Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Wishes


Hello, dear friends,

For almost a month now, I have been living at my new place. I like it here: it's clean, simple, and quiet. I have access to all the necessities - such as hot shower, kitchen, and laundry facilities - and there is also internet access, but without a computer, it is not much use to me. I look at it as a hidden blessing: no internet - no distractions... It only took me a week and a half to finish a stitching commission once those distractions were eliminated - and that 's saying something in favor of just working and concentrating on the task at hand.

Work is steady, busy - but not overwhelming, and I am grateful for that. I like working, the feeling of being useful, productive, necessary to the process. I like my time off too, though, it gives me a chance to be productive on my own terms, in my own life: moving along with stitching projects, goals, things to be done...

Some time ago, an acquaintance asked me, "So how does it feel to start over at the age of 38?" I thought, "Start over? I am not starting over, I am moving on." Indeed, starting over would have to mean time rolling back, children back in diapers - in need of a sitter on a daily basis, - and me - yes, younger, but also without all the acquired experience of the past 14 years. It is because of life experience that I do not consider these years wasted, and I would not give it up for the place in a younger age bracket.

Today is my day off from work, and I decided to go to the library and write. Except - I forgot to bring my "Stick" drive, so there is no way to save what I would have written - on anything...  Darn you, memory. That's what I get for wanting to try out a new accessory: something crucial is always left behind, in the "old reliable" handbag.

On Friday, my daughter and I went to see "Collateral Beauty." Vera wanted to see it because "Will Smith is awesome" and because of the story. Originally, I voted for "Beasts and Where to Find Them" - to get my "Harry Potter junkie" fix - but "Beauty" in the end was a better choice. In life, when we face the Three Abstractions, we are often too absorbed in the problem to notice when these very Abstractions materialize in front of us and lend a helping hand. When we do notice - and take their advice - life improves... hopefully. In any case, we learn, and, as de Laclos wrote, "education is never a loss."

Christmas is almost here. This year, I am getting my loved ones what they need - and reward myself with the gift of their company. I am looking forward to making the memories, for experiences and memories are the only real things that we possess. In the end, these are the things that make our life richer - and we can take them with us wherever we go. So, this Christmas - and New Year's - I will meet with the people I love. May we come together in the New Year - and may our bond grow stronger with Love and Time, and never be broken - not even in Death.

Until next time,


Monday, October 24, 2016

A Step in the Right Direction


Hello, dear friends,

After all the talking, thinking, crying, doubting, and procrastinating I filed for divorce. I almost automatically want to type in the word "finally" in that sentence, but no, not finally. A step like that requires more than a few weeks consideration, especially when it has been a long relationship (in our case - 13 years).  I took my time (almost eight months), but when I was ready, I did it.

Why did I do it? Was it necessary? Could this break have been avoided, repaired, resolved? These are the questions I kept asking myself during these past eight months, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that - yes, it was necessary and no, it could not ever be repaired. Too many things happened. Too much trust has been lost.

How did it happen? Two people don't fall in love and get together with a thought, " I think I will make this person's life miserable for the rest of our lives." We have good intentions, good wishes, "nothing but the best" in mind for our partners - and ourselves. Yet, it did not work out that way.

 My husband and I have gone through a lot - enough to have split up any other couple a lot sooner, I believe. Seven years ago, I was attacked by his then adolescent son and had to have surgery on my hands. After physical therapy, psychotherapy, relaxation, meditation and god knows what else - I still have PTSD, - it stays with you, apparently, and gets triggered by stressful situations. Sort of an emotional luggage that you lug around with you forever.

Last year, I was overweight, stressed, anxious, and jobless. It seemed that, no matter what I tried, I could not get a job. Not even part-time. I had no income of my own. I was completely dependent on my husband - financially (he had a job), physically (he had the car and drove it, and I don't), and, it seemed, emotionally. When he was upset, my girls and I were afraid to talk or laugh; when a problem needed to be discussed or resolved, I could not address it without my fearing his reaction: a nervous breakdown, a crying fit, a fainting spell. Family and friends suggested I was patient and understanding, for he had a lot on his plate, he had to deal with so much... I tried to be patient. I excused and explained away many a tantrum: health issues, depression, hard day, stress at work, stress at home... the list went on and on and on. Then, one day my daughter told me, "Mom, when I find the right person to be with, I'm never getting married." -"Why?" I was surprised. The answer that followed, however, positively stunned me. "Well, look at the way you are being treated. I'm never putting up with that!"

I looked at myself... Thirteen years. I was fat. I couldn't get a job. I got stressed out with too many people around. Or no people around. I couldn't breathe in confined spaces - and couldn't walk without falling in open spaces. Every time I tried to raise objections about anything, they got filed away and dismissed without even being heard, - or was it just my perception? I could not stop apologizing for things, - yet, I was not even sure what it was I was apologizing for... To complete the picture, I could not have a decent conversation with my daughters about anything - there seemed to be a barrier between us...   I was pathetic.

All these things were true - but they weren't necessarily my husband's fault. I did it to myself, and I had to find a way to get better, to find purpose, to... oh god I did not even know what. All I knew was that- I was unhappy and feeling worthless. I fully accepted that it was my own personal problem, and no one else's, but I did not know what to do. I could not find the source of this misery, this draining feeling that sucked all the life and purpose out of me.

Now, eight - almost nine - months after the separation - I am.. I am. I am! (Drum roll). I don't fully know what "I am" means yet, but I am coming back - slowly, but surely. First, I started to taste food. About a month on my own, I sat down to breakfast  (fried eggs, bacon and tea with toast) - and realized it was delicious. That was the first sign that I was going in the right direction. Then - I got a job... lost a job (to a panic attack and over work)... found another job and kept it. In addition, I lost almost forty pounds since last year.

It does not mean, of course, that life has not been difficult. I don't have the financial security I used to have; I have to work - not just when I "feel like it," but when I am scheduled, and sometimes even when I am not; I have to be very careful with money I earn, and still I may end up without a roof over my head within the next month or two. Am I scared? Of course. I am scared, worried, stressed.. but this time, I can do something about it. I am not helpless. Things may get worse before they get better, but they will, eventually, get better - just as long as I don't give up and do the right thing, for myself and for my daughters.

Friends that see me tell me that I look better than ever... Acquaintances I meet mention how I have "changed" and became more "lively." My daughters and I can talk - and finish a conversation, and (alas!) agree on most things without anyone throwing a tantrum.. At the same time, I have had to say "no" more times than I said "yes" to them. Yet, they listen - and understand. I have a feeling that they are learning something from me right now... Perseverance, perhaps. Ability to stay strong in the face of hard times. I can feel that they truly respect me, and that I am earning it with my actions - every day.

I want to finish this rambling post with the words of my favorite movie character Baron Munchausen: "Long live Divorce, for it takes away lies I hate so much!" All right, perhaps its' a bit vague and nutty if you have not seen the whole movie, but those who have would understand me right now...

Thank you for reading this until the end.

Until next time,




Monday, September 26, 2016

Stitching and Reading News


Hello, dear friends,

Has it been that long since my last post? I swear it was June last week... and not it's already the end of September. Where did the time go? I guess it flew away...

Past few months, I have been working my job, stitching, and reading. (What else, right? )

In stitching news - there is finally a WIP picture I can share with you.



This is to be a stocking - with snowmen, as you can (hopefully) see. Such bright colors, and very interesting shapes and angles. I enjoy this process.

In the reading department - I have finished "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child". What an experience. The plot twists are unexpected, the form (a play) is refreshing, but most important part - this is a book about real issues: issues in parenting, growing up, relationships - and mistakes made while forging them. This is one of those books that make you think and reflect upon your own situation, letting you be your own judge. I enjoyed it - and look forward to re-reading it again soon.

Another book I attempted to read was "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac. I decided to listen to it, rather than read (it was late, and my eyes were tired after work) - and gave up listening after an hour. I just could not grasp what it was about. Names, places, people, diners, more people, names of roads, more diners, and tasty descriptions of apple pie and ice cream... It was like being on the road with the writer - or, rather, taking a road trip in the back seat of  the car with your parents when you are a kid: you look out the window at the endless poles, you count the poles and think - once I get to one hundred, we'll have to stop at the rest stop, maybe something interesting will happen then... One hundredth pole passes, and we are still driving. Then, you up it to two hundred, three, four - as many as needed - until, finally, your parents stop. You get out of the car, use the bathroom and look around for some kind of an adventure, some experience - and find... a truck stop with the apple pie and ice cream. There is your adventure. Then, you get back in the car - and get going - again: one, two three, four... one hundred... two hundred... infinity... 

Until next time, 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Parenting Questions, Trust and Honesty (Attempt at Self-Therapy).

Hello, dear friends,
Today I have a day off, - a day to relax, think and feel whatever I want, do (almost) what I want, without being rushed.
During the past week, I finished a stitching project and started a new one. (Sorry, no pictures at this time). Went on the "work-home- stuff to do-things to clean- things to stitch" merry-go-around. Today is the day I can get off and reclaim some of myself.

I am sitting here, thinking that I need a strong cup of tea - possibly with milk - and wondering: am I a good parent? My partner of 13 years "dropped" this on me (about our separation), and it stuck: "As for the kids being happy, yeah, they're happy, no more of having rules, mom turned into their best friend, I am sure it will all turn out fine, unless one day you actually make them be responsible for something."

While my first reaction was to consider the source - look who's talking, some example of stellar parenting, look at your own sons etc., etc.... But - it did bring up one question: am I a good parent - or not? How do I know?

In the past four months, I had to say "no" more times than I said "yes" to my daughters, and often they got upset. They are teenagers, and teenagers don't like to hear the word "no." Well, nobody does, really. But adults - hopefully - have the strength and the skills to control their emotions, while teenagers often show you all they've got - all the upset, anger, disappointment - and all the other negative feelings they have had stored, and you get to be the unfortunate recipient of all that garbage - because you said no. Surprisingly, I have had strength enough (sometimes barely) to deal with those tantrums. I was strong and unwavering: "No, you cannot get a new dress. No, there will be no going to any sleepover until after the chores are done, the laundry is put away, the homework is finished..."

Yet, at times I said "yes." Yes, you can walk home with a friend. Yes, you can stay after school for practice. Yes, we can go out to Subway - at the end of the week... And occasionally, I even changed my "no" to a "yes" - because the chores actually got done...

But parenting is not just the list of "yes" and "no" answers, is it? Things could look wonderful and perfect (or near perfect) on the outside, and yet there still would be problems...  Just look at Mia from "Californication" : a perfectly well-behaved 16 year old girl, a respectful daughter- who also happens to be... a slut and a manipulator. Yet, her father is blissfully unaware.

I know that my daughters are far from perfect. I am aware that one of them is arrogant, the other could be lazy. But it is up to me to stay alert and to notice when these "bad" qualities rare their heads - and point it out to each one of them as effectively as possible. Does it work? I can only hope. Just like I can only hope that I am doing a decent job at this whole "parenting" thing. In the end, time will tell. Some five, six, or ten years from now, when I look at my daughters, I will get my answer - probably in a single moment. Until then, I will have to wait for that moment as patiently as I can, and do the best job as I can.

One thing I have (I believe) on my side is honesty: I have never knowingly lied to my children. And in return, they don't lie to me. OK, they lie - about things like feeling sick so they can skip school, - but not about the big, important things. (Right now I am thinking - boy I wish that what I am writing is actually true, and not my own delusion). Well, at the very least - I know they trust me with real problems. There have been times when one or the other - or both of them - came to me for advice when they did not know what to do, how to handle things, or "just to talk" (which usually means the problem is bigger than just "what to do" and may require a few cups of tea with cookies - just to start discussing). I think - I believe - this trust between us is the direct result of mutual honesty.

This, of course, does not mean that I am certain of anything, or know what I am doing, or "permanently comfortable" with my decisions or actions. Every decision involves questions, doubts, and often - after making it - the "after"-doubts: did I make this one right? Could I do it better? I try my best to be honest with myself, so that when I do make a mistake, next time - hopefully - I can avoid it.

This brings me to the (hopefully) last topic of this post - trust. Trust is built on honesty like a house built on a foundation. If there is no honesty - there will be no trust. There may be an illusion of it, but the truth eventually comes out, lies get exposed - and the whole house crumbles and falls apart - and then you discover that there is no foundation, - there is no honesty. So, when my partner says, "I know I lied in the past, but trust me, I will not do it again!" - I can't. In fact, I can't even process it. How can you demand that I just build this "house" of trust with no foundation? It's just not possible.

Honesty - with others and with oneself - is the most important quality of them all. Being honest with myself - for me- means knowing what the truth is - and being able to face it, admit it, say it to myself. If I am not honest with myself, how do I even know what is the truth - and what is not? So, when someone says to me, "I lied to myself for the past (x-number of) years, but I want you to trust me, because I am getting better" - I think, "I am glad that you are starting to work on that, but if you have been lying to yourself for so long, how do you even know when you are telling the truth?" In this state of mind (I suspect), one is capable of believing anything: if one believes it, it must be the truth. And if one chooses not to believe it - then poof! - it never even existed. Magic...

Trust is the direct result of honesty. There are people out there that I do not particularly like, but I would trust them with my life - because they have always been honest with me. Then again, there are people I may like very much, but as much as I like them, I know not to trust them - because they lied.

Now that I have typed my brains out, it's time for a cup of tea...

Until next time,


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Crocodile Tears

Wailing away the minutes, the days, the hours,
Crying in rhythm - to your own beat -
Of "no regret";
Asking for help of people and of the Powers -
Stocking your prey,
Checking your traps,
Weaving your net.

Nature is honest. People are blind and stupid.
After the kill, the crocodile has to cry.
Animals know - the beast
Is overcome by neither sadness, nor pain, nor cupid, -
He's digesting his meal.
He does not need help.
Don't even try.

This has just "ran out" of me after about 30 minutes of thinking. It is not finished - I know it could use more work - but I like it, so I decided to show it. I have not been writing much - except for in my diary. This is the second thing I have written since the attack six years ago.

Until next time,
 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Difficult Decision

Hello, dear friends,

I have been working as a cashier at the local 99c Store for three full weeks now... Today,. a call came in from the agency: they have a job opening that I might fit... Full time, pays a lot more than I am making now - and even more than I was paid at my previous job... On the down side - temporary, only for 30 days (or until the project gets done).

I was listening to the agent, thinking of the reasons why this job would be a blessing, why I should at least put my name in - and... I ended up saying no. The voice in my head instantly called me a stupid idiot: "Just take the money, silly creature." But - if I got hired there, the first thing would be telling all these nice people that I have to quit. I would not have this job any more -and (surprisingly) I do like it... Then - for a month (or longer) I would have to stop going to therapy... Finally, for the time of employment with the company I would lose all free time during the week - and possibly some weekends. If they are satisfied with my performance (which is not a guarantee), I will be employed for 30 days - at the end of which, I will be unemployed again. However, because my income would have jumped up, I would lose all the current benefits... just to end up with nothing again in the end (well, not with nothing - with some experience and, hopefully, some savings)...

In the end, I decided that money, however important it is, isn't everything. My current job pays minimum wage, true, but it also has minimum stress, flexible schedule, and pleasant co-workers. It's not much, but it's stable. Stability is what I require now more than anything.

At the end of the conversation, I had a distinct feeling that the agent was surprised at my saying no. But - I need something permanent... in fact, I have already  got it, so quitting it for something short-term is not really a smart choice... right?

Until next time,

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Transformation....

Hello, dear friends,

I am back, even if just for a short time. Life has been very eventful. Even if nothing is going on on the surface, something is always going on - in the background, behind the scenes, or inside me. I guess, that is what happens when you change your life - you start changing, too.

I have been going through some changes. First, the visible ones, I saw in me right away - after all, losing 20 lbs is not easy to ignore. That was exciting - being able to fit into my old clothes, being able to fit into new - smaller -clothes, and not having every dress I put on like a night shirt.

Then, I noticed some changes in my tastes. One day, I realized I did not like coffee. That took me by complete surprise, especially because I love the smell of it - and I like making it, but drinking it suddenly became an unpleasant... task. I still have a cup of coffee here and there, with a neighbor or in company, but  at home I prefer tea (Chai Tea, to be exact - haha..)...

But the most important changes have been going on - of course - on the inside. It seems that my character is changing, and with that - who knows what will come... It is still a work in progress, so I don't even know where my development will lead me, but so far I have noticed that...

1. I have been extremely sensitive to bullshit. 
When I hear someone tell me "I care about you" or "I am there for you," I don't take it with gratitude or thanks, like I used to in the past. I just say, "OK." If that person - or persons - means what she - or he - says, then eventually I will see proof of that in their actions. If not - then they are just words. I don't really have much of a response to them.

2. I don't like people telling me what I should or could do.
 As well-meaning as some people could be, they are not walking in my shoes and cannot know exactly what I am dealing with and going through. So, their friendly suggestions, while smiled at, since unsolicited, are being quietly put in the "discard" pile. There are some exceptions - when I ask for advice and get it, or talk to someone I know has been through something similar, or when I talk to someone I respect. But, these people  are usually not showering me with suggestions. When I see - or hear from - them, each one usually starts with, "How are you doing?" Not with " I have come up with another list of things you should do/change/adjust."
And when someone comments on my qualities - such as my sense of humor, my "serious" approach to life, or anything else they find disagreeable - these people can just... piss off. These are my qualities, my approach, and, ultimately, my character. I don't want to - or have to - change for anyone. And for those who think/say that I should "work on" my sense of humor, I have a direct suggestion - maybe they could mind their own business... or try telling some jokes that are actually funny. Whatever works best.

3. I started liking my alone time. 
I never "disliked" being alone, but in the past something made me feel a bit uncomfortable about it - as if I was missing something, did not connect, or was somehow "not right." I felt "disabled" in some way: everyone can connect, make friends, have a good time - except me. Recently (well not so recently...) Gradually, I came to love being by myself, and with that came the realization that most people are not really having a great time - they are pretending for the sake of company. Someone once told me that most people are afraid of being alone and would do almost anything to not be there; I am not one of those people. I know now that was meant as a compliment. Thank you.

Until next time,