Into November

This is my tough time of year. I notice my melancholy in October – the end of summer transition – and I do what I can to mitigate it. I have a light-box that provides full-spectrum light, and I’ve busied myself with Halloween decorations, & attending a party, but I missed my son and the Halloween fun we shared when he was little.

I made the mistake of telling him, hoping for some connection or commiseration – I know, I know – am I stupid, or high?, and he was not nostalgic. I think it freaks him out that he was ever a little kid, and that I remember it all. It makes no difference that he’s getting older, he’ll always have the child perspective, and I’ll always be the weird has-been parent. I should have shared my longing with a friend, or a therapist…

So, I binged on Halloween candy, sugar-coating my feelings, and started pulling out my cold weather clothes which I’ll wash & put in the bureau after putting away the Halloween decor.

It will take some getting used to the brown and greying landscape again, and my mood will shift when the cloud-blanketed sky moves on & the sun illuminates the last golden leaves clinging to branches, or providing shadow-play through the woods and surrounding hillside.

Sauteing onions and garlic for the chicken soup creates more warmth and delicious aroma, heightened when coming in from the cold, and satisfying my hunger – unlike the sugary snacks that take more than they give.

Writing helps too. Getting out the essence of my longing – parsing my underlying fear of irrelevance, of aging, and of my existential loneliness.

Remembering that youth’s bounty was mostly a more flexible body because my life was dogged by my dark story and my clinical depression. Having more energy & vitality was nice, but I mostly just existed, and it’s only now, with better perspective, and some relief of my depression and anxiety through TMS, that I’ve been living more than existing.

Aging is payment for life on Earth – and regardless of relative time scales – everything decays, and nothing stays the same, no matter my, or anyone else’s, wishes.

Acceptance is about the only choice I have if I’d like some peace, but until acceptance and approval get untangled for me, life remains a battle.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

 

Aging Gracefully

I have no concept of that sentiment except ‘don’t complain’. Who among us would welcome aging’s insults? Perspective is a different story. I’d much rather have the perspective I have now than I did at twenty, though I thought I knew all there was to know of any importance.

And we do know a lot at twenty. We’re not idiots (unless we actually are); we’re just inexperienced.

I made some colossally poor decisions in my teens and twenties – choices I would make differently now – and some I wished I had then, but that all goes into the experience bucket. Those poor choices helped me grow and make different choices. I don’t know if they were ‘better’ choices, but they were more helpful, often.

Choosing therapy was a good decision. It has taken the better part of my life to use half the wisdom gained through good therapists (along with how to spot a terrible one – or even if a therapist isn’t a good fit, or if I could go no further with them).

So many decisions were fear-based, and there’s no do-over, so I have to live with that. Some non-action turned out in my favor – by grace – or luck, so I’m grateful.

I’ve been seeing more of my selfish, self-seeking behavior and it stings to know I’m a shitty human sometimes, but I’m still alive so I can change.

I hate aging, but I’m grateful for my relatively strong body. I have to work for it, and sometimes I skip work-outs, but forgiving myself is important because being an asshole isn’t going to make me feel or do better.

I quit alcohol six months ago. It’s kind of incredible that much time has passed. That was my only goal then, but I’ve since slowly gotten into a recovery program as well – although I still loathe the cultish vibe but recognize that for some, it’s recovery or death. I have only to look at my parents’ history to know it could, and likely would, have gotten worse for me had I not quit.

I know alcohol addiction is ‘cunning, baffling, and powerful’, to quote AA literature, as well as understanding that I will find myself without defense against the first drink, and my only remedy for continued sobriety is to work with others wanting sobriety.

Alcohol also contributes to aging quicker. Sugar is the real culprit, so I have to cut down on sweets if I want to cut down inflammation, which contributes to aging.

It’s tough to see my once smooth, collagen-filled skin starting to look like droopy lizard hide.

So, embrace it, the gurus say. I might, eventually. It’s still fairly new though, so I’m in the mourning phase. Now I’m supposed to become a sage, or crone – realizing that my intellect is still keen, and could be for the rest of my life, barring disease or accidents – and true power is more of the mind than body. Still, I don’t like how menopause has wrecked my libido, or how my skin is thinning, or my hair, once vibrant strawberry-blonde, is now fading & becoming white streaked.

Acceptance is not approval and is the first step to freedom. I can’t be held captive to something I make peace with, but it’s a process, and anything I ever let go of has claw marks all over it.

Graceful I’m not; aging I am.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Puppet People

If you think about it, we’re self-animated, or actuated, puppets.  We’re going to die, and if you’ve ever seen a loved one’s dead body, you know how they are utterly gone.  Their body seems like some strange putty – some facsimile of who they were, and somewhat recognizable – but definitely not ‘them’.

We are not our bodies – we control our bodies with who we really are.

You reach for an object, not even realizing that you commanded your body to act, rather than being your body – which could or would act autonomously of your desire.  Outside of blood, breath, temperature, neurology & cellular replication, our body, unless compromised by disease or disorder, is controlled by our thoughts.

Hungry: eat.  Tired: sleep, or fight sleep when you need to stay awake.  Scared: hide, or run, or freeze. Happy: smile, dance, laugh.

There is so, so much we don’t understand, all around us.  Some suggest that there’s an invisible (to most of humanity) world going on as closely as anything we can observe or know.

Why are some people psychic, or able to observe what others cannot, if they’re not charlatans?

Why am I sensitive to things my friends aren’t?  I know when I’m in an occupied space, or perhaps a super occupied space.  I lived in a ‘haunted’ apartment for two years, constantly questioning my sanity and perception, but when I moved to another apartment that was not haunted, I could sleep with the light off, and not be afraid to walk to the bathroom during the night.

I have experienced intense energy, or whatever it was, that others seem not to – and I am nothing special.

So what? – right?  It matters because even if we don’t know where we’re going from here, it means we are not our bodies, our physical matter.  That’s pretty cool.  Maybe our brain is the only part of us that matters most, outside of other vital organs, but even those who think our brain is the limit – that everything begins and ends between our ears – that doesn’t account for anything outside our understanding that we experience.

I feel hopeful thinking that my existence doesn’t end here, and I’m as rightfully here as anyone else, and my continuation, while unknown, is as certain as knowing that death is only of my body, but not of my essence.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

In Life’s Flow

Occupying the middle part of my life is odd. I’m noticing my body changing in unfamiliar and distressing ways.  I think I have arthritis (!) in my hands.  I’m learning guitar, but when I curl my fingers they snap at me like I’m trying to bend them in ways they shouldn’t be bent.  Idiots.

I drove through a town I lived and had friends in from ages eleven through thirteen, remembering the home of a friend whose birthday fell around Halloween so her parents had created a haunted house for several twelve-year-old girls.  I wonder if she ever remembers that?  What she, or her parents, couldn’t know is how abnormal that was for me.  I was living in a commune/cult where everyday was somewhat surreal, and definitely un-nuclear family-ish.  She and the other school girls there, along with her parents, and attending a typical family party were an oasis in the desert of my life. Sure, I grew up learning how to deal with a few hundred adults, and a gaggle of children daily, but I craved closeness and structure.

The commune/cult was diffuse and casually neglectful.  Most of them weren’t malicious, but there was so much going on all the time that people naturally found their cliques – circled their wagons, so to speak – only they didn’t realize that exposed the most vulnerable to predation and harmful neglect.

I see advertisements now and don’t recognize anyone I can relate to, not that I ever really could, but at least I was in the same age bracket.  The only relatable ads I see are for fiber products, or erectile dysfunction, neither of which do I care about, or apply. Well, fiber is good at any age – we all need to poop.

A sea change is needed, but what do I do?  Do I leave my relationship to head out for parts unknown?  And what if parts unknown end up on a heating grate in some city, trying to keep warm and guard my few belongings from being stolen – again?

Maybe things could work out, but my life has always been just managing, and never actually living.  Do I have the courage?  And if I have the courage, can I manage it? I have boxes of books but nothing, except my son’s childhood art and other keepsakes, keeping me from packing it all up, ditching my books at some lucky bookstore, and setting out.

I know there are soup kitchens across the nation, and I suppose my big worry is where I can safely sleep, but otherwise, what have I got to lose?  I lose my boyfriend, and that would suck, but I’m failing, and don’t have other ideas to help myself.

My vague plan is heading out to California again and doing my best to get into television or films there – the acting mecca – but it’s also the land of bitter disappointment and ruin.

If I had the money, I’d pay a reputable psychic to help guide me – but if I had the money, I wouldn’t need the guidance…

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Heart Of The Matter

At writing group tonight I listened to a friend read her piece about her birthday today and how being sixty was kind of amazing, and it made me feel like I can do this.  I can get to sixty someday soon, and maybe it won’t be so bad.

She is a strong, beautiful woman, and I might not have seen that at twenty, or even thirty, but time shapes us whether we want it or not.  I am not in control.  No matter how much I try to determine my destiny, I am foiled by this great unknown we’re all in.

We are all in.  Once in a while, some of us break out and try controlling the show, life events, or life’s trajectory, but they are quelled by others or by their own mortality. We came into the world by chance or by design, and maybe we’re supposed to cause an effect, or maybe just witness this incredible moment, because it is really only a moment – especially as I get older and see how damn fast it all goes.

I have no idea where I’m going from here, or if there’s somewhere from here, and maybe religion is right, or maybe it’s all a crock – all people just whistling in the dark – but I’ve found love, and friendship, kinship, beauty, terror, and horror, along with inexplicable help and guidance.

What I’ve found true is following my heart.  I might be wrong, but whenever I’ve tried to follow someone or something else’s idea of how to navigate this world, it’s caused deeper pain than just muddling through.

I can’t believe in a punishing ‘god’.  It makes no sense to me.  Maybe I’ll pay for that, but I’ll take my chances.  God is love, or it is nothing.  I cannot be better than ‘god’.  So, if there is such a thing, It loves and accepts me.

If there’s nothing, then this has been an interesting manifestation of life replicating itself.  I hope I’ve left more good than bad, and if my son has a child, or children, then our line continues, and if not, then we die out with his generation.  So be it.

Maybe we’ll colonize other worlds, or maybe humanity will perish with this one, but life on earth has abundant time left for whatever will happen.

And though I have no say, I’d like us to have mattered – to be the reason for existence – but that might be ego rather than reality.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Which Way To Here?

‘Wherever you go, there you are.’

I don’t know who coined that phrase, but hearing it changed my life.  I bring me with me – moving away never solved my problems, though it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying.  Looking back to my 20’s and 30’s, I’m surprised I survived.  Even if I had tried to off myself, I would likely have been unsuccessful, and then maimed for life.  So life would still suck, and I’d be scarred, or worse.  Great.

Getting over self-preservation is no small undertaking.  No one makes it out of here alive, so there’s that reasoning, but what we might do here goes beyond us.

A therapist told me that if I kill myself, I give my son permission to end his life too. I fluffed that off, but since I know 3 people who were successful in the last few years, it’s been working on me in whispers at vulnerable times.

‘You’ll never get out of debt, loser girl.’  That’s one of the lovely names my inner asshole has for me.  The ‘girl’ is a nice touch – colloquial and derogatory at once. ‘You’re worth more dead than alive’ – true – as long as I can keep paying the insurance, which looks less likely each time the payment’s due. ‘You’re aging now and you’re losing the little looks you had, and you’re worth less and less.’  ‘You’ve failed everything you’ve tried, and it’s too late to make it anywhere.’  ‘You can’t even get a regular job! Not one interview, and no prospects.’

The most significant, however, is the voice that tells me that I’ll end my pain.  No more suffering.  No more challenges.  No more heartache.

Except, wherever I go, there I am.

Maybe I’ll have a consciousness, maybe I won’t. I’ve never died before. I’ve read lots of books and studies on people who have died and been revived, and they usually talk about bright light, and seeing loved ones who’ve passed on, or of spirits – ghosts – that seem to be stuck in the thoughts and feelings they had when they died.

Finding work I can do has been the bane of my existence. Clearly, I have to get entrepreneurial, but figuring that out is the rub.

The positives of staying alive are seeing the beautiful land where I live, hearing birds trilling, and flying around, watching the fireflies this time of year, and listening to tree frogs and crickets.  Cats and dogs don’t care what I look like as long as I can scratch behind their ears and feed them. They aren’t body-based, or judgmental, but humans sure are.

And when depression’s shroud descends, none of that matters in my messed up head. I don’t care about anyone, and that disconnection is bizarre to witness.

Grandma Moses said: ‘Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.’  She began painting her quaint village scenes in her 80’s, and she lived another 20 years, so not only do I have those phrases to shore me up, but Yogi Berra‘s: ‘It ain’t over ’til it’s over’, is another adage to hang onto.

So, wherever I’m headed, I can’t escape myself – and I prefer self-love over self-loathing, but there I am – whatever it is.

heartcloudbig

 

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

Through A Glass, Clearly

One of my first experiences of body appreciation was by reading Peanuts. That’s right, my philosophical beginning came through a comic strip.  Not to diminish Mr. Schultz’s worldly observations, but I was a 5 or 6-year-old reading Snoopy’s exploits, or maybe it was Charlie Brown’s? – giving his legs and feet a pep talk, something like: ‘feet don’t fail me now’, as though they had brains of their own.  It was revelatory for me to think about my legs and feet as maybe failing me, or that they deserved recognition for their constant work on my behalf.

Flash forward more decades than I wish, reluctantly wearing reading (in this case, writing…) glasses, experiencing appreciation for what was.  I was going to eradicate aging though, merely by believing I could.  Hey, the cultists told me we only age because we think we’re going to – that it’s all attitude and belief.  That I’ve aged merely indicates my lack of faith…

One of my sisters needed glasses her whole life, so I guess she was spiritually lacking from the get-go.  Idiocy aside, aging means diminished ability – no matter how well we eat, or how many vitamins and minerals we take to slow the process.  The only way to stop aging is to die.  That’s it.  Plastic surgery doesn’t stop bodily degeneration, unless we start implanting baby organs, and stem cells to replenish our damaged cells.  And there’s a bodily cost for those ‘interventions’: getting surgically sliced and diced causes damage too.

Fighting the inevitable – outside of being my Native American, or, First People, name – is exhausting.  Acceptance feels like giving up.  I know it’s not, but my emotional self says: ‘Screw you! – you’ll never take me alive’.  And my body replies: ‘Well, that’s the intention…’.

So I extend my gratitude backwards.  My body served me well, and still does.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

Younger-er

There’s a new series on TV called, Younger, starring Sutton Foster, that is so fun.  The concept is of a newly divorced mother trying to re-enter the work force at 40, and being turned down due to her age by interviewers in their 20’s.  While ridiculous on its face, there are truths, or at least issues, I can relate to.

http://www.tvland.com/shows/younger
http://www.tvland.com/shows/younger

Not a fan of aging, or of people complaining about being old, or how old they are, and blah, blah, blah, I so relate to this character.

The ideas of youthful freedom are as tantamount as the inexperience and relative irresponsibility of being young.  So while I complain about those who complain about being old, I see the bounty of perspective.  I see how each and every day led to me to where I am, and I wouldn’t care to repeat much of that time.

I learned about betrayal, heartache, false friends, misguided trust, and self-reliance.  Being my own best friend was hard-gained, and learning that being alone was alright took several years.

It was miserable when I saw younger people see me as older.  It was truly fucking awful, but what could I do?  I couldn’t afford surgery to try to stay perpetually 20, and even if I could, why would I want to?  I was there!  So, my twenties sucked – a lot of it.  I also had a lot of fun.  My thirties came quicker than I expected, but there ya go – it happened, and so did my forties…

Acceptance is a bitch sometimes.  If I could disguise myself and be seen as young, and get a do-over, what a different time it would be.  It’s universal: the desire to be young and yet have a wise perspective.  Twenty-somethings might never feel that way, but wait until they hit forty.  The difference is like looking out, or down, from a high cliff rather than ground level.  Whether you know what to do with that vantage point is dependent on many factors, but the lucky few who understand their worth and their abilities get to make a pretty good life for themselves and their loved ones.

It’s not a magic formula, I know.  There are those who are confident and capable and life is a douche-bag to them anyway, but usually, perseverance can lead them through the rough patches.

And there will be rough patches.  I don’t care how gilded a life is, it isn’t exempt from some form of hell.  Perhaps I’d gladly exchange my hell for theirs, but hell it is.

So, unless I can radically change my life, it would be wiser for me to accept where I am.

I guess I can accept it, but I don’t approve of it.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

One For The Ages

Did our ancestors age in the same way we did, or would they have if life expectancy weren’t half of what it is today?

They ate much better than we do – when food was plentiful.  They had all the super anti-oxidant berries, fruits, many grains, nuts, seeds, and non-pesticide or other chemical laden, non-gmo meats and vegetables.  They breathed cleaner air, drank purer water, even though air and water may have been polluted by methane, or volcanic ash, or animal and human waste, it was still better than our toxic world, and their immune systems had to have been fairly robust to advance our species to today.

So many new supplements, creams, and ‘super foods’, crowd store shelves in our collective quest to stay young, and energetic – full of piss and vinegar – maybe literally as Fire Cider asserts better health and its implication of longevity, or at least more energy.

I want what they’re selling.  Youth in a bottle piques my interest every time, and I spend too much time searching for the truth behind the façade, feeling more uncertain of those products’ plausibility.  And whether or not those foods and substances hold real promise, I can’t afford them anyway.

Staying young will be for the ultra-rich.

We’ve all seen examples of those chasing permanent youthfulness, with hundreds of horrifying plastic surgery examples making those people nearly unrecognizable, and certainly not better looking.  Even successful surgeries don’t always increase happiness, some creating greater insecurity as the chase for the next enhancement is on.

Self-acceptance, wherever we are in life, is our best ally, but that doesn’t mean it’s easily achieved, and it’s advertisers’ goal to make us life-long consumers of their products, and they are very good at their job.

It seems like younger generations are getting more savvy, however, and that’s good to see, but they haven’t reached middle age and beyond yet, and whether I’m still here or not, I hope they’ll remain skeptical of promised life-enhancing elixirs.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

Age Is As Age Does

http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-83045p1.html Oguz Aral, illustrator
http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-83045p1.html
Oguz Aral, illustrator

I’m in the thick of aging on the decline side, and part of me is all: ‘oh, you just have to accept it’, and ‘this is where we’re all headed’, and ‘this is the way it’s supposed to be’, to ‘Screw you life! This is not going to happen to me!’  I think people before me just lacked the knowledge to keep themselves from aging, but we know more now, and aging is an alleged choice, not a definitive.

But, reality intervenes, as it so often rudely does, and reminds me that I am not in control of anything except dying, and I’m not really in control of that.

I think I want to age gracefully, but I’m also aggressively against that.  Anyone seeking to tell me how I should act, and what I should or should not do, is acting from their insecurities, or issues, and has nothing to do with me.

If I get facial hair maybe I’ll dye my chin hairs purple.  Maybe I’ll have a shaved, tattooed head – I don’t know.  I am not cool with life’s progressive decline, and as I look around me, precious few are.  I see celebrities and non-celebrities doing whatever they can to make themselves appear younger.

A healthy diet, with some supplements as needed, lots of water, and exercise, are the biggest age-slowing activities, along with joyful living.  But, fight it or not, I am aging.

Behind my worry about age is fear.  Fear of never accomplishing anything I wanted to; fear of losing relevance or status, and fear of becoming decrepit and thereby dependent on others for complete care.

The upside of aging is perspective, more compassion for elders, and seeing them not as old people, but as lived people – people with stories to tell, and hopefully, wisdom to share.  Plus, I’ll eventually get senior discounts, so I suppose I have that to look forward to…

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Not Just A River In Egypt

No to the creaky knees, no to the aching joints.  What the hell is my problem, I think.  I am not that old!  I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when I’m really old – do I even want to make it that far if I’m already in daily pain?  Wtf?

I’m in denial.  Aging is a slow progression.  You don’t wake up one day ‘old’.  How the fuck would that be?  No, you get to hurt slowly, like a mild torture device that can be full throttle any time.

The problems begin to add up.  Oh, your eyes aren’t seeing so well anymore, and you ignore it, it’s temporary.  Soon, though, you begrudgingly get the dollar reading glasses, because why are you going to pay very much for this bullshit condition? – and you know you’ll lose them eventually…

Oh, you can still drop it low, my friend.  The twenty year olds have nothing on you – until the day that dropping it low causes a twinge that you have a hard time getting back up from, so you sort of slide into what you hope is a cool-looking dance move, and then, oh, you’re just too hot to keep dancing.  Hot flashes have descended (ascended?), and it’s only 11:30, still another hour & a half before you can go home with a modicum of youthful dignity.

The girls want to do another shot?  Ha, ha.  OK, sure.  Let’s drink to partying forever – hell, yeah! – oops – mine spilled, ha, ha.  Oh, well, that’s fine.  I had a shot while y’all were dancin’, and I’m feelin’ fine!  Wooo, hooo!  Because, if I had had another shot, my whole day would have been ruined, and I know I’m not going to sleep much anyway, because – idk – thanks Obama?

I feel like the chaperone more and more, and I’ve probably been looked at like one for far longer than I realized.  This isn’t about them, anyway.  They have their own shit to contend with – their young shit, which I am honestly grateful to not be in the midst of anymore – but here I am with a new set of sucky life issues to navigate.

I don’t want to be old or get old, but the only way to prevent it is to die, and I’m not ready for that yet either.

Whatever ‘god’ worked this design out is an idiot.  Hopefully he was fired and a woman was put on the job so the men can start evolving with all the hell we’ve had to endure, oh, sorry, continue to endure.

I do all the things that I can afford to not age.  If it weren’t a psychosis, there wouldn’t be a thousand products on the market promising to keep or make us younger.  I really don’t think they made all those anti-aging formulas just for me.  Those companies know I’m broke.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Fixing A Hole Where The Rain Gets In…

For the past several days we’ve been inundated with much-needed, but plan wrecking, rain.  An outdoor party on Saturday had to head indoors and with a new musical type: a kitchen band.  Table and chairs hastily crowded into any space available to set up the music, but the revelers were intrepid & carried on – after all, there was still beer – and plenty of it!

The showers turned into a deluge and the end of the night left a muddy path from their kitchen out to our cars after slogging back and forth through the muddy side yard with equipment and other paraphernalia, and I was grateful it was someone else’s house, but felt some guilt at the mess they’d have to clean.

It was so fun to sing and make merry, and I was glad that I only had a couple of beers so I got to watch the party-goers devolve into drunks by the end of the night without the morning regret for me.  I’ve been on the miserable end too much in the past several years as alcohol wooed me again.

In AA’s parlance I’m considered a ‘yet’, and I don’t take that lightly, but it’s very hard to give up when you’re at those crossroads still having choice.  I’ve witnessed many good people done in by alcohol and other drugs, and I don’t want my story to end that way.

Yesterday, it was overcast again, having rained heavily the day before, and getting through the day enervated me so much it was a triumph to get supper going.  Luckily my S.O. helped me rally, and while we were eating our turkey burgers and veggies, the sun rolled out from the thinning clouds like a mercy from the gods, and S.O. said we should go out & play catch.  I balked inwardly, feeling full, and wanting the TV to passively entertain me, but I surprised myself and said yes.

We got outside and the air was warming and fresh as we lobbed the baseball back and forth.  The few clouds left were puffy, some lazily stretched out across the western sky, outlined in various hues of pink, red, and orange, and the bugs were few for about a half-hour.

We switched to hitting and my S.O. puts me to shame with his two and three base hits, while I can barely get mine out of the infield.  I haven’t played ball for many years, figuring I’d be hurt more than I’d have fun, but I was wrong.  I might not throw as hard, run as fast, or hit any better than I ever did, but our time outside, having fun, and just being in the moment created more joy than I’ve had in a while.

I tend to live in fear most of the time because that’s what I learned will keep me safe, as superstitious as that is.  It’s tough to break out of that when it’s wired in my brain.  I make different choices when I’m able, and sometimes I conquer myself, and sometimes my PTSD wired brain does, but I’m most glad that I can appreciate beauty, that my love is intact, and that endorphins still course through my body when I play.

This is probably life’s intermittent reinforcement at its best, but I’ll take it!

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Revisiting

I read through previous posts, revisiting some days and periods in my life.  I changed the links to my stories & recollections to titles for easy reference:

https://seekingsearchingmeaning.com/recollections-and-life-lived/

I’m still reconciling this part of life, feeling like I never really lived the first half – that I was just shuffled through some cosmic crowd or queue – and the line finally thinned enough for me to get up front, but I missed so much I’m craning my neck trying to see it all before it’s forever lost and the only way I could see it is to do it all again, but not only is my ticket one-way, one show only, I might not get a better perspective anyway.

This part of the ride is fine.  There is plenty to see and do, even though I’ve been standing so long my legs and my back hurt, along with my neck from the aforementioned craning.

I’m remembering how, The Velveteen Rabbit, made me cry every time I read this excerpt where Rabbit asks the Skin Horse if becoming real hurts, and how it happens:

The Velveteen Rabbit

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

THE Velveteen Rabbit OR HOW TOYS BECOME REAL, by Margery Williams

Illustrations by William Nicholson DOUBLEDAY & COMPANY, INC. Garden City, New York

This eBook is courtesy of the Celebration of Women Writers, online at http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/.

This generation, and all after it, shall grow, and hopefully become wise. I dreaded becoming like the Skin Horse when I was younger because I saw how elders were treated – either infantilized, ignored, or worse – and I want to stay relevant and valued.

I know it’s up to me to demand dignified treatment as I grow old, to continue to take up space, and value myself, but some days are easier than others.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Purposeful Life?

She reminds me of my mother, slowly lifting her leg up the step, unsteady with her cane, as I hold the door open and offer my other arm to help keep her balance.  She smiles warmly, her whole face lighting up, and thanks me for my kindness.

I’m not being kind, I’m being human, I think, but I smile back and tell her it’s my pleasure.  I’m you in several decades, I think.  Decades that will come sooner than I want, if I live that long.

She waits for her husband, a man who shuffles along with his walker, his gait slower as he pulls his unwilling body along, she, with the patience of one long used to this, keeps the door open for him after telling me not to wait.

Inside the office, she sees an acquaintance.  The woman rises to hug her and tell her how sorry she is for her loss of her brother.  The old woman hugs her tighter, thanks her, then cries, telling the younger woman that she’s the only one left now.  The younger woman tears up and kisses the older woman’s cheek, and tears well up in my eyes too.

I wish I knew something comforting to say.  ‘You’ll be reunited with your loved ones one day’, I think, but the words feel hollow and trite as I think them.

This life of sorrow weighs us down.  We’re challenged to the end, and I’m not sure there’s anything after this to make it all worthwhile.  I know the experience itself is valuable, but it’s ephemeral, unless we retain consciousness after we leave this world.

I’ve heard that life’s only meaning is what we bring to it, the kindness and care that we show others, and how much suffering we can alleviate while we’re here.  Maybe suffering is spiritual honor, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in it.  It just hurts.  And worse, after a life of enduring, our bodies betray us by breaking down, adding insult to injury, regardless of any wisdom gained through experience and the mere passage of time.

But there is joy, and beauty, and laughter, and pain-free living too.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Our Time Comes

My mother is in her 80’s now.  80’s!  I realized what that means at our holiday family gathering when we were opening presents, and I gave my mother her gift to open, and something was happening to her, freaking us all out.  She closed her eyes, and seemed to be struggling internally, swallowing, all the while drifting away.  I called out, “MOM”!, as though my voice could stop her slipping into – whatever the hell was happening.  Her eyes fluttered, then half-opened in response, and I could see it was taking extraordinary energy for her to come to awareness, and then she tried to get up to use the bathroom, but she nearly passed out upon rising.  I grabbed her, but my left arm is still weak and I couldn’t hold her, yelling to my sibs: “Help me! I can’t hold her.”  She was in stocking feet and sliding down our wood floor when my oldest sister grabbed her, and then my next oldest sister, the nurse, took her other side and they helped her into the bathroom.

I felt like we were witnessing her dying, and it was terrifying.  After what seemed like an eternity, one of my sisters came out of the bathroom saying she took her blood pressure, but couldn’t get it accurately – that it was reading so low she’d be dead – and all I could think was ‘duh, she was dying!’, but stopped myself from saying it. I wanted to call 911, or get her to a hospital, but my sisters asked me to wait and see if she worsened.  After 10 minutes or so, she had recovered, becoming her chipper, aware, self within a half-hour or so, which was actually more unsettling, because – what happened?

While the drama unfolded in the bathroom, the rest of us, my son and his girlfriend – who was at our holiday gathering for the first time – my S.O., my sister’s husband, and another long-time family friend were unsure what to do.  Once my mother was starting to feel better but wanted to stay in the bathroom for a while longer, my oldest sister stayed with her and we proceeded with the gift exchange, which seemed rude, but my son had to leave shortly, as did my next oldest sister, and our family friend, so we halfheartedly continued.

I feel like a total shit now, like, of course we should have waited for my mother and sister to come out of the bathroom, but we felt the danger had passed as my oldest sister was staying in there against my mother’s protests that she was fine.  I was trying to weigh carrying on with making everyone wait for however long it would be.  That feels like a co-dependent decision now.

But this is life.  I make crappy decisions all the time, no matter how I try for perfection.

My mother is going to die, and maybe soon.  Perhaps, though, she’ll accomplish her goal of reaching 103, thereby outliving her father, who died at 102 – but as John Lennon famously sung in, Beautiful Boy, and others have voiced before him: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

I don’t want to lose her from this world, though.  There’s the rub.  I know it’s inevitable and I have to prepare for that happening sooner rather than later – but it could also be that I pass before her.  Not being assured another minute is scary, but the odds of me dying soon are lower than that of my mother’s. So, I am embracing whatever time we have left.

Good memories of connection, love, fun, great conversation and family history are what I’m focusing on now, and I hope that my son will feel the desire to know and understand where he came from, and what my young life was like sooner than I did with my folks.

I remember a gravestone that read something like, ‘Know that whenever I was taken, the end came too soon’. I still have more time with my mother, so I will honor our gift of time the best I can.

cropped-meandmom2010.jpg

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

 

 

 

 

Summer Times

Summertime reminds me most of my next oldest sister, Allona.  I think of my eldest sister, Rachel, too, but Allona was more adventurous and high-spirited.  Allona could also be intractable and bossy, but thankfully those times were less when we were younger.

Allona lived in several Rhode Island towns over the years, some areas better than others. She was gifted with a parrot when she was in her early 20’s, whom she still has.  Her parrot was cool when she first got him, except for his deafening jungle squawking early in the morning & whenever the humans around him got loud.  Now, he’s a cranky old bird who delights in going after exposed toes, or snapping at anyone foolish enough to try to touch him.  Allona has taken very good care of him over the years, but they’ve both grown more ornery over time.  I wouldn’t mind him so much if he could be trained not to squawk so piercingly.

Summers in the 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s were often delightful, however.  We’d spend days by the shore, go dancing at night, and mostly enjoy each others’ company playing card games like Pitch or Spades.  Sometimes we’d go camping, my favorite part being the smell of brewing coffee on the camp stove those early mornings.  Camping lost its thrill for me as time went on and my body’s aches rebelled at bed rolls and even at air mattresses, but it was the least expensive option to go anywhere and stay for several days.

Life changed when I had my son.  I wasn’t as carefree anymore, and though we camped a few times when my son was a baby and toddler, it was more stressful than enjoyable.  I camped several times with my son and some of his friends in his pre-teens and teens, but after he was 13 or 14, my company was no longer desirable, which worked out because my body didn’t desire camping anymore either!

I always felt welcome at my sister’s house in my teens and twenties, and considered it a home away from home.  I am still comfortable at my sister’s, but I feel more like a guest these days.  Part of that is maturity – I’m more helpful and recognize that she has an order to her home that she likes, just as I have – so I try to keep my footprint small when I’m there.  In our teens and twenties, I didn’t think about respecting her space and resources – not that I was slovenly or over-consuming – it just wasn’t foremost in my mind back then, and neither was it in hers.

Allona was an energetic, adventurous, go-getter – and she still is – but now her efforts are more inwardly directed.  We figure out what’s important to us as we mature, and, often, our world becomes smaller as we let go of people and things that no longer serve us.

I don’t want to let go of Allona, or any of my family.  They’ve become more precious to me with time’s passage, and now that my son is grown, I feel I’ve reverted back to young adulthood – wanting adventure and close, happy, and carefree friendships to spend my time.  My body’s limitations tell me otherwise, and the sad distance between my son & I, when I had hoped to grow closer as friends once he was an adult on his own.

But today I feel a titillating warm summer breeze calling me to the beach, calling me to adventure, and I wish I were with Allona to share it.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Thoughts On The Go

Publicity photo of Andy Griffith, Don Knotts a...
Publicity photo of Andy Griffith, Don Knotts and Jim Nabors from The Andy Griffith Show. Andy tries to help out the town band, but Barney and Gomer aren’t so sure he’s helping them. The episode is “The Sermon for Today”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been traveling the last few days and haven’t had computer access for more than a couple of minutes.  I got to spend some time with old friends in Maine, and another friend outside of Boston, and now I’m going to visit family in Rhode Island.

I was quite sad to hear that Andy Griffith died – as well as Ernest Borgnine.  Andy Griffith helped me through my childhood by representing the father I wish I had, and by remaining on television through specials and through his Matlock series.  I never watched Matlock more than once or twice, but just knowing he was still around was comforting to me.

Ernest Borgnine didn’t elicit the same kind of emotional response in me that Andy Griffith did, but I found him entertaining and funny (unless he was performing in a serious role, of course).

Time is moving on.  With every person from my parents’ generation that passes away, I feel pulled that much closer to the end of my life’s track as well.  I know I’m still pretty much in the middle of my life – and if I weren’t so tired, I’d celebrate that…

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Six and Four

That’s how old the boys are that I provide child care for occasionally, and spent my day with at a lake yesterday.  I used to watch them regularly but changed jobs last year.  The older boy was just two months old when I started the job.

My son was in full-blown adolescence then so it was perfect work for me to watch a child who needed and wanted me as my child was pulling away.  The difference between my son as a baby and the baby I was caring for was so stark.  I didn’t know a child could be so easy to care for.  My son’s pediatrician told me that my son was a ‘high need’ baby as I sat in his office back then, crying from lack of sleep and feeling so inadequate as a parent, and indeed, I was nursing him every two hours, which continued for seven months before he stopped nursing so voraciously, and he was colicky as well.  My mother came to help me during that time, while my son’s father was two states away at his job, coming back on weekends.  My son’s father and I weren’t happy as it was, and having a child only put more stress on our relationship.  We broke up and I moved out when our son turned a year old.

When my friend’s second boy was born, I began watching him at two weeks old, and he was an easy baby as well.  I loved caring for those boys.  It was so good for me because I wasn’t watching a whole group of children as I did when I worked at a daycare center, and I didn’t have twenty-four hour responsibility for them.

I still had parenting duties with my son, even though it wasn’t very joyful anymore, but I had enough positive experiences that dealing with my son’s adolescent angst and unpredictability was more manageable than it might have been.

I would give my son hugs and tell him that I loved him every day, as he stood there, arms by his side, at least allowing me to hug him briefly.  I would say that although he was rapidly changing, I was not, so it was going to take me far longer to adjust.  It was so painful for me to go from living with a boy who wanted to be with me, who called out to me several times a day that he loved me, who enjoyed spending time with me, to the stranger who I now occupied the same physical space with, but could hardly be further from emotionally.  Oh, and did I mention I was living with treatment-resistant depression, and I was a single parent?

I might have screwed up far more than I did with my son if it hadn’t been for my childcare job.  As the boys got older, they were somewhat in awe of my son, especially the older boy I watched.  When my son was there the older boy wanted to follow him around and it was sometimes a challenge to help my son have private space when the boys were with me.  I would usually see if my son could spend time with one of his friends during school vacations or days when I had the boys and my son was around.

I took those boys on many adventures during our days together, but our favorite pastime was finding cows.  I’d drive them to farms and we’d visit with cows and read books about cows, and while other animals were included, cows ruled.

I don’t think I could love those kids anymore if they were my own, and I’m so grateful when I get to watch them now.  The last few times I spent with them, the older boy has been questioning me about why they don’t see me that much.  I explained that I had another job, and they have school now, and days that I could see them their schedule and mine didn’t work that often.  He looked at me and said, “Well, we just don’t see you enough.”

So, I can’t get adult relationships right in my life, but I have a six year-old who knows how to work a room!  Yesterday before I left he hugged me and said “I just don’t want to let go.”  I said, “I know, me either!”  The younger boy and I have a happy, loving, and super fun connection too, but the older boy knows how to articulate what he’s feeling, and isn’t shy about telling me.

I have to figure out how to spend more time with them because they’re going to be seven and five in a few months, and the opportunities to spend significant time with them grows slimmer with each year.  While I so enjoy working with children, it can also be heart-wrenching.

I’ll be bringing my son back to college in a week, and he’ll be back home for Thanksgiving and his winter vacation, but he won’t be back next summer.  We know we love one another, and our bond is solid, but he’s a man now – no matter how much I wished to keep him a boy – and I feel the grief about losing him rising up all over again.  I don’t need to be consoled through platitudes or pity – not that anyone is trying to – but I do need a new purpose and I don’t know where to go or what to do yet.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Long Ago Summer Night

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, by, Meatloaf, is playing on a humid July night. I’m reading Pardon Me, You’re Stepping On My Eyeball, by Paul Zindel, on the hood of a friend’s Chevy Cavalier, waiting for a few of my other friends to show up and decide what we’re going to do with the rest of the night.

It’s quiet on the Avenue, but I hear the strains of Meatloaf out of the jukebox coming from the bar next door, and I look up from my reading to watch the moths and other night bugs swirl around, looking like aberrant snowflakes in the street light above the car I’m perched on.

My shorts and top cling to me in the sticky humidity, and I hope we decide to go swimming in the Green River, or at the Leyden Glen.  We had been removed from there by police officers the week before, but they couldn’t be there all the time, so we took our chances going back on hot, humid nights.

I had worked at, Zapmia Pizza (baby), earlier that evening, and was glad to be done with my shift on such a hot day. I was anxious to meet up with my friends, and hoped they would show up soon.  Debbie was the first to arrive. I was so absorbed in my book that I didn’t notice her until she hopped up onto the car hood, causing it to buckle a little as she plunked down, but the hood popped back up as she shifted her weight toward the center next to me.

We exchanged greetings and then chatted about the book for a few minutes, and finally other friends started arriving so we made our evening plans.

I remembered this so strongly tonight that I could feel the night air around me as I did back then, and hear how the music sounded muffled until a patron went in or out of the bar and the music would blast out from the entrance for a few moments until the door was shut once again.

While I don’t miss that time of my life, and especially what was happening to me, I dearly miss my friends and the closeness we shared.  A part of my soul is back there with them – maybe it’s even trapped in some odd space/time continuum – or perhaps less trapped than enshrined.  I get to visit the museum exhibit in my mind, but it’s an empty picture of the vibrant life that was actually there.

They were the people who knew and understood me on a level that no one else will ever come close to, but they live on in my heart and soul, and I hope I live on in theirs.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.