What has happened to me?

When did I stop fighting back? When did I give up on standing up for my rights or others? When did I become afraid? Is it age? Am I getting soft? Am I more fearful? Is it the times we live in? Maybe a combination of all of the above. 

We were in line at an auto car wash. I pulled my car in behind his in line. I didn’t know he wasn’t lined up right. I didn’t know he was going to have to back up and realign his huge truck so he could get through the door. I didn’t know it until he nearly backed into me and then, throwing it into park, he jumped out and agressively approached the drivers side of my car yelling about what an idiot I was. I apologized profusely and repeatedly while simultaneously holding out my hands in supplication and putting the car into reverse so he could back up and reapproach. “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m so sorry sir” I yelled through my windshield as my car and the cars behind me all backed up. 

Then as I sat, well back from the truck bed and waited for him to enter the wash I began to tear up. Real tears. Lip shaking. 

What the hell? Forty year old me would have jumped out of my car and demanded to know how he dared to yell at me because he didn’t know how to drive his own fucking truck. Even had I initially not confronted him, I certainly would have when I had regained my composure and might have asked him what kind of man yells at a woman old enough to be his mother like that. I know I wouldn’t have cried and I’m fairly certain the first words that came out of my mouth would not have been desperately uttered words of apology in a shaky old lady voice. 

I think I was a little afraid, I don’t handle outright aggression  very well. But I’ve been afraid before in my life and my reaction was not to tuck and run. 

I’m disgusted. First and foremost I’m disgusted in that asshole for acting like a four year old and blaming someone else for his ineptitude but I’m equally or even more disgusted or maybe disappointed with myself. What have I become? When did it happen? What happened to self assured and somewhat fearless single mom who wanted to conquer the world and all of its inequities? Can I get her back or is she gone forever? I didn’t always like that woman but I respected her. She didn’t take shit from anyone, certainly not some two bit thirty year old with his dick in his hand and a Natural Light beer in his cup holder. 

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Today it has been four years since we lost Dad. I don’t really have a lot to say about it.

I have a lot of stuff going around in my head. Some good memories and some bad. I hope he was proud of me. I hope he forgave me for being such a shitty daughter way too often. I’m sad. I love him. I miss him.



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Get over it!

Why is it that in this day and age we can’t allow ourselves even a moment of self pity without someone jumping in to tell us to stop whining or worse, telling us what we should do about it? Why if I’m having a bad day or I’ve just had a lousy thing happen – no matter how trivial – I’m not allowed to feel the feelings that come along with that until I’m ready to not feel them any longer? Why do I have to “buck up” just because someone says I must.

I’m heartily sick and tired of people telling me how I should feel about something. I’m not okay with another individual, I do not care who that person is to me, setting limits on my emotional responses. If I want to be sad about something that makes me sad then why shouldn’t I? If I want to throw a mini temper tantrum because something didn’t go my way then who are you to tell me how to behave? How is me lamenting this thing that has just happened to me impacting your life in a negative way? If you don’t like it then hang up or change the subject but don’t tell me how to feel and for all that is holy do NOT tell me how to fix it.

Now, if I ask your advice, which I will if I need said advice, then by all means fix away but until then don’t … just don’t. Now don’t get all huffy and “I never” right now, if we are having a conversation about something and you want to share your opinion or your position on this I’m not unreasonable and I will listen and often it will help me to change my perspective on something, this is not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is uncomplicated, simple, basic human response. If I tell you something has happened to make me sad then what sense does it do for you to tell me “Don’t be sad.” Of COURSE I’m going to be sad or angry or frustrated or whatever and *NEWSFLASH* I HAVE THAT RIGHT! I’m a grown ass woman in a grown ass world and sometimes stuff happens in that world that are going to elicit a response. Sometimes … wait for it …. it won’t even be a big deal but right here right now it is a big deal so just be a friend and let it run it’s course.

I am a pretty happy person in general. I’m a hippy by nature and all about living a very simple existence. Sometimes though things get in the way of that pursuit and “harsh my mellow”. Am I not allowed to have an emotional response? Why does it bother you so much that I am having a bad day or a bad moment? You have them all the time and I’m there to be supportive and encouraging and give advice when asked (okay sometimes when not asked but I’m working on that I promise) and it’s okay for you but not for me? Think about that for a minute. If this thing that has happened has put me in an emotional state – anger, disappointment, sadness or whatever – do you really think, knowing me as you do, saying “well have you tried ………..?” is the way to go? I mean yeah it is a way to go but don’t you see how that is going to feel to me? Don’t you know me well enough to know that this is the OPPOSITE of what I need?

Yeah yeah I know you were just trying to help. Here’s the thing though. It is the exact wrong thing.

What has happened to empathy? What has happened to saying “Oh no I’m so sorry this has happened to you, what can I do?” When have we become a society that expects no emotion? Does my emotional response make you uncomfortable? Well that’s too bad because it’s not your decision how I respond to something.

Here is what I want … what I need. I need to be supported, not laughed at or lectured to or belittled or told what to do. Just be there. Just.be.there. How hard is that? Am I not there for you when you are suffering or struggling with something? I don’t need that kind of support often and it’s not your place to determine if my response to the issue is appropriate or not. Just let me feel the feelings and express the emotion and when I’m done I’m done. I don’t dwell and I don’t drag it out and I don’t pull you into my drama, I just feel the emotional response, address the issue if I’m able and I move on. Is it any wonder I don’t trust you to protect my emotions? Is it any wonder when I’m feeling down or sad or angry I don’t reach out for comfort? Why would I when I know what I will be met with? I just feel it’s safer for me and everyone around me to just pull the welcome mat in and lock the door.

Have you ever seen a six year old collapse into a pile on the floor in hysterics because you just told him his shoe was untied? What do you do? Do you say to yourself “oh he’s just having a bad day” or “oh poor kiddo is tired” and then gather him up in a hug? Or do you say – in that moment while this kid is buried in your arms in obvious distress – “Well if you double knotted your shoe laces like I told you this wouldn’t happen?” Now, don’t get me wrong, there will be a time and place for that conversation but why on God’s green earth would anyone in their right mind think that the appropriate response while you’re mopping the snot off this child’s face should be to tell him what he already knows? Then you expect him to stop crying, stand up and brush himself off and say “Oh you’re so right mother, why didn’t I think of that? My crying was silly so thank you for making me see the error of my ways”? No ladies and gentlemen that is not going to be what happens. He IS going to cry harder and longer because what he really wants is for you to hold him and tell him it’s okay and to let him cry for a minute until he’s done because maybe it’s about the shoelaces but maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s about something else, bigger and stronger and more upsetting than you are able to fathom or he is able to express but he knows when you hug him and you listen to him that it’s going to be okay.

Just tell me that it’s going to be okay.

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Do you know THINK?

Is it True?

Is it Helpful?

Is it Inspiring?

Is it Necessary?

Is it Kind?

I was just talking with someone tonight about this. I try to use this when I speak because I think it’s important. I don’t want to intentionally or unintentionally cause someone else pain. I work hard to use compassionate speech and to respect other people’s rights to a dissenting opinion. Sure I joke that I’m always right but right or wrong I know everyone will not always agree on everything. 

I know I’ve written about this before but I think it bears repeating. Social media has taken away our compassion. It invites us to release our dark side and use memes or article links to personally attack people with whom we do not agree. I’ve taken a break from a lot of it in large part due to exactly this kind of behavior. 

I met a man about twelve years ago. He was very nice and quiet and would do anything for anyone. Everyone loved this man because he was genuinely good. He was shy and soft spoken but mighty in his faith in God and his love for his family. He was one of those people who you would say “Oh let’s ask ***, he will help” whenever there was a need. 

The internet broke him. Honestly I know you’re probably chuckling and that was my intent but I absolutely feel as if that is what happened to this man. He’s an angry, sad, mean-spirited person and he has completely lost his empathy. For a long time now I have been making excuses for him. I’ve been telling our mutual friends that it’s not his fault, he has been misled. 

Today reality set in. Yes, he is a lemming and has always been but the internet conspiracy theorists and the meme patrols have stolen his compassion. They’ve rotted his soul and he is no longer kind. I used to worry about him but I have decided, as much as it pains me, that I must walk away. I hope only the very best for him but I don’t see this ending well. I tried to help him with gentle guidance and reminders of how words can hurt. He doesn’t care any more. He’s broken. 

I think what took him into the land of no return was this election. Like a lot of other religious zealots (and I think this is a fair assessment of him) he is a Trump supporter. I, big shock, am not. He calls me and people of my ilk names like demons and liars and has no remorse even when I try to call upon him to ask if what he is saying is really what he meant. 

He did. He does. He feels that I, because I believe in the right of a woman to choose and I believe that everyone regardless of race, religion, sex or sexual orientation deserves to be treated the same and I believe that college should not cost $100,000 and that taxes should not be a burden on the poor and middle classes and allow the wealthy to keep their millions safely tucked away. I believe that we should take care of people who can’t feed or clothe themselves or who are unable to afford housing, health care or child care. Because I believe these things I am less than he. I am a demon and I should be vanquished. I’m not exaggerating, truly I wish I were. 

The thing is, I’m just a hippy. I want peace love and understanding. I want no wars and love for everyone. I want farms in empty lots in food deserts and I want to see us find ways to educate our children so they feel like there’s a future. I want us to pay attention to people so much smarter than we when they tell us we are destroying our planet. All of these things are part of who I am and I am not going to be embarrassed or sad about that. I know when I place my head on the pillow that I have tried to be a good person today. 

Here’s the worst part. So does he. He uses God as his shield and says things like “God knows” as though that will somehow make his venom more palatable. Spewing hatred and calling people names in the name of God is reprehensible. I’m an agnostic and I even know that. Don’t call me a Libtard out of one corner of your mouth while you’re drinking the blood of Jesus Christ who died on the cross so we could live.

He broke my heart today. I told him so but I don’t think he cares. I think he is so broken that he has lost his sense of proportion and his compassionate side has left the building. I wanted to believe he was just confused and maybe he is but when someone who genuinely cares about him tries to reason with him and show him how his words hurt and he just pushes them away – he is lost. 

So today I chose to walk away. It is with heavy legs and a pain in my heart but I can’t fix this. I will just have to hope that someday that nice man inside comes back and he can be happy again. 

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Bad dreams and life

Have you ever had a dream so real that you can’t shake the emotion it evokes upon waking? I had one of those last night. I’m a pretty social person and I like to talk to people but I am finding myself wanting to pull my head into my shell today and just be quiet within myself. This is a bit difficult with what I do but I’m going to just try to look busy and push through until I can leave and go home.

I know what caused the dream and why I had it. The participants were a bit of a surprise. It was a combination of three things that caused the dream – a story I re-read from this blog last night, an excerpt from a TV Show called “This is Us” and a conversation I had with someone at work yesterday.

In the dream I was high school age and a popular boy had shown some interest in me. That in and of itself should have sent up red flags but just like when I was in school I fell for the cute boy only to find out that it wasn’t genuine. I found out when I went to a math tutoring session and one of the participants in the session told me – being kind – that he had made some unflattering comments about my appearance. There were some anomalies – Abby from “The Eight is Enough” was the tutor but then she left and Muhammad Ali (post Parkinsons) took her place for one. The kind sort of acquaintance was a girl I used to work with and the popular boy was a guy I used to work with, to whom I can absolutely guarantee you I was never attracted. All very odd. I wasn’t able to do the math Muhammad was trying to help us with and I realized that I was completely unprepared for the math we were learning so when I woke up I was trying to figure out how to extricate myself from the tutoring session without letting the other people know it was because I was out of my depth.

It wasn’t hard to figure out why I’d had the dream. The boy represented the boy I wrote the story about – someone I met when I was right out of high school. He was charming and funny and cute and he ended up being kind of a jerk in the end. The math was because I had a challenging (good challenging) day yesterday at work and I had a couple of things thrown at me that I was unfamiliar with but I’m determined to learn them! I have no idea where Abby or Muhammad came from – that is a complete mystery. The “fat girl” feelings evoked upon learning that the boy was not for real come directly from the show. In the show there is an overweight woman and they show her both as a pre-teen and an adult with all of the trials and tribulations of going through what we go through, including a pretty, slender mom and siblings that don’t have the same issues. It’s no ones fault but my own that I look the way I do and I take full responsibility for that but it happened and every day I have to figure out how to deal with that.

Because of the way I look people make assumptions about me. I know some of you are shaking your head and saying “No that’s not true” but I live it every day and it absolutely does happen. People look at me and they assume I am unhappy, slovenly, undisciplined, uneducated, unintelligent and lazy. I have to work twice as hard to prove what people would just assume about me were I a size fourteen. Yesterday I met a new person here at work with whom I have been interacting for six months on the phone and via email. He wasn’t at all disrespectful in any way but I saw the look of surprise on his face when he met me and I know that look. People underestimate me when they have a visual first but if they “meet” me over the phone they don’t have a pre-conceived idea of my capabilities and they respect my abilities.

Am I projecting because of my own insecurities? Absolutely that is a factor. Over the years I have developed an armor of protection to stave off that judgment. I use my intellect, my abilities and my personality to change their stereotypical minds and force them to see me as I am. I am a person – not just a fat person. I’ve said this before in other ruminations and it’s not something I’m proud of but it is my reality. I strive to be the smartest person in the room because I have something to prove. I can’t allow people’s pre-conceived ideas about who I am based upon my appearance to stand unchallenged but, being this is polite society, I can’t call them on it, so instead I work extra hard to make sure they see ME – the complicated person that is me. I can’t allow them to see my insecurities because that would defeat my purpose. I need them to know that I’m completely capable and to trust that I can take care of business.

This sensitivity to other peoples’ image of me does spill over into all aspects of my life and I can say beyond a doubt that my shyness and reticence at large events or places where I will meet new people is due in large part to this. I know I shouldn’t care what other people think but it is my reality that I do. I put on a good front mind you. I had a very close friend tell me last year that she was shocked to know that I lack confidence. This is a good thing because it tells me that my mask is firmly in place.

I feel very protective of the vulnerable person inside of me. This isn’t a “poor me” statement but the truth of the matter is that on more than one occasion in my life I have allowed that mask to fall and have shown my vulnerability only to be hurt or taken advantage of, which no one would ever feel great about. I’m not blaming the other person or persons in this scenario though because I’ve made choices to allow those people to be in a position to cause me that pain. I’m less likely to allow that now as I get older because frankly I don’t have the time or energy for all that nonsense. My life is good. Simple.

Anyway, the dream has stuck with me today and it is impacting my reactions to things. I’m finding myself feeling defensive and that automatically makes me build more armor and my responses are clipped and intolerant. This morning a co-worker was speculating about a companywide meeting we are having tomorrow. As usual the rumor mill is hard at work and half the company thinks they’re going to lose their jobs. It’s illogical and silly but it’s not fair of me to negate their feelings. People stress about this stuff and after going through four lay offs I can understand it but the reality is that there are too many mitigating factors that make their concerns unfounded. Most of the time I would just listen and nod in understanding and move on with my life but today I find myself wanting to snap at these people for creating unnecessary drama in their lives. I know this is mean spirited and that I should be supportive of their need for reassurance without validating their concerns but I’m just not in the mood.

So today I’m going to just work hard and keep my own counsel and avoid any in depth conversations as best I can until I can get home and meditate or whatever and pull myself out of this funk. The best thing about today? I’m having an amazing hair day!

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I’m tired. I’ve had a really emotional day today, lots of ups and downs. I watched a young man I love very much graduate from high school today. I met this boy when he was a toddler and he couldn’t even speak English. I cried happy tears as I watched him walk. His tiny body tense, his shoulders thrown back, hands opening and closing reflexively as he inched his way in line to receive his diploma and shake hands with the principal.
He was scared but he did it. He sat there beforehand and listened to all the speakers politely, barely fidgeting and trying to look all grown up. My heart burst with love for this complicated boy and pride in him and his Mama and Papa who I have had the pleasure and privilege of calling family for more than half our lives. No one has any real idea what’s in store for this boy. Nothing comes easily to him. He did this though, he did what he needed to do and even full of nerves he got through his graduation ceremony. 
As we all did the hugs and “I love yous” and “See you soon I mean its!” I smiled and, not for the first time, thanked my lucky stars that this crazy new kid hippie chick sat down next to me in the commons and told me a story those many years ago. We all grew up together, raised our kids together, fought and cried and laughed and taught and learned and talked and sat in silence and listened to music and argued about it on occasion too. We’ve shared our hopes and our dreams and our failures and our accomplishments. We’ve bragged about our children and asked for advice and given unsolicited advice on occasion as well. We’ve told our deepest darkest secrets and trusted completely. We stared off into the distance together remembering and trying to forget. 
When we were teenagers we used to fantasize about buying this big house and all of us living there in this commune like place. I know now that it was fear of the future and of losing our way. Over the years we’ve all wandered a little bit and occasionally lost our way but we never dropped that tether. We are linked by our souls and by our love for each other and our children. I know that my best friend would go to the ends of the earth for my child and she knows that I would do the same for hers. She is my warm place, she is in my heart, she has invited me into hers as well and I could not be more grateful. 
Thank you my friend for so much. For trusting me with your children, for loving me even when I’m not that lovable, forgiving me when I make mistakes, forcing me to be accountable when I’m wrong and empowering me when I’m right. You’ve made me a better person and I cannot imagine what my life would’ve been like if I didn’t have you in it in some capacity or another for the last 38 years. 

Congratulations to our sweet, lovable complicated boy for graduating today and congratulations to his amazing parents for getting him there. I love you guys. 

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Re-written and edited as requested. I agree it’s much more reader friendly.
The ability to laugh at one’s self is paramount to living a life of contentment. Recognizing our own weaknesses only makes us stronger. Knowing our own strengths is necessary to our survival. Allowing others to see those weaknesses or to utilize those strengths thus making ourselves vulnerable is sometimes difficult but should be considered an opportunity for growth.
Allowing someone, even someone we love, to steal our power, to douse our light, to turn our vulnerabilities against us or make us into a joke, dinner fodder for their friends or someone to look down upon, is unacceptable. 

So here is my advice that which I have embraced for myself. 
You are no one’s clown unless you choose to be. Don’t live in fear of losing something or someone that has become toxic or makes you feel badly about yourself or your choices. You know who you are and what you are capable of in this life. You know what kind of person you are and what kind of friend/co-worker/lover/family member you want to be. Surround yourself with positive loving like-minded people who laugh with you – not at you. Spend your time growing and learning with people who care about what you have to say. Make time for the people in your life who, if not build you up, at least support and respect you and your beliefs and choices. Show the world that your light is worth shining by gathering those around you who don’t want you to douse that light. Be strong, be caring, be loving, be compassionate, be vulnerable and be powerful. Love yourself and be the person you know you can be. Let the negativity roll off your back and remember that there are people who will embrace you as you are and not expect you to change to please them. Don’t waste time or energy focusing on the negative but instead find the positive in everything you do.
You are no ones punch line. Good nature and kindness are not signs of weakness they are signs of a self-aware, self-confident individual and should be lauded and applauded not belittled or taken for granted. These qualities are now, have always been and will always be signs of strength and character and not as some would have us believe signs of weakness or malleability. Be strong in your convictions and be happy with who you are and what you have to offer. Love yourself.

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