Itadakimasu

Today, the first day of a new year, I set my intention. For three days I have had percolating in the back of my mind, how I wish to live, be, and embrace this coming year as though it were my last. What do I dare to do? How do I wish to live, not merely exist? Who has my cat become? LOL She has exemplified grace, acceptance and  true meditation though 3 complete household moves. As I live to serve her (in her mind, I project) she is teaching me ancient wisdom. BE HERE NOW.

BE HERE NOW

I am reminded that in each relationship, friendship, face to face, I can speak in a language that is understood by that person. Language is formidable, language is basic to our needs. As I uncover more of my abilities, sometimes I become confused by past or future incidents wafting through.

It has been a challenging journey to come to a place of knowing:

Major lifestyle changes, commitment, discipline, focus, endless journaling and self-talk, therapeutic helpers costing great deals of $, all this personal work to discover who I really am to begin with. What irony! All necessary  as I remain steadfast in my resolve to move forward and not remain stagnant.  I enjoy opening my network of kindness. I am Happier moving forward. That tells me I am in the flow.

Accepting the here and now doesn’t mean I am freaked out about circumstances today. I am cool aware of my up-coming challenges and prepared to remain calm in the eye of the storm. I have used  a wonderful vehicle to remain clear and sober, connecting with other like souls who I lovingly refer to as the “Walking Wounded,” long enough to uncover my true self, not the one layered onto me as a toddler. A friend of mine said it is a newfound self mastery.I

Itadakimasu is a word of Japanese gratitude that is said before each meal. If I think about a word other than English, it gives me time to be here now.

Namaste’ Ya’ll

 

 

 

 

 

Last Words

A friend of mine has been totally cut out of her father’s will. Her sister has been named executrix, and it looks like my friend will get nothing but bitter memories from her father’s estate. I cannot understand the reason a parent would purposely cut one of their offspring out of their inheritance. Who would do such a thing? What an awful message to send a person! It is awful to say to your own child, “I hate you SO MUCH that I am not leaving you anything.”

Remarkably, this is exactly what happened to my friend. She struggles with staying sober, and had asked for financial help from her father while going through separation proceedings with her untrue (i.e. cheating on her) husband of 20 years. When I look at her I see a beautiful, highly intelligent woman who has always underestimated her value and worth. She had the unfortunate childhood of that of an abused child with two alcoholic, insane parents. She has been traumatized for life. She is fragile and beautiful, unable to stand on her own, right now, needing to be propped up from one direction or another. It is tragic to witness. She has such merit! She has such a sensitivity and intellect as I have never seen. She constantly volunteers to help animals. If only she could help herself!

What a despicable world we live in, that pushes down the most brilliant of us, degrading us until we feel that we are worthless. But it isn’t the world, is it? It is the parent that tortures the child because they feel that the child outshines them. The child has the world ahead of them and may accomplish great things the parent wishes they had done. Many of these desires are not even recognized by the abusive parent. They are too busy hating and projecting their insecurities onto the child.  The envy and jealousy of a demented parent is a hard thing to overcome. I know from my own experience that one hateful parent can really screw you up for life.

I get really concerned about my friend, she is a mirror of where I used to be. It was only a few years ago that I felt suicidal and hopeless. Unsure of myself, I depended on the external to prop me up.I would rather be co-dependent with a loser boyfriend than sober and work on my emotional pain. Now, I am pretty much comfortable with myself as I am.Three years now, no boyfriend anywhere in sight.  Nothing is around to distract me from ME.  It doesn’t matter that I wear the same four wrinkled outfits, week after week. I gave up on wearing makeup a long time ago. It took too long to put on, and my time was better spent meditating for more long-term effects. What in the world has happened to me? At least I laugh frequently. You don’t expect me to take this life seriously, do you?  The material world can go to hell as far as I am concerned. The process of selling everything of value that I own to pay my legal fees to become my father’s guardian has become my mission.  At first, it was difficult to part with some of my “treasures,” things I had carted from home to home, and was so proud to own. Owning suddenly became less important.  Now, I view my “stuff” as a burden. It is all a burden if I don’t use it daily. There is so much that I don’t need anymore. Sure, it is tempting to buy something just because I want it, and I am not saying that I will deny myself the glory of spending my money that way I want to (eventually.)  I began sewing patches on my worn clothes, to continue to wear them and sell the best pieces. My siblings don’t know where I get the money to continue fighting them to protect my father. They are so ready for him to die, they can’t stand it. Their focus is on the money, while mine is on his comfort.

Our father was a generous man. He paid our college tuition, bought us cars, and generally speaking, we had everything materially that we wanted growing up. It blows my mind that a father would totally cut a child out of their will. Why? What misery makes a person do that?

Looking at it from my perspective, I think my friend’s father hated himself so much, that he wanted to inflict that same pain onto her, his oldest child. What a disappointment he must have had to realize that she would have a life-long struggle with alcoholism. This illness was put there by his genes, she didn’t cause it on her own. It is hateful that the world views alcoholism as a lack of willpower or morality! If life wasn’t so painful, none of us would drink! Didn’t the Buddha tell us that life is painful? Damn straight, he did! I knew long before I read about it in scientific journals that the brain’s pathways are changed by trauma, and especially the brain of an infant’s growing up in trauma of a dysfunctional family. Another of my other friends has multiple personalities. He said, “Imagine if you aren’t safe with your primary caregiver? Your parent?” On the outside, he seems normal enough, he had a job, hobbies, regular looking, hard-working guy. But on the inside he had demons I’ve never met, that challenged his very existence.

If my girlfriend was a diabetic, and had gone into the hospital due to diabetic shock, would her father have cut her out of the will then? Lets all get honest about this. Is alcoholism a real disease or not? I am sorry, but plain old affirmations didn’t get me sober, and I doubt it would cure a diabetic, either. BTW a lot of type II adult onset diabetes can be avoided by exercise and diet. So actually, my brother’s coke-a-cola swigging and chocolate eating contributed to his disease. Didn’t he play a major role in that? No one is shaming him, are they?  Something is wrong here. Am I the only one who sees that?

From tutu to Crypt Keeper

Used to nursing my own shin splints, foot fractures and assorted blisters, taking care of my 90 year old father is quite a bit easier. I used to live in a crime ridden area of a city where there was drug dealing, prostitution and gun shots as a norm on Saturday night. Looking out my upstairs window, you could see the craps game going on between two units. The players placed a sheet of plywood on the ground and circled it, playing craps– out in the open daylight. That took balls. I was the only one who wasn’t making any money in this nefarious neighborhood. Yes, I did feel at odds with where I lived. I felt like it was only a matter of time before I got hit by a random gunshot. 

Reluctant to lose my independence, I continued to teach ballet long after an automobile accident impaired the nerves in an arm and leg.   Major nerve damage, soft tissue damage, herniated discs, whiplash, and ADD were results of the crash. Pain was constant. I lay in traction twice daily, for years, trying to regain the curve in my neck. My neck curved in the opposite direction of normal. The herniated discs in my back were the hardest to deal with. I could no longer demonstrate the dance moves that I used to. It took a couple of hours after waking for me to be able to walk with out flinching from pain. Alternating heating pads and ice packs throughout the day was a way of life. I drove to work with ice packs on my back, knee, ankle, neck or all of those, on my way to work. Using massive doses of advil, zostrich and salon pas until my waistbands on tights kept reheating, even after washing. I managed to limp through teaching for a decade after the automobile accident. It wasn’t getting easier. It was getting harder. Jumping up to teach a fouette cold, I ripped something in my leg. It nearly made me swoon. It took my breath away, it hurt so bad. But I had to continue, I was teaching a student an entire role that she would dance in an hour, with an orchestra, in a last minute replacement for the original girl. In spite of a torn meniscus along with a horrible bone spur on my heel, I had to finish the year. I was behind in my mortgage. There was a lot at stake. Like many people in 2010, I had been working on a mortgage modification for two years. I literally couldn’t stand on one foot, or straighten the other leg. Even though I was crippled, I faked my way through teaching and finished the year as best I could. Ah, the glamour of ballet! I tell you all this just to inform you of how dedicated I was. I wanted to keep my home.  Never, never, did I want to quit. What would I do? Who would I be? Where would I live? I had lived there 30 years. This was all I knew, ballet and the self perpetuating cycle of poverty and pain.  Well, the universe took care of all that and everything went away within months.

To be continued… 

Two years later: foreclosure, business closure, debts engulfed me like a tsunami, I had to move out of the hood. I had to leave. My only option  was to live in my childhood home. It was available. In fact, this country house had been neglected for a decade. No one wanted to live there, isolated from the rest of the world. At least I could live there, instead of sleeping in my car. I still had a 15 year old car. Like dad had always said, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” I was still drinking lemonade.

 

 

 

Come back again, TIAs.

It was an onerous task and one I dreaded, the weekly visit to my mother in the nursing home, or the Senior Rehabilitation Center, to put a better-sounding spin on it.  It was draining to visit her.  Mother was a black hole of need; a Narcissist who never had enough stuff to prop her up in life, she lived through her possessions and not through her heart.

It was ever so galling to me, when, after years of impoverished struggle living independently, my ghetto townhome was foreclosed on, my business was bankrupted and closed, my boyfriend left me, and I had descended to a financial and mental bottom like never before,  my mother showed her true colors.

Always independent, I never ever wanted to have to move back to my childhood home. Ever.  I was a self starter, I had ambition and drive. Avoiding relying on my parents, or beholden to them was the major reason I risked everything and opened a business on my own.

When I hesitantly addressed my last ditched plan over the phone with her, of moving home, beaten and penniless, she only frantically replied,

“Don’t forget the border tiles! Be sure and bring back the border tiles!  Don’t leave the tiles behind, be sure you bring them back,” she was referring to the  antique clay garden tiles I had painstakingly placed in perfect alignment around my front and back yard flower beds.

“Huh?” I wondered silently. Hadn’t she given these to me? What is up with the tiles? Sure, I planned on bringing them with me. Why all the fuss? Is she imagining me thrown out onto the curb, evicted by the sheriff along with all my belongings in a pile?

Ah, the cherished border tiles. All the wealthy placed tiles around their flower beds. But these weren’t ordinary tiles, they were special. They had a mysterious past. They had been purchased from the dashing Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’s star, Jim Williams, the Savannah antiques dealer. Somewhat a celebrity, even after death, mother assumed that anything from Jim William’s antique store was vital to her heritage and well being, too valuable to be left behind, these tiles had to come back to her at any cost. And what about little Cynthia’s wellbeing, well, it seemed not to matter. Not a word was said about my wellbeing, only the tiles were important to her. This wasn’t the first time her lack of affection hit me hard. There had been many other times she had shown me how little she really cared for me.

I was aghast at this lack of display for MY well being. She continued badgering me each conversation, about the damn border tiles. Never a word about how I was doing, coping with the biggest losses of my life.

Mother was afraid to feel her feelings. She had been shut down so long, there was no hope for her to be compassionate about as big a thing as one of her children losing a home, a business and her identity.

Over the past few months my best friend had been cautioning me about the sequence of events once the foreclosure was in process. I had had so much anxiety for two full years about this that I was  burnt out completely over the whole thing. My friend and neighbor, Jan, repeatedly warned me, again and again that once the process was begun, I had thirty days and only thirty days to get out completely. This was a serious step, sure, I know that. That was why I had worked on a damned mortgage refinance for three years, to no avail. I would run over to Jan’s to fax stacks of papers required for the application for HAMP or any of the latest mortgage scams that I thought would help me out. Every time it was down to the last point, they would call me and tell me something was missing from my application or something was outdated. Then when I would try to contact them, they wouldn’t take my call, or my case was on someone else’s desk, or they were out of the office or on vacation. I began to think that there was a code going on. On Mr. So and So’s desk meant my file was in the garbage. If they told me that my case worker was on vacation, that was code that they were going to wait until my application was outdated, and then turn it down. Repeatedly I was told by an idiot over the phone that the “application is simple to fill out and self explanatory.” Once they told me my application was wrong because I used a hyphen instead of a forward slash on a date. I remember starting to scream.

“I hope you are recording this, because for a hyphen instead of a slash mark to make any difference in an application’s date and whether it is accepted, the DIRECTIONS ARE NOT SELF EXPLANATORY!” I exclaimed as I became so agitated my chest began to hurt.

The things the mortgage company had done were clearly not ethical nor legal, and I had been given the run around for so long that I had no more energy to spare. I was beginning to be apathetic about it all.

“What is one more nervous breakdown?” I thought.

Let them have this hellhole surrounded by paroled criminals, I have had all I can bear.

Never will I forget the years that the drug traffic was at its height. Cars came and went constantly on the weekends when there was a fresh drug delivery.  Not only were the lowlife neighbors dealing drugs, selling fish at their Friday night fishfrys, but then came the craps game held outside the side of the townhome — on a sheet of plywood in broad daylight.  This was the height of audacity.

There were at least three convicted criminals who lived or squatted in my neighborhood. They all mowed yards and watched our every move. Rather than help me move out of this dangerous neighborhood, my father paid to have an alarm system installed. After gun fire was heard periodically, I reported that things had worsened.

When I told her of the recent neighborhood shootings along with a few more illegal incidents, my Mother got very agitated and said,

“You have to move out of there immediately! Whatever you have to do, rent a room, anything. Just get out of there, now!”

“How?” I asked. “I can’t afford to move.”

“You can’t afford to stay!” she nearly yelled.

“Well, how do you think I will be able to pay for a safer place? I need help,” I added.

“I will help you buy a place. You have to move, right now! Whatever it takes!”

“Really?” I asked. This was music to my ears. I couldn’t afford anything without assistance.

that the wealthy placed around their flower beds. They had been purchased from the dashing Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil true star, Jim Williams, the Savannah antique dealer. Somewhat a celebrity, even after death, mother assumed that anything from Jim William’s antique store was vital to her heritage and well being, not mine, you see.

I was aghast at this lack of display for MY well being. She continued badgering me each conversation, about the damn border tiles. Never a word about how I was doing, coping with the biggest losses of my life.

Mother was afraid to feel her feelings. She had been shut down so long, there was no hope for her to be compassionate about as big a thing as one of her children losing a home, a business and her identity.

I must confess, it will take a lot to erase that from my memory. I needed a motherly pat on the back, telling me that I would be OK, telling me I was welcome home, anything but THIS! She had surpassed being cold, this was downright cruel in my eyes.

Then came the job offer.

“Work for your father and I for $200 a week, 24/7 taking care of us.”

“You will get room and board (old fashioned speak for a place to sleep in a dark closet and some gruel to eat) ,” she said.

She’d been mentioning this idea of hers for about a year. I turned her down for several reasons:

No mention of holidays

Too much work for one person

Slavery is against the law nowadays

She was stunned that I didn’t take her job offer. What was holding me back? It must be a boyfriend, it couldn’t be that her offer was cheap and unfair? It had to be something wrong with Cynthia, not the offer. She thought it was magnanimous of her. Well, Cynthia didn’t have a family or a home, she is an “old Maid,” and ought to jump at the chance for a place to live with free food.

I was annoyed beyond belief at her outdated notions and passive abusive innuendos.

I could get a minimum wage work myself to death job anywhere. I had had a career for 33 years and this was outrageous. I knew that she wanted someone to be at her beck and call day and night. Well, let her hire someone and pay them a decent wage. Let her see how expensive it really was to have that sort of help. The days of the spinster taking care of the old folks at home were gone!

Alzheimer’s Ain’t so Bad after Mother

90 year old Dad returned to the Pink House , exhausted, hot and sleepy from a visit to see Mother, who is still in the Sr. Rehab Center. It must’ve been about 100 degrees F. outside, plus the humidity was excruciating. Later in the day, at 8pm, the heat index was 98 degrees. Poor elder care helper, Helga, looked wiped out, too. It amused me  that someone else was privy to the moods and shenanigans  of Sue, the control freak who called herself “Mother.” I had chosen not to go out in the heat. I just didn’t want to. WHy should I? I was just getting relaxed into my new life.  Visiting mother would have ruined my day. A visit with mother was never fulfilling for me. Visiting her was another exercise in the  futile  attempt to connect with anything good inside her.

I felt no real connection to her. It had taken years of therapy (and at least $20,000) for me to realize how sick she was/is. I was just a normal child, needing a parent’s love and approval, striving to be as perfect as possible, thinking there was something wrong with me, instead of her. If it was me, then I could do something about it. That supplied hope, didn’t it? If it was her fault, well, I would never feel a mother’s love.  As a child, that thought was too dreadful to fully understand and accept.

“She’s like a psychic vampire, isn’t she?” I asked Helga.

Helga looked at me wide-eyed.

“She kept talking about the electric wheelchair,” Helga said. “Then, she wanted me to straighten her closet, and I said we weren’t going to do that right now.”

“She must be feeling better, she’s making demands and ordering you. She thinks she’s in control again, ” I added.

Mother thinks she runs everything within her sight. She’d controlled the home I grew up in and worked to manipulate me into what she wanted me to be for  many dreadful years. No longer was I enmeshed with her. I had my own identity, my own self confidence and ability to do anything I sought to do.

In my years of group therapy, this type of mother was called a “Nazi Mother.” Ungiving, narcissistic, rigid, controlling, puritanical, a taskmaster, with-holding love, abusive, derisive, judgmental, sarcastic, passive aggressive, manipulative, emotionally constipated, and down-right mean–that was my mother exactly. The first time I heard someone describe their mother as a Nazi, I felt a genuine comaraderie.

I knew that she lashed out at me for no reason when I was a kid, when ever she felt bad. My emotions and feelings were not validated. The entire family teased me about my feelings. If I complained to her as a child, my life was made  worse.  Mother would retaliate out  of utter meanness.

This person I would not wish upon anyone. This was my mother.

Now she is an old, mean 84 year old who cannot walk on her own. Her world has shrunk even more than before.