The Next Act

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I noticed it beginning a few weeks ago and it is proceeding with a fury. I even wrote a spot about it and thought I should begin my retreat to protect myself, my heart and spirit. But I made the decision to fight my survival instinct and stay open, to be present in the world.  Having spent decades being reminded of my shortcomings, having my faults slung at me as if they were ammunition in some war, even being held accountable for things that were not mine to bear, I was adept at shutting off, at accepting the barrage of painful assault and continual condemnation. The decision to stay present went against all I have known for so long.

So now I am unsure how to proceed. Last night a close friend was enraged with her husband and began ranting, as she proceeded through this I grew increasingly uncomfortable; she clearly was struggling and in pain and I felt for her but once the name calling and belittling began, I could not remain silent. I know how detrimental that can be, the pain words can inflict can result in scars that remain forever. In her anger she said she was finished, ended the friendship in haste, deleting my from all social media and blocking my number so I cannot even check to see if she is doing alright.  A few days before another friend, someone who taught me the importance of being open, someone with whom we had each shared so very much  told me they were uncomfortable with me sharing what was upsetting and painful for me; having spent a lifetime filtering my needs and minimizing myself I am still unsure how to respond from me heart.  So that leaves two in my circle, one of which is moving for love very soon and the other which I have not heard from in days.

Was it all some false existence, some charade? Although I struggle to hold to my empathy and compassion, have I lost all worth to these people I held close?  Years spent living isolated, alone while life proceeded alongside of me, unconnected people wandering through their days with only shallow interactions I grew to believe life was meant to be lived alone until someone convinced me otherwise, taught me that we are not intended to navigate life in isolation. Was I believing in something that is not to be, something founded in hope that cannot come to fruition? How does one continue to bear the blow of disappointment that not everyone, cares as I do, is empathetic or compassionate as I try to be, nor do they value loyalty as I do. Maybe living without something makes you hold it in higher regard.  I have never asked for anything from anyone other than an occasional ear, honesty, and for people to be true and authentic; self-reliance was at my foundation because I never learned to trust in the stability and consistency of others so why ask for more.  I have reached out of the darkness a few times recently, trying to find something, to get my bearings, to hear a kind word, some sense of normalcy, someone to invalidate my lack of hope but have only felt the cold emptiness of nothing. Maybe it is time to draw the curtain to prepare for the next act. Let’s hope I have the courage to face the possibility of some sad monologue.

“Sometimes you have to move on without certain people. If they’re meant to be in your life, they’ll catch up.”  -Mandy Hale

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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

 

Major Faux Pas

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So I really messed up, big time! I have been pretty emotionally raw for the past ten days or so. My anxiety levels are all over the place and nothing is predictable or controllable. On top of that I had an awful dream, the type where you wake up in a sweat, shaking, heart racing…I actually heard myself screaming as I was waking up on this one. In the dream old friends, a couple I have known for over twenty years, came to visit and we were reminiscing then out of nowhere my ex storms into the room, screaming, all those painful words flying,  he pushed me backwards as the friends try to diffuse the situation I fall over something and he begins to kick me.  I didn’t sleep the rest of the night, only falling asleep in the chair as the sun was coming up.  I woke up late, rushed to the auto mechanics to get some work done on my car and then to breakfast with a friend. I tried to focus all morning, still feeling rushed and out of sorts I was blaming it on the hurried morning, my to-do list but in reality it was so much more.  As the day went on I tried to focus on others but I was quickly crumbling. I wasn’t able to complete my errands so I decided to go do some readings and get a cup of coffee.

Here is where it went to hell in a handbasket. I had been out and about more this week than I have all summer so I had my fill of noise and people. I was sitting in the coffee shop and felt it escalating so I decided to get my earphones and listen to some calm peaceful music, focus on my breathing and find my center. I left in tears only to sit in the rental car for the next hour trying to compose myself enough to get mine from the shop. On my way home I was a disaster, the twenty minute drive was filled with tears and anxiety…not as bad as it has been but nothing I can manage.  I understand what is happening and can even find the trigger for this one but still it is no easier. But oh it gets better….

I made it home. I had offered to take dinner to a friend and they declined to which I sent a hateful reply because I was hurting and needed someone, some support, but of course I didn’t explain and of that in detail. I did explain I could use a friend but still was not brave enough to share the details, to explain that dark place I was in. What would usually be considered a neutral reply really stung me. I was hurt, in that moment I needed to know I had someone to lean on, a person in my corner, and I could have used a hug but I couldn’t vocalize it quite that way…but unfortunatly I did say something. I do know I should have expressed my situation better for they are not a mind reader.

So the mess with complex-ptsd is there are triggers and emotional flashbacks, one finds themselves back in that terrifying emotional state. When I am in that place, the smallest thing can be taken the wrong way and I begin that cycle and it can make me feel hopeless, or fearful, or worthless or a hodgepodge of all three. Sprinkle in the anxiety there are good days and then those not so good. Yesterday was not so good.  Add to that the fact I have never learned to advocate for myself; doing so when emotions are so raw and I am in a bad place didn’t actually get presented in a way that it was intended. I feel so guilty, I was trying to say I need help, I need to know I have someone out there to check in because right now its pretty dark and I didn’t say it anywhere close to that. I have tried to explain and I have apologized for the delivery but I sit here afraid that I have damaged things…. I feel like I have more justification to keep to myself but I know that is not the right answer either. I hope I can rectify what I have done….

“I’m sorry.’ The two most inadequate words in the English language.”

– Beth Revis

Note to Former Self

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I am a believer of getting it out of my head either by talking it through or writing it down.  If I put it on paper it adds perspective and allows me to process through my thoughts instead of them continually bouncing around inside my head.  The other day I shared with my dear friend the process I have used to let go when you have no way of actually dealing with the person or event; writing a letter and hold nothing back, there is no need for civility only honesty about your feelings, pain, etc. then I find a quiet place and set it ablaze leaving only a trail of smoke. I have been known to scrawl my thoughts of anger and pain on napkins or compose detailed letters of forgiveness on my fine stationary; it has ran the gamut.  I have written many to myself throughout the years, focusing on forgiveness or to clarify things. Over the past week or two the same topic has surfaced in conversations with different people; what would you tell to your young naïve self.  I don’t spend too much time on regrets, this just made me think what words of wisdom would I impart. Here goes….

 

 

Dear Chicka,

At twenty-two you are so young, have so much of your life to live but you feel like you have been swept off your feet with love. Although you have been loved by your parents and siblings, you have no idea this is not real love. Before you know it you will be facing motherhood and within a few months of that you will know fear. Not that silly scary movie type or the heart racing because you are frightened in a dark parking lot type but true fear for yourself and your unborn child. I am sorry I put you in that position.

You will know a love like no other the moment you hold your first child in your arms and from that moment forward you will make all your decisions as a means to protect, nurture, and provide for them all. You work so hard, you try more than anyone I have ever known, always telling yourself if you just love a little more, try a little harder, find a bit more patience for that is what role you are supposed to play. So many nuances you will learn for yourself just know I am so proud of you for your strength, your courage, and all you have given to your children.

Please try to remember to love yourself, be kind to yourself but I know there will be times that is lost, know there will be moments where you set yourself ablaze to keep someone else warm, and where you sacrifice you dreams a beliefs for some false greater-good. You will return to yourself in time.  Try to hold fast to what you believe in your heart and soul. In your late twenties,  you will lose sight of who you are, you will lose hope, and your faith will be challenged but know it will be found again, to be stronger than you knew. When you face those moments, remember to never lose sight of your kindness, compassion, and love; just know not everyone is deserving of those gifts. Know you deserve so much better, your children do too and one day you will have it.

In your early thirties  you find the courage to finally leave, to have a plan in place and all the elements align for it to occur remember you are strong enough to make it; you are a survivor! You will regain your financial independence, some security for you and your children, and strike a career path that will carry you through another rough patch or two.  When you return later, know too that everything happens for a reason, try to retain your belief that life is unfolding as it should.  You trusted in the words, you wanted to believe more than anything. Who would think the person who professes to love you would even…?  When you begin to doubt yourself, when you lose confidence in your choice hold fast to your conviction that this is all part of a plan.  Stay strong, be courageous, and love your children with all your heart for it will work out. In your mid-thirties you will understand why you returned, why in all the prayers and moments of silence seeking the path and strength to leave that little voice would say not yet.  You are blessed with a do-over and there are not many of those in life so enjoy it!

It will eventually all fall apart one fateful morning. All the financial security you created will see you through a nasty divorce and you will be able to maintain a decent lifestyle for you and your children. You will begin to live life as you had only dreamed. There will come one morning on the beach where you will forgive, a sunrise all alone where you learned to lay down the burdens forced upon you by another for you know they are not yours to carry.  You will also learn to forgive yourself which will be the most difficult; at times I still remind myself of this.You will regain your confidence and although there are times you struggle you know all you were told was not true for you know your own truth, worth, and beauty. You will know a peace in your heart you never knew existed. You will live a life of contentment where so many of the things you endured have given you a skillset that proves useful.  One evening at the dinner table, you will laugh with your children and know the journey while difficult was worth those smiles and in that moment life will be as it should.

Know that even now there are difficult times, moments that revisit your psyche but at this mid-point in your life you are wiser than you could have even hoped. There is still so much to learn, so many experiences, so far to travel but you will be doing so with a full spirit and a peaceful heart surrounded by loving friends.

 

Be kind and love yourself on this journey,

~Your middle-aged self

 

Open Letter on the Absurdity of Nosiness and Grief

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To all the people who have commented in an interesting way on the journey I have taken please take no offense to my replies for I am a private person and it really is none of your business. I tend to be pretty level headed, always choosing to respond instead of reacting. While this is a byproduct of years living in a volatile situation, it is something I am typically a character trait for which I am grateful. To those of you who may not have received the answer you were looking for, I am sorry if you are disappointed.

 

To my supervisor who continues to try and share albeit years after the fact, how disastrous her marriage was as a means to compare it to mine.  I am sorry if I did not divulge all the dirty details.  It feels like you think we are in some divorced wives club, but I did not seem to receive my membership card so please leave me out of this discussion. To be honest I am not sure one failed marriage is more painful then another so if you are looking to compare notes, please do so elsewhere.

 

To my current coworker that told me it was wrong to do this to my children. I think you are well aware of my thoughts on your opinions but just to reiterate. I am unsure how one person can stand in such judgement of another without even knowing the story. I  cannot believe a mother would think it is more important to keep their children in a home with an abusive philander but we all have our opinions, you know what they say about those.

 

To the mother of an acquaintance of my daughters who I have not seen in four years, no it is not awful being alone. I was alone through my entire marriage, never having someone to share my joys or fears with, to have a conversation, to plan, to dream; I now have friends that surround me and a world to explore.

 

To the parents of a boy that went to school with my middle child , the one who I usually saw once a year at some function and have never had a personal conversations with I am not sharing the dirty details of my home life now. Why would I tell you the horrid details of the late night explosions or the fact he moved out to live the free life with his girlfriend of then seven years when you just gossiped about three other parents I vaguely know? Why would I tell you every painful memory I have worked so hard to overcome when you would continue to keep those horrors alive by sharing them in my community? Why would I tell you I pray every day that my children do not act like or end up with someone like their father?

 

To the old coworker, the one who doesn’t even remember my first name and tries to fake her way through a conversation at the grocery, why would you even ask how one grieves that, how one could ever recover? How can I face life alone? I started grieving within the first two years of my marriage, the first time I realized I had to replace joy with fear. I continued to grieve for the next several years, the time my head was split open and I grieved for the loss of my safety in my own home as I sat in the floor beside my newborns crib in hopes I could keep him from crying and waking his father from the drunken sleep; the time I came home from work to discover all my funds for my new life had been discovered I grieved my freedom;  had grieved the loss of small piece of myself every time I was berated or belittled for never being pretty enough, or thin enough, or any of the other statements that left scars as deep as the physical. So there were painful truths I faced, grief was not one of my burdens.

 

To the question of recovery and facing life alone; I had never had emotional, financial, or physical support it is difficult to describe what it is like to be set free from being imprisoned with despair behind walls of hatred and contempt, although they were probably for himself it was directed at me.  I fought to complete my last degree because he refused to assist with the parenting ultimately depending on a friend to help with my children. I have to leave two other programs because of things done to sabotage me which is why I am so driven today. I grieved the loss of three of my grandparents on different occasions without support. Last fall a dear friend while looking for another picture came across a shot of their cat and began to tear up. This was a cat that had seen them through a failed marriage and a disastrous end to a relationship and I understood that pain for I had a cat and a dog that had offered me more comfort than the person I married, that knew things that I had told no one else, except the person missing their cat. I had been shamed over the grief I felt when I lost my pets, yet they offered me more solace and peace than the person who belittled me.  So no, I had been alone for the majority of my marriage, usually working against opposition. So I am fine. I can make it, I have been strong, self-sufficient, going in on my own for so long I have no worries about surviving for I have endured worse.

 

The above was not directed at my close circle for you ask out of concern. For the few of you who know some of the depth of truth and never asked “why did you stay”, I am forever grateful!!! This is for those who on  emotional highway of life feel it is appropriate to rubberneck, to pause and gawk at others pain, to point out fault in others disaster, to armchair quarterback someone else’s life. Why is it so crucial to pry and carry tales.   I understand that it is some peoples worst fear and seeing you persevere offers them comfort. There are other that find the severity of disaster makes their life more bearable, yet we should never count our blessings based on others sufferings. There are those that want to know they are not alone in their struggle, which is one I can tolerate, I can share my journey.  For all other, if you find offense in my response, please consider your motives for inquiry.

 

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.” – Robin Williams

 

Rules of Life

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Apparently our lives have been reduced to making lists. I have a continual steam of them; to-do today, home project lists, grocery lists, to-read lists, bucket list, and things I will never again tolerate or endure. Months ago I was asked if I had a list of items I needed to thrive, like a must have for relationships with friends, family, or romantic which added an interesting thought so I began to compile my thoughts into some contrived bullet form. Most recently it came from a conversation about rules for life, if I were to impart any great wisdom could I do it in twelve rules of less? It really made me consider what wisdom I try to impart to my children and the choices I make in my own life. I typically find these lists a bit hokey but thought I shall give it a shot. Often times being a bit verbose I had to work to make a concise list of twelve items in no particular order of importance.

 

  1. Stuff is inconsequential, people and your relationships to them is what is important. I am pretty sure my last day on earth I will not want to see all my diplomas, care what nick knacks sit on my mantle or drink from my favorite mug but will want to be surrounded by those I love deeply. So nurture those relationships, trust those you care for, be vulnerable, love unconditionally, be kind and forgive often.

 

  1. Love the skin you’re in because it is all you’ll get. We all have different shapes and beauty marks. Life is too short to stress over your vanity; eat well, drink lots of water and be healthy and love yourself as much as you do others.

 

  1. It is not fair and unfortunately it will never be. You’ll win some and you’ll lose some; often times not the ones you want! Life will be filled with failures, mistakes, and disappointments and it is how you handle those that can define your character. Remember all you can truly control is your response to the situation; pick yourself up, dust yourself off and smile and you move forward!

 

  1. Alone is good, lonely not so much. Have faith there is something larger then you and nurture that spirituality, this can be done best when you are alone. Learn to love yourself and you will always enjoy the silence.

 

  1. Every day on this side of the stars is a good one. When you approach life with a grateful heart it makes difficulties easier to endure. Always be grateful even and if needed remind yourself of #3.

 

  1. You’re human, guess what you will make mistakes, probably tons of them. There will be things you are embarrassed by and things you may be indignant over, give up your pride, apologize to those you have hurt, try hard as hell not to repeat them and forgive yourself(see #3).

 

  1. There are no happy accidents, everything happens for a reason, try to learn what that is. When you struggle with a choice, do what feels right in your heart, you inner voice is speaking with fortitude for a reason, listen! Everyday remember to listen to your inner voice, embrace the blessings (see #5) and learn from the mistakes (see #6).

 

  1. Time is too valuable to waste on things you cannot change. If you fret over things out of your control you are giving up a precious commodity that you cannot replace.

 

  1. You were born with two superpowers; love and laughter. Laugh and love in the same way openly, unconditionally, and deeply. Nothing can nurture a relationship, make life easier to bear, or heal better than those two. You also need to learn to laugh at yourself! When you must choose, always chose happiness, kindness, love, and laughter, hands down that should be your choice.

 

  1. Love should be unconditional, relationships not so much. Never give love away with conditions or expectations but remember to love yourself too (see above, 2,3,4…). Set healthy boundaries, know what you need to thrive, always know how to respect yourself, never shortchange yourself, and be with someone who love all of you, unconditionally.

 

  1. There will be days where the best you can muster is to breathe. That is alright, be kind to yourself. We all face difficulties and struggles and there is time where all hope seems lost, take care of yourself, focus on what you can and let the rest go because the world will not fall off its axis!

 

  1. The journey is not straight nor is it level. There will be tough times, challenges you need to fight , things you need to overcome, times you will fail but trust me there are days the views along the trail are absolutely breathtaking. Keep going and remember to look up often and enjoy the change in scenery because some things you only pass once. Pause to contemplate you place, examine your impact, and embrace life fully.

I wonder how important these will be at the end of my life….I hope they serve me well.

 

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

 

A Letter to Myself

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I want to forgive you….

…for being so fragile that you have lost parts of youself along the journey

…for being so strong that you have never learned to ask for help,  you struggle to trust in others, to lean into the kindness offered

…for not always being brave enough to embrace your vulnerability

…for rushing in to fix everything for those you love as opposed to holding space and supporting them in finding their own resolution

…for striving to anticipate everything and working to counterbalance it

…for shutting yourself off from the world, not in the times of healing but out of fear

Remember my dear chicka you are only human. You have made mistakes and I can guarantee you will make more before your time on this precious planet is over for you are just a mere mortal. These mistakes are important, essential to your growth so learn from them. Strive to overcome those forgiven shortcomings; keep your heart filled with gratitude, kindness, and compassion; focus on the love not the fear; and maintain pure intentions for all will be alright when the sun sets. Remember to love yourself, always be as kind to yourself as you would to others.

If you were to write a letter to yourself, what would you forgive?

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

–Mark Twain