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Archive for the ‘Tolerance’ Category

I found out this week that a woman I know who is 56 is getting a facelift. I know this is nothing new, happens all the time, it’s not like it’s the 1960s when it would have been shocking. But it shocked me. I didn’t see it coming in this person for one. This isn’t a woman I’m close to, but I do know her well, she is my first husband’s wife and therefore one of the grandmothers to our grandchildren, three of which are young girls. So, I am bothered on several fronts and had a multitude of emotional reactions. I have to confess that at first I was just shocked, then had a few jokes, but quickly settled into a sadness for her, disappointment and even being mad about it. I will soon be 60, so I get the whole aging thing. My sadness is from a belief that when we feel a strong enough need to alter our looks because we look in the mirror and no longer like what we see we have much larger issues (short of a traumatic event that altered our looks).
When our self worth is based on our looks, then inevitably our worth will fade with age. We are given many, many years to learn and embrace that our worth is based on our values, principles and passions. And because those are enhanced with age as we come to a deeper understanding of them, our self worth increases with age. So, I am sad that at this point in her life she has not gotten there and it makes me sad that as she starts down this path of seeking to surgically increase her self worth that she will make that arrival all the more difficult.
I am disappointed tinged with mad, that as a significant female in the lives of our three young grand-daughters she is not taking into account what this says to them, or if she is, she is able to justify and dismiss it. In a society and age where our young girls are inundated with the message that the most important thing they have to offer is their looks, the responsibility of strong and positive female role models is all the more crucial. Because these are my grand-daughters, I resent that she is failing them on this and sending the message that if you don’t like how you look, that you aren’t comfortable with aging, then just alter it.
I know we all alter our looks to some extent, as females we put on makeup, we color our hair, we pierce our ears (or God knows what else), but I believe it is fundamentally different when we choose to permanently alter the structure of who we are. How do you feel when you look in the mirror then and no longer see the ‘you’ that you’ve always seen? What is next? How or when do you draw the line? When is it enough to make you ‘happy’? I think the greater peace would have come from getting out of yourself and more focused on others in the world around you whose lives need to be reconstructed. Just another example of too much money, too much time, too much self-focus. I am ever more thankful for the peace I have found in my life and I truly pray that she will continue to seek true peace in her own, and find it, because it won’t happen under anesthetic, waking up with bandages covering you face in a sterile environment with people who don’t know you, other than that you are good for the bill.

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This is the thing when you are a mom with grown daughters who have a stepmother, though not one that was a part of their growing up. As your children grow up and become themselves and their own adults they start reflecting back on you as a parent and become more and more aware of your faults and get more tired and inpatient with you for not fixing them. Because after all, now that they are grown women you should’ve figured everything out with yourself by now and be past any issues they figure. But stepmom, she has not been there for the history, and the long haul so her faults become irrelevant because they do not tie in to who your daughters have become. So she is not to blame. So as you grow older your daughters become more exasperated with you and more involved and closer to her. Which intern hurts you, and you overreact, which just confirms their views of all your faults. Such an exasperating cycle.

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I remember as a child there was a game we played.  You would be given an ‘identity’; police officer, flight attendant, president…etc., of course back then the identities were all largely gender biased, but that’s another story.  Then you would give clues and everyone else had to guess what your identity was.  You would try to give truthful, yet confusing clues to keep people off base from figuring you out, or at least too quickly.  The point was to hide your identify as long as possible while others tried to figure you out.
Isn’t that what we still do as adults, either intentionally or subconsciously?  Stories today have come at me that made me think more about this.  One of traumatic proportions with so many people coming forward who knew the ‘Boston Bombers’ in total shock, at least about the younger one.  Terms used to describe him on the news by friends/acquaintances such as “walking angel, good kid, just like the rest of us, friendly, engaging, caring”.  Understandably the statement has then been said by many “I guess I didn’t really know him”.
Then from a totally different perspective today,  on a personal level, a fellow blogger wrote on how he “Shocked the World” with the announcement of his engagement. Shock the World.  He talks about being in his mid-40s and people never expecting this.
So I ask you, who ‘knows’ you?  Do you even know yourself? I earlier wrote a blog titled “Misgivings of Motivation” that just touched on this, how we often are not in touch with our true selves.
We go through our days, our lives, our relationships, portraying who we want to be, who we want to be known as.  We are so often fearful of the person we’ve created and the person inside are not able to mesh that we work to keep them separated.  Then before we know how it happened we have backed ourselves into an identity corner, closely guarded for fear of discovery.
What is the risk of transparency? When do we learn not to disclose our true selves? Who teaches us that?  I know most people think they are transparent, that they do ‘live out-loud’.  But really?  Ask yourself how many people really understand your fears that you barely recognize yourself as existing.
I know everyone I work with sees me as a super confident, assertive,  humorous, intelligent individual.  Do I see myself as that way?  Sometimes absolutely.  Do I know there is another part of me that few know? Hell yes! Why?  What do I risk if others know that part?
What do you risk?  More questions than answers quite often, but answers start with questions. So start asking, you may be surprise what you find!
Wishing you Peace in your discovery!

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Yes, I am that person, not typically, but today. I usually am the organized, scheduled, on top of it type. Today, I am that person who waited 45 minutes to get off the exit on the highway for the right to wait another 20 for the right to park for the right to go inside and wait another 30 minutes in line for the right to mail my taxes certified! Typically I would have this done, but this year, this month, this week and this day have been so atypical I decided, subconsciously, to exercise all my atypical rights tonight! Should be home by 10:30 and then I will have the right to a glass of wine!

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What a week, what a month, what a year….it’s not a wonder that it has built to a point that a complete meltdown and fit needed to be thrown. The constant grief and agony of watching my father decline with the merciless onslaught of Alzheimer’s, this man whom as a child I confused with John Wayne, this man whose mission in life was to raise his four daughters to be principled, intelligent, fierce women. With the constant struggle of decades of erosion of family relationships fostered by a mother who knew too many mental struggles in her own young life that it was inevitable she would teach those manipulations and destructive traits to her four daughters, so that at a point when the family is weakened by the loss of it’s anchor, there is complete and irrevocable fracture. By the painful and terrifying struggle of watching my husband of almost 13 years struggle with the debilitating treatment for Hepatitis C, all for naught as we deal with the realization that the treatment that has been living hell for four months is not succeeding, and now are facing the multitude of ‘what if’s’ silently and singularly in our minds. I have become too weary for friends, turning too often to prescription painkillers for a nights sleep and a moment of respite, indulging too frequently in the nostalgia of reminiscing about my first husband, the lost love that was never completed. This meltdown and fit needed to be, and so I relented, I threw things I treasured most across the room feeling relief in their shattering, I screamed and cried until I was hoarse and could not summon the strength to utter further sound, I melted in a pile on the floor at last drained and empty…and then my husband walked in to ask what I was doing, I looked up and quietly smiled and responded ‘not much, just thinking’, knowing that the meltdown in my head for now would have to suffice. My head aches with exhaustion and need for escape, but today, there is no escape, there is just determination to go forward and go forward and go forward and imagine the release of giving way to melting down.

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Something I learned long ago, living in a dysfunctional family is like living in a swamp, it subsists on it’s life and you can’t really grasp what the outside world is and how if functions. Swamps sustain life, but as you get sucked in to the muck it becomes harder and harder to survive. I was fortunate that many years ago I found my way out of the swamp and learned how to live on the fringe where I could still appreciate the dark mystery and in a more observational way be a part of the life of it while being at a safe distance. What happens when a swamp family is struck with a systematic grief, such as the loss of a parent, those who escaped the swamp and live on the fringe forget the danger of stepping back in, as I have done. Quickly though you are reminded how fast you will become lost in it and the pain and difficulty of extricating yourself again. The fringe is a difficult balancing act at times, but the swamp is a difficult place to leave behind with all it’s hidden places and as in all environments, we survive by adapting.Today I am at peace because I know I am safely on the fringe again, it’s a sad peace, but a peace.

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