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It can all unravel. A family can disintegrate when the oldest generation dies. There doesn't seem to be much to hold it together. The geographic distance is too far to bother with. The communication over the years is too thin to keep track of. It slips the memory. Then the relationship being over, feels like a relief after the guilt subsides. Until the loneliness catches up to you. Memories of happier times collect during the holidays. Games we played, stories shared, photos to pose for. Reinvestment in relationships isn't so hard, is it? Maybe it's a skill that's now passe.
Friend, Nan and I always say, "there's good and bad to everything." Nothing extraordinarily profound by the statement, but a fitting ubiquitous summary of all things. My future book will begin with the sentence, "If I told you all the good points about my former husband, you'd wonder why I left. If I told you about the negative points, you'd wonder why I stayed." Now, my health is like that, too. I"m relatively lucky to be my age and spry. At the same time, worrisome headaches, a speck of blood in sputum, niggling cough. The beginning of the end?
Betty's old boyfriend, from 40 years ago has returned into her life with too much gusto. Betty is still relishing her new independence from all relationships. She thinks, one day, maybe she'll miss family. But not yet. Back to boyfriend, Tom. He's visited her store three times in the last year. He lives in another state. Last time when he showed, Betty invited he and his wife to dinner. "Let's just keep it between us." he said. "What can you say to that?" Betty asks. "I'm not going to lecture him. Judge him. But I want no part of it."
I'm learning to be a teacher. I'm thinking through steps, objectives. I'm creating lesson plans--stuff I'll need to set up, materials we'll use, an extra backup project so that I won't fret if we progress too fast. I feel good about it. If I can learn to be a good teacher, then, I won't hesitate to advertize aggressively to fill up classes. Like a socialite comfortable throwing parties. Right now, I freak out if my advertising is too successful...what if too many come? So many eyes on me. The more uncomfortable I am, the less fun for all.
I have a new dream, born of an advertisement in the weekly paper. The request for (especially) male mentors for at risk youth was serendipitously placed next to the "Pottery Show" happening this week. The down side to being a mentor is that one has to find an activity that is fun. Week after week you knock yourself out to please the kid. Then, subtly, the message that gets communicated is that it's the place or exterior circumstances that are to be valued over the relationship. Solution: male mentors can bring their mentees to learn ceramics together. At The Store!
My cat is discontent with life. Gone are the kitty days of play and the endless discovery of outdoor adventures. He roams the house and complains to me that his life isn't quite good enough. Like a spoiled child, he has developed a defiance disorder, using my reaction to his bad behavior as an entertainment. Behaviors previously extinguished have returned. Also, his PDA level is way down. It's sad for me. Maybe it's just a phase. He still visits me early in the morning, purring atop my chest. Then, impatient for me to awaken, he swats my face, claws out!
A long time ago, 40 years +, Tom and Marleen broke up. They were a 2.5 year couple. Tom was leaving for Oregon to study podiatry. Marleen was sad, but had suffered such anticipatory grief, that by the time he left, she was ok. Pan forward to now. Tom is at Marleen's store. He's nervous. He's funny. He's a self appointed rescuer for Marleen, who is in the process of rescuing herself, finally, from the clutches of a possessive, BPD now ex-husband. Marleen needs time to stand up and assess her strengths, her gains and find her solo feet.
My art lessons are drab. There's no getting around it. I don't have ideas to lend to anyone's creative process. Gail, 11 years old, knows a lot about art. Knows shading, mood, color wheel. I gave her the opportunity to mix acrylic colors on the canvas, make secondary colors, add tint and shade. Then I asked her to cover the whole canvas so there were no blank areas. I hoped she could see some type of image, to use her imagination to fuel her progression. She saw a face. Could she add some details? Expression? What else is there? Nothing.
The Giving Tree. It's a sad children's story that tells about depleting the source nurturance. The tree gives it's leaves, then it's limbs and eventually becomes a stump, with no way to recover. I don't think the message is absorbed by children. The message is unseemly for that age group, also unexpected and therefore put aside and unexamined. Boundaries are a demonstration of self regard. A fundamental principal that everyone has to develop for self preservation and self respect. It stems from learned beliefs; that you are equally as precious as anyone else. Knowing that, you defend yourself, protect yourself.
I have an affinity for scouting threads of conversations. I noticed this today while talking with Marie and Lynn. A topic of interest was generated, then merged down another path. The original subject almost slipped away, but I was able to pull it back. It's probably not an essential skill. Maybe an annoying trait, say, at a party. It's attaching to the past and resisting conversational progress. Marie had shared her "edibles" with us today. Afterward, my memory was like fog. Thoughts kept floating away like a dream. So weird. Compared with alcohol, there was too much awareness, stressed buzz.
I have the vision, I don't have the finesse to pull it off. I don't even have the motivation. I want to do the minimum. I want clean around the edges instead of making a powerful plan. I want to make this a hobby and not disrupt my day with making a plan that makes me nervous. If my motivation lead to a plan that worked, then I'd be called to be busy and working and stressed out to keep the momentum going. If I followed through and pursued each and every idea I have each week, that'd be scary.
In his 65 year old mind, He looks at me as the kinder(?) life he could have had if only...I am the idealized lover, the one that got away, the road not taken and the grass that's greener. He is basking in nostalgia, caught in its quagmire. He thinks I'm "home." I'm the simpler life, without drama, as only the unlived story can be; the fairy tale in which they lived happily...He has lived the wrong story too many times in his mind, and now it comes spilling out at me. I laughed out loud at his folly.
I am taking care of business, let me count the ways! I studied and selected a medical insurance plan. i met with a financial planner, I got the picture hanging rails installed, and both signs up. I knitted my Christmas gift to dear friend, I held the Shibori workshop, I arranged delivery of gifts, I cleaned house, reorganized containers at the store, arranged cat care for vacation, put up Christmas lights, treated myself to a movie, successfully hosted freebie puppet making, created a rough draft of newsletter, made a painting for Expressions of Art. Really, not bad; but never done.
I don't want to do it. There is no reason why. There's nothing else I have to do. There's nothing on TV. The work itself is fun computer work, it will be satisfying when I'm finished. It will relieve the pressure on me to be doing my best. I know how to do it. I don't know why I keep putting it off. Just do it god damn it! I spend the day making a mental list of all the things I could do, should do for the success of this store. It's becoming more apparent that I lack SOMETHING.
I lead in my own art therapy. I take the paint or the crayons to paper and start on a vision I had, or a dream, or an image that could help me make sense of a feeling. I run with the idea and talk a blue streak to her, my therapist, throwing words into the mix of visual conception and the stew of emotions, until I come to a summation that feels like understanding or arriving at a new place on my path. She reminds me that my life has been hard; she doesn't want me to minimize it.
Again. Another round with a Mr. No Man. What's with men? If a man is an aggressive "no" sayer, everyone else backs off because it's simply socially unacceptable and many of us are lost for words. This state is what "No" Men strive for, so that they can fill the void of conversation with their own talk. And since it appears that everyone is listening (really they're internally chanting "shut up") it gives "No" Man a feeling of authority. And because of their brainwashed upbringing, older women think he
an authority! Just for expressing his negativity. Can't stand it.
Guy in Meetup: "The world is changed. We may not like it, but it's the new reality. FB is here to stay. Get with the program--conquer your tech fears." Then from the other side of his mouth, he holds on to his past-infused view of our town. He says, "this town is never going to have an art following. The group is doomed." He says, "I don't like the title of the group. It sounds too Oprah-ish. Hey Mr. Negative, my crystalball is every bit as powerful as yours. Yours doesn't rule my world. Go to hell.
I'm developing a bucket list. Makes me happy to have a goal of pleasures laid in front of me. I want to do a pilgrimage. Saw a PBS special about walking to 88 temples in Japan. It seems magnificent. I almost want to go there and do it myself (or a different one.) I can see that it would be rewarding to meet people along the way, going toward the same goal, building camaraderie, yet being able to have a silent day as one needs. 750 mile journey by foot. Maybe bike? There are 10 great pilgrimages listed by Google.
Planning a trip to Washington, DC! I was last there in high school. The Vietnam War Memorial wasn't there yet, nor the MLK statue. I'm meeting a friend. We're good traveling buddies. We used to meet somewhere new each year during my 24 years in CA. Then, when we were both in MI, We got together more frequently, but didn't take big deal trips. Now, she's locked into grandparenting (full time) and my budget is too tight or at least unpredictable for the time being. I haven't been off the continent since 2007. Geez, 8 years. It's time to plan.
When to have the divorce talk:
1. When he squanders your 7 day dream vacation by being insolent and mute for 3 days.
2. When you discover he has a secret phone account and there's a voice message from HER.
3. When you see the pattern of him pulling out the I'M MAD card at each holiday or celebratory dinner.
4. When the I'M MAD card is crushing all anticipatory good feelings, and you can't risk getting your hopes up.
5. When the I'M MAD card isn't quite big enough and he gets out the gun.
No talk, just leave.
500 words to write to publish my December words before the 15th of this month. The website offers a comfortable grace period. I suppose they have to offer such grace, or people would be inclined to give up. There are so many reasons to screw up the well intentioned 100 words a day routine. I think next month I'm going to use my book titled "210 things to write about" as prompts to energize the subject matter. Otherwise, I'm just rattling off diary crap that doesn't amount to good reading; just a thing to check off the to do list.
Negativity: A pattern of thinking supercharged in choosing to highlight any negative sensation. It's because the amygdala section of the brain is overly sensitive or overactive. Frequently words these words enter the vocabulary: can't, no, complaints, don't want to. On and on. No wonder the task of overcoming depression seems insurmountable. It's almost a contagion to those around him. He becomes a lead weight on any plans; a black hole for any enthusiasm to be sucked into. It's really a violence against joy. It's a thought pattern that can be changed by being aware of your thoughts and challenging them.
Ask! What about it? Ask, why didn't you? Ask, for clarification. Ask, to make a space for reflection, Ask! so that what ever it is you fear gets outside of you to examine. Ask! yourself, what is the hurdle here? Ask! now, don't wait for years. Ask! there is no shame in putting it out there. Ask, so that you can deal with the truth. Ask! so that you can start on a plan. Why? What the hell were you thinking? Ask! Listen to the faltering voice and flimsy excuse so that you can be released from caring. Good bye.
My friend Theresa, who also has a wayward son, stated the cause for her son's suspended progress in achieving a happy independent life. Then she asked me, what is the explanation for your son? My son, I said, has a life script that dictates that he be a loner. He is comfortable, although unhappy, being on the outside looking in. I remember him as a happy child, but it's like he's forgotten the feeling. But he's 35 years old now. It's not my problem to solve. Any answers that life provides for him are not going to be from me.
Analyzing my hesitation, or procrastination. Whenever there's a big chunk of the of the puzzle (an answer to how to get more customers, or a book about how to teach a class I've been stewing over) I accept that I have found the answer and I DON"T pursue it. Am I scared? What is the problem? I can't make time for it, I'll get to it later. The answer is around the corner, close at hand. It will be there tomorrow, no rush. Stupid. Is this a business that you're serious about or just a game without a plan?
I'm doing a thought experiment, a mental telepathy exercise. I'm thinking about my niece whom I haven't been in contact with in over a year. She lives in another state, is busy being a single mom for her children. Weird how a husband can go from grand provider partner to schmuck in one selfish decision. Anyway, I want to see if it works, this mental telepathy. I believe it does. Of course, it could work--she could think of me and not act on it, due to her loyalty to her mother, now dead to me. I don't get that.
Why did you use me? Why did you delight in my unhappiness? Why did you need me to witness your superiority as the senior sister? Why did you minimize my discontent, and pretend not to hear me? Why did you disregard my call for help, when my marriage was down right dangerous? Why did you ignore me at your convenience? Why did you emphasize exterior beauty above all things... to guide me into subservience? You as queen and me as servant? (Amazing that I willingly played along.) Why did you pretend to love me? I wish I would have asked.
Another layer of reality softly skimmed over me like a low fog. This aging thing is real and it's happening to me. My body is experimenting with new ways of breaking the news. Old healthy bodies can't walk as far or as long as youthful bodies. Walking, one step at a time, looks like it could continue forever. But the amount of effort with each step builds. Then there's the psychological response; a surprise that, for the first time, sends a big doubt cloud over the terrain...what does the final step look like? Because, there is a last step.
I returned home from my excursion in Washington DC. today. I can't call it a vacation, because it was so hard. Enough. My big cat, who has been confined indoors for 4 days, reacted strangely. He kept crying (complaining?) He wanted to be with me and he wanted to be outside. So he'd go outside and meow loudly, then return. It just now occurred to me that he wanted me outside! Anyway, in, out, purring, meowing. I checked the mail. Officially, I've been divorced from my family. No cards arrived from Asheville. You get what you give. Predictable and sad.
I replaced New Years Resolutions with theme words years ago. This past year, I lived with "Enough." So, I've been contemplating my new theme for 2015. It is: ASK. This year, through art therapy, a concept emerged. The unasked question, the answer behind the door. The barricades holding back the opening. Reality I couldn't tolerate, stacked layer upon layer on the other side. To ask is an act of bravery. It takes more courage to ask, than to tolerate, because it engages the will of a person, her character. Tolerate we must, but seeking answers is a brave, scathing quest.
I spent hours; about 4 hours in concentration on making my new website. I'm not understanding the linking of URLs. No matter what form a doc was saved in, it displayed like a document that could be edited. I was calmly working through the frustration, even proudly patting myself on the back for my tenacity. Then, a thought hit me and almost disheartened me: Maybe I can't get it because I'm feeble minded. I had a horrible flashback of my Alzheimer's effected mother struggling to remember how to knit. Whatever. Ask for help when you need it. My new song.
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