The Power of our Voices

I haven’t blogged in about a year. It’s been one of crippling disbelief and disgust for me and for so many people I know. The election of Donald Trump (I hate to even type his name), his cabinet appointments and with the exception of very few, the GOP takeover has stunted my creativity in such a way that it’s been hard to even get started. There are so many issues, just so many.  What has happened to our country is completely overwhelming at times. To pick one issue and offer my humble opinion has been impossible until recently. I’m not a professional blogger and although I have very strong opinions,  I shy away from being a political blogger for many reasons but this one issue, although prevalent across the board, has melded into the political sphere and has been normalized to some degree because the man who holds the highest office in the country has been allowed to get away with it thus far. What I’m most proud of though, is the movement of women who have decided that enough is enough. We are speaking out in numbers the likes of which have never been seen and I want to make my voice a part of that movement.

I do not know one woman who hasn’t been sexually harassed at the very least and some who have been intimidated and assaulted, including myself.  I know women who were children when it happened and women who were assaulted by their own husbands. It seems very few are spared this egregious act and while I won’t pretend I can psychoanalyze the men and women who perpetuate it, it’s widely known that it’s a power and control issue. It’s also widely known that few have the courage and conviction to speak up when it happens to them and I can’t say I blame them. More often than not the victims are vilified, laughed at, rarely believed. Who in their right mind would put themselves out there for that kind of persecution?

In my case, it was a stranger. I was 23 years old, had just moved to the big city and was getting in my car to head to my first day of work. I never saw him until he stopped my car door from closing with one hand as I reached to close it. He was jerking off with the other hand and my first thought was to get that door closed somehow. Oh my God, is he going to rape me? Close the door, close the door! As I was pulling on the door handle with everything I had, he tried to reach into the car with the hand that was holding the door and because of the force I was using to get it closed it managed to slam shut. I immediately hit the lock, threw the car in reverse and backed up at a very high rate of speed until I reached the front doors of the apartment complex. I ran inside fairly hysterical, shaken to the core. The manager of the complex called a police officer that happened to be living there and I reported it. The ironic thing is that years and years later, the very police officer I reported it to was fired and charged with sexually assaulting the men that he was stopping for traffic violations, but I digress.  This incident, although I didn’t know it at the time, affected me for years. No one just moves on from something like that and I can’t even wrap my head around how anyone heals from being raped or touched or handled in anyway. He didn’t even touch me and my psyche was affected for years. Anxiety, lack of self confidence, self-blame, bad relationships, any number of things. I’m glad I reported it even if they never found the guy. It didn’t occur to me to talk to a therapist at the time though, I wish I had.

What stuns me the most about our current culture is that no matter how far we’ve come as women, and we’ve come damn far, we still have so much further to go. That this is still happening so rampantly in every corner of the world is indicative of how much “less than” we’ve been made to feel.  Who decided that? Who decided that we are beneath anyone else? This particular issue goes back to the beginning of time so the question is rhetorical of course but it angers me that anyone is made to feel less than by another human being. And what in their lives caused them to feel like it’s okay to do it? How incredibly sad that it generally spans generations of their own abuse. It’s completely normal to most abusers to do what they are doing because it’s what they were taught. It does not make it right but they simply don’t know any better. Their lack of self worth runs so deep that they have to make everyone around them feel even less than they do themselves. They have to have control and yet, they are so out of control on so many levels it boggles the mind.

If there is one good thing to come out of the travesty of the 2016 Presidential election it’s that we have found our voices. Women, minorities, everyone who has been pushed down in our society are speaking up for the good of humanity. For a year now I’ve been trying to find something good about it, anything good, and for me, this is it. We will no longer sit back and be made to feel “less than” as women, as human beings. We will speak up and disallow sexual harassment, intimidation and abuse. We will report every single instance and we will help our sisters and brothers who have been abused. We will listen without judgement, support and stand by them for the long haul. We will believe them until and unless proven otherwise. We will educate our children on the subject and we will educate our brothers, husbands, friends and family who don’t know any better that it is not okay, ever. Not ever.  We will look for the political candidates, regardless of party, that uphold and respect not just women but humanity as a whole and if we choose wrongly, we will vote them out.  We will make sure that they are held to the highest standard because when we do that, we are also holding ourselves to that same standard.  When change comes, and it always does, it can propel you forward or sink you. For the women I know, the 2016 Presidential election changed us forever.  It moved us forward in a way that can only be described as monumental. We will never again be “less than”. We will never again be complicit. We will never again be silent.

 

 

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People or Politics

Well I couldn’t let this election cycle go by without just a few words.  Anyone who knows me knows how hard it is for me to keep my mouth shut about things that I’m passionate about and politics is one of them, but this one has worn me out.  I think it’s worn most of the country out and we can’t wait until the whole thing is over on Tuesday. At this point most have either already voted or know who they are voting for. I’ve been very vocal at times and I’m definitely passionate about the candidates that I feel align the most closely with my views but I’m not writing to influence anyone one way or the other today, I’m writing because this particular election has in my humble opinion, re-defined so many things all the way from the top and all of the extremism down to very basic fundamental things like family and friendships.

People keep saying we’ve never been so divided but I wonder if we haven’t always been this divided. What this election has done is make it more visible.  It used to be rude to ask anyone who they were voting for. Your voting preferences were personal and kept to yourself and if someone asked you it was considered off hand, not polite and while I wouldn’t want to go back to those days quite honestly, I do think that any respect for the opposite opinion has gone by the wayside.  We don’t have to agree on a subject for both sides to be able to discuss and offer our opinions without turning it into an all out brawl but I think what is missing is simply the ability to listen.  Really listen to what the other person is saying.  Listen to hear and not just to respond. I am just as guilty as anyone else of interrupting or over talking someone but for the last year I’ve been really making an honest effort to listen, even if I don’t agree.  It’s not easy for me because I’m very opinionated, but I  have been giving it my all in this respect in the hope that whoever I am talking to will give me the same consideration and that even though we may not agree, we can try to understand each other.  Now the truth is, there are some things I just can’t understand regarding this election but it’s not my place to make someone else feel “less” just because they don’t see things the way I do.

I’ve had conversations where we agree to disagree and I’ve had conversations where afterward, we don’t speak for weeks. Feelings are hurt no matter how you try to explain your side of things and it’s sad to me. I have family with whom I can’t be friends on Facebook because we are on opposite ends of the spectrum politically and it’s just better that way. I love them and I refuse to let politics divide us. People have literally re-defined friendships and family connections, put them in categories, sliced and diced them, judged and convicted people they love because they don’t agree politically and simply don’t take the time to listen. Whatever happened to listening, accepting, forgiving?  Whatever happened to supporting the person you love even if you don’t support their beliefs or convictions?

I think that a lot of this happens because of social media of course. Nothing is private anymore, absolutely nothing.  Again, I am as guilty as anyone else of posting what I’m cooking for dinner, but I do wonder if people aren’t just looking to be validated.  They aren’t being heard in some area of their life so they take to social media to express themselves in the hope that someone is listening. Where politics are concerned, even if they get an argument out of it, at least they know someone in the world heard them. I love social media. I love that we are more informed than we’ve ever been. What I hate about social media is that we are also more vulnerable to bad information and most people won’t take the time to research anything, even with the capability being at the touch of a hand.  They take it all at face value and accept it as truth. This is true for the media in general as well. They can report anything they want to for the most part and we suck it up like sponges and in some cases spew it right back out as truth when in fact, there are several sides to every story or even no truth at all in what they read or heard.

This election cycle has brought out the best in people but it’s also brought out the worst of the worst. I’m looking forward to the election itself being over on Tuesday but as a friend of mine and I were saying yesterday, we fear the backlash regardless of what happens. Some people feed on hatred and anger and I refuse to be one of them but the monster has risen once again in our history and it feels like it’s only just begun. It will permeate our society until we take action to stop it both on a personal level and a social one.  When it’s all said and done it’s not the politicians that will change the country or the world, it’s us. Each and every one of us. Your vote makes a difference but if you really want to see change, get involved. Actively work toward the change you want to see because it’s the only way to get results. Looking back in history it wasn’t the politicians who made the changes. It was only when the people worked together to affect the change they wanted that anything was realized.

Think about the relationships you’ve cultivated over the years and whether or not they are worth tossing because of the divide in politics right now.  These times will pass and at the end of the day it’s going to be the people that mean the most to you that will be there and if the relationship, whether it be friend or family, means more to you than who they voted for this coming Tuesday do yourself a favor and let the politics go.

Love and light,

Joanna

The Evil Within

There is a lot of life and not a lot of laughter lately.  It feels like our country has gone crazy. The Police are under attack in Baton Rouge, 3 dead so far. It makes me sick and it should make everyone sick. What is wrong with people who think this kind of killing, or any kind of killing is okay? Why has it become the norm and not the anomaly? The racism and bigotry and hatred is out of control on all points and I’m tired of it. Truly weary, as I’m sure most people are.  What I’ve seen in the last year or so is people who, under the guise of “exercising their first amendment right” of free speech spewing nothing but hatred and divisiveness all over the media. What this does is make the people who are listening think it’s okay to hate right back and the truth is, you can hate all you want but there are laws against racism in this country. There are laws against targeting certain groups of people with your hatred. Bigotry and misogyny and racism are things that have existed for a very long time, but through the hard work and suffering of many, laws were created to alleviate these issues.  Sadly, we now have political campaigns in an election year actually inciting people to do the unthinkable.  It’s not the only catalyst, but when you have a voice in the media and the entire country listening, wouldn’t it make sense to choose your words wisely?  Wouldn’t it be in your best interest and the best interests of the people you will serve to tread with caution? The responsibility you carry simply because you have the ear of the entire nation is enormous and it is critical that it be handled with care and tact and with the knowledge that it will have an impact, for better or worse.

The hatred of a few has empowered the hatred of many and the unjustified killings of anyone, including police officers is totally unacceptable.  I believe that police brutality exists and I believe that we need to address it, but I also believe that the vast majority of police officers are doing exactly what they are sworn to do, and that is to serve and protect. Killing them, killing anyone, is not the answer. It is not the answer. We are at a defining moment in our history and this is not who we are.  We can and we must, do better.

Love and light.

One person at a time

It’s funny, when I’m talking to friends I have a story for everything. There is a back story to almost every statement for all of us and for me, they come to mind very easily when I’m talking. If you know me you know that talking is something I do very well, to the point where it’s hard to shut me up sometimes. So it baffles me that I sit down at my computer to write and the back story disappears. Gone…off into the wild blue yonder. My thought is that when I write, I need to be inspired and there are a lot of things that inspire me but lately, put the pressure on to get it down and I’m blank.  I never draw a blank about anything. I have a thought or an opinion about every single thing I can think of…so what the hell?

So, a little about me today, like it or not. I’m 53 years old and I’ve been begrudgingly living in Houston, TX for the last 18 months.  I say that because I left my house, my 2 grown kids, my Mom and my pets back in New Mexico to take a job here. I didn’t feel at the time, like I had much of a choice. They sold the plant I was working in and there weren’t any real options so when this came up I took it.  It’s a good company to work for and I have a fantastic boss but the truth is, I want to go home.  The problem is there aren’t many good paying jobs there and I’m getting older.  Yes, my age plays into it. It’s not like there are a lot of businesses out there clamoring for older employees. The fact is, I do want to actually retire at some point, although I think I will have to work until I drop dead anyway. But the dream of retirement is still there regardless so here I am. I don’t hate Houston actually, but I’m not fond of hot weather and for six months out of the year it’s just too damn hot for me down here. The other 6 months are bearable, but just barely.  Although I used to be, I’m not terribly social anymore so getting out into the crowds doesn’t thrill me. I’m content to be by myself, enjoying the quiet, posting on social media or reading. During football season I’m an avid Seahawks fan, I have a soft spot for the Cowboys and I’m a die hard liberal. I stay involved in politics because it’s interesting to me and because I worry about future generations.

Now before you go off on the football or the political affiliation thing…remember this: It’s my blog, so there.  I know there are a lot of people out there who love their team or who wouldn’t agree with me politically and I accept that.  So in return, you either accept me despite my NFL and political affiliations, or not.  It’s okay if you don’t, it doesn’t really matter to me either way.  If we are friends, we love each other anyway and if we aren’t friends it’s just not that relevant.

I’m also an avid animal advocate. I have a deep sense of obligation toward all animals but especially toward dogs and cats and the whole shelter problem in the US. There are too many animals for the shelters and not enough people adopting. I cannot stand the fact that so many animals are euthanized in the US every year for no other reason that no one wants them, just can’t bear it. I feel the same way about children and old people, it makes me sick that we’ve become a society of “disposables.”  Everything is disposable. Cast away like a used paper plate as if they don’t matter anymore.  I struggle badly with that. I don’t understand how anyone can do that to an animal, a child or an older person, I really don’t.

I am like a lot of folks in that I wish I would have made better decisions early on in life. I wish I would have known what I wanted when I was 18 but I didn’t. I tried college, eh… I tried working, eh…I even tried getting married…which didn’t work out either.  I’ve always worked regardless, but there was a point in time when I really just wanted to stay home and raise my babies for a while. My husband at the time said he was okay with that but he really wasn’t. It became a bone of contention in the relationship, along with a lot of other bones. (Another blog entirely)  I tell people all the time that I think everyone should get married at least once, but I honestly don’t see myself ever getting married again. Happily divorced is how I describe it because it’s how I feel. Married 11 years, divorced now going on 14 and I’ve loved every minute. Even the hard times…and there have been a few…were better when it was just me and the kids. I wish I could say he was a great father but he wasn’t, and I’m very glad to say my kids are okay regardless…I think.  They’ve grown up to be independent, happy, decent human beings and that’s all I could ask for. I’m grateful for my Mom and Dad because they were there for the three of us every step of the way.

I have to say, now that the kids are mostly grown things are easier in some ways. Of course the aging thing sucks, but it can’t be avoided.  Not sure how many women out there can relate but the whole menopause thing really blows.  I never realized how much our hormones play into our brain function until I lost them. Holy cow…what a ride. It’s amazing to me the people who tell me they’ve not had any problems with it. I almost hate them…almost.  I’m okay now but the last 3 years have been a roller coaster ride of night sweats, hot flashes, panic attacks, you name it.  I’ve finally gotten what’s left of my hormones under some semblance of control…but it really pisses me off that men don’t go through the same thing.  They should have to go through exactly what we do in my opinion. They call us crazy but we are really just a product of our hormones.  No control whatsoever sometimes.  Couldn’t come up with a rational statement if our lives depended on it and yet…so much in control in so many ways.  What an enigma we women are. Pretty damn awesome if you ask me.

I find myself homesick lately. Homesick for my family in Gallup, homesick for my friends in Pittsburgh. I have family here that I love dearly but I miss my people in New Mexico and my SNPJ family.   I love Facebook because it keeps me in touch but it also makes me miss some of the people I don’t get to see very often. SNPJ you ask…it’s a Slovenian fraternal organization that my grandmother was a charter member of and it’s carried through the generations. I love my SNPJ family…what awesome people they are. My Mom is first generation American, both parents immigrated from Slovenia. (former Yugoslavia)  It’s an awesome way to stay in touch with my heritage and I’ve met some of the most lovely people and made some of my best friends through this club.

Life isn’t easy and comparatively, my life hasn’t been so hard. I’m not complaining, but wow…it’s funny how when I look back I would have made such different decisions and yet, if I hadn’t made the choices you did, I wouldn’t be where I am now in terms of so many things. Would I have chosen Houston, probably not, but I’m here for a reason and I have to trust that. There just wasn’t much job wise to choose from back home at the time and we do what we have to do. Would I have chosen to get married if I had known then what I know now?  Yes, a thousand times yes because I wouldn’t have the kids I do if I hadn’t gotten married so some choices were exactly to get where I am, can’t argue that even if I didn’t know it at the time.

So onto the future…and the good things to come. I believe in science and I also believe that if you believe in science then you believe in energy and the entire universe is nothing but energy. Raise your own vibration of energy and you raise the collective vibration. It’s all relative…it’s science and in my humble opinion, it’s also very much what a spiritual existence consists of. It’s the energy you put out that comes back. Yin and yang, give and take…no matter what you believe in, these things are fundamental. I believe in prayer because I think it’s positive energy. I think it would be arrogant to think that there isn’t an energy or two that isn’t higher than ours, whether you call it God or the Universe or whatever your chosen title is.  Do I believe in miracles?  Yes I do…I believe that sometimes things happen that we can’t explain and I would call those things miracles.  I think a miracle is a perception of energy that is much larger than our normal perception and we recognize that so we call it a miracle. I also think that if you re-program your perception, you will see miracles every day.

What does the future hold?  I can see it in my mind’s eye, I am moving forward one step at a time and the truth is, anything can happen so why not this?  Why not me? Why not?

One person at a time.

Love and light…

 

 

 

 

Money and God

 

I was involved in a discussion on Facebook the other day that started because of my opinion about Joel Osteen and his gaudy church here in Houston.  Yes, it’s gaudy… very much evident of the wealth he and his church have amassed.  It was a good discussion with someone I consider a friend and we were both very respectful of each other’s views which I think is the sign of not only maturity but of acceptance as well. We are never going to all agree on the same thing no matter what the subject, but especially in the areas of politics and religion. I will admit that there have been times I haven’t been the least bit respectful unfortunately, but I’m learning, as is everyone else I would hope. I’m not writing this to start an argument with anyone, it’s simply how I feel about a particular tv evangelist who has millions of followers and who has made a tremendous amount of money because of it. That in and of itself is not a bad thing I suppose, but when I watch him, I find myself wondering what he’s hiding. It seems to me that there is a man behind the mask, something else behind the perfectly manicured hair and perfect white teeth.  Not to say it’s an evil man or anything like that, but he doesn’t feel real to me. I think it’s awesome that his words inspire so many…I just find it kind of sad that they’ve been inspired enough to fund his books, which in turn fund his very, very lavish lifestyle. I don’t think that because he professes to be a man of God that he should not have a life style that fits him. What I struggle with is his ability to manipulate millions of people into helping him achieve that when there are a good number of them who probably can’t afford it.  He’s not the only one, and he’s certainly entitled to his money, it just rubs me the wrong way how he achieves his success I suppose. Am I judging him, maybe, but I feel the same way about people who aren’t using faith as a springboard…but using something else to manipulate people. The Kardiashians come to mind.  Regardless, the paragraph below is what I said to my friend word for word, regarding his statement about letting my political leanings influence my opinion.  He’s a wonderful person, and I think his faith is part of what makes him that way and I so appreciate that.  I just kept coming back to this conversation in my head all day yesterday so this is my way of purging it.  I will ask that if you read this, be aware that I’m not judging anyone’s faith here, this was simply my opinion of a particular evangelist and it would not have mattered what his faith was.

“…this really has nothing to do with my political leanings although I would agree with the statement that Jesus would be a democrat, if only because he practiced what he preached by taking care of the unfortunate. I did some digging this morning and as it turns out, Mr. Osteen preens himself on the fact that he stopped taking a salary from his church in 2005 and that he doesn’t “ask” for money. He does however, live in a 10.5 million dollar mansion here in Houston paid for by the revenue he makes off of his best selling books which, by the way, wouldn’t have happened had he not had his “ministry” on tv. Good for him, but I think it’s a thinly veiled life he lives for a lot of reasons, some of which are: he denies preaching the prosperity gospel and purposely stays away from talking about money on his show and yet, that’s exactly what he’s doing. The charity report on give.org says that his church refuses to respond to their request. I wonder why they would refuse if they are truly doing the right thing. Also, and probably most importantly, he’s not really an ordained minister, (only by his father who preached before him) never attended seminary, and I could not find a single thing that mentioned his own personal sacrifice to help the needy. If they donate it’s strictly in the form of money, not their time or attention. (his and his wife’s) Interesting to me. He does however, talk about being blessed by God with wealth. I think he’s simply done a work around with the typical tv evangelist persona so that he doesn’t “look bad”. I don’t trust him, nor do I trust anyone who takes something as personal and fragile in many cases, as a persons faith and turn it into a money making machine, and don’t fool yourself, that’s exactly what he’s done. I will say that although the Catholic Church is also one of the wealthiest churches in the world, not without their scandals of course, I do have respect to some degree for the new Pope. He practices what he preaches if nothing else. He helps the poor in his private time and I admire that. All of this said, I don’t talk about my own faith very much. It’s extremely personal to me and not the business of anyone else. I don’t believe in witnessing, I don’t believe any one faith is the “only” faith and yet I do think that in the end we all really just want the same thing and that is to believe that there is life after death. How we get there is anybody’s guess really. That’s all it is, speculation. If you or anyone else feels better sitting in church on Sunday morning then I say that’s exactly where you should be. I support your faith whatever it is because its part of what makes you who you are. What I don’t like is being judged because I may not believe the same way. I think judgement of faith is egregious and damaging and obviously in this day and age, extreme. Thank you for the videos, I love my President and I believe that his faith is part of what makes him a great human being. I simply think that is true for all faiths in relation to the human condition”

To Hate or Not to Hate

It’s been a while. No real inspiration lately I suppose. I’ve been pretty disillusioned with the world in general lately and mostly with the political discourse here in the U.S.  It occurs to me that we are living in a time that will be documented in history as one of the more divisive periods no doubt.  There is a fair amount, and when I say fair amount I mean A LOT, of hatred bubbling to the surface and not just between political parties but between races, genders, classes…you name it. Everyone seems to hate someone or something or someone else’s beliefs or ideology or religion or lack thereof.  And if it’s not those things it’s something else.

Talking to a co-working a few weeks back and she said she felt like the election of a black President made all of this hatred worse but I disagree.  Electing a black President was never the problem.  Electing a black President didn’t make the problem worse, all it did was bring an already existing problem to the surface once again.

Anyone who knows me knows how I feel politically and I have plenty of friends on both sides. I’m very opinionated and I don’t mind voicing it.  I realized a long time ago that I won’t change anyone’s mind but it’s okay if I voice how I feel.  Some friends may disagree and we may not understand sometimes, but we certainly don’t hate each other. I guess it’s easier to hate people we don’t know because the truth is, we don’t care about them.  We only care about our own point of view or our own prejudice or our own feelings if we are hating. When we actually care about someone personally we put certain things aside in the name of that relationship.  What I don’t understand is why so many people don’t do that exact same thing with other races or religions or whatever it is they are hating today.

I know it’s ignorance, I know that as sure as I’m sitting here. It’s so much easier to hate when you are not educated enough to understand the differences. I’m not talking formal education here, I’m saying it’s not hard to Google something, research it, find out what it is your hatred is directed at and why. Look at your reasons, are they valid, do they hold water when put up against the truth?   It’s one thing to disagree with something, it’s another thing entirely to smear hatred all over because you think you know what you are fighting against but don’t have all the facts.  Once educated about it, regardless of what it is, you may still disagree but I would bet my last ten that you no longer hate.

If there’s one thing I learned in all my years of therapy after my divorce it’s that it all comes down to your own stuff.  Everything you are feeling, every circumstance you find yourself in, every up, down, sideways situation…all of it. You can blame, blame, blame until you’re blue in the face but the fact is we were born with free will. We make our own choices and we have to live with them. Not to say that some circumstances are within our power…floods, fire, random mass shootings…there are plenty of situations that people wouldn’t have put themselves in given the choice. But we do have the power to choose how we react, or don’t react to them.

My thought is this:  We as a whole should be reacting with more compassion, more acceptance, more tolerance, more understanding, more education, more empathy to the things that are happening in our world right now.  The dividing lines are so stark and blatant that it’s shocking on a daily basis.  We don’t have to agree to be able to see the destruction we are causing.

Simple I know and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. There are so many out there who can relate.  While I do believe that we are witnessing a defining time in our history, I also believe that we can be the difference for future generations by our behavior, by our actions and by our words. Choose carefully.

Stop the hatred.

Single, with you.

“I want to be single, with you.”  That’s what the post said. I was browsing Facebook yesterday and came across this post so I read it out of curiosity. What it described was a married relationship with a bit of “me” time thrown in.  No real “I want to be single…” at all in my opinion. This is the opinion of someone who was married for eleven years and didn’t even do that until my late 20’s. I’ve now been happily divorced for thirteen and wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve been told a thousand times if I’ve been told once, you just haven’t met the right person.  For the record, I’m not looking. Not looking for Mr. Right, Mr. Wrong, Mr. Upside down, Mr. Anything. In fact, if I remain single for the rest of my life I will be perfectly happy. Hard to believe? Not so much. Romantic relationships and I don’t particularly get along. I simply have a knack of attracting the narcissistic idiots of the world and being the flaming co-dependent that I am, I’ve often thought I could “fix” them. I don’t set out to do that but in the past I’ve found myself doing just that. It’s subconscious. A way of being that is so natural I don’t even know I’m doing it until I’m way too far in, and then I have to find a way out and as anyone knows, that’s never easy.

I know people who have good relationships, at least by their definition. I know people who have what they think are good relationships but the people around them know differently. I know people who are in crappy relationships and want out and I know people who are in crappy relationships and choose to stay. We all know people in these categories and I applaud the good relationships. I think it’s truly awesome when two people can come together and make it work because I’m not so sure that’s how it was intended.  Religion will tell you that we are meant to pair up for life, but I look to science and the truth is, men and women are just made differently. Granted, to reproduce you need one of each, or at least components of each. But on a very fundamental level men were created to spread the seed and women were created to raise kids and nurture. Now before you go off and think that I’m saying we can’t have it all, I’m talking about a very fundamental level here. In today’s world same sex couples can re-produce but there is a lot more involved. They still need the male/female components as it were.  I wonder though, if being together for life was really ever the intention.

I love being single, truly love it. When I’m asked for my marital status I generally say, “happily divorced” because I am. It took me almost fifty three years, one divorce, two kids, a trip to college in my forties and twelve years of therapy to love the person that I am, that I am becoming. I know more about myself having been single for a long time, than I ever did when I was looking for that one person to “complete” me. I learned that I am complete just the way I am, that solitude is a wonderful thing, that I don’t have to please everyone and most of all, I learned that I matter.  What I want out of life matters, what I need on a daily basis matters, what I want out of my work and career, my relationships to friends and family…all of that matters.  I’m not constantly trying to help someone else matter anymore. It’s not necessary and in my opinion should have never been. This is not because they asked me to, but because somewhere in my warped little brain, I thought that was my role. I thought that it was what we do in relationships, validate the other person in some way, shape or form. As cliche as it sounds when I finally learned to validate myself instead of someone else my entire world opened up. It was very liberating. It also helps that I don’t have to clean up after someone else anymore either.

I’m not totally against relationships. I think if you have one that works, more power to you.  What I’m against is really more for me. What I don’t want to do is become someone I don’t recognize to have a relationship. Both of my kids told me at one point when they were in high school that they hated when their friends got girlfriends because they inevitably “became” the girl, they turned into the person they were dating. That is what I don’t want to do. I have trust issues, but it’s mostly that I don’t trust myself. History shows that we always repeat the pattern and that is true emotionally as well. When we know better we’re supposed to do better and now that I know better it could be different but my experience tells me otherwise.

Everyone I know says you have to work hard, and there is a certain amount of work involved in any relationship, whether it be family or friends. It just seems to me that intimate relationships are way too much work. They don’t have to be so hard in my opinion. It should be easier, or at least that’s how I see it. Who knows, there might come a time when I feel differently but at this point in my life I’m content to be right where I am emotionally, and looking forward to what comes next.

 

Choices

For a little over a year now I’ve been lamenting over a choice I felt like I had to make for a job. The place I had been working was sold by the company and there weren’t a lot of options in my little town so I took a job that was offered to me by another company. The kicker was that it would be a thousand miles away from everyone and everything I love.  I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice because I needed a paycheck and so here I am. I’ve been here for a year and it’s not a bad place if you love big cities. As “city girl” as my friend Roxy likes to think I am, I am really just a small town hick from the sticks. There was a time when the big city appealed to me but not anymore. I like the slower pace and easier feel of my home town.

It’s interesting the circumstances we find ourselves in at various times throughout our lives. Change happens whether we want it or not and we simply have to hope we make the right choices and then adapt. Most of the time I stay positive but I would be lying if I said there weren’t days when I just feel crushed, where I feel like I will always be a thousand miles away from my Mom and my grown kids even if I know that isn’t true.  A couple of days ago I was really depressed under the weight of these thoughts when it occurred to me that at least I have the option of changing my circumstances. There are people in our family, in our past, who didn’t.

My Mom is first generation American. The details are a bit sketchy but her Dad immigrated from Slovenia which, at the time was in Yugoslavia. He came for the coal mines and landed in a tiny town in Northwest New Mexico. He married and had 3 children, two girls and a boy.  Sadly, his wife died when his son was about 6 years old, he was the youngest of the three.  My Grandpa couldn’t take care of the kids the way they needed to be taken care of. Having to work at least twelve hours a day, they were alone most of the time.  He had to make the heart wrenching decision of adopting the kids out to his wife’s family, but for whatever reason they wouldn’t take his son.  The little boy wandered the mining camp most days and the ladies of the other families would feed him.  He fell on the railroad tracks one day and cut himself pretty badly. Infection set in and eventually turned to gangrene and he died at six years old.

My Mom’s Mom also came from Slovenia. She didn’t immigrate initially however. She had a good life in her home country, was madly in love and engaged to be married at 20 years old with everything to look forward to. Her aunt, who ran what they thought was a boarding house in the same small town my Grandpa lived in, invited her to come and visit in America before she got married. She took her up on her offer, but little did she know she would not be going back home.

When my Grandma arrived at her Aunt’s house she very shortly realized the reason she had been invited.  The “boarding” house wasn’t a boarding house at all and her aunt did not have the best intentions.  She was a madame and had brought her niece over to put her to work as a prostitute. She expected her to cater to the men in the camp for money.  My Grandma refused. She would not do as her aunt wanted but she did not have the money to get herself back home. She was stuck in a situation that I can only imagine was horrifying and it was about to get worse.  When her aunt realized she wouldn’t work for her, she sold my Grandma.  Sold her for money to my Grandpa, who was alone and lonely and 20 years older than she was.

She left her home, her family, her fiancee, every thing and everyone she loved to travel on vacation and was now realizing she would not get to go back. I cannot fathom that situation. The pain and the desperation, the anger and the heartbreak I just cannot even imagine.  Her and my Grandpa ended up being married for over 50 years and had six children, two of whom died as babies. My Mom tells me that she thinks her Mom came to love my Grandpa over the years but not so much early on. My Grandma loved her children though and my Mom and her three brothers were always very close to their mother.

My Grandma only went back home to Slovenia once and by that time her children were grown and she had grandchildren. She met up with her former fiancee during that trip. He had only recently married and had very small children, having waited for her to come home for well over twenty years.  He wanted her to stay, told her he would divorce his wife and they could marry and have the life they had planned all those years ago, but she refused. She loved her children and grandchildren too much to leave them and I think she loved him enough that she was thinking of his children as well.  She came back to America, back to her family but I can only imagine the anguish she suffered all over again.

This small bit of family history is just the tip of the iceberg of course. I did know my Mom’s half sister, one of the daughters my Grandpa adopted out, her name was Angie. Her and my Mom and her brothers were always close as we were growing up. Angie’s sister Mary died in her twenties and so we didn’t know her but their history is in my fire proof box at home and there will come a time very soon when I will write about their life with their adoptive parents.  I’m very grateful that I had the chance to know my Grandparents. I am connected to them and to my heritage in so many ways thanks to my Mom.  I’m coming to realize how circumstances often times don’t reflect the whole story and how fortunate most of us are in this day and age to be able to make different choices if we don’t like the circumstances we are in.

I’ve been feeling trapped, bound by a paycheck that is necessary and unavoidable. But I’m realizing that there is always a choice. I made this one and I will eventually be able to make another one, one that brings me closer to my family. It’s my people I miss, the family and friends that have always been such a huge part of my existence.  I visit as often as I can and I am staying positive that an opportunity will come to reunite with them permanently. In the meantime I will make the best of this decision knowing that it’s not forever and that this experience will spring board me to the next phase of my life.  I think of my Grandma Jennie and her story often. I feel her presence daily and I believe that if it’s possible, she will have a hand in whatever comes next.