Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sisters - Love and Hate

I spoke to my sister yesterday giving her the belated birthday wish. I thought about it once on Friday and opted to call her when I got to work which was a mistake. Neither of us keep up with those kind of things and rely on non family to celebrate or existence. I use to really want that to change but wanting it and having it are two different things. We both have created different live for ourselves and we both have seemed to accept this.

We are four years apart and during our childhood I was basically a boil on her butt. She was my idol for a long time until I realized she hated me. Maybe hate is a strong word but I don't think it was far off. I ruined her only child life. She was on her way to being a prodigy when I her younger brother showed up. I was suppose to be a boy and got that message pretty early.

The truth was it wasn't far off I hated most girl things while my sister represented all things perfectly precious in our family. She never got dirty and practiced the piano two or more hours each day. She had straight A's all the way through law school. Her only soiled grade was PE in high school and she cried. The number of books she brought home each day equaled the number I checked out from the library for summer reading.

She did a lot things to hurt me when my mother was alive. She told lies about me that got me punished. Once she threw away a small wooden guitar that she made during Vacation Bible School and I retrieved it from the trash. She told my mother I stole it from her room.  I got a whippin for that and obviously I never forgot it.

Being the first born she never had it easy. The piano practicing stemmed from my mother's desire to be a concert pianist. The grades really were just expected and part of the complete package. In her room everything had a specific place and her drawers were labeled. She kept it locked most of the time and she had to use a Bobbie pen to enter each time. This starter after the guitar incident or did I have my own Bobbie pin?

I had groovy beads in my doorway and had convinced my dad to remove my door completely. I think my mother was good with this because she had my sister to beam over. I of course wasn't that into approval mostly because I could never live up to the perfection of my sister. My room was pack to the rafters andmy walls were covered with black light posters. I regular rearranged my five pieces of furniture because I was bored with things always being the same. I did that last weekend.

I would like to say that after my mother died my sister and I grew close but the intensity grew worse hitting a high or low point depending upon your perspective when she was throwing my things down the basement stairs and I said "one more thing goes down those stairs and you will follow."

That was the turning point for us and she stopped trying to pull rank on me. I was young and never understood why she hated me so much. After moms death there was just the three of us and my dad was checked out with grief. He wasn't paying the bills. She assumed head of household and her desire for control escalated to a point that called for war.

We did join together once briefly when my stepmother started her own special ops campaign which made Cinderella's stepmother seem compassionate. That was her last summer home and we have never been close since.

It hasn't been easy for her and after my mothers death she had a breakdown of sorts herself. She lost the desire to be perfect without my mothers expectations. She really went the opposite. I once tried to get in her car and couldn't find the seat. I ended up just sitting on the trash and papers. She doesn't iron and puts her makeup on without a mirror.

Loss changed us all. I remember going into my childhood room one day and raking everything into the trash. The person I had been was gone at ten I was all grown up and needed a change.

I love my sister and she loves me. We have both found our own successes in life and a place in the middle of extremes. She accepts me and my liberal spiritual beliefs and I accept her need to keep me at a distance. She has a lot of fear about the future and is concerned that something terrible is going to happen. She is right but that is true whether we worry or not.

I can see now that she has had her own suffering the same as me.  I couldn't really have compassion for anyone while I was lost in my own hurt. A child's hurt. It is clear to me now and I am seeing the truth of my life for the first time. I have been lost but now I am found.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The last haircut - Freedom - Change

My hairdresser is retiring tomorrow at 75. She has Parkinson's and with surgery she has been able to continue cutting hair until now.  She a strong willed woman who still isn't sure whether it is the right time to retire or not. For the few of us that are still her clients it is time.

So I had my last hair cut this week. I was a little emotional to think she will never again cut my hair. She is an excellent hairdresser with 50 years experience and even with the aging years and the Parkinson's I have no complaints. Maybe just a few.

We are a tough breed those that have survived living with alcoholism and addition. We dig in and never surrender even when we have every right to do so. My friend is tough as nails and I have never heard her complain not even once. When she got the diagnosis ten years ago she said when they told her the news she said "I am happy it isn't cancer."

I won't say it has been all fun and games. Having  brain surgery isn't anything to take too lightly. I have to say I wasn't a great friend at the time. I had lost everything including my mind and was barely making it myself. Before the surgery we did have weekly meditations on my porch after dinner.

Four or five of us would gather around the table and hold hands and sit in silence. This sometimes would last and hour. It would end spontaneously one person coming out of it and then the rest. We were linked so closely at that time everyone seemed to need the support. When we came out of it we would go around the table and talk about what we saw or felt and everyone would comment. The after talks were very healing. I couldn't have made it without those nights.

My friend is a silent sufferer not like me. I don't know if it is because she doesn't want the disease to get top billing or because she doesn't want to bother us with the details. Of course we don't ask it is our way. My friends and I are all the same expecting that if a person needs help they should say so.

Fat chance of that we have too much pride and stubbornness to admit when we need something. Forever autonomous declining all outside contributions. This is why we feel so lonely sometimes because we don't want to depend on other people. The people we have depended on have let us down so we are better off relying on ourselves that trusting another. We are more comfortable being trusted than trusting.

I have learned through the program that you can trust some people. The friends I talk about here I have know 20 plus years and they are all still around. What I do know now is that you have to know who to trust and know that when you get disappointed it isn't about you. Sometimes the other person is dealing with their own crisis and can't live up to your expectations.

Just like me I failed these same friends when I lost myself. They were use to me pulling things together like I did those meditation nights. I always kept things going no matter what happen. I had been the rock but even the rock can be submerged by a big storm.

I am happy to be back now even though I am changed forever.  Everyone has accepted me the way I am even though I am different. When my friend got her diagnosis I went out and bought every book possible on Parkinson's. The other day one of my friends mentioned that to me and then he said " the person that bought those books doesn't exist anymore."  I said "that is true,"

I don't believe in regrets.  I believe you do your best even if it is not good enough for other people or even yourself. It is all you have on any given day. We get into trouble when we set standards for other people and for ourselves and we get hurt when they don't adhere to our standards.

Over the years I have been able to let go an forgive the past by imagining what the other person must have been going through to do the things they did to me. Sadly it was never about me it was about their own demons and I was just part of the fall out. I took those hurts and made them about me and believed I was a problem that needed to be fixed. When I couldn't find a way to fix myself I couldn't accept this and I crashed.

When I recovered it was because I realized this was what I believed. I believed I was a problem and there was no solution. With grace I found this lie I had been told and kept telling myself. I am not a problem to be fixed I am just me living in a world with people just like me just trying to find a way to be happy.

I am free today.  I am free to do what is right for me and to mess things up if that is what happens. I can know that I can't control really anything so I can relax and enjoy the moment and deal with whatever comes my way today without bracing myself for it.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Where is my mother? -Wanting

I realized today that I have spent most of my life wanting things that I didn't have.  This was true both in a material sense and a emotional sense. The ever elusive thing or situation that I thought would satisfy this inner longing that I had.

I thought this was normal and that it was my purpose in life to get those things. The trouble was that when I failed to get them I blamed myself. I was taught that if you put your mind to it then you can achieve anything.  This of course leaves out a big factor other people.

The problem with taking complete responsibility for your life and your circumstances is that when something doesn't work and there isn't a happy ending you feel life something is wrong with you.

You must keep working to improve yourself until you achieve the success you deserve. This is why self help and motivational speakers are so popular. Giving us the idea that we can control our destiny if we just keep a positive outlook. If we make a commitment to change ourselves everything will work our just like we want it to.

Everybody fails at one time or another even gurus and motivational speakers get divorced.  We don't have control of everything. We live our lives with other people who have their own will to do as they please with their life even if it affects us. Sometimes they don't have a choice it is their own destiny.

My mother died at 41 and this did altered my life in ways that I never imagined. I wanted what I thought I was missing every decade I was working towards finding that missing family. The child in me was sure that if I could find them I would be happy. I don't really remember my mother all that well. I have mostly memories of the whippings I got before she was sick.  I do remember good night kisses which kind of made up for it.

What I think I missed is in my imagination. She was strict and emotionally detached when she delivered those punishments. I knew I was a problem but I couldn't help myself I was curious and determined and when I made my mind up there was no stopping me.

I am still like that today. I realized today I have mothered myself my whole life and I must say overall I have done a pretty good job. I made a lot of mistakes but I did learn from them. In the early years I use to bully myself into doing what had to be done like my mother did with her punishments.

Today I am a beter parent I sit that little child down and explain why things have to be done the way they do and there is less rebellion. I list the benefits that might be achieved with good choices. On other occasions I give in and let her watch endless hours of TV and eat Hershey chocolate chunks. This goes a long way with to improve the trust between the two of us.

I don't miss my mother I miss the idea of what it would have been like to have a mother. I looked for her in every relationship.  I borrowed my in-laws when I had them and when they were gone more devastation for the child in me. In the program I found some mothering with my sponsor but in the end no one could satisfy what felt like was missing from my life.

I wanted to be somebody's priority and I believed that if I could find someone that loved me enough like my mother did, beatings and all, I would be happy. But everyone came up short compared to my imaginery mother.

Today I am celebrating the mother in me. I haven't been a perfect mother just like I suspect my mother wouldn't have been but a loving mother nevertheless. I can stop looking now and appreciate all we have been through together.

So today another breakthrough I have had a mother all this time. Someone that has brought me through the hardest time of my life. Someone that has helped me to mature finally to a point that I can be satisfied with myself and what I have accomplished.

Even with all that has happened to me I wouldn't have changed a thing. That isn't totally true I would have accepted less of the blame for being left behind. I wouldn't think there was something unlovable about.

I know I am a handful because I live with me. I can appreciate the endlessly curious unstoppable child that I am inside. This child has kept me going when nothing else could. I can be free to love and cherish what I have believed were flaws about me.

Happy Mothers Day to me.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Honesty - Permission to let go

I am starting to relax into my new life living without a long range purpose. Who knew I just needed permission to let go and see what happens. I feel lighter in a way I haven't felt since I was a child.

When I made my break or when I had my breakdown it was because I couldn't accept that I had absolutely no control over my situation. The life that I knew was gone and I felt like a stranger every where I went.

I tried all the soft places that had worked for me in the past but they felt sad and stale to me. I tried a few new things like meditation and even chanting. I found comfort in odd things like watching a movie over and over until the DVD started having problems. I just wanted relief.

I had never felt like this before. I reached out to my friends and some were there but because this went on so long many ran for the hills. I didn't blame them I would have run for the hills but I would have had to take my head with me.

I once had a guy say that it was painful to be around me. I told him to imagine what it must be like to be me. I did like his honesty.

When I felt deserted I turned on the few people that were still around. Anyone that it seemed might need something from me. I only could be with people that were emotionally neutral. No one that needed me to be anything or do anything for them. I thought if I could just be still and quiet it would pass.

I was right it did pass little by little until the day I woke up empty. Empty of the pain and empty of the person I once was a clean slate. Most of my friends were gone a few have drifted back but not too close. I am not the person I was before and they have to decide whether they like the new me.

I am not the woman that handles everything anymore. I am not a social directer or the person that cooks for a crowd anymore. I don't feel the need to please or define myself by the reflection I see in other peoples eyes. I have been to the bottom and to rise again I had to be empty.

I am still funny sometimes but not in the sarcastic way I use to be. I have no venom for anything or anybody. Even my ex's or my stepmother. I saw her picture on my sister's face book page this week. She looked old and a stranger to me all those years I carried those thoughts about in my head. Gone.

I getting to know the new me these days. I am not trying the find the person I was before she isn't lost she has just served her purpose.  I am gentle and kind to this new me. I got nothing to prove to myself or anyone else. I am free to sail quietly through each day and see what there is to see.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A real artist - Three glasses of wine

It has been nice taking a little more time off from work. It has given me a chance to take a look at many things that have been neglected in my personal life. This week I actually went back to my portrait drawing class and then last night I went to one of my fellow artist art opening.

I was in a very small store front which made it intimate. The lighting was very good and her oil paintings looked great. A few of us from the class showed up and we were all packed in there pretty close. Luckily the weather was great and we were able to stand outside and let the real customers inside.

We went to dinner afterward it was a pretty upscale place. Ironically a place my husband and I would go to for our anniversary in the early years when we were still celebrating. It is in a tourist area near the gallery. It seems sometimes you can never get away from the past.

While the server was delivering three large top heavy glasses full of red wine they toppled over and ended up down my back. Moments before when she was rounding the corner I thought to myself "those glasses look pretty top heavy."  A premonition I guess. If my husband had been there he would have made a comment about wasting perfectly good alcohol.

Our server never recovered and neither will my shirt or my cloth purse that was sitting on the floor. The restaurant didn't even offer to comp my meal. The manager did give me his card and said if I needed anything more let him know.

I left before everyone finished they were all drinking and my nerves were shot. A day of work and then standing around and then ending the evening in a loud restaurant from my past. I was a hour away from home and was glad to have the long silent drive to come back to center.

Today I am matting and framing portraits from my class. They are having an open house next week end and since I decided to go back when I did they ask me for three framed pieces.

This has brought up a lot of issues today that I wasn't expecting. It has stressed me out and I kept stopping and eating instead of just getting it done.

Why is it so hard to believe in yourself and your abilities. I can say I am a good even great designer but I can't say that about my art without hearing that voice that says "what if that isn't true?" Art is so personal. When I was a kid I knew I was going to be a real artist when I grew up.

The one area of my life that I still need someone else to say I am good in order to believe that I am.  I actually got my wish this week when the framer who cut my mats wanted my card. She said she wanted to buy one of portraits I was having matted. Even with that I thought she was just being nice.

Maybe because we are taught that it is wrong to take pride in yourself unless it is to do with work. I could be because I am afraid of what it might mean if I am not really any good. The story I have created around the idea that I am artist would be challenged and I might have to admit that I am not one.

The truth is that my art will better than some of the other students and not as good as some of the other students. If I decide that I want to invest more time towards art I will be better this time next year than I am now.  

Who knows maybe when I grow I will be an artist with a gallery opening. Maybe not. Either way it gives me joy when I just focus on capturing what in the faces of our models instead of thinking about whether I am a real artist.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Spiders - Just for today

I was sitting on my porch this morning when a noticed a small ghost like spider on his web blowing in the breeze. I wondered what it would be like to be something other than a thinker. The spider probably just sits there all day until something happens that makes him move.

Maybe a nice juicy gnat comes by for lunch or maybe I clean the porch and he has to relocate quickly. That is not likely to happen until maybe Sunday so he doesn't have to worry about that. Of course he isn't human so he worried about anything.

What would it be like to just be a part of nature accepting our circumstances as they come? Knowing that "what is" is just that without all the dreaming and scheming we do.

Some of us do try to get back to that state through prayer and meditation. If we are lucky we get little glimpses of what it might feel like to just be a part of a bigger plan.

It is fleeting a best and all the thoughts we have gathered throughout our lives start popping up. These thoughts are proof that we are special and one step above the rest of the creatures.

I guess my question is are we really? Are we better off with all our knowing than what we see in nature? It is a question that will never really be answered and the fact that I am asking it proves that I am separate.

I know that nature is often violent like we are but some how it seems less personal. Just like when I clean the porch this weekend it won't be personal when I get rid of that spider.

Anyway just for today I am going to be that spider just enjoying what is and not resisting what comes my way. I am headed of the work so we shall see. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Capturing Happiness - Obession with me

I spent the weekend taking care of some chores around the house. Saturday I painted a short piece of fence that was erected from the parts and pieces of the deck I had removed over the winter. On Sunday I decided that my car needed detailing, something I have never done before, it took three hours but my ten year old car looks brand new to me.

I am in a space of genuine happiness and taking care of the parts of my life that have been long neglected. This makes me feel happy, a word I don't throw around to lightly. Happiness has eluded me for most of my life and feeling it the first thing my mind wants to do is search for the source of this happiness and capture it.

I usually use a magnifying glass and look at each part of my life and see how I got here so I can recreate the whole experience down the road when I slip off the happiness path. This of course ruins the experience of being happy now but I have to do it anyway.

I am not so desperate today so I can do this without losing all that I have gained from my most recent awakening. I have awakened to realization that I have spent my life looking for the ever elusive truth and path to happiness both inside and outside myself and realizing that it has been the actual search that has kept me unhappy.

I thought it was my responsibility to keep looking. If I wasn't looking then I would be like everyone else and live an unconscious life. I wanted there to be more to life than what I saw and felt.  

For awhile now I have felt pretty empty and uninterested in any kind of spiritual pursuit. I wasn't sure what this meant but no matter what I did or read I wasn't really feeling it anymore. It felt like a big piece of who I thought I was was missing but to continue searching felt like just another false idol.

I don't want to just fill my time because I am afraid to feel the emptiness. I did feel guilty.

Then I stumbled upon another spiritual speaker that said " it is ok to stop searching" I felt a total since of relief immediately. I had been there for awhile but felt like I was betraying who I have been and losing something else that I knew as me. I actually had already let it go.

I want to just live now without the distraction of the searching and the figuring things out. There is nothing more to figure out. The subject of my obsession "me" isn't that satisfying anymore.

I want to see what it is like to live without the wanting for a change. I want to experience more of the outside world instead of the inside world. I hope that I will be able to share what I have learned on my journey but it won't be my goal. I not going to have any goals.

I know there will be ups and downs and my mind will continue to play games with me but now I know they are games and I can choose to participate if I want. I have gone too far to live that way 100% of the time anymore.

Today I am not trying to capture the happiness I feel and I am just going to enjoy it. I do realize that I do have a lot to be grateful for which while I was lost in myself I couldn't see. I also have some amends to make but that is for another day. Today I am going to just enjoy my happiness.