Peter has his Lost Boys. Are there the Lost Girls too? Because I know there are Lost Middle-aged Women. Well, at least one.
I had a nice, snotty cry the other night about my choices and how each one seems worse than the one before. I’m not talking about choosing which dress to wear or what to have for dinner. I’m talking about life choices. Where to live. What job to do. Which friend to make. When to be in a relationship. Who to be. I keep trying to fix my life. Make it better. Make it decent. Make it plan B…C…actually I’m on like P or maybe Q now. And every single frickin’ time, with every single frickin’ choice, I make it worse. These aren’t flighty decisions. Yes, I make very quick emotional decisions. But then I take a deep breath and a step back while I let my logical, informed side have a go at it. My final decision is based on my heart AND my head.
Of course now I’m paralyzed. How can I possibly decide what to do when I KNOW it will be the wrong decision? So I play the Vizzini battle of the wits game. If I think I should do this, maybe I should then do that. But then if I pick that, maybe that means I should pick this. Meanwhile many areas of my life deteriorate. So not making a choice also leaves me, well, lost.
Almost a month ago I cracked my clavicle and jacked my shoulder. So, pain. Varying amounts of pain for weeks now. Not fun. I’m also fairly incapacitated. Which equals frustration, disappointment, boredom, and, well, not fun. I have cancelled many plans and am missing out on a bunch. I’ve made it out to health appointments, Walgreens, and the grocery store. That’s been pretty much the extent of my human contact for weeks. Calls and messages from friends have been helpful and meaningful, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t take the place of spending time in someone’s company.
As much as the physical pain hurts, the isolation does too. I hadn’t realized how much it was affecting me until I finally went out for a bit with a friend. Sitting and talking, just being with someone else meant so much. I was shocked at how emotional I was afterwards. I am an introvert. I don’t need to be around people all the time. In fact, I prefer more alone time. But I’m human and therefore I need some in person interaction. Being out of commission has taken a toll not only on my body, but my spirit too.
What happens when the caretaker needs care?
I make pots of minestrone and loaves of bread for people who are ill.
I send care packages full of puzzle books, crayons, Silly Putty, games, and magazines to injured friends and family.
I give flowers to people I love who are going through rough times.
I helped raise hundreds of children, whether in their home or school.
I treated kids with special (emotional and physical) needs.
I spent weeks playing nursemaid to my former partner when he was hurt.
I stepped away from my life for a bit to take care of my mom when my dad died.
I take care of people. It’s not just what I do, it’s who I am. I am a caretaker. It’s a role I now accept willingly and proudly. It gives meaning to my life.
What happens now that I am the one injured and could use some care and concern? Well, it’s hard for me to accept it, but I am also hurt by the lack of it. I don’t really know how to deal with someone taking care of me, even though that is something I want so very much. So I am taking care of myself the best I can, being thankful for any concern which comes my way, and realizing it’s OK if people don’t respond the same way I do. I’m using the time in my sickbed to evaluate how the caretaker role works for me and how I can take better care of myself.
Most of us have heard the Burns/Sheldon saying about “the best laid plans.” But the turn of phrase I usually use is Julia Sweeney’s “God said, ‘Ha!'”
This has been/continues to be a year of change in all aspects of my life. My main plan for this fall was to get in physical shape. I started working with a personal trainer and began learning and incorporating Ayruvedic ideas. I got my butt back on my yoga mat. I went to a woman’s retreat to become stronger. One component of this was learning self-defense techniques. As I was helping one of the other women practice, bam. I was flipped on my shoulder, breaking my clavicle. All my plans had to change. Total reevaluation of my priorities. No physical activity for weeks. Building up the big guns and getting the six-pack can’t happen this fall. Life obviously wants me to work on other issues. Like emotional ones. Like the more difficult to face ones I was attempting to put off. So, I will be getting more messy and sweaty than if I were hitting the gym, because instead I will be hitting my therapist’s office and doing the real dirty work. God/life said, “Ha!” And I said, “Fine. I’ll do it your way.”
“It’s not fair! You don’t understand! That’s not what I said! I’m being punished for something I didn’t even do!”
-Me, on many an occasion, to many a loved one
We are punished by and for the issues of those we love. You know the whole sins of the father thing? It’s not just the father. Everyone we love is messed up, because, well, everyone is messed up. They don’t understand. They blame. They twist. They look at things, including you and your actions, through their fucked up worldview. What you say and imply doesn’t really matter, what they hear and infer does. You end up punished for what they think.
But so what. You love them, you love all of them. Even their issues. You learn, they learn. It still happens, because we can never truly understand another person. Hell, very few of us can even understand ourselves. So we keep trying. We keep explaining. We keep accepting. And we keep being punished. Then we keep sharing our issues and trying to understand theirs.
Oh, and you have a fucked up worldview too, which causes you to punish those who love you. Don’t forget that.
How many emotions can a person have at once? Good news for a friend means bad news for you. Winning one thing makes you lose another. Like part of an opportunity but dislike another part. So want to have an adventure; so want to curl up in the corner. Someone else getting what you want brings up what has been denied. A fun time reminds of a tragedy. Being bravely honest offends and ricochets.
Having one feeling doesn’t mean you can’t have another also. You can be overjoyed for a friend, and feel overwhelmed yourself. Excitement doesn’t block fear. The scales of balance don’t tip in favor of positive over negative. Bravery is often followed by pain.
Feeling bad for yourself doesn’t temper feeling good for someone else. We are human. Situations are complicated. Others’ decisions affect us, as ours do them. You don’t want someone you care about to lose out for you, but you can still acknowledge your resulting loss.
Everybody hurts. Everybody hurts, not just feels hurt, but hurts other people.
We all have been hurt and hated it, but we all still hurt other people. Some of the best people I know have hurt me, just as I have hurt others. Sometimes it’s unintentional. Sometimes it’s from rationalizing because of our own issues. And sometimes it’s just being stupid because we are human.
And then there are those who just don’t give a fuck about other people. But that’s not what has me upset and confused.
We KNOW the damage we may be doing, we don’t WANT to damage people we care about, yet we still do it. Why? I know there are as many specific whys as there are hurts, but what’s the general why?
Are we all doomed to hurt and feel hurt? The pain we cause expands and trickles to others. One person hurting another has a ripple effect and affects many. How do we dam the pain we cause?
Why do we keep hurting each other? Even if we can’t figure that out, can we stop? Can I?
I have been beat down for the past couple of years, by myself and someone else. I have spent so much time and effort refinding and rebuilding myself. The wounds are deep, and it’s taking so much to heal them. But I am. No matter how much blood, sweat, and tears it takes. (A lot. Seriously, A LOT.) Opportunities to help me along—or drag me on—this path have arisen, as they always do. And I’ve taken them. I’ve stepped up and taken these opportunities. People have been catalysts. But as helpful as some have been, I’m the one who was already making changes and I’m the one who took a deep breath and jumped in.
So I had built up scars. The wounds were well on their way to being healed. And then? And then they ripped open again. Being rejected. Feeling unwanted. Thinking I’m worthless. Exactly what tore me up before. So I started healing again, right? Well, first I lashed the hell out. And tried to understand. And cried. And cocooned. And blamed myself. And decided that I would never, ever, ever open myself up to someone again. (Which is a decision I have made before. Multiple times.) Then I heard a song lyric:
“This one’s for the girls
Who’ve ever had a broken heart
Who’ve wished upon a shooting star
You’re beautiful the way you are
This one’s for the girls
Who love without holding back
Who dream with everything they have”
“Who love without holding back.” That has always been me. Eros. Storge. Agape. Philia. No matter what type of love I give you, I give you it in spades. This is part of what makes me me. And therefore I can’t give love without giving part of me. So, never opening myself up to someone again? I can’t. I won’t. I’ll keep getting wounds. I’ll keep healing them. And I’ll keep giving love—and myself—without holding back.
I recently realized I am not as changed as I had thought. The hurt I felt from another person’s actions sent me spiraling down the rabbit hole again. Crying. Panic attack. Binge. Self-hate.
But I am still a different person than I was—and much closer to the one I want to be. Although my immediate reaction was same old stupidity, my following reactions were not. Breathing. Release. Positivity. Introspection.
A new relationship also has me questioning the motives behind my feelings. Are these really just old patterns disguised as progress? Do I want this person? Or do I just want someone? The recent difference is that I am doing this questioning; not just hoping, planning, and ignoring.
The realization that the work I’ve done has not produced quite the results I want (yet) used to be something which would cause surrender. Now it’s causing renewed determination. That IS progress.
We shouldn’t change who we are for another person. BUT what if it’s not just change?What if we are growing and becoming healthier?
I am jealous. I am mean. I am selfish. I am pushy. I am hurtful. I am manipulative. I am critical. I am…a lot of shitty things sometimes.
THAT’S who I am–at least some of the time. Guess what. You can’t be those things and be in a healthy relationship–romantic or otherwise. (Just like you can’t pretend you don’t have feelings/needs/wants and be in a healthy relationship. Cough. Cough.) So because I have negative attributes I can’t ever be in a healthy relationship?! I mean, we aren’t supposed to change who we are for someone else, right? Well, I call bullshit. It’s the kind of change that matters. Is it healthy? Yes? Then let that person change you! Grow for them…and you.
I’m depressed. I’m anxious. I am mentally ill. THAT’S also who I am. So, because it’s who I am, I shouldn’t work on it? Shouldn’t change who I am? I should lie in bed all day, eating (or starving depending on which emotional issue is winning at the moment)? Sometimes I get the hell out of bed for other people. And that makes me healthier…and happier. At least in the long run.
So, if the change in you another person needs is healthy, I say work on it. (And fail, and work on it, and fail, and so on. Because no one is asking for perfection, just bettering.)