Friday, January 19, 2018

Freedom!

Much of my life has been spent in the pursuit of freedom, I could also say in the pursuit of fitting in.

Opening my eyes in the morning is a restless battle between the world of dreams in which I am trying to find a satisfying solution to the drama of my dreams and the "oh shit" moment of realization that it is time to get up and get ready for work.

Depending upon the amount and quality of sleep of the night, or the amount of parental guilt that I'm feeling at the moment I will either get up and make some sort of breakfast and then take a bath before getting ready for work or I will nestle deeper into my pillow and silence the alarm until the kids come banging on the door for a ride to school. My dear Patrick has taken on this duty for which I am simultaneously grateful and yet aware that I should drag myself out of bed and do myself.

I view the world as a tableau of events, a glaring bathroom light (which I switch off as quickly as possible), a fuzzy outline of the refrigerator, desperate gulps of water as the night has dehydrated me and the fresh new light of day breaking over the mountain, street and trees. I've decided to simplify my life by wearing the same type of clothes every day. Dark jeans and a dark blue t-shirt. Why? Honestly there are just so many decisions that we have to make everyday that it can get exhausting. I want to be creative and classy in my choice of clothing but I hate buying things just to buy them, I feel like I need to have enough time and money (and to lose a few pounds) to buy good clothing that fits well. I dislike doing things when I can't do them well. I put off a lot of things for this reason. So it's simple clothing that I've chosen to go to, one less emotional decision to make.

I do what I have to do because I want to escape the expectations of others. I want to be free to set my own schedule, to do what I want to do and learn what I want to learn. I feel like I will only be able to do this when I am no longer trapped in the necessity of providing for shelter, food and warmth. In other words when I own a home outright and don't have to work too hard to have enough money to pay for everything. My world is thus reduced to the bare minimum that I need to get through life until I am free. Like a slave buying their freedom by carefully saving all that they make until they've paid off their slave debt.

I've had too many years of fearing for my family's financial security that it has become an obsession for me. I panic sometimes that I cannot be competent enough at my job to stay employed, and sometimes I am so tired of what I am doing that I cast about trying to find some new interest that I can develop and earn money from. Though at this point I fear that I cause myself to lose focus by trying to learn so much and do so much. So I am trying to narrow down the scope of what I want to learn so that I can relax with what little time I have left after work.

Therefore I am the barest version of myself most days. When I have time by myself I am therefore very determined to try to fit all of the rest of what I want to do into it. Thus I ignore people and social obligations because I feel like I have so little time to exist. I have so many things I want to do, I become paralyzed by all of the options and this is something I have struggled with all of my life. I have piles of little unfinished things because I am always feeling pulled this way and that, obligation or desire to appease someone else. That is the most uncomfortable feeling for me, I would rather not feel obligated to appease someone, rather I want all of my attention or affection to come from a place of authenticity, if it is dragged out of me it doesn't feel right. I do care about other people, I do want to do things for my family and my friends but if it doesn't come from my decision to be selfless and caring it really makes me feel upset and resentful.

That's about all I feel like writing tonight on this subject. :)

SG




Friday, December 29, 2017

Do I fit in?

I've been more aware recently of my feelings of... being an outsider, a fraud I guess you could say. This is something that I've read of as a sentiment often shared by women who reach a measure of success, we never feel good enough.

I struggle with the feeling that I am still battling my own naivete, that I need to be more shrewd, more competent. I know I have passed through the trials of school lectures and tests and yet I feel as though there is no way for me to put what I have learned (if I have learned it) to good use.

I walk a line between the world of business men and woman and feel I lack the competence and even the right sense of style to succeed in that world.

Then I question whether or not that is the right world for me, if I would be better off in a comfortable place doing what I feel like doing.

Yes I feel like an outsider. Not a housewife, to encumbered by the concerns of supporting my family to worry about decorating much, or discussing my children (much). I don't have the energy to worry over everything my kids are up to, I wish I could be around and take them places. I wish I could go to their class and help out. I wish I could deep clean my home, keep it really tidy (never been the best at that), fix things that are broken and paint where the walls need paint. I am an outsider to the housewives.

To the business world I am an outsider, the men I know sit around and discuss football and go golfing together, the women dress well and go out to lunch.

I wish I had the time to exercise enough that I was trim and had the time to shop so that I could be stylish. I suppose some day in the future I will have the time for this...

I'm not sure how to push past these perceived boundaries and be more of who I am, feeling secure in myself rather than in the perception that I must be some other way in order to fit into the social order.

I enjoyed watching "The Greatest Showman" because of the message that was conveyed. Stay true to who you are, be proud of what you are, fit in by being who you are. Plus the music was incredibly powerful!

I probably shall continue feeling different and questioning if I am doing the right things in life. That can't be helped, I suppose it is part of the human condition.

SG

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Reflections

I am in a reflective mood today, it has been a beautiful Christmas day. It snowed last night bringing a touch of snow to make it a white Christmas. I slept in, hallelujah! My children were all here, enthusiastic, and quite happy with all of their presents, thus Christmas has been a success for me. I have spent most of the day reading and relaxing at my parents house. Any time I am presented with the opportunity to do nothing but just be with my loved ones, with no expectation of things that need to be done is a good time to me.

Different thoughts have been floating past my consciousness throughout the day and I wish I had captured them, I think there were some real gems of wisdom and insight among them, but alas I did not take the time to write them down.

I fear that  a lot of times I have needed to make a quick decision in matters that really counted but the decision I made was the one I wish I hadn't made. It seems like later on I was forced into making harder choices because of small decisions that were less than ideal. So I've always feared quick decisions, yet sometimes they've turned out well.

I find that there are many pieces of wisdom that serve as a counterpoint to my thoughts. I will think something uncharitable and low and then recriminate myself for it because I am striving to do better. I am striving to accept my limitations as well as those of others. I try to stop the recriminations of my conscience against my own actions. For I am a harsh critic of my own thoughts and actions. Deserving or not.

I've always been a harsh critic of myself, for some reason it is difficult for me to just allow myself to just accept who and what I am. I suppose in a way it is what prompts me towards improvement, but in another way I am never true to myself. I feel like there is this better version of me that I should be... like it is just out of my reach and that there must be something that I can do that will let me reach it.

In the same way I suppose I have always had a high expectation for others, though at the same time I've always made provision for their shortcomings. I reason it out in my mind a circular thought leading from irritation to explanation to reconciliation hopefully without them ever being the wiser to my thoughts. It's tiring though sometimes...

I want to be the sincere, thoughtful, open-hearted heroine that others find so endearing. My actions and motives are put through a whirlwind of thought though before coming out the other end, I suspend my judgement, and act after careful consideration (most of the time). All of this is tiring, I wish I wasn't quite so analytical, but that is what I am.

I love people though, I love them a lot. I've always wanted the best for my siblings, for my children, for my parents, for my friends. I've always wanted to somehow find the magic key that unlocks and relieves the hurts they have suffered, somehow, help them improve their lives so that they will find greater happiness. Because somehow I've always been able to see beyond the barriers that people put up to hide behind and I've always seen that there was so much potential for them. Both thoughts are unnerving  and not necessarily helpful so I've stopped trying as hard as I used to. Which sometimes makes me feel disconnected from myself.

One other honesty before I stop writing tonight. I know that most days I am living but I am not alive. I turn myself into an automated robot that get's up, ready and to work so that I can come home and do it again and again and again... it is only on days of seemingly endless freedom and solitude like today that I find I am able to breath and think. I wish there was a way to always have that freedom, but I've not discovered it. I wish I could.

SG

Friday, December 8, 2017

What would be said of me...

I've thought sometimes, what would people say of me if I died today? The things that I have accomplished in my life are things that I would never have dreamed for myself to have accomplished.

Would they say, she has traveled to different places, Australia, Ireland, Germany and Austria. She loved to travel! 

Is it enough to say that, to reduce those experiences down to a statement so simple. What did it mean to me that I have traveled? The answer is that it means more to me than I can express, I feel so lucky to have traveled so far and seen for myself the differences and similarities between people. Yet, these trips came about because of other desires. To meet a man in Australia who engaged my mind in deep conversation, to see one of my favorite cousins get married in Ireland and to seek out my cousin (her sister) who married a German man and lives in Frankfurt. All of these destinations were unexpected to me, I wish that I could have spent more time in realizing the grandeur and significance of the places I visited but each trip was short so all done in a whirlwind and only later after the trip was complete did I look back and think about the places themselves as much as my goal of connection with friends and family.

Perhaps those who know me might say that I was beautiful. They will look with their eyes on the person they know. 

Could they ever know the way my own eyes saw myself? The visions of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to be? My insecurities and those things that I liked about myself?

They might praise my scholarship, I pushed on through school even though it all looked daunting. I am proud of putting in the hours to get where I am but in some cases regret the time that I wished I had to do other things, to be another person.

Would they describe me as kind? A good mother? Wise? Probably. 

I feel as though there is more to me than can ever be reduced to words, there is more that I would have my children learn if I could. I wish I could pass on all that I know and have learned but I think that our lives, our experience and knowledge is not something easily transferable. We wear out our patterns of living as we go along and these patterns cannot so easily be picked up by the younger generation. We can no sooner step into their shoes as they in ours. Though I do look at my children sometimes and think of how much I wish I could just make things easier for them. A wise gardener knows that sometimes the strongest plants face the most adversity. 

SG



Sunday, December 3, 2017

I and We

I, a word of self identity.

Our consciousness and conscience.

All I am, all I have, my sole possession.

I walk alone, playing the game, creating what I can.

Can I gain more I? Can I be more?

I am alone

Until I find you

I, linked with you, aware of each others awareness.

Briefly, WE exist.

WE are more! Spark and inspiration, WE create!

I value WE

Yet I defend I

I am the only one who can.



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ah time, that thief of my life

I relate to the world through a rich inner thought life. Thoughts stir around in my head all day, some mundane, some poetic, all of them almost always lost in the shuffle of my everyday busy life. Sometimes that is quite discouraging because it feels as though I am a shell walking throughout my day doing my work and existing in each moment reduced to a robotic routine, the meaning of life distilled into droplets of interaction with other human beings and there is a deep hunger there. I am interested in people, I want to sit down and probe the depth of their thoughts and find out what makes them tick. I tried to do that with a friend as we took walks together but I found that she held a shallow pool of interesting thought and didn't seem to be driven like I am towards constant improvement and seeking after knowledge. This was discouraging to me and though I am still good friends with her, I still find myself lacking a thought partner, something that I am used to though so I've retreated to the familiar territory of books and TED talks, anything that gets me to think outside of the ordinary humdrum of life. I find that when I read I analyze the way that the author has set up the book, how they are developing their characters and plot. Though without the time to work on my own book I despair at ever creating my own work of fiction. I'm not uncaring towards people, however I find it hard to maintain relationships with the depth of friendship that I prefer because the demands of time on my life make that possibility low. I am selfish a lot of times, I know. I am also frustrated because of the many things I want to do with my time that I cannot because I am a responsible adult type person. Well, I've got more to write but I am being called away... goodnight.

SG

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Seeking purpose

Some thoughts that have been plaguing my mind lately revolve around purpose in ones life. I watched a documentary about some Hasidic Jews who are trying to leave the community they grew up in, turning their back on the beliefs and traditions of their upbringing. The Hasidic Jewish community living in the New York area, as described in the documentary, keeps their members tied to them by issuing a strict set of rules for the community members to follow.

These rules effectively keep the community members in ignorance of how the rest of the world functions and limits the ability of members to make decisions other than those handed down to them from their leaders. The people that were highlighted in the documentary (on Netflix) outline their struggles and reasons for leaving. They have valid reasons (in my opinion) to leave and seek out a different path but in the eyes of their community they are damning themselves and would lead their children astray if allowed to do so.

One thing that stuck with me, besides the difficulty of leaving something that you have always known, is the difficulty in finding purpose. I too struggled with finding a purpose to life when I left behind many of the beliefs I grew up with.

People speak of purpose as though it is something to be found, handed down to us from a sentient being who designed the world to have meaning. They hope that if they can find their purpose then their own lives will have meaning. I don't fault them for trying to find meaning or purpose in life, only I believe that when these things are not readily apparent to us then it can cause anguish, as though finding peace comes from finding purpose.

I propose a different way to regard life and our purpose. We let go of the need for an explanation for everything, we don't need to know why in some cases, we just need to know what is.

I heard this concept from a Ted Talk, I believe, though I can't find it at the moment. We spend a lot of emotional energy trying to figure out why something happened when a lot of times even if we understand why, it isn't going to help us find peace.

Accepting that you don't have to have all the answers frees you to move forward and choose to be happy in spite of everything.

Just a few thoughts for the day...

SG











Sunday, October 15, 2017

Relationships

I grew up in a religious community that was all about complete fidelity, strengthening family bonds and fighting for marital ties.

Thus when I found myself married at a young age what I felt to be the most important thing was keeping my marriage together. I fought really hard towards that goal and put up with a difficult relationship, an abusive relationship, with the attitude that if we all went to church, prayed together, talked things through, then everything that was wrong could be made right.

There were things that could not be made right no matter how much I tried however. Things that I couldn't see or was too immature to know how to handle.

I'm not sure how people successfully navigated through unsuitable relationships back in the days where girls married at 14 (or younger) and were expected to raise their children to be strong and successful. How did these young girls overcome their own immaturity? Perhaps the societal norms of their days and what was expected of them was simple and they didn't expect much out of life, nor their relationships, it is sad that this is still the state of things in some areas of the world.

We live in a world that expects a lot from life and from our relationships and that leads to discontent.

But discontent was not a motivating factor for me when I was a young mother, I found joy in other things, for me I knew quite early on that I was in over my head and I didn't know how to escape. I made the unenviable choice to work on my relationship as much as possible, but to do things that would allow me the ability to escape if I needed to. In essence, I wasn't in a relationship out of love but out of fear. Certainly I loved my husband, but I hadn't come into the relationship as a fully realized person and I didn't decide to be married based off a mutual understanding of love and trust, I was married because I wanted to do the right thing for my children, I wanted them to have a good home.

So I was locked into this dynamic and yet fighting with all of my being to improve my situation. I went to school, I was lucky because attending school meant that I received grant money which we desperately needed because we were very poor. It was also useful because I was able to get out of the house and have some time to myself, I could escape into an inner world and there find a voice.

My inner voice told me something was wrong, that I needed to find a way out. I tied to talk things through with my husband, there were times I was suspicious of him, he had had an affair when we were first married and I thought that what was wrong was that he didn't really love me, I thought he would be happier without me. I was tired of the many things that I felt he did to keep us poor, spending money unwisely and unwise business practices. I was tired of the deception, always feeling like there was something he was hiding. I thought that I could fix it by trying harder, being more devout, getting us all to go to church, going to therapy and talking until I was blue in the face but nothing seemed to work.

At first I tried to escape by getting into a relationship(ish) with another guy. That was not good, I felt too much guilt and I felt uneasy with the speed with which the other guy wanted to marry me. I broke that off, it lasted a month.

That was trying to escape and I didn't like that way out, it made me weaker as a person.

I reconciled with my husband and went back to trying to break things off in the "right" way.

Then he became more violent, then I found out what he had truly been hiding and that was the last straw.

I packed his things, I put them out for him to take them away and I stood firm as he begged and pleaded with me to take him back, that was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done. Though unfortunately I did not have the resolve at that time to keep him from residing in some form or other in my home for the next few years, I was financially dependent on him and this had all happened right at the down turn in the economy so it was difficult to find work. I hated myself for my weakness, I wasn't protecting myself or my children and that caused me a lot of pain.

I had found a relationship with someone who lived on the other side of the world, he talked me through many things and became a good friend. We were really close and I went to see him (in Australia), we became engaged and then I went home. In this relationship I also felt trapped, and I felt like that was ridiculous because he lived so far away from me. I went to see him again to see if I could work out the dilemma I felt for myself, we had fun together but when I returned home again I felt something was wrong. It felt like the balance of power was out of control, he told me what I should do with my ex-husband and although I agreed I felt weak and unable to do what I knew was right so I felt continually in the wrong. I hated my weakness, I hated feeling out of control and I eventually broke it off.

Ironically I had found someone that loved and supported me over here, I met him at my work place and he was a really kind, though insecure guy. I had broken things off with my long distance relationship and then started up a relationship with this guy, but there was a struggle going on with one guy pleading for me to continue my relationship with him and then the other doing the same and then having the messy dependence on my ex-husband. It was all too much, it made me emotionally and physically sick, so eventually I ended everything with every guy in my life (as much as possible) and though my ex still came around causing me grief I had hardened my heart to his emotional abuse (mostly) and decided to move on.

So I did, I moved on. I dated several people and eventually found someone I admired and loved. We started a relationship, I moved my little family to his condo and we got married, BUT I was in school and wasn't really fully available because of that. There was a constant group text going with my MBA group and when I got off of work, I went to school, when I got done with school I came home and studied. I tired as much as I could to talk to my husband and get to know him but he was very private and paranoid. The situation really wasn't ideal for resolving misunderstandings because of the heavy pressure and exhaustion I felt so eventually we cracked. He cracked by accusing me of cheating, I felt that was so ironic because I had no inclination to cheat on him, I loved him, plus I had no time whatsoever to cheat. But nothing I did or said could convince him otherwise and our marriage ended.

It's been about a year now since he packed everything up and left, about 7 months since the divorce was finalized. I was devastated, I felt so empty inside, heartbroken and numb. I gathered up my pride and my things and did what I could to stave off the pain, unwisely I started dating again hoping to stem the loneliness. A mechanic friend helped me find an old beater car that has served me pretty well this past year, I lucked into a good deal on a condo that I was just able to afford, so I packed up my family and we left what had become a home full of ghosts for me.

There was one man who stepped into this painful and lonely world and did things for me that I could not, who brightened my day and helped me establish my home as it is now. He was not entirely truthful with me at the beginning however which has made me a bit uneasy and uncertain. I am happier because of his kindness but undecided about the long term.

I have never had the amount of stability that I have now, financially and emotionally. Yet I know that I need to be able to make the decisions in my relationships rather than be forced into them by circumstance or else I will never feel easy with myself or my situation, that is what I have learned. I need time to myself to think, I need time with my children to establish bonds that have been weak, I need enough money in the bank that I am not afraid of losing my home or of being dependent on someone else. I never want to make the mistake of not making a firm decision before moving on to a new relationship again though, that has never been good.

This is my understanding from the relationships that I have had and the life I have lived.

SG

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Writing challenge: If you were given the opportunity to appear in a talent show what would you perform?

If I were to appear in a talent show what would I perform... I suppose I am re-writing that sentence because I don't really have something off the top of my head that I would like to perform at a talent show. A lot of my talents are the specialized, organize and order things type of talents though I do also enjoy singing, writing and painting. 

To go back a step here let me just state that I have a goal to write more often and the way that I identified to get myself to write more is to use writing prompts. I have a list of them and I try to pull them out and work on the prompts on Mondays and Wednesdays. So with that cleared up I will continue on with this attempt.

If I seriously had to perform something I would really learn a song well... or a piece of poetry, that's always fun.

I especially like the works that Anne of Green Gables so famously read in the book. "The Lady of Shallot," or "The Highway Man." Anything with a bit of drama and pathos, or as Anne would say "Don’t you just love poetry that gives you a crinkly feeling up and down your back?"

As for songs, I really sing church songs well... but I don't often share that talent, I like to sing some of the Carpenter's songs, or jam out to The Manhattan Transfer's "Cool Cool Kitty." But I really haven't practiced just singing a song well, perhaps I need to do that. Just in case I am randomly called to perform in a talent show.

SG

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Coming to grips with mistakes

Accepting mistakes without becoming defensive is one thing I have struggled with my whole life. I hate to have the lens of attention shining down on me, revealing things that I may or may not know about. I'm very introspective so I often have discovered many things that I want to fix, areas where I could improve. When someone points these areas out it feels like an intrusion on my personal battle for perfection.

Because that is what it is, a battle to rid myself of all incompetency, to make myself the paragon of cleverness and intelligence that I've always wanted to be. Mistakes are like daggers that pierce that perception and when pointed out they pierce deeper and I become defensive.

Defensiveness is a shield that I hold up when I feel the sting of shame. I am ashamed when it is obvious that I have failed, I am ashamed when I make mistakes because mistakes feel like failure.

When I was young mistakes were signs of incompetence, of stupidity. There used to be harsh criticism for failure in my early home. There were times I spent frantically cleaning my room in the hope that the angry voice of rejection wouldn't turn towards me, it was a child's reaction to the unknown.

As an adult I can see that it was a story that I told myself to explain what was going on in my home. I can see the broader picture now because I have more life experience. The residual and innate responses remain, however as the author of my own story I now have the power to edit and re-frame what happened to me in the past. I can give the character of ME a new direction to take, I no longer have to follow the old script.

Mistakes are still painful at times, I am learning how to deal with the pain instead of holding up a defensive shield. I can accept the mistake and view it as the learning tool that it should be, giving me the opportunity to improve and giving me a chance to build a better relationship with others.

Defensiveness is distancing, it is putting a space between yourself and others to avoid hearing the painful thing that they are saying. So learning how to accept things without internalizing them is what I am learning to do, at work and at home.

Some may not have the same battle to fight, maybe this battle is less important an issue to others than it is to me, but I do feel grateful that I have had the time to come to this point in my life. That is all for now.

SG