big hug when she saw me.  She was in her element.

I stayed long enough to choose my raffles and then headed for home.  Maybe for the next one, I’ll plan better and bring someone and actually relax a bit and imbibe.

Maybe the next one will find a healthier me and all around better times.

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