Tag Archives: growing up

Time Travel?

My life story contains some traumatic turning points.  In between those turning points I have often managed to sail along somewhat smoothly and occasionally even thrive.  In order to do that, however, I was drawing against my reserves.  Little did I know that I would eventually come up dry.  And that is where I find myself these days.

When I quit the Terrible Job, I kept looking for causes of my troubles because that seemed like a way to find a solution.  There was a lot of “I chose this, because that happened” and “when that happened, I began to believe this” and so on.

I worked my way back in time and kept asking myself “Is this where it went wrong, is this when I reached a point of no return?”

It seemed to me that at age 13 I still had a chance to make a happy life for myself.  At that age, I still thought I was pretty cool and equal to everyone else, even though there were people in my life who would beg to differ.  There had been some childhood problems and issues but it seemed recoverable in a way that my life from age 14 did not.

I believe that an important part of my personality became “frozen” at whatever developmental stage I had reached by age 14.

This means that from that point on, each challenge in my life was approached and possibly solved in the way a 14-year-old might try and solve it.  Even when I had learned better ways, there was still that freaked-out 14-year-old in the background pulling some of the strings.

I used to say 14 is really awkward at 40.  If that is true, then how much more awkward is it at 54???  It does feel weird, I promise you that.

People in my life that had a proper youth, at least as far as I can know that, seem to be better off as adults than I have ever been.  They can roll with the punches and eventually bounce back.  They seem to have an understanding of human nature that I skipped right over.  They don’t beat themselves up endlessly.  They forgive themselves.  They are satisfied more or less with what they have and have accomplished.  I’m not saying they have it easier.  I’m saying they have resilience.

I want that resilience for myself.  I have to build it from scratch, though.  Thirteen-year-old me just might be able to help.

I want to combine the knowledge I have gathered through 54 years of experience with the kind of person I was before my life derailed.  Sort of like– if only I knew then what I know now–but in reverse.

I am making steady progress and continue to feel different inside which enables me to start making different and healthier decisions.  It’s incredible to me how slow this process is and I have to keep reminding myself just how long it took me to get to this point.  A long, long time!!!  So, just keep going, that’s all I can do.

 

 

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Filed under anxiety, depression, dysfunction, emotional health, getting along, growth, healing, history, human nature, journey, peer pressure, progress, self-care, self-respect, social phobia, stress, Uncategorized

The Cat’s in the Cradle

Before I begin this post, I want to say that I am not looking for advice or a solution.  This is truly just a sorting-my-thoughts kind of essay.  It is still just very hard for me to know what to do when people in  my life don’t cooperate and don’t explain things to me. Some of the most important people in my life are so incredibly frustrating for me to relate to.  So here goes….

I want us to visit our son in California.  It has been three years since we were there.  Money is a big issue and is the reason why I decided not to go in 2015.

People ask why he doesn’t come here.  Well, he hates it here.  And money.

The last visit from him was in 2004 when my father died.  I will always appreciate that he came for the funeral when what he really wanted was to visit while my father was still alive.  Unfortunately, the end came faster than expected.  One day I’m calling him to say, hurry home.  And the very next day I’m calling to say, you can take your time, he is gone.

I suppose it is time for me to let go of that guilt.  Nobody told me how fast these things can go and I just didn’t know.

We have pretty bad communication with each other.  It has always been that way.  I can put a really good spin on it.  He calls for our birthdays and holidays!  Yay!  Those calls have been some of our best conversations!  Yay!  But this year we received no calls for the holidays and he has not returned the calls we made to him.  It has been over six months since our last word from him.

Our letters have not been returned so he has not moved someplace new.  That damn silence, which I have such a hard time with, is back.

I remember his adolescence was a whole bunch of silence.  I would yell at him, “Talk to me!!!!!  What is going on????”  Of course, that just made it worse.

While I can see the good things in his life, and there are several, I will probably always wish our relationship was simpler and felt more natural.

I am proud of how smart and independent he is.  I admire the kind of person he is.  But it is nearly impossible to c0nnect.

So, we’ve been trying to work out a visit for 2016.  Since he is not responding to our calls and letters, I might have to conclude that he is not up for a visit and also is not up for telling us that.

I suppose it’s nice that he is possibly trying to spare our feelings.

Maybe he has things going on that he doesn’t want to tell us about or burden us with.

It could be anything really.

I feel like such a martyr for even writing about this.

And maybe he will call soon and I will find out I worried for nothing.

This is just way too much maybe.

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Filed under anxiety, boundaries, decision making, depression, dysfunction, family, getting along, human nature, planning, Uncategorized

Not How I Remember It

We had a quiet Easter this year. It was just my husband and me. I heated up some ham steaks, baked cheesy scalloped potatoes and scavenged together a green salad for our dinner. Dessert was Easter chocolate from our local landmark candy store. Then we went to the county park and walked about a mile or so along a cold, snowy road and breathed in the awesome fresh air.

As a result of posting a picture of this walk to Facebook, a former neighborhood playmate “introduced” himself to my husband and mentioned in a post that nobody messed with the “Pearl St. Gang” in those days, etc.

He clearly has fond memories of the “gang” and our growing up days.

I… remember it slightly differently. Or maybe I just put a different emphasis on certain memories. I know for sure that I did not understand the workings of the “gang”.

Most of my summers, from about 1967 to 1973, were spent at the playground across the street from my house participating in the Parks Program with crafts, games, softball, etc.

We did that every year until we moved two streets away in 1974. My sister and I rode our bikes to the park at the beginning of July that year only to be greeted at the park entrance by two boys waiting for us on their bikes. They had apparently been appointed to wait for us to get there and inform us that we were no longer welcome to participate in the Parks Program.

It’s kind of funny now to recall my sister freaking out and screaming at them about how “unjust” it was as we turned around and allowed ourselves to be chased off our old street. She may have even raised a fist to them to emphasize her point.

I remember being torn between my embarrassment at my sister’s behavior (as usual) and the pain of this terrible rejection. Those two boys broke my heart actually. Imagine someone thinking ahead of time to ban us from the park and planning to get there early enough to greet us with a “go home, you are not welcome here anymore” speech!

This was not an isolated incident by any means. For a middle class, WASP-y neighborhood, it was a tough block to grow up on.

Forty years later and I have lots more insights and memories and knowledge to draw from in order to understand why it had to be as tough as it was growing up there. One family had an abusive, alcoholic father, one family lost a baby, one family had sexual abuse going on, two families lost fathers to suicide, one family lost a mother to illness, several families had lots of kids and I imagine the parents might have been overwhelmed. These are just a few examples of the “stuff” I remember and have learned in order to help myself try to understand what was going on back then.

I mean, there was so much fighting and meanness among these kids! And for some reason, I kept going back for more. I kept trying to “make it work” for all the years we lived on that block. I suppose there was enough “good” for me to be ever hopeful about fitting in. Until the day we got banned, that is.

There were fun times growing up there and I do remember them. But the way the story ended took the shine off those memories for me.

There was less meanness once high school rolled around. But by then, it was too late. I had gotten on a different path and did not get to finish the growing up process with the neighborhood “gang”. Perhaps I just left at a very awkward time in the life of the old neighborhood. Who knows.

I have to admit, though, that it was entirely true: Nobody ever did mess around with the “Pearl St. Gang”!

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Filed under bullies, depression, dysfunction, getting along, injustice, peer pressure, scapegoating

Kittens

We always had cats, and sometimes kittens, when I was growing up. I loved them more than I loved anything. For years I often dreamed of cats and in those dreams the main feelings were love and a sense of peace. I wanted to be buried with my favorite stuffed cat when I died, and I wanted to come back as a cat in my next life. That’s how much I loved cats.

When we had kittens, we always gave them away when they were about six weeks old. I hated not getting to keep them. But it could have been worse. The neighbors down the street always drowned their kittens. Now I realize they probably couldn’t afford to get their cat fixed. The father hated cats and his word was law. Hence the demise of the kittens.

When I was a teenager, my mother consented to let me have my own cat. I picked out a beautiful gray boy and named him Choo Choo. One night he got hit by a car, and I found out when my sister came racing into the house and said he was flattened in the road. She was kind of giddy with this exciting news. I was crushed.

The next cat I got was a calico and she, of course, had kittens as I was too young to afford to get her fixed. They all had to live outdoors in the garage. I had started giving away the kittens but couldn’t get rid of them fast enough for my mother. One day I came home from school and all of them were gone, including the mother, my calico cat. No real warning. And not a word was said when my mother got home from work. I found out later that she had her boyfriend take them away. He said he found homes for them but I believed for a long time that he killed them.

As an adult I can have as many cats as I can care for. I have three now and that is my limit based on how much litter I want to deal with and how much annoying cat behavior I can tolerate.

Temporarily, I am also fostering two babies.

They were abandoned in a friend’s yard and were probably about a week old at that time. Nobody else could foster them as everyone else in my circle works. I knew they had to be fed every two hours and that was the extent of my knowledge of how you replace a mother cat.

Fostering baby animals is not an activity I would ever recommend to someone with depression. I’ve just about gotten through it and they have turned out damn fine if I do say so myself. But it was probably the roughest activity I could have come up with for myself during these days of healing. It was a risky thing to take on.

The first thing I discovered was that I do not exactly have a knack for taking care of baby animals. They would not eat for me at all at first!!! Here I thought my biggest issue would be waking up every two hours to feed them. Nope. The biggest problem was being awake all the time trying to figure out how to get them to eat anything at all. They might have been starving, but they were also stubborn and my efforts were met with resistance.

A friend offered to come over and show me how to do it. She has lots of experience with baby animals. She is Dr. Doolittle. Each kitten calmed down in her hands and easily ate from the syringe and it took mere moments. I was shocked.

After she left and it was my turn to try, they went right back to being overly excited. But they did eat better than before so I couldn’t really complain. But what a thing. Blind and deaf baby kittens somehow picked up my “electric” vibe just the way humans do and could not settle down in my hands even to eat.

There were several nights when I truly thought, these cats will be dead by morning. How can they go so long without eating? They could sleep and sleep. Their schedule was nothing like the suggested routine on the kitten milk container. During those long nights when I thought for sure they would die, I would mentally kick myself for even taking this on. If I had let them be, they would have died in their sleep the night they were abandoned in those frozen bushes. They wouldn’t have even known any better. Instead, I decided to bring them to my house only to starve to death at my hands.

The first day, I called around for help. I called our veterinarian and the local animal shelter. Neither place could take them off my hands but they did say that no matter what happened it would be a 50/50 chance of them living or dying. They offered other bits of advice including the one that helped me the most. “Keep them warm, let them sleep, and do your best.” That one became my mantra.

For at least the next month my priority was the feeding and care of these kittens. This meant that I accomplished next to nothing else. All my sewing projects stayed in their bags. I missed dance classes. I turned down invitations to go places. I didn’t even bother to call my mother as I knew she wouldn’t be able to work around my kitten feeding schedule and wouldn’t even support this idea of mine to do this in the first place. It was kind of a bleak time.

Fortunately, a friend offered to take them when they are grown enough so I didn’t have to keep kicking myself for taking them in and ending up owning five cats, which is too many. I didn’t have to break my promise to myself keep it at a barely manageable three cats. I do not need more things to kick myself about.

However, my next worry became: how can my friend take you guys if you refuse to eat solid food or drink milk from a bowl? Yep, I discovered that they were supposed to have started solid food at about four weeks and by six weeks should be almost done with kitten milk. OMG! Here we were still tussling over the bottle feedings at six weeks!!! I’m failing miserably at this fostering business!

Depressed people simply do not need such triggers as come with fostering baby animals. I suppose there are emotionally ill people for whom this activity would be empowering. For me, it has been another trial by fire.

The past week or so has been satisfying. They are super cute. They play, run around, do big cat things in miniature. They learned to eat and drink from bowls and one of them has litter-trained himself.

Which reminds me–Shorty! Pee Wee! Cat with the white nose! Whatever-your-name-is-or-will-be!!!! You will never be able to go to your new home if you keep refusing to use the litter box! This is not funny anymore! Get in there and do it!!!

There were times I prayed. It seemed like the best thing to ask for was, let us heal together, me and these little abandoned babies.

I would have to say that my prayer was answered in the affirmative. But it was pretty dicey along the way.

I will not search out another opportunity to foster baby animals. At one time I thought maybe taking care of animals would be a good job for me. Now I know that it is not.

Taking care of animals, or any living creature, is actually another one of those things that I can make myself do in a pinch. But it takes the kind of toll on me that I cannot afford to pay. Especially at this stage of my life where I have depleted my reserves to a dangerous level.

My reserves are so low that I think it is permanent. From now on, I need to mostly do things that will fill me up. I need to rest a lot. I need quiet. I need to not have power of life or death over any creature.

These kittens have turned out well and I think they will make good companions for my friend and her family. I don’t know if they made it because of me or in spite of me.

I feel a little bit proud. I felt a lot of shame and fear and despair and love along the way. I learned many lessons, too.

I hope I am done with the particular lessons this experience brought me. We shall see.

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