Tag Archives: relationships

Life – According to Lucy

What is unconditional love? Is there such a thing?

That is the Universal standard, no? God’s standard?

I mean, by that standard any asshole can be, well, an asshole all the time and still be loved.

Number 1 was asking me about someone from my childhood with whom I’m friends on Facebook.
What is she really like? Is she like she seems? If so, why are you friends with her?
‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘I think so – I mean, she always was the way she seems now and – it’s friendship at a distance. I can filter it, so to speak.’
But why?
‘She has redeeming qualities. And there are no surprises. I don’t expect things from her I know aren’t available.’
Like what?
‘Like anything beyond casual chat.’
You don’t do casual chat.
‘Sure I do.’
Okay.
‘Don’t patronize me.’
Relax Mom. You’re just a little – intense.

Note the emphasis on ‘tense.’

‘I am so easy going. I am so laid back I’m nearly horizontal.’

Number 1 was staring straight ahead at this point and I spent a second imagining the conflict in his brain where it’s more logical and he was probably wondering what he could say at this point to lead our talk back to something less subjective than my state of being at any given moment.

‘Sorry,’ I said.
No worries.
‘My friend and I share history. Some good, some bad but she seems to accept me the way I am and I can do that for her as well. Her perspective has always been valuable to me. Does that make sense?’
He nodded the way he always does when I’m winding up to speak in paragraphs.
‘I mean, we didn’t get along much when we were kids. Her sister and I were better friends but – there was something about her that I didn’t want to let go of. I did think she was just misunderstood, or vulnerable or something like that. Like someone needed to really, really reach her. I thought I was the one who could. It’s almost funny now. I couldn’t, no matter what I tried.’
Why, do you think?
‘She’s an asshole. There’s that.’

Is the fact that I am only a certain kind of friend to this person evidence that conditional love is okay? Or does everybody just love parts of people? The truth is we love, much of the time in spite of one thing or another. I happen to know for a fact that not everything about me is lovable.

No. Please. Don’t argue.

While we need not deal with a litany of what needs improvement in my personality and habits, suffice it to say I skate by on credit sometimes. You know, she was always so sweet, sort of thing. Which is bullshit, to be honest. I’m not sweet. I’m empathetic and try to be kind. It’s from the heart and it’s part how I was born and part how I was formed. But sweet? No.

I give those I love credit a lot as well. I – we all let things slide. You have to if you’re going to have relationships. However, lines have to be drawn. Not, I suppose on your love. Just – you know – the really important stuff. How much time you give. How much of yourself you put out there and on the line before you say ‘enough.’

How does one know, then, when love turns to, say, abuse? How do you know that someone is using you? How do you know when to turn and say enough? I’ve had enough. You are damaging me, us. This needs to stop. You’re out of line. How do you draw those lines without losing?

I think it’s all about what you’re gaining.

When you draw a line like that you gain yourself.

Of course, if you’re me, you are wracked with guilt for doing so, but you deal and push through.

What does that mean, you ask.

For me it means I come to terms with the fact that someone else’s truth does not diminish mine and vice versa. I’ve told this story before…….. While at a family reunion some years back, my cousin – three years my senior – apologized for treating me badly as a child. It wasn’t a purge on her part. I’m pretty sure her treatment of me hadn’t kept her up at night, though it took its toll on me. I’m not even sure it crossed her mind until that very moment. My cousin, my aunt (also three years my senior) and I were sharing memories of our childhood. There were some good ones – then there was that very large pachyderm in the room when all of us recalled the not so good ones and Sadie (cousin) said, “We didn’t treat you very well when we were kids and I’m sorry.” Her words were clearly a revelation to her. You could see it in her face.

“Thank you,” I said. “I appreciate that.”

That was it. Except, of course, that the aunt threw in a whatever because she never saw treating me badly as doing anything wrong. She still doesn’t, and that’s her truth and I’d say another story but it was actually the beginning of the end of another story.

What Sadie said healed and inspired me. Remember when I said I’m not “perfect?” I had (have) apologies to make and where possible, I made (still make) them. It was probably more important to me than the persons to whom I apologized. I sat down to write one particular note, thinking This man has grown up, become a lawyer, married, had children – all around successful and happy. What could he possibly gain from my apology?

I apologized anyway:

Dear Joe:

I’m writing to apologize for treating you badly when we were children. I realize you’ve lived well and successfully without my words, but it’s come to my attention recently how healing it can be to hear that someone realizes they hurt you once upon a time and regrets the pain they caused. I am sorry.

He wrote back:

Dear Lorie:

Thank you. Your words meant a great deal. Truly, no apology was necessary – kids will be kids – but I appreciate it. I too know the redemptive power of reconciliation and forgiveness.

The kids will be kids thing was magnanimous of him because, let me tell you, I – along with my brother and several other kids – was a little asshole to this guy. He and I don’t have an ongoing relationship now because we never did, but we are positive energy in each other’s collective consciousness. Working toward good.

How, I’ve wondered over the years, do I get to that place with others? Words haven’t worked. With some communication was nonexistent. Not everyone likes to say everything that’s in their head. Go figure. Not everyone can face the top frigging layer of what’s in their heart and mind, let alone get in there deeper, no matter how many times and ways I tried to peal that onion.

I let many of these people go. Not with harsh words and not without feelings of loss. I am talking, after all, about people I love and who supposedly love me. There are ties, both emotional and genetic – neither to be sneezed at – but it eventually came down to survival. It came down to a question of whether or not I wanted to thrive. Did – do – I want to live or do I just want to exist? In the end – or in the beginning – it turned out to be easier than I thought. I mean – it was hard and it hurt – but when I stopped trying to control them and took possession of the fact that I had a choice in the matter there was clarity. I took myself out of the equation. Only in one case did I actually say the words “I’m letting you go with love.” It was a choice I made because the words needed to be said. They were not met with hearts and flowers and phrases like can we please make this work. It was more like middle fingers and kiss my ass.

Which was not unexpected.

You don’t walk out of someone’s life – you don’t tell your truth – without repercussions sometimes. The bottom line is, however, this is MY truth. It doesn’t diminish anyone else’s. It’s mine, though and I had to choose whether or not I was going to live it.

Do I feel happy, good, celebratory, enthusiastic about having walked away from some of the people who were very important to me?

I don’t look at it like that. To be clear, I didn’t give anyone a middle finger even when I wanted to the very, very most and when one considers how much I like the “F Word,” in all its forms, that’s saying something. I let them go. With as much love and peace as I was capable. It still hurts sometimes that we are not in each others’ lives and I have no idea if they miss me as well. Perhaps we’ll somehow circle back around to each other. The most important thing here is that I chose truth. I chose to thrive. I chose finding myself and filling my plate well over living off the scraps from someone else’s table.

I do love to mix metaphors.

We, all of us here on this planet are, as individuals and a collective consciousness, working toward something. When I let go of people (and things and places) it’s an exercise in freedom. When a relationship is becoming or continuing to be toxic it’s a huge drag on anything positive. I can’t move toward the light if part of me insists darkness is okay. My ego wanted so badly to hang in there with these relationships in order to fix what was wrong. Isn’t that my job? To bring light and love to everyone I encounter?

It’s like this – and I love this analogy. If your friend (or sibling or cousin or mother or uncle or spouse, et al) has pneumonia will it help them get better if you get sick too?

(The correct answer is no)

I mean – duh. Seriously.

I walked away for me. Not gonna lie about that. I had spent years – decades – trying to build relationships with people because we were tied by blood and I loved them and we were supposed to be close. Those relationships were the proverbial castles in the sand and I watched as they washed away again and again, only to try and rebuild them because we – well, what I just said. Finally. I stopped.

For me.

The funny thing is that my ego was okay with it. Turns out it’s not as big as I thought. Or it, like the rest of me, was tired of having the shit beat out of it. It checks in every now and then when we stalk someone’s Facebook page to see if they are showing signs of missing me, but mostly we (me, myself and our ego) just move forward with a shrug and love.

Are the people with pneumonia getting better since I stopped trying to be their doctor? If they are it’s not something they’re putting on social media. Again, that’s good because it keeps me free to be free.

I need a lot of checks and balances. Or a keeper, depending on the day.

In answer to my original question about unconditional love. Yes, it exists and I think it can be given but it has to start with unconditional love of self – which is only practical. You cannot give what you don’t have. You must form an acceptance, peace and affection for yourself before you are able to distribute those feelings to anyone else in any real, tangible sense.

I’ll leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes.

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” Lucille Ball

Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 21:31

 

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Stuff: My Head Was Getting Full

Greg Allman died. That made me cry. I’ve been a fan for most of my adult life (translation: since Mark and I have been together as adults because he’s a HUGE fan) and that’s part of why I cried. I knew how it would affect Mark. And Matthew. Matt sent Mark a note on FB saying, “This isn’t real, is it?” Of course, it was.

The Day The Music Died played in my head – when Sweet Melissa and I’m No Angel weren’t. The music didn’t really die. Just the musician. Taken down by the same insidiousness that took many others. Others with names like Joplin, Morrison, Hendrix, Cobain, Cornell, Jennings.

Waite.

What do I hate about addiction? Is it that it’s selfish? That it is a form of entitlement that doesn’t just destroy the one addicted but entire families, communities even? Yes. Of course. I hate that it disguises itself as pleasure and peace. I hate that I love that pleasure and peace.

Am I an addict?

Probably not but maybe so. I have the genetic predilection certainly, on both sides. I remember being at an Al Anon meeting once and voicing my frustration.

“Isn’t there someplace I can go where this shit doesn’t exist?”

To a person, those in the meeting with me either shook their heads or simply said no. Take away the alcohol, the drugs and what is left to be addicted to? Food, sex, work, shopping, money. Obviously it’s not the substance at fault. It’s the behavior patterns. And we all have them.

Am I an addict?

I have been, yes. I have displayed addictive behavior driven by everything from hormones to the lack of them. All the kids at home to the kids all moving away. Euphoria to depression. Not enough work to too much work. Not enough choice to everything laid out before me like a banquet. No ice-cream in the house to an actual banquet.

My latest dilemma is stress at work and sleepless nights, both of which, of course, feed on each other. In my first half-century I could count the nights I was unable to sleep on one hand. This does not include infant/child induced lack of sleep. Those were a given and had nothing to do with not being physically and psychologically able to let go of wakefulness. No, the latter is something that was saved for me until I was lulled into a false hey, this getting older thing might be okay, state of mind. Kids are grown, hot flashes are easing, I see freedom calling up ahead sort of thoughts were roaming playfully in my brain.

Then the next section in the manual opened itself up to me and revealed that those hormones I used to have do more than just all those other things I thought they did. They also helped me to sleep.

Apparently they’re gone just like said slumber.

I, literally, lay awake all night long.

It happened once. And again. Then again. And more regularly. I started taking half a Benadryl at night get to sleep but it didn’t always work, so I’d take a whole one. Sleep was deep and as long as I took it fairly early I could drink enough coffee in the morning to wake up for the day. Which became a problem in itself because I really don’t have a large coffee capacity. One or two cups are the maximum and it always took a third to shake the antihistamine blues, which, in turn made me shaky and a little dizzy. Then the antihistamine stopped working and I became pretty frantic. I cut down on coffee, upped my water intake and spent a couple of days and nights trying to get my shit together so I could sleep when I was supposed to sleep and be awake, you know, when I was driving and working and stuff. I went to my doctor who offered me Ambien or something like it. Non-habit forming, of course. Such an ironic, bullshit claim. Perhaps the drug itself is non-addictive but if you, like – everybody – are a fan of sleeping, the drug becomes your habit. There’s no way around that. Also, there are some pretty severe side effects with Ambien.  My two favorite, upon reflection are hallucinations and sleeplessness.

I’ll just let you mull that one over.

I took a pass.

My doctor was okay with the half dose of antihistamine but concerned that I took it within an hour of having a night-cap consisting of a shot (and probably a half) of tequila. I told her my liver wasn’t completely happy with me either, but the tequila helped me fall asleep and the antihistamine kept me asleep all night.

That’s important – the all night thing. Some of my worst times have been when I wake up from a sound (sober) sleep in a full on panic because – for no reason at all. Anxiety is in full swing with no warning and no solution and by the time I’ve reached a state of I’m actually not going to die horribly at this very moment I’m wide awake and pissed. And still anxious as I go over every single thing that is/could be/was yesterday/might be tomorrow – wrong in my life, Mark’s life and the lives of my children, grandchild, mother and brother. I have, at times, scooted over to cuddle with Mark but that wakes him up because he knows, even in his deepest slumber, that I do not like to be touched in my sleep. We have lines of demarcation in our bed that may not be breached once I’m in lala land. When the kids were little it was this way because one or more of them were there nightly and there was barely room to breathe. Then it was hot flashes. If I cuddle up to my poor hubby, he knows somethin’ aint right and will wake up ready to take on the world in a way only certified morning people are able to do but it’s the middle of the night so we’re both screwed.

……….Or so I told my doc.

She said, again, that perhaps the Ambien would be a better choice. I said, again, no thank-you.

I have an aversion to relying on medication. I mean, if I had to take something because I was diabetic or had epilepsy it would be different – and I have taken meds for PTSD (long story there……well, really not so long, but for another time) and depression. There was a start date and an end date in sight with both, so I wasn’t quite as concerned. I became addicted to nose spray once. Started taking it when I had a cold and didn’t get off it for two years. The thing about nose spray with a decongestant/antihistamine is that, besides making one look sexy and attractive when shoving it in one nostril then the other and taking a deep huff each time, it makes your nasal passages more open than they would ever be naturally. When you try to stop taking it cold turkey you don’t just get a stuffy nose. Your nasal passages slam shut like there’s actual gold in there to be protected and you can’t breathe through your nose, nor can you swallow because you can’t breathe through your nose. Try it. Plug your nose and try to swallow.

My father was addicted to nose spray. He became ill and was in the hospital where an idiot doctor overdosed him (that one is a long story) with a medication his body basically had a bad reaction to. He was in a state of unconsciousness for such a period of time that we truly thought he would not make it. During that time he could, of course, not take his nose spray. We watched as he struggled to breathe. His suffering was incredibly difficult to witness and inspired the aversion I spoke of earlier.  After Dad recovered I went to my doctor for help in ridding myself of the nose spray. She said, simply, to use it in one side or the other as often as I needed until the side that wasn’t getting any assistance unplugged, then stop using it on the other side. She said it could take about three weeks. I was off it in less than two and felt so free and, well, stupid for not figuring this out much, much sooner.

Now, to get back on medication and have to depend on it for something that should come as naturally as sleep? No. I couldn’t see it. Still, if I was honest with myself, it was six of one and half dozen of the other in the drugs vs. alcohol category.

Am I an addict?

Probably. But I’m an extremely particular one, if so.

I stopped taking the antihistamine a few weeks ago. The long term effects started to rear their ugly heads. Moodiness, increased day-time anxiety, depression – they came on fast and were difficult to control. I cut out sugar at night, back on coffee in the morning, cranked up my water intake and am gradually settling into a more restful pattern leading up to bed time. Basically I’m a three-year-old again. Who gets a jigger of tequila and a Coronita nightly if she wants.

I’m not giving up all my fun.

I sleep better, for the most part. Electronics are banished to drawers and other rooms. TV is off and the temperature is cool. I’m dreaming again which means I’m not taking myself to an oblivious place and when I wake up it’s just slow and cranky like it’s been from the time I was a child. Not groggy and “why did I take the stupid antihistamine again,” the way it had been for a few months.

Am I an addict? I have addictive tendencies – just like most people, I suppose. I’m on guard, though. I mean, everybody has to die from something but I won’t go because I drank/smoked/shot up/snorted my internal organs to death. That hurts like hell. That hurts everybody like hell and it’s hard to get over. Some people tend to obsess, even.

Can one be addicted to making sure they’re not addicted?

These and other insane questions will be covered on the next edition of “Shit I write down so my head won’t explode.”

<Insert eye roll here>

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It’s a big ball of twine……

The minute I decided to write two blogs, my brain shut down.  The thought, If I’m doing this for real, I’m bound to screw it up, played over and over in my head.  Any time I’ve attempted to make any talent I have work for me, I’ve failed.  It’s self-sabotage, I know.

I used to be like that in relationships.

Before Mark, I dated guys whom I knew were not ready to settle down and pushed them till they had to move on or kill me.  I dated guys with great cars and chronic halitosis – the latter always a deal breaker.  I dated a couple of Mormon guys because I knew that they wouldn’t – couldn’t – take what we had seriously but all their lives they’d remember the, “bad girl,” they knew once and it would be me.  Even now, that thought alternately makes me giggle or lick my index finger, touch my ass and make a sizzling sound with my tongue ‘cause I’m so damn hot.  My father, mother, brother, assorted cousins and husband have, literally fallen down laughing upon hearing this story.

In any case, I knew what I wanted from a relationship (think high expectations on steroids), and did everything I could to make sure I didn’t date anyone who might want the same thing.

Until Mark.

And I tried pretty damn hard to get away from the responsibility of an actual commitment where he was concerned.

Until I couldn’t.  Didn’t want to.

It’s a frightening thing, getting what you ask for – what you know in your heart you were meant to have or do.  The consequences of that kind of obligation are terrifying in this uncertain world.  Someone could get sick, die, stop loving you, leave you – decide you really are too mouthy and that the beauty marks on your face are just moles, after all, and they’re getting so big one could use them for coat racks.

If people – more than six people – more than six people who aren’t related to me or have known me so long they might as well be related to me – start to read my stuff, the concern is that I will have something to lose.  What if my brain dries up?  What if I stop liking to write?  What if the internet misplaces all of my stuff?  What if people like what I write and I get used to them liking what I write and then they stop liking it?

That’s a lot to lose.

I still have my husband and I believe he loves me more every day because I force the words out of him if he hasn’t had the good sense to volunteer the information before I get the chance.  My love for him is unbelievably strong – a state of being I am not entirely sure I thought I was capable of in years past.

My writing ability, though I believe in it, is tied up with my large ball of twine-like ego and rests on the rather shaky shoulders of a, can I truly do this, commitment-phobic attitude which has seen my music career go up in the fire of ugly reality and is scared shitless because twine is entirely flammable.

Even so, I intend to persevere because, frankly, I got nothin’ else.  There’s no college degree, though, collectively, I’ve attended several schools long enough to have one.  Those people are just damned cranky about students having enough required math and science courses and don’t care that I took every, single Literature course available (with the exception of Shakespearian, because Ralph Fiennes and Laurence Olivier notwithstanding, Shakespeare is an antiquated fart who is just hard to read.  I’ll take Dr. Seuss, thank you), plus enough yoga to have an asana named after me.

I suppose I could continue in retail, but no matter how you slice it, a fantastic clothing discount does not make up for foot issues so severe, walking is reduced to a luxury well before the onset of what I consider old age.

This is it, folks and that’s okay because creative pursuits are my other love, (besides, you know the husband and offspring).

Well, and sarcasm.  Oh, and telling people what is on my mind.

Creatively, of course.

So, get ready world.  Me and my ball of twine are coming.

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