Do you have a situation that causes you pain, but that you can't put away? I think you probably do. I do, too. If you're like me, you are able to pretty easily brush it away for 99% of the time (unless you're living it day to day) but when that 1% comes back ... Jesus. It takes your legs out. I'd be willing to bet that you, like me, are dealing with some kind of catastrophic loss. One that is permanent, or one that feels to be so. I think it's the permanence of the situation that ramps up the pain because, at least in our current mind, there's no way to fix it. I've always lived by the credo that as long as there is breath in my body, I will try to fix what I can in an effort to make things better. What is confusing, sometimes, is whether that effort is even the best way to proceed.
Some may know, but when my daughter was three, my husband and I split up. There were good reasons, but not it wasn't handled in the best way. I sure didn't handle it well, nor did I do my best for my little girl. She was all I had, or so I thought, and I treated her as an adult. That was a mistake. But, as a result of the break up, her Dad decided that he was leaving both of us, not just me. And so for a long, long time, my daughter didn't have access to her father. He just didn't. This is one of the situations I failed at by trying to fix. I did everything I could to bring them together, including some ambush visits. It was a disaster. Now, my child lives with whatever she lives with (she shares little about this) and my husband is gone - a victim of suicide. So, there is little to be done, and I live with the mistakes of trying to fix things that perhaps shouldn't be fixed.
In the past few years I've walked away from some serious friendships. The whole Trump thing served as a litmus test, I think. People I've known my whole life showed sides of themselves that I would never have guessed. And some of those sides were not things I could live with. I don't believe in racism, never will. I am likely a small percentage racist and always will be because I was not born black. Or Asian. Or Jewish. Or whatever. But I will always try to understand what I'm being told and I will always try to respect differences. I had friends of longstanding who did not share my views. To me, it was a no brainer. But, in my defense, I didn't just walk away. I told them, as diplomatically as I could, that because of our differences on this matter, I couldn't subject them or myself to a friendship that was based on superficiality. If we didn't share basic morals, it was not really a friendship. It was hard. And it left me feeling like I had some kind of God complex. I strugged with accusing myself of being ego driven. But in the end, all any of us can do is live with ourselves. And I couldn't live with myself if I valued folks who couldn't value others because they were different.
One of the reasons that I felt compelled to let people know why I was walking away is that I was walked away from a year or so ago by four people for whom I had the greatest respect. And from whom I never, ever got a reason for being dismissed. And this is where I'm coming from in this post. To this day I think of these folks. I genuinely liked them. I enjoyed their company. I loved talking with them because they challenged me and taught me. And then one day, just like that ... I was wrenched out of their orbit without explanation.
To this day, as I'm sure some of you know, I still search for that explanation. I wonder if they were given information about me that wasn't true. I wonder if I forgot to thank them for something, or to reinforce how much they meant to me. I wonder what, if anything, I did that could be so egregious as to cause them to lock and bolt the door without explanation. I have nothing. And this causes me that 1% of pain I reference above because this feels so permanent.
I do have breath left in my body, and normally I would (for right or wrong) try to fix this. But the stunning severing of this relationship has left me unable to try. And that hurts so very much. I wish I knew. That would make it tolerable, I think. But to just be shut out without explanation was painful. I wish I'd handled it better. I thrashed around trying to figure out what was going on and was not at my best. But that was my fear and hurt storming the walls. So, no answer is coming and I know that, though I wish with all I am that that was different.
But, as life teaches us, there are lessons to be learned from everything. And this lesson I took forward with me with respect to ending relationships with others. It's tough to tell people that you no longer want to be friends. Especially people who you've known your entire life. But sometimes, it's just necessary. It's tough to hear, I know. But it's certainly better than saying nothing and ignoring until people just go away. I think that's very cruel.
Maybe I'm wrong about all of this. Maybe I should have just faded away from these relationships. Plenty of folks have faded from my life of their own volition. Oddly, I don't miss them. Well. Except for the one significant group that I'll never reconcile from being "unfriended" in it's broadest sense. And no matter how often I tell myself that the Universe doesn't put us places we're not supposed to be, I just can't let it go. It hurts my heart too much. Even now. Hopefully someday I'll have an answer, but if I don't, I'll never give up hope. Not for as long as there's breath in my body.
I wish you all love.
I honestly can't believe that it's May already. I'm not even kidding about that. January and February just dragged for me because I was so keyed up about my surgery. Once again I over-anticipated things and the Universe dropped a Tower moment on me. Despite all of my plans, despite all of my safeguards for Dave, despite it ALL - he fell thirty minutes after my arrival home and broke his hip. That meant that the contingency I thought I had armed myself against happening, had happened. I basically wasted two months of gray cells trying to outguess the Universe. Well, that'll teach me.
I'm not even sure where my propensity for extensive planning has come from. I think I can say with confidence that it wasn't there 40 years ago. Perhaps it began, subtly, in the mother duties after my kids were born. The learning to look ahead, to try to anticipate what hurts or danger might lurk and head them off. Maybe spending thirty plus years doing legal work, where a misspelled word or badly misplaced comma can mean the actual difference between a happy and an angry client, drove me into some kind of space that I created to protect myself from error. I honestly don't know. I only know that coming up on my surgery, I'd done everything I knew to do to make my six weeks of being off my feet as easy and safe for both Dave and I as possible. And wow. What a singular waste of time. The Universe would have its own way with me, and it wouldn't be at ALL what I expected.
If ever there was a fortuitous "accident" then this was it. I don't wish ill on anyone, especially not my own husband (ok, maybe a little here and there) ... so to say that what happened was a good thing is not true. But. If it HAD to happen, it happened at the best time ever. Dave was in a place where his breathing and hip issues could be treated easily, and I was in a place where I could rest as prescribed (ok, maybe not as much as prescribed) and both of us could heal. And we did. And then we came back together at the tail end of our recoveries, and it has been a joy to have him back home. Life is different, no doubt. Before surgery, I struggled to stay on my feet for more than an hour because of the escalating pain to the right foot. Now, I have NO pain and I am more mobile than I have been in years it seems. Dave is now somewhat more limited in movement, but with my ability to move easier, I can help him more. So ... win/win if you will. We have both been totally vaccinated, and I am starting to move around outside the house a bit more confidently. During the convalescent period, I was able to accomplish much in the way of emptying the house of tons of "junk", and my whole being feels lighter as a result.
I also jettisoned my publishing company. I set out with a noble goal, I thought, of helping new authors get their books published without the hassle or cost that mainstream companies did. And ... I did that. Not only did I publish Holly, but she has now peeled off on her own, opening her own publishing company dedicated to the same principles I held at Churchill. I am exceptionally proud of her. Because I rarely do anything with grace, my decision to separate from her/Churchill was abrupt. While it was a bit of shock for her, she rebounded and is now blissfully happy calling her own shots. In addition, she has written two very, VERY good novels. Pretty big accomplishments for your mid-twenties, don't you think? I'm so proud.
Having Churchill Publishing off my plate added to my feelings of emancipation. I had been struggling with it for some time. It was a conundrum. The more successful it became, the less I wanted to deal with it. It had become an albatross and more than anything, it prevented me from having all that room in my brain (if such a thing exists) for making up and writing stories. I felt bound and tethered to reality, and honestly ... I've had enough of that. I want to close my eyes and picture lords and ladies, kings and queens, princes and princesses. I want to be able to go to England and touch thousand year old walls and feel the vibrations of the centuries of folks who also touched them. I want to sit by the Thames and picture the barges traveling between Hampton Court and Westminster, or ... to the Tower where who knows what fate may await. I couldn't do that anymore. I couldn't see myself doing it anymore. And that was a fate worse than death for me.
When I started shedding, I started winning. When I started paying attention to the knot in my stomach at the thought at certain things I needed to do, I started winning. When I realized, or began to anyway, that my world was MY world and no one else's, I no longer felt as though I needed validation, and I started winning. And I mean validation from anyone. About anything. I just needed to be free. To be free to do what I love and what makes me happy. Not at anyone's expense, mind you. Most certainly not at MY expense. And that's not selfish. It's being kind and true to yourself. It doesn't involve lofty goals, unless you want to make them. It doesn't involve perceiving yourself through anyone else's eyes. It doesn't require approval from anyone but you.
So yes, I am winning - at last. And I'm winning by not playing at any game other than those that mean something deep to me. I have gotten rid of so much stuff - and I don't just mean the VERY empty basement of our house. But the stuff that caused me to constantly need to plan, even when I didn't have to. The stuff that made me worried for no reason. The stuff that I no longer need. All gone. Out the door, and out of my head.
And yes, I'm winning. You can too. Trust me. It's easier than you think to just let go and clean it all out. There were things in the basement I've not seen or touched in 18 years. Given that, I didn't bother to go through the stuff. Just take it all. If I need to replace something, I will. But give me a wide open vista that I can relax in without clutter, and I'm your huckleberry.
What an incredible feeling.
I wish you all love.
I happened to read something the other day .. it was a blog post listing about 20 things we often say we're sorry for, but shouldn't need to. And while I agreed in large part with it, that stupid tagline from Love Story kept running through my mind: Love means never having to say you're sorry. I needed to unpack these things because I know that I've spent a great deal of my life apologizing for things ... even when I knew an apology wasn't really necessary. So ... what's the deal with the love means never saying you're sorry?
The assumption would be, literally, that if you love someone, you will never do anything that would require an apology to them. Ergo, if you do love someone and apologize for something, you're obviously not as in love as you thought. Boogers on this. I'd rewrite it as "love means you ARE able to say you're sorry."
There is no one alive who doesn't make mistakes. I'm not even going to try and categorize mistakes - they are large and small and in-between. There is no one alive who hasn't hurt someone during their life. Again, there are all sizes of hurts. And just as there are all sizes of hurt, there should be only one size of apology. And that's the sincere size. Anything else is just lip service. And therein, I believe, comes the confusion. I think that we too often apologize for things that are unnecessary and too infrequently apologize for the things that should be apologized for.
If I put up a chart of things we apologize for, you'd likely find things such as: forgetting an appointment/date/phone call, commiserating over some kind of hurt caused to someone else (I'm sorry that happened to you), bad weather, sending back under or overcooked food. These are examples of what I call "casual" apologies. Yeah, you're in an uncomfortable situation and you need something to say, so you apologize. I'm sorry flows freely here, sometimes as a cover for having to speak a truth.
Then there are the "sorry's" when you have caused someone else discomfort or pain. These need to be real. That's why I think we need a scaled step chart of words to signify regret. Like, how is "I'm sorry but steak is too rare, can you please cook it some more?" even comparable to "I'm sorry I cheated on you." See what I'm saying? The words sound the same but they carry very different resonances.
"I'm sorry" is always going to remain a toss off for just about anything. Which, when the event is truly egregious, seems to denigrate its importance somewhat. Even drilling down on why you're sorry for hurting someone seems inadequate because then you get all balled up in defending your position, which may not be the best option at that time.
So, what to say as we advance up the "sorry" chart? I've thought alot about this. And the best I can come up with is this: Look. I acted and spoke stupidly, carelessly, childishly (pick your poison) and I've hurt your feelings. Please let me know what I can do to help you/us/me work through this." I've been on both sides of these kinds of conversations. And I don't want to hear "I'm sorry" for something that rocked my world on a 9 Richter scale. That's too small. I want to know that you recognize my pain, or vice versa, that I do understand what I've done. Trite throwaways are not going to cut it there.
And lastly, what about this. How many times have you apologized to yourself? Not many, I'm sure. But this may be the only place where you speaking "I'm sorry" carries emotional weight. We are all WAY too hard on ourselves. And we either fret over it or ignore it. Both options suck. It's OKAY to not apologize for removing people from your orbit. It's YOUR orbit. They'll survive. You need to worry about YOU. It's okay to value yourself: your time, living as you choose, how you feel. There's no need to wrack yourself up over this. Stop blaming yourself for being you. Take a deep breath and tell yourself you're fine, that there is nothing wrong with you or the way you see things. Tell yourself that you APOLOGIZE for the hurt you've heaped on yourself as a coping mechanism. But that was then, and now, you're on a new path.
It's totally about you. Stop feeling like you're not worth it. You're MORE worth it than anyone you know.
I wish you love.
So many things since last I did a blog entry. Little and big things. Life changing and not so much. But still impactful. All of what has gone down in the past year or so has led me to this place. It's a comfortable place. It's a place of me.
COVID and the changes it has caused is a whole semester's worth of writing in and of itself. The Presidential issues, the same (and no, not going to get political). All in all, 2020 proved to be a slightly sour year with little sugar to pour on. But no one goes through discomfort without eventually coming out on the other side of it better. It might be different, but it's better.
I guess if I had to try and pick a title for it all it would be "downsizing." And I don't mean that just in terms of my physical circumstances, though God knows my personal body could use some downsizing. I'm not just talking abut hauling junk out of the basement of my house. I'm talking about hauling it out of my heart and soul too.
Over the past year, probably not unlike a lot of you, my personal beliefs and morals have been tested by the way the world is turning. More so than at any time in my life, and that includes growing up in the 60s. I've been frustrated by my feelings about people, and felt I was being judgmental about their views. And how do you end relationships that you've had for years over something intangible like an opinion? Because really, that's what any "unfriending" comes down to. Regardless of how egregious the act. You choose to go with your opinion and walk away. The trick is to be true to yourself and not act capriciously. There's the rub.
One has to be somewhat egotistical or narcissistic to end friendships without thought. I just don't get how people can do that. Or explanation. But, that's their gig, not mine. In my case, 2020 brought me to a place where I no longer could tolerate my own wishy-washy thoughts. If something or someone went against my moral fiber, I usually just brushed by it with a standard "hey, it's not my life" thought. But 2020 opened the floodgates on all of that, didn't it.
When we make the awful choice to put down a loved pet, how many of us struggle with the idea of playing God in the situation? I know I do. Well, I found that struggle to be equally real with respect to some long held relationships. What do you do when someone you've loved forever, or thought anyway, disappoints you by making some really bad decisions or holding some really disturbing opinions? For years I allowed myself to glide past it like a snake on glass. But for some reason, 2020 ripped that bandaid off and I made some tough decisions that were best for me. That meant ending some relationships that I have held dear for years. But I realized that holding them dear was not enough to excuse racist or bigoted behavior and language. It wasn't enough to excuse actions designed to advance oneself at the expense of others. And, it wasn't enough to continue excusing behavior that was personally hurtful and taxing.
So, I wrestled with the God question: what makes me so special that I can judge someone else's actions? And I finally realized that I wasn't judging them at all. People are who you think they are. And for years, in some cases, I'd thought erroneously that some folks in my life were of value, when in fact, they really were not. I don't say these words lightly. This was very difficult for me. But this downsizing wasn't just necessary, it was life enriching. When I ended relationships that were toxic to me, I found myself going through a transformation. I was suddenly free to think my own thoughts without fear of stepping on someone else's opinion that might result in retribution.
And, I found myself gradually emancipating myself from the need to please. Not in an arrogant way at all. Rather, I now choose to please in a spirit of gratitude. I used to do so for reward. Not a good look for anyone.
So, I have made some internal changes. Some mental downsizing. I've walked away from people who made me uncomfortable but I wouldn't admit it. Now, I can miss the friendship, but I'm at peace even at the loss of someone's presence.
It's really not a bad place to be. And with that process in place, it became easier for me to decide what was important to ME. To make judgments about the future based on what *I* want, rather than what I think others might think I should do.
So it's a return to me. Maybe it's an introduction to me, I don't know. I only know that life is slower and less complicated now. The grass is greener on this side. Of that I am certain.
I wish you all love.