Summer Scent-iment

Riding with the windows down from my TMS appointment today, the earthy scents of fields and pungent brook waters hit my brain in a nostalgic wave as I drove down the rough country road, longing to get out of my car and run through the meadow down into the brook, if only private property and ticks didn’t exist.

Summer days of childhood in the woods with friends crossed my mind’s picture screen for several seconds before receding back, refusing further examination, as though it were a dream I was straining to recall.

Perhaps it was a dream, and this is all illusion. If so, it’s a very good spell. I really feel like I’m here, like I exist, like this is a meaningful journey. Maybe life’s meaning doesn’t derive from the delivery mechanism, but I sure wish I could figure out what it means to me.

I’m still worried the TMS isn’t working, 21 visits in now, when I’m supposed to notice a difference.

I feel bereft of my old companions and our easy friendship. I wish depression didn’t exist & the elusive mind and life fuckery it creates. But that’s like wishing heart disease, or diabetes away. It’s not going to happen. I need to manage it, regardless of how exhausting the task. Eventually we heal or we succumb, and I have no idea which way it’s going to go.

Ease and balance are important, and I strive for them – try to cultivate them – and drain friends who know they can’t quell my demons so they’d rather not hear about it. I supplicate to whatever gods might exist, so far, to no avail.

I’d like to sink forever into that sweet summer dream: running through the meadow, cooling my body in the water, or exploring the woods – forgetting that time or otherness exists.

The upside is that I’m still here, illusion or not, and I get out of bed every day & make it. Coffee remains a pleasure and a boost, and I redirect my thoughts hundreds of times a day, just as I adjust my posture when I notice I’m slumping.

That’s something, isn’t it?

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

 

 

 

Second Chances

I’m nearly three months sober, and started a new depression therapy two weeks ago: TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. The therapy uses focused magnetic energy to target the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, thought to be a dark alley depression emanates from.

On my first visit, the tech & doctor mapped the specific area of my brain using the Neurostar stimulator, and I’ve been adjusting to the five-days a week treatments.

NeuroStar_TMS_Therapy_System
http://www.kurzweilai.net/images/497px-NeuroStar_TMS_Therapy_System.jpg

During the mapping, the pulse was painful while they determined my treatment threshold. The treatment lasts 38 minutes and several seconds, for me. Others have generally less time than I do, but not by much, and typically a lower pulse threshold than me, which I attribute to my redheaded-ness.

Forty pulses delivered in four seconds feel and sound like a miniature jack-hammer – or an eager woodpecker – but the computer prepares me by chiming a few seconds prior to the pulses. After about four rounds of pulses I don’t feel it as intensely, but I’m always glad to hear the ‘ding-ding-ding’ computer chime signaling the treatment’s end.

Worries about whether the treatment will work are thick due to continued suicidal thoughts, but TMS takes about twenty or so treatments before brain changes are apparent. That means I have another week to go before I’ll know it’s working. TMS has helped about 85% of patients, which is good news, but I’m a redhead, so we’ll see what category I fall into.

Today I was going through some papers I’d put aside nearly a month ago and found a notepad I had written goodbye letters to my friends and family when I tried to off myself. It’s hard to read my sadness between the lines of gratitude for their friendship, and while I’m not as low as I was a few months ago, I know I’ll get there again, and I can’t tolerate it anymore.

An AA meeting I attended tonight was on positive attitude, and gratitude, and how that’s the way to pull yourself up and out of yourself and into acceptance, etc. – and for those that works for, brav-fucking-o! But, for those of us who write our gratitude lists, and pray, and think positive, and carry on with positive intention, and ‘choose happiness’, and still want to die, you’ve got a non-patronizing friend in me.

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

 

Songs We Used To Sing

Music is life – for all of us. We all have our stories: where we grew up, what we heard, what we sang, what ran through and through us, and continues to. Because of a recent trip visiting a friend, I now hear Sia’s I Love Cheap Thrills, among others, in a new context, and my friend is with me when I hear it.

My history continues in song, being a vocalist, or even just interested in music, but I doubt there is anyone on the planet who hasn’t experienced some form of music. If so, I’m sorry for them. Music is an entity unto itself, and I’d be sad for anyone who never experienced music’s transcendence.

My older brothers cued me into The Beatles, and other mid-sixties music that my parents found irritating and banal. They appreciated the swing and ballads of the 1940’s and 50’s.

I grew up in dire circumstances, not only in my personal life, but in the world around me. Vietnam was raging, my oldest brother escaped my family horror to fight in that war, and other family members went as draftees or joiners.

Music accompanied life’s tension: releasing and building – crying out and pleading – or ignoring the larger world for personal circumstance, or love and romance.

I understand the far-away look in my mother’s eyes when she heard the songs of the late 1940’s and the 1950’s that touched her heart and soul. You Are My Sunshine brought tears to her eyes, and because of that it brings tears to mine – a learned sentiment.

Driving home tonight I heard several songs from my youth, but one in particular: Love Hangover, enveloped me, and I time-traveled like a boss. A friend, long passed on, was with me as the dulcet tones flowed out of the Honda Accord’s inadequate speaker system because we needed that shit turned UP. She was there with me, feeling the beat, vocalizing, and jamming out, and then she was gone.

I was in my driveway, loathe to turn off the radio and take the key out of the ignition in case another song came on calling her back, but the DJ interrupted the moment, so I turned the few clicks releasing the key, and sat in the silence – hoping she’d materialize – speak to me – something – but the empty air grew colder, so I went inside.

My life has reached a weird divide where the past barely matters anymore. That’s good – fantastic even – but also a loss. My brain has changed and my memories aren’t as vivid, except situationally – like tonight in the car – but I feel like I’ve lost something important.

Maybe we’re designed this way. We slowly let go of what no longer matters and now I can focus on what’s in front of me.

I’ve heard that the past is gone, the future is unknown, but now is an alive & vibrant gift – that’s why it’s called the present.

I understand that sentiment, but I still miss friends and acquaintances, and our place in time that’s quickly receding. I’m becoming not even a footnote in history, among other barely-footnotes that I appreciate more and more.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Timing Sucks

Several years ago, when my son was in his late teens, karaoke was getting popular again, and I started going nearly every week. I used to go with my friends weekly back in the late 80’s. We had so much fun then, but life happens and we moved on, and karaoke fell out of favor for a few decades.

Getting back into it was a blast, and it was free! I made friends with several regular singers, and we began spending time at each other’s houses, or going dancing, or on a road trip, and it was a great distraction when my son headed off to college – even though it didn’t cease my depression or PTSD.

We lasted several years as a group, but little by little it fell apart – although karaoke is still going strong – so we come together for that once in a while now.

Karaoke turns out not to be a great basis for lasting friendships, sadly, and worse, my drinking increased, and even worse, my personality change when drinking nearly caused my S.O. & I to break up several times.

I know I have a problem because while quitting is easy, it’s the staying quit that’s hard. As Mark Twain quipped about quitting smoking: ‘… it’s easy! I’ve done it thousands of times.’

Seeing a video of me drunk was uncomfortable, but it gave me the boost I needed to stop.

Sadly, I’ll miss all the drinking games every time the President says something stupid, but then I’d never be sober, and I need to focus…

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

There’s No Common Ground

Nope. I really wanted to find it. I tried to start at the sisterhood, right?! The SISTERHOOD! We know what it’s like being harassed. I have no idea what my black & brown sisters go through because I’m white & privileged to only have been sexually harassed & abused, not subjugated to having race enter into my humiliation & defilement, but trust me, I know what the fuck it’s like to be abused.

I am so angry there is race & culture that enter into it too – like Dante’s circles of hell.

I’m tired of reading intellectuals spout bullshit at each other, especially those who sit back as though they’re so much better than everyone else they deign to engage with. Step. the. fuck. OFF.

America is in dire straits. Not the band, the actuality. We are entering the totalitarian zone with the rise of drumph, the admitted sexual predator, and narcissistic sociopath, whom a sibling, and at least one close friend voted for. WOMEN I know voted for that cretin. I understand men voting for him, but women? I guess I can fathom, in a Stockholm Syndrome sort of way, why women would have thought he’d be – nope, can’t do it. Stepford Wives comes closer to an explanation, or being drugged, or deluded.

Well, I can move abroad, right? I don’t have to stay for the shit show. I have friends & relatives in Canada & Australia. Being a refugee sucks, but it depends on what you’re leaving behind.

Good luck folks – I hope you like your new dictatorship. You all get what you deserve!

Cheers!

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

Endings Bring Beginnings

I don’t catch on quickly when I’ve been friend-dumped, unless it’s overt. It’s the ‘nice’ friend dumping that eludes me. It shouldn’t, but it does, especially when it felt like the friendship was real.

But here’s the thing about friendships: they’re not commitments. They’re not contracts, they’re gifts.

An old saying about friendships coming ‘for a reason, a season, or a lifetime’ is useful. I’m a fairly loyal friend, unless our values are so different that we oppress rather than uplift each other.

That time has come, and probably has been there for a while, but I didn’t want to see. I also relate to another saying that ‘everything I ever let go of has claw marks all over it’.

It’s painful – and I understand life is pain, but I do my best to avoid it. It’s all about lessons, though, right? I gained from those friendships, and I hope they gained from mine too.

It’s embarrassing when they’ve moved on and I didn’t notice. I just thought they were busy, or dealing with life stuff.

Of course it’s something we all go through – and get through. I hate that platitudes start churning through my brain – my effort to feel better – to find meaning and understanding, but there’s nothing to understand. I did nothing wrong, but it feels like I did. Sadly, my trauma brain, that old, worn, neural pathway tells me I fucked up, and I need to make it right:

…Then the beatings will stop. Then I’ll get what I need. Then I’ll be worth liking and loving.

The only way out is through. The only. way. out, is through.

I’d like it to not effect my whole life, so I must remember that my trauma picks untrustworthy people to try to make trustworthy so I can heal my hurt.

But it doesn’t work like that.

I have to build new, unsullied, neural pathways – and then make them stick. You know, easy-peasy…

Not everyone is honest. Some people just want superficial friends, and there is nothing wrong with that; I just wish they’d wear a sign so dense people like me would know.

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

Living Nightmare

So, the goodness I thought would reign didn’t manifest, and the people chose darkness.

They chose hate, fear, misogyny, and it’s the first time a known sexual predator was elected to the highest office in America.

We are lower than we’ve been since John F Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassinations.

Healthcare – such as it is – will be repealed, and people won’t be covered for pre-existing conditions.  Women’s rights – even the right to vote – risk decimation.

Supreme Court justices who are anything but just will be installed, and America will not get over this ruination.

President Obama barely got us out of the hell President George W. Bush got us all into, but at least we were making progress.

The bully elect will knock down and crush the building blocks so painstakingly erected over these last 8 years of a do-nothing Congress, that America also saw fit to continue.

I am bereft, bewildered, and sad for my fellow Americans, especially us women, and for the children who will wonder why we did this to them.

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

 

So Much Nothing

I’ve had a tough time writing lately.  Maybe depression has set in – apathy leading the way.  Nothing feels interesting or worth investing in.  I could look happy and present, but whether or not I am, it shifts quickly.

Is living for the young?  Should twenty to forty be the only important part of life?  After forty the pain began.  It has only increased since.  Different issues, more work & time to address it – the ‘free ride’ over.

The problem is the lack of appreciation for a body that feels good & functions well.  It’s inspiring when people born without limbs, or other horrific problems, live high-functioning lives.  It shames me & I’m so tired of living shame.

Even the love of my life can’t breach the gap.  It’s not his path, even if he loves me with all he has.

In my wildest imagination I am alone: succeeding, happy, fulfilled.  I’ve never seen it with someone else – just me.  Maybe that’s due to trauma – neglect & abuse – I don’t know.  I decided that no one, NO ONE, will take anything else from me.  I lived that life and I’m not able to continue helping someone else do well at my expense. I mean emotionally.  If I had billions I could give most away without issue, but I’m tired of people who want to take my soul.

That’s where I am today.  I’m sure it’ll change tomorrow.  Cheers.

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

 

Life Collage

Magazine cut outs pasted on a board – a forward view of life well-lived.

An ocean cruise, me and you dancing on the deck with the smell of the sea and the sultry tropical air.

Stars winking above – atmospheric interference – but nothing in the universe is really fixed.

A wedding gown never worn peels away from the bottom of the poster – our hearts never became one because the darkness couldn’t depart.

I should have left it blank except for the words love and acceptance.

Was there ever a promise? Why did I expect more, or better?

Stories told, lies believed.  Sadness and sorrow linger.

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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

 

 

Parental Freak-out

My child is grown and gone.  He’s 25, and living large in the city, and yet, I have trouble not interfering.  I want to say, ‘please listen to my advice because I never listened to those wiser than me, and I totally screwed up my life as a result.’  But, I know it wouldn’t do any good.  That was me, not him.

I try to remember that I survived domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.  He had a pretty solid upbringing, regardless of my Momzilla-ness.  I was present and available.  I provided structure, love, and guidance.

Did he have cotton in his ears the whole time?  I warned him about my DNA, about his father’s DNA – that the likelihood of him becoming alcoholic is stronger than it was for me, and for his father – but I think he took that as a challenge.  He can defy history.  He can out-drink his DNA.

It’s painful, and I know he’s young, and he’ll probably survive – but he also might not.

And there’s nothing I can do.

I don’t want to badger, advise, attempt management, or control.  It’s not my job anymore. Maybe I fucked up so bad that drinking is his way of getting through life, but that doesn’t make sense.  I know I did a mostly good job, and he appreciates my influence in his life.

Letting go and letting him figure it out is what I need to do, I know, but it’s proving very difficult.

I continue to love him as fiercely as ever.

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

Breaking Through

It’s there in the morning, when I’m most vulnerable, stirring back to consciousness – especially if I haven’t had a good night’s sleep.  It follows me to the bathroom where I splash cold water on my face & say ‘good morning beautiful’ to the sad face in the mirror.  Why does it surprise me that a compliment – a talisman, really – slightly boosts my spirits?

My actions happen under duress as I lay out my yoga mat and lay down to stretch.  The thing is fierce now – practically yelling at me, telling me to give up, just go back to bed; sit down and do nothing.  Why bother?

Hate’s litany joins in, and I battle this every. day.  I manage to get some exercises in, but don’t complete my whole routine.  My new task is rewarding myself for progress, not focusing on how much I think I suck.

Today’s epiphany isn’t new, but newly remembered: I worked myself out of a job when my son grew up and left.  It’s wonderful that I managed to foster a productive, beautiful, kind human.  He’s bright and independent – and I am empty.

I wouldn’t change how things are except to be alright.  I failed to take care of me by solely taking care of him.  I was it.  A single parent – who had lots of help – but my child was my everything.  I showed up for him when my constant demons told me it was too much, and I soldiered on.  I cried through making meals sometimes, or house-cleaning, or the myriad unending tasks – but I did them, and I can’t seem to muster the same resolve for myself.  I don’t matter as much as my child did, but my work is changing that.

Perhaps getting out of bed, splashing water on my face, doing my PT exercises, getting dressed, and brushing my teeth are as much as I did for my child, even if minute in comparison?

Whether or not I’m doing the best I can, I’m still failing to fully show up for my life – for what’s left of it.

Raising my child is still the best thing I’ve ever done, and while admirable, it’s not my whole life.  He grew up, and so did the other children I watched for several years, but childcare is not my passion, even if I’m good at it.

Childcare is thankless and lonely.  If you do a good job, who cares – it’s what you were supposed to do.  There is no recognition ceremony, no severance package, no pension. Transferable skills are laughed at – even though there are many.

Grief moves to the side when something rewarding and motivating takes up more space, and though I engage in singing, writing, and acting, I’m not making a living through those passions.  Friends have gotten book deals, national singing gigs, or paid and recognized acting jobs, and I’ve got to make a new choice because those passions are a dry well for me.

There is an answer, but whatever it is has to happen soon, and must move my grief so I’m not pushing through it every day – so that every day doesn’t look the same.

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

Shameful

 http://mikeconnellministries.com/transcript/74/Unmasking-Shame-2-of-6.aspx

http://mikeconnellministries.com/transcript/74/Unmasking-Shame-2-of-6.aspx

Shame is possibly the worst side-effect of trauma.  Guilt, shame’s ignoble cousin, seeps in churning the mess.  Guilt has its place, when you do something unkind, unhealthy, or unhelpful, guilt proves conscience – and shows that you’re probably not a psychopath, although you still might be an asshole.

But guilt that worms its way into my psyche without validity serves no purpose.  Shame lies to me, but I believe its lies.

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/view-from-the-cheap-seats/2015/05/shame.html
http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/view-from-the-cheap-seats/2015/05/shame.html

I’ve read that young children cannot process that their parents or caregivers might be wrong, or harmful, so I took it in as my fault.  I didn’t have friends in my first years of school, and even then, at 5 or 6 years old, I thought my classmates knew that I was defective.  But I was resilient;  I knew how to laugh, and laughter was my guardian.  I didn’t know I was smart because I didn’t grow up in a nurturing environment – I just knew ways to escape without going anywhere, and how to hold in my anger and fear until they finally exploded in tantrums and sometimes blind rage – usually toward my antagonizing next oldest sister.

Fotolia_57156905_Woman-Shame-Covered-Face
Fotolia_57156905_Woman-Shame-Covered-Face

Shame clung to me – it twisted into my DNA, bored into my neurons, exchanging itself through synapses.

Of course I’d try to get unkind people to love me throughout my life, it’s what I was taught.  Of course I’d find men who would add to my shame, further deepening what I already believed about myself.  I never got what I so desperately wanted and needed, love and approval.  Approval is exoneration, absolution.  If I got validation from others, then I wouldn’t have to be ashamed anymore.

Only it doesn’t work that way.  I have to validate and approve of myself.

I don’t want to live in shame anymore.  I’ve done nothing to warrant such heavy chains, such a terrible prison.

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

 

Uncomfortable

Life is incomprehensible to me.  I learn from my mistakes as I make them, but it sucks to live this way.  You’d think I would have gotten better at it as time went on, but no.

At 16, I traveled to Virginia Beach with a friend, where we decided to stay for the summer, and quickly ran out of the forty bucks between us.  My friend got a waitress job, but I hadn’t found anything yet.  We met a few kids our age, and I hung out with them, smoking pot, while waiting for my friend’s shift to end after midnight.  The police pulled up where me and the two kids were sitting, and one of the kids ran while the cops asked me and this other kid what we were doing and how old we were.  We both said our ages and were promptly hand-cuffed and put into the back of the cruiser, roughly, as though we were resisting, when I asked why I was being hand-cuffed, and was told to ‘shut up’.

I was taken to Tidewater Detention Home, where I was strip searched, and put in a cell, and had no idea what would happen next.  The next day I took a book, or magazine, to my cell, and at roll call, I was told I couldn’t watch TV anymore for violating the rule of not bringing materials into my cell.  I learned the rules by violating them, and I still had no idea why I was there.

It wasn’t until four days later, when I had a court appearance, that I learned I was picked up for loitering and breaking curfew.  LOITERING AND BREAKING CURFEW.  As well as possessing a pipe with pot resin in it.  No pot.  Just resin.  I was told I was never welcome in the state of Virginia again, which was fine with me, but I still felt as though the punishment was ridiculous compared to the ‘crime’.

My son has a sister, whom I dearly love, from his father’s first marriage.  I was out of touch with her for a while but re-connected on Facebook. Unfortunately she felt she was being FB stalked as I liked all her posts, wanting to be a part of her life, however virtual.  I had no idea that was creepy.  I’m the last person on earth who wants to be creepy, but there’s the rub, I guess?

I try to remember that I was born into hell, pretty much.  I experienced domestic violence from day one, being the fifth child of six in a family that was sick from child number one.  I witnessed my mother’s abuse, my siblings abuse, as well as my own – and I became the scapegoat: the one young enough that I might not be as harmed as the rest, but not too young, like my little brother.  I confessed to many things I never did, my older sisters pleading with me to say I did it because the beating was sure to be less for me than my older siblings, but I still got the beating.

I accept that I saved my siblings from worse at times.  I’m grateful if that was true. Unfortunately for me, I never learned how to cope with the rest of my life as well as my brethren.  Had my issues only stemmed from my family of origin, that might have been more manageable for me, but there were several other mitigating abusive circumstances throughout my young life that have made success elusive.

An anti-poverty organization I held a seat on a decade ago sponsored a poverty conference.  I can’t remember the speaker’s full name – Chuck Flugel? (my apologies), but he said that people in poverty will never make it out of poverty.  It’s not going to happen.  I remember how pissed I was at such a pronouncement.  How could he say something like that in a room full of despairing people?  But, he was right.  I’ve never made it out of poverty, and most people I’ve ever known in poverty are still there.  Still. there.

We had a vote to increase the salary of our Executive Director that year, and I had to recuse myself from voting because I thought $80,000 a year was appropriate, and they wanted to increase it to $90,000.  The board spoke of how they might lose the director to another company who would pay more, and I thought that if the director left the organization for that, then they were better off.  It was astounding to me that several board members were upset with me for not wanting to authorize the pay increase, but I was looking at the big picture.  Why was the director there?  If salary was the reason, then the director was better off looking for a higher paying position.  $80,000 a year was an incredible amount in my mind, and that was in the mid-1990’s!

Finding work I can do has been a life-long struggle.  Two years ago, before a surgery that left me with a paralyzed arm for nearly a year, I had found a job that seemed pretty good, but the repetitious nature of data-entry precipitated my need for surgery, and I can’t do that kind of job anymore.  C’est la vie, right?

So, chin up!  Keep looking.  Keep striving.  Keep a happy face, baby, because nobody likes a downer.

And the irony is, I do.  It’s my nature to hope.  Maybe it’s all of our nature to hope.  Is that what was left in Pandora’s box?  It’s both the chain-lock and the key.

Like many, I’m a sucker believing that I might hit it big, so play the lottery when I can.  What’s a dollar or two when millions stand to be gained?  What’s a dollar or two a month over a year – a couple of gallons of milk, or bread, or other necessities.  Those millions have never been realized, and yet, people do win the lottery, pretty consistently.

It’s easy to believe that some ‘god’ directs all that, but what an asshole god that would be.

Nah, it’s just my insane desire for a miracle to lift me out of poverty.

So, the uncomfortable truth is that I’m fucked.  I have to do the best I can with what I have, and keep hoping, but do my best to stop being a sucker, for love or for money.

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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

 

Pissed Off, Yet Accepting…

David Bowie died and left more space than any other celebrity I didn’t know except Robin Williams.

I’m both pissed off and accepting.  I have to be, it happened. One, a death from cancer, which more and more people die from in our toxic world, and the other, suicide – when from the outside looking in – seemed incomprehensible.  I understand depression.  I understand substance abuse, and the ridiculousness life plays on all of us, but didn’t Robin Williams have resources I lacked?  Was David Bowie doing all he could to cure his cancer?  The answer, of course, is, probably, and, none of my business, but they both influenced my life radically.

David Bowie was the unpredictable, brilliant musician, whom I only recently learned was never comfortable on stage.  Robin Williams may have never felt comfortable in his own skin, or maybe he was having a crisis, or who knows what his mental state was in order to off himself, but it’s doable is what I learned.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2014/aug/12/robin-williams-suicide-and-depression-are-not-selfish

If things get too real, you can just go.  Just go.  We can off ourselves so easily, yet our survival mechanisms scream that we shouldn’t do it.  So many people overcome that biological directive.  I wonder if there is a god, if it hears the pain.  If it cares, if it really does punish those who take their own lives, because who would kill themselves as a lark? What is there to punish?

It takes a lot to overcome the desire to live.  I know.  I’ve never mustered that kind of resolve, and I wonder if it matters?

I once followed a faith that basically said ‘woe to you’ if you stop following it, or believing it, and that all your good works ‘are for naught’, unless you are a true believer, and do those good works in ‘god’s’ name.

I wonder though.  There are billions of people on earth, and our earth is so incredibly infinitesimal in the universe that it seems ridiculous that some ‘god-man’ has marked us out specially for Its revelation, when you can’t even pick us out from the Milky Way, never mind the entire universe!

Surely there is another race on another planet in another galaxy that has it more together than we do.  And what, exactly, are we marked out for?  What spiritual or godly ambition are we destined for?

We are smaller than atoms, in a universal perspective.  All hail the galaxy rather than our puny little planet lost amongst the puny stars in our puny galactic neighborhood.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/milky-way-collide.html
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/milky-way-collide.html

All I believe is that, sanctioned by a ‘god’ or not, I like being kind.  I want to be a safe person, a helper, in an often frightening world.  Your children are safe with me.  You are safe with me.

It’s astounding that I’m better than some ‘god’, but there you go. All hail to me?

Being a light is better, to me, than adding to the darkness.

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

 

Dark Times

Two friends have died in the last month.  Two people who were making the most of their lives, really enjoying all the moments they could, living with gusto and positivity.

They both left behind teen-aged children, significant others, and a wealth of friends.

I sat at one friend’s memorial while dozens recounted how kind, generous, fun, and mischievous he was, and what a loss it was to not have his presence here anymore.

It’s not about what comes after this.  There is nothing we can do about what’s beyond here, if anything, except to live to the best of our capacity, and believe that if there is a creator, we are accepted.

I will soon attend the services for my other friend, more like family, really, and that is a shock not yet sunk in for he passed away last night.

Being in top health doesn’t guarantee a longer life – but it sure makes being here easier. Health adds to our ability to tend to each other and to tend to the world.  Being our best helps, but being a light regardless of anything else going on matters the most.

The stories of how much people’s lives were touched by just one being is astounding to witness.

Who will eulogize me, and what will they say?  Who will be around to witness my passing, to send me off – if anything exists beyond here – with a brighter soul than I had before I left?

I hope stories shared will create laughter and joy.  I hope I have been kind enough to warrant a group of disparate individuals coming together to celebrate that I was here, and that I mattered.

Steve – you were fun, hilarious, kind, increased my joy immensely, and I’m sad to no longer have an ’80’s karaoke pal, and you are greatly missed by your family, and the wealth of friends and acquaintances left behind who honor your memory.

Dave – you also were fun, funny, kind, a wonderful athlete with a zest for life, and your presence will be dearly missed, especially by your wife and children, your extended family, and the hundreds of friends who’ve already been attesting to your influence, and meaning to them, and to all of us.

If we continue in any sentient form, I hope you are both at peace, surrounded by love, and by those gone before you, but you will long be remembered and celebrated here, and I’m glad I knew you.

Death is tough whenever it comes, for those remaining, but it’s especially tough around the holidays, when it seems that anything but good cheer is out-of-place.  It’s also hard to lose friends and family in winter when the bleak land and low light deepens our darkness.

We will love and comfort each other, and remember their best with as joyful a heart as we can muster.

Peace be with you.

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

 

Trouble, Trouble, Trouble

UNDATED FILE PHOTO: Fred Rogers, the host of the children's television series, "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood," sits for a promotional portrait in this picture from the 1980's. (Photo by Family Communications Inc./Getty Images)
UNDATED FILE PHOTO: Fred Rogers, the host of the children’s television series, “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” sits for a promotional portrait in this picture from the 1980’s. (Photo by Family Communications Inc./Getty Images)

I keep remembering what Fred Rogers, (Mr. Rogers), said about times of trouble – to look for the helpers.  There are so many helpers everywhere.  We should take in all the refugees we can – they are desperate to leave their homeland.

Their HOMELAND.

There is nothing there for them but desperation, sickness, torture, and death.  They want to live.

Will they bite the hand that feeds them?  Would you?  Maybe someone will, but that’s a sick soul, and maybe those sick souls will find healing instead of more ways to hurt.  We have many sick souls born here – children killing children, men and women shooting up schools, theaters, restaurants – all seemingly random – or told to them by terrible voices in their head.

We’re not going to rid the world of evil, but we can minimize it with goodness.  It’s the only advantage in the face of evil – our way to ‘light a candle instead of cursing the darkness’.

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It takes logistics, money, volunteers – or paid workers – to help house, feed, clothe, and educate refugees – so much that is beyond my abilities – but that will be good use of government.  Accepting refugees will put more people to work, give more people purpose, and certainly give those tired, hungry, and poor, some hope.

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

For What It’s Worth

I understand this makes me an insensitive cretin, but I wish collections would be taken up for those of us in dire need, but not having some dread disease.  It seems that’s the only time people are willing to help – even a dollar or two – if that’s all they can do.

Terrible diseases and disaster compel people to give, perhaps as a bulwark against ever facing that illness or circumstance themselves, paying it forward, in a sense, or maybe just as a caring human being, but only willing to help when the need is life or death, and not just poverty’s scourge.

Poverty is viewed as self-inflicted, so less worthy of help – especially from a stranger.

Disaster impels us in a way that ‘ordinary’ trouble doesn’t.

Except, I have a friend who has always been there in my darkest hours, offering hope, if not some tangible sustenance, and I’ve been that for her as well, but as both of us have been in deep poverty, we can never offer more than a bandage, even if those stop-gap measures have helped us through many extra-rough patches.

I don’t want a terrible illness, and I wish for those people to get well – and I’m grateful that people give to defray medical costs, or other ease for those sufferers.

A champion is required for me, as it’s seen as gauche to plead on your own behalf.

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

Back In Time With You

I missed you more intensely this year.  Remembering our trips to the library every year, you picking out books you wanted to read, or have me read to you, and me picking out scary and fun Halloween stories to read together.  I miss how you’d cuddle up on my lap and play with my ear as I read to you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad you’re grown up and handling your adult life beautifully, but sometimes I feel like we’re near strangers, and I struggle knowing what to talk about now.  Wanting a separate life with little contact is understandable – I remember being your age – although I can’t know your perspective as a man.

Life changed when I had you.  My life was no longer solely my own, and becoming a parent changed me in ways you can’t know unless you become a parent.

The struggles we endured as you grew have not faded, but I think I handled them well.  An image flashes of you at fourteen standing stock still while I hugged you, telling you I love you, and even though you were changing, I was not.  You did, at least, allow me to hug you.

We got through those dark times, even if sometimes the memories still tear me up, and I wish my best memories with you were more current, but I’m reminded of our sweet and happy times together every year.

Holidays heighten my old loss with you, that necessary loss we all experience, and even though I’ve spent time reading to other people’s children at a play-group, or with the children I cared for, it isn’t the same.

The sadness only lasts a few days, and sweet memories are there too, but missing you pushes out better feelings I try to invoke, and it’s OK to feel this – especially as I have little control over its insistence.

Shame that I’m not wiser, happier, better, more emotionally balanced, presses in, and my best weapon is non-resistance.

This is depression’s scourge, my trauma brain – whatever – and minimizing my reality by suggesting I ‘choose happiness’, or other platitudes, only increases isolation.

It took all this to say I miss our connection; I miss the boy you were, even if I celebrate the man you are.

Halloween, S. Portland, ME Photo credit: Jerri Higgins

I hope you had a fun Halloween.

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

As it Is

Long ago,  I was told that I asked for or created everything that has happened and will happen in my life, and although my wise mind knows that’s not quite the truth, the rest of me battles to remain alive.

I’m not sure why I’m here, or why I should stay, except for my son.  A therapist told me that if I leave, I give my son permission to leave too, and I wonder if that’s a bad thing.

This is not a kind world.  It’s a world you have to be tough in.  You have to be strong and pliable, and that’s a survival of the fittest thing.

Am I here on purpose? If so, to what purpose? Did I fulfill it already by having my child?

If I could design my life, it would look so different from what it is.

I’d live by the sea in a moderate home, leaving as small a footprint as I could while still enjoying my life.

My bucket list would be empty, or very low.

Bills would be paid without anxiety of what else would suffer, and all my medical/dental needs would be taken care of.

Life might not be a lark, but it sure would be easier.

I think of the few 1%er’s in American society, and perhaps the world, and what it must be like to not worry so much about your life – to have your needs met, even if you don’t get all your ‘wants’.

My son told me he’d be sad if I were gone, and I understand, but he’s not seen the true suckage of life yet.

A psychic that I lived with when my son was a pre-schooler told me that she was fighting entities off every night for me when I lived with her, and it was exhausting so I needed to deal with them myself.  I remember that the ceiling popped every night but I thought it was just the roof cooling off or something.  After my housemate told me I had to deal with whatever the spirits wanted from me – that I ‘owed’ them – I talked to what seemed the air one night, saying that I was sorry for whatever was happening because of me, that I wanted them – whatever – to go to the light, that I didn’t know what I owed them, and please forgive me, and whatever else I could think of, and the next night, and every night after, the ceiling never popped again.  My housemate told me that whatever I did or said, worked – that she was no longer being bothered by entities that weren’t getting through to me.

I messed up my life so much, and know I can’t recover without a bona fide miracle, but I’m still here.  I’m too afraid, yet, to take my life, but I’m hoping I’ll overcome the fear.  If something else happened that was better than that, I’d be so happy.

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

 

Slanted Life

I learned to lie when I was young.  One of the first lies I was taught, was if a teacher, or anyone, asked, my bruise was from falling.  Next, my older sisters taught me to steal candy from the store, and I remember my next oldest sister’s vicious pleasure while saying that if I told on them, they would tell on me. Thieving was power – the first I ever had – and feeling powerful was addictive.  I was good at it, being a cute little kid that no one would suspect of criminality.  I didn’t feel the shame then that I do now.

I understood that it was a dog eat dog world at six years old, and I knew which dog I wanted to be.

Thankfully, I also grew to be a kinder, more thoughtful, and aware of consequences, person, and I ended my nefarious ways – mostly…

I’ve hurt people I never wanted to hurt.  Please accept my apology.  Accept my apology for those who’ve hurt you and never copped to it.

There is a quote about how everything that happens is necessary for ‘your soul’s progression’, and I think that’s such total bullshit.  What the hell does that person know?  They just found another excuse to justify awful things happening.  That quote certainly didn’t surface about welcome events.

Humanity is responsible for close to 90% of the hell in this world.  Nature, or the cosmos, or the universe, or just crappy luck, is responsible for 5%, and our stupidity is responsible for the rest.

Life goes on regardless of anything that happens.  I remember hearing about ‘earth changes’ when I was a kid in the commune/cult, and find it sadly funny about how none of it came to pass.  We’ve been killing our planet since the industrial age, and fossil fuels, atomic energy, commercial farming, genetic modification, etc., will eventually do us in if we don’t change how we get and use energy, and where and how we get our food, but life will go on – even if it’s without humanity.

There are people and organizations addressing these issues, and they are changing life, but it might be too little too late.  Then again, we love a good David & Goliath story – where the little guy prevails against all odds over the big guy – and it’s that hope that keeps us going.  That, and ignorance.

My little life pales in comparison to these major problems, but my area of immediate concern is who I am, where I’m going, and what I want as my legacy.  Of those who will remember me, I’d like happy remembrance.  I want my eulogy to be sincere, and not merely out of respect for the dead…

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

Season’s Greetings

August is the beginning of Druid autumn, I found out several years ago when telling a friend that I feel mournful in August, even though it’s still summer.  Learning that the Druids considered August the beginning of autumn resonated with me, and gave me a place for my sadness this time of year.

It’s now September, and the physical signs of change are showing.  Red and yellow veined green leaves began spotting the road under the maples about a week ago.  Some are fully red now, and although a harbinger of the coming cold season, they are so pretty.

I picked up several of my favorites, and as my mother showed me when I was little, I placed them between sheets of waxed paper and ironed them together.  I put a rag underneath and on top of the waxed paper, and kept checking to make sure it was working.

Photo by Jerri Higgins
Pressed autumn maple leaves

My S.O. wasn’t all that impressed when I showed him later, but its a simple craft helping me ease into autumn.  I’m sure I could have created something more sophisticated, but I also enjoyed its childhood link.

As the earth has moved in its orbit, the garden is now burgeoning with tomatoes, green beans, squash, carrots, and late corn – harvest time well under way.  Maybe I’ll learn to can food this year, but it feels too much like work… 🙂

I suppose we could dry the tomatoes, freeze some of the corn, carrots, and green beans, as well as what we’re doing, which is making as many recipes possible with all the fresh food.

It’s also nice to know where and how our food was grown, and I feel more connected to our land than before I started gardening.

The cooler breezes are more welcome than the humid dog days we’re leaving behind, and sleep is more restful with cooler air too.

I’m not ready to give up summer, and wish it lasted at least another month, but I’ll savor all the warm days ahead, and do my best to accept rather than resist – or figure out how to move to warmer climes!

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

Inside Out

Shame.

How small a word, how big a consequence.

It’s high summer, nearly the start of August, and I am unchanged.

The message board at a favorite pub has creative endeavors, artisans advertising their wares, therapeutic services offered from a High Priestess teaching you the true Wiccan way, to Reiki, and other esoteric healing arts, plastered over it.

My mind swirls with contradiction, dismissing, reviling, but also believing.  Shame enters.  I’m smarter than that, but I’m so desperate for help that anything sounds plausible.

Miracles happen, prayer sometimes works – or maybe it always works and the answer is no – or maybe it never works and yet sometimes seems to.

People describe angelic intervention, things beyond our understanding or perception. I’ve never experienced this, and I’ve asked, begged, screamed to the cosmos for help – for many years.

You can’t convince me that some god wanted my life this way.  That this is what I asked for, or what’s necessary.  Mental illness just is.  It’s not a punishment.

A therapist described medication as a tool to get you where you can deal with your messed-up perception.  So far, medication hasn’t worked for me.  I’ve tried different modalities, and suicide feels like the only definitive.

But what if I’m left with the hell in my head and this is the only place I have a hope of changing it?  Am I eternally screwed?  Am I in limbo, or purgatory, now?  Am I paying penance while I yet live?  Another therapist introduced a Sufi idea that suffering here brings great honor wherever we go from here.  I don’t want the honor.  I’d rather live without the hell.

Not all days are like this, but enough of them are.

I also get the irony that I am sitting on a beautiful screened porch, looking out over a gentle-sloping lawn, flower-filled fields, and forest area beyond.  Puffed clouds float easterly, while the Poplar trees shimmer in the breeze that also bends and waves the hay.  Various bird song and cricket chirping fills my ears along with the rising wind.  Heaven could hardly improve the scene.

What is wrong with me?

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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