Marching on

My youngest son had a birthday yesterday. 14. It’s going by so quickly. I imagine he’s grown more than a year, emotionally. It’s been a kind of tough year around here. His dad moved out the end of October, and he’s had to adjust to things no child should have to adjust to. Divorce causes grief in children. They grieve the death of their family unit. It seems to have affected him a bit more than my older son, though things aren’t always as they seem, so one will ever really know. Part of me feels guilty for putting this grief on him, but I think that’s a normal feeling. Intellectually, I know this divorce is better for all of us in the long run. My children will benefit from having a strong, empowered, happy, butterfly of a mom…instead of the caterpillar mom they had…the one who was suffocating in her cocoon. Getting my intellectual self to match up to my emotional self just might be a life-long process, but I’m getting there.

I learned to validate my own feelings this year. By doing so, I’ve learned how to validate others. This has come in handy with my youngest, during his difficult times. His father does not understand validation. No fault of his own…he just doesn’t have that toolbox. My toolbox is full, and I have been validating the hell out of my children’s emotions. As my youngest heals, I can see his toolbox filling, as well. Our bond has only strengthened during this experience, as we continue marching on.

13 turning into 14, for him, has been a huge period of maturity and growth. I’m so proud of who he is… his values, his goals…just everything about him. I’ve been so blessed with these two angels on Earth.  When your children exceed your hopes and dreams on who they will turn out to be…there’s just no accurate description of how full your heart feels.

Happy birthday, son. I love you forever…

 

 

​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WKaO1a_ORw&sns=em

 

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Mar. 25/17

 

 

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The idea of a man

Almost my entire life, I’ve had a skewed perception regarding men. Though, I didn’t realize it was skewed until this past year. I’m glad I finally found out. Some women take those thoughts to the grave without ever knowing.

I suppose the confusion started when I was 13. I won’t go into details, other than to say I did not get to choose who to lose my virginity to, nor at what age I was to lose it.  The misconception grew, over the next few years, as similar scenarios played out with 3 different boys. By the time I was 16, it was painfully obvious what my purpose was with the opposite sex. Other than my body, I had no value.

As I got older, I was able to choose who I wanted to do these things with. The problem was, by that point, I didn’t know anything different from what I had experienced, so ended up putting myself in situations that left me feeling the same way I did at 13. It’s funny (not funny) how the brain talks you into recreating trauma scenarios, just because it’s all you know. You grow up accepting that “other people get those things…you only get this”. Having no value rings true, even towards yourself.

Long story short, I went to therapy. It’s been over a year now since I started. I learned that the heavy feelings of worthlessness and shame were not because of things I’d done…they were because of things done to me. I never knew that. Can you believe it? I honestly never knew that. Well, once I figured that out, I became angry. I was angry at every man who ever made me feel “less than”. Angry at myself for letting it happen. Angry at my husband for being just like them, even though I now know that’s the whole reason I chose him. I started to take my power back. I got divorced…and realized I did not want another man. One friend jokingly called me a “man-hater”. It wasn’t correct. I didn’t hate men. I just hated what a lot of men did. I started to speak up about injustice towards women…and spoke up loudly. I became a feminist. It was empowering! Lifting that heavy weight was liberating to my soul. It was like nothing could stop me…unless I talked about being with another man. Those thoughts caused a sinking feeling deep inside me. When I felt them, I felt defective and ashamed.  I guess I wasn’t completely healed…

So, I continued with my feminism. I continued with accomplishing new things and using my voice to keep that empowered feeling. I continued with therapy and yoga and mediation and writing…all the things I learned to do to nurture my soul…to heal. I started to lose a lot of that anger. I softened. I hollowed out my soul. Honestly, I’m not sure what I want the end result to be. Maybe I’m already at the end result. Maybe I’ll never get there. How will I know?  Do I need to be OK with having a man in my life to prove to myself that I’m totally healed?  I’m not sure I do.  What I do know is, after continuing my work, after nurturing myself the way I’ve always craved it, instead of fearing men… I’m now comfortable with the idea of a man in my life.  I’m comfortable with the possibility of meeting a man who empowers me, who lifts me up, who adores me…a man who values me.  And if that doesn’t pan out, I think I’ll be just fine…because I empower me, I lift myself up, I adore me and …I value me. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted. I firmly believe that the challenge is to love yourself. Once you are able to do that, everything else falls into place. What that “place” is, I have no idea…I’m leaving that up to the universe.

 

 

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of Social Consciousness Saturday…free-flowing, organic writing with no edits!

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Mar. 18/17

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Not a short shift

My new job as a visiting nurse allows me to have a fairly short day, for the most part. Working from my car allows me to complete a lot of my computer work from home, so I’m rarely out later than 2:30 or so. It’s a pretty awesome benefit of the job.

Yesterday, we had a snow storm. My kids were at their dad’s, and I had no plans on a Friday (the new “single me” is kind of boring), so I volunteered to pick up a few extra patients (the new “single me” isn’t rich, either…so overtime is not a bad thing). I didn’t get home till 5.

I was assigned a woman in her mid 30s. This young patient, on paper, seemed like one I wouldn’t be spending too much time with. I arrived and started looking through the orders, took her vital signs and discussed what we were going to do…basically my routine for everyone. As we were chatting, we discussed our younger years in high school. We talked about the types of kids we hung out with back then, and the different things we used to do. She said she hung out with older kids, “cool kids” and of course, ended up getting in trouble with them. I told her I did the same. She said, “all those kids that I thought weren’t cool are all now successful, married and settled down, and I’m here living with my parents”.  As I performed my nursing tasks, she started to open up a bit, filling me in on her history of drug and alcohol abuse, along with her subsequent overdose. This girl was lucky to be alive.

Now, 10 years ago, the old me would have been completely turned off by this story. I would have looked down upon her for making those “choices”. I would have made the small talk as short as possible and high-tailed it out of there as soon as I was done. I would have judged her. That was when I was sleeping through life. Thank God, I’m wide awake now. “You’re only 32 years old. You have plenty of time to be successful and settle down, if you want to”, I said to her, matter of fact-like, as I went about taking care of her.  She just looked at me. I can’t say what she was thinking, but I felt like maybe she didn’t get that type of conversation too much from people, other than maybe her mom. I could feel her energy, and it was positive. This was not an evil, negative, bad person.  This was a sweet, positive, good person who got caught up in the wrong circle of life. I’m sure she did make some “bad choices”, which led to other things that weren’t choices. She could have been me, or I could have been her, had only the slightest thing gone differently along the road. I went on. “I was in my 30s when I became a nurse. Before that, I spent my life as a waitress”. She piped in, “I’m a waitress, too!” I explained how I never thought I would ever have a real “career”, but decided to slowly chip away at it, one class at a time. I talked about the women in my nursing class who were in their 60s and just starting out. I mentioned all the places around our area where she could sign up for classes, and the different things she could try for a career. I tried to speak in a manner that was believable, which really wasn’t that hard, because I was telling the truth. I did believe it wasn’t too late for her to accomplish something in life…I just needed her to believe it.

As I finished up, she complimented my necklace. It’s the throat Chakra symbol. I explained my reasoning for wearing it… speaking my truth. That led to a conversation about yoga and meditation, which led to a conversation about writing in journals and going to therapy. I’m not supposed to talk about my personal life with patients, but I broke the rules yesterday. Nothing too intimate, but I did let her know that therapy was the best thing I ever did for myself. We both talked about “stuffing things down” inside that box you keep in your soul. I’m sure we stuffed different things down there, but it doesn’t matter. When the box is full, it weighs the same, no matter what type of trauma you put in it. I talked about “the process”, and how focusing on that, instead of the end result, is what’s bringing me inner peace. She’s started therapy for the first time, and after hearing about my passion for writing as a part of healing, is eager to start a journal. I suggested she try out some guided meditations and gave her the name of a nearby yoga studio, for when she’s physically healed. Before you knew it, over an hour had gone by. I could have talked to her all day. Why can’t supporting and empowering women be a career? I’d love that job…

Yesterday ended up being a long day. I went to bed tired and slept in late. This morning, as I thought of that last shift, I did not think of the 6 other patients I saw. I thought of her. A young woman in recovery. I didn’t pity her. I didn’t look down on her. I didn’t judge her decisions. I wasn’t disgusted by her. I believed in her… do you think that was enough?

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Mar. 11/17

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Admitting I have a project

For the first time in years, I have down time. My divorce is moving along, I’ve finished up most of the work that’s left after selling my company (doing dreaded taxes next week, ugh) and my new job allows me to be all done by the afternoon. It feels weird to not have tons of work looming over me, to not be connected to my cell phone 24/7 in case of a work emergency…to just go to work and come home and be done. It also feels weird to not have the need to write, every spare moment. I filled up a good dozen journals over the past year, processing my childhood and my current life problems. I had no control over it, like smoking cigarettes. Now, I pretty much just write in this blog, maybe once a week. I don’t have the need to go to therapy that much anymore, so when the kids are at their dad’s…I’ve got down time. I’d heard it existed, but wasn’t sure if it was a rumor or not. It’s true. There really can be time in the day when I don’t HAVE to do something! So, this week, I’ve finally started tackling a project that I’ve been thinking about for a year…. I started writing my book.

Wow. I haven’t really admitted that to anyone, yet. It feels weird to say it… to read it. I started writing my book. I’ve told my friends “I’m transcribing my journals”.  That’s my way of tricking them/me into thinking I’m just writing them out on word docs for the sake of having them in one place. I don’t think any of us really believed me, though. They all have been telling me I should write a book, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to actually admit that this is what I’m doing. I think maybe I’m afraid. It feels kind of grandiose to announce, “I’m writing a book about myself“. What if people say, “Who gives a shit?” Hell, I say that to myself all the time. But then, I follow it up with, “I don’t give a shit if people don’t give a shit” and let it go. That’s the glory of spending a year diving head-first into intense therapy, yoga, meditation and writing…you learn to not give a shit and to let things go. It’s freeing. If something hurts me, I let myself cry and feel whatever emotions it brings up, without shaming myself for having those emotions and most of the time, without shaming the person who hurt me. Then, I just let it go….most of the time. Hey, I’m not perfect…

I finished transcribing my first journal into a word doc last night. Over 30,000 words. I’m using Dragon dictation software (something I highly recommend, if you have a lot of writing to do). It doesn’t really like swears, though. I keep trying to train it to understand I’m not saying “ship” or “flock”, but I guess it’s more pure than me.

It was interesting to read where I was exactly one year ago. Amazing how much a soul can grow in that amount of time. Who knew souls could even grow? I sure didn’t. I was full of despair and was so sure I’d end up a failure. I felt so broken and damaged beyond repair, like a seed cracked wide open. Little did I know, that’s what it takes to blossom.

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Mar. 4/17

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of Social Consciousness. It’s organic, free-flowing writing in response to a prompt. I like participating because it makes me write! I’m lazy!

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Cannibal Hamster

I can’t really remember too many Christmas gifts received as a kid. I mean, I got gifts, I just can’t remember most of them now that my brain is old. I know, “old” is relative…all depends on who you’re asking.  Anyway, when I think of childhood Christmas gifts, one year always sticks out. I must have been around 8 or so. I can remember waking up, putting on the pink robe my mom made for me, and running out to see the goods. I was full of anticipation without having a clue as to what might be waiting for me. I rounded the corner and saw this contraption on the table. It was plastic and had a round, wheel-type thing in it. I looked at it quizzically, wondering if it even had anything to do with Christmas. It wasn’t wrapped. No bow. Just this weird plastic cage-like thing with wood chips on the bottom…wait a minute, those are hamsters! Oh my God, I got hamsters! I can not BEGIN to accurately convey to you how damn excited I was to get those two rodents! They were both girls, and it only took one look to know exactly what to name them… Cecilia and Candice. Why, you ask? No freaking idea. Where in the hell did I come up with those names? I’m pretty sure if there was a book titled “Perfect Hamster Names”, you would not see those two in there. Maybe in the “Perfect Princess Names” book, but not the hamster one. But hey, don’t judge me. Those were my babies. I was in love. They were mine.

I loved those girls. Even though I found out the hard way that hamsters are nocturnal and like to run on that damn wheel ALL NIGHT LONG. I dealt with it, though. We all know sleepless nights are a big part of having babies. Yes, I was their mom. Just go with it.

I’m not too sure how long I had them for. It’s hard to keep track of time when you’re a kid. Especially when you’re a busy mom like I was. Hamsters are a lot of work…cleaning out the cage, cuddling them, putting in new wood chips, cuddling them, filling the water bottle, cuddling them…you get the picture.  Anyway, one day I went to cuddle them, and shit suddenly got REAL (cue the horror movie music)….Candice was freaking GNAWING Cecilia’s leg off! What the HELL?!! I screamed. My heart went in my throat. I looked at Candice and she stared right into my eyes as she ate her sister’s leg. It was really kind of scary, to tell you the truth. She was looking at me as if to say, “You’re next”. I ran out to my mom, crying hysterically, telling her about the cannibalism going on in my bedroom. She came up with some story about how Cecilia was probably sick and animals can sense when another animal is sick and they eat them. Whaaaat?! Why the hell do they do THAT??!! She said things are different in nature. She was so chill about it, so I figured I’d better calm down. But really, I was NOT calm. We ended up putting a piece of wood in the cage to separate them. I stood vigil at the cage for days. It was so sad to see them apart. I’d never seen them sleep alone. They were always snuggled up together. I wondered what Cecilia was thinking. Did she understand why Candice was eating her? Was she as sad as I was about it? I’d hold her and carefully stroke her without touching her chewed up leg. I stopped touching Candice. She scared the shit out of me.

Cecilia died not too long after. I held a funeral for her in the back yard, in my little unofficial pet cemetery…you know, the one that held dead frogs, caterpillars and the like. I held a memorial service for any creature I’d held that then died. Listen, I did not have many friends back then, so cut me some slack.

The weirdest part of this story is that I can’t remember the rest of it. What happened to Candice once I was scared shitless of her? Did she die? Well, of course she died…it was 37 years ago. I mean, did she die right after? A long time after? Did I just have her for awhile? Did I ever pick her up again? I have no idea. All I can remember is being scared of her, resenting her as I heard that wheel spin during the night.

 

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of Social Consciousness. The prompt was “Ham”. Check out the link below to learn more.

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Feb. 18/17

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Sewing security

 

It’s hard for me to remember my parents being married. My mom left when I was 9. You’d think 9 years would be enough to have lots of memories, but I guess it’s not.

I only have one memory of my parents having fun together. They were getting dressed up for a night out dancing. It was a 50s themed dance…Mom had on a poodle skirt and dad had a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve of his white T-shirt.  She looked so pretty and he looked so cool. They came home with a trophy. Sometimes, that memory makes me smile.

Oddly enough, even though I only have one fun memory, I also only have one fight memory. My parents were pretty damn good at hiding their arguments from me. So good that I was completely blindsided when they told me of the divorce. I thought parents got divorced when they didn’t get along anymore? My parents never fought. It was so confusing to me. The one time I remember them fighting was after they announced the divorce. Mom stood up and angrily swore at dad during dinner, and he got mad at her for fighting in front of me.  I just sat there quietly staring at my spaghetti, trying to be invisible. She left not too long after that.

Aside from those two polar opposite memories, there is one constant that returns whenever my mind trails back to those first 9 years… my mom’s sewing machine. She had her own upholstery business she ran out of our basement. Each day after school, I’d hop off the bus, run up the walkway and fling open the front door… listening for the hum of her sewing machine. When I heard it, I relaxed. Mom’s home. There was a sense of security in that hum. I’d drop my books and run downstairs to give her a hug and tell her all about my day. It was so normal…I took it for granted.

When she left, so did that sense of security. No longer could I fling open the front door. Dad made me a key. I was coming home alone now. I’d quietly insert the key, slowly opening the door without making a sound. The house was quiet. Mom’s not home anymore.

 

This post was written in response to the prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday by Linda G. Hill

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Feb. 11/17

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Supermarket nurse

Today, I stopped by a supermarket on the way to see my last patient. It’s her birthday and I wanted to buy her an orchid, because she’s special to me. I’m standing in line at the checkout behind a woman of about 70ish. She compliments the flowers and asks who they are for. I tell her it’s for one of my patients and she says, “Oh, you’re a nurse?” Before I can even answer, she props her elbow on the counter and begins to tell me about the “recent biopsy on my uterus for polyps and I’m going for an ultrasound today and I’m a little concerned because they haven’t gotten the results from the biopsy yet and I’ve been staining every day since the procedure and they keep telling me it’s normal but I’m not sure it’s normal and why do they want the ultrasound if they haven’t gotten the biopsy results yet”…literally going on and on and on, just like that. I couldn’t help but smile, because we’re in the middle of a crowded checkout line and I’m thinking “what other profession gets this kind of response in a supermarket?” as she’s blurting all these personal details out to a complete stranger…and I’m TOTALLY fine with it and SHE’S totally fine with it. People are kind of looking at us with a “T.M.I.” look on their faces. A cashier opens up the next register and motions for me to come over, kind of smirking like she’s thinking, “I’ll save you from this conversation”, but I can’t just leave this anxious woman with that ball of worry consuming her, so I stay and reassure her that light bleeding after a biopsy is common and getting both procedures sounds like protocol. You could see the worry just float away from her face with that one sentence. Why she felt better with it coming from me and not her doctor, I have no idea…but we both just rolled with it. I wonder if I said it in a way that validated her emotions? I think hearing it over the phone and seeing it come from a real person can make a difference. I felt sincere when I spoke to her. I wanted to ease her pain. People were still looking at us…some smiling, others furrowing their brows. What…you’ve never heard the uterus being described as “very vascular” at the market before?  We kept chatting about it for a bit, like old friends. It was a pretty awesome and rewarding experience, considering I wasn’t even at work. I finally go over to the next line and she’s still talking to me, kind of yelling over the magazine racks to ask me questions about where I work, seeming pretty happy now. I don’t know why I find this story so enjoyable, but I’ve been SO happy ever since it happened and it’s still making me smile. I guess I just love random interactions with people that end up being positive experiences. It makes me feel satisfied and connected to the world. I wouldn’t change being a nurse for anything…

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A feather in the woods

Early last summer, I was neck-deep in the therapeutic process of dealing with my childhood trauma. I was also in the process of dealing with the real-time trauma of my imminently ending marriage. It was during those darkest times that my “awakening” began. As I started to wake up, I realized there was a much bigger picture I was a part of. I began to feel in tune with nature, understand spirituality and realized the universe was more intertwined with everything in my life than I thought it was. I started to see “signs” almost daily. The synchronicities were too many to ignore. The most fascinating ones were the ones with animals. Deer and hawks, to be exact.  I get that I live in an area where deer and hawks live, and understand there’s a chance I’ll see them from time to time, but this was something completely different…especially the hawks. They started appearing right in front of me. They would swoop right in front of my car as I was driving, several times a week. It was scary at first, but as I realized what was happening, I began to feel the peace in it all. Even though I wasn’t sure what everything meant, just knowing it meant something was enough for me.

My soon to be ex-husband thought I was crazy. He would make fun of me and my “signs”.  He even got the kids in on it.  It was hurtful to me. It wouldn’t be now, but back then…I was fragile. I would try to explain the significance of what I had seen, and he would often come back with, “oh, I see that all the time”, dismissing my enthusiasm. I would end up retreating to my room, feeling small and embarrassed.  It got to the point where I no longer shared my “sign” sightings with him. Seeing them made me feel excited and hopeful, and those feelings were so easily ripped away with his off-handed comments. I don’t think he intentionally wanted to make me feel that way, but that’s just how he is. My feelings have never been a priority in this relationship.

One day, I went for a hike in the conservation land on our road with my youngest son. He had gotten in trouble at school and was not allowed to watch TV or video games for the weekend, so I used that as an opportunity to get him to walk with me. Boredom made him eager to get out and do something, even if it was walking with his mom. He’s 13… you know how that goes. Anyway, we had a GREAT time! We took paths we’d never gone down before…got a little lost along the way, and he enjoyed deciding which path would take us back out again.  We came across no other people…just us and the woods. We enjoyed small talk about all kinds of things…school, relationships, careers…we created a heartwarming memory together on that simple walk. As we neared the end, I was really appreciating this one on one time with him…time with no distractions, no electronics….just me, my son and nature. On the final path out, something caught my eye on the ground. It was a feather. Off-white with brown stripes. I picked it up and called out to my son, “Look! A hawk feather!” I was amazed, yet not totally surprised, as the hawks had been making themselves known to me all spring. My son asked, “How do you know it’s a sign, mom?” He said it half sincere and half mocking. Almost like his automatic response was to make fun of me, like his dad did…but part of him was truly curious. I replied, “I don’t know it’s a sign for sure, but it feels like a sign. I know that when I look at this feather, I’m going to remember this kick-ass, quality time I spent with you. This day wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t get in trouble. It’s almost like the universe had you get in trouble so we could spend some quality time together. Every time I look at this feather, I’m going to smile, because I’m going to think of you, and I love spending time with you”. He paused for a second, smiled, and said “oh, I get it”, and led us out of the woods. I was glowing.

I pretty much floated home after that. I felt good. Moments of feeling good were fleeting back then, so I didn’t take it for granted. We walked in the house and my husband was in his usual position, in front of the TV. I was mindful of how I wasn’t sharing any of my synchronicity stories with him anymore. Actually, we had been barely talking to each other the past few days at all.  He had been trying to, but I had been giving him the cold shoulder. I was miserably depressed most days, and I’d had enough of feeling unworthy to him… and the rest of the world.  At that point, he was trying his hardest to not annoy me because he wasn’t ready to move out. Walking in that door, I felt so happy…so good…I figured I’d bite the bullet and tell him the story. Surely, with all that was going on, he would at least pretend to think it was cool. “We had a great time! Guess what we found on our walk? A hawk feather!” I was smiling from ear to ear. I showed it to him proudly. My son was smiling, too. That feather meant something to both of us now. My husband took a few seconds to change his gaze from the TV to me. With the slight condescending tone I’m used to, he says, “Are you sure that’s not a turkey feather?” My smile drops in an instant. “Don’t ruin this for me” I say back to him softly. He looks at me, shrugs his shoulders and says, “well, I can’t help it if it’s not a hawk feather” and turns back to the TV. I felt the tears stinging. My shoulders slumped. My son went up to his room, and I tossed the feather into the trash, went into the bathroom, and cried. He watched TV and didn’t think twice about it.

The next day, I went to a therapy appointment. I wasn’t sad anymore. I was angry. Not at him, but at me. I felt like such a baby for crying over a stupid feather. What the hell was wrong with me? There are worse things in life than finding out a hawk feather is a turkey feather, for Christ’s sake!  My therapist could tell by my scowl that something was bothering me. I didn’t want to tell her. “It’s so dumb. I have no idea why I’m so upset about something so stupid. I don’t even want to tell you, it’s so ridiculous”. I really had no intention of telling her how childish I was being about a stupid feather. “Tell me”, she said firmly, with a protective yet nurturing tone. Reluctantly, I did. I finished the story crying, saying “I don’t understand why I’m so upset about a damn feather!” I was so angry at myself for having those feelings. In her typical knowing way, she tells me “I know exactly why you felt that way. He crushed your spirit.” I looked at her through my tears and asked, “But he’s probably right. It probably is just a turkey feather. He’s probably right about all of my signs.”  My therapist is all about empowering women, and damn…she is good at it. “So what? All feathers are signs.” Really? I did not know that. “And who cares what he thinks? This is about you, not him”. She follows with, “Please tell me you kept the feather.” I told her I threw it away. She shook her head and sighed. As I said it, my head hung down and I felt a little ashamed. She was right. He crushed my spirit, but at that moment, I also realized…I let him crush my spirit. It was amazing how I could spend 2 days beating myself up for how my husband made me feel, and she can make me stop in 5 minutes, just by validating my feelings. I’m telling you….validating feelings just might be the answer to all the world’s problems. 

I went home and immediately dug through the trash. I found the poor feather, covered with wet coffee grounds and some other substances I wasn’t quite sure of. I delicately washed it like a baby in the sink and let it dry. I never told my husband, and he never brought it up. I’m sure the conversation went right out of his head as soon as it happened, while I dwelled on it for days. That’s how we rolled. I’m not sure if he even remembers it when he sees the feather. I’m finally at a place where I really don’t care what he thinks.  I have it in a small bud vase that I filled with sand from my favorite beach. It’s sitting right in my dining room, next to a picture of my son. I look at it every day and smile, thinking of that hike. That feather makes me think of how much I love spending time with my son, just like I said it would.

 

This post was written in response to Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

 

 

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS and #JusJoJan Jan. 28/17

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It never goes away

I’m a nurse. A visiting nurse, to be exact. I travel around town, spending 30-60 minutes with ill people. They are mostly senior citizens, doing what they can to keep the clock ticking. I find the job to be quite rewarding.  My purpose is to help these fellow beings stay home…to keep them relatively healthy and out of the hospital. I’m a helper by nature. It doesn’t even seem like work, most of the time. It feels like helping out my neighbors…which is literally what I did one day last week.

I was assigned a new patient who lived around the corner from me. She’s about 80 years old and suffering from some fairly decent health issues. Two of her children live with her, in her 2 bedroom condo. They take turns throughout the day taking care of her…giving her medication, doing housework, managing her care. This was my first time meeting her, so I reviewed her chart as we began the visit. Her illness has a huge impact on her life, and it’s not something that can be fixed.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up on hospice by the end of the year. I noticed “depression” as one of her current diagnoses. I kept that in mind as I performed my assessment…listening to her lung sounds, her heart beat…assessing her medications. I talked to her, asking questions about how she was feeling, then about her family. I could tell she was worried, just by the tone of her voice. She told me about her children bickering about how to take care of her and how to juggle their jobs and lives while doing so, about how defeated she felt about her diagnosis, about how she doesn’t have the energy to do the things around the house she feels she should be doing. As soon as she opened up, she shut it down. She seemed as though she didn’t want to appear as if she was complaining. Old people don’t want to be a burden. Unfortunately, this situation is all too common with our senior population. It’s just not easy getting old.

As I wrapped up my visit, I sat next to her on the bed. I looked at her and said, “You know, it’s OK to feel depressed about your situation.” She stared at me, a little surprised. “Really?” she asked, softly. I took her hand in mine. “Yes, of course it is. You’ve got some serious health issues. Your kids are stressed. You’re stressed worrying about your kids. You have questions that aren’t being answered by your doctors.  It’s OK to allow yourself to feel sad about it. The feelings you have are real… and normal. Some bad things have happened to you “. Having spent the last year in fairly intense therapy, I knew all too well what it felt like to not have your feelings validated, and did not want this woman feeling that feeling. She broke eye contact and stared across the room, as if watching a movie, off in the distance. “You’re right, I have. And it never goes away… being molested.” Whoa! I could not believe she just said that. I was talking about her current medical condition and her stressful situation with her children, and she is remembering being molested. I just stared at her, wide-eyed, holding her hand. “Have you ever talked to anyone about this?” I asked. She slowly shook her head no. “No one talked about things like that, back then. No one wanted to hear it”. Damn. This woman has been carrying this heavy load around for roughly 70 years and hasn’t told a soul. What made her say it now? And to me? Was it having her feelings validated? Is it possible that this is the first time in this old woman’s life that anyone made her feel like her feelings mattered? Anything’s possible. Without thinking, I spoke from my heart… “I was molested, too. You’re right…it never goes away. But you know what? Talking about it with someone trained in these things makes it softer…easier to carry”. I gestured to my chest, and she nodded. She knew what I meant. That’s where your soul is. That’s where you carry it. The guilt. The shame. The fear. The insecurity. The pain. She knew. And I knew. “What if I arranged for a social worker to come see you? You could talk to her about it, and talk about what’s going on in your life. Maybe it would lighten the load a bit?” I saw a little spark in her eye. “Oh yes, that would be wonderful!” She sighed a sigh of relief, and looked around, like she was anxious for the next step. I gave her a hug and went on to my next patient. I didn’t want to. I wanted to sit with this woman for days, listening. I wanted to send her to my special therapist twice a week, just like I got to do. I wanted to teach her how to journal. I wanted to take her to meditation class. I wanted her to receive Reiki. I wanted to fix her, as I had fixed part of my own soul. I thought all these things as I waved goodbye.

I see sad situations every day. It’s just an unfortunate part of the job. This one, though…it’s sticking with me. It’s filling me with questions. What if I never said anything about her feelings? What if I was never assigned to be her nurse at all? What if she died never releasing any of that shame? No one would ever know. What if I never told my therapist? Would I be 80 years old and still bearing that cross, without realizing why? After the year I just had, I don’t think anything is by chance. This happened for a reason. Not just to help her release her pain, but maybe something bigger. I think maybe me going through the painful journey of processing my pain was so I could be a part of whatever this bigger thing is. Or maybe, this is the bigger thing? It is pretty big, to her… and to me. I suppose time will tell.  You can’t truly realize just how important validation is unless you’ve never had it, and then receive it. That’s how I know. It never really goes away, but it softens…

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17 Water Glasses

I’m starting to notice a theme around here, ever since my husband and I separated.  Shortly after he moved out, my washing machine broke. I used the power of Google to fix it on my own. I felt badass. It was empowering to repair something I normally would have relied on him for. Two weeks later, it broke again. I was deflated. Just like that, I lost my badassery. Just as I was about to give in and call a repair man, I figured out how to fix it again, making me badass, once more.

A few weeks ago, my dishwasher broke. Once again, I used the power of Google to fix it on my own, and once again, I was badass. I mean, come on…how many of my girlfriends are repairing major appliances? I don’t want to brag, but I’m kind of a big deal.  However, the theme being what it is…last night, the damn dishwasher flooded again. Except this time, I didn’t let my badassery just whimper away like last time. I brainstormed, and quickly came up with a solution. When I fixed it last time, I unclogged 7 years worth of unscraped food from the drain pipe. I figured the driveway snow marker I used to unclog it was too skinny, so it must have only opened up part of the clog. I imagined that goop closed itself off again. No big deal. I’ll just unclog it better. Piece of cake for a badass girl.

I strut myself down to Home Depot, in search of whatever the tool is that I’m imagining in my head. I was picturing sort of like a toilet brush, but skinnier and longer…something that would really scrub the sides of that drain pipe and rid us of this alien food blob pipe clogging mess, once and for all. I start searching the plumbing aisle, and my toilet brush de-clogging thingy is nowhere to be seen. Reluctantly, I look for help. I find this cute, older gentleman employee and start to describe what I’m looking for. He’s quite adorable, in a grandpa-ish sort of way, so I don’t get annoyed or frustrated when he says he’s never heard of my “tool”.  He seems impressed that I’m attempting to unclog a pipe….you know, because I’m a woman. Anyway, turns out the tool I’m really looking for is called an “auger”, and it’s not a brush, its coiled metal. Whatever.

I pull into my driveway with my shiny new auger, just as my husband is pulling out. He was dropping my son off, and noticed my purchase. Wearing his typical “you are an idiot” expression, he says to me, “you know, we have TWO of those downstairs”.  I hate that condescending “you are an idiot expression”. It’s the one he wears when he knows something and I don’t. He tells me to return it. I say “OK”, but I don’t want to. Sure, it makes sense to return it, seeing how there’s two of these things sitting somewhere in my basement, but I just went to Home Depot and figured out what I needed, sort of impressed the grandpa employee, and really, the whole point of me doing this is to show I don’t need him. I decide to put those feelings away, and get back to the task at hand. I say goodbye and head to my kitchen. Since I just did this same thing two weeks ago, I know the drill. I empty the cabinet below the sink. I unscrew the C clamps holding the pipe to the wall. I turn off the water. I loosen the hose clamp that secures the drain pipe to the Y pipe of the sink (remember, I learned all these plumbing terms last time, so you know…this is how I roll now). I use a paper cup to manually drain the dishwasher and I check the sensor. And by “checking” the sensor, I mean I rub my finger over it 3 times, because really, how do you “check” a dishwasher drain sensor? Do you ask it tenderly, “Hey little Buddy, are you alright? Just checking on you.”  The sensor seems fine. I put a bucket under the pipe and cautiously pull it off the Y pipe. I peek inside the hole, kind of nervously, as I remember the horror scene that was inside there last time. Nervous, but excited. I’m pumped to use my new auger. Wow, I really dig using the word “auger”. I’m pretty sure only badass people use augers. Anyway, I peek in and….damn. It’s clean as a whistle. Part of me feels good about that, because it means I really did successfully clear the pipe last time. The other part of me, however, is deflated. I’m sitting on the floor, surrounded by my tools, staring at a broken dishwasher I can’t fix. It’s 11pm, and I’m tired. Tired and deflated and completely non-badass. I look at the sink, and it’s filled with about 17 water glasses. You know, because I’ve got two teenage boys and they pour a beverage, take two sips, put it down, forget about it, then pour a new glass. All. Day. Long. Yeah, at this point, I’m the opposite of badass. I would write the word down if I knew what it was. Lame-ass? Close enough. As I’m deciding whether or not to wash all those glasses by hand at 11 o’clock at night, or leave them until my boys die of thirst, while simultaneously wondering which repairman I’ll be calling in the morning…I remember something. Two weeks ago, when I first started researching “dishwasher won’t drain” on Google, every site I went on said to try resetting the drain cycle first. I did that back then and it didn’t work, and I guess I just forgot about it. I picked my lame-ass up off the floor, started a wash cycle, hit “stop” two times to initiate the drain cycle (yeah, that’s right…I am kind of a plumber now), and what do you know? It mother effin worked! And just like that, I became a badass again.

I think the next time I’m feeling deflated, like I can’t do anything, like I’m helpless…I’m going to remember this. I’m not helpless. There’s always going to be road blocks in my life, things that make me feel like I’m taking two steps backwards in this process. I just have to remember that I’m still me, even when I don’t feel like me. Even if I hadn’t been able to fix it, I’m still pretty badass for trying, and I think that goes for everything in my life.

 

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS and #JusJoJan Jan. 21/17

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