Slow Death

 

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I have swallowed dirt

As you have drug me

Down this road called DIVORCE

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I have eaten pain

Which is razor-sharp

For Breakfast

Lunch

And Dinner

Stabbing and slicing

My mouth bloody, gums raw

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I have swallowed my pride

As I have attempted

To be that confident 20 something woman

I once was but am no longer

The one who gave you fireworks with each kiss

But now just lights an occasional Sparkler

Which burns out

Just a fast as a child’s temper tantrum

In the face of a Hershey’s kiss

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I have drunk in the distaste

You have for me

Like vomit…

It stinks and is rancid

Eating up my insides

As it slithers down into my gut

Which now lives in perpetual

Anxiety

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I have tasted your anger

For past deeds done to you

That I had no idea hurt

Because you were never truthful

About the feelings you had

That are now erupting from you

Like all the acid ash released from a volcano

That covers me with sadness, distaste and dislike

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I have choked on all that you expected of me

The changes you wish for

That smother my free spirit

And are against all I stand for

Things I cannot agree to

No matter what

You still feast upon my body

And soul

Saying you have no passion

Which strips away my dignity

And tears my confidence to shreds

Right now you have the power

But slowly I am beginning to grab mine back

And when I do

The Phoenix that rises from the ashes

Will breathe fire

As I claim all I am

All that I hope to be

And leave you will the shell

Of that person you destroyed

I will then be whole

And you will be left with my dust/bones

To bury inside your unconscious mind

And it will be too late

To make up for all you have done

While creating something

So much stronger

Than you

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Confusion

I have been thinking a lot about why my life seems so confusing at this particular point in time, at this particular age, and in regards to my marriage. Recent instances of confusion have included:

1.Why my relationship with my husband is so confusing and hurtful after over 30 years of marriage.

2. Why I give away my power so often.

3. What I should be doing with my life knowing where I am at in the present time and where I would like to be in the future on my life’s journey.

The dictionary defines Confusion as:

1.disorder; upheaval; tumult; chaos:

The army retreated in confusion.
2.lack of clearness or distinctness:

a confusion in his mind between right and wrong.
3.perplexity; bewilderment:

The more difficult questions left us in complete confusion.
4.embarrassment or abashment:

He blushed in confusion.
But I am not convinced that this is the complete definition of the word. I think it encompasses more and I think we have to get at our own truths in order to minimize the distraction that confusion brings.

I am beginning to believe that when you are confused, it is the result of attempting to cling to an illusion, faced with seeing your own truth standing right in front of you.  So these two images “Illusion/Truth” collide producing confusion. That is because one part of what we see is based on wishes and the other is based on the truths that we recognize deep within our souls.

All too often I think we ignore our truths or change them to fit what it is we think we need. We keep these illusions because they are easy or less painful than what we might have to do to be living in a way that is authentic for ourselves.  Eventually, I think that if you keep examining the confusion; you will find the clarity you need. But this will only happen if you are being true to yourself and honest about what you see.

As I struggle during middle-age I am beginning to think about how the confusion I am feeling might be the result of ignoring my own truths. How it might arise because I worry about what everyone else’s truths are and try to take them on as my own. How I try to FIX instead of just observe.

There are so many things I am discovering at this point in my life and confusion reins supreme. But one thing I do know is this: Confusion will stand right in front of you, blocking your way to the future and towards greater clarity, when you are not being true to yourself.

So here’s to truth. And here’s to vodka. I’m going pour me a drink because my head hurts with all the confusion floating around in it. And who knows maybe I will find that vodka brings about clarity quicker than being mindful of all this confusion.

Bottoms Up! It’s five o’clock somewhere!

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Trust

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T – Truthful

R- Reliable

U- Uphold

S- Steadfast

T- Take For Granted

 

This has been a week where I have been put in the position of feet to the flames in regards to trust.  I have been in a situation where I have had to CHOOSE to believe or not. A test for my soul, my heart, and my head.

You would think that trusting would be easy. After all, we enter this world as trusting human beings and if we are lucky we maintain that trust in ourselves and humanity at least until we get into school and we find out what “mean girls” are. But then, as we age, life begins to teach us that trust is not as easy or forthright as we once imagined it to be. It no longer is blind or innocent and often for many of us it becomes something that has to be earned rather than something that is freely given.

This week as I contemplated the issue of trust I decided I needed to understand just what that word meant to me. I discovered there were some essential ingredients that I feel must be evident if trust is to be maintained.  These are:

Truth- For me trusting means that your words and actions must be truthful. NO games, no secrecy, and no purposeful omissions. I want to know that what you say and do is based in truth.

Reliable- I must know that I can count on your words and actions to mean what you say they will mean and that those words will be acted upon and be done.

Uphold-In the old English sense of the word it means to maintain in good condition;to take care of.  It means that you will be constantly doing things to take care of our marriage. To me this fundamental if a relationship is to grow and thrive.

Steadfast- Unwavering in purpose, faith and attachment. Firmly fixed in place or position. You are not going anywhere.

Take for Granted- To accept without question and being able to believe what is said or done is true.

I suspect there is a whole lot more to trust than the things I have written and I know that trust is not just a one way street. Trust also involves making yourself vulnerable by believing in your partner when circumstances appear that it would be in your best interest to protect yourself. It means opening up your own heart, taking off the armor, and allowing possibilities to drift into your life when it makes you uncomfortable. It means looking for the best in the person or situation rather than the worst.

In theory, I believe that trusting with all your heart and soul is the best thing you can do for yourself and your relationships.  I would rather have my heart broken than to never have tried to trust.  But in practice, trust takes two, and you have to know that your partner is trustworthy in all realms of your relationship in order for it to survive.

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Storms and Baggage

I wait in the shallows

Like a fish hooked to a line

Splashing frantically

Mistaking love for oxygen

Your words driving me backwards

As you release the hook

That has pierced my lip

And held me still for so long

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Like a gale churning and throwing

Our life far, far away from

All we knew

I am here

You are there

Yet, your words

And sometimes the lack of them

Take me under

Scraping the sandy bottom

Of what our relationship used to be

I think I can no longer be with you

Because you do not know who you are

And in not knowing

You drag me down to skin and bones

Clinging to life, yet lifeless

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I am a soul who still wants to dance

Unafraid of your pronouncements

Of whether that movement

Is good or evil

I want to feel the wind for myself

Let life wash over me again

Unhampered by your sea walls

Meant to keep the shoreline in place

I have done the work

I was meant to do

Have you?

For now I wish

To let the unknown be born

Let the necessary changes occur

Which will free us both

As we are no longer one

We are now separated by a quay

Of hurts larger than the boulders

Which have created it

I want to find wisdom

In how I am living

In what I am feeling and doing

Touching and tasting

No longer content to munch on stale bread

I want the life force

Of action and touch

I want to look outwards

Not back towards your shadow

Which tries to hold on to mine

Refusing to free it

But now…finally

I’m throwing my baggage to the sea

So once again I can be me

Do not try to retrieve it

There is nothing new there for you

All it contains is what

You already rejected

Time and time again

No, let that baggage float out to sea

While I go pack again

With those things that are

Meaningful just to me

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Closeness

*The other day I posted about the distance I was feeling in my marriage. A very smart reader inspired me to write about what I want. Here it is.*

I would like to feel the kind of closeness with you that you feel when a newborn baby is first placed in your arms. The feelings of awe and beauty in what you have created make you feel elated.A sense of total dedication and belief in all the possibilities that lay before you open to you and bloom like a rose. The total acceptance of this person and the belief you can handle whatever lays before you with them. The way they fit so perfectly in your arms and automatically snuggle in, burying themselves deeper into your heart and soul.

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I want the sort of closeness with you that feels peaceful and reassuring. A closeness in which what what I see before me is truth in all its glorious nakedness and not something dressed to cover it up.

I want a quiet and dignified closeness in which you know the person so well that they will tell you when you are wrong in a way that allows you you to hear it and know it is true because they love you enough to tell you. In a way that in reaching for your hand they are actually grabbing onto your heart and holding it gently in their hands.

I want a closeness with you in which your love knows and acknowledges my flaws while gently trying to lead me to a better way, not through superiority but through genuine good will wished for me. A person who tries to concentrate on the good and not only acknowledge the bad in me. The kind of closeness that encompasses true forgiveness and understanding.

I want a closeness with you in which if I had to have a mastectomy in wouldn’t bother me that I had missing parts because I know you could let those go knowing that I have other parts that were just as precious and wonderful.

I want to feel a closeness with you in which talking to each other throughout a work day feels like a bonus, like a 5 minute picnic in a meadow full of warmth and happiness instead of feeling like a chore.

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I want a closeness with you that at times needs no words. It is just strong and steady and something we can hold onto while feeling safe and confident when the gales of life threaten to pull us from one another.

I want to feel a closeness to you that feels like the biggest and best quality feather bed ever made. It feels light  and airy and its a place where deep rest and relaxation can be found.

I want to feel a long-term closeness with you not something fleeting and temporary based on whims and moods. But something strong and sure  like a Boy Scout knot that won’t come untied unless you release the ends with purposeful intent.

I want to feel a closeness with you that is steadfast and steady like a dogs love and admiration to his people. No questions asked, it is just there unwavering.

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I want to feel as closeness that is devoid of fear, mistrust and hidden agendas. I want this closeness to be pure and bright like a guardian angel or like the closeness God shows us when we are open to seeing it. Closeness that you guard with your life because you both feel that it is precious and worthy.

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I want to feel a closeness to you like I never have. I want to have a deep never-ending connection with you.

What I Want In The Second Half Of My Life

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What I Want In A Relationship In The Second Half Of My Life

Getting older is not for the faint at heart. Our bodies will start to deteriorate and possibility our minds. We might get seriously ill and it might get harder to do the everyday things that we now take for granted. As they age, our children’s problems may become more complicated which will impact us and some may never leave home. One just never knows. Yet, our upcoming years are also a time for reflection, a time to finally relax and enjoy what we have accomplished. I hope it is a time to rejoice, have fun, and learn. I am excited and scared about it at the same time.

As I have contemplated what this second half of my life might look like I have come to understand that there are certain things that I want and need in a relationship, and certain things I don’t, if I am going to find my own personal joy in living. These are:

A. I need total transparency in my life. I no longer what to be guessing about what might be going on with my partner. I don’t want secrecy and secrets nor the lack of peace that accompanies secrets and dishonesty. I want to know that what I am looking at is the real deal and not some form of the truth.

  1. I want to be best friends with my partner and have us act in the manner one does with their best friend.
  2. I am trying to be someone who keeps herself open; someone who is open to change in whatever form that will take. I also want that in my partner.
  3. I want honesty not half-truths.
  4. I want someone who loves me with passion, concern and without reservations. I want them to feel desire and that I am their only and that they love me so much that temptation isn’t even in their vocabulary. I am willing to do the same but if I can’t have this satisfying/necessary type of love that I need then I don’t want to be in a relationship with them.
  5. I don’t want to worry about cheating whether it be emotional or physical. Everyone knows what it is and what the path looks like that leads there. I want to be 100% certain that the person I am with will turn away from that path. I will NEVER again accept this in my life. I
  6. I want someone in my life to laugh with loudly and often but knows the proper time to do so. I know I tend towards seriousness so I appreciate anyone who can lighten the mood when appropriate.
  7. I wan to try to live a blameless life in a blameless relationship. I don’t want to blame someone else for my issues and I don’t want someone blaming me for theirs. I have wasted too much time blaming and have spent too much time being blamed. I don’t want it in my life anymore.
  8. I want to live a life taking full responsibility for myself and not putting it on someone else. Seems like the grown up thing to do when you are over 50 years of age.
  9. I want “boring normal” everyday passionate sex. I don’t want sex with other people. I don’t want people watching me have sex. I don’t want to watch my partner have sex with someone else. I have learned what is important in life and this is not it.
  10. I want a relationship in which both parties share and consult with the other especially in the big matters.
  11. I need to be in a relationship in which my partner thinks the best instead of the worst of me. I want them to have faith that I am not slacking and that I am doing as much as I can and the best that I can on any given day. I don’t tell my partner they aren’t doing enough at work and I don’t expect to be experiencing that back.
  12. I want to be in a relationship with someone who isn’t afraid to get involved in important things as long as they aren’t disrupting the peace. Someone who will be proud of my activism knowing that ultimately I am trying to improve things for ourselves and others.
  13. For me a sense of adventure is important. I want to share that with someone who will also help push us into a realm of discovery.
  14. I want to spend time with my kids and my grandkids when I am older. I would like to have BIG family vacations together. I think it is important that the person I am with values family too.
  15. Being with someone who finds me sexually desirable no matter if I have scars, jiggly thighs and a soft round belly. I want to feel that my physical flaws are just as valuable as the parts that are not flawed just because it is part of who I am. Getting old does not do nice things to the body. I may not be perfect but I am still beautiful.
  16. I want to get naked more… wrinkles be damned
  17. I want a more in-depth spiritual life to share with my partner but I am not sure exactly what that looks like right now.
  18. I want to know that the person I am with has my back. I want to know that if I am lying in a hospital bed they will not be afraid to call the grumpy nurse over and say, “You know she hasn’t been given her meds. She needs to be turned.” Whatever it is. I want to know they will not be afraid to get me what is needed and will get out of their comfort zone to protect me when it is difficult for me to protect myself.
  19. I want to share in deep conversations so I know who my partner is… their wants, needs, dreams and desires.
  20. I want a person who loves to travel and explore. These are things I want to do when I am older. I don’t just want to be sitting on a sofa waiting for the Meals For Wheels truck to arrive.
  21. I want to volunteer more and share that experience with the person I love.
  22. A want to become a person who says yes more than they say no and I would like that in my partner.
  23. It is important for me to know that the person I am with appreciates what I bring to our relationship and doesn’t try to force me into a role they want to see me in rather than the role I put myself in of my own choosing.
  24. Compromise is important to a healthy relationship. I want to become better at it and learn from the person I am with.
  25. I want to try to do the things that will help us to stay healthy through exercise, eating, sleeping, etc. and I need a person who will encourage me to do these things especially when I am hurting and getting up and moving is hard.
  26. I think it is important to share our lives together but to also acknowledge that we don’t have to share everything to have something worthwhile and worth keeping.
  27. I want more peace in my life. I am finding out how really important that is to me. That doesn’t mean no strife and confrontation because if you don’t have a little of that you cannot be peaceful because what you have isn’t real. But in general a life that cultivates and values peace in the relationship and within us.
  28. Acceptance…I am who I am and though I can change I shouldn’t have to unless I am seriously hurting those around me (like yelling) That doesn’t mean someone has to accept everything about me like the fact that I hang the toilet paper role “wrong” but in a general sense of “you are pretty okay and everything about you doesn’t have to be re-done”.
  29. Learning keeps the mind young and excites it. I want to be in a relationship with someone who never wants to stop learning.
  30. I want to be with a person who isn’t searching for perfection but is searching for meaning.
  31. Like everyone, I have many flaws. It is important that I am with someone who is aware of my flaws and will try to ignore the ones they can and will kindly try to help me improve on the ones that they cannot.
  32. I tend to be too critical so I don’t think another extremely critical person would be a good thing to promote happiness.
  33. My love language is hearing sincere words of praise, acceptance and love. If I do not hear the words it is difficult for me to fully believe I am loved so this is important to me. I understand that words can be cheap but words said with love “sound” sweeter than words that are missing and should be said.
  34. I have pain on a daily basis from my back, neck and sometimes fibromyalgia. I want the person I am with to understand this and not think I use it as an excuse. It is hard for me to be “less than perfect” it makes me feel old and crabby because I am in pain. I want that pain to be acknowledged and some understanding to help me through it and provide encouragement rather than having to “prove” myself constantly.
  35. This past year in particular I have lived in fear. I no longer am willing to do that and I am not willing to be with anyone who would use it against me.
  36. I want to have a deep spiritual connection with my partner in which those things we find important we willingly share without fear and impatience. I want to feel that natural connection and know they are thinking of me because they call during the day or leave texts. I want connectedness rituals built into our lives from the way we spend the morning TOGETHER to how we say goodnight.
  37. I want to be able to reach my partner on the phone when I call. While I understand there are meetings and such there is NO reason I should not be able to reach my partner other times during the day.
  38. I want to limit my time traveling and try to live in the present. This is hard for me and because of my past I have a tendency to try and plan for the worst or for the future because it makes me feel safe and without anxiety even though doing so makes no sense.
  39. I want to try and live with as little anger as possible.
  40. I am trying to learn to make decisions on feelings with ebb and flow and constantly change and I am hoping my partner will do the same.
  41. I want to help make my partners dreams realized and I want the same back.
  42. As I age I want to focus more on the good and less on the bad.
  43. I want to find ways to show love that is meaningful to the person I am trying to show love to
  44. I would like to believe that as much as you can plan these things that my partner will be there holding my hand when I take my last breath and will help lead me to my final adventure.images-7

372 DAYS TO FIX THIS

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When I began this blog it was with the intention of blogging everyday for 365 days as I fought to keep my marriage intact. I didn’t because life got in the way. A lot. Life has a tendency to do that when you have a husband, 5 children, a dog and 3 grandchildren.

I purposely decided not to blog about reaching 365 days on the one year anniversary of B telling me how unhappy he was in our marriage and that he might want a divorce. I didn’t want to “celebrate” much less acknowledge one of the most agonizing days of my life. That day, one year ago, was a full of intense pain, enough tears to officially end the drought and it lead to months of increased struggle, anger, and hurt. The “I Think I Might Want A Divorce Day” brought me to my knees and my life changed at that instant. Thirty years of togetherness, memories, marriage and great sex were on the verge of disappearing in a blink of an eye. I am not sure why but on that day I asked B to give it 365 days to fix our broken relationship and with it a blog was born. Six hours later he left for a week to take the boys to scout camp.

Frankly, it was never my intention to spill my guts the way I have; nor allow my anger and dismay to swallow me whole with witnesses along to pick their way through my mess. But I did and it did. I am not really sure what I expected when I started writing but the rawness of some of my early posts bring me back down to earth with a thud. Divorce was for other people. Not me. Damn it.

There are many things that have happened this year that have stretched and surprised me. The major one was that at some point in the past year B and I reversed roles and I decided I wanted a divorce but to my surprise he didn’t. That was an awakening and hurt almost as much as when he said he might want one. Frankly, I didn’t know quite what to do with that. But we both know that with three kids in the house, two of them with autism and other issues that impact our marriage in a big way; that divorce would be akin to picking up tiny pieces of a huge pane of shattered glass and that someone would get cut. Deeply.

I wish I could say I handled all of this with grace. I didn’t. I did however get a therapist whose help has been invaluable. She has taught me to be mindful. To sit with things and let them brew without my influence. We have also been going to joint counseling and B now has his own counselor too so that he can learn to express himself rather than keep things bottled up inside for years.  But the best thing we did was attend a Marriage Encounter weekend. It is what has started us down the path towards healing, understanding and really listening to one another. I am not sure that had we not attended that my blog would count off 372 days. Really, it made that big of a difference. We just had to be open to it even though we are not Catholic and the things were heard were nothing more than what we would have heard at any religious gathering. I urge any of you who are struggling in your marriage to at least consider attending.

The changes I have made over this past year have been accomplished through a lot of hard work and perseverance . At times I have taken one step forward and two steps back. Those steps have been humbling, courageous, and have often felt like I had a huge splinter in my shoe while I was taking them. I have had to do a lot of changing. I used to try and live my life with a guarantee arm-wrestled from others…an impossible task. I try not to do that anymore. The biggest thing I have accomplished to date is that I have stopped yelling. That was a major victory and has changed our family for the better in so many ways. I am now working on trying to remove a sense of harshness from my voice and it is a challenge to say the least.

I have implemented many new ways of doing things and new ways of considering how to occupy my place in the world. This is what I have done that has been helpful for me:

  1. I listen to the Meditation Minis podcast by Chel Hamilton. It’s free and it is only 10 minutes a day. Those 10 minutes have allowed me to decrease the negativity I has feeling in my body and mind and replace it with acceptance and positivity.
  2. Thanks to my therapist I now have a Place Of Mysteries. This is a place in which I put on a shelf things I do not have enough information about so I do not carry them around with me. I then examine them when I have more facts so that I can make intelligent decisions.
  3. I am working really hard on not saying things the moment I think them. I now try to let my thoughts gels before spouting them.
  4. I try to look for the good instead of the negative
  5. I make a conscious choice all day long to CHOOSE LOVE. When things irritate me I CHOOSE LOVE and try to act accordingly.
  6. I try to give the benefit of the doubt to the positive attributes I know that B has instead of jumping to conclusions.
  7. I try not to TIME TRAVEL to the future and the past. Instead, I try to stay in the present collecting the golden nuggets of life that are in the here and now.
  8. I try to think rather than just react and ask for time to do so when more time is needed.
  9. I get more sleep realizing that there is always tomorrow to get things done.
  10. I keep a sex calendar which serves as a gentle reminder that too much time has slipped away since our last loving encounter.
  11. I work on being mindful of what is going on around me and within me. I have slowed down to really think about the ramifications and unintended consequences of what I am doing.
  12. We dialogue every night in the way we learned to do at Marriage Encounter. This has allowed us both to learn more about what the other is feeling and gives us a loving perspective in which to view our mate and his/her actions. Dialoging gives us the time to ask questions and clarify, not just assume what is meant by words/actions.
  13. I have lost weight but not for him. It is for me only and it shows.
  14. I am learning to just sit with things and not try to force a desired outcome.
  15. I am trying to learn to do things with joy in my heart while doing them. After all, the house does need to be cleaned so why not do it with joy instead of resentment?
  16. We try to have a date night every week or so. Time spent with each other without the interruptions of family life has allowed us to look at each other as individuals with unique feelings instead of as just Mom and Dad.
  17. We have a GRATEFUL log that we keep to remind us of all the wonderful things the other has done for us and is useful to pick-up and read when things are a little bit off.
  18. Whenever I feel like I am getting “hooked” I try to take a pause and relax.
  19. I have come to realize that life is not static. We are fluid beings and as such things will change. I don’t have to stay “stuck” in a particular way of acting or doing things especially when it is causing me or my loved ones harm. I am sowing seeds everyday that will blossom as suffering or joy depending on how I plant them and care for them. I try to keep this in mind as I interact with others.

So a year as come and gone. A year in which I did not get divorced or separated although we came close. A year in which we both worked hard to improve ourselves and our marriage. It has been a lonely year that has been frightening yet also enlightening. We have had to expose our own vulnerabilities as we have attempted to open up to one another in very deep and personal ways. And as painful as it has been I am grateful for it because I have become a better person, a better partner, and a better mother because of it. I have grown and become a better me. A person I am proud of and a person who is more comfortable in her own skin. And I have a marriage that is better than I believed would ever be possible. Does this mean that in 365 days I was able to “fix this”? Heck no. Does this mean I have a perfect relationship? No. Does this mean we will be together forever? I think the opportunity for that has increased tremendously but I no longer try to look for guarantees because there really are none for this type of thing.

What I do know for sure is that once again B is at camp for the week and this time when he left my heart was filled and my brain was quite. For this time around, I have a confidence in myself  and a belief that together we can conquer those things that are holding us back. Things may not be perfect but they are getting better everyday and that is really all you can hope/work for. But perhaps the most important thing is that I am happy, really happy, and sometimes even joyful. I am becoming who I want to be as I enter into my mid 50’s and discover what it is that is really important to me and what I can leave behind.

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So thank you for sharing this journey with me. I am sure there have been times you have wanted to kick me in the ass. I am sure there are times where you would have liked to have screamed “WAKE UP.”  But believe me I have felt your loving arms wrap around me and hold me close when there was no one around to do so. And for that I will be eternally grateful!

 

Departing Wisdom

Running-Late

Recently I saw a sign which read: WHEN ANGER ENTERS, WISDOM DEPARTS. These words touched my heart as well as the profound which rests in my soul. I felt as I read this simple truth that the words were meant for me alone and that they were there because I needed that gentle reminder.

This summer has been hectic what with sports practice five days a week, my volunteer work and with my chauffeuring  kids to college and high school summer school. The reason for my increasing anxiety over the summer is a very tight schedule in which pick up and delivery had to be perfectly timed. Frankly, I don’t do being late well. For whatever reason since I was a little kid it was hardwired into my brain that you are not late. EVER. And I have lived by that rule my entire life. Except once. That was the time I was 5 minutes late and it haunted me for days.

“If you are late it shows a complete disregard for others and that you think that your time is more important than theirs. Your time is no more or less important than any one else’s. Don’t forget that!” admonished my father throughout my growing up years.

And so I have a heightened sense of anxiety if I have the slightest inkling that I (or anyone I am responsible for) will be late.

The lengths to which I go to ensure that I am never late come with a price…my sanity. I am three hours early before taking an airline flight. I am 30 minutes early for my Gracie’s orchestra performance. I am early enough to get my choice of premium parking spaces and my favorite pew at church. I get the best seats at the movie theater and I am always the person who is waiting for their friend to show up for coffee. Anyone who knows me knows that if I am 10 minutes late that means I am probably stone-cold dead.

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And so with back-to-back obligations this summer it is hardly surprising that I found it difficult to just stay calm. Unfortunately, as my anxiety rose it often turned to anger. This is not to say that I yelled…I didn’t…but irritation crept into my voice way too often and words came out of my mouth that that are not meant to be heard by a child. Thoughts of shooting the bird to that 85 year old woman driving at a speed of 10 miles per hour entered my mind on way too many occasions. And as my anxiety/anger increased I became distracted and I once almost mowed down a kid on a bike doing stupid tricks in the street to impress his buddies.

As I reviewed my actions during these dog days of summer  it became apparent to me that in those moments of high anxiety and anger; my wisdom did indeed depart because:

I said thoughtless things.

I thought evil thoughts.

I showed my children a side of me that they do not want to see.

And I disregarded my own health by letting stress take minutes off my life multiple times a week.

So in an attempt to increase my sanity I made a change. I now have the saying WHEN ANGER ENTERS, WISDOM DEPARTS taped to my dashboard. I find it comforting. And now as I drive along and the tension starts mounting, I just look down to give myself a gentle and loving reminder that wisdom in all aspects of my life are important if I am to become all that I am meant to be.

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Childhood Memories

Cottage from lake

Going to my Grandfather’s cottage on the lake holds fond memories for me. It was a long drive north with stops to see the bears who were caged next to gas stations in an attempt to bring in the tourist crowd.It was back in the 60’s before PITA and other such organizations existed and as a result bears who had lost their mothers became entertainment for bored little kids traveling the backroads in old station wagons. Kids like me.

I  still remember the blue Rambler pulling up to the cabin. The smell of the leaves and the fresh clean air. And mushrooms “Don’t touch those!!!! They may be poisonous!!!” poking their heads out from under rocks and growing alongside north facing tree trunks. I can still remember the loons calling out a greeting from the lake below while squirrels flew like acrobats from tree top to tree top. And I recall the sun filtering through the leaves making them light up like the colors found in a stained glass window. No doubt about it there was beauty and tranquility no matter which way you turned. All of it was amazing in the eyes of a six-year-old kid.

After being released from the confines of the car the first thing I would see in the cabin was the old refrigerator that stood guard in the service porch. It smelled musty and was in desperate need of air. My mother would clean up inside while my father would go after the spiders whose webs were proportional to the amount of months that had gone by since the last visit. Of course, there was no television, so my sister and I would go outside to chase leaves, find critters, and do the things six year olds do while in the woods. It was a time of discovery and a place where life slowed down to a crawl.

Memories fill my mind of this special time in my life. I remember the day my father laid his head down on the pillow to go to sleep and inside was a mouse nest filled with babies. I remember a green frosted cake. I remember Chippy the Chipmunk who would scurry over to take peanuts out of my hand as I sat barely breathing on the porch. This is the place I first learned how to swim in waters so cool it took your breath away. This is the place I learned that the sandy bottom of the lake felt silky like the fuzz on the ear of a puppy. This is the place I learned how to dive and this place was where I first got the sense of my own self. I loved this cottage in the woods.

Unfortunately, my grandfather died when I was six and the cottage was sold soon after. He had been the outdoorsman not my grandmother. The trees held little meaning for her as did the hunting. It was the water that captured her attention. Yes, the water was her thing and every day started in the same manner for her. She would arise early in the morning, make a cup of bitter black coffee, and head down to the lake. I can still picture the daily the ritual of my grandmother trying to pull a too tight rubber bathing cap down over her head while snapping off the  cheap rubber flowers that lined the outside in her hast to be the first one to  produce a ripple on the sheen of the sleepy and slowing awakening lake. Yet, my dreams about this place are short and often disappear in confusion … gone the way of bathing caps… which are now regarded as relics and left to rot in a box on a museum shelf somewhere.

Anyway, with these recollections comes a distortion of the truth which often occurs in a young girls mind. For instance I remember a yellow cottage…it was red. I remember it being HUGE. It was tiny. And I know all of this because for years I had told B about this special place, the place of my youth. But what  really stood out in my mind about the cabin were the million steps that it took to get from the cabin down to the lake. Yes, you could have hooked me up to a lie detector and I would have passed…there were a million steps top to bottom.That was the one thing in life that I was absolutely certain of.

Then one year we were visiting my grandmother. By then she was living in a nursing home and she had lost her only daughter, my mother. So B and I asked her how to get to the cottage. We both wanted to see this place that built so many happy memories for me.

“You’ll never find it,” she said. “I guess I will just have to go up there and show it to you myself!”

So my 84-year-old grandmother plunked herself into the front seat of the car and we took off. The roads were better than they once were and we made it there in record time. But by there I mean the lake not the cottage because as we stood in front of three of them which lined the lake she didn’t know which one it was and neither did I.

“Well, we’ll just have to go find the one-armed man who built the place for us. He’ll know. Never saw a man who could hammer faster and better than him,” my grandmother muttered.

And so we set out for his place. We were unsure where he was located or even if he would still be alive but as luck would have it there was an ancient one-armed man standing next to a bright red mail box alongside the road and my grandmother charmed the information right out of him. So back we went over slick rutted roads…this time to the right cottage sitting in the right place.

It was wintertime and it was bitterly cold, yet, we trampled the snow and the decaying leaves around the cabin trying to peek through the blinds which lined the windows. I was trying to see inside just enough to grab tight to the memories that were floating around somewhere in my head. And then it came to me. I could gather those memories by way of the steps  down to the lake…all one million of them.

So I raced around to the back of the cabin looking for a very long stairway leading down the hill to the lake. The one with the millions treads. The one that it used to take half-a-day to climb from top to bottom when I was a little kid. Yet, it was not to be found. Instead, I saw an old rickety set of stairs, hidden in the trees, twisted with age, descending down the hill towards the water. So I began to count the stairs…it didn’t take long. For there were only 14.

I have to confess that am not sure when 14 stairs became one million in my mind. Perhaps it was as my chubby three year old legs had to take so many steps between the steps leading up the hill. Or maybe it was when the horseflies were out and you couldn’t get up the hill fast enough. All I know is that there were once one million stairs and you cannot convince the six-year-old in me otherwise. Never. Ever.

Not surprisingly, I have found that when you venture back to the past you find it is never how you left it. For better or for worse it will have changed. Yet, our memories often remain the same, stuck in a place we want to remember rather than in one that actually existed. And I’m okay with that because childhood memories should be some of the best memories of our lives. They should be the memories that were created in a simple time that was free from expectations and fear. They should be the recollections made when hope was still alive and when our imaginations ran free. A time when conquering the world was doable and when our kryptonite could be found in a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie. For childhood memories are precious, even though imprecise, and they are what motivates us to create a world the way we would like to see it rather than the way that it is. And even though one million steps may seem insurmountable when you are six, one  day you come to realize that a million steps isn’t as daunting as you once thought all thanks to the memories created during a simpler time in our lives.

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You Are Your Own Images

So yesterday I went to see my therapist and read her yesterday’s piece titled Parolee. She responded that the images we see in these scenes are all us and that we often put those images on our significant others. In other words, I am both the Parolee and the Parole Officer. And that the harsh officer in that scene… is really me… for I am so harsh with myself and my own worst critic. In addition, I am my own jailer and am angry at myself for being that.

This is going to take some time to digest but I think she may be on to something.

In the meantime my therapist has urged me to spend the next week writing positive pieces about myself and my life. No divorce pieces. No negativity. Just happiness, butterflies, and unicorns. So I have decided to try.

I hope I have the imagination and stomach for it. Hope you do too!

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