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Oona

“As I gazed in awe at my newborn granddaughter, all I could think about was the wonder of God’s handiwork.”

A month ago I became a grandmother. A milestone. Not only for me but for everyone involved. They say nothing beats the novelty of the first experience no matter what the situation is. I have been told it is difficult to forget and will always hold a special part in one’s life. Well, let’s see…

I always said before that I prefer to have a grand/son than a grand/daughter. I even said in jest that if it is a girl I will drown her in a rain barrel, something I will never do in reality of course but it says enough. Preferring a boy to a girl is a combination of my upbringing, tradition, culture and personal preference (what else). And so I thought. I had also once believed that I will never be a doting grandparent like most, a baby is just a baby. Till I held my first (and so far) my only grandchild in my arms and feel something I never felt in my life before: an overflowing love for a stranger.

She is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I am not saying this because she is who she is, I’m saying this because it’s the truth. Beauty for me is beyond appearance alone. It is a combination of character, aura, and something undefined. She has a certain je ne sais quoi about her. She is magic. Just a couple of days old and she can look at you with knowing eyes as if she understands. Her expressions are something I never saw from a newborn before. She perceived her surroundings with an equal measure of knowledge and curiosity, comprehension and enjoyment. Her smiles are reflective and if a baby has a sense of humor, she has it. She’s so unusual that you can’t help but love her. I love her.

My mother said I am not capable of loving somebody. She’s wrong of course. Perhaps what I was not capable of is being blinded by love and losing myself in the process. It’s true, I didn’t know how it is to miss someone. I’m okay with myself and don’t need others to make me happy. But since my granddaughter was born I know now how it is to feel a longing to be with another human being, to see her and hold her in my arms, to give her a kiss and just touch her soft silky skin. To feel the overwhelming desire to care, protect and give her everything in my power. That is all new to me. I never felt that strongly about anyone, not even with my own children.

It’s scary.

What is scarier is the fact that I am having unspeakable thoughts (or fantasies if you prefer) with just one purpose in mind: To have my granddaughter for myself. How scary is that? I will not elaborate for obvious reasons. Let’s just say that__

I want her with me, to love to cherish and to hold. You know… the clichés…

When I heard that they are going to stick her in the crèche in a couple of months before she is even three months old, I cried. I thought: Why have children if you don’t have time to care for them yourself? I don’t understand it and will never understand. Oh, I know it is all for practical reasons but I am not happy with the idea. I even offer my help but of course, it was denied. I understand why. But even then.

Babies need love and care I thought. Especially during their first years. They need to be cuddle cherish and brought up by their own family, not strangers. I imagine my granddaughter is a very special person, full of character and free-spirited. I am afraid growing up in that environment will affect her personality later on. That she will learn to suppress her natural emotions, reactions, feelings, and instinct. Much like a wild animal that held captive in a zoo. I don’t want her to grow up like most people I know here: cold, emotionless and distant.

But who am I to know what is right and what is wrong. I fucked up my own duty as parent choices or no choices. So, I try to shut up and keep my thoughts and feelings for myself.

I will love her from a distance. I have to. I cannot be too involved. I am not allowed anyway. I just hope that history will not repeat itself. Loving from a distance I mean. One get used to it and become the norm no matter how painful it is…

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Did We Do The Right Thing?

Since we have yet another brand new luxury car (this time a Mercedes instead of BMW- speaking of BMW, there is only one thing I could say about this brand- never again) we decided to leave the gate open while we are away from home for a short period of time as opposed to always locking it which we had done in the past. This way we can drive straight to our driveway instead of always parking next door and leave the car there till we are about to sleep and only then D. will fetch his precious carriage and park it where it supposed to be. This time we agreed that in this current climate you cannot be too careful.

Why we can park next door indefinitely? Because the house next door is a show model, a model home of the company from whom we bought our current house so, it is always empty. Well… almost. Sometimes the cleaning people will be there, mostly on Fridays or the occasional window cleaners, the gardeners and of course, the once in a while buyers. So no one is paying attention anymore if there are marked and unmarked cars park on the driveway, and that’s why we decided to leave our gate open since we have the new car because like I said, in this current climate you never know…

Yesterday arriving home after gallivanting (in our situation gallivanting means running after practical chores like shopping for food) passing the house next door I briefly saw a glimpse of a small dark car blocking their driveway. Stepping out I asked D. How many vehicles were there this time, he said two. Which is odd because it was Sunday. Sunday here is the equivalent of siesta somewhere else, everything is closed, therefore you cannot conduct legitimate business anywhere aside, of course, from those fast-food chains which are always open and some occasional business establishments like sports stores and cafes. But then again, some people visiting immediate neighbors sometimes use the roomy parking to abandon their cars for a couple of hours so perhaps it wasn’t that odd after all I thought.

I hate dressing up, I’ve said already before. If I could I would go around naked eternally. So, what do I do the moment I come through the door, run upstairs and peel off every bit of garment I could discard and change into something more comfortable. In my case a pajama or a jogging pants or just a robe. 

As it happened, my room (mine because D. has his own) is directly opposite the house next door. If I look outside my window, I can see their driveway, front door, side garden, and their entire back garden. The whole house in fact. From the outside that is. You see, this modern building (which the company called Skin and if in the time we bought our place is for sale, I would have opted for) is so cleverly built that despite having floor to ceiling windows even with the lights on you can’t glimpse of anything that is private. A corner of a chair perhaps, a fraction of a table, a bed lamp but further than that, nada. The glass sections of the house are systematically placed to ensure maximum privacy, which I am mighty jealous of and dreading the time when it is going to be sold and live in by real people.

Directly outside the front door which is located on the right side of the house, therefore, facing my window is an elevated portion of the garden, a neat rectangular area roughly the size of three parking spaces dressed in state of the art artificial grass (like the rest of the garden and similar to ours) and housed two giant plane trees with spotlights under. There at the far end with her back to me facing the back garden was a woman sitting with a carton of milk next to her. And contrary to what D. said, there was only one car instead of two. A dark-gray old model of Kia cadenza. I know I cannot trust D.

My initial thought was she was waiting for the estate agent. Perhaps they made some special arrangement to meet late in the evening on a Sunday.

When I finished dressing down and had a bite and check on her again (I don’t know why I had checked on her again, call it instinct) I had to revise my initial thoughts. Maybe it was not the estate agent she was waiting for but someone more intimate to her, a lover perhaps?

I watched her stood up and walk up and down the length of the side garden. She was around my age and there the similarities stop. The woman was tall with dark wavy hair that reached her shoulders and very fair skin, almost bloodless. Her arms and legs are on the skinny side but the overall picture is not anorexic but rather wiry. She was wearing a simple black sheath and believe it or not a pair of bath slippers yet she managed to look regal, chic even. Her posture and demeanor don’t belong to the car, she was somewhat out of place. Strange.

The next time I looked in on her she was lying on her side underneath one of the plane trees on some kind of sheet, a pillow under her head. Not a cushion but a proper bed pillow. She was facing my window but her eyes were closed. I decided to grab my phone and alert D.

We debated for seemed hours to me over what to do with her, or rather with the fact of her being there. D. refused resolutely to go down to her and ask what was wrong or if she needed some help. He said maybe she was just a bait and the moment he put himself out there someone or more people will jump on him and rob him or worse even, use him to gain access in our house and all those nightmarish scenarios we are seeing lately on the news. I can’t say I blame him.

Personally, I found the woman and the situation not only strange but scary. She looked like someone who belonged to a horror movie, a vampire film for example. She is definitely a caucasian but not from around here. More like from Eastern Europe, Romania perhaps? She could also pass for Greek or Middle Eastern. Anyway, for some reasons she made the hair on the back of my neck stood up and I was very, very alert. Which rarely happens. I am expect the unexpected kind of person but I trust my instinct more than anything or anyone. When my gut feeling says flight instead of fight, I follow without question. 

When she started dragging an inflatable mattress under the tree and cover herself with a thermal blanket we realized she was planning to spend the night there. That was when we finally decided to call the proper authorities to deal with the matter.

We waited anxiously for the police to show up and breathed a sigh of relief when they did. We watched guiltily while they talk to the woman (which took ages) searched her car and finally drove away with her in tow.

There are a lot of things that bother me about the incident. One of those is when I was secretly taking pictures of her and her car (for evidence in case…) she suddenly opened her eyes and looked straight to my lens. What I saw there was a mixture of sadness, despair, silent plea, and resignation. Enough for me to run down to her and offer my help if not underneath those emotions I saw also a cold-blooded calculation, a daring appeal and a shadow of a chilling smile behind those hopeless eyes.

She scares me. I expect her to materialize in the middle of my living room to collect what it is she thinks I owe her. The rational part of my brain tells me that perhaps she had a heatstroke and was not able to drive so she decided to lie down. Outside on someone else’s driveway with a proper pillow, inflatable mattress and thermal blanket which she happened to have with her? How about the carton of milk and all the things she had with her the car was stuffed to the brim. Okay, then maybe she had a row with her partner and he had thrown her out. I’ve been there done that. Asocial introvert person that I am I managed to keep a couple of friends I could spend the night with when it is really necessary, and how about family and relatives? Doesn’t she have anyone she can call for help if that was the case? Maybe she was embarrassed to let those who are closest to her know that she was having marital troubles or whatever troubles she was having. What is more embarrassing than to sleep in other people’s garden my brain said to me.

I can go on and on theorizing about her real situation but I guess I will never know. I passed the opportunity to know and even then if I asked her, would she tell me the truth? 

I guess what bothers me the most is the guilt, did I do the right thing? Perhaps she was really in some kind of trouble and I added to it by calling the authorities. But it was for her own good my brain insists, for her safety, if she needed some help the proper channel could provide it for her that way. You did the right thing. But I still have my doubts. 

What do you think?

Did we do the right thing?

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A Garden Is Its Own Universe

Sometimes since I’ve been in the garden I’ve looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden – in all the places. ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett

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Home Is Where Your Heart Is

I discovered that what most people call creepy, scary, and spooky, I call comfy, cozy, and home.― Zak Bagans

They say we feel more comfortable in a familiar environment. With the people we know.

Studies have shown that we are all attracted to what is familiar to us and that repeated exposure to certain people will increase our attraction toward them. This is a subconscious process that we’re not even aware of or have any awareness of making such a choice. We are attracted to familiar people because we consider them to be safe and unlikely to cause harm. Even when someone’s behavior or personality is hurtful, on a subconscious level, some part of us finds comfort in the familiarity of that behavior. Good or bad, the environment in which we grew up is the only home we’ve ever known.

This is why it’s so difficult for people to leave hurtful relationships. It’s easy to criticize someone for staying in an abusive relationship and to blame the person for staying, accusing them of being weak or wanting to be treated badly. But no one wants to be treated badly. It is hard to leave because, besides the issues of having nowhere else to go, we are tethered to bad relationships as much as we are tethered to the past by our subconscious minds. [source: Psychology Today- The Familiarity Principle of Attraction]

I am a product of this principle though not by my own choice. I suffered from Stockholm Syndrome and still suffering the consequences nonetheless.

Going back to where I came from, I always seek the familiar environment of my youth even though I’ve long escaped that situation and now belong to another group. That makes me susceptible to horror and ordeal of the past which my family and most people are trying to escape and will gladly trade for my privileged position. Difficult and incomprehensible as it is, that environment could evoke feelings from me when nothing could and will forever be miss and long for against my better judgment.

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Ladies, We Have a Choice

By Galina Singer

“You look tired!” was the first thing my friend said to me as she opened the door to let us in for dinner.

It annoyed me. I actually thought I looked pretty good that day, given the circumstances.

As much as I try not to let comments like that affect me these days, it did wake up the dormant monster of self-doubt. With each year, the pressure to “do something” to stop the inevitable signs of aging mounts.

My friend wishes well. But she simply cannot understand why I don’t get with the program. Most of my peers and even women much younger than me have already included anti-aging regimens into their maintenance routines, although most stop at injections and fillers. They’ll tell me, “It’s basic hygiene—it’s like brushing teeth!” in an attempt to make it easier for me to understand how low I’ve fallen.

Having “work” done is now the norm, so I stand out from the Botoxed crowd like a dinosaur. According to Psychologist Ros Taylor:

“The availability and accessibility of cosmetic procedures, the lack of stigma about having work done and the rise in women’s disposable income has meant the gateway is clear for this to become normalised. And it is only going to increase.”

Still processing the fact that six months ago I turned 50, I know I’m not invincible to the pressures women my age face. I also believe in having a choice.

However, I am concerned.

I am concerned, because over a relatively short period of time, what is considered normal in terms of “routine maintenance” for women has changed dramatically. It has changed due to the increasing emphasis we place on appearance in our social media-ruled lives.

As we navigate this new world, our image often takes precedence over our real achievements. The search for the forever-out-of-reach level of surface perfection leads us to confuse our values and do things out of social pressure—exactly what I teach my teenage daughters not to do!

An article in Time magazine makes me feel scared and powerless, as it states:

“You’re going to have to do it. And not all that long from now. Probably not a full-on, general anesthesia bone-shaving or muscle-slicing. But almost definitely some injections into your face. Very likely a session of fat-melting in some areas and then possibly moving it to some other parts that could use plumping.”

Not having work done is apparently now the new shame: “You’re going to get a cosmetic procedure for the same reason you wear make-up: because every other woman is.”

Women are succumbing to cosmetic enhancement because we feel pressured to. It’s the same reason that women used to wear corsets and had their feet bound and undergo female genital mutilation: because society demands it.

But, ladies, this is 20__ and we have a choice!

We have fought a long time for the right to choose and take ownership of our appearance.

When we inject our faces with stuff, it’s not coming from the same place as putting on a colorful lipstick to freshen up our complexion.

We are manipulated by the multi-billion-dollar cosmetic industry’s slogans urging us to be “the best we can be” and to strive for our “best selves.” The manipulation works because women have been known to readily succumb to pain to fit in and often confuse self-love with self-hate. We are steered to do whatever it takes because we’re told we’re “worth it”—implying that if we don’t, we only have ourselves to blame for “letting ourselves go.”

I find it unfair when the conversation veers in that direction. It implies that I neglect my self-care. And that is simply untrue. Having recently and finally freed myself from the unattainable, constantly moving target of perfection, I now take better care of myself than ever before through yoga, meditation, and working on fulfilling my potential.

Ask yourself: When we succumb to invasive procedures to look younger than our age, what are we trying to accomplish, exactly? Are we trying to turn back the clock?

Surely it’s not injecting poison into my face and paralyzing the muscles out of their natural movements that will slow down the passage of time for me and make me forget my age. And I just know that melting the fat out of my bottom to inject it into my lips will not make me feel any younger, either.

Whom are we trying to deceive? What are we trying to say? Or rather, what are we trying to silence?

Is it rude or anti-social to show up for dinner looking my age? To have my face reveal what I feel? Do I ruin the appearance that all is perfect in the world?

Am I too much of a mirror to my middle-aged friends, reflecting the real state of where we are in our lives—our age, our children growing and leaving, our long-term marriages in which the impending departure of children from home may dissolve the glue that held it all together for years?

Are we trying to pretend that while everything changes, we stay the same? That we are not aging? That we are not getting closer to the unspeakable, the ultimate: death?

Because that’s another pressure we need to face up to—the pressure to wake up. To stop running away from the truth and face the fact that time is precious and fleeting. That life is fragile and that we need to somehow change our relationship with it, before it becomes too late.

So, ladies, we have a choice.

Which pressure will you succumb to?

I am personally looking for a more sustainable path to aging gracefully.

As human beings, we are part of the natural cycles of life. The sooner we accept that essential fact, the sooner we can reconnect with the truth and, hopefully, accept where we are in our lives.

There is nothing ugly in nature. All of nature’s manifestations have a reason for being and serve as part of the miraculously-working whole. Change and transformation are part of life.

I am so done with the need to be perfect. It leads to tremendous pressure and isolation. It causes people to pretend and to hide and breaks down sincere communication.

We shall not stay young forever. As sad as it sometimes is for me to accept, that’s the only truth.

The point is not to look younger for as long as possible. Tampering with our looks does not change our physiology. What does help us to look and feel better is being mentally and physically healthy, while we live lives filled with purpose.

Let’s go beyond the surface. Beyond the temporary. Beyond glossy images of pretend life.

Let us go deeper. Accept the reality. Be grateful. Find our inner potential. Inspire others. Live according to the natural laws. Give back.

Ladies, we have a choice!

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The Art Of Forgetting And Forgiving

“I rarely suffer lengthy emotional distress from contact with other people. A person may anger or annoy me, but not for long. I can distinguish between myself and another as beings of two different realms. It’s a kind of talent (by which I do not mean to boast: it’s not an easy thing to do, so if you can do it, it is a kind of a talent – a special power). When someone gets on my nerves, the first thing I do is transfer the object of my unpleasant feelings to another domain, one having no connection with me. Then I tell myself, Fine, I’m feeling bad, but I’ve put the source of these feelings into another zone, away from here, where I can examine it and deal with it later in my own good time. In other words, I put a freeze on my emotions. Later, when I thaw them out to perform the examination, I do occasionally find my emotions in a distressed state, but that is rare. The passage of time will usuallly extract the venom from most things and render them harmless. Then sooner or later, I forget about them.”

― Haruki Murakami

Though the above quote resonates with me strongly, I am afraid I go a lot further when it comes to dealing with emotions and cutting people out of my life.

Out of a sense of duty which is one of the strongest propellers why I do things (and keep doing them) when it comes to people, I let myself be abused to the point of being a doormat, till I heard the click, and then no more.

Like I said before, I don’t cultivate any form of attachment to anything or anyone. Subconsciously, I must have learned it from babyhood leading a nomadic life and never unlearned it. Old habits never die, right?

So, when I heard the click in my head and decided to ban what causes me harm, that’s it, there is no way back.

The thing is, I don’t cut people or things from my life deliberately. It is difficult to explain. From one day to another, they will just cease to exist (in my head) as if they never been there or never been a part of my existence. And no matter what I do, how hard I try, I can’t bring them back.

It hurts indefinitely and I don’t forget but letting them back in, I can’t.

I did it with my family, my ex, my religion, and my daughter.

Speaking of my daughter, lately, she is reaching out. Perhaps the prospect of becoming a mother soon brought a little understanding in her head, realizing that being a parent is not as simple as she thought it will be. But though I love her dearly and I wish nothing but the best for her, what she all did in the past trigger the click in my head and I have no desire anymore to be part of her life. Not even for the sake of my grandchild.

There was a time that I will do anything to be included in her life but after hearing repeatedly in the past from her own mouth that she didn’t wish me in her circle and no plan to introduce me to her future children and will make them believe I was already dead because I don’t fit in her picture of what a perfect family is and compare to anyone in her immediate surroundings I came way too short of expectations. Her expectations. One day it finally sinks in and I decided maybe she is right, that I better disappear from her life and I did.

But not after she thrown me out from her place saying it will never work between us, simply because I didn’t agree with her unrealistic ideas. I cried and it hurt and still is but never again.

She invited me to her baby shower. I declined. There will be baptismal and God knows what in the future and probably I will invent excuses not to go but believe you me, the prospect of mingling with people she deemed qualified to be part of her life is so stressful for a lowly good for nothing me.

I don’t know if our relationship will improve in the future. If the gap between us could be bridge and wounds could heal. But even then…

At least we are on a speaking term now. Maybe that’s an improvement, but…

Time will tell.

As always.

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Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantage of a Painful Childhood

Adults who were hurt as children inevitably exhibit a peculiar strength, profound inner wisdom, and remarkable creativity and insight. Deep within them – just beneath the wound – lies a profound spiritual vitality, a quiet knowing, a way of perceiving what is beautiful, right, and true. Since their early experiences were so dark and painful, they have spent much of their lives in search of the gentleness, love, and peace they have only imagined in the privacy of their own hearts.” 

― Wayne Muller

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A Letter to my Children: You do not come from a Broken Home.

My dear children: I know that the world may try to tell you otherwise, but I want you to know that you haven’t come from a broken home—because there isn’t anything damaged about my love for you.

Perhaps we are nontraditional, and possibly sometimes, it feels as if we are wayward, but there is nothing about our family that is broken.

I never intended to be a single parent. And though I had hopes of the fairytale happily-ever-after, I soon realized that I was just not meant to live in a perfect castle, high on a hill, while those below thought my life was something more “perfect” than it really was.

My dear children: I see now that this was the journey that we were all meant to walk.

I would never have wanted you to grow up thinking that love was a responsibility, instead of a gift. Because while I didn’t get it right the first time—you just might.

Perhaps if I can show you that sometimes love isn’t easy—and that the first step is always to learn who we are and how we love—then maybe you will know more than I did and make choices that are founded in greater awareness and courage.

I didn’t know how little I knew about life and myself when I began my journey of divorce, but time did a beautiful job of teaching me.

I know that sometimes it’s hard just having one parent at home because Momma can only do so much at once. There is only one lap to sit on and one pair of arms to hold you close. There is only one adult to fix things, cook and plan entertaining endeavors. Sometimes I drop the ball because I’ve learned that I just can’t do it all.

It’s just me—and while I know I am enough, just as I am doing the best I can, I know that you still want more.

When you tell me that you want a boy to live with us, as I am driving on the highway, you don’t see the tear slide down my cheek because I honestly want it just as much as you do. I can’t provide that as easily as I can other things—I can’t magically snap my fingers and make it happen.

But I do have faith that when it’s meant to be—and at the right time—I will find us a good man.

For now, all I can do is love you my deepest love, not to make up for the fact that there is only one parent to kiss you and tuck you in at night, but because you are worth this type of love.

To say that you are from a broken home implies that you would have been happier and healthy if I had stayed in a marriage that I’d outgrown.

The reality of two adults who aren’t truly in love with one another is not as good as being single and modeling how to exquisitely love myself.

I know that what I say doesn’t mean a damn thing if I am not willing to do the hard work to back it up with action.

What good would I have been to you if I had preached to you about finding love, loving yourself, following your heart and all of the magic that is worthwhile in this life if I wasn’t willing to follow my own advice?

The truth is, my loves, we need make mistakes to learn lessons.

If I hadn’t followed my heart and decided that I wanted my life to be the greatest example for how to live, then I also wouldn’t be the mother that you truly needed me to be.

How differently would you have grown up if I taught you to ignore your heart?

If I instead taught you the value in keeping your mouth closed just to keep the peace?

You wouldn’t be the type of women who will one day change this world.

My goal from the start has been to raise amazing young women. I never intended to keep watch over you, teaching you your ABCs while you learn how to best blend into society so that one day you might get a mortgage, and an IRA and find yourself settled down but empty.

You’ll grow up to be young women with soul.

Women who have vision and ambition who know they will have to work through blood and sweat to get the life they want and deserve, because nothing is ever given in this life for free.

Women who follow their hearts no matter where it leads and who possess the courage to help others to do the same.

You will be game-changers and status quo destroyers.

I first had to become this type of woman to raise you.

So, no my darlings you are not from a broken home.

You are from a home full of love and soul that will teach you how to navigate life and have one helluva time while doing it.

~Author: Kate Rose

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Quick Recap

Right after the New Year, I got the flu and took to bed.

I was so ill I could not stand up for five consecutive days, not even to pee. I forgot what time of the day it was or what day it was. I did not even mind if the doors were open or if the lights were on or not. I was shaking violently under two layers of duvet, sweating like a dog but freezing at the same time. I could not swallow food or tolerate even a sip of water. I was miserable.

On the fifth day, though shaky on my legs, I managed a trip to the doctor. The time I spent in the waiting room was torturous. Every sound magnified by tenfolds and the lights! The lights hurt my brain and the smell made me want to puke violently.

I got medicine for my sinusitis but the flu, you know the flu__ there is no cure for it.

I am still shaky but I can go downstairs now and gulp fruits, the only type of food I can tolerate so far. I managed to take a bath yesterday. It took me two hours and by the time I’m finished I was so exhausted, I had to sleep.

I didn’t leave the house for three weeks now and if I spend another day inside I will be crazy so, sick or not I’m going somewhere, anywhere.

I hope to be back on my feet before February 1st because I have to attend a corporate reception/party of some sort. I don’t want to but duty calls.

Wish me well.

Quick Recap:

Two more trips to the doctor and two different antibiotics later and I’m still ill.

The dizziness,  the nauseousness and vomiting, the never-ending coughs,  the excessive amount of phlegm and the headaches never leave me. I’m out of my wits! What to do, what to do!

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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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