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.