Broken Bootstraps  

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Do you remember that first time you realized life doesn’t measure up to your expectations? Do you remember that crushing disappointment? What happens when that become a standard? A regular occurrence as if your life is the grand conspirator in the process? How many times are you supposed to pick yourself up and dust yourself off? What does life expect?

Her heart was a secret garden and the walls were very high.” ― William Goldman

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Dirty Laundry Stained with Blame

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So here I sit in that major conglomo coffee shop trying to do some research. This is the second time this week I have visited and it is becoming quite the adventure. Today I was lucky to position myself against the wall but am between two different groups of people, one a younger coed pair of friends where she clearly is interested in him but he is working through an “awful” end of a relationship and on the other side a pair of friends a bit older than me but also discussing relationship woes. One is clearly playing the blame game while the other seems to be the victim in that same game.

Clearly the lady is experiencing some difficulties in her long term relationship. She is trying to sift through her confusion and pain to find understanding. There are some petty frustrations intermingled with some pretty large problems. A few tears; my heart goes out to her pain, but she is facing her discomfort with dignity and as much rationality as possible.

The young man is attempting to explain why it would never work, creating irrational reason to displace his pain and any accountability to the ruins of his relationship. It is so difficult to stand in your pain, be accountable for your part while remaining respectful with the coconspirator. Don’t get me wrong there are times it is always appropriate to set your boundaries and maintain your self-respect but that is not the situation I am eavesdropping on. He has disengaged from the pain and like a petulant child is slinging accusations at a person who cannot defend herself. Having been on the receiving end of the blame game, I understand the pain belittling and devaluing can inflict.

I may never understand. I think when things go wrong, objective facts are the only appropriate items to share; I believe in discretion. There is a reason you let that person into your life, you cared with all of your heart at one point so why the disparagement now?  Why do people not have enough respect for themselves to maintain privacy of their intimate relationships? Why do they feel the need to air their dirty laundry? Why do we seek validation for their misdirected pain?

“You’ve got to learn although it’s very hard. The way of pocketing your pride, sometimes face humiliation while you were burning up inside. Facing reality is often hard to do when it seems happiness is gone”  – Nina Simone

 

Misguided Faith

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I just don’t know. I have lost my direction. I feel like it is all I can do to just breathe; as a child hiding in the closet under a blanket and it became stifling, difficult to take more than a shallow breath, almost smothering. I usually crave solitude but the silence is painful to my ears, the darkness is too rough against my skin. I spent the majority of my adult life without; I persevered only to arrive here. Knowing the pain of being alone, being without emotional support, lacking a caring person, I always gave what I never had. For the longest time I had faith that if I put out into the world what I was denied and it would be returned; unconditional acceptance, love, kindness, compassion. My faith was misguided and I am beginning to doubt what I have always hoped for in people. I feel I am crushing under the need for a hug but am riddled with fear that I would crumble under touch. My ears crave a kind word but fear it will never arrive.

 

“Love is a circular emotion that surrounds you, like a hug. Or a noose.”  ― Jarod Kintz

Kept in Confidence

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I am a thinker, those very few people close to me know I try to understand everything I come in contact with.  My therapist actually told me that not everyone thinks about life at the depth I do, so try not to expect people to understand it at that depth. So this weekend afforded my time to analyze my life, where I came from, what I went through, the people that are in my life, those who may weather the storm and those who are deciding to leave me at this point of my journey. I think it was a time for me to consider the gifts I have had and regrets I carry since the point my life began again.

Throughout the night my thoughts kept drifting back to what I have shared; having spent my entire life trying to hide the pain through the past few years I opened up and parceled out my past. Although I am a deeply private person having only mentioned a tiny portion to a few people, that shallow acknowledgement, I kept my stories buried deeply until a few came into my life, people who had some shared experiences, who understood the pain, who listened without judgement, and never pried for my details. Unconditional acceptance and lack of criticism did allow me to assess my past and its impact on my present; how it limits my trust, how it restricts my ability to be vulnerable, and my fear of certain closeness.I opened up and apportioned my past with the trust that it would be kept in confidence. Now I am working to collect those pieces, place those stories back into their makeshift tomb.

So as I retreat, how do I secure my stories I cannot collect? How do I approach the topic of privacy? I do not want my secrets shared in a fashion that can undermine my struggle or be used as a means to minimize me for I have spent a lifetime negated. Is this just a concern based in my struggle to trust; the time I did will it be validated or dismissed? I know when one shares their story, their struggle, their past,  I treat it with the utmost respect for I was trusted enough for one to disclose. I would never share the story, never violate the trust by besmirching their truth, in a light that be disparaging, as a means to justify my behavior or choices?  This is quite possibly a fear based in my experiences with people for I have seen this done to others, been a victim, stories used to displace accountability, vilified for no reason.  How does one even broach the topic?

“Confidentiality is a virtue of the loyal, as loyalty is the virtue of faithfulness” -Edwin Louis Cole

Vintage Handkerchiefs

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Even as a child I have liked things from days pasts. I have a special fondness for vintage handkerchiefs thus my small collection. Some are new, having been gently stored away for some special occasion that never arrived while others are well worn, having been neatly ironed and stored away to arrive at an estate sale or antique shop. I love the patterns, tiny flowers, sometimes lace, or embroidered prints.  I am quite curious about the owner; was it a gift, had she liked the pattern, what special event was she saving it for? I often wonder what stories they could tell; did they catch the tears of a love lost, of the joy of a wedding day, or of regret for lost dreams?

My collection has had use as of late for I have had cause to shed tears. While struggling to reconcile my brokenness, to learn to bear the weight of my missing pieces, in my darkness life decided to deliver another blow. As with any time of darkness, people can be lost along the way. You quickly learn who cares by seeing who is traversing your darkness with you, who will sit with you when the candle of hope is extinguished.   In my pain, my insecurities could not be kept tucked away, hidden from myself any longer. So once again I was reminded that not everyone has the same belief system I do, that not everyone cares as deeply as I do, not everyone can stand in the pain of life with another just to support them in silence. So my lovely violet printed hankie is collecting my tears of disappointment and fear.  So  I have decided to retreat and make the change at my own hand as opposed to add to  the tally of those lost on this journey. I do know I am too tired to fight for my place in one’s world.

“The only love you have to prove in life is your love of God and helping others. Anyone that can’t see that has proven themselves to be unworthy of your time because why would you spend your life with someone that can’t tell the difference between a diamond and dirt?”  ― Shannon L. Alder

Lost in Translation

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At times I detest text messages and although I am not a fan of talking on the phone so much more gets lost in translation with a text. Think of the difference between a conversation over a cup of coffee and over messenger.  I wrote a message the other day, when I was in pain and struggling and my pain was interpreted as anger. So here in lies some of life’s challenges. As I wrote this, I am learning to advocate for myself, trying to be honest with someone I trust about my feelings. I struggled to ensure I was clear and honest with full disclosure.  In learning to advocate for myself, to speak my voice, I did not consider the past of the recipient. They have known a past of anger and hostility in those close relationships so irrelevant of my wording the interpretation was into their framework. For this I carry regret.

This coupled with another conversation with a different friend about me not being angry with my present situation has really started the gears turning. Anger is an emotion I work to control. Having experienced the damage anger can inflict, I choose to identify the root of my emotion and work to respond as opposed to react in anger.I believe anger is truly a misunderstood emotion such as frustration, disappointment, or being overwhelmed. If I can take the time to identify the reason I am beginning to feel anger, I  can identify the cause and strive to mitigate the issue, identify my culpability in the situation  and take the appropriate action; explain, apologize, etc.  While anger is a natural emotional response to some conditions, it is rarely the real emotion underlying the situation and is never beneficial.  Maybe this is a skill I have learned from a bad situation, something positive from a long list of negatives.

 

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  ― George Bernard Shaw