Balance and Boundaries…

Since my last post, I’ve been quietly contemplating life as well as observing it. My difficulty with telling someone ‘no’ without having to add an explanation to it has become foremost in my thoughts. My observations of other people has also made me realize I am not the only one. I have witnessed time and again that it is only the rare person who can just say ‘no’ without adding an explanation as to why. Why is it we feel we must explain why we say ‘no’, no matter what it is?

This time of year there are a lot of businesses, fund raisers, and non-profit industries asking for donations. I get it. I understand why they do this at this time of the year. Everyone is so focused on buying presents to give to their loved ones, to ask for donations for those in lessor circumstances, well, it can just make a person feel guilty for not giving. With so many organizations asking, people have to say ‘no’ sometime and when they do they feel the need to explain, “I’ve already given… I give at church… I give in other ways…. etc”. To just say ‘no’ for a lot of people, feels somehow wrong.

I wish I could change this for everyone but I can’t, so I decided to work on myself because it isn’t just in the asking of donations but when someone I know asks something of me which I cannot do, the guilt sets in. It took me three tries to say ‘no’ in a text message without adding on an explanation. This just isn’t right. The sad thing is many people expect that explanation too and won’t accept a ‘no’ unless they are given what they consider a reasonable explanation as to why.

I’m not a child anymore. I’m an adult. Being an adult means I am responsible for my own decisions. That means, I CAN say NO and not have to tell anyone WHY. If I choose to tell you WHY then be charitable and accept it whether you like my reason or not. Be understanding and kind even if I don’t give any reason. No one lives my life except me. So, no one knows what I’m going through, except for me. There maybe valid reasons I feel are private that I want only myself to know about. That doesn’t mean we aren’t friends. It just means I’m not ready to talk about them yet or might not talk about them ever but that isn’t a slant against our friendship. It is just me dealing with life in the only way I know how.

Lately, another situation occurred where I needed to say ‘no’. This made me realize I have boundary issues. I haven’t set clear boundaries for myself, let alone for other people. When I was a child, I had no boundaries. I wasn’t allowed any except those my parents imposed upon me, of which, they were allowed to cross anytime they wanted. As an adult, I have had difficulty erecting boundaries which are important as adults, consequently I have had difficulty in many areas of my life. Realizing this I have decided to make this a priority for 2018. This is how I plan on doing it.

New Year’s resolutions are common for people to make. I’ve made some in the past. In most cases my resolutions were forgotten within a few weeks. In recent years I chose not to make any resolutions because I know they don’t work for me. I’m trying something new for 2018. I have decided to choose a word for the year and a word for each month.

I have chosen BALANCE as my word for 2018. Each month in 2018 I will select a word to support my yearly word, so I can focus on a particular element in my life which needs balance. For January, my monthly word will be BOUNDARIES. I expect these two will go hand in hand throughout the year. I wanted to make my focus for the beginning of 2018 to be something which had come to the forefront here at the end of 2017. I think I have chosen well.

I often find myself out of balance in many areas of my life and I realized my issue with boundaries is that of not having a true balance in my boundaries. I do understand boundaries will shift depending upon certain situations. However, I need to develop a firm sense of what those boundaries are and where they should be before any shifting occurs.

Relationships have always been an issue for me because I have no boundaries at the beginning and then try and erect them later on in the relationship. That doesn’t work and does nothing but confuse the other person in the relationship.

There are so many other areas which need balance and boundaries like finances and health, that this is not going to be a simple task. I could focus in January on what areas require boundaries, listing them and then making each one a focus for subsequent months. There are no hard and fast rules to this. If I need more time for any particular word, I can extend it by just having the same word for the next month.

In reality I know what I am really doing is building a foundation which will be maintained throughout the rest of my life. I need this. And I’m willing to work at it so I will have a happier life, hopefully with much less guilt. I don’t want to choose to do something because I feel guilty. I want to do something because it is truly what I want to do.

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Why do I find life so shocking sometimes?

I knew it was coming but it was still maddeningly shocking. People set themselves up for failure. They sabotage good intensions and then blame others for their failure. It is hard not to blame myself for their failure at times, especially when they point their fingers in my direction. After living a childhood submerged in this mentality, as an adult, it is hard not to be pulled back into it. It makes my blood boil. And it is terribly difficult to let go of and not send myself down a path of justification in why I won’t do what has been requested of me. Family members are the worst at doing things which send me down this rabbit hole. Ultimately, if I allow it, I end up feeling like a “bad” parent or a “worthless” human being.

No sooner did I craw out of that rabbit hole, than they tried putting me back into it. They love trying to keep me subjugated. If I attempt to rise to my own wonderful self, there is always someone there who will try and put me back down “in my place”.

What exactly is “my place”? I remember hearing that my whole life, making it sound like it is a worthless and lonely place to be. “My place” isn’t where anyone else says I should be or thinks I should be. “My place” is exactly that. It is the place which I create. The place where I can be who and what I really am. Not what others believe. It isn’t even what I think others think about me.

What they really mean when they say “put you in your place” is “put you in the place I want you to be in”. They want you to get back in that little box they want you in. The box their minds created so your actions don’t challenge their way of thinking or being. They want you to live your life the way they are living theirs. That means, not living your life at all.

I crawled out of that box years ago and I am constantly amazed at how many people try to put me back into that box, especially people who consider themselves family.

I have learned this. If I ask those people who try to put me in my place, they would deny ever trying to do that. They don’t see their actions or words as disrespectful or judgemental. Not even when they go to my daughter and ask the very same request after I have told them ‘no’. Trying to get to me through my daughter is the worst act another person can do to me and is grounds for dismissing them from our lives.

This may sound harsh. I may sound like I’m a cold fish. I may even sound like I’m a “bad” parent. People who use children to try and get their way in life, to get around a parent’s decision, are people who do not have my respect. I have to do what I must to protect my daughter and our way of life. Just because someone is related by blood with my daughter doesn’t give them the right to disrespect me and the decisions I make.

Since starting my new job, my lagging spirits and belief in people was lifted several degrees above where they had fallen. They are hanging on by mere threads due to this situation. I want to believe there are people who are respectful and considerate and don’t disregard this respect and consideration in the name of family when they try and impose family obligations on their family members. I unfortunately haven’t experienced that within my own family. I have witnessed respect and consideration more with friends and strangers in my life than I have with family.

It has been difficult to side step that rabbit hole where they want to put me in my place. It is hard not to think of myself as a bad person in doing so. I have to keep reminding myself that if I don’t respect myself, my needs, my daughter’s needs, and our choices in life, then I can’t expect others to respect me/us either. If I don’t stand up for myself and my daughter then they will always expect us to succumb and be what they want us to be. Why is it so shocking to them to find out I’m not a spineless creature who succumbs to their every whim?

I find it interesting that the day of the second occurrence and attempt to use my daughter occurred on the day of our first snowfall which began after a sudden drop in temperature.  The roads turned hazardous over night as the temperatures continued to plummet and this morning everything is frozen over. If one believes that our emotional climate is connected to our local climate, it would be a very telling situation.

I used to think I would no longer be surprised by people’s choices in this life but I have discovered the Universe has a way of letting me know I’m not yet that jaded. It hurts to tell someone, especially family, that I cannot honor their request because they chose to make that request at the last minute. It hurts, yes. But just because it hurts doesn’t mean I am willing to jump through hoops or sabotage my working relationship with my supervisor at my new job in order to accommodate such a request. I can’t afford to. I need this job. If I didn’t have this job we would soon lose our home and end up living on the street. And yes, I told them such in not so many words, and yet I don’t think they totally get it.

 

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I’m an awful parent…

I have come to the following conclusion: I am an awful parent.

Here is the basis for that conclusion:

From the day she was born, I believed she was intelligent. I didn’t hide the world from her. When she asked a question, I answered it with honesty and if I didn’t know the answer, we would look it up together. I didn’t dummy down our conversations, not ever, not even when she had friends over to play.

When we found ourselves alone with no support, going through hard times, I didn’t shelter her. I told her how it was, and we talked about what we wanted to do about whatever those hard times were.

When she had her first realization of my mortality, we cried together and spoke honestly about the truth of it. That yes, I am much older than most of the parents of the kids her age. We faced it and moved on, and faced it again when something reminds her of that fact.

I don’t tolerate disrespect, from anyone. I let her witness this truth even if it means distancing ourselves from blood relatives. And we talk about the whys and wherefores of it all. This means we don’t tolerate disrespect between us. If it should occur, we talk about it.

There has not been a shortage of emotional outbursts, mine or hers. Discussions ensue that usually result in apologies, then hugs, and alone time if a person so chooses. I respect her needs and I demand she respect my needs as well. When this doesn’t happen we both witness things falling apart, we stumble, we fall, we pick ourselves up, and we talk.

Silence is not allowed unless it is to help one discover their own truth so they can speak to it if the need is there.

I have discovered, if respect does not exist, then anger soon rises and over powers whatever existed before it. Reasoning then disintegrates, unless anger is controlled and understood. Respect of one’s time and space is paramount. Respect of what one needs to do must above all else be honored. If not, there is no place for whatever is being requested, there is no required commitment to bring about what is being requested, even if that request comes from blood relatives.

There seems to be a misnomer about the term relatives or family. For some reason people believe this gives them the right to disrespect others who fall into that category. For some reason people believe this gives them the right to make impossible requests and expect the requests to be granted with a joyous smile and a jumping through hoops so outlandishly high it gives the one doing the jumping a nose bleed.

I don’t jump. I avoid nose bleeds. I don’t honor any requests which are not done so with respect to me, my time and my space. This is what I teach my daughter.

And yes it makes me an awful parent, if that is what you choose to believe.

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Time flies… and detours…

It has been over a month since my last post. I’m sitting here thinking about where I am right now and where I have come from over the years with this blog. I started it in hopes of exploring different aspects of myself and now find myself quite intrigued by where this journey has taken me. It definitely has not taken a path I had anticipated. Life seems to have caused a major detour.

Detours can be aggravating or they can lead one to a more scenic route with wonderful views and insights. Many times which version we see greatly depends upon how we choose to interpret it.

My interpretation many times was a view of ugliness, darkness and sometimes felt like I was wading through a huge garbage dump. When I look back on it now, I can see the pure beauty of all the detours and where they have brought me. I will be the first to admit that life works in mysterious ways. What we think is the worst thing to ever happen to us, can often end up being the least worst after we experience what else life has to teach us. This is why, though things appear as though I’m out of that long dark tunnel I spoke of in my previous blog, I hold myself in reserve, anticipating what else might happen.

When I began my journey to explore the submissive aspect of myself, I felt like I was finally on a path that would nurture me and see me into a better life. Then cancer entered my life, which put my journey of exploration into a state of hiatus. It remains in that state today. Once clear of cancer a year later, I celebrated by buying our home and finally feeling like I could breathe and live again. I felt for sure I was now on a path that would nurture me and have that better life. Then six months later I was laid off work. A year and a half later, I have a job and hopefully the finances we need to have a good life.

I have now been in my new job for almost two months. It is surprising how quickly those two months have gone by. For the first four weeks or so I experienced anxiety any time I thought about going into work or on the days I was scheduled to work. I wondered if that anxiety would ever leave me alone. I was afraid it would be a permanent part of my life.

One day, I sat down and thought about how I feel when I am doing my job. It had dawned on me that once I began my shift, I didn’t feel anxious, so I decided to take a deeper look. What I discovered was this. I didn’t feel anxiety at all while at work. In fact, I felt happy. Really happy. I enjoyed interacting with every single customer. Okay, there is the occasional customer who I don’t enjoy but they are short lived. I do what I can to get them through my till because I know, no matter what I do, their experience will not be a happy one. I can’t make people want to be pleasant, so I move them through as quickly as I can and hopefully without me showing them how much their attitude irritates me. I may run into one or two people out of the hundreds I interact with every day and believe me, they are like a small grain of black sand in the middle of a huge pile of shiny glittery grains of sand.

I have found myself often wondering what it is about my job that makes me so happy. I know it isn’t the money because I’m paid minimum wage so I don’t get paid much, only just enough to help pay my bills while on a strict budget. Standing on my feet all day isn’t fun either although it may help due to the additional activity which can help increase those happy chemicals in our bodies. I have to believe it is because of interacting with so many wonderful people every day and being reminded that this world isn’t as dark as the news reports can make it seem.

I often look back at my life to learn and get a better perspective on what has happened, where it has taken me and where I might want to go from here. Of late, I have felt as though my life has been in a very dark place for a long time with only a few periods of being in the light. Emerging into the light after a dark period can often make other parts of my life seem very dark. Where do I want to go from here? It is my hope that I will be in the light for many years to come with only a few small periods of darkness to remind me to appreciate the light I have.

I also recognize this new job is definitely one of a submissive nature. My previous job was as well, however, it didn’t have the rewarding aspects that accompany my current job. Hearing, thank you and please, many times a day, being in a role which is a service to others, and being told on my first evaluation that my performance is excellent and to keep up the good work, these things make me feel really good about myself. There is a part of me which happily twirls and spins inside when I experience these things. The occasional flirtation doesn’t hurt either. *grins widely*

Once I realized these things about my new job, the anxiety vanished. I still went to see my doctor for a refill on my medication, for that “just in case” moment since I haven’t needed it for over a month now. I’m cautious enough to understand, though this may be the end of the anxiety/panic over this situation, it doesn’t mean I am free of any triggers that might bring them back. I realized this just yesterday when my daughter was watching “The Office” and the scene I watched was them pranking an employee about being terminated. I could feel the fingers flicking over the triggers threatening to flip them on. My daughter finds the show funny while I find it reminds me too much of my old job. Those few minutes of watching the show reminded me how grateful I am to not be in my old job any more. I know the show is meant to be a comedy or sort of mockumentary but it is too close to the reality I lived for over thirty years. It is amazing what we put up with because we are too afraid to try something else.

I began to write, “for now”, in regards to my life being good, but I’m done putting conditions on my life. I want to be done thinking things are temporary. Unfortunately, this is the conundrum I find myself within. I want to believe I’m through this and life will be good, but I’m cautious because past experience has shown me how temporary it can be. I’ve been taking one day at a time, enjoying each day as it is, then like today, I look up and I’m surprised by how many days have gone by. Not in a bad way, just in a surprisingly good way.

This is where I am right now. What comes next? Well, my plan is to just try and enjoy life and whatever it decides to put in my path.

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We’ll Be Okay

I’ve had two full weeks at my new job, and been paid my first pay check. Having some overtime pay on this check helped to buffer the shock. I sat down and did some in-depth analysis of my month-to-month income and expenses. Thank god for my financial advisor and that his services come free from my bank. I feel like I can finally breathe again. I’ll know more once I am able to sit down with him and discuss the long term impact on my finances however from first appearances, this part-time job will provide what I need.

Physically I am able to handle the work better than I had anticipated. At first an eight hour shift on my feet took a lot out of me. It still does but it is getting better. My daughter helps on those days by cooking dinner if we have something she knows how to cook.

I expected within the first month to end up sick because I was in the public a lot more and not so isolated in my home. That prediction came true, however, not from the source I had thought it would. My daughter and I went shopping for her to pick out some much needed undergarments and a couple days later, she came down with a major cold. A week later and I started showing signs of getting it. The timing was good for something of this sort to happen. I am hoping to only miss two shifts at work. It hit me on my two days off. I had two days scheduled to work with another day off following it, so by only missing two days of work, I had five days to work on getting well enough to perform my shifts this weekend. So far, I feel as though I am on the mend. My check at the end of the month will be a bit lower than expected but I will be okay.

My last post was filled with a lot of emotions as a result of my situation. I read over it before starting to write this post and I still feel very strongly about what I had written. I work as a cashier and without someone performing that job retail businesses would not be in business. Yes, I know they have automated tills but even with those, someone has to oversee them because they aren’t perfect and there can be issues with product packaging that makes it difficult to scan them. Plus the amount of behind the scenes work that goes on for changes in product pricing due to specials and discounts means the system isn’t perfect. Knowledgeable customers catch these imperfections in the system.

I am surprised how much I enjoy the job. I meet a lot of really good people every single day. It has helped bolster my flagging perception of people.

I don’t really have much else to say in this post other than to say we’ll be fine. Unless I have missed something significant in my calculations, this part-time job is all I need to make ends meet. With it being part-time, I will also have time for my artwork and helping my daughter acclimate to her new school which is as close to homeschooling as one can get and still be under the Ministry of Education.

I’m more at ease these days. The anxiety is mostly gone, although I have moments it flares up, I’m not sure what triggers it. I’ve had moments while I’ve been sick of having flashes of anxiety that goes as quickly as it comes. I am wondering if there is such a thing as post-traumatic disorder from being laid off. The anxiety goes away as soon as I remind myself that I have a job and it is enough even with missing two shifts at work this week, the pay will be enough to fill in the gaps that my retirement income has within it. I don’t know how all of this will play out when it comes to filing taxes, it is a learning curve for me in a completely new situation. The good thing is, even though this job is part-time, I get benefits. I’m still learning just what those benefits cover.

I feel like I can breathe again. However, each breath taken is done so cautiously. It is difficult to feel safe given what I have gone through over the past three years and actually longer. I have learned when looking over my past, that things do indeed happen in threes. Maybe it is just how we look at it that makes them look like they belong together in such a grouping but whether it is or isn’t, it has left me with a lot to ponder.

I have had three, what I consider HUGE life changing events. In 2005, I began my journey as a single parent which took me down a path of making some major decisions to improve our lives. This involved a move across country, taking us further away from family and friends but something that needed to be done in order to give us a place we could call home and put down roots. Single parenthood was and is a huge life change for both my daughter and me. I believe that relationship and the subsequent issues for a year following its breakup were toxic to me and resulted in the cancer that developed in my body which became the second life altering event. At the time, I believed facing the challenge of having cancer was the hardest thing I ever had to do. At least until a year later when I was laid off of work and I was faced with the third major life changing event.

I sat and thought about all of these things Tuesday as I waited to see if the radiologist wanted any more pictures taken for my mammogram on my one remaining breast. It is difficult to believe one is now safe from harm. I wasn’t feeling well, the cold I had contracted from my daughter was gaining its foothold and becoming worse, and I was afraid. Not of the cold but having to face yet another tough obstacle if the pictures didn’t come out clean. As it turned out, they did want more pictures due to an anomaly on the ones that were taken. The radiologist thought maybe I had powder or residue on my skin causing an issue when the pictures were taken. I had no such thing. Ever since having cancer I don’t use products other than soap to wash with and deodorant and I had not put on any deodorant because I knew they don’t want you to wear any when having a mammogram. Either they hadn’t cleaned the machine well after the previous person or they didn’t take the pictures very well. Another technician took the second set of pictures and when she came back she reassured me that the anomaly wasn’t on the new set.

It won’t matter whether my exams are clear of cancer for the next twenty years. Every day of my life I will wonder if there is cancer in my body just looking for a place to grab onto and grow. Cancer is a horrid thing to deal with but what is worse is the treatments they continue to use. I won’t go into that.

What I do want to say is how difficult it is to compare and judge life altering events in our lives. Today, when I look back, what I experienced more recently in the job lay off feels as though it was the hardest thing I have ever had to face, while I also know when facing cancer I felt the same way.

Cancer made me face the reality of my mortal existence and that I won’t live forever. The emotional and mental turmoil I went through this past year made me realize the fragility of the mind. I came very close to losing my mind and not being able to cope. To face your own limitations is difficult. To face them alone is even harder. To face them in front of an 11 year old who grew to be 14 years old during this time, and having her witness my fragility was shattering. She expects to have a mother who can handle anything. I think she still sees me as strong but she now knows I have limitations. We are learning to function with those limitations.

I’m afraid to say I’m out of that long dark tunnel now. I’m afraid to look around and see that we aren’t, that there may still be more to come. I’m afraid to celebrate that we have finally emerged from three major life changing events before I’m really sure they are over. What we will do is celebrate this new job and that we have come through what was for me a very dark period of unknowns. If I read the signs correctly, we have a whole new life ahead of us which has an ever expanding range of possibilities. The main thing I have learned from these major events in our lives is to not give up hope, to not close doors on possibilities but also, and I think this is the most important one of all, that just because something looks like it is the best path to take, it might not be the right path to take.

 

 

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A World Out of Balance…

We live in a world where instant gratification is almost expected. But there is another side of that coin too. A world where others struggle every day of their lives not knowing if they will go hungry or if they will have to choose between feeding one child over another. I’m seeing a world through different eyes and it is scary. To think one day the norm may be for us to be hungry or starving, or be forced out of our home into the street because we have nowhere else to go, is an alarming prospect. And yet hundreds even thousands are in this situation every day. I’m not there yet, but I could be.

 It is shocking to think that after 33 years of solid work, commitment to a company that I could find myself in this situation. Scared for me. Scared for my daughter. A minimum wage job isn’t going to cut it. It won’t keep us off the street or keep us in our home. This fear is real.

 My option right now is a minimum wage job working part time. If I’m lucky I’ll clear one thousand dollars a month. WHAT? ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS A MONTH?!? I’m still applying for other jobs. I’m still praying that someone will see the value of my past experiences and my commitment to working and being dependable and want to hire me into a position which will provide for our needs.

 Anxiety is high right now. I feel it roll over me in waves. I’ll do what I have to even if it doesn’t bring in enough money right now. I’ll stand for hours which I’m not used to doing, even if it causes me excruciating pain.

 We live in a world where there are thousands of people living far above poverty levels, and many billionaires who probably have no idea what to do with their money. Many would look at me right now and not once think I might be on the verge of losing my house, my car, or not be able to feed ourselves. What we have now is the result of years of earning good pay. What we will have in another year or two, maybe a boot in the pants and a cardboard box to live in.

 I’m not alone in this situation. Every year thousands of people lose their jobs for various reasons. Many of them get stuck in a no win situation, where employment insurance doesn’t help them. Where their skills are rated so high no one will consider them for lessor skilled positions.

 I’m angry. I’m angry because there isn’t a single job that is more important than the rest. There isn’t a single position that has any more value than the rest. I know there are hundreds of people who will disagree with me and say hey, what about those jobs that require a college degree compared to the job at the local fast food store that doesn’t require a degree? Well, I’m here to tell you none of them are more important than the rest.

 Many people think the amount they get paid is tied directly in with how much value that job has in this world. So, if you get paid more for doing it then it must be more important than that job that earns minimum wage. Well, I’m here to tell you that is hogwash.

 Tell me, does a CEO of a corporation perform a higher function than a janitorial service personnel? The CEO cleans out the rubbish pile at the top of the corporation while the janitorial service personnel cleans out the physical garbage left behind from his activities. If the janitorial services did not provide this function then the CEO would be neck deep in his own garbage. This of course is metaphorical (to some extent) but it is in essence true. Who would want to walk into an office building that hasn’t been cleaned for over a month, including bathrooms and breakrooms? Can a corporations survive without a CEO, well possibly, depends on how well those in the next levels of management know about running the company. I’ve seen companies run rather well without a CEO for months before a new one was brought in. But if you get down into the lower levels, where those who work and develop the services or products that are being sold, if their whole department would one day disappear, would the company survive? Most likely not unless they miraculously pulled together another group of people who could step on in. Even so there would be a sudden cessation of services/products until they got up to speed. Then the quality of the services/products might come into question.

 When that big CEO man/woman suddenly wants a latte and their machine in their high corporate offices has broken down, you will suddenly discover them or someone from their office at the local café serving up their much needed caffeine fix so they can start their day. Don’t tell me that for that one moment the person providing the latte wasn’t considered a value as high as the CEO in that very moment.

 Our world is run archaically. It runs on a value system that there are jobs and people who are of lessor value and therefore deserve lessor pay. I’m here to disagree with that perception. A mother stays home after giving birth to their child and gets no pay at all. But if we go by the value system, her job is of the most valued of all because she is raising a child that could one day serve the world in various capacities, including that of President, or Prime Minister or CEO and yet we expect her mother, her father to raise her or him without being paid for that job. In some cases, we expect them to be able to do so on minimum wage earning barely enough to feed themselves and a child.

 Our world is out of balance and until balance is achieved we will see fluctuations in every area of life we live in. We’ll see it in the business world where people are overpaid and others are under paid. We’ll see it in children’s education where some receive higher education while others do not and may not receive any education at all. We will see it in the care of those who are in need, whether they are elderly, or young, disabled or in a medical crisis. Help is given to those who have the money to pay for it. That is the way this world works.

 I have been part of and seen so many things over the past three years which makes no sense. While one person is able to get the assistance they need and another is not. Where a person can feel on the verge of losing their mind because there seems to be no other options and are left to just live by the means she can just scrape by and hope it is enough. I’ve seen people dying because the medical industry sees only one way for treatment because it is dictated by the medical industry and there is no joint cooperation between mainstream medicine and alternative medicine. If someone wants to seek alternative medicine then they better have the big bucks to pay for it.

 Money creates the walls. It maintains the imbalance in our society. It feeds and nurtures the billionaires and starves and bitch slaps the poor.

 We need to look beyond the walls of our confinement. We need to realize there is more than enough to go around if we all work together to make that happen. But most of all, we need to revamp our old archaic systems that no longer serve us.

 As long as we continue to live in this way, we are not human beings, we are parasites. We take what we want to survive and discard anything that doesn’t regardless of the impact it has on the environment or world around us. A parasite will feed upon its host until the host dies. We are killing the only thing that sustains us, mother earth. When she dies, we will have nothing and we too will die and there will be no more doubt about whether we are parasites or we are human.

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Surprise or Mystery

For the past few days, her mind has been lost, in the confusion and aftermath of something she didn’t quite understand. All she had done was try and face her inner critic, change the scathing words rebounding in her head to something more positive, something uplifting, something better than what she had been hearing of late.

On top of that, her birthday would soon be here. Lately each year she was alive was now not so much as a surprise as it was a mystery. What was her purpose for being here? Was it simply to raise a child she never thought she would have, or was it to learn as much as she could that would create growth of spirit? The first, was easy. The second would explain so much.

She looked at the man, asleep in her bed. He was another surprise or rather a mystery. His arrival in her life came when she had finally stopped wanting a man. Six months ago, she had made the decision to stop trying to force life into the mold she had created for herself. It was hard, so very hard, to let go of all the expectations, all the things that had been drilled into her.

You have to work for what you want.  You won’t get anywhere if you don’t work for it. Had been the constant theme in her home growing up.

And yet, she had worked hard, really hard, and in the end, she had been tossed out on her rump. Thrown out into the street like a piece of trash. Well, a well wrapped piece of trash that is. But that wrapper only lasted for so long and she knew it. Desperation set in immediately.

It didn’t matter how hard she worked now. It didn’t matter how much she put herself out there. No one wanted her. No one cared that her experience would bring a lot of value.

Finally, after six months, she had enough. All signs pointed to forgetting what she ever knew about life, and start over. Instead of forcing life to conform, she chose to let life guide her. It didn’t take away her fears but it did give her some peace.

For six months, and in reality for far longer than that, she had felt like she was constantly in a fight, constantly in a battle, constantly waiting for the proverbial hammer to smash its way through her life, destroying everything in its path. The battle she fought was to try and prevent it from happening or to deny it would eventually happen. When it did, she was unprepared. It was devastating.  It shook the very foundations of her mental stability.

That stability didn’t return until she finally let go of everything she thought she knew about life and living. She knew she was on tenuous ground. Tenuous in comparison to what she had been taught one needed to feel stability, be considered successful, and being able to take care of one’s family.

She had to go back to learning what life really was. It wasn’t a job. It wasn’t even a family. It wasn’t about doing what society demands as ‘normal’ in order to be a functioning part of society.

Life is what we have inside of us. As a child, she has always known something very special. Somehow she knew, if she spoke aloud about what she knew, people would call her crazy. Luckily, she had grown up in an environment which did not encourage any such discussion. This protected her from criticism and judgements from those she loved.

Sitting in church she knew what they taught was only fractionally true, the rest was created by man to manipulate humanity. To keep humanity away from the truth she instinctively understood. They either didn’t want them to understand, for fear they would lose their power over them, or they didn’t feel humanity could handle it. It didn’t matter which. She didn’t come to understand this until she was much, much older. She just accepted the knowledge and kept it to herself.

Since letting go of everything she had been taught about life and living, things began to change. She was no longer accepting of the harsh words her inner critic had to say. When her inner critic wasn’t successful in one area, she would move on to another area. Lately, that area had to do with her physical appearance. Refusing to let her inner critic convince her that she was unlovable, both physically and mentally, she instead chose to love herself.

It was difficult at first. Deciding to take one day at a time had been the best decision she had ever made. Then taking one small step at a time. Bombarding herself with a dozen things all at once had been her downfall in the past. It was how she sabotaged herself. It was her way of proving to herself that all the negative internal talk was true.

Then one day, she looked at herself in the mirror and realized she had indeed changed. She was no longer the frumpy, dumpy woman who looked like she had come from the wrong side of the tracks. She had slowly altered her wardrobe. One day she walked into a store and found a blouse that made her feel good, so she bought it. Each week she chose one thing to do that would make her feel good. One week it was a piece of clothing. Another week, it was an accessory for her hair. Another week, it was maybe a book or another piece of clothing.

Daily, she had begun to take walks. Instead of thinking about walking as an exercise to change her physical body or convince it into losing weight, it was to just feel the air flow through her hair, or the rain upon her skin, or the earth under her feet, or see the beauty in nature around her. She started to notice, she felt more grounded, more in tune with her environment.

On occasion, her inner critic would get terribly loud. That is what happened a few days ago when she happened upon a man she had once known years ago. They had known each other when she was young, vibrant, full of life, but oh so confused about everything. They had a brief love affair but she had run off when her feelings reached a certain depth which frightened her. It was years before she understood this about herself.

They sat and talked. He had been curious about her life and what had happened. She decided to be completely honest with him about what she had finally understood about herself and why she reacted as she had. She had often wondered why he hadn’t pursued her. As they spoke, he revealed he had been just as confused.

For the following days, they spent hours together just talking. Neither of them held back on anything about their past. Neither of them judged the other. Each meeting left her feeling lighter. She hadn’t realized how much she had needed to talk to someone about everything without feeling as though she needed to justify any of it.

Occasionally, whenever they would talk, she would begin to shake. She knew the shaking was caused by the intensity of the emotions she held back. One day, during one of those moments, he reached over to her hand that was resting upon the table between them and let his fingers just lightly rest upon her fingers.

A bit of magic occurred. The energy flowed out of her and into him. He absorbed it like a sponge. She could feel herself breathe again, and from him flowed a calm, relaxing energy, which filled her completely.

After half a dozen or so of these meetings in public, she decided to invite him to her home. He offered to buy some Chinese takeout and they could eat and talk without having to worry about taking a table for too long in a restaurant or cafe like they had been doing. Before they knew it, they had talked through the night. It was 5am. Luckily, neither one of them needed to be anywhere the next day. She wasn’t ready for him to leave yet and he wasn’t ready to go.

The simple touch of his fingers had slowly graduated to holding hands, then to sitting close on the sofa as they continued to talk through the night. By 5am, she was wrapped in his warm embrace, with her head resting on his shoulder. They were past the need to look in each other’s faces as they spoke. She found this seemed to allow them to speak more freely about their hopes, their dreams, and even their lack of having any dreams at all.

Over the past couple of years, facing so much, dreaming had become a past time she no longer had a desire to spend her time doing. Dreams had become something she no longer had. When she revealed this to him, his arms held her tighter, expressing his sadness for her more completely than any words could ever have done.

Moments of silence occurred throughout the night, sometimes she would doze off for a few minutes and when she woke, they would continue talking again. Sometimes he would doze off as well. By 5am, it was becoming apparent that both of them were in need of sleep and the sofa wasn’t sufficient.

She stood, offered her hand to him, “come”. He took her hand, followed her to her room and fully clothed they lay down together. His arms wrapping her in warmth. He slipped off to sleep within moments. She turned towards him pulling the edge of the comforter over herself and looked at him. She took in all his features, loving all their characteristics. Some would call them flaws but not her.

For the past few days, her inner critic had been bombarding her with harsh words. “He doesn’t love you, could never love you. You are ugly. You are fat. He could never want someone like you….” On and on she went.

Finally, yesterday, before he was to arrive in her home for the first time, she had enough. She sat down and used the art skills she had been learning over the past year, to face her inner critic. She wrote out her frustrations over her inner critic and the harsh words she was always saying. She put energy into it, by letting her feelings flow into the words she wrote. She told her inner critic how she was such a liar and would no longer believe her. That it didn’t matter if he loved her on not, that she loved herself and that was all she needed.

She filled the fourteen by seventeen inch canvas, telling her inner critic how she felt and how she would no longer allow her lies to interfere with her life. She also told her inner critic she understood her inner critic’s purpose was to protect her from being hurt but that she needed to understand that her harsh words hurt her more.

Once she was done filling the canvas with the words, sometimes overlapping them in order to get them all on the canvas, she reached for her art supplies. She covered the canvas in her favorite colors, making abstract marks. She didn’t focus on anything, just let her feelings flow as she randomly reached for the colors she loved so much. After two hours she had a canvas filled with beautiful marks. One thing she loved about acrylic paint was how fast it dries. She hung the canvas on her bedroom wall where she would see it each morning when she woke. She looked at it now as she drifted off to sleep, knowing she had come to an understanding with her inner critic she had never thought possible.

Hours later she emerged slowly from her sleep. His arms still wrapped around her. His breath soft upon her cheek. He held her close, so close, she had no doubt of his physical response to her, but then again, her inner critic had something to say about that. It could be just from dreams as he slept. She almost laughed out loud when almost in the same moment those thoughts crossed her mind, did a soft kiss upon her cheek dispel them.

He, who so easily read her body language, felt the humorous chuckle flow silently through her body and asked her what it meant. So, she told him, explaining what she had noticed about his physical condition and what her inner critic had to say and the timing of his soft kiss.

Suddenly, gone was the patient man, the man who took slow steps. She had turned towards him to see his reaction to her explanation. As the last words, left her mouth, his mouth covered hers, proving beyond a doubt how wrong her inner critic was.

She both felt in his kiss the power of his attraction to her but also his demand in showing her just how wrong her thoughts were. His kiss wasn’t harsh. It was sensual. He tasted her like she tasted like fine chocolate. Devouring her while at the same time, cherishing her so as not to rush through a single bite.

He moved them both, rolling her onto her back, he covered her completely with his body. He didn’t, so much as press down on her as, to let their bodies mold against each other. He was strong, and hard, soft and yielding, and somehow comforting and protective.

He kissed her face, her cheeks, her eyes, her neck, and nibbled on her earlobe. No further did he go. She could have made love to him right there and then but he pulled back. Sat up on the edge of the bed and softly caressed her cheek with his thumb.

“I’ll prove your inner critic wrong, as many times as I have to, until you are no longer tempted to believe her. For now, this is enough to start with.”

She understood. They had spent over twelve hours together and they both needed some time. This last meeting had introduced more elements to consider and they both needed time to absorb what it meant.

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