Monthly Archives: June 2014

Dance Class

I am a member of a belly dance troupe and tonight at practice I learned that one of my troupe sisters is applying for a part-time job at an office of my previous employer. Of course my first thought is, Oh no! You don’t want to do that! But people have to figure out things for themselves.

And some of the offices and some of the jobs are doable. Many people still enjoy their jobs with this employer. I asked some pertinent questions about which office, which job, would they provide a vehicle, and determined that she will probably be okay. I ended up encouraging her while at the same time it was breaking my heart AGAIN that I was NOT okay working for that same employer. My mind automatically went to: if only I had worked in a smaller office, if only my boss had my back, if only my co-workers had my back, if only it had mattered that my customers liked me a lot, and that I worked hard, and that I was loyal…. If only I had seen the place for what it was much, much sooner.

Having to give up that terrible job broke my heart in the same way that every other rejection in my life also broke my heart. They really didn’t like me! How can that be? That was my life for nearly twelve years. I gave it everything I had to give. In the end, I meant nothing to that place and most of those people. I must have thought I was earning some kind of value or a spot in that world. Except they didn’t come through on their part of a bargain that only existed in my own imagination.

I’ve done a lot of reading and sitting and thinking this year. One neat thing I learned about from reading a Dear Abby column. I don’t remember what the letter writer asked but the answer had to do with something called “Emotional Starvation.” This occurs when the parents never instill a sense of “mattering” in their infant child. Then later on as the child grows they go about life with this lack that they probably don’t even know they have. They will seek out people and situations that make them feel like they matter. When the people leave or the situations end, the emotionally starved person is devastated.

In my case, my parents didn’t know how to give this sense of mattering to their children. My father was mildly autistic and my mother is somewhat narcissistic. Each of them, in different ways and for different reasons, just couldn’t see beyond their own narrow experience. They couldn’t meet others halfway let alone enter a child’s world in order to raise them with a sense that they mattered.

I think that I do everything with this mistaken idea that I must earn the right to exist and that this right is only granted by the approval of others who may or may not care about anyone other than themselves. Crap.

Anyway, practice tonight went fine even though I was feeling the depression strongly and was out of sorts thinking about that terrible job. I have been belly dancing for about seven years now. It has become a part of who I am. Sometimes it even takes my mind off myself!

We practiced for a performance we have in a week and a half. It will be ten minutes and four dances in between the first and second musical acts of a local fund-raiser. We are donating our performance, which we often do just to get to perform. This performance is going to be hard for me, though. I almost declined to participate. I didn’t want to have to run into people I might know from any of my old lives. I am perfectly happy to perform out of town or for nursing home residents. But I am afraid to perform for people who I believe will be critical or disrespectful like former co-workers or my mother or people from good old golden school days. Some of my troupe sisters know this will be hard for me. But I agreed to do it and I will do it. I might not ever dance in town again, though! This might be a limit I don’t need to push.

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It’s 9 a. m. and I Can’t Sleep

Several years ago my mother told me that when I was a one-year-old, she trained me to go to bed late and sleep in until noon because it made mornings easier on her once my baby sister was born.

Wasn’t that nice of me to be so cooperative at the age of one?

Actually, my mother just got lucky.  It turns out, I am a night owl by nature.  I kind of suspected it off and on over the years.  This year though, the year of not having a job and maybe never having a job again, I put my theory to the test by pretty much heading to bed or laying down whenever the hell I want and also not getting up again unless I WANT to.  And sure enough, I am pretty energetic in the middle of the night and pretty sluggish until very late in the a. m.  That’s the pattern when I feel completely lousy in every way and it is the pattern when I feel mellow and okay. 

Today I’m up early because I had a weird dream.  My late cousin’s daughter came into my old workplace crying because she missed her mother.  All her friends were there with her and my friends were there with me.  The daughter’s friends told me that they were taking me with them on a special outing they had planned for her to cheer her up.  Of course I didn’t know what the outing was because they are a younger generation and not my friends.  I felt like I had no choice but to accompany them.  But I had left my purse at a different office.  One of my friends said I could use her purse and credit card and phone.  But I felt very uncomfortable about doing that.

Eventually I thought to take one of the younger women aside and beg her to tell me where we were going because I didn’t have my purse with me and needed to know what my friend would be lending me.  In my mind, $45 seemed to be the upper limit of what I was willing to borrow from my friend.

She told me they were taking us to see Les Miserable on Broadway as that was the daughter’s favorite ladies’ night out.  Then I knew I had to either get someone to take me and find my own purse or back-out from the outing because there was no way I would borrow that kind of money from my friend who probably didn’t want to be out hundreds of dollars in one evening.

It disappoints me that my dreams are still so stupid when it comes to people smarts and boundaries and knowing what to do before things get out of hand.  I will wake up from each messy puzzle that my dreams come up with and say to myself, for crying out loud, it’s a DREAM.  You can be assertive, mouthy, rude, whatever, in a freaking dream.  But no.  I still fall back on being cooperative and tactful and nervous.

Now this morning, I am up way too early and what is going on that I would normally have missed?  My idiot neighbors are outside vacuuming and hooting and hollering and generally making my skin crawl.

I dislike my idiot neighbors enormously.  When they first bought the house next door, we ran into them at the grocery store.  My husband had already met them and stopped to talk and introduce me.  Right there in the frozen food aisle they both began regaling us with their life stories in a huge noisy rush.  I made a mental note to establish some kind of boundary with them but still let them talk and talk and talk while my mouth stayed in a polite smile.

When they finally ran out of steam and went on their way, I asked my husband if my hair was blown straight back from my face as it felt like I had just walked out of a hurricane or tornado.

I still applaud myself for being able to recognize a bad dynamic right away for probably the very first time in my life.  But, alas, recognition was not enough to prevent the bad dynamic from becoming my own personal hell anyway.  I had zero clue what to actually do to set a firm boundary with people whose driveway actually butts up against ours.  People who have zero boundaries themselves and see no need for them.

Over a decade later…. I still think the best solution to that one will be to sell our house and move to a place on a wooded lot with no neighbors at all.

So, yesterday I spent the afternoon with my mother and it was a typical visit.  We talked about what she wanted to talk about for as long as she wanted to talk about it.  Much, much later I realized I had forgotten to tell her that I found out what my cousin’s family had done with her body after she passed away a few weeks ago.  My mother was very distracted at the funeral because there was no casket or urn present at the services.  It didn’t bother me all that much.  I didn’t really think it was my business.  But she kept asking me if I knew what was done.

I found out by accident that in fact they donated her body to a local school of medicine and would be receiving her cremains at some point in the future when the students are done studying her.  Not what I would have picked, but again, not my business or my decision.  Many people do this and feel good about contributing to medical science.

At first I wasn’t going to tell my mother because the fact that she was even wondering about it seemed to make it gossipy and tacky.  Then I wavered.  What would be so different about this conversation from any other I have had with my mother all my life?  If I have information she is actually interested in maybe it will even be kind of enjoyable to talk about.  Kind of a female bonding experience.

But my mother had so many bits of her own news to tell about that I forgot all about my “news”.  I spent the visit responding rather than offering.  I will spend the next few days decompressing.  And napping.

 

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