09Jun

No One Knows Her, or About Her

I was eleven years old when my mother’s best friend committed suicide (or so they said).  My mother didn’t believe it because Linda had apparently hung herself with barbed wire.  My mom just couldn’t believe that Linda would do that to herself.  Barbed wire is a painful way to hang yourself.  My mom was always suspicious of Linda’s husband.  Couldn’t she have been murdered?  Instead of taking her own life?  Couldn’t there be some other reason that she was dead and gone?

Linda’s daughter Sandra was my best friend.  For whatever reason, I never saw Sandra again.  I do remember my mom’s sleepless nights and once I overheard her talking, she said “I should have gone and seen her, she called me to talk, but I was just too tired to go and visit her.”  She felt guilt and pain about her friends death for many years.  Every once in a while mom would remind me how she met Linda.  It seems that after a painful miscarriage, Linda was walking our neighborhood and cut across the field close to our house.  Mom said hello to her and they never stopped talking.  Until.

About twelve years later, after I returned home to live, my mother had news for me.  It seems that Sandra had committed suicide.  I knew from my psychology studies that parents who commit suicide often pass the trait on to their offspring, but I didn’t know that it really happened until it did.

As children, Sandra and I had been very close.  We were alike in many ways.  We both liked to stay close to home and we both were enamored with our mothers, it was the kind of similarities that gave us an instant and unspoken understanding of each other.  We were comfortable together and didn’t have much need for anyone else.

Then there is a gap, because I lost Sandra.  Then there was an ending because Sandra lost her life.  So who remembers her and her mother?  Are these endings final?  When you are gone and there are none to remember you, are you more gone than perhaps the day before, when you were remembered?

Rainbows

 

02Jun

We are All an Inch Away from Homelessness

Winter

Winter

I’ve recently read some statistics that say that anxiety in America is at an all time high of 20%.  Think about that, that is one in five people.

In this country, the poor far outnumber the rich.  To make matters worse, we won’t admit how poor we are, so we deny the reality that lives here in our country.

I think America is so much better off than any other third world country – no question.  It’s just that we don’t admit to our frailty, and our love for the feudalistic system of the Dark Ages.  The rich ravage the poor and own everything worth owning.

Americans pretend that we are all well off.  We are so good at pretending.  Fully half of our retail system is built around the concept of false wealth and looking like you have it, when you don’t.

We pretend we have power, we don’t use.  We pretend we have money we don’t have, we pretend that we are smarter and better, we are not.  We have been sold out by Madison avenue.  Let’s be clear though, we are the ones who bought into this falseness.

The truth is that we are embarrassingly poor and poverty stricken in this country.  We actually don’t realize how much money our society wastes on non-humanitarian endeavors.  We don’t need any more nuclear bombs, but our country has committed itself to continually enriching the one per-centers.  It’s the one per-centers who are bomb makers, and oil company owners.  You and I don’t have that kind of influence and money.

HOWEVER, we want to pretend that we do have that kind of money.  We want to be on the Trump side, because that’s the side of the wealthy.  Ivanka sells bracelets for $10,400.00.  Isn’t THAT the group that we want to be part of?  The heavy hitters who can afford anything?

In the meantime, I struggle to pay for healthcare.  Yes, I have health insurance, yes I have an Health Savings Account, and still, because I am sick, I can barely afford my healthcare.  I have to buy a prescription that is compounded and because it is compounded, my insurance won’t cover it.  My physicians are specialists, so I must always pay the higher rate to see them.  My procedures are always paid at 80%, and any SMALL and SHORT procedure costs us several thousand dollars.

Republicans talk about how Social Security is not enough and Americans should be saving for retirement.  To keep myself working, I have to spend approximately $500.00 to $1,000.00 a month for health care.  I have been spending this much for about five years now.  How do I save money under these circumstances?

It maddens me that at least 30% of this money goes to enrich healthcare executives.  It’s not for healthcare, it’s for profit and for the greed of those one-percenters.  The reason for this is that our Congress in the United States of America, is for sale.  This congress are retiring as millionaires because the healthcare industry has paid them off.  After all Viagra is very, very lucrative.

I don’t understand this.  What I really hate about it is that in other countries, politicians and capitalist executives are likely to admit that they work together.  It’s only in America that we pretend that capitalism is a good thing.  We need to admit that although capitalism has value, it has run amok in America.

Back to anxiety and the prevalence of anxiety in America.  Americans may be in denial, but something inside (intuition) is telling us the truth about capitalism in America.  We are all an inch away from being homeless and America has no safety net for us.

Because our culture believes in “rugged individualism”, most Americans believe that if you don’t work hard and pull yourself up by your boot straps, then there must be something wrong with you.  Because we believe this about ourselves and others, it can be devastating to lose a job.  We believe that this is our own fault.  More devastating still is the idea that we cannot then find another job to replace the lost job.  America is changing rapidly, printers are out of business, paper newspapers are out of business, factories that make records, tapes, and CDs are out of business.  Americans blame it on themselves when they cannot create financial success, even when the entire industry they work in has been demolished by change.

We know, we Americans know that nothing will save us.  There is nothing in America to help people survive.  Churches are trying and don’t make the mark.  Food stamps have always had limited application and now trying to attain them can be a nightmare.   Americans are dying at the rate of 5 per hour because of lack of healthcare, tens of thousands of Americans are homeless and our own children are often at risk of hunger and going to bed without dinner.

We have anxiety.  We know that we are not okay.  We know that we are at extreme risk.  America is brutal unless you are wealthy.  Comfort is difficult to attain, often, it is only the young who have not the left the security of their parents home that feel comfortable and live without anxiety.  The only other source of comfortable is for the wealthy or the ignorant.

Being aware of the brutality of our home country is a source of anxiety for millions of Americans.

We have to find a way to regain our hearts and souls in America.  We must regain a safety net.  If we can’t do it politically, we can do it by stopping blaming ourselves for things that are so much beyond our control.  We can take back America by believing in ourselves and by supporting each other in our best efforts.  We cannot do this by being “rugged individuals”.

We can be more realistic about our beliefs.  People with money are not necessarily smart in any way.  They haven’t done anything better or more meaningful than anyone else in America.  The single difference is money.  Then one must look individually for other differences and put all presumptions aside.  Let’s not give away power and wealth by allowing this country to be managed by the greedy and the cheaters.  Let’s reclaim America.

Spring

Spring

 

30May

Betrayal, Backstabbing and other Workplace Worries

Betrayal, Backstabbing and other Workplace Worries

I have always been one who dislikes covert operations.  If you dislike me, please tell me straight up.  Don’t run around behind my back (backstabbing) telling everyone else that you do not like me.

That goes for your evaluations and judgments about me.  Don’t tell everyone else the truth about what you think about my decisions, but then turn around and smile and nod to me.  Go ahead and let me know what you think.  That is the only way to an honest and open relationship.  I am truly interested in an honest and open relationship.

In fact, backstabbing and betrayal; it’s sort of a “button” for me.  So, I have been self righteous about this for decades.  I pride myself in being open and honest with people, including my staff.

And then, then, the horrible happened, I had to work for a woman who was not, in any way, interested in fairness or equity.  Her most important function was to shore up her own ego, and she often performed this task by putting others down – but only subordinates – she never denigrated her supervisors (of course!).

Guess what?  I became a backstabber and ultimately a betrayer.  A backstabber talks about you behind your back, a betrayer is disloyal, which is much more serious.  I have always been loyal to my supervisors/companies/vice presidents, or anyone else in a position of power in my chain of command.  After all, I won’t work for anyone or any company that I cannot believe in and feel confident about.  It is easy to be loyal if you always work in a way that is in alignment with your belief system.

Somehow, this woman got ahead of me in power and she wanted to remind me of it every. Single. Day.  She was condescending and malicious.  She was also a backstabber and a betrayer.  She was hateful about everyone and told me so.  She was hateful about me, but did not tell me so.  Of course, I knew.  So, I talked about her.  I had to, I had to get rid of the poison that ate at me every time I had to tolerate her lying and manipulating.  I needed venting space and I took it, but only with like minded individuals.

Eventually, I had to leave.  The job was making me sick.  I knew it was time to go, so the first chance I got, I ran and ran and ran.  I did eventually become a betrayer.  I emailed her supervisor’s supervisor with a report on my experience.  I didn’t like doing this.  I had to.  It was my way of getting rid of the woman’s hatefulness.  No amount of washing myself could rid me of her mean-spiritedness, so I documented it.

So this is the story of how I became what I detest in others.  It’s also the reason why I left that employment, because I cannot be that: angry and mean, inferior and vindictive.  I need to be who I am and who I aspire to be: loving, generous, honest and open.

The difference between myself and her is that I had to do what I had to do in defense of myself.  She may also be working in self defense, but her defense is who she is.  For me, that behavior is an aberration.  I hope that is enough.  I hope that the fact that I will use those tools, but not BE those tools is enough.  To my very soul, I never want to lose who I think I am.

29May

Anita Goes First, May 17th, 2018

I knew that Anita was not doing well, but I had no idea how close she was to dying.  I asked my son Travis to check in on her.  He said he was passing her apartment and would call me.  We had done this before, he stopped in to her apartment and I would facetime with Anita.  The last time Anita looked okay, but she asked Travis who I was? Ugh.

Anyway, this time Anita wasn’t home and was in the hospital.  Travis went up to her room, but passed her by, but then heard “Nephew, get in here!”.  He was shocked to see her.  Within minutes he was on the phone to me, telling me that I must come down to see her.  He was desperate, made arrangements for an Uber driver to pick me up and made arrangements to bring me home.  So I did it, I went down to the hospital.

Anita looked awful.  End stage liver disease is a brutal killer that shuts down the body’s natural cleaning defenses.  From a healthy large woman with stunning blonde hair, she had shrunk to a hundred pounds and her hair had darkened to auburn.  The skin of her body had turned a rusty red color, blotchy and uneven and everywhere I touched felt rough, except her face.  I came to her bedside to show her love, to hold her and to rub her skin and legs and arms.  She was still lucid and recognized me.  Travis called while I was with her, and as we were hanging up, I said “I love you.”  Behind me I heard from Anita “I wish I had that.”  I turned around and looked at Anita and it was one of those moments that burn into your memory like a brand burns into cow hide.  I asked her “what?” and her face crumpled.  Then, we are thankfully distracted.  Anita is in vast amounts of pain, it is consuming her.  Later, her temperature gets warm, but the nurses do not worry.  Soon, she is sedated and asleep, and so I travel home.

The other side (literally) is Anita’s identical twin Anna Lee.  Anna Lee was with Anita, almost always when I visited.  She cleaned Anita up, fed her and caught me up on all that was happening.  I know that Anna Lee’s grief is overwhelming.  I can see it in the way she stands and the way she moves.  We don’t speak of it.  The two who were born together, will not die together, they must say good-bye in their own time.  I’m not sure how Anna Lee will walk through this.  I am scared for her.  I know what grief does to us (my sisters and I) and it is harsh.

So now is the end of possibility.  We must surrender to the doneness of it. 

Anita was severely damaged in our childhoods.  We all were, some recover and some do not.  The positive thinkers want to say that those who create success after living through the hell of a childhood like that is proof that anyone can do it.  I will disagree, and wholeheartedly so.  A hellish, nightmarish childhood will follow you throughout your life.  No one ever recovers from that, it is just a matter of degree.  In my family all of the degrees are covered, from no recovery, to as much recovery as 35 years of therapy can give you.

The damage wrought by such a childhood is insidious and as already stated, lifelong.  The damage has no boundaries and seeks to cause additional damage.  The damage wreaks havoc on the next generation and from there, can extend beyond life~long.

For Anita, there was no recovery.  Addiction swallowed her whole by the time she was sixteen years old and it was that addiction that killed her.  She walked through life unhappy, hurt and angry.  Worse, she expressed her frustration over and over again to all of those around her and ended up pushing away those who loved her.  She was unhappy, and it ended that way.  

Dear Anita; I hold your loving spirit in my arms and with me always.  Your sisters loved you terribly, you could never change that, ever.

03May

My Sister is Dying

Playing, Sun N Fun

Playing, Sun N Fun

Keeping the sisterhood alive!

1999 Keeping the sisterhood alive!

1994, Before Momma died

1994, Before Momma died

Summer of 1982, Becky and I are both pregnant.

Summer of 1982, Becky and I are both pregnant.

Anita is always on the left, not sure why, but that is the way it is here.  She sits on the left in each photo.

Shannon's birthday, May of 1972, Location Sun N Fun

Shannon’s birthday, May of 1972, Location Sun N Fun

She is left handed, as am I.

I am filled with grief.  I cry on and off for several days now.

Because of the way she lived, I knew that she would go first and no more than second.  We have 7 siblings and in varying degrees, we all chose our deaths at very young ages.  For her it was alcoholism.  When she got hepatitis, I wasn’t surprised, her unwillingness to complete treatment did surprise me.  She was unrelenting in her addiction to alcohol.  For several years she added cocaine into the mix.

In her twenties she had violent relationships with violent men.  I often told my husband that she would cause me great sadness.

After mom died in 1996, I didn’t want to be around my sisters.  I felt betrayed by the insensitivity (of course, we were all that way).  Over the next fifteen years, after I left our hometown, I tried to stay away from them, particularly the twins, of which my dying sister is one.

I often thought that I could distance myself, that by being indifferent I could get away from being hurt by them.

I was oh so wrong.

I’ve never quite figured out love, or how it works.  I don’t understand why I instantly love someone and not so much with others.  I just don’t get it.  As much as I tried not to love this woman (my sister) I did not help myself.  I love her and I grieve for her now.

So I love these people, my sisters, whether I like it or not.  To add an extra layer of fear, she is my “little” sister.  How can that be so?  How can she precede me into the darkness, into the space of no more?

I will give her what I can in her dying days.  I will remind her that she is loved by others, whether she loves herself or not.  I will communicate my love and I will leave no doubt.  Oh my dying sister, you are leaving so soon, could we not have been different in that long ago time when we were all blondes?  I miss you now and I will miss you then.  Our love did not end, and now, I am happy that it did not.  I am glad that I love you and that you hurt me still.

14Apr

I Believe in Bastards

Now I Believe in Bastards

I used to believe that humans were inherently good.  Being cruel or mean, or being a liar and a thief was a matter of childhood construction.

The perfect little children were treated badly somewhere and then somehow (justly so) became angry and mean.

I never gave DNA much credit for behaviors, thinking and character.  I thought that the world crafted each child based on the environment of the child and the environment that parents live in.  I still believe that all of this is relevant information, but oh, was I wrong about DNA.

There is a cruelty gene, there is a selfish gene, just as there is a loving gene and a kindness gene.  Socialization forces us to behavior and that behavior hides our true self.  For some of us, that means that our loving character is quiet, for some of us that means our feral nature is crouching and waiting to lash out. 

I wish that I would have known this sooner.  I would not have tried so hard to have relationships with some people; I would not have tried so hard to help others.  I would have developed a discerning eye that could assist me with determining the difference between a cruel person and a good person lashing out because of pain.

This is another observation that I have noted with the selfish and mean that are among us.  They understand that they must justify their meanness from time to time.  They devise elaborate victim stories with sketchy details and even sketchier outcomes.  These victim stories are nothing more than tools to gain access to a good person’s psyche.  The cruel and mean are seldom suffering, rather they are planning ways for others to suffer.

It is a shame that so many people are selfish and mean.  It is a blessing that so many people are loving and kind. 

Which one are you.  No question, only statement.

08Apr

Believing in Karma and in Hell are Not Good Things

Concepts of Karma and Hell, Do Not Serve Us Humans Well

Humans believe that justice is attainable via Christianity and/or Karma.  They see justice as a function of the universe.  The popular conversation is as if injustices will be managed by the universe through Karma or through the use of an afterlife called hell.

So when the downtrodden and the poverty stricken are beaten down even more, they appease themselves by believing that the perpetrator will go to hell.  The perpetrator will receive all kinds of payback at the hands of God or at the hands of the unforgiving universe.  I propose that this is not true.  Perpetrators do not receive revenge by the hands of God or through Karma.  They live their lives with their ill-gotten gains and then die, happily grasping their ill-gotten gains.

By believing that the universe will dish out the evil-doers just desserts, we skip our own opportunities to deliver retribution or even (gasp) revenge.  We allow people to get away with some really awful stuff, all the while saying to ourselves “he will get his someday, and then he won’t be so happy about taking away from me.”

Think of this concept from an historical perspective, when feudal lords in England and Europe were raping women and children and stealing from hardworking farmers, the Catholic church was busy telling the peasants, “you will receive your reward in heaven.”  The peasants were comforted by these words and thoughts, and so the habits of repression could continue as long as the peasants could believe in a hereafter that gave them power and punished the sinner.  It is these beliefs and habits that produced a careless princess who told the starving peasants to eat cake.

It is this way today in America.  We have left the confines of religious beliefs behind, and yet now, Karma has taken over as the new revenge machine.  Karma is ‘all the rage’ for the tormented women and other such victims of America.  The word is used all over Facebook, Twitter and on Meme captions.  We want to believe in Karma and in the revenge of a just God.  This helps us to get through the suffering of the trauma of a hardship caused by another.  It helps us to make sense of being victimized or of our loved ones being victimized.

I will never forget my girlfriend telling me that she needed to believe in karma, it was the only way she could live with the knowledge that her husband had beat her every day for ten years before she could get away from him.  She said that if karma did not exist that it would hurt her terribly to know that nothing would happen to the man who had inflicted such suffering on herself.

No, I thought, though I did not say, he died and he got away with it.  No one hit him back, he never went to jail, he never suffered the horrifying fear of knowing that another beating was coming at any moment.  He got away with beating his wife every day for ten years.

So, if you know that your perpetrator, that your bully, will get away with whatever that person is doing to you, would you be more likely to want to pursue justice yourself?  Would you be more willing to make sure that your perpetrator faced a judge and some justice?  Would you be less likely to hope that karma resolves your need for revenge?  Would you be less likely to wait for heaven or hell to get your justice?  I think so.

We cannot wait for “outside” to bring justice.  We must take justice into our own hands.  We must make sure that some future promise is not what we are hoping for.  We must make justice now.

This is never to say that vengeful violence is the option to pursue.  This is to say that we must speak up, we must pursue justice ourselves and not leave it to others, nor leave it to the universe.  We must seek it by telling others of the crime, by ensuring that potential victims are aware of the perpetrator’s history.  We must, ourselves, block further efforts of the perpetrator to commit more crimes.  This includes the idea that we must protect our own self from others.  We must never allow ourselves to be beaten and stolen from. Report the criminal behavior.  Even if no one believes you, the perpetrator is sure to continue the behavior and someone will eventually believe you.  Your story will help keep others from being hurt.

Remember the saying “My reward may be in Heaven, but rent is due here on Earth”.  Use this wisdom as your guide, don’t be a victim of anyone.

 

31Mar

When You Are In It

From the outside our behavior can be identified according to the perception of the person who is observing.  When we are clear headed, we will use social cues to modify and adjust our behavior to keep our behavior acceptable.  We do this the most in public places.  At home, we are less likely to make these adjustments.  Additionally, when we are in power, we are less likely to make these adjustments.

In relationships that we need, we will not only adjust our behavior, but we may even adjust beliefs to accommodate the power of the other and the power of the relationship.

This can be beneficial, therapeutic, indeed, growing the relationship; or disastrous, making the relationship a doomed relationship.

When we are in the relationship, we can only perceive from that personal level.  This is why, we say, that it is difficult to be objective.  It is difficult to be objective, but I would say that it is difficult to be objective because of our beliefs inside of the relationship.  Look at how parents cling to beliefs that their children are nothing but good and pure?  They will not see the lying and stealing of their own drug addicted child until they can let go of their own perception of the loving seven year old who brought love notes homes from school, or their own idea of what a good parent they are.

Our discomfort about our disbelief about our new reality is what causes us pain.  Those that can accept the new reality have a better chance of making a plan and applying it to the new reality and thus creating hope.

There is another component to being “In It” that makes us perceive our relationships in different ways than others do and that is that we may be aware of information that others are not.  This information can make others think differently (perhaps be less judgmental), but we cannot share this information at all and so we must suffer another’s condemnation of our actions even though there are undeserved.

Is it any wonder that honesty is the best way to keep relationships positive?  An honest exchange and discourse, with allowances for others beliefs, can go a long way to understanding.  And truly, when we are in it, we may not see what others see, but aren’t others judgment also clouded by their own belief system?

To say the least, it is complicated, which is why communication is the key to making relationships successful.

09Mar

Responsibility for Others: Management 101

I was reading a murder mystery last night (what else is new?).  In closing, the Captain of the detectives was lamenting about how he would explain to his bosses about one of his subordinates.  The subordinate was guilty of helping the serial killer with a murder and with getting away with murder.  This Captain was concerned that he could not explain his subordinate’s activities and could not explain how he missed this monumental change in his subordinate.

In other words, this captain was being held accountable for his staff’s activities.  Not only was he being held responsible for those activities, but he was answerable to not being aware of staff changes in demeanor.  This murder mystery is set in England (of course!).  It could not have been set in America, and here is why…

I have sat in dozens of management meetings and listened to dozens of managers talk about their results.  What is consistent across all of those meetings and all of those managers is this idea that “I am not responsible for my staff’s activities.” Or another concept “I am not aware of what my staff did or is doing, look, they messed it up…”.

Upper management, in every single place that I have ever worked, is not at all aware of what their own managers do.  I’m not sure that I understand the philosophy that allows this kind of behavior.  They supervise people that they do not understand and know and can go for months and even years not knowing what kind of behavior is perpetrated onto the line staff.   Sometimes it is because of secrets, sometimes it is blatant,  transparency is not a concept that lives well in America.  Americans keep secrets, lots and lots of them.

As a manager, and a supervisor, it is your responsibility to KNOW what your staff is doing.  Are managers fooled, tricked and manipulated?  Yes, yes of course.  Yet, that is the job, to follow up, to find out, to make it work appropriately.  It is your job as a manager to dig out the secrets, to become aware of the secrets, to bring light to the secrets.

Honestly, that’s why when the pervert/perpetrator Olympics coach was being sued, the school and the organizations that he works for are sued also.  Whether Americans want to understand the concept or not, if you manage someone, you are responsible for that someone.  If you are in charge of an institution, that institution is your responsibility.

We have a culture of excuses and we work hard to make those excuses believable.  There are a few diamonds out there, who stand up and take responsibility, good, bad or indifferent, they will own the responsibility.  More often than not, excuses win the day.  Excuses become the work product, because the work product is difficult to accomplish or difficult to measure.  Either way, Americans have a preference for a story rather than the results, excepting, of course, for the Americans who are actually paying for the results.

Which one are you?  Are you responsible for your staff when the performance is fantastic, and not, when not?  Or, do you take responsibility for your staff, your institution, the things you get paid for, as they are?

The difference between mediocrity, which is common, and the uncommon, which is excellence, is this concept of responsibility for others.  By taking care of people, you unwittingly take care of yourself.

07Mar

Avoidance

I’ve often denigrated avoidance as if it is a bad thing.  I thought that people who avoided truth, or reality were sissys or crybabies, who don’t deserve truth.

And now I want to avoid.  I don’t want to know if you have relapsed on cocaine.  I don’t want to know that you are back to shooting heroin.  I don’t want to know that you are “off the wagon” and “drinking like a fish”.

It hurts.

I am past the point of believing that I can make you change.  I am past the point of believing that “things” will be better.

“Don’t tell because it hurts”  No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom, 1995

Does the sun come back?

Does the sun come back?