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All That Money Can’t Buy

“I want something else. I’m not even sure what to call it anymore except I know it feels roomy and it’s drenched in sunlight and it’s weightless and I know it’s not cheap. Probably not even real.“ – Mark Z. Danielewski

My best friend said to me once that the love/set up/relationship I was looking for doesn’t exist. Not in this world, she said. She is the same person who told me that I am the only one she knows that can come and go as she pleases and stands where she wants. Needless to say that I don’t believe her, not on all counts. To me, there is always a limit. Nobody has total freedom.

True, in some aspects I was more privileged than most but in other ways, not. Still is. I think the only difference is unlike some, I don’t need another person to feel complete and I will never validate/define myself through others. Both of my husbands, past and present claim that I don’t need anyone and D. said that I am the only one he knows that is sure of what she wants and who she is. I don’t believe that either. I think he is thinking of his own mother who is so indecisive she is in danger of losing her credibility if it is not already so. I don’t say he is wrong. What I’m saying is he made me sound like someone who is on the edge of extinction. There must be still a lot of us out there. I cannot be the only one left.

If the quote above exists and it is, it means there is a person behind the saying who feels exactly the same way as I do- dreaming of a place where finally everything would make sense and the pieces of the puzzle will finally fall into place. I would not say a place where I belong because I never feel I need to belong to something or someone. My brain doesn’t work that way. Like it never crosses my mind to look for love or be in love because there are lots of more interesting ventures I could think of than complicating your life by tying a liability around your leg but to each his own and what floats your boat, right?

Strange phrases coming from someone who is twice married and had lots of flings on the side, but I never said I would be a nun (though once upon a time that was one of my childhood dream/fantasy) I just happened to not believe in looking over your shoulders chasing/waiting for the love of your life and being depressed because you are single. I believe in enjoying life and seizing every moment –carpe omnia– and opportunities to live instead of waiting for love to happen because I can tell you this if it meant to be, it meant to be. None of my (mis)adventures I planned. They just happened. All the people I’ve met happened to be there, in the right place but at the wrong time.  Grateful though for the diversion. Without them, I don’t know where I am today. Probably in jail or in a loony bin.

I know it’s not cheap. This phrase from the above quote I disagree. In my experience most of the things that matter are free. But then again, if he was not talking about the monetary value of such places then I am with him on this one. Because again in my experience, the price of “where you belong”  or “what you believe in” is sky high. I’ve been there done that. I managed to lose just about everything for the sake of freedom and I’m not even free.

It’s drenched in sunlight. I find this one interesting. Like I find the general globally accepted picture of paradise is a sun-soaked beach with a single leaning over coconut tree interesting. I bet people who live in such settings think differently. I was one of them (though I managed to escape from “paradise” a long time ago) till of late, I’m beginning to think perhaps the one behind the iconic image is right after all. Again, those who inhabit such places might disagree because perhaps their picture of paradise is the land of milk and honey where I happened to live. What an irony. I have the privilege of having experienced both sides of the coin and I can tell you this much, no matter what your definition of paradise is, it is none of the two.

I wonder if there are people who are dreaming of places where it’s not drenched in sunlight, gloomy, dark and cold and for free in all the meaning of the word. I guess my dream destination comes close; my fantasy is to move to UK, to a chocolate box little cottage in the country complete with the definition of a cottage garden and a cute bubbling brook nearby. I love the country. I remember coming there for the first time, it was raining cats and dogs and it was indeed cold but I love it. I love every drop of rain on everything and I love the feeling the place gave me. It was akin to coming home at last. I visited a castle and instinctively, I know where and for what everything is. It felt familiar as if I had already lived in such a setting. If I believe in reincarnation I would probably go along that line but I don’t so I put it to coincidence instead.

Another dream of mine is to own a mobile home and tour around UK and Ireland and go visit those wondrous places like Peak/Lake District, Powys, Cumbria, Dorset, Cornwall, Devon and everything that has a shire attached to the name. Perhaps next year, it will finally come true.

How about you?

What is your idea of paradise?

THE MYTH OF THE GOOD OL BOY AND THE NICE GAL

The good of boy myth and the nice gal are a kind of social conformity myth. They create a real paradox when put together with the “rugged individual” part of the Success Myth. How can I be a rugged individual, be my own man and conform at the same time? Conforming means “Don’t make a wave”, “Don’t rock the boat”. Be a nice gal or a good ol’ boy. This means that we have to pretend a lot. 

“We are taught to be nice and polite. We are taught that these behaviors (most often lies) are better than telling the truth. Our churches, schools, and politics are rampant with teaching dishonesty (saying things we don’t mean and pretending to feel ways we don’t feel). We smile when we feel sad; laugh nervously when dealing with grief; laugh at jokes we don’t think are funny; tell people things to be polite that we surely don’t mean.”

– John Bradshaw On: The Family

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Divorcing A Parent

“Why isn’t there a commandment to “honor thy children” or at least one to “not abuse thy children”? The notion that we must honor our parents causes many people to bury their real feelings and set aside their own needs in order to have a relationship with people they would otherwise not associate with. Parents, like anyone else, need to earn respect and honor, and honoring parents who are negative and abusive is not only impossible but extremely self-abusive. Perhaps, as with anything else, honoring our parents starts with honoring ourselves. For many adult children, honoring themselves means not having anything to do with one or both of their parents.” 

― Beverly Engel

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Family

“One of the problems was my belief that family were always there for each other. That was the cause of my pain and my guilt. The fact that I no longer had them in my life meant that I was going against a code I held close to my heart. I had to modify that belief. I had to change my definition of family. It was no longer those to whom I was linked by blood. My family now became the friends who had been there the whole time. People who I knew I could count on when things went wrong… Finding and surrounding yourself with people who truly care for you is your gift to yourself. You deserve that. You will be okay. I no longer believe that I have lost my family. I have only now finally recognized who they truly are.”

~Anonymous

“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” ~Edna Buchanan

A few years ago I ended all contact with my parents, and I have not seen or spoken to them since then.

The truth is I am actually okay with that. Initially, I thought I was going to lose my mind. I had been brought up to believe that family comes first. Children should respect and take care of their parents. Family should—and will—always be there for each other.

Those beliefs were based on love, and I cherished them.

I wanted so much to feel that connection—that unconditional love those beliefs promised. It was never there.

Our lives were filled with so much fear, pain, hurt, betrayal, and lies. Manipulation and deceit were at the core of our home.

I told myself that all families have degrees of dysfunction, and our family was no different. I could not allow myself to believe that our family was different. I believed that one day my parents would realize what they were doing and change. I desperately wanted their love and approval.

On the night when my husband and I ended up inside a police station explaining why I thought my father was about to come to my home and hurt me, while my two grown sons waited in the car, I realized I had to wake up.

My fantasy was over. I could no longer go on pretending our family was just like everyone else. That night I said my last goodbye to my mother as she lied to protect my father. The next day I spoke the last words to my father as he screamed into the phone repeating the lies from my childhood. It was over.

Giving up the hope that things would get better was the hardest part. I was terrified that I was doing the wrong thing. I thought I was being a bad daughter. I was going against every cherished belief about family.

It broke my heart to know that my life had been based on an illusion. The picture I had created of my parents was shattered. They had never been there for me, and they never would be.

I had lied to myself to protect my fantasy and keep them in my life. Now I could no longer do it.

Over time I began to understand why I had fought so hard to live out the lie, and I began to forgive myself for not being brave enough to stand up earlier.

One of the problems was my belief that family were always there for each other. That was the cause of my pain and my guilt. The fact that I no longer had them in my life meant that I was going against a code I held close to my heart.

I had to modify that belief. I had to change my definition of family. It was no longer those to whom I was linked by blood. My family now became the friends who had been there the whole time. People who I knew I could count on when things went wrong. That was never my parents.

I also realized that I was afraid I was not lovable. In my mind if my own parents could not love me, there had to be something wrong with me.

I did everything I could to minimize disagreements between us, keeping quiet just to keep the peace. I knew that if I spoke up we would argue, they would get mad at me, and they would not love me. I failed to realize that this was something I only experienced with them.

It was hard work just to be around them. I was always on edge, cautious, and scared. That was not a loving relationship. I came to accept that if they could not love me, it didn’t change anything about me. I had created other loving relationships around me, and they were the scaffolding holding me up.

My first Christmas after was hard. I had always gone to my parents’ house to live the fairy tale of being surrounded by love.

It was always hard to ready myself for those days. We would act out the roles of happy family, hoping in some way that was our truth. It wasn’t. I had no idea how tense I was at these interactions until I no longer had to do it.

Part of the hurt was that I now had no tradition, so I decided to start a new one. Christmas is no longer a day of obligation. I now spend it with the people who are my true family.

I’ve come to realize that the love I had for my parents was based on a childhood need for safety and security. I had to see them as the parents who loved me, despite the things they did. I could not accept that the people responsible for my well-being were also responsible for my suffering.

So much of the world I had created around my parents was simply not real. I have had to accept that truth and move on with my life.

One of my fears was that by breaking contact with my parents, I was setting an example that my sons could repeat with me. I’d like to think this won’t happen because of my parents.

The pain of my childhood taught me how important it is for a child to truly feel loved, safe, and cherished. I’ve tried to live that truth with my boys. I don’t know what the future holds for us. I can only hope that the love I’ve shown them will have created a space in their hearts where I will always be thought of with love.

I try to imagine how I’ll feel when I find out that my parents have died. I honestly don’t know. I’m sure that part of me will be sad that we did not have a better ending. However, I know in my heart of hearts that I tried for over forty years to make it work. In the end, it just wasn’t enough.

My parents were never who I thought them to be. I have had to let it all go. The fantasy of the perfect ending with them is over. I am setting out on a new horizon where I have redefined my world.

As abused children, we may feel that it is somehow our responsibility to fix the broken parts of our family. It’s not. Sometimes there is no fairy tale ending where our parents realize how truly wonderful we are.

The hard part is recognizing that and moving on. Sometimes it’s the only way to find real peace. It’s heartbreaking. It’s not easy. Finding and surrounding yourself with people who truly care for you is your gift to yourself. You deserve that. You will be okay.

I no longer believe that I have lost my family. I have only now finally recognized who they truly are.

By Anonymous

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Another Milestone

I realized something the other day while I was looking at my growing collection of succulents; I’m enjoying being on my own.

I know I told you already that I am a loner and prefer solitude than being in a crowd but there is some difference; before, I crave to be among people I have nothing to do with. I love to meet new acquaintances – preferably in far away places so I can run away if it becomes too much and strangers become too close – I love talking to random people, exchanging ideas and watching them doing their things as long as they don’t follow me home and insist to be my friends. Before, I resented being isolated. I was constantly homesick. I wanted to experience again the life I had before; the fun, the chase, the adventures, the thrill of discovering new people, new places and new things. I hated being settled, peaceful, grounded and (more or less) secure. To me it was boring, unimaginative, dead.

I still enjoy meeting people and going places and discovering new things but it is not a must anymore. At the end of the day, I am happy to be home. In fact, lately, while exploring new frontiers, at the back of my mind, I can’t wait to go home. I can’t wait till I am again inside my four walls where I can be alone and peaceful and safe. Safe from expectations, safe from demands, away from the prying eyes and prejudiced judgmental people. I can be whoever I want to be no one will force me.

Before, I charge my battery somewhere, the more peculiar, weird, bizarre, the better. These days home is where I recuperate and I get my fix from peace and quiet and safety my place offers. I don’t want complicated situations anymore. No more dramas, no more unnecessary commitments, no more pretending, no more catering to what society expects.

Today I realized another thing: I don’t have the urge anymore to control things. 

Before, I want everything the way it supposed to be, in my head. I got into a panic when things are not in their proper place and things don’t happen the way I expect and my weight is not 46 kilos. The moment the scale shows one or two gram more I will get so nervous I will go into crash diet and see to it that my weight is back on track within three weeks.

Now, I am 10 kilos heavier and have love handles all over the place but I can stand it. I don’t get agitated anymore when there is a glass on the kitchen counter or a cup somewhere in the living room and there are clothes that have to be ironed in bed. Mind you the glasses and cups and clothes will not be there for long, but they can stay there for a few hours till I find the time and urge to remove them. I can go out now without straightening everything till my house is picture perfect. In short, I’m learning to let go.

I’m learning to let go of my paranoia as well. I can stand open windows now, doors too. Dark days don’t make me think of everything evil and I can take a bath now when I’m home alone and even dare to go into my dressing without locking anything that could be locked. The knife I still keep but I forget it’s there sometimes. I take it as a positive sign and continuing improvement of my mental health.

I don’t know if I’m really getting better or would really get better or I just resigned to my situation. Could be also that I’m just getting old and tired and lost my appetite for anything that rock my already shaky constitution and learning the value of restful and quiet uncomplicated existence.

Who knows…

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A Milestone

Yesterday after not speaking to me since she got married, that was three years ago, my daughter called me to say that she’s pregnant. I’m not surprised. I know from my son that she and her husband were trying to conceive. I’m happy for her. 

She told me that I was the first to know. I’m not surprised with that too. It reminds me of three weeks ago when I was talking to my son after his musical/theater performance and he said that while he was presenting and singing up there he was worried if I was going to like the show or not. He thought I would find it banal. He was happy when I said that what he/they did was memorable. He hopes for the same effect when he finished writing his first book he said.

I know that my relationship with my children is far from ideal and we hardly see each other, but it is touching to know that they still value my opinion the most. Out of thousand of people watching my son’s performance, what he was worried about was what I was thinking. My daughter could let her father or anybody know first but she have chosen to call me instead. That means a lot to me.

In the past, they accused me of being hard to please and economical when it comes to giving compliments, but in my defense, I only give credit where credit is due. I don’t want to give or encourage false hopes when in reality there is none.

I know I will never be the mother they prefer to have and I doubt if I’m going to be the best grandmother but this is me. My grandchildren will know me like my children have known me_ honest straight-forward maybe harsh but fair. I hope they will appreciate the person that I really am because I am not planning to change myself for the sake of acceptance.

Let’s wait and see… 

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Guilty I Am

Remember the time I wrote an article about feeling guilty whenever I eat? Well, that is not the only thing I’m feeling guilty about.

I feel guilty if by the end of the day I have nothing to show for it. What I mean is I have an immense urge to always create and do something I can’t sit still for more than five minutes. I feel guilty if I’m not doing anything. I feel that it is a waste of time to sit and relax while you can do a million things instead. Not only I want to create I also want a proof of my labor. A tangible proof. Something I or someone else could admire and cherish. Something beautiful, something creative. If I don’t have it when the day ends, I feel worthless and guilty.

Again, I don’t know why. 

No one told or taught me to feel guilty if I’m idle. If ever, I don’t remember. The reason behind this is probably the same one why I don’t indulge in idle remarks or mere social chit-chat__ it’s pointless. If you want to say something, say something meaningful, remarkable or unforgettable. Say something kind and true and always meant it. Don’t say anything for the sake of__ just saying something or because you think someone wanted to hear what you’re about to say or just placating a person for whatever reason. And for God’s sakes don’t talk about the weather! And don’t start your greetings with “How are you?” if you don’t really want to know the answer to your inquiries or don’t have the time to really listen to the other person’s woes. Don’t say anything out of politeness. If you have nothing truthful or substantial to say shut your mouth and walk away. 

What else I’m feeling guilty about?

Cleaning and tidying. 

I’m a very clean person. I’m keen on hygiene. Not only personal hygiene but about everything. No, I’m not Mysophobic, just clean. And on top of it, I hate clutter. I cannot stand glasses, cups or anything unnecessary on the kitchen counter or coffee table. My espresso machine and water cooker are in the cupboard and only going to be out when needed. No shoes on the hallway and no coats either. People often describe my house as something that jumps out from the pages of a lifestyle magazine. My mother-in-law said my house is clinically clean. My daughter once remarks that it seems nobody lives in my place and one state agent told me that you can eat on the floor of my abode.

Of course, it isn’t true.

I just cannot rest if my house and garden are dirty and cluttered, but clinically clean it isn’t. There is dust everywhere. My house is a dust magnet. I can wipe the table clean and when I turn around, the dust has already settled in. And there seems to be always something on the floor. Mostly strands of my hair which is by the way so noticeable against the light tiles. No, my house and routine are ordinary. Just like me. 

I think I’m going to leave it here before I get totally carried away and say something irrelevant to the topic (as if I didn’t do just that) or something I might regret later.

See you next time?

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Garden Enigma -Part Two

In order to understand what I’m talking about, you need to read this post of mine. Not only it will give you an extensive view of the place, but it will save me also from the trouble of rewriting everything again. 

They say you will only realize the value of something when it is no longer there. In this case, it is true. In someway it is. Garden wise, it truly is. Financial wise, it’s not. But to us, especially to D., The place is still the benchmark. We still miss it. We often talk about the time we were drinking wine and eating tapas in the huge gazebo, sleeping on the loveseat when he came home from work amidst the singing of the birds and buzzing of insects, lighting the firepit during the colder months, taking a nap on the hammock and enjoying the great outdoors in our property right outside our doorsteps. I even wrote some of my articles in the garden. Now, the place is nothing but a distant memory.

How many times we drove there and park just outside the gate nursing the pain in our hearts upon seeing the people who bought it altered the property beyond belief, ripping the period features we cared for and loved replacing them with modern ones that do nothing to enhance the beauty of our once beloved house it looks like a butchered example of those renovations when people failed to successfully marry the old and the new. I saw that the yellow climbing rose I planted next to the front door is still alive and thriving. That baby has grown enormous it almost reached the third-floor window and covered with big blooms. I wonder if they will rip it out too in given time.

They say be careful what you wish for and often times this cliché happened to be true. At least in our case it certainly is. If I could do things all over again you will be surprised when I say I will not alter a single decision I had made that lead us to our current house with the beautiful garden we never use. I have no choice. It was then “take the plunge and swim” or “stay put and drown.”

What would you choose? 

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TGIF

It’s Friday and I don’t know what to do. Last Wednesday was mother’s day Ascension Day, therefore, National Holiday. My son decided to bestow on us a royal visit fresh from a month holiday all over Italy where he was canvassing for an ideal place to buy a house which he said I could inhabit if in case I would really go through with the divorce. He said he will never hinder my freedom since we will never be married. Nice to know I have some options. 

We ended up taking a very long walk of 12 kilometers along the coast. Far too far for my limit these days. The outcome is I was flat and out yesterday and just about alive today. I want to go to the shopping mall for no specific reason other than to buy a massage oil for my aching bones. I gulped down a shortbread raspberry tart (a big no-no for my gluten and lactose intolerance but what the heck) with real green tea in the hope of perhaps it could revive me but only succeeded to make me feel heavy and bloat my tummy. When I’m going to learn? 

I’m off to take a bath now to feel human again. Till next time and Happy Weekend!

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The Elephant In The Room

“There’s a phrase, “the elephant in the living room”, which purports to describe what it’s like to live with a drug addict, an alcoholic, an abuser. People outside such relationships will sometimes ask, “How could you let such a business go on for so many years? Didn’t you see the elephant in the living room?” And it’s so hard for anyone living in a more normal situation to understand the answer that comes closest to the truth; “I’m sorry, but it was there when I moved in. I didn’t know it was an elephant; I thought it was part of the furniture.” There comes an aha-moment for some folks – the lucky ones – when they suddenly recognize the difference.”

― Stephen King

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Pedigree

…mine is shocking. Both in tales and in reality. At least from one side. Father’s side. If I’m going to believe (which is very difficult not to when evidence is staring me straight in the eyes and based on my own personal experience I have no reasons to doubt) I came from a family of cheating conniving  incestuous gypsy witches and nomad warlords who were/are fond of betraying and molesting each other in all possible ways. From my maternal side, I can easily describe them in few words: They are a bunch of upper middle class (possibly even rich) educated prejudiced narrow-minded tyrannical self-righteous people who have written my mother out of a will (for marrying my -to their eyes substandard- father) and refused to recognize our existence till I married my (foreigner therefore rich) ex but by then I was a rebel enough already and only too happy to defy them. Our very own little family… Well, what can I say? You have to read few of my post to get a little bit of insight how dysfunctional and pathetic we are. End of my pedigree sum up.

 “All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”
― Mitch Albom

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