there are days when everything hurts, this, fibromyalgia, but I refuse to take pain medications.
i walked alot on Saturday, i mean not alot compared to what i walked five years ago, but alot for now. just two short miles. this week has been horrible. my knees, my right outside edge of my foot, my lower back, my trapezium and my neck. last night i woke myself many times crying out in pain.
words no longer have the power over me they once did. but words, damn they can be hurtful and mean spirited and cruel. words like, lazy. words like, you are just like ______ (fill in the blank) for a person you strive to not be like, you aren’t __________(fill in the blank) for things that you are, words thrown as weapons, when wit cannot pull up things that are thoughtful and reflective, words that show a person that they have not seen your growth, only bringing up the past to smash you.
and i find myself not floundering and wretched but instead empowered to continue being who i am.
lazy ____ no i do not do as i once did as i sit here recalling scraping and painting the house all summer, mowing the lawn, raking leaves, putting sealant on the driveway, gardening, cooking, doing dishes, taking care of the animals utterly by myself, cleaning, laundry, taking out the trash, taking the trash to the road, literally everything that needed done the house i did or i left a short list for my daughter to do as well. my grandparents called me lazy when i was about 8. i wasn’t lazy, i was just being 8, but it stuck, it was used again and again, and still to this day people like to use it on me. did i mention i am in pain? always? i still vacuum, sweep, clean the bathroom, cook, do dishes, hose detritus off the deck, garden, shop for the household, which for me as a single person was literally one quick trip a week, but now is a two hour ordeal. am i a stay at home mom who works two hours a day outside the home and carrying the weight of the whole household in chores? no, and i have never been. instead i work 7 hours a day, babysit 10 hours a week, and work on my art which i sell probably another 20 hours a week. lazy. that’s me.
when i am angry i tell people. i don’t sulk and seethe quietly, i don’t pretend like nothing is wrong, i don’t throw out hurtful words, i am smart, i am creative, i am self aware, i try hard to be kind though i fall short at times, i acknowledge my mistakes, i am not ashamed of who i am, i don’t feel inadequate, under appreciated and psychologically and emotionally lonely yes, but not inadequate, not ever.
this blog is a great example of my growth, i try to move beyond my blockages, i try to learn, and grow emotionally, and when i am angry, i don’t try to push my old hurts onto others as labels, and name callings.
the more i hurt from external resources the further i withdraw. that is what i guess i should be my newest area of growth.
The gift of used knitting needles, is gratefully received; many offered but I take only the wooden ones and a pair of size 0 lace needles. I offer to make a sweater for my sister and check my gauge. But I cannot bear the odor of another person on the needles. I have to put it down before the swatch is done. I have hankies from an estate sale I cannot use because they carry some residue (in my mind) of another. I suds up the needles in Dr. Bronners peppermint soap, and contemplate why I stopped. Knitting, that is.
I stopped painting again, feeling like a hack, it all comes down to self esteem right? A normal person would carry on, I suffer instead, with why bother syndrome.
Disdain then is what stops me, whether from myself or another.
I leave myself open like a sweater that has not been bound off. Unraveled by the slightest tug. Stitches getting dropped, or twisted.
Confession of your deepest feelings, met with combative response. A frond of hair touched in an off hand manner, I have met this knot before.
I used to dream that when I tried to ride the elevator, the doors would not work, either too fast and dangerous, or it drops out or it doesn’t go to the right floor. And then I realized in a dream that this elevator is not under my control. And it is dangerous. And I am just a passenger.
I pick up my knitting and as the needles click together and my tossed line stitching moves rapidly, even, clean stitches. Of my own design.
How do you return to one, if we are already one? Return to one. If everything is connected, and if we are all part of one living organism, how can we return to something we are already part of?
Also I have this question. If Buddhism is about acceptance, and the Buddha is not a god, then why does one have to be mindful of such things as not wearing knee length shorts when meditating, or not stretching in front of the Buddha statue. STATUE.
Also why if we are all one and all equals must one bow to the Osho, not turn your back to the Osho as though they are a high king? Why do people serve the Osho, and why is the Osho kept apart from the others?
Can one be an enlightened bodhisattva and still be just an ordinary person. Must one be ordained to be enlightened?
And why is discomfort and pain part of Zen meditative practice? ie you sit in a painful position for seven days at a time, not scratching, moving or brushing off a mosquito, until your bones ache and your body screams in pain. Is this what finding enlightenment is really about? And how can you find enlightenment, if you are already exactly where you are supposed to be?
I over react sometimes to things people say to me. I surely over react when someone underestimates me, patronizes me. i have spent far to much time pointing out what has been done to me, making myself look like a victim. I am not, what I am though, is strong. You have no idea. I see now I have to stop painting it this way, because I am only a victim because I leave myself unguarded.
There is this man whom I had an unrequited crush on, and honestly I was not too happy myself about having this crush. It was utterly unwanted by me, but there is this charisma thing that was pulling me in. I had to remove myself from the situation, so perhaps on some level my over reaction to his underestimating me and patronizing me was self preservation.
But I am strong. I know things with the Pirate did not go as planned, but we are still friends. Very much so, he drives me crazy and is annoying and has made me really fucking mad but I still like him for some unknown reason. We are not and have not been lovers for a very long time, and I could not wait to get out from under his relatives, his home, and his negative angry projections. That we could not live together is one issue, that we have much in common and get along great when we are not living together is another thing. And I left with with my integrity intact and he behaved with integrity as I left.
I am not wounded by the situation with the pirate as I have been told by those that are on the outside, I was wounded when my husband left, things with the pirate are more like an abrasion. Our personalities abraded each other for sure. The wound people see is not from him, it is from Atahualpa, my ex husband.
I keep saying I am done with relationships, people cluck their tongues and say that I shouldn’t say that but this is wh: the three significant relationships I have had have been based on them needing me to support them on some level, financial being most important, and then the putting down, making me feel small by words and actions, to keep me in the place of feeling like I couldn’t leave, or survive alone. My marriage did this in a most insidious way, slow, tiny increments, until I actually believed it. With my daughter’s father and the Pirate it was so in your face leaving it was easy and I have had the strength to leave, not only just a rough situation, but leave when I was early in my pregnancy and prepared to raise my child alone.
The other three relationships I have had have been all about emotional neglect. Rather than try to keep me there, there was a sense that I wouldn’t leave, or that I didn’t matter somehow. Oddly this was a significant aspect of my marriage as well.
I started babysitting full time in summers at the age of 14. I worked two jobs to put myself through college, my parents were poor, and they did not help much, my wardrobe handmade by my mom, supplemented by thrift store buys and hand me downs. After college I worked in group homes with developmentally disabled adults with major behavior problems, not an easy job. I left my daughter’s father when I was four months pregnant, and raised her for all intents and purposes on my own (of course with help, but even married couples depend on grandparents, relatives and friends to help sometimes.) I went to grad school with a toddler at home. Worked in a psychiatric hospital for children, with young teen mothers, and in an inner city school. I supported my husband who returned to school from day one first year to finishing his masters degree and starting in a PhD program. At times I have worked two jobs to make sure my daughter had all she needed, and for a few months for over half a year with not a day off, and all so my ex could take himself out to dinner and to the movies, leaving my young child home alone without my knowledge.
I took care of my home inside and out painting, maintenance, doing yard work, house work, refinishing the driveway, gardening, all of it.
Last summer, the writing was on the wall, which is why I lived in the ADKs for two months, and when I returned to town and started looking for a new home, I put it on hold to help out the pirate who was gravely ill and in the hospital off and on for several weeks. When the time came to move I was ready, he was ready, but the recovery has been quick. But the living together was less than two years, and we were room mates for more than half of that time.
I feel better already.
I know I can do this because I have done for at least the last 30 years of my life. I have always taken care of myself. I have always taken care of my child. Always. I spent 11 good years taking care of my husband who was still a child. I am strong. I don’t need me time, because I have always had me time built in to my life, I am an introvert, I wouldn’t have made it this far WITHOUT me time. I need a man like I need a hole in the head. I just don’t.
I say I am done with romance precisely because I know I cannot allow myself to be in that position again, the one of emotional neglect, or of having to support someone else while they work hard to put me down however they see fit. It is actually for me a good thing. I don’t see it as quitting but as something else entirely. I am putting down the cross I keep trying to pick up and drag, drop it and find another pick it up and drag it. I don’t want to drag that cross anymore. I am done with dragging it around. Do you see the strength in me? From carrying this for so many years? I have done it. What comes next should be easy. It’s lonely sometimes, but I am okay with lonely. It sure as shit beats being ignored, put down and verbally abused.
So to the person who is patronizing me right now. Fuck off. You don’t know me, you don’t know how strong I am, and that wound? Its a scar and I would appreciate it, if you would look around it and see that what is behind it is something else entirely. And don’t talk to me about serenity, I have been working to get there for a long time, I am further along on that path than you are. So don’t patronize me. And do I feel better about telling you to piss off? You are damned right I do, because you made me mad, and now that I am mad it is easier to see the perpetually unguarded parts of me which seem like weakness but is actually openness, an openness I have tried hard to close, but I now know I have to work harder to open even more.
Open like a lotus flower, petal by petal.
If you want to be my friend, don’t fucking coddle me or patronize me.
The pain in my ankle has forced me to forego my morning walk, but there is no reason not to paddle. It is the first time I have been on this lake since sometime last August, but it is like an old friend, and I find comfort in sharing it with a friend. Who may or may not be old, but surely is older than i am, in many many ways.
I take too many pictures of her for her liking, but she cannot see the beauty that radiates out of her. She may not be a twenty anymore, but she is more beautiful in my eyes. One does not review an excellent aged wine and say, oh i wish it were 20 years younger, one savors it, holds it in their mouth and lets its deeper, richer, flavor sink in. It is a better wine by far. And I do not focus on her flaws, or know the things she hates about herself, I know my own far too well, they fill my own mind with endless chatter.
Here though, in this spot, I can see that chatter fall away from her, and a goddess emerges, the look of contentment as she basks in the silence, the sun, the shared friendship of many years. We are like tiny blue and green Buddhas made of modeling clay in this setting. When I emerge from here, my body filled with oxygen, and love, I am like a rock cairn, a steadfast sentinel in a crazy world.
We talk of the history of the lake a little, my body unused to paddling, of her previous trip to the lake with another old friend, but more we paddle, look at the loons, inhale the fragrance of the cedar and pine, and appreciate the graveyard of trees. This is all a gift, this silence, and shared solitude. Is it not what life is all about? I ask myself this question, does one live to work, or work in order to have moments such as these, where playing to take a picture of a lily leads to a vision of a heron catching fish. Where we count loons hoping for as many nesting pairs as the lake will take. Where only the sound of the water dripping from the paddles and the occasional clunk on the side of the canoe, and the breeze as it carries us in waves back to the put in.
This is the silence that I yearn for, that I spent many months without, many years not looking for it, or understanding its place in my soul, or my own need for it, This love of myself, reflected in what I see in her, is touching, and delicate and fair, where I am none of these on my outsides. But it reflects a strength that is undeniable.
I continue to learn as each day passes. Is this not the gift one must step into?
By the time I have figured out its resting place, I am dripping with sweat, the humidity is high and it is hard work. But in the end I stand back and look and it feels good. I find myself wishing the room was exactly one foot longer and one foot wider. Nothing to be done though. It will be cozy when the woodstove is burning. For now, two days later, I sit with the eastern light streaming in through the filtered needles of a blue spruce, and a spring blooming shrub. Shubbery. I laugh in my head, Monty Python and a random pledging function swirling together to form a mote of my personality. When Sancho, old with cloudy eyes, decidedly hearing impaired, cancerous and in pain, jumped up and looked out the window he turned and kissed me on the cheek. For now, he sits by the wide open front door laying on the stone tiles, watching the neighbors cat.
I have settled in quickly, but in some moments when I am tired I feel a pang or two of loneliness, then I notice the thin shape of my ankles contrasted to the thickness of my calves, and get on the scale and notice it hasn’t budged, (for the last 20 fricking years) and I think, no, no this body does not yearn for companionship. This body yearns for peace and serenity. I sit on my meditation rock in the backyard, my mind thinking of the kind of lover I want, kind, intelligent, well read, doesn’t watch alot of tv, loves animals, nature, the outdoors, is content to sit and talk quietly, to cuddle and as a tiny drop of dew glistens in the morning light, I realize I am all of those things. I am fine here, just as I am. I will be my own lover. Not in the sense of quietly having sex with myself, but of loving my self.
Living with myself.
My coffee is cold, the dogs are snoozing, and the crystal is making rainbows splash across the room, being content is a conscious decision. It isn’t an easy choice. We can dwell on all the things about ourselves which do not satisfy others. We can think of all the things in others that makes us feel small about ourselves. We can think of all the things about someone else that annoy us, and the things about ourselves which not only annoy others, but sometimes fester and gnaw at us when we are tired and feeling low. We can bitch and moan, and want others to meet some nagging need within us, but no one will ever live up to that desire. I used to tell my ex husband that when you break off one relationship, and start a new one, you are just trading one set of problems for another. Either way, I have to be content with myself first. And I have spent way too much time trying to make myself content dependent on someone else being content with me. Or being content based on what other people call happiness, or being trying to be content while not getting my needs met. It doesn’t work, and I don’t want to trade myself in for someone else or someone else’s problems.
The problem for me has always been me. I told someone yesterday that I am a bullshit free zone right now. I asked someone three days ago, why he was always so miserable, and told him to answer me civilly because I had had enough of him being a grouch all the time. Later he apologized when he did it again, and I called him on it. I won’t stand for it. I deserve to be treated with respect, pure and simple.
But it all started with respect for myself. And the strength to leave a relationship that was abusive, financially it was a great situation for me, but he was mean, and not loving, or tender, or thoughtful, and the 60 inch tv was a constant assault on my senses and my sensibility. And as I look around my tidy, organized and clean home, I think no one will EVER call me lazy again. No one will ever call me a slob again, no one will ever tell me I shouldn’t get a new dog because I am never home (I work 7.5 hours a day 185 days a year, really? never home?) and call me irresponsible at the age of 46 or 86 ever again. Because I won’t stand for it.
This is my choice, to continue on this journey alone. Because so far, trying to get someone else to love me JUST LIKE THIS, is too damn hard.
In the dream I had, I was trying to cross a river which was now raging where before it was barely a trickle, and I am immediately swept away, I give in to it as the rush of the water picks up speed, I am throw over a raging and deep water fall and pulled from the water. The man who pulls me out is like a fairy, only human sized, and he has a magical fire burning bright but smokeless. He tells me he does not know how to build the kind of fire I need to warm me from the shivering hypothermia of the icy cold river, I tell him to collect wood and we begin to build up a warm cozy fire. I wake with her body against mine like a lover warm and snuggled, she kisses my hand as I gently stroke her, and then gentle becomes playful. After a bathroom break for all of us, I get back into the warm bed with my kindle, and then knowing the day promises to be hot and sunny, I offer a walk.
They are a bit off their guard, where exactly is breakfast their faces ask, while they enthusiastically line up for the leashes.
There is a small park near my home, and this is where we wander sometimes, still exploring, still a new place, but a favorite. I never go to Clark Reservation anymore, it was once a sanctuary, now spoiled by a person who has every right to walk there, but who has smashed my peace in that place, in so many places. This new park, filled with the people of the city, but in the hush of the early morning, a solitary woman, a neighbor and her two dogs, and I. The best part is, I can step out my door and be there.
Yesterday I met an old friend at the Oriskany Herb and Flower Show, sponsored by the Cornell Cooperative Extension. And when I came home, I planted my rose campion, which will reseed itself ten fold, my two white yarrows, “they will spread”, “I know, I want them for their medicinal properties”, my lavender, and a pack of strawberries in the strawberry pot. I also talked with my landlord and placed the sedum and hollies as he wanted in the front. Then I mowed the lawns. “The house looks great” he tells me, “we both love how you have it set up”. “Well I guess I am done here, since you did most of the jobs I had on my list”. I feel proud.
The pirate comes to bring me a Polish lunch, which of course I have to pay for. He is here not more than twenty minutes, he spends half of it communing with Marley. I cannot help but wonder what he thinks, when he sees the made bed, the tidiness of the house and the work done in the yard. Does he self reflect and ask himself, what the hell was I thinking by knocking this woman down? And I find I do not care. I like him like this, at a distance, I chastise him for yelling at the dogs, and model the correct way to speak to them. When they respond, he makes a noise of surprise. When he leaves I take a book and quiet now, read about Elizabeth Warren in my big comfy chair while the dogs nap nearby.
Each day is a day of discovery, how it feels to make cookies, to get flour on the counter, to eat them silently, enjoying the butterscotch flavor of the butter and brown sugar with the rich darkness of the chocolate chips. Looking at myself in the mirror, and accepting the cold sore that has been attempting to grow there for about two months. I give up and do not take my usual L-Lysine. I note the way the dog lies by the door looking out at the neighborhood, and when it becomes dark he jumps up on the chair beside me, Marley makes room for him, gracious and kind, and the cat jumps up and we are three huddled on a chair and an ottoman. I brush him, gentle, mindful of being bitten just a few days ago, he hurts, and I am just trying to make him comfortable; as if he knows, he seems more kind and more gentle with me, coming to me quiet and laying his head on my knee. I know buddy, panting though it isn’t hot, I know you are hurting.
And when I take down the leash he comes to me, he wants badly to go, and he plugs away trudging slowly but steadily beside me, stopping now where he never would have before to drink from the rocky stream. Marley races down the paths, and then romps in the water with a gentle push, and then almost pulls me in as she leaps to the embankment on the other side.
Taking note of the sleep, finally, which enters my life through prescribed drugs. I feel human, I feel alive. I feel serene. Do I not now look at my life for more than a half dozen years and ask, was all of it worth it? I sigh with pleasure as I settle into a chair on the screened porch. The dogs watch birds and squirrels and the cat waits for her boyfriend to visit.
I go out into the yard and there is a patch of sun on a large raised and flat rock and I sink down onto it, soaking in its warmth after the cold of yesterday, my knees settle and my hands and without thought or effort I am meditating. My thoughts race, and twist and bend but I am so at peace.
Even my dreams of long lost love have changed, I tell him in my dream, this isn’t real, you are not actually here, you wouldn’t ever be here, I wouldn’t let you. None of this is real, he chastises me and thinks I am crazy. I am not. I wake from the dream, I have found a path out of the nightmares.
I spend the day shopping at the market, doing housework, yard work, mowing and weeding, and shoveling, I make strawberries into jam and bananas into bread, I wash and cut and package fruit and vegetables for healthy snacks, and by noon I have done it all. I am not lazy, don’t you ever fucking call me lazy again.
Old friends visit, and see the ease of my manner, they comment on it. I had crossed a threshold of tightly wound to the point of being off balance, but a change of scenery makes all the difference, I feel at ease. Was all this trouble for this?
The dogs beg to go out, ringing the bells on the front door, they want a walk. I name the new paths, this one is Jumping Pit Bull Lane, this one is Stair to NoWhere, this one is Huck’s Island Path, this one is Creek Path. And what might I name myself?
I paint my toenails in the dusk, and marvel at how beautiful I feel.
The unpacking is barely done, or maybe not quite done, and I am on my way to a reunion of an odd assortment of people, some I barely know, some I once knew, some I do not know, all a group who have a common experience or experiences. Last time I struggled with my life long issue of never quite fitting in, this time it was lessened by two additional years of interaction, and a much closer friend in attendance. And perhaps, after all this time, therapy has helped, but the best help of all was a little tidbit from A. that there is a large number of socially awkward people in this world.
It took 12 hours to feel at home in my new home, 12 hours before I said, this is home, this is comfortable, I could get used to being here. And the comfort of being in my own place, and horror of horrors, being attached to the things in my life that have been missing for two years, gems and treasures of my Littlest Angel rough hewn box of godly gifts.
I don’t dance, I used to, until someone told me I dance like Elaine on Seinfeld, like I am having a seizure. I don’t do this, I don’t do that, I used to do them, before I was told how fat, ugly, stupid, unattractive, unworthy of time, unworthy of attention I am. I question myself, is my humor too much, when I hear a voice telling me I am unladylike, or that I should not speak this way, I am an embarrassment.
I sit in the early morning, talking with a bozo. Pain is just weakness leaving the body, you must have a lot of weakness I say. He hobbles to a chair and sits. I tell him I am done, with this thing called romantic relationship. He tells me do not be done, I say I am tired of being told I am not good enough, that I am fat, ugly and stupid. You are none of these he says. We pass wisdom between us, in the end I say, I am not saying I would not welcome romance, but I am not looking for it.
As I make my mashed potatoes and caramelized onions with last nights left over sausage, I think of how comfortable I feel in my place, and how I never want to lose this comfort again.
I think of the smallest of favors asked, and the refusal, and the hemming and hawing, contrasted with a kiss just yesterday morning. And the texts that follows calling out my son in law for not doing it for me. My calm response, he did enough for me yesterday as he carried in several heavy boxes, a table, and carried out over a hundred pounds of metal to be scrapped, I am tired of people speaking ill of this young man, who is maturing bit by bit, he isn’t perfect, but he treats my daughter better than the last two of my relationships treated me. He at least came over when I asked and did what I asked without criticizing someone else for not doing it. Forget it I say, I don’t need your help after all.
I watch as the dry husk of a spider floats on a gossamer thread in the breeze, shimmering until it is lost, and I am still here standing in the sun as the water sings the melody of the crone in my ear.
I am good here. And you? you both were or are wrong. because, I am good here and the fault lies not with me, but with the vile ugliness of your own reflection.