Childhood memories

Isn’t it funny what the brain decides to hold on to from the past? As you get older, the memories become more faded, sometimes disappearing altogether.

I do have a few childhood memories locked in the vault. For some random reason, these ones aren’t going anywhere. And they pop up in my mind, off and on, with no rhyme or reason.  And for the most part, they all suck. Like the time someone ran over a yellow lab in front of my bus stop. We arrived in the morning to see its guts all over the side of the road, and no one cleaned it up for days, I think. I remember waiting for the owners to tearfully come, but it never happened. Or maybe it did happen, and my brain doesn’t feel like remembering that part. That’s the thing about these old memories…I think the brain fills in the blanks when it can’t remember something, even if the filling in part isn’t true. Then, you end up second guessing yourself. “Am I remembering this right?”

Another memory that’s been locked in the vault comes from around 1st grade. Let me tell you, I might have well been invisible in 1st grade. I did not say a peep. I had no friends. I sat by myself at recess, leaning against the wall with my head in my lap, hoping no one would approach me, while simultaneously hoping someone would approach me. And this was years before any of my childhood trauma! God, it’s not easy being a painfully shy child. Anyway, this memory had nothing to do with me. This one girl brought something in for show and tell. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t even show and tell day. I think she just found something cool and wanted to share it with us. Her name was Catherine Wilson. She held this magical mystery item cupped in her hands, carefully walking to the front of the class. I can remember the teacher telling us to be careful when we looked. It seemed like a BIG deal, whatever it was. I could not wait to see it! Everyone was buzzing with anticipation and crowded around her like paparazzi. I was last in line, of course. The kids were pointing and commenting and even though I was standing like a statue in the back of the room, I was filled with anticipation, too. I was dying to see what was in there. Finally, after everyone had gotten their fill of seeing “it”…  “it” was right in front of me. I hesitantly peered over the little Dixie cup she was holding, and nestled gently on top of some Kleenex was a tiny, delicate, sky blue Robin’s egg. I’d never seen anything like it. So fragile looking. So amazing. The only eggs I’d ever seen were the ones in my refrigerator.  Gosh, Catherine Wilson was so lucky. Nothing this magical ever happens to me…

The teacher had us settle down and we went about whatever it was that 1st graders did back in the early 70’s. Catherine put the cup on the corner of her desk as she did her work. At some point, we all got up from our seats for something. Maybe lunch, or to get books, or recess or something that doesn’t really matter to this story. What matters is what happened when we returned to our seats. Or more correctly, when Catherine returned to her seat. Someone broke her Robin’s egg. I think time stood still for a minute. We all took turns looking in the paper cup. The pastel blue shell was crushed. No one was saying anything. She started crying. I can remember her face like it was yesterday. It wasn’t a typical six-year-old kid’s whiny cry. I don’t remember any sound coming from her at all, actually. But her face, and the sorrow it conveyed….well, that’s stayed with me for almost forty years.

I’ve reminisced about this egg tragedy off and on ever since. No rhyme or reason to why I thought about it. I never had any emotional feelings when I thought of it. I mean sure, it was a sad story, but forty years later, it just kind of became the  “Oh, that was the time Catherine Wilson brought the Robin’s egg to school and some kid crushed it”.  Not that I told that to anyone. I guess that’s just the conversation I have in my head, with myself, when I remember random things. Yes, I have conversations with myself in my head…don’t judge.

OK, now fast forward to a few weeks ago. I’m scrolling through Facebook and see a photo of someone I know with someone else I don’t know and I click on something and next thing you know, I’m on someone elses page, who I don’t know,  knee-deep in their photos. Like I said earlier, don’t judge…you know you do it, too. Anyway, it’s the page of a local radio personality and I happen to come across a photo of her 7th grade yearbook. I look at the names on the page and realize it’s my grade. At my school. Puzzled, I thought “Wow, I didn’t know I went to school with Cat Wilson”. It took my 45-year-old brain a few moments to process that “Cat” is short for “Catherine”… duh… and the next thing you know, I can see that little blue Robin’s egg, clear as day. I stared at her 7th grade photo. Yup, even 6 years later, I’m sure that’s the face I’d been remembering all these years. Or had I? What if it was never Catherine Wilson at all? What if it was some other random classmate. I honestly couldn’t remember any of the other girls in that class. It very well could have been one of them, and my brain filled in the blanks for me. Or, maybe it wasn’t a memory at all and just a crappy dream. I had to find out.

I send a text to our mutual friend, telling of the sad, sad day at Hyannis West Elementary school in the early 70s. He relays the story and sure enough, it’s her. She hadn’t thought of that story in a long, long time. I think maybe she forgot. Or put it away someplace where she didn’t have to look at it. Can you blame her? That story sucks. Luckily, we just randomly crossed paths and I was able to bring that shit right back up to the surface! We end up connecting on Facebook (legitimately, this time) and go back and forth a few times, reminiscing about it.

Turns out, she’s a blogger, too. She wrote about this same story today, which you can read here.

So, at this point, we all know this is a tragic, sad story about the brutal demise of an already dead Robin’s egg. A tragic story that sort of became “just” a story, as the years passed. Until I read her blog. You see, now it’s not just a story about some rambunctious  6-year-old poking his thumb into some other kid’s pastel egg. It’s about bullying. It’s about not liking part of your childhood. It’s about kids making other kids feel bad for not fitting in to whatever is considered “normal”.  God, this little girl got picked on for loving butterflies…

As soon as I read about her tormentors, my heart went into my throat for a second….“Oh God, please don’t tell me I bullied her”. Yeah, I had my spurts of being one of those asshole kids. At the time, I never knew why I acted that way. The behavior just sort of oozed out of me. All I knew was I felt terribly ashamed afterwards. Which, at the time, was confusing…because I hated that feeling, yet I bullied more than once. Of course, as an adult, I can now see why I acted that way. Trauma creates trauma.  Luckily, I was fairly confident I only ruined a few kids lives back then, and was pretty sure she wasn’t on the list. But it doesn’t matter. I might as well have bullied her. I made other girls feel the way she did, so what difference does it make?

I’ve spent the past few days thinking about this. Of course, I’m now a completely different person than that damaged kid I used to be. I think I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to make up for being that kid. Not just to the girls I picked on during those few difficult years, but also to the girl I treated the worst…me. I’ve been thinking how when a child grows up knowing inherently that they are bad, they eventually end up acting out that role. I can’t speak for the other bullies out there, but for me it was almost like a way to have some sort of control over at least something in my life. No, I wasn’t consciously aware of that at the time I was being a jerk, but I’m pretty aware of it now. I had no control over anything back then. Not the feelings of abandonment, not the emotional neglect, not the sexual and physical abuse…nothing. I just absorbed it all, like a sponge. Total acceptance. This is just how my life is. This is all I get.

Forty years and tons of therapy later, I’m slowly learning that this is not just how my life is. I do have control over things (well, some things) And I am compassionate. I am not a bully, and frequently bend over backwards to prove otherwise. Well, not really to prove otherwise. I sincerely find joy in bringing peace to others. It helps me on my own journey to peace. You just never know what people are going throughwho spent part their lives being tormented, whether it was by a school bully or a sibling or a husband or a stranger. You never know who has a voice in the back of their head, telling them “this is all I get”. Sometimes, all it takes is a small act of compassion, or more commonly…a small act of validation…to quiet that voice, or to change the words to “I am worth more”.  And that’s something we all should be saying.

 

 

 

 

 

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I guess I’m still healing myself

Something bigger than me happened at work the other day.

I was visiting the home of an elderly man who had fallen.  I was there to monitor a healing infection and tend to his wounds. He was a frail, gentle man who told me he was ready for his life to be over. Not suicidal…the guy is in his mid 90s and not feeling well at all. It’s just time. His doting wife is quite a bit younger and not ready for him to give up just yet. This happens all the time. It’s not easy to face this season of life, even though we all know it’s coming for each and every one of us.

So, I’m at his house for the second time this week. His infection has gotten worse. I tell them he will probably  need to go back to the hospital. He shakes his head. His wife tells me it will kill him to go back, that he just wants to stay home. So, I start the conversation of hospice. Never an easy conversation to have. I keep in mind my mother, who just traveled this journey with her husband, as I look into this woman’s eyes. As much as she’s not ready for him to go, she knows this is what he needs. She can see it’s time. I put my hand on her shoulder as we speak, hoping to channel some peace into her aching soul.

I assist the man to his bed. He’s sitting on the side so I can change his bandages. He asks me, “So I don’t have to go back to the hospital?”No”, I reply. “You can stay home from here on out and we will send in a team of nurses who specialize in keeping you comfortable. They will help take care of you so your wife doesn’t have to work so hard and you can stay home“. He smiles and lets out the biggest sigh of relief.  He says, “My pastor is coming today. I’m going to ask him to talk to God for me.” I’m on my knees as I speak to him, as I’m changing a bandage on his leg. It’s a draining wound, and some traveled down to his feet. I took a gauze sponge and wiped his feet clean. I look up at him and say, “I’m sure he’ll talk to God for you. But you can talk to God yourself. And I can, too. I’ll talk to God for you and ask him to ease your suffering… and hers”, as I gesture to his wife.  He smiled down at me, as I tended to his wounds. “You’re an angel. I can see the wings growing out of there” and he gestures to behind my shoulder. He’s looking at it like he can actually see them there. He’s adorable. I’m such a sucker for these 90 year olds. “You’re an angel, just like she is“, and he looks over at his wife, who is leaning against the wall, looking away in her grief. She would move mountains for this man. But, mountains weren’t meant to be moved, I guess. He puts his hands on my shoulders, then cups my face in them, leans down and softly presses his forehead on mine. Almost like he was blessing me. As I washed his feet. Can you see it now? Can you see how this is something bigger than me?

I finish my work and tuck him into bed. I arranged for hospice to take over, so I knew this would probably be our last interaction. His wife walked me to the door. I tried to give her some comforting words, but I don’t think there really is such a thing, not during a time like this. She thanked me for my compassion and I went on my way. As sad as that scenario is, I felt good about it. I felt I healed them. Not physically, of course. There is no physical healing left in the world for that man. But spiritually, I think I did a decent job. I wondered why it was so easy for me to heal other people’s souls, and so difficult to heal my own. I haven’t felt like I’ve been healing at all, lately.  I thought of him calling me an angel. It reminded me of my angels, the one’s I pray to, the one’s I meditate to, the one’s I think of when I’m feeling broken. One thought led to another, and I thought of all the internal struggles I’ve been enduring recently, and I realized they are easing. I’ve been putting in my work, my gardening.  I’ve noticed the difficulty in healing myself and realized I had been slacking off on my work. The work I do on my own soul to put the pieces back together. So, I put some work in, and soon realized I’m bouncing back from emotional heartache a lot quicker than I used to. Pieces are starting to be put together again. So, I guess I’m still healing myself, after all…

Two houses later, I happen upon a patient with a cute little dog. He said it was a miniature toy schnauzer. This dog was SO in to me! She was standing on her hind legs, reaching up to me, begging for affection. I spent a few minutes stroking her head, her eyes steadily gazing into mine. She reminded me of this therapy dog I used to know, Frank. I had an emotionally intimate relationship with Frank. I swear, I think I can feel love from dogs easier than I can feel love from people. So, I felt an instant connection to this dog. I ask the patient what her name is, as I continue gazing into her eyes, feeling peaceful. He smiles at me and replies, “Angel”.

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Aug. 12/17

 

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Removing triggers

A year ago this month, I was filling in my family on my childhood trauma. A story I’d held inside for over 30 years. A story that shaped every aspect of my being, without me even knowing it. A story I turned around in my brain all those years to make it more bearable, without even knowing it.  A story that guided my actions, my choices, my partners…without me even knowing it. A story that I was terrified to tell, ashamed to tell…yet knew I had to tell, all at the same time.  A story that, once told, left me in pieces. Broken, jagged, seemingly irreparable pieces. It’s funny to read that, because I was obviously broken and jagged well before telling. I just didn’t notice. Well, no, that’s not true, either. I always noticed I was broken, I guess I just didn’t know why. I never knew how to connect the dots.  Now I know.

I grew up inherently knowing I was damaged. I knew I was not like other kids. I knew that joy, popularity, adoration, attention, love and the like went to other kids and didn’t come to me. I think it’s a little strange now, but I never wondered why it didn’t come to me. I just knew it wasn’t in the cards. It wasn’t my lot in life and I sort of accepted it as “It is what it is”.  Wow, writing this now, and knowing a child felt this way is actually quite sad. I still have a hard time connecting that child to me. I wonder why I wasn’t sad about it?  Maybe I was and I don’t remember. It’s easy to block things out that don’t feel good, especially being a kid like I was. I can remember trying to be invisible… a lot. Whether it was around kids I knew I didn’t belong with, or at family gatherings, or even when I was by myself…I tried to be invisible. Maybe it’s because if I became invisible on my own, it wouldn’t be as sad as the reality of being invisible to others? I know I always felt like a burden, and being invisible is probably the best way to not be a burden, right? I can’t say I’ll ever find the answer to that one…

I carried that inherent knowledge of being damaged right up to adulthood. And when you know you’re damaged, you are ashamed of it. Not sure why, but they seem to go hand in hand. Not fair, but what is?  By then, I had learned how to character play. From the outside, it looked like I had it going on! Friends, outgoing, social…complete opposite of that invisible girl.  Just on the outside, though. Hell, I carried that shit right up until last year. I dropped the charade and was honest about who I was for the first time in my life. It wasn’t pretty. But it was real. God, it was downright ugly. I can vividly remember people’s look of disgust when I got to the juicy part. Not so much my friends, because they didn’t personally know the players, but definitely for my family. It was like a “shock and awe” campaign.  Most of them looked down and away, with what looked like a slight wave of nausea across their faces. Geez, no wonder I felt ashamed. They only had to hear the story…I had to live it. Makes sense, doesn’t it?  I can remember waiting, terrified, to hear what they would say. Waiting for them to judge me. No one did. At least, no out loud. I’ll never know for sure what they think inside. The looks on their faces, though…

Everyone seemed pretty supportive, which helped ease that heavy load of shame. How one can spend their entire life carrying that shit around and not know it, I have no idea. But you sure as hell notice when it’s gone! The more I told the story, the more it became just that… a story. I was eventually able to tell it without crying, without trembling, without fearing being judged, without feeling nausea. I removed thoughts, scenarios and people from my life that triggered me and things started falling into place. The shame and doubt slowly became replaced with feelings of worth and confidence. I became empowered. I accepted things for what they were. No one was ever going to make me feel used or unworthy again! It suddenly seemed easy. And there, my friends, lies the mistake….

The problem with my technique is, you can’t remove thoughts, scenarios and people who trigger you. Sure, you can temporarily avoid them, but you can’t remove them. And when your triggers involve family, forget about it. And when your triggers involve family, you might as well forget about it. They find their way back, in one form or another. Some are more camouflaged than others, but they all find their way back in, eventually. Sometimes, they hide in people you would never guess. Removing the triggers is not what’s easy at all. It’s them sneaking back to you, that’s what’s easy. I didn’t even realize that’s what was happening. How could I not realize it? These feelings of angst, shame, rejection, fear… they are supposed to be gone. Empowered people don’t feel those things, right? For me, emotions almost seem like a trigger. When people or scenarios result in me feeling a certain way (typically unworthy or unimportant), I start to spiral. Weird, isn’t it?

I had a nightmare last night. The first one since last summer. I was home alone and I was getting robbed. Masked men were at each window. I can usually tell when I’m dreaming, but not with this one. Just like the ones I had last summer. Scary as shit and so freaking  real. In the dream, I knew they were going to kill me. I could see a scene of my father’s house, and all of my family was over there for a birthday party. I was trying to figure out how to get out of my house before the men got to me, and I could somehow hear my family talking at the party at the same time, about how dramatic I was being. Even though I was scared to death of these men about to attack me, I also questioned myself. “WAS I making too big of a deal about this?”  Jesus, I was embarrassed and ashamed, at the same time I was about to get killed. Sounds about right…

So, now I have to figure out how to get rid of this stuff….these feelings. I don’t want my head to be swirling anymore. I did enough of that last year. Intellectually, I understand all of this. I understand that I need to reduce my expectations and learn to accept things for what they are. I need to learn I can’t make people act or feel the way I need them to. That sounds easy enough. I actually have been able to do that for most of the past year. Suddenly, though, I’m finding that talent to be missing. I DO have expectations. I DO need people to treat me the way I need to be treated. It DOES affect me when they don’t. Shit. How do I get back to where those things don’t happen? I don’t want those needs. I had acceptance, and it’s gone.  I felt lovable and now it’s gone. And it hurts. And it’s confusing. And it’s scary. And it’s sad…

And the most ironic part of all this? If I heard this story coming from someone else, I would have the answers. Why is it so much easier to heal others and not myself?

 

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Highlight of her day

Today was my first day back at work after a week’s vacation. That first day back always sucks, especially if it’s on a Saturday.  Good thing I enjoy my job, and it was not beach weather, so wasn’t as horrible as it could have been.

I actually had a great work day. One of my patient’s was new to me. She’d come home from the hospital a few days ago and was doing well. As I powered up my computer and got things settled, she pointed out a sparrow on her deck railing. It looked as though it lifted her spirits to see it. I told her, “Birds are messengers, you know”. She looked at me wide-eyed. “Really?” She looked like her eyes were tearing up a bit. I never really know who I should say stuff like that to, but it seems to be working out lately.  She said, “I feel like there’s something Native Americans make out of feathers and hang on their walls”. I told her they were dream catchers. I explained the story of the web catching the bad thoughts before they can get inside your soul, while the feathers allow the good thoughts to travel down them into you. I told her I was Native American and had actually just made a dream catcher a few days ago for a friend who was struggling with thoughts…(not something I normally do…only my second one ever). She went on to tell me of her daughter’s sudden passing a few years ago, and showed me the shrine in her living room for her. I asked if she had ever found any feathers outside on her deck and she said no. She lives in an assisted living building. We poked around on the deck for a few minutes, and I realized we hadn’t done any of our nursing tasks, so said, “OK, let’s get to work here. I can’t be talking to you about feathers all day”. She replied, “But it’s the highlight of my day”. She had a yearning, almost pleading look. I paused and smiled softly at her. Her daughter has been gone two years now, but I know she is still grieving. I can imagine you never stop grieving the loss of a child.

I went about taking care of my nursing tasks….listening to her heart and lungs, teaching her about her medications, answering questions, etc. I glanced around the room and happened to notice a vase with many feathers in it. I asked about them and she said she’d picked them up on the grounds of the facility she lives in. I told her, “So, you’ve been getting messages this whole time, and just haven’t noticed”. She smiled and cried at the same time. “I guess I have”. I could see her connecting with her daughter as she said that. She told me she feels her daughter around her frequently, especially at the door to her deck. I said, “Then that means she’s there.” She nodded. We looked at her feather collection together. They were mostly white and gray ones, but two from a Blue Jay. I’ve found 3 Blue Jay feathers over the past few weeks, and I’ve never found them before in my life. I thought that was kind of interesting.

I wrapped up the visit, and she again told me it was the highlight of her day. I could tell she wanted me to stay longer, and if I didn’t have a full day ahead of me, I probably would have.  I think it’s pretty cool that talking about feathers can make someone feel so good, especially after they were feeling so bad. I went about my day and visited 3 more people. Upon leaving the 3rd one, I found a Blue Jay feather in the grass, right in my path…and I smiled. I’m at the point where messages bring me joy, even when I don’t know what they mean. Just like with her, messages can make me feel so good, even after I’ve been feeling so bad.

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Aug. 5/17

 

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Take me home

I’m sitting here in the parking lot of a shopping plaza dictating this blog post to my phone. I can’t say I’ve ever done this before, so we’ll see how it goes…

I was driving through town listening to my country music playlist, which probably has a good 50 songs on it. You just never know what you’re going to get when you step inside my Venza…Fleetwood Mac, Kenny Loggins, Gladys Knight, Missy Elliott…you gotta be flexible riding with me. I tend to flip-flop between genres, depending on my mood. I just got my hair cut and colored this afternoon and was feeling pretty good about myself. Nothing like belting out a Miranda Lambert song while you’ve got good hair. I turn into this parking lot I’m sitting in now, and the classic “Take me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver comes on. I added this to my playlist years ago, because it reminds me of my dad. I must have been about five or six when we were on a road trip. I can’t recall where we were going, just that it was out of state and took days, or so it seemed. Funny how I can’t remember the vacation, and only remember this part of the drive. The things that make an impression in your brain…

My dad was driving his old blue pick up truck which had a cab on the back of it. I’m assuming my brother and sister were lying down in the back bed of the truck, because that’s how people rolled back then…safety was for sissies. We didn’t even have seatbelts back then. I can remember sitting in the front passenger seat as my mom snoozed, sprawled out in the backseat. I was kneeling and looking at my dad as he drove. We must of been out in the boondocks because there was only one station to listen to and there was so much interference, he ended up turning it off for several hours. For some reason, I had this John Denver song in my head. It must’ve been the last song played on the radio. Unfortunately for my dad, I only knew the chorus. And like a typical five or six-year-old, I was repetitious. I sang that damn chorus for a good four or five hours…”Country roooooads…..take me hommmmme….to the plaaaaaace…..I belonnnnnng…West Virginia, mountain mommaaaa….take me hommmme….country roads”. I remember my dad looking at me after an hour or so, saying “Don’t you know any other songs?” I kept on singing it. We joked about that for years. Actually, we still occasionally do…when I happen to get to see him.

So, the song comes on as I’m pulling in to the parking lot. And just like that, I go from empowered, good hair rocker to that little girl in the pickup truck. As soon as I hear the first few notes, I smile…because damn, this is one great memory from my childhood. And lately, I have spent so much of my life thinking of the bad childhood memories. As I smile, I’m that little girl, singing to her dad. Laughing. Happy. Content. God, it was so easy back then. All I had to do was be a little girl spending time with her dad. Why did it have to become more complicated than that? It’s not easy anymore. Next thing you know, I’m crying and I haven’t even parked my car. I’m crying because it seems like so long ago. I guess it was. 40 years ago. I wish I could feel that way again…able to relate to that song…“to the place I belong”. I don’t even know where that place is anymore. Jesus, if I knew my life was going to turn out the way it did, I would have taken more advantage of those easy moments with my dad. I had no idea they were so fleeting. 

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Things turn icky

I’m messy. I just can’t help it. I think it’s genetic. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to live in a clean and organized home, but I just can’t do it. I hold on to things and they pile up. Things get buried in the fridge and turn icky. I put things down where they don’t belong, thinking I’ll put it away later…which never happens. I don’t know why. I guess I just get distracted with other things and before you know it, another day has gone by and the pile of clean laundry I threw in the corner of my closet (because I was having company and everyone who knows me knows they are not allowed in my room because that’s where I pile everything when I “clean up” and they know damn well not to push me on that ) is still there. Buried under two other piles of clean laundry I tossed in there. And the floor is lined with stacks of mail and papers and kids report cards and school projects and photos and books and…. Ugh.

Not to mention, I live on Cape Cod and I’ve got so many better things to do with my free time during our oh so short summer…

Sometimes, though…I get motivated. Not the kind of motivated I get when I’m having company and I need to hide things, but the kind of motivated where I am ready to tackle one of those projects.  Unfortunately, it usually takes me feeling frustrated or pissed off to find this motivation. I’m dealing with a bit of an emotional speed bump right now, which makes me feel things I’ve been trying to shed from my soul all year…so I found myself cleaning out my pantry this evening. I filled up a full-sized trash bag, throwing out expired crackers, stale cereal, empty boxes (why my boys can’t comprehend how tricky it is when they leave an empty box in there…how am I supposed to know we need more? I don’t have x-ray vision.) I also ran a few loads of laundry and hung up all those piles of clothes in my closet. I felt accomplished. As I scurried around, I had to chuckle a bit. All I could think of was my marriage. Every time my ex-husband made me feel bad, I found myself filled with a powerful frustration which, of course, never got validated and never had anywhere to go. So, I would clean. After a while, he knew if he saw me cleaning at eight o’clock at night, he knew he was in trouble. Hell hath no fury like a scorned woman, I said to myself tonight. And that made me laugh, so there’s my sliver lining.

As I hung up my clothes, I stopped laughing. I came across a few items that reminded me of feelings I hate. I saw what used to be one of my favorite skirts. It’s a blue and white striped maxi, kind of nautical looking. As I looked at it, I remembered the last time I wore it. I had participated on a town committee last year and the local paper printed a photo of the members. I was the only female on the board. I paired the skirt with a navy blouse and thought it made a great business-casual look. I was excited to be on the board, even though it didn’t turn out quite as I had imagined (which is a misogynistic post for another day), and was also excited to have my photo in the paper. This was during the time when my husband and I were negotiating about getting a divorce. We were being fairly nice to each other, as he didn’t want to move out. I had sort of stopped sharing things with him at that point, as he had no clue on how to validate me and I had been through so much that spring that I just felt it was easier to keep things to myself. For some reason, I decided to share that day. I suppose it’s because he had been being so nice to me. I mentioned I made “the front page”, jokingly, as it’s just a tiny, local town paper. We both smiled at the joke. He picked up the paper and said, “Well, there she is!”  It seemed like it was a pleasant interaction between us, which I easily welcomed, after all we had been going through. He then held the paper up and followed with, “Well, it’s not the most flattering photo of you, now, is it...” with an expression on his face that I probably can’t describe, but just trust me…it matched his words. And just like that, I felt small again. God, I hate feeling small. I felt myself shrinking, trying to disappear. However, I did just go through several months of therapy, and had been working so very hard on myself, going to meditation, working on opening my Chakras…so I found my voice and used it. “You’re so rude”, I said, calmly. He got defensive and said something like, “Oh, so now you’re going to be mad at me?  You’re so sensitive. It’s just a comment, Jami. People say these things, you know.” We went back and forth about it, with me telling him how small he makes me feel and how people certainly do not say things like that, and him telling me how it’s all my fault for being so sensitive. I held my ground and he held his, and we kept that argument going until the next day, when he finally apologized (an apology I did not accept, FYI). Needless to say, I haven’t worn it since.

I know, you’re all going to tell me I should say “Screw him” and wear that skirt, but I just can’t. Maybe some day, but I just don’t like being reminded of feeling small, because when I’m reminded…I feel it. It fills me up and is real. It comes back so easily…like riding a bike.

So, the skirt will stay in there, along with the hat I bought on vacation and only wore once because he laughed at it all afternoon. I won’t throw them away, because I want to get to the point where I can wear them and not feel small. I know I’ll get there, some day….

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS July 8/17

 

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Nice things

Working on yourself can really suck. It’s so hard…like sweaty, dirty, hot kind of work. Like gardening. I fucking hate gardening. I love to have pretty flowers and fresh vegetables, but the work it requires to get those things? Forget it! Much easier just to buy them and let someone else do the dirty work. But working on yourself doesn’t roll that way. In this line of work, you are the only gardener in town. Only you can create the harvest. Sure, you can consult some experts in different areas… maybe someone who specializes in weed control, or another who can teach you how to water your soil properly…but in the end, it’s really up to you to do the work. Every. Damn. Day. Seriously, it doesn’t stop. You get into your groove, sweating away, pulling up weed after weed, nurturing your garden with water, sun…building fences to keep pesky animals out, you know…the ones who want to steal your flowers, or even just stomp on them for no good reason. You get into that groove of sweaty work, even though it sucks. Weeks go by and nothing grows, but you keep toiling away, because that lady at the garden center promised you things would grow if you stayed the course. And just when you start thinking about quitting and going back to the grocery store, you spy a little flower. It’s tiny, and the average person might just walk right on by and not even notice it, buy you notice it. It looks so fragile to you, so you do whatever you can to protect it. You become a fierce guardian of this little bloom. You become badass. Next thing you know, the pesky animals know about this badass guardian, and they don’t come around anymore, so more flowers start to bloom. Before you know it, you’ve got yourself a damn garden! You feel empowered. Hard work really does pay off!

The problem is, you get kind of distracted after a while. The flowers are thriving now, and there’s no threat in sight, so you decide to sit on the deck for a bit and relax… you know, because you’re so badass. You start spending your weekends socializing instead of digging, because really…a garden this successful doesn’t need constant attention, right? After a few weeks, you notice a couple of weeds. You realize it’s because you’ve been slacking off, so you get right back into your work routine. At this point, it’s pretty easy to get rid of them. It’s hardly even work anymore. Before you know it, you’re right back to sitting on the deck with your friends, going out and living life…taking chances on things you’d never had the nerve to before. That’s what empowerment does to you…it makes you brave. And maybe sometimes, a little cocky. It doesn’t take much time at all before you find yourself in a situation you think you deserve, because hey...you earned it after doing all this work, right? And maybe you do deserve it, but here’s the thing…maybe you don’t. Or maybe you let your expectations get a little too high. Or maybe you think you’re ready for something big, but really… you’re just not ready. You want to be ready, but there’s just too much gardening to do. You took some time off from the hard work and got yourself into a really distracting situation…and you got yourself this really nice thing…and now the weeds are everywhere. They’re so overgrown, they engulf whatever it is that was distracting you from them. Like they are getting revenge or something. And this is why you can’t have nice things….

Or maybe it’s because all the work in the world is not enough to fix what is wrong with you…

 

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Raining outside my bubble

I’ve been living in a comfy bubble for the past 8 months. It was soft and sweet and comforted me. I crafted this bubble out of people and activities that nourish my soul. It’s worked pretty well for me. I’ve been happy. I’ve grown from a compact seed to a blooming flower in there. It’s like a perfect greenhouse…plenty of sunlight and water and full-time gardeners to tend to my flowers and pull my weeds with me. I’ve become empowered and bold inside this nifty garden bubble of mine. I healed inside this bubble.

The thing is, bubbles are fragile. Everyone knows that. As soon as it comes in contact with something sharp, it pops. So, what on Earth made me think I could get away with living in one? My cozy little bubble popped this week. Just like that. It came in contact with something very jagged that I had tried to keep way out in the periphery.  You think I would’ve seen this jagged thing coming, seeing how bubbles are transparent. Was I too busy having a good time with my gardeners? I wonder if maybe I did know it was coming, but just looked the other way…wishing it away.  Pretending it wouldn’t find its way in…

So, my bubble popped and the sunshine went away. Easy as that. And, the sun was replaced with a dark cloud, right over my head. A cloud that rained down on me. All of a sudden, there were weeds growing everywhere. My gardeners tried to keep up with them, but I shooed them away. I hated those weeds and knew no one really wanted to be around them.  I found myself standing there alone, in a pile of weeds, in the rain…missing my garden.

So, I did what any other recently healed woman would do in this situation. I cried. A lot. And I sat under that storm cloud all week and just let it rain all over me. It got to the point where I couldn’t figure out where the rain ended and my tears started. They just blended into one giant flood of emotions… anger, sadness, worthlessness, blame, shame, insecurity…I waded around in that flood and then just floated in it, letting it soak in to my core. This wasn’t my first rodeo in this kind of emotional flood. I think back to my good friend, Mary, telling me last summer, as I was bitter about this same exact subject…”Sometimes, you’ve just got to sit in your shit”. I didn’t really understand what she meant at the time, but I figured it out. Sometimes, life just sucks. Period. You can do all the motivational, inspiring speaking you want on the subject, but it still sucks. And sometimes, you just need to honor your emotions, without blaming or judging yourself for having them. Just sit in your shit for a while. Let the rain soak you to the bone.  Feel your feelings. Eventually, the sun starts shining again, even if just a peek…and you slowly start to dry off…

So now, I just have to figure out life outside the bubble…

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS June 24/17

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

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Soul Signs

I believe in the Universe giving signs.  I used to be a skeptic, but after the year I’ve had, there’s just no doubt. I was sort of bombarded with them as I started processing my life and was kind of in awe of them. I wonder if they’ve been here all along and I just never noticed them. You can spend an entire lifetime being asleep and not realizing it. Once you start to wake up, you notice things.

The tricky thing about signs is, you can never be sure if they are a good sign or a bad sign, or what exactly the sign is telling you to do. It’s too bad they aren’t like road signs, with the information clearly stated in legible writing, telling you exactly what you’re supposed to be doing and which direction to turn… but it just doesn’t work that way. My signs come in forms like hawks, deer, synchronicity, “coincidences” …and it’s up to me to figure out which direction they’re pointing me in.  It’s also up to me to figure out if they’re even a sign at all.  Like, what if that really is just a plain old hawk and I made a life decision based on it flying over my car?? Well, really…I don’t make life decisions based on signs. It’s more like they give me clarity by making me pause… and help me step back and take a look at what’s really going on in my life, at what’s going on in my soul. It seems like I always already have the answer within me and just need to see it.  And once I’m able to see the answer I’ve had inside me all this time, I realize I never really needed that sign, after all. The answer becomes a knowing.

I think we all have the answers we seek, right inside our souls. Maybe it’s just that we are resistant to seeing them because seeing the path we need to take is not always the easiest thing to do. Sometimes, the only way out of our pain is by walking directly through our pain, and its human nature to want to avoid walking directly into pain, isn’t it?  If you came across a road sign that said, “Turn left for pain”, would you turn left? Hell no! But, if you noticed a deer in your back yard, or met a sweet old woman who happened to collect hawk feathers on the same day your father met her….or even something more subtle, like finding a lost poem… you might find yourself taking that left turn, after all.

 

 

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

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS June 17/17

 

 

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Admitting vulnerability

Sometimes, admitting something can be the hardest thing you ever have to do.  Like on Dateline NBC, there’s always this regular, normal husband who ends up hiring someone to murder his wife because he’s afraid she’ll find out about him cheating on her or being a gambling addict or he lost his job. The guy actually thinks KILLING someone is easier than admitting to whatever crappy thing he’s done.  Damn, that shows you just how powerful shame can be. Except those guys don’t get it, because really, the way to rid yourself of shame is by doing the opposite…not silencing it, but outing it.

I’ve spent the past year outing all of my shame, and let me tell you…it’s NOT easy! I can’t say I’d rather kill someone instead, but there were definitely plenty of other things I would rather have been doing. I didn’t do them, though. I’m pretty sure sharing my shame was the most difficult, yet most freeing and empowering thing I’ve ever done.  Once you admit something, out loud…something that’s been eating away at your soul even though you’ve been ignoring the shit out of it…it doesn’t own you anymore. No one can shame you for something you OWN, you know? I kept saying, “No one can be harsher than my own inner critic, so BRING IT ON!”

I’ve poured the contents of my soul all over this blog, shared them with family, friends and strangers…and I’m talking HEAVY stuff.  I figured go big or go home.  It’s funny, though…now that I’m moving into new territories in my life, I’m finding I still have things inside me that are hard to admit to. And I’m realizing it’s not because they are shame based. It’s because I feel vulnerable. Being vulnerable is scary. It’s so scary, I don’t even want to admit to the vulnerability. That “pink cloud” effect of last year’s epic sharing has started to wear off. I don’t feel so much like Wonder Woman anymore. I feel like a regular woman, whatever that is…

 

 

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

 

 

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How I escaped from my cocoon while running a business and raising two kids without completely losing my mind

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