Tag Archives: love

Mr. Tin Man

I cried at the gas station today. Just a little. It came out of nowhere, I think. Well, I’m sure all the country music I’m listening to isn’t helping. All in all, I think I’m doing pretty damn well. I’m continuing to make impacts with my patients at work. I’m loving having routines again with the boys being back at school. Family dinners are the best! I’m keeping social with my good friends, the one’s who love me and check in on me and value me. I’m meditating, and attending my meditation class every week. I’m going to therapy, working on getting back to being happy just being me. I’m getting there. But today, as I’m driving around to see my last few patients, I became sad. For some reason, I started thinking those stupid unlovable thoughts again. I hate them. Why can’t they just stay away? I’m doing EVERYTHING I’m supposed to be doing to rid myself of them. Fake it till you make it, then fake it some more, I guess.

I’m standing there, pumping gas, with one more patient to see. The sun is shining warmly. There’s hardly any wind. A perfect afternoon to sneak a few hours in on the boat. But work is work and you just can’t predict how long it’s going to take, and today took longer. That’s probably another thing contributing to my sadness…putting the boat away soon. For all I know, I could’ve had my last day out there already. So anyway, I’m standing there, pumping the gas, and I see a man across the way, finishing fueling up. I look at him. He glances at me and carries on. Nothing special about it. Just an average guy who happened to be pumping gas at the same time as me. Next thing you know, I’m crying. Flooded with the thoughts of my inner critic, or inner child, or whoever the hell it is that knows I’m never going to find the love I’ve been craving my entire life. Boom, back in an instant. I’m swallowing hard, blinking away the tears, wondering why the fuck I’m crying at the gas pump over love. God, what is going on with me? Last year, I was perfectly fine to never have even a conversation with another man again, and now I’m aching with emptiness at the knowing of it’s not ever happening for me.

I think my problem is that I finally opened my heart enough to admit I wanted it to be loved. Yeah, I think that’s it. It’s easier to not want love when you seal that sucker up. Safer. You’re protected that way.

But no, I had to go and open the damn thing up, exposing its vulnerability. And when you open it up, and nothing happens, it’s a weird kind of fragility. It kind of starts to close and harden, like it’s going to heal,  but not like the old shell. Just a light scabbing occurs, and as soon as you move, it cracks open again. And it bleeds…right out your eyes and down your cheeks at the gas station. So yeah, I suppose if I just stay home, lying around, doing nothing with anyone, just being still, stuffing it all down, numbing myself with TV or Facebook or nothing…it might harden enough to last. Harden, mind you. Not heal. Big difference. Because I don’t want to harden my heart. That’s armor. Protects you enough, but doesn’t let anything in at all. I also don’t want it to be raw and hurting, either. Because then, when nothing comes in at all, it burns. Neither one is significant of good living. What I truly want is for this heart to be loved and nurtured and adored and held gently. I want it to be needed. I want it to be healed. God, that’s vulnerable just to admit, isn’t it? To acknowledge I want my heart to be loved, yet admit it isn’t? Admit it hasn’t ever? Admit it most likely never will be? Not the way I need it to be. I’ve learned that lesson. Excessively. Doesn’t mean I won’t still try, even though I know the lesson. I just don’t like the alternative. Which I guess is why I cried today. I don’t like this alternative at all, and apparently, I’m totally onto the fact that I’m faking it. Damn.

I’m getting better, though. I kind of love myself enough to know what I deserve and not to take less, just because that’s all that’s offered. Kind of.

I’m turning 46 this year. I think that’s kind of a long time to go without being loved. Or loved in the right way. I know some people never find love. Never have children. Never got to grow up having family. So many of us never find what we yearn for. I’ve been told by just about every man I’ve been with that I want too much. I always felt so ashamed for that, trying to figure out how to stop being so needy and how to just be happy for what’s offered to me. I’m trying to not do that anymore. Though there’s not really any men in my life to try it on, so I guess the “trying” part will have to wait. However, I’ve just recently discovered the concept of “attachment types” and let me tell you, it’s opened my eyes. (Thank you, Deborah!) You can read about them here. I’ve got to figure out how to stop being attracted to these “avoidance” types. Or, figure out how to change myself to a “secure” type. Not happening any time soon, I’m sure. In the meantime, I’m filling my days  with work, my kids and my friends. (I’ve got my drum lessons in an hour…working on a Metallica song!) Trying to fill up as much of the day as I can so I don’t notice what’s lurking. But I notice, anyway. Funny how you can be surrounded by people and still feel lonely. I know I won’t be able to stay this way forever. It will either harden back up, or it will just break. So for now, I’m just protecting it and loving it the best I can, and hoping someday, my love for myself will be enough.

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Vulnerability: Part 2

Well, you know shit’s going down when I write two posts in a week…

My last post was about the power and beauty of being vulnerable. I talked about how that’s the only way to truly connect with people…to be real, open and honest about who you are and how you feel. I talked about how it’s so hard to do, because it’s risky. You risk having your heart stepped on if you hold it out to someone in wide open vulnerability. But, if you want someone to hold your heart and nurture it, then you gotta pull it out and cross your fingers.  It’s the only way to feel love…by being vulnerable and putting it out there.

Yeah, it’s risky for sure. It takes courage, no doubt about it. You actually have to be pretty damn brave to be vulnerable. Well, to consciously be vulnerable.  You don’t see weak sissies holding their hearts out there, all exposed, all vulnerable and shit. Nah, they wall off their hearts like a fortress. No one’s getting anywhere NEAR that tender spot.  And if they do become vulnerable, it wasn’t on purpose. Someone snuck up on them. It’s easy to protect yourself by not holding out hope to avoid disappointment. Who wants to feel the pain of a broken heart? Well, apparently…I do. Over and over and over again.

Jesus, then that must mean I’m a fucking warrior.

I don’t feel like a warrior right now. I feel like a baby deer that got hit in the middle of a dark road, and the driver stopped, but didn’t take it to the vet. He just looked at that broken, damaged deer…feeling sorry for it, but at the same time, blaming it for running in front of his car like that. I mean, why would someone take a deer to the vet? It’s just a deer. There’s millions of deer out there, and they get hurt and die slow deaths every day. Why go out of your way to save this one? Sure, the driver might start to feel a little guilty, but he pushes it out of his mind fairly easily. Come one now, all he was doing was driving along. It’s not his fault the deer got in the way.  Deer are stupid…

OK, that analogy got a bit off track, but you get the gist…

So, I’m walking that oh so thin tightrope right now, where one side is me falling into the pit of despair. You know, the place of shame and self-doubt, the place where I realize it’s not all these other people who have the problem…it’s me. I’m the damaged one.  The place where I feel pretty damn comfortable admitting that I’m not good enough. That I’m too needy. That if I just say it a different way, or if I just act a different way, then the person I just handed my heart to will pick it up and love it. And the other side of the tightrope is where I feel empowered and worthy of someone taking me to the damn vet after they accidentally run me over. Or maybe I’ll just take myself to the damn vet. Maybe I don’t need a driver at all! My problem is that I can’t consistently stay on either side. I just keep swinging back and forth between the two, and if you don’t pay close enough attention to what I’m doing, you might think I’m bat-shit crazy. So pay attention.

Tonight, I had a revelation. I thought about how I work so hard to heal people. How I have these amazing experiences where I make people feel like they matter, where I don’t judge, where I accept things for what they are.  People tell me all the time how compassionate and loving I am when they hear these stories, or get to experience them first hand. They tell me I am special, loved and worthy. But I’m wondering tonight…am I only doing those amazing things with people to overcompensate for what’s wrong with me? If I create these experiences with my patients, with strangers on the street, with my friends…experiences that result in people accepting my love and giving it back in return…does that make up for the other people in my life who don’t want my love, the people who can’t seem  love me? Is that why I’m doing it all? Am I trying to create love in places it wouldn’t normally exist, in order to ease the pain of it not existing where it should? Do I think this will make me feel less “less than”? Does it even matter? I think it might. Or maybe not. Lately, I’ve been asking what it is about me that keeps love just out of reach. It must be something about me, as I end up repeating the same scenario over and over and over. Sure, these people like me. They actually think I’m kind of great, in certain scenarios. But, as soon as I ask for too much, I’m not so great anymore. Maybe I want that kind of connection so badly, people just can’t handle the amount of love I have to give. I really do have a lot of love to give. Maybe too much. Maybe I’m too intense, and that type of connection I’m craving really doesn’t exist anywhere, so I’m setting myself up for failure by even wishing for it. Maybe I really am too demanding. Maybe I should tone it down a bit. All of it. My expectations. My passion. My needs. My wants. My desires. My love. If I did that, then maybe I could get something, and maybe getting something is better than getting nothing. Does anyone ever really get more than something? Does that really exist?

Wow, that’s almost kind of easy to talk myself into. Of course it is…that’s how I’ve rolled my entire life. How’d that work out for me so far? Not so good. Yet, I’m finding myself leaning towards doing it again tonight…

Yeah….I think maybe I’ll hold out hope for a little bit longer. At least, that’s how I feel right this minute. Tomorrow, I might beat myself up again, but right now I think I want to hold on to the idea that I’m not craving something that’s just a fairy tale. Sure, I still feel like that baby deer, alone, bleeding and crying in the middle of a dark road. The driver has since moved on to wherever he was going. People feel bad when they hit a deer, but they tend to forget about it once they go back to their daily routine. Oh, and you know, there’s more than one driver in my life, by the way. One who just keeps circling me from time to time. “Oh, here he comes….oh, nope…he’s leaving again….” I’m just going to have to get used to the fact that he isn’t ever going to stop long enough for me. It sucks, but it is what it is. All I can do is feel the pain, for as long as I need to, and hopefully find myself dancing in the woods again. Ha ha…that’s so easy to SAY, isn’t it???  Just get used to it. Good one, Jami….

The good thing is, I’ve lied in this road before. I know I will stop bleeding. Eventually, I always do. How do you think I got all these scars? Warriors have scars, they say. So yes, I will try to hold out hope for a little bit longer. Faith is taking that first step, even when you can’t see the staircase. God has a bigger plan for me, and this, right now, bleeding in the road alone…is not it. There’s got to be someone out there who’s searching for an intensely loving, previously traumatized, tightrope walking deer, right?

 

 

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Whether family or strangers

My stepfather’s memorial service was today. Not many in attendance, as we expected. He kind of kept to himself and never made any friends around here. My mom was enough for him. Hell, even I didn’t really get to know him until he was dying. Once I did, I regretted not getting to know him in that intimate way earlier. I had so much time to do it,  but I just didn’t. I spent the past few weeks getting things together for the service. I collected photos to make a slide show, I gathered stories from his life to include in the obituary, and I went through his military records, hoping to find something to frame and put up in the church. Boy, did I find some things! Letter after letter of recognition from Colonels and Commanders, detailing his outstanding work ethic. Multiple medals and certificates…all kept neatly organized, tucked away in an unassuming black messenger bag in his desk, never to be spoken of. I can’t believe I’ve known this guy for over 20 years and never knew these things about him. I wish I had paid attention. I feel the same way about not recognizing the love he and my mom shared, when it was right in front of my face all these years.

I had a patient the other day….this old guy who’s starting to decline in his health status, basically just due to old age. Such a sweetheart. Last week, he told me the story of how he met his wife, talking about them going to different states to finish school and still stayed in love, got married and he went off to war. I saw him again a few days ago, and as I was leaving, he started to tell me the same story. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he’d already told me, but I did have 5 other patients to see, so I inched towards the door as he spoke. I realized something familiar about his story. It reminded me of my grandmother, and how she used to repeat the same story, over and over and over, as she neared the end of her life. It was of how she met my grandfather and the story of them getting married. This guy was telling me the same thing. He needed someone to hear it, I think, so the story would be remembered. That’s important information, you know. So, I inched back towards him and listened to the rest, smiling at the love in his face as he recalled his sweetheart. It came time go again, and I happened to notice a unique cane by his door. It had an American Bald Eagle carved into the handle, and his name down the shaft, along with the dates of World War Two and his Air Force picture embossed on it. Damn, this guy is a WWII vet and I didn’t even know it. These guys are almost gone. I’m so lucky to be able to come across them at work, because it won’t be long before there are none left to tell us stories. He talked about the different bombers he flew, and where he went. He could have talked all day,  and I could have listened, but I did have to go. I told him my stepfather was a Vietnam Vet in the Air Force and he nodded at me. Sometimes, you don’t need words.

I’ve been thinking about him every day since…especially today. The Air Force Honor Guard folded the flag and played Taps at the service. I sat next to my mom as they presented the flag to her. She cried and trembled the whole time. God, she loved that man so much. Just like my patient loved his wife, and my grandmother loved my grandfather. My mom has been telling us the story of how she fell in love with him a lot lately.  These love stories are everywhere, and I just never noticed them. I didn’t get it. I think it might be because I truly didn’t think love like that was real, because it’s just so foreign to me. I can appreciate them now. I hold them close, whether they are told by family or strangers. I can finally feel them…

 

 

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s stream of social consciousness Saturday.

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An interesting closeness

It’s interesting how close you can get to someone when they’re dying.  In the 13 years I’ve been nursing, I’ve spent my fair share of time keeping people company as they transition to the next chapter. In the hospital, I’d come to know them by listening to their families reminisce. I always told the children, “your dedication now is a testament to how good your parents were“, which always made them smile…and often cry. In the home setting it was better. I could see their decorating style, look at family photos, know what type of car they drove…it was more personal. I got to know them on a closer level. I always enjoyed looking at the photos the most. Obviously, they looked completely different from the person lying in the bed next to me. Healthy skin, smiles, holding grandchildren, serving their country, dancing…it all paints a picture of how they lived and how they loved.

I’ve spent most of the last week at my stepfather’s bedside, letting my mom get some rest. I come over every evening after work and stay till around midnight, when the aide she finally let us arrange arrives. I’ve never really been that close to him. Not that I didn’t like him or anything…we just never bonded. He’s kind of an introvert and tended to avoid social family gatherings. He moved here so she could be near her family when the time came for him to move on. He didn’t want her to grow old all alone, halfway across the country from her kids… where she’s been since I was 9. He’s been chronically ill since I met him. I always felt sort of bad for my mom, not being able to go out and do things…travel, make friends, whatever… ever since they moved here.  I thought she was tied down by him, and I thought that was a shitty deal for her. At the same time, I figured she knew what she was getting in to with him, so sort of washed my hands of it. This past week, though…I got to know him. No, we didn’t have any heart to heart conversations. He’s well past having that ability. It’s hard to understand much of what he says now. I got to know him by watching my mom.

My mom spent the past 10 years slowly transitioning into his caregiver, and it kicked into high gear last month when he fell and broke his hip. The cancer had made his bones so brittle…that was the beginning of the end. He came home in a hospital bed and has been lying in it, in the middle of the living room, ever since…with my mom doting on him. For the first 6 weeks or so, she wouldn’t let us hire any help for him (other than to use the daily aide the hospice provides for an hour). She was devoted. She managed his medications. She re positioned him. She helped him with his urinal. She fed him. As he began to progress through this process, his needs became more frequent. He was ringing the bell for her every half hour during the night. “Please, Mom…let me hire some help”, I pleaded. She was exhausted, but refused. We set up a cot next to his bed so she could lie with him during the night. So, instead of ringing the bell every half hour, he reached over and patted her on the head. She was happy with that. Seeing the two of them, lying side by side in that living room, holding hands through the rails of the hospital bed…that’s when it clicked. God, how could I have not seen this all these years? She doesn’t have a shitty deal at all. She’s one of the lucky ones…she has true love. Something I’ve struggled my entire life to believe even exists, and it’s been right here all along.

His journey is so close to ending. He’s being visited by relatives already on the other side. Or hallucinating. One never knows. Yesterday, as my mom napped, I sat on the side of his bed, holding his hand as he processed whatever crazy shit he was seeing in the corner of the room. I looked at him and thought about how I never know if this is going to be the last time I see him awake or not, and I know my mom must feel that feeling in a much more painful way. I realized I’d never acknowledged his act of love for my mom…moving out here for her. I rubbed his hand. “Hey, Larry. I never did thank you for bringing my mom back here to us. Thank you.” My eyes were stinging, and I swallowed hard to keep from crying. He looked at me, and just gave a slight nod. I wondered if he knew how I resented her all those years for not being here. I never would have been able to let all that go, to create this budding new relationship with her this past year, if he hadn’t moved her here. He rubbed my hand. I think he knew enough.

My heart aches for what my mom is going through. I hate that I used to think her life would be so much easier once she didn’t have to take care of him.

I once was blind, but now I see…

 

 

 

 

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

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS May 6/17

 

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Love breakthrough

Emotional roller-coaster. That’s the best way to describe my feelings this year. Ever since that one ugly marital fight a year ago in September, I’ve felt it all. Well, almost all. Frustration and resentment stemmed from that day, and lasted through couples therapy. It  transformed into sadness and longing as I transitioned into individual therapy to process my Mom/abandonment issues. After I peeled off that Mom layer, all hell broke loose as I processed the sexual, physical and emotional abuse that followed. Fear, shame, sadness, anger, disgust, guilt, depression…basically months of negative emotions. It seemed as though it might never end, but it did. Little by little, I started having happy moments, empowered moments, fun moments. Like a pendulum, I would swing back and forth between the highs and lows, though luckily I could see some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. I kept up my “work”… therapy, writing, meditating, nurturing myself… trying to love myself.  Sometimes, I was just going through the motions, but that’s just part of the process. The positive moments eventually started to outnumber the negative ones, and I turned the corner.  I started believing in myself. I started to feel a little less unworthy. I shed a lot of that heavy guilt and began to learn, appreciate and accept…me. Though, throughout it all, one thing kept bothering me. I couldn’t feel love. Through my painful, exhausting work, I rewired my brain enough to believe that the people around me loved me. I knew it to be true, in my head. I just couldn’t feel it. So many times, I would find myself nervously admitting to my therapist that I couldn’t feel anyone’s love or caring for me, not even my children. I was ashamed of this. It made me feel ungrateful to admit it, like I was not appreciative of the people around me. Especially when I said I couldn’t feel the love from my children. What kind of mother says that? This type. This mother who is nothing but raw, open and honest sitting on that couch. I give therapy…I give me…my all. I’m not wasting time playing games or pretending. I want to be “normal” so desperately, so I tell Susan everything. Everything. Each time I told her this, I looked down in shame, imagining her thinking I’m ungrateful or selfish or whatever it is I’m thinking of myself when I say it. She didn’t.  Each time she reassured me, “It will happen in its own time”, smiling. Smiling, like she knows. I never believed her, because I knew I was different from her other clients. She thinks she knows, but she doesn’t know.

Well, she does know. I’ll be damned if there’s a thing about the human soul this woman does not know. I’ve been not feeling love since…well, since…hmm. I don’t know. I guess that’s a long time. I’m sure I’ve felt it at some point in my life, but right now, I can’t recall. I can remember feeling it, but with conditions. Knowing it was at risk if I didn’t play by the rules, and is that really love? Anyway, it happened. It happened at my butterfly party (see last post). I wasn’t sure if it was the alcohol, or maybe the song, or just that I was with a fun group of people, or I was tired. I felt like I had to blame it on something, because I was afraid to let myself think it really happened. If it really happened, something else would happen to make it not real, or go away, and I would be left feeling empty. Feeling loss. Feeling that hole inside my soul again. It’s much easier to just set myself up to not let the things I want to happen occur, then I won’t be disappointed. But you know what? It happened. And it wasn’t the booze. And it wasn’t the song. I know this because it happened Saturday night, and each day since then, I’ve thought about it…and cried. Oh sure, I cry all the time, but not this type of cry. This one is hard to describe…a feeling of love, joy and belonging, mixed with the sadness of knowing it’s something I’ve been missing for so many years. As I was surrounded by that circle of friends, as I looked into each of their eyes as they smiled and sang to me, I felt it. I felt love and I cried, because I honestly thought it was just never in the cards for me to feel that…to have people want to give me that. This is what I’ve been working on all year.  I went from a girl who felt she didn’t deserve a damn thing in life… not love, not kids, not attention, not even going to therapy, to a girl who felt she deserved to throw herself a birthday party. A party to acknowledge her freedom from the heavy shame she’d been carrying around from her childhood. A party to acknowledge her bravery in getting divorced so she could preserve her true self. I stood right in the middle of that freaking love circle and accepted it all. I felt no shame. That’s when I realized I had accomplished my greatest feat yet…I had learned to love me.

“People smile and tell me I’m the lucky one….”

love-circle

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