Archive | July 2016

How to Be Positive

The Presence Process is bringing stuff up. My skin seems angry at me. My emotions seem okay, but my skin is breaking out in odd places. Also, there is the bad warning light regarding my tire pressure. I feel like my car is literally “going off” at me.

I am always reading a variety of books, as usual. I had two books in one day give me the same advice: to focus on positive memories. I immediately felt resistance to that idea. It sounds so innocuous, until I thought about it. My resistance comes from two concerns.

My first concern is that I know people that have many positive memories—and that is what they talk about all the time. I am thinking specifically of one woman I grew up with. Every time I would see her, she would be like, “Remember when….” She was always referring to our early twenties, when I was very confused and felt like I had zero support. My response was always, “Yes I do remember. And it sucked for me. Moving on.” Back then was the last time she was happy and there I was, raining on her parade. When every conversation starts the same way, it gets old fast. I wanted to make good memories now, not live in the past. I also think of those hoarding shows where the people have had repeated, horrific traumas and all they do is think about “the good times.” They have no place to sleep, their residences are filled with vermin, and they have often lost their children to the squalor, and yet they are upbeat. These people, including the one I know, are all as delusional as can be.

The second issue, that I only realized in the past week, is that the only times in my life that I have been truly excited have been when I was looking forward to some future event where my needs would be met—and they very seldom, if ever, were. I was happy, not because anything good was actually occurring, but because of something I hoped would happen and then did not happen in reality. Invariably and inevitably, I would wind up feeling deceived, duped, stupid. Good times.

I don’t have a lot of positive and reality-based memories that I can draw upon.

Things are definitely becoming a lot clearer. Better? I hesitate to get excited about possible positive future experiences because I need to be functional, not delusional.

Trying to Get Beneath Things

During a meditation, I realized what I have always been trying to do: get to the causal level of everything. It explains everything: my obsession with simplicity, my interest in Taoism, endless therapy, my fascination with organizational dynamics (talk about a weird interest!), you name it.

The obvious problem is that most causes are also effects. Then endless cycle of karma is the epitome of what I am talking about. My understanding of the universe is that everything is interconnected and sometimes in ways we cannot see and may never fully understand. Anything that helps us connect more dots is often a good thing.

My epiphany had the ring of truth because my gut reaction was, “Ohhhhh. That’s it. Crap. How do I integrate this into my knowledge base?” Every time I have been excited at an idea, it has been because the execution of the idea held the promise of getting various needs (usually subconscious) met, whether romantically, religiously, socially, or vocationally. Of course the needs were never met because I was completely unaware of them until their never getting met became a foregone conclusion.

It reminds me of a book about the AIDS epidemic, The Band Played On, by Randy Shilts. Scientists were struggling to figure out what was causing all these bizarre maladies (horrific infections, cancers, etc.). An epidemiologist asked a patient what he remembered about the summer when he and all his friends (now suffering from similar problems) were all together. The patient mentioned “all the pretty boats in the harbor.” The epidemiologist instantly knew what the guy was talking about: the bi-centennial, 1976. The epidemiologist suddenly felt an instant foreboding. This was 1980. Whatever the hell was causing all these symptoms had a long latency period and people had been spreading it for years. Seemingly unrelated dots were simultaneously connected with haunting implications. Sometimes you almost wish denial was an option.

I want to deal with situations before they become problems, if that is possible. I want to deal with problems while they are still small, as the Tao Te Ching advises. Solutions always involve getting into the silence and refusing to unnecessarily complicate one’s life.

Easier said than done. Last year showed me that we are often given more than we can handle, belying Veggie Tales theology. Being forced to deal with things that are more than we can handle is called “trauma.” Sometimes you cannot deal with the underlying issue because you are too busy coping and just putting one foot in front of the other, and feeling good about being able to accomplish that much. Been there, done that.

So I ask myself what a life lived in the causal plane would look like. This is why I want to be in the back office somewhere, noticing everything and letting those in charge know the trends I see. I am not looking to be “the face of” anything. I am looking to make a difference on a deeper level than many people even know exists. Can I do this? Maybe someday, when my life is actually about me. But not for the foreseeable future. Right now, I am too busy functioning for two and dealing with the alert light in my car saying that the tire pressure is low, despite having two new tires and all the pressures being perfect. One thing at a time…..

What’s Realistic?

The other day, I was meditating, when the phone rang and it just hit me so hard—the limit of my ability to do even the smallest of things for myself. Of course, next time I want to meditate I will turn off the ringer of my phone, hoping to remember to turn it back on afterwards.

It’s not that I can’t do anything for myself. I go exercise and pet a cat at a friend’s place and do one morning of volunteering and practice Spanish online. It’s just that if I am looking for true, lasting change, it’s not going to happen as long as I am playing caretaker. As long as my life is not about me, it’s all just play-acting, trying to keep my sanity and not let my brain turn to oatmeal while taking care of Barry.

Doing “the presence process” takes the blinders off.  Eliminating distraction is eye-opening.

I’ve been getting things done that need to get done, things that are important but not necessarily urgent. I got some recall work done on my car, which will stop an oil leak, according to the dealership guy. Also, I got an eye exam, in preparation for getting my driver’s license renewed. I need to have this stuff done before the next phase of my life begins suddenly and unexpectedly. There is no drama currently, so now is my chance. These are the things that would instantly fall to the bottom of my priority list in an emergency.

I am so much more careful now regarding what I put my energy towards. I have to take Barry here and there. I have to make meals and take care the house, that kind of thing. A lot of the rest is negotiable and flexible. I am so much more deliberate and intentional than I ever knew was possible. I have had to downward adjust my expectations as to what I can accomplish for myself, by myself. And let the rest go (including little things like hopes and dreams), day by day.

I Chose It

Oh, ugh. I’ve been doing my connected breathing. Not as much as I should, but it is difficult because the standard is to do it with my eyes closed for 15 minutes at a time. Sometimes, that is not going to happen because I always have to be available to solve every problem Barry encounters, run all the errands, etc.

By not allowing myself a lot of distractions from dealing with my feelings, I see why people are so obsessed with distractions and entertainment. When one stops pretending that most of the stuff they do matters on some level, it becomes obvious just how insipid most activities are. Right now, I have a limited ability to make an impact on my daily life—because my life does not actually revolve around me. It sounds so obvious.

Last night, I went to the blessing and saw some of my New-Age-y friends. One of my favorite people told me she now has a new motivation for getting off the couch: Pokemon Go. She was telling us about how many people were in some park in Okemos when there wasn’t a holiday or anything else that would ordinarily justify the crowd and they were all looking for weird little things at particular spots and had to physically go to them to get balls or something from the game. It was great fun for her. I thought, “Eh? Why not? If it’s fun and doesn’t hurt anyone, go for it.” If you can find something entertaining to do and it increases your exercise level and sociability, there are worse things.

It just doesn’t work for me right now. Oh nooooooo. I am trying to let issues arise naturally. I just happened to pick possibly the most miserable time of year to do it in. The heat and humidity are becoming unbearable. The elderly, infirm, and the children are definitely at risk for the next few weeks, if not longer. However, I hesitate to bitch about the weather, given the fact that September is only six weeks away and when the heat truly breaks, it will be fall, instantly. Then the next season is snow-shoveling season. How do I feel right now? Hot and sweaty. Icky. Could I have decided to start the Presence Process during a less sweltering time of year? Maybe. But, like I’ve said before, this is my chance to allow the dust from last year (and perhaps many years) to settle and to figure out who and what I am. Now is the time and it is not as if I necessarily will have another opportunity to do this before the next wave of insanity ensues.

I feel like I am opening my eyes, waking up, looking around, and saying, “This is it? Where’s some chocolate and the remote?”

Resolving What I Can Internally

I am trying to take advantage of the relative lack of drama this minute.

If last year taught me anything, it is that coping is far different than actually dealing with feelings and to do what I can while I can. Let’s see, what has happened in the last year? Iffy mammogram, serious car problems, BB in the living room window, Barry’s blood in the urine, his high PSA levels, bullet through the living room window, Barry’s lump on the neck, his chronic cough, oh good grief.

Yes, I coped. Not all that well at times, but I got a lot done, more than I ever thought possible. I simply did not have the energy to do everything that needed to be done and simultaneously give a rat’s ass about other people’s opinions. I lost the ability and desire to care and play social games.

I coped by not dealing with feelings back then. I couldn’t if I had wanted to.

Now it is next summer. I am dealing with all those feelings I couldn’t touch back then. I am doing connected breathing exercises and letting everything possible come up for processing. I realized yesterday that I am committed to doing these present-moment exercises for the rest of my life. Am I going to do them perfectly? Hardly. I don’t care. There is an urgency because I have no idea when drama will kick back into high gear. Barry’s health care providers are in palliative care mode and not expressing themselves much, out of respect for him I assume. This is my chance to internally resolve issues as much as possible. I am in charge of nothing.

This is maybe the only thing I have any control over whatsoever. If the house doesn’t sell by October 1st, I will be lowering the price another $5k. I will do what I have to to move forward. Emotionally,  with the breathing, I can feel a difference already. Stuff is coming up. Stuff I could not have handled this time last year. No way. This is my chance. I know I don’t want to take those feelings with me to the next phase of my life.

I am in a place of rejecting drama. Life hands you enough on its own. I’ll just let it find me and, even then, I might just walk away.

Change of a Different Kind

When I decided to lower the price of my house and move forward as much as possible with my life, things started to change somewhat.

One thing I am doing is “connected breathing”. This is deliberately not stopping the breath. My body has had an immediate reaction to this. I instantly encountered serious physical and emotional resistance.My body immediately started vibrating in a strange way and some physical issues seem to be shaking loose, literally and a little disturbingly. But this is something I can do to physically resolve various issues without additional financial resources. For some reason,I feel as if this is very important for getting to the next phase and I don’t know why.

One consequence is that an old friend stopped by my house yesterday. I wasn’t there–because I seldom am.  I am out running errands and getting things done, functioning for two.This is the friend I gave up on last year. She hadn’t been supportive of my efforts to get rid of superfluous crap and she hadn’t taken my safety seriously when I told her about someone had shot a BB through my living room window less than six inches from my head. And she left me the world’s most condescending voicemail telling me to call her when I “felt like acting like a grown-up.” I never called her back. Any time I was tempted to do so, I reminded myself of the voicemail. And the temptation would be gone.  I figured she would probably swing by my house after it sold and would find out we had moved.

It was a huge surprise that she came by. I’m still not going to call her because the reasons  I am not calling her still stand: I don’t need her disapproval and am not interested in a “friendship” where my well-being is not prioritized properly. I’m pretty sure she’s waiting for an apology. Oh well. Not my problem.

Still, this is movement. Not the movement I’ve been waiting for, but change is in the air.

Feels Like Senioritis

I have little motivation. And I feel like I should have a ton.

My realtor is about to get the approval form back from us reducing the price of our house to $29k. The house’s chance of selling is about to go way up.

And I have the same attitude problem I had during my MBA program. The last half of it, I hated everything about it. Another class? Are you kidding me? Another paper? Just how many freaking papers do I need to write before proving that I have some business writing ability? Virtually everything prompted a disbelieving response.

I put the house on the market last June. I am at a point where I’ll believe it when I see it.

Thankfully, there isn’t a ton to do to get ready to leave. I’ve been working at leaving Michigan for a few years and have seriously down-sized. Sometimes minimalism is pure survival.

But I have been looking at apartments in West Virginia. The rents I found in Virginia were high for no apparent reason as near as I could tell. Living on a fixed income, that matters. I can more easily pay off my student loans if I am not spending more than half my income just in rent. And I’m keeping up with my Spanish. And I’m continuing to volunteer at the Women’s Center. I am definitely keeping busy. And I’m looking for part-time jobs both here and there.

Some of my attitude problem is just plain exhaustion. Taking care of Barry with no light at the end of the tunnel has taken an enormous toll on my body and soul. I am hoping to recover after he goes, but the longer it goes on, the less sure I am that I will ever fully recover. I suspect that, once he dies, I might want to spend a month or more sleeping. Like a student after the end of their last class and right before commencement.