Sunday, September 30, 2007
I am a mess. I'm awkward. Sometimes I'm a bit neurotic. I truly am a walking contradiction. I'm afraid of being noticed, but I stand out in a crowd because I refuse to go with the flow and be like everyone else. I crave order and stability, but I create chaos. I'm not unhappy, but I don't smile much. I like for everything to have a place, yet I put things in piles and shove them into closets. I hate to be late and stressed, but I always have to do just one more thing before I go and in turn, I am ALWAYS late...everywhere...all the time...and stressed when I get there. I can't stand weakness...hate "wussys"...think people shouldn't take everything so personally, but I am overly sensitive. I like to be in charge...to drive...to make decisions, but I waffle, doubt myself, and constantly worry about making the wrong decision or getting lost. I want to be perfect...to look perfect...to do things perfectly, but I hate it when people fear being around me because they think I'm too perfect...which is funny, because part of the aggravation is that I see myself as so imperfect. I am as they say in one of my favorite movies "Clueless", "a full on Monet". From far away a Monet looks perfect, beautiful...it flows and is pleasant to behold...everything in place... but when you get too close...it's confusing...not at all what it seemed...some would even say, a mess. It takes just the right person to appreciate a Monet both far away and close up.
I've always felt weird...like no one "gets me". Every now and then I find a friend that sticks around long enough to see through the facade I carry around...likes me enough to find my faults charming...and even kinda "gets me". But, that's a rarity...an unexpected bonus...and even then, I am guarded and careful. I hide the parts of myself that I am afraid will taint my image and I keep the secrets that I worry will scare or confuse them to myself. The sad part is that I think every time that I've done that, I kill a little piece of me...a little piece of who I could be.
I've never been stabbed...shot...or terminally ill. I've never been in a life threatening car wreck...never been in danger of dying physically...but my life has been saved...more than once. I met someone that I discounted ...someone that I put a label on. I never thought of this person as someone that could really be a part of my life or even make a difference. He was a distraction...something new...an amusement. I realized that I was wrong within weeks of knowing him. This person became my friend. Every day that I worked with him...I changed. Some days I went in happy and ready to work...some days I went in beat down and broken. When I was happy, I left happier...laughing. When I told him things that I was afraid were weird or that I didn't think anyone would understand...he understood...he "got it". When I was broken...he put me back together with his encouragement. When I had secrets...they stayed with him...safe. When I expressed concerns...he offered hope. When I went in physically hurt...sometimes I actually left pain free. When I was awkward and clumsy...when I tripped or messed up...he laughed...we laughed...and it was OK...safe.
Every time these things happened, he was in a sense saving my life...one day at a time...one act of kindness and friendship at a time. Neither of us expected to become friends. I wanted to look better...he wanted a client. We got way more than either of us thought we would. He taught me...changed me...built me up...saved me. When I left, I was better...okay...for one more day. I know that I didn't even give him a fraction of what he has given me. All I can do now is do my best to be what he convinced me that I can be...to keep going...to pass on what I've been given...to emulate his example. I want to be the kind of friend that saves a life...one day at a time...just like he did.
Posted by MC at 11:20 PM
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
In golf they call it a "mulligan", but I refer to them as "do overs". There's probably not a single person out there that hasn't wished for a "do over" sometime in their life. I have. In fact, I wish for them all the time. Sometimes I wish I had a "do over" when I make a mistake as a parent...when I let an opportunity pass me by...when I don't have the courage to share how I feel...when I don't react to a situation in a way that I am proud of.
Although l have often wished for "do overs", I have always lived with the knowledge that sometimes...most of the time...they are not possible. I live with the regret. Opportunities pass us by. Words stay in our memories. People move on. Some mistakes cannot be undone. These transgressions can be forgiven, but they cannot ever be totally erased. That's what I think of when I think of a "do over"...the ability to expunge the mistake from my record...erase the poor score...make it all disappear...like it never happened.
I learned a valuable lesson recently. I behaved in a way that I wasn't proud of. I didn't do anything mean or wrong or on purpose. I was overcome with emotion and I ended a situation in a way that left me disappointed...regretful...uncomfortable. As I drove away, all I could think about was how bad I wanted a "do over"; another chance with a different ending...a happy ending. As I wiped my tears and wallowed in my misery and regret, something occurred to me...a thought...an option...a possibility.
I asked. I swallowed my pride and I took a risk. I asked for a second chance. I decided to take charge and do what I could to create a different outcome...a better outcome...an outcome that I could feel good about at the end of the day. I was surprised to find that it wasn't so bad...so hard...so impossible. I got a "do over" of sorts. I realized that most of the time, we can't get a "do over", because we don't ask for one. There are obviously exceptions to every rule. Some things can never be repaired or undone, but many things can...if we ask...if we try.
I was blessed with redemption. My friend gave me a second chance; a "do over"; an opportunity to leave him on a better note...with dignity...with pride...with a sense of relief...a full stomach...and a smile on his face and mine. He thought it was just another goodbye; an apology of sorts, but it was more. It was an epiphany...a revelation...a renewed sense of hope. I'm never going to wish for a "do over" again. I'm going to try. I'm going to ask. I'm going to redo the things that are not right. I'm going to try not to make the same mistake twice. I'm going to start again...as many times as it takes. I'm going to rewrite the ending to my story. I'm going to scratch my poor score and take my mulligan. I'm going to reopen the book and straighten the pages...reset the video game...and allow myself as many "do overs" as I need to soothe the pain, chase away the regret, and enjoy the peace I find therein.
Posted by MC at 10:26 PM
Saturday, September 22, 2007
There may be strength in numbers...but I believe in the power of ONE. The power of one hug...one friend...one shoulder...one phone call...one hand...one smile. I cannot fight a war alone and win. I cannot play a symphony by myself. I cannot end world hunger with one meal. There are so many things that I cannot do alone, but I alone can make a difference in the world.
I cannot cure an epidemic...and when the people I love are sick, I cannot heal them...but I can comfort them. I cannot stop natural disasters from occuring...and when someone falls or is hurt, I cannot cushion or stop their fall...but I can lend the hand that helps them up. I cannot make the same noise as a stadium filled with fans...but when a friend has a victory, I can cheer, and when they are defeated, I will not boo...instead I can listen...I can be there...I can be their shoulder to cry on. I cannot stop abuse or take away the hardships that exist in the world...but when I see someone that is discouraged or sad, I can smile...I can care. I know that sometimes these small gestures can mean so much to others, because they mean so much to me.
The other day, I was feeling down...sad...lonely...forgotten. I felt like nobody had any time for me and I was wallowing in self pity. As I walked out to the garage to get in my car to leave, all I could think about was how bad I wanted to go back inside my house, unmake my bed, get in, and sleep away the rest of my presumably miserable day. I fought to continue and not allow myself to succumb to that desire, as I knew it would only make things worse. I left my house, ate lunch alone...feeling invisible. I noticed that the employees told everyone that left the fast food restaurant that I was in, "Goodbye!" and "Have a nice day!". When I left...no one said a word...no one even noticed. I felt as though I could disappear from this earth and not a single soul would notice or even care. I KNOW this is not true, but it was how I was feeling at the time...low and insignificant.
I went and decided to shop. As I ambled around without much of a purpose, my phone rang. I was surprised to hear that sound since it doesn't happen too often these days. I even said out loud, "Uhhh! Somebody loves me!?!" I was so happy to see the name on the screen...the name of one of my favorite people...my friend that I was missing. We didn't talk for too long or about anything too special, but it was amazing how that ONE phone call...from ONE friend...changed my day.
I realized that I wasn't forgotten. I realized that while the people in a fast food restaurant may not notice my coming or going, the people that really matter in my life, DO think about me...DO care...and DO notice whether I leave or not. I snapped out of my negative state and put a quick end to my "pity party" for one. I appreciated that ONE small gesture. It reminded me of how important the "little" things that we don't always take the time to do are...the things that don't really seem to matter. It may take an army to win a war...or many instruments to make up a symphony...but I know it only takes ONE person that cares...that takes the time...to make a real difference in the lives of others...and in turn change the world.
Posted by MC at 1:44 PM
Friday, September 14, 2007
When you love someone, you're supposed to put that person's feelings before your own. Selfish thoughts should never arise. I remember years ago watching a sad, yet inspirational story on Oprah about a woman. She had a young child and a handsome husband that loved her. She had a beautiful home. She had a successful career. She also had cancer...terminal cancer. The story was about how she was creating dozens of video diaries for her daughter. Diaries that would teach her daughter all the things that she couldn't once she was gone...once she was dead. The videos contained advice on everything...from how to put on makeup... to how to survive a broken heart...to how to bake a cake. This woman wasn't concerned with her own feelings. She was all about helping her family survive without her...helping them move on and be happy once she was gone. She even talked of how she had encouraged her husband to find love again once she died. She looked into his eyes and held his hands...frail...sick...sweet...and told him this. People in the audience wiped their tears. How noble...how touching...how loving. When you see these types of stories, you wonder... Could I be so loving?...so selfless?...such a good partner?...such a generous friend?
I never wonder. I never wonder, because I know. I know how I would; how I do feel. I am not generous...or selfless. I'm ashamed, because I want to be...but I'm not. I should be...but I can't. I don't just let people in my heart. I don't easily trust or love, so when I do, I am seriously invested in that relationship. When I care for people, I care with all my heart...with everything that I have. I want my loved ones; my friends to be healthy and happy...free from sadness or pain. Mostly, I want to be cared for and loved and needed in return. I want to be their everything; just as they are mine.
When a friend leaves me, I want that friend to miss me...not just every now and then, or a little, but intensely...all the time. I want the things the we once enjoyed to be a reminder of me. I want the absence of my presence to be noticeable. When I die, I don't want my family...my husband...my children...to be happy. I don't want them to move on with ease. I don't want them to love another...one that takes my place. I want them to be sad. I want them to miss me. I don't want there to anyone that could possibly replace me. These desires make me question my ability to love. Am I too self absorbed?...too needy to truly love? After the questioning, comes the worry.
When I try to figure out how I can love so much...and so little? How I can give so much...and demand more? How I can want nothing but complete happiness...nothing less than exceptional...and nothing but grief and suffering? When I worry, I realize that I don't really want the people I love to be sad and miserable. I want to know that I made a difference. I want to know that I am loved. I am not filled with malice. I am not incapable of loving. I'm just afraid.
I'm afraid of letting go and I'm afraid to be let go of. I guess I equate my letting go with my giving up. I'm afraid that if others let go, that it means they don't care...that maybe they never really did...that I was never really loved in the first place. I feel like it means being forgotten. Letting go is none of these things. Letting go is not an end, it's the beginning of something more. It's the beginning of new found independence, strength, and abilities. It's the ability to stand back and appreciate what I once had. It's the ability to trust...to have faith. It's gaining the ability to believe those that say they love me, that they care...even if I never see them again. Letting go is about love...not for another, but for myself. If I can learn to love myself, it will make it easier to believe that others DO love me. So, now I'm going to try. It won't be easy and I may not be successful at first, but I will say to those that I have to leave or that find it necessary to leave me..."forget me not"...and I will not worry about being forgotten. I will believe and I will be remembered.
Posted by MC at 12:27 AM
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Goodbye my friend.
Goodbye laughter... laughter that brightens the rest of my day. Goodbye shady trail... long talks... tall socks. Goodbye dirt trail... running... dodging... spider webs in my face... branches hanging low. Goodbye park bench... legs resting... story telling... breeze blowing. Goodbye dark place... skeleton staring... garbage overflowing... sweat dripping... stomach churning... legs burning. Goodbye stopwatch... anticipating... timing... racing. Goodbye texting... car swerving... fingers tiring... face smiling. Goodbye everything that I have known for so long...relied on...taken for granted...loved...enjoyed.
Goodbye my friend.
Posted by MC at 12:18 AM
Monday, September 10, 2007
My heart is pounding. My legs are tired. My foot hurts. Sweat is dripping off my forehead. I gasp for air to give my lungs what they are begging...screaming for. People are cheering...encouraging me to finish my task. The sense of joy...accomplishment...relief that I feel as I cross the finish line is all encompassing. This was not my first race. This was not my fastest race. I will not get an award or a trophy. My name will not appear on a list, but I am proud. This was the best race I've run...ever.
I've always been kind of a loner. I'm not sure that it was on purpose or really always my choice...but that's always the way it has turned out. I've always comforted myself with rationalizations and lies. I tell myself that I don't care...that I don't NEED friends...that I am my own person, but deep down I know it's not true.
I've met very few people in my life that I've felt truly comfortable with. I am a different...unique person. It seems like I see everything in a different way than everyone else. I fight it and I embrace it. I love it and I hate it. I have people that come and go...from time to time...but for the most part I do most things alone. I shop alone. I eat lunch at restaurants alone almost everyday. I've even gone to movies alone.
A year ago, I met an unlikely friend. I decided to hire a personal trainer at my gym. Maybe I was just bored, because I didn't really think I needed him. I didn't really expect to continue with him when my sessions expired. After all, I knew I could do it myself...alone...like I always do. I was wrong.
He actually did make a huge difference in my overall level of fitness and my athletic ability...if you can call it that. However, his friendship and the difference it has made in my life has been the biggest surprise to me...a bonus...icing on the cake. I've learned something about friends in one year that I hadn't learned in the previous 37.
I do need a friend...a confidante...a sounding board. I do need a friend to laugh with and cry with...to talk with and be quiet with. I need someone to make me want to be better; to push me, and someone that I can encourage and challenge as well. I think my friend and I leave each other better than we were each and every time we meet. He has taught me to submit to things that can make me better and to fight the things that hold me back. He has made me stronger both physically and mentally.
People all fall into roles. We come to expect certain things from certain people. We don't usually step outside of those roles because it feels unnatural...like sleeping on the wrong side of the bed. Our roles have always been clear. We have always been friendly, but he has always been my teacher...my coach. I have always been his student. He is always in control. I do what he says. I never expected to be able to give anything back, but respect. Once again, I was wrong.
We started running together. I've run for years. It is a great release for me. I love being in control of my body...continuing when my body begs me to stop...going faster when I don't think I can take another step. My friend has always played sports or lifted weights. He did not run...at least not very far...or for very long. For an hour everyday, our roles reversed. I became the teacher and he became my student. Through this experience, we learned to trust each other in a different way. We had easy days and hard days, but everyday we ran together was a good day. We had a goal; a 5K. We trained and we ran. He was inexperienced and I was hurt, but neither of us wanted to let the other down, because we are friends, and neither of us could bear the thought of disappointing the other.
It wasn't an easy race. He was winded and tired. My foot throbbed with pain. There was a time that it seemed like we would never see the finish line, but as we rounded the corner and could see the end...the end that we had been anticipating all these weeks...we knew what we had to do. He said, "Let's go!" and we ran as fast as we could, passing other runners to cross the finish line. We did it...together. I ran slower during the race to stay with him and he stopped short of the finish line so we could cross together. It was an amazing, life changing experience...one that will always stay with me...and I hope him too. In different ways, we learned to trust...to be more honest, both with each other and ourselves. I think we both learned that sometimes the people that seem to be the most different are the most alike. We learned that EVERYBODY needs help sometimes and that EVERYBODY needs a person; a friend that is willing to go the distance...to sacrifice their own glory...to do what it takes to cross the finish line together. EVERYBODY needs a friend...even me.
Posted by MC at 12:04 PM
Friday, September 7, 2007
Have you ever tried to hold grains of sand in your fist and carry it with you? It seems that no matter how hard you try, or how careful you are...whether you're gentle or forceful...eventually the sand slips through your fingers and it's gone. You can try over and over again, but the result is always the same.
Sometimes I feel like everything I love; want; care about is just like sand. I see it. I want it. I work to get it, and just when it seems that it is mine, it slips away and it's gone. I always thought that if I wanted something bad enough, and worked hard enough....if I was a loyal friend and a loving companion, that I could hold onto the people and things that I care about. I thought I could control my destiny; my future; my happiness.
It's taken me 37 years to realize that I have no control. I can share, but I can't make others give in return. I can trust, but I can't make others trustworthy. I can love, but I can't make others love me back. I cannot control anything. Just like that handful of sand, the more I try to control; the tighter I try to hold on...the faster the grains slip through my fingers until it's all gone and I'm empty handed; alone. I can cry. I can wish. I can want. I can try. I can beg. I can plead. I can work. But in the end, it's not up to me.
In the past, I've given up, become bitter; angry even. I've built a wall and shut people out of my life. The wall has been a shield to protect my heart. You see, I thought if I protected my heart that I would free myself from the pain, but I was wrong. When I shut people out, I don't shut out the pain. I merely trade one type of pain for another. I trade the pain of loss for the pain of loneliness and regret.
Is it worse to lose love, or to never know love? Is it worse to be betrayed by a friend, or to never have enjoyed the joy of friendship? Is it worse to say goodbye, or to have no one to say good bye to? When I lose someone I love; when I have to say goodbye, the pain is overwhelming. It consumes my thoughts like a storm cloud that darkens the sky and hides the sun. The sun is still there, but it's light is replaced with darkness and therefore changes the way I see things around me.
I'm learning that it doesn't have to be that way. I cannot control my circumstances or people, or the "clouds" in my life, but I can control how I feel. I can choose. I can choose to be happy in spite of my hurt. I can choose to learn from my mistakes. I can choose to be grateful for the time I have had with those I love and have lost. I can choose to take a chance again and again...a chance on love, friendship; a chance at happiness. I can choose to be grateful for the time I had to hold onto that which I love, just as I can enjoy the feel of the sand in my fist before it slips away.
So as much as it hurts, as impossible as it seems, as afraid as I am, I will not stop allowing myself to let people into my life. I will not waste the precious time I have with those I love, fearing the time when they will leave me. I will want and I will get. I will say hello and I will learn to care again...and again...and again. And every time that I go to the the beach and I take a handful of sand and watch it fall back to the ground, I will choose to cherish the opportunity that I had to feel the sand in my hands and the time I had with the people I cared for.
Posted by MC at 8:33 AM
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
When I was younger, I use to like to read self-help books. The subject changed as my own issues did. Sometimes it was because I was overweight...sometimes it was because I felt like a failure as a parent ...sometimes it was because I felt powerless...sometimes because I was depressed. It's funny that as I reflect; as I honestly look back on those times, I'm not sure I ever read a self-help book with the expectation of actually changing. I was simply educating myself on subjects that I was already, unfortunately an expert in.
People talk to therapists for many different reasons, but is it the therapist that helps them see more clearly? Or, is it the act of acknowledging, out loud, with one's own mouth...an affirmation, if you will...that there is a problem; a problem in need of a solution, or at least a resolution that brings the problem and it's solution into focus? I've never been a diary kind of a girl. I've tried many times...bought lots of cute notebooks; even pens with fluff, but I never write for more than a week. I write like I talk...long winded and full of detail. I try to remember the minutiae of each day. My hand gets tired, and I become bored, tired, dissatisfied, and disinterested. It's not that I don't like to write. Sometimes, I write just about my feelings on my computer, but I never considered "publishing" my private...sometimes depressing...sometimes neurotic thoughts.
A good friend started a blog. I guess I didn't really understand blogs, at least not ones like his. I ignorantly thought blogs were purely to gather information on a subject from people far away...typing on computers...too lazy to get up and find out...too scared to ask in person. As I read his entries, I came to a conclusion; a revelation if you will. He thinks his blog is for others, but it's really for himself as well; a therapy session for one...and all. I love to read his blogs, because I learn things; honest, vulnerable, real things about him...and myself too I guess.
It occurred to me the other night at 1:30a.m. as I sat and mused at my own thoughts...quietly in my closet...that putting your deepest fears...thoughts...feelings out there for anyone to see is like self-help, only more productive than reading a book. Reading about a problem or a fear in a book, keeps us at arm's length. It keeps our secrets. It keeps it impersonal. It keeps us from being accountable. I can close that book and continue on in the same way as I have, day after day, with no change...feeling like a victim of circumstance; powerless to change.
Sitting at my computer... thinking...remembering...revealing...admitting, out loud in a sense how I really feel, is freeing. It's freeing and binding, because now I know. I know and others know. Once I know, I have a responsibility to do...to change...at least to accept and to find peace.
I've made lots of changes in my life...especially in the last couple of years, but I haven't always found the peace that my soul hungers for. So I will write as I feel inspired to...about whatever I want to write...serious or silly; important or petty...about me...my thoughts...fears...worries...and joys, in hopes that through this introspective exercise, I will come to know myself; to like myself; to help myself.
Posted by MC at 10:15 PM