You are who you are and within a millisecond of meeting you, I know who you are. So give me that in our conversation. Give me who you really are. I know you aren’t Mother Teresa; I know you aren’t Martha Stewart; I know you aren’t John Wayne or Clark Gable, and, guess what? I still like you.
There is something primal about love for children. Specifically, it is a love that has no cause, it is simply consuming; part of the universal law of survival. To concern ourselves with our offspring is to ensure that life goes on. Perhaps this is why parental love is so enduring and encompassing. It must be, or humans would perish from the earth. (I digress.)
My daughter, my youngest, coincidentally, also the smallest. She is the fiercest mother I know. She has had to be, the challenges are astronomical. I have heard that her situation is more and more common in today’s world. My daughter is held hostage 800 miles from her home and family because of the fact that she had a child with a resident of a state that she visited. This hostage situation has turned into the worst nightmare for her and (of course) by extension to her family.
The most common activities that I can take for granted with my other grandchildren are an impossibility. My daughter has two sons, both handsome, smart and kind. I cannot see them unless I buy a plane ticket and they are an impossible driving distance away. (But enough about me.)
Imagine my daughter’s life, no familial support, an ugly and mean man as the father of one of her sons. Every time she works she needs a paid babysitter, must do all of the driving, and all details of life sit squarely on her shoulders. Getting the boys to school Monday morning can be a huge ordeal because her work schedule may keep her into the wee hours of the day. Most difficult, most painful, is the fact that she is alone – and for the time being – nothing can change that. So when a trauma occurs; can you imagine the length of the long distance calls? When that trauma cannot be remedied; can you imagine the tears cried into a pillow, no strong shoulder to cry on here? When the worry for her children cannot be abated, the suffering begins to show in her body, her eyes, her life. Because this suffering has gone on so long, it becomes a pervasive part of this life.
I know for sure that this suffering will end. It has been going for so long, I know that it must stop. In the meantime what damage has been done? What hurts have been internalized?
I also know for sure that the best path for me is not to be her mother and tell her what and how to do. This fierce woman is in survival mode. My best path is to be the quiet and kind friend. Please, please God, deliver us from this evil and give me back my daughter and grandsons.
We make mistakes, we are, as the poets put it, only human. If you are mindful, this information about being human, can also keep you humble. It is not as if you are less than any other, it is not as if you should bow down to any other. It is only that we are, as human beings, all of life’s possibilities. No one person gets to have all of what is good, or fun or bright. We all must carry our burden, we all must make mistakes and we all will make very wrong decisions.
If we are single, bereft of family, our faulty decisions are of little matter to anyone but our own self. However, if we are influential, then our own decision may be of some import to others. The more influential, the higher the import, the more who will be affected by our decisions. Again, sometimes, these decisions can be very wrong.
If you are egomaniacal, you will not believe any truth which disparages your perfection. You will deny all which denies your perfection, often fabricating lies to prop up their own point of view.
Take “Papa John”, he loves capitalism and won’t hear a word about interdependence. He believes that his ownership entitles him to using other human beings as indentured servants. He lives in a 40,00 square foot home and pays his staff 7.25 per hour. He thinks that he is entitled to every single profit that his company makes. He has threatened to pass the costs of “Obamacare” onto his franchisees. It does not occur to “Papa John” that his wealth is dependent upon the sweat and hard work of others. All wealth ‘belongs’ to him. It does not occur to him that his well-being is a reflection of interdependence with the rest of the world. He has adopted the rule of capitalism and will defend it to his dying breath. Why? Because it allows him to take all, without the guilt of greed on his conscience. He believes in capitalism and will fight for the right to pay his staff poverty wages and to ensure that his staff cannot access health care. He has made this reality his right as an American in a capitalist culture.
He will never admit that he creates poverty. He will never admit that the family members of his staff die because they do not have access to health care. He will never admit that he has created undeserved wealth for himself using unethical laws in a country that does not care for the weak and poverty stricken.
The egomaniac knows only his own truth. It does not matter to the egomaniac that his truth is singular, it is his truth.
My challenge is this: why aren’t we women defining society? We understand, we acknowledge the different faces of the human condition. As women, we should be defining the societal structures of being human in America. It’s ok to be weak, it’s ok to be sick, it’s ok to be ignorant, why add insult to injury and shame those less capable than the strong?
This strength thing has become its own illness, in the sense that lots of people say and think, “I don’t need anyone and I don’t need anything.” This can go past the point of wisdom and could even cause self harm. Look at those who die after refusing medical help, or women who are murdered by a husband or boyfriend because they refuse to go to the police?
This norm of strength is fostered by our society. Perhaps it is the pushback from the way people are treated when they are in economic need. Our society is not very nice to the poverty stricken, but again that is because we all believe in this notion that strength is enough to overcome anything.
Needy people are normally put down, made fun of, ostracized and of course, they are deprived of very real and very normal opportunities. This can become a hamster wheel of frustration along with denial that keeps those in need – in need.
How do we balance all of this out? Strength and weakness, need and satisfaction? How do we ensure equality in spite of the fact that not all humans are strong? Those that are strong, what price do they pay to exhibit that strength?
I hope you admire the beauty in others. I hope you know that you are as important as any other human being and as important, that you treat other women as if they are important also.
We deserve to be loved for our being. We don’t deserve to be thrown away at age 40. We have the power and with each other, we are ridiculously strong. It is up to us to redefine the social structure. It’s up to us to make women important, to make beauty unimportant. It is up to us to give meaning to just being.
We can’t possibly create equality if women will not support each other. It is just too difficult to navigate through society and to deal with another woman’s hatred, jealousy or condescension. How can we show the world women’s strength and power, if what we do to each other is brutal?
So please be beautiful inside and out, proud and happy with your looks, with your brain and with other women. It’s our only route to equality and ultimately to equanimity.
However, there is nothing harmless about the crushing need that certain sectors of our society have to be better than entire races and cultures. This “being better” ideology allows a belief system to justify harsh and hate filled judgment of others. This harsh judgment separates humans from each other and consequently allows cruelty to proliferate.
What I don’t understand is where does it come from? In almost every conversation, particularly in business and social settings I see the conversations slipping into comparisons of wealth, status, intelligence, to say nothing of displays of wealth and privilege.
Not all societies have this need, and certainly there are gradients to the need. This need is causing more destruction than can be counted. One-up-man ship is a relationship killer, so we can readily acknowledge what it is doing to the melting pot of America. Throughout our short history we have punished and denigrated all new cultures, indeed, beginning with the genocide of the American Indian.
Long term world peace is a real goal. The attainment of such peace must begin with the individual who is willing to be equal in rights and privileges to all other individuals. That can be a scary thought, as we can’t seem to imagine the abundance that is enough for everyone. We want our own wealth and an assurance of survival.
As long as America grants person status to corporations and idolizes wealth and the wealthy, we will struggle with equality. That is shameful for a nation founded on the tenets of equality and emancipation.
I watch the news, I read the news, I hate it, but I do. There seems to be universal agreement that we have made a mistake electing Trump and allowing him to stay in place. Yet, there is no one to step forward and do something about this travesty. We listen to Klan members telling us why it was justified to kill a 32 year old woman. We listen to Trump justify the actions and the words and yet, here we sit.
The clinical side (and thousands of therapists have banned together to make these statements), is that Trump is a narcissistic man, with a disregard for humanity and a never ending interest in self aggrandizement. The “duty to warn” case law is very clear, if a therapist can realistically predict harm, then the therapist must act to warn those who are in danger. America, we are in danger.
For whatever reason, we allow this monster to proceed down a path where human life is inconsequential and his own comfort and pleasure are monumental. Two things, our capitalist culture values wealth above human life and admires wealth as if it is meaningful in some way. This is part of the reason Trump’s dynasty has continued. Trump is seen as a Demi-God, after all, he is wealthy. Of course the fact that he is president stops us from taking action against him, and we must.
Let’s be clear, Donald Trump is a selfish, antagonistic childish man who does not deserve American respect. He does not deserve admiration for his wealth, he is neither responsible for it, nor responsible with it. He is a sexist, power hungry, nasty little boy and he needs to be removed from office. This is America people, not North Korea, we have the right to require that our leader be humane and compassionate.
Brigitte was a cocktail waitress who worked with my mother. She was tall and beautiful and had movie star hair. Her hair was a deep brown, naturally curly and framed her face naturally and provocatively. My mother marveled at Brigitte’s choices as Brigitte had traveled the world with her military parents, spoke a foreign language and had a college degree. I saw and met Brigitte many times. Once, on a cruise dinner party that I attended with my mother, Brigitte was present. I was a bit lonely and it must have shown as Brigitte spent a lot of time befriending me. She was sweet and loving and beautiful.
I met Brigitte’s boyfriend, who was a highway patrolman. They seemed happy together. Secretly, I nursed a grudge against Brigitte. I thought that she was wasting her college education working as a cocktail waitress. I felt that I should have been given her educational opportunities as I would have made use of them. I felt that the world was unfair, giving gifts to those who don’t care or don’t appreciate.
And then I got the call. My mother asked me to come over. My mother told me “last night Brigitte and her boyfriend were arguing. Brigitte went home with another one of the cocktail waitresses and a male friend was with them. Brigitte told her boyfriend where she was. Sometime between 3:30 and 5:00 a.m., he found them. Brigitte’s boyfriend took his gun and shot all three of them. Clearly, Brigitte’s girlfriend ran, because she was found in the hallway with a bullet in the back of her head. The only survivor was the male, who was shot in the face”. He suffered a deformity for the rest of his life.
It came to light that Brigitte’s boyfriend was a combat veteran who had served in Vietnam. For the next fifteen years I was afraid of Vietnam vets.
My next example of Envy is much, much later, after my divorce from my husband: the father of my children. It took us quite awhile to finalize our divorce and he struggled mightily to avoid our debts and to avoid paying child support. It was an extremely difficult time for me as I could never quite pay ALL of my bills. Taking care of the kids financially always left me feeling inadequate. I took a second job and just kept trying. My ex-husband remarried and I was so very envious of their financial security. They bought a new home, drove new cars and had a vacation home in North Carolina. In the meantime I couldn’t afford a new prom dress for my daughter. I envied my ex-husband’s wife’s financial security. She is childless and could focus all finances on her self. I went five years without buying new underwear, I just couldn’t afford it.
And then, the unthinkable happened. My ex-husband died from his one and only heart attack. He was only 54 years old. The new wife got to keep the estate, but it didn’t matter because my children’s father was gone. That single event shattered everyone’s security for many years.
And now when I look back, I think Envy is the most wasteful emotion of all.
For the first time since I started this blog, I am materially aware that I have an audience. It has stopped me from writing. I have been through a painful experience which made me leave my job. I have been grappling with such issues as self control, my ability to modify my environment and the effects that another person can have on me. In some ways my experience has been at odds with my belief system, which has caused a cognitive dissonance. As you can imagine, I have been struggling. This does not cause me to write less. Indeed if you know me, it actually causes me to write more.
What has caused me to write less, is this awareness of my audience and the fear that my life would be negatively effected by my work here on the blog. There is nothing more anxiety producing than losing one’s income. I am not willing to be a starving artist, I have too much going on in my life to stop the train for the sake of my own written word. Trust me, I have saved the words.
Some things that have caused me concern is the idea that my old boss, who is vindictive and mean spirited, would work hard to block my efforts to find new employment. Another concern is that, a person interviewing me (with hiring authority) would turn out to be a Trump lover. Based on experience, I know that these things can be real and I want to avoid the effect of someone’s negative feelings on my future.
Today, I read some research about why we want to believe that the universe is just and that things happen to people because they deserve it. It’s far easier for us to believe that the universe will treat us right if we act right. We can then believe that we have some control over life. We can believe that people get what they deserve, even when there is an injustice. I have known that this is not true for many years. The universe is full of injustice and apathy and even evil. We humans do not have control over the universe. We are subject to life.
Which is why, in order to thrive, we must sometimes resort to dishonesty. I have dishonestly withheld my truth from this blog, in order to create a transition as painless as possible. My feelings had endured enough pain and I would not be my own perpetrator.
I have been dishonest with my blog, and I hope you will forgive the lapse. It was intentional and it is over.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading.
It’s important to NOT give up. (I have not given up.) Renew and refresh goals for the future. My body deserves continued commitment to health…so does my mind and my pocketbook.
Preternaturally calm means “beyond what is normal or natural” calm.
Trust your instinct: you don’t have to go with the plan every time. You just have to have a plan so that you are prepared.
Notes to Self:
Failure to support: don’t be that.
Keeping distance: sometimes you have to.
And finally ~ Abundance and Prosperity in all things.