Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Friday, May 20, 2016
A few years ago, I put myself in the position of being the "great communicator" in one of my volunteer positions. It just dawned on me that, in my current condition, I must be insane to continue in this position. What's coming around the bend for me and the people I serve? Should I view this as "good practice"? Or maybe as self-help exercises? It doesn't seem quite fair to the people who find themselves having to put up with me.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Suicide is a mystery to those who have never contemplated it. Why do some people choose to end their lives while others who appear to be so alone in the world choose to soldier on, day after day? Catastrophe. The stock market crash of 1929. The poor souls who chose to jump from the upper floors of One World Trade Center on 9/11. People with severe addictions. Even people with terminal illnesses. But what about the others? What about the people who look like they have it all together- even to their loved ones?
When the answer is not easily known, then I think that only the deceased can know the entire story. Suicide is so personal, so individual as to almost be beyond the comprehension of anyone other than a higher power. I reject the idea that it is an unpardonable sin that condemns the deceased to Hell. I choose, rather, to hope that the deceased had strong faith in a merciful God who will thereafter cradle that person in his arms and will grant the thing that the deceased wanted above all else – peace.
My fatal flaw is my total inability to deal with uncertainty. I’m not talking about everyday uncertainty like what to order in a restaurant. I’m talking about real conflict resolution that involves major pieces of my life. I don’t know why I do what I do, and maybe only a psychiatrist would ever be able to figure it out. When serious conflict arises that jeopardizes the future, my coping mechanism is to do whatever I have to do to identify steps to a solution. I compulsively must do this. Whether the solution be in the near future or far off does not matter. Maybe the real solution has yet to really be defined. But if I can at least know in my head that there is a path leading to peace, I will be ok.
How do I go about identifying those steps on that path…. that’s the hitch. Usually I talk to the other parties involved until the path reveals itself. The parties are not always happy about this. I would even go so far as to say that the parties are usually not happy about this and sometimes will even tell me what they think I want to hear just to shut me up. This tends to backfire – on me, not them – when the path never actually happens and I end up feeling betrayed. Sometimes I write rather than talk. Writing is not the ultimate solution but at least it allows me to “get it out”.
I am writing now because I am talked out and don’t know what else to do. Because every major aspect of my life is in a state of uncertainty and conflict, and I’m fairly sure that the other people are tired of my talking, while in other cases, there really is nobody to talk to.
When I write about looking for a path, what I really mean is that path that I was on has ended. Imagine that you are hiking deep in the forest by yourself on a path miles from anywhere or anyone, and the path just ends and you are staring at tall woods. That is what my life feels like right now. Only this is a one-way path. There is no turning around and going back from whence I came. I must go forward…. except I’m lost. I don’t know which direction to go or what I’m going toward. As I struggle to cope, my brain will not shut off. It is filled day and night with scenarios and outcomes. I have conversations with myself. “What will I do if………” “Who can I talk to about……?” “If this turns out like _____, then…………, but what if _______ happens?” One of my conflicts is so unpredictable on a day-to-day basis that it sometimes feels like walking in a never-ending minefield where the only way out is to step on a mine. Or if I do somehow find my way out, I might have to run away from it as fast as I can. I find myself having imaginary conversations with people because the real thing has just become too difficult.
Everything resolves. Or so I’m told. The act of suicide has been described as cowardly and selfish. I don’t know if I totally agree with that. I actually think it takes a lot of courage. I know I could never pull it off, and I know that the people who care about me don’t deserve to be punished in that way just for living their lives to the best of their ability based who they are deep inside – whether or not their act of living does anything to help me. What I know for sure is this. We all have a path that we are destined to walk. Sometimes we stray down wrong paths. The worst is when the path disappears completely. For some people, there is only so long they can struggle to find it again before it all just becomes too much. As for me, I don’t think I will ever again be one of the people who ponders a suicide and thinks – “We never saw it coming. What could have happened?” Every story is unique, but ultimately it comes down to the undiscovered path.
Monday, March 7, 2016
Sunday, January 17, 2016
I was wrong.
I still think about my Mom a lot. I try to think of her as she was when I was younger and not as she was in her last years, but I can't help but think of her life as sort of a collective body of work with a very unhappy finale. I've also insisted that I don't want to end up like her, but I'm starting to think that I have little control over the situation.
I always assumed that my mother was a solitary person who didn't mind spending time alone. I never paid attention to whether or not she made any attempt to change her situation. I do remember that she was very good friends with my sister in law's mother. When my Dad was alive, the four of them were very social together going to dinner, movies, concerts, etc... When my Dad died, Sue was her rock. When my sister in law's father retired, however, that's when things got dicey. He was very possessive of his wife, and her personality was not one that lent itself to .... shall we say... independent action... We found out a few years later that he had Alzheimer's disease. Unfortunately, the damage to their friendship was done. I knew my mother was sad about it, but I now believe that she was probably devastated.
The bottom line is that I really have no idea if she tried to cultivate new friendships as she progressed through her middle age years and beyond. Besides making me question my worth as a daughter, this leaves me with all sorts of questions. I am really like her? Did she have friends when she was in her 20's that she gave up on? Did she, like me, try to turn her work associates into personal friends only to have her hopes dashed? She bowled with friends and relatives well into her 50s. Did she think that they would become close friends? Was she upset when she stopped bowling and the friends drifted away out of her life?
The simple fact is that I am petrified of spending the last years of my life alone. I have always thought that my mother was alone most of the time because she was crabby and disagreeable.... but just maybe she was crabby and disagreeable because she was alone. A vicious cycle. Which again causes me to question my worth as a daughter. Would her mood have improved if I had forced myself to spend more time with her? I'll never know.
Yes, we have the power to shape our destinies.... to a point.
I'm married to a man who prefers his old antique car to me a lot of the time. He thinks that spending time at home is a waste of time, I guess. I don't know. He doesn't realize that his presence is the important thing - not that we have to be engaged in conversation or activity together every minute he's home. What is that saying about two people who are just able to be in each other's presence without the need for words?
I am miles ahead of where I was 10 years ago, in that at least I do have one important friend. She is 20 years older than me. We're an interesting and unexpected pair. Sometimes I get the feeling that people don't know what to make of us. We don't talk about the age difference very often anymore. I think that when people connect on a mental, emotional and spiritual level, chronological age is rendered irrelevant. I love this woman. She has made me a better person in more ways than I can count. We are good for each other in all sorts of ways. But I can't deny that I find myself thinking about what I will do without her someday. The thought of this makes me want to cry and- in fact, I have done just that. I don't like reminders of her age, but they are there and for me to ignore them or disrespect them is unkind and unfair. If I'm to be any kind of friend, I must respect them and be considerate of them and of her. I've gone through periods of flat-out denial, and other times I've attempted to bridge the gap by pointing out the signs of my own advancing age. I guess my behavior has been sort of stupid at times. And really, who knows what the future holds? I really am getting to the age where people my age are passing away from untimely deaths-all the time, it seems like. What if I'm next?
Right now I am 51 years old and already feeling alone. Which makes my problem worse than my mother's problem at this age. I'm on the fast track, comparatively speaking. What to do? As I've said before, one doesn't just impose oneself on other people and expect positive results. I can't force people to invite me to things. I can't force my husband to stay home. He'd probably be miserable - at which point I'd end up telling him to go away. This aloneness makes me irrational. Another vicious cycle. Who wants to hang around with an irrational, clingy and needy person?
Maybe it would be best to accept my fate. I may become the crazy cat lady who carries on conversations with herself. And the cats. At least they won't argue with me.....much.