Sunday, June 19, 2016

Don't take anything personally - A veil or an iron mask

Don't take anything personally.  This is something I learned from a book called "The Four Agreements"  This little book really condensed down all of life's most complicated issues. 

Every day I encounter a lot of different people in my work.  Some with grand ideas and no budget others with unlimited budgets but expectations that something must be done right this minute. I call it a design emergency.

On Friday I had a call from a guy who said he talked to me months ago about replacing his flooded kitchen but went with someone else and they did a terrible job he wanted to know if we could come out and fix it.  On Friday  I said "today" he said yes and he said he would pay any amount.

I imagined what one might have going on in there mind that they thought they could call up at 3 o'clock on a Friday and get someone to come out to there house the same day. I was polite and explained that getting materials to match his cabinets would take 3 weeks.  I did say back to him that he did hire someone else to do the job and he should contact them if he wasn't happy with the work.

We all bring our own baggage to the table every experience we have had that created the person we are today.  I like to think of this as veil that we see life through.  Some have thicker veils or even iron mask that they look through.  It is only their own reality and can be so far off from what is actually going on. I use to try to penetrate that veil when I could see how much it was hurting them. Not realizing that I too had my own veil.

I thought it was my gift to state the obvious (my obvious).  I do believe that it is gift or a curse that I have owned since I was a child mainly because I am a watcher and I don't easily get caught up in the drama of others.

My dad called it the spirit of decrement.  I don't use my gift anymore unless someone ask me specifically and even then I say what needs to be said in kindness and not self righteousness.  No one is my responsibility and it is not my place to interfere with their life lessons.  I can encourage but that is all. 

In my work I just speak my truth in the most diplomatic way and let the other person receive it.  I leave the outcome to a higher power and I now know it isn't my responsibility to change or convince the other person to do anything. I am successful most time because I can sense what concerns they might have and address those without pushing and without expecting a specific outcome.  

In my business I don't do well when someone feels they are having a design emergency and need someone right now.  Even if the money is good the toll it takes on me is no longer worth it.

I am past feeling like I need to rescue anyone. Since we must sell to survive the lure of money is always there just under the surface or the need to please can be even stronger. Now days I just accept that not everyone is a good fit for me.  

I am in the business of rejection.  Before I healed so many wounds from the past every time a customer didn't pick me it felt personal.  My self worth and livelihood was tied up in getting a yes from everyone.  It felt personal every time if they said yes it proved I was worthy and accepted if they said no I felt like something was wrong with me and my abilities. Just like my personal life.   

Today I trust that all is well and that everyone has to work things out for themselves just like I did. If I spend time with them even it they don't pick me.  I trust that there is an ultimate purpose for our meeting.  A piece of the puzzle of the universe that I am not suppose to know the reason for. Accepting this has helped me to relax and do my best and not take it personally.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Family connections - Managing the behavior of others

I am in a good place just enjoying the weekend how I imagine most people do.  I had an interesting conversation with my sister yesterday.  She has called me regularly over the years and I have made efforts to visit her and her family regularly.  Yesterday there was some real honesty about what she has lived with all these years. She even talked about visiting me here. 

Our conversations have been mostly one sided her telling me problems she is having at work or sometimes with the kids. She is usually driving someplace and just fitting me in where it is convenient for her and I am sure feeling like she is maintaining her outreach program.  These days it usually takes two or three calls for us to catch up with each other.  Mostly because she calls at 7am or after midnight.

She hasn't been here to see me since my divorce when I was thirty.  My efforts to see her and her family was my desperate need to belong somewhere. My last big effort was for my nieces college graduation when I had taken a week off work to drive nine hours to show my support.  I was called the night before and told by my sister not to come.  It was really going to be only family.

This was devastating for me at the time because I was still lost and searching for a way out of my depression.  I thought it was caused by not having a support system and in my mind I thought I should try once again to connect to my own family instead of trying to find a substitute family.

When I was rejected I thought okay enough I am going to have to be whole alone. Depend only on myself to find my way out of the blackness. It really felt good to not want that connection and to be free to just let that idea go for good this time.  My happiness does not depend on another or in this case does not depend on my family loving me or wanting me.

The truth about that particular rejection was centered around addiction. This is what my sister has lived with since she married her husband. First his parents with prescription medications and more recently his sister who's life has been destroyed by her own addiction.  In the end when I was uninvited it was because if I came then the addicted sister had to be invited too. 

My niece confided in me later that it wasn't the aunt's behavior that she worried about it was the way her own father acted when the aunt was around.  She said he is totally crazy trying to control her and worrying about her.  He ruins every family event because something isn't going the way he thinks it should. 

The addiction always gets center stage because we give it to it.  My niece said she would never have a big wedding because the stress of dealing with the family would be too much. My brother-in-law has been the real problem in the family and this is why my sister has been very selective about what she has told me over the years.

She has lived a life of doing whatever needs to be done to keep from setting him off. When has managed around him and is angry outburst. Even the kids have tried to help their mother manage around him. He has worn her out and they all feel she needs to be rescued my nephew told me he felt he couldn't have his own life because his mother needed him to be a father to his little brother and a protector to his mother. 

I told him his mother would be really sad to think he felt he couldn't have his own life because she needed protection and his brother needed a father. 

The kids have moved on the last of them moving out a month ago. My sister told me yesterday that he has run everyone off and that she has her own plans for freedom. I think now that she has raised the kids she wants to find some happiness and peace. 

Their lives have been forever changed mostly by one person and this person was not the addicted. The kids have learned things about relationships that are totally unhealthy.  They have learned that you have to manage people to keep the peace mostly in a passive aggressive way. When all else fails you can flee but ultimately this leaves a big whole that needs to be healed.

I am sorry my sister has lived with this situation we both have had a hard times in our lives.  It is too bad that we couldn't help each or even confide in each other.  We  have been alone and left to our own abilities to find our way out. Realizing that it isn't the addiction that destroys us it is our reaction to it and our fear of making the wrong that keeps us from finding freedom. 

I have left my expectations for being a real part of my family behind.  If it does work out that would be nice but if it doesn't I will be okay too. I have found the peace I have been searching for so long. I have finally let go of thinking anyone or even life for that matter owes me anything.

We are all doing our best and we must all find our own to peace.  

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Happy on the outside - Miss Wild and Dancing

have always felt like I was on the outside looking in I could see early on that I was different my family was different.

We were Pentecostal this never was a problem for me until my teacher Miss Wild in the 4th grade started an half hour of dancing ever Friday afternoon. I loved her she looked like Cher and was the coolest person I had ever met. When I went home to tell my mother about the dancing she was appalled and made me take a note to Miss Wild saying that I wasn't allowed to participate in the dancing.  Every week while the other kids danced I had to sit and watch.

It was the burden I had to bare for my families beliefs. I felt lucky, unlike some of the other kids from our church,  I was able to wear pants. I think this came about because I was a tom boy and it was more important for me to be covered then the rules of dress.

I was odd from the beginning even in my own family I didn't really fit in too well. I looked at people and what they were doing and saying and I just didn't get it. The girls in my neighborhood were all very tight DeDe and Beverly were best friends and when they had a big fight one of them would befriend me until they made up and then they both would reject me.

My mother suffered over my social problems more than I did and she was always looking for a solution.  No one was sure what was wrong with me and at one point I was put into special ed with Bobby who lived on my street who what definitely a little slow.

I went along with this because this is what my mother wanted.  It was a few hours of free time each week a break from the seriously boring school day. I felt sorry for Bobby not understanding that people were thinking the same thing about me. Today I would be diagnosed with ADD and put on drugs even then they did offer drugs but we were health nuts and my mother refused.

This period with Bobby didn't last long but it didn't help me to fit with my schoolmates either. When my mother died in the 5th grade it sealed my fate for ever being normal in the real world. Headlines "Pentecostal girl loses mother and any hope of being accepted by the outside world".  My skin was pretty thick by then and I had created my own world a place where I controlled all emotion.  I accepted that I was alone and would have to figure things out for myself.

I remember once telling my mother not to worry about me that I was fine and I would find my own way. This was when she was first sick.  I meant it and by that time I was pretty autonomous and felt and had found my place alone in the world.  I had know idea what was coming but I was strong and my will kept me going.

This is my story of life from the outside. I never felt a part of any group until I went to Al-Anon.  The brokenness and strength I found there seemed so familiar to me.  People strong on the outside but with so many sad parts on the inside.  Everyone had been through something and wanted to get better.

The acceptance I found there was incredible.  I became a part of a clique which became the closest thing to a family that I have had.  Some of us are still together but some are not as comfortable letting the past go and being happy and healthy.  It does feel really awkward to not being broken and trying to fix myself.  I have done my best and it is time to rest and enjoy what the day has to offer instead of looking for the next problem to solve. Filling my days trying to solve an outside problem and when there isn't one looking for one on the inside. 

I feel whole for the first time in my life. I have always believed that because I didn't fit in that there was something wrong with me.  The search for the cure consumed my life. I tried so hard to find a place where I did fit in that I gave up parts of myself to appear normal.  Today I know that I am perfect just the way I am and that girl in me that tried to sooth her mother's worries is still here today finding my own way. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Grace - Instincts and entertainment

Image result for images of mallard ducks crossing highwayI experienced a moment of grace this week that brought tears to my eyes.  I was on my way to work sitting at a light at a really busy intersection.  Two mallard ducks and six ducklings came to the corner and started crossing.  Cars and trucks were flying by and never slowed not one.  When the light finally changed the ducks were across.

It was like they were totally blind to their surrounding and yet they made it across   You could say it was instincts that took them across that busy street but we have all seen ducks that didn't make it.  I think this is why it felt like grace.  For some reason the universe conspired to protect them.

In my own life I have experienced a lot of grace.  When my mind failed me there was something that kept me going or at times kept me still. I always thought I could think my way out of any situation but my mind became my worst enemy and somehow something inside of me was able to see that.

It was hard but I started to ignore the voice that I had relied on my whole life. I started looking for the silence and when I found it I would just stop there for as long as I could.  I trust that part of me now more than ever and whenever I am at a crossroad I trust my instincts over my intellect.

My instincts my failed me like it did the ducks but I guess grace will have to kick like it has so many times before.  I love my mind and the entertainment it has offered me all these years but I have learned that it is mostly just talk and can't always be trusted.

Today I am happy to be free from thinking so much and thinking my thoughts will save me from whatever situation I am trying to run away from. I can be peaceful and know to trust my instincts and when they fail me there is always grace.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Peace - Better than I am today

I have written a couple of post that I lost interest in before I posted them.  I wonder sometimes whether writing here is really what I should be doing anymore.  Whether my words are of any interest to anyone since sometimes they don't even interest me.

I began writing here at a time in my life that was so low that I could barely function.  I had lost everything that I thought was important to me.  I had lost even my core self or so I thought.  It was a time when there was no one to lean on and all the fixes of the past didn't work.

There were times when I didn't think I could go on even one more day.  My mind and body were working against me and I was convinced that I would feel like I did forever. Eight years does seem like forever when you believe you will never feel happy again.

I believe now that the stress of being left again together with the recession and some symptoms of menopause over taxed my body and produced the perfect storm in my brain.  My judgment wasn't good and I faced the situation alone and didn't seek medical advice. I didn't know that the prolong state of crisis that I was in along with the lack of care for myself  was affecting my thinking.

I have spent my whole life thinking I was in control and that I could manage whatever came my way. I had to believe this to survive I learned early that you just have to push on no matter what. My first experience with this was the death of my mother. I taught myself how to deal with the unknown by staying busy doing something every minute to avoid the feelings.

This was my method and it worked pretty well until my husband left.  He was really the only person I let in my world even to this day. We had the same brokenness his mother had also died at eleven too and his father drank to avoid the pain. He had been alone too and we connected in a way that was not healthy but felt safe. When he moved on I withdrew back into my task mode and kept going.

I found Al-Anon and it changed my life.  It helped me first to simplify my thoughts and to focus on the moment.  The slogans "first things first" - "keep it simple" and 'one day at a time" kept me going. I went to meetings everyday and I found people like me.  People who thought too much and felt responsible for everything.

Until then it never occurred to me that my thoughts were hurting me or that my thinking was developed by my own child's mind. Every solution I found including the program was just and extension of my need to control what was happening to me.  It was more of the same feeling I was responsible for every right and wrong thing that happened to me.

Where this long emotional road has brought me is to a final resting place. A place of peace only after realizing their is no solution.  Once I was able to remove all the layers of thoughts the child in me had created to survive I was free. At first I was terrified because I felt so empty without the constant dreaming and scheming going on in my head.

I realized I had to stop searching for the secret to life and happiness.  The warm fussy blanket of protection that would keep bad things from happening to me.  The energy that I spent doing this wasting the actual time I had to be happy.  Nothing bad is happening in this moment and so I can just be happy.  My mind is totally bored with this idea because there is nothing for it to do.

The way I thought was a habit and a way to entertain myself when life was out of control. I had to let it all go to find what I really wanted which was peace. Peace that is available every moment if I choose to acknowledge it.

It has been a long journey to find myself and forgive myself.  I learned a lot and had to un-learn a lot too.  I feel gratefull today not to be trapped by the constant need to be better than I am today.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Triggers - Cunning baffling and powerful

I have let something at work get under my skin. It a circumstance that triggers my past of dealing with the addicted. My perception that those that have addictive personalities use their charm to break on the rules and do what ever they want even if it has a negative affect on other people.

It takes me back to my husband and how everyone thought he was the greatest man on earth.  People would tell me, especially women, how lucky I was that he married me.  He was charming and would say everything that everyone wanted to hear.  In public and in front of friends he was smooth and everyone loved him including me.

I accepted the task of taking care of our lives.  In our private life nothing ever got done unless I did it. He made big promises and little promises and it didn't matter how important they were they were never kept.  He meant it with all his heart when he made them but mostly I think this was instinct a way to smooth things over temporarily and I so wanted to believe him.  A skill I think he developed at a young age living in a house with active alcoholism.

My own sickness was my eagerness to take care of everyone and make things run smoothly.  I did feel lucky that a guy so popular and that everyone loved would be interested in me. The truth was our life together was one crisis after another.  We didn't have the skills to deal with adult problems and he turned to alcohol when he couldn't deal with life.  I turned to managing crisis he created it was full time job.

I spent all my time trying to get him to do what he said he would do.  To shape him into the person I knew he wanted to be. Really he told me that he wanted to do better and provide for me.  When he turned thirty he told me how he was disappointed that he was not further along and couldn't give me the things I deserved.  How could you not love a person like this.  Of course by then he was on his second affair also a part of alcoholism progression.

This relationship made me complete nuts mostly because I thought I could make a difference.  It was obvious that he needed to just do what he promised.  It also made nuts that no one could see how what he was doing was ruining our lives.  He always said and did the right thing in public and his drinking friends thought I was a controlling bitch.  One to me that we didn't belong together.

What does this have to do with work. My co-worker was put in charge or qualifying customers and then passing them on to us. This was a great help at first but over time they have stopped being that interested. They also promised the customer anything and then handed them over to one of us to deliver the reality of our world.  Then the past few months I stopped really getting very many leads. They went on vacation and that week I got so many new customers I couldn't keep up.

What really got me going was they started taking on new customers for themselves.  In my mind a conflict of interest when they are speaking to everyone that comes in the store. No one has a problem with this except me because they have enough referrals and I am still establishing myself.  Also this person comes and goes as they please leaving early, calling regularly and saying their car has broken down and calling in sick.  I think they are working on these other jobs.

I thought to myself "why is this making you so crazy?"  my answer is that someone is coming between me and my ability to take care of myself. I have turned my happiness over to someone else. The part about them getting away with all the other stuff is related to my past. Everyone loves this person and no matter what they do they can do no wrong.  This makes me crazy.

I finally decided to remove the real problem for me.   I told them for my shifts I would take the calls and meet the customers and so far business is booming. Only two shifts. What they are doing outside what affects me is none of my business.  I don't want to spend anymore time thinking about them or what they are getting away with.  This is my past feeling from living with an alcoholic an thinking it was my responsibility to make them do right that takes me straight to crazy.

They are mad at me and as expected turned this around this around to be my problem. They are right is is my problem and I have solved it for myself. When you have lived with a cunning, baffling and powerful disease and recovered you can see things that others can't see.  You also have to ability to step back and see where those feelings are coming from. You can't avoid triggers but you can see them for what they are just ghost from the past. I don't have to give into to crazy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Resistance - Letting go

I haven't felt I anything much to write about these days.  I have been plugged back into the matrix and just enjoying the normal things life has to offer.  Work has been exceptionally busy but it doesn't seem like a burden to me like it has in the past.

I am happy that I have found my center once again.  It is true that it has taken me a long time to stop resisting this new life that I have been given.  The world seems to offer us two choices either to sit back and relax and let life just flow or to decide what you want and set out to make those dreams come true. The second seems like a lot of work to me.

If you believe in a power greater than yourself then there is nothing to do but enjoy what is right in front of you.  If you feel this life is it you better get busy.

I have come to the conclusion that life is about finding something to do each day that brings you joy or at least entertains you. I have found that thinking that a particular destination will bring you happiness never really works out.  You might have a short time of satisfaction until the mind gets restless again it is never going to be satisfied for very long.

I  have to decide how I want to feel today and what I need to do to make that happen. I am at my best when I stop resisting what I perceive to be unpleasant and just go with the flow.  In the end how much will any of this really matter.

Just for today I will do my best to let go and focus on what is right about my life and not get distracted by what I think isn't working.