Reverse Pride

Reverse pride isn’t humility.  Humility is humility.  Reverse pride is when you are prideful of the fact you aren’t better than anyone else.  We all know this idiom:

Pride goeth before the fall.

I didn’t think that really applied to me because I was on the floor, I would never be ‘worthy’ of the grace of God, to take part of the sacrifice Christ provided for me.  Which is why my thoughts when I do something less than Christ-like I hear, “It doesn’t matter, I’m going to hell anyway”  I wrote it off to self-esteem problems.  I’ve been reading a book called “The Miracle of Forgiveness” and in the beginning it talks about pride.  It talked about how pride is also telling God who/what/where/why anything that isn’t in your responsibility to change or judgement you can pass.  I realized in a moment of clarity I hadn’t just been telling myself I’m bad and unworthy but I’ve been telling Christ I’m bad and unworthy and the grace He secured with his blood isn’t going to save me.  EVERYONE will have a share of His grace, no matter what they’ve been in this life.  Life is eternal, growth is eternal, the Grace of Christ is eternal.  With this knowledge came the realization of there is absolutely nothing I can do about my future, well, other than be the best person I can be.  No matter how messed up I perceive myself to be.  I have no control, and I am not perfect and neither of those are within my grasp or prevue anyway so I’m trying to figure out how I can better utilize the time feeling like an eternal-bug-in-the-radiator kind of person.  I’m moving forward towards my future again, it’s nice.

This begs the question: Why do I feel this way?  I’m not a bad person (in comparison to like Hitler, Dahmer, and the ilk).  They’re going to receive grace.  I’m not ‘useless’ or a ‘waste of clay’.  Where do these thoughts come from?  Is it that sometimes when someone corrects you by calling you stupid, where every other time it just bounces off your psychic armor until one day the chink is displayed and you are mortally wounded?  I’ve called myself stupid most of the time when I do something wrong, from burning dinner and blowing a tire to stubbing my toe on something I’ve left on the floor.  I’m far from stupid.  I still compare myself to others and, yes, that’s wrong, but I’m finding out all the useless information I seem to gather has made me rather intelligent.  Not to be prideful, but my last IQ test (online) I hit in the high 120’s.  If I could do math it might be a little higher but I suck at math.  How can I be so easily fooled and so completely without guile that I would believe everything bad and evil that I am told both inside and outside my head?  The bigger question is, how to I seal up that chink so the darts of negativity aren’t hitting the pink flesh beneath?  I am correcting my thoughts when I become aware of them, I try to keep positive quotes handy on my phone, my notebook, my walls, but how can I paper the inside of my head with them?  Any suggestions?  Please share.

Entitled to Surrender

I’ve been looking for a definition that encompasses my meaning and feelings for the word entitled.  Microsoft wasn’t helpful, nor were the additional sites it sent me to.  Merriam Webster Dictionary  was accurate but didn’t quite go far enough.  I went to the Urban Dictionary and it was almost spot on but the language used on the site isn’t as refined as I would prefer it for my use here.  So, I’m going to give you my definition:

Entitled

The belief of when you are doing something that benefits the whole you should be compensated, taken care of and/or relieved from your efforts from time to time.

That said, I’ve been fighting with this concept all through the holidays.  It really hit home when my nephew gave his 18 month old nephew an iPad mini.  I’ve wanted one for like ever but I never have the money in hand at the best time to buy so I’ve just made due with my iPhone and my Kindle.  Honestly, this almost brought me to tears.  It shouldn’t but it did.  I feel like I’m completely forgotten by the outskirts of the family.  The Grandkids know what a handful their Grandmother is but as long as it doesn’t impact their schedule or cause them any hardship they deign to visit for an hour or so or call once every eclipse. [Don’t get offended, I’m not done yet.]  After I wiped the tears away about the give before anyone could see them, I started to get angry.  I’m doing all the heavy lifting both emotionally and a good portion of the time physically but the 18 month old is entitled to an iPad to help him learn his ABCs.   (I’ve got an opinion on that but it’s not suitable for this forum….I’ll have it on Psyche-Stew soon.  Then on top of all of this, my sisters have been pulling back and recognizing I need a break but only willing to dole it out in one to four hour increments.  I need a Freaking Vacation….one that doesn’t include Mom, or a massage, or even just a weekend away so I don’t have the constant static of the baby monitor hissing in my ear while I’m trying to sleep.  But mostly the recognize it but are too busy to do anything about it.

So, for kicks and giggles I sat down and figured out just what I feel I’m entitled to.  We have someone during the day to take care of Mom, which is very helpful for me. However, that leaves me with 18 hours a day M-F and 24 hours per day for the weekend when Mom is all mine.  I would want the three of us to rotate the weekends, for the sisters to come three to four times a week to spend time with Mom so she’s not completely glommed onto me all the time, help with cleaning the house and cooking [because, honestly, I suck at both]. send me to a spa on a regular basis and understanding when I reach out to them for help and/or support I don’t get a litany of the things they’re doing and a bright “Hang in there” before I hang up.

To sum it up, I want them to take over preferably all of the work and leave me with the praise and accolades I receive when people see me and I tell them what I do. Not much, really.  😉

NO ONE IS ENTITLED TO THAT.

The only thing I am entitled to is my life and my free agency.  Beyond that, if Iwant to be entitled to something Ihave to find it within myself to provide those accolades and care I crave.

That said…..

I surrender.

Merriam Webster got it right this time defining Surrender as:

Surrender

: to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed

: to give the control or use of (something) to someone else

: to allow something (such as a habit or desire) to influence or control you

I’m not talking about backing away from my commitment to my mother or to my family.  I’m not going to quit anything that I am already doing,  that is not an option unless I plan to surrender who I am entirely.  No, I mean I’m going to stop fighting with reality and waging a spiky-word warfare with unsuspecting siblings.  My life, for now, is to be here for Mom, and I can’t do that fully if I’m allowing unhelpful thoughts discourage me and distract me into thinking that I’m being taken advantage of by the whole family.  I surrender the  illusion of entitlement.  I realize everyone is doing the absolute most they feel they can do and I can’t ask, demand, or whine about them giving more.  I’m the one who volunteered for this, to be the caregiver, and I will continue to give until my service is complete  My choice.  My free agency.  And that is how it is for every persons life.  I know that kind of has an over tone of I’ll-show-them, but I’ll assure you it’s not.  I’m anxious to live my life, to get out and meet the oncoming trials head on and ready to wrestle them to the ground.  For the first time I think in ever I am going to put my needs (writing, meditation, mental health, etc.) before anyone else’s.  I will be my next caregiving opportunity, for that, I believe, I am entitled.

Climbing Down The Walls

So, I am unemployed, or underemployed.  I still have the granny nanny job, but the relaxing job of 8 hours a day five days a week, along with the paycheck, is gone.  Monday I needed two doggy downers to get me off the walls, but it completely wiped me out for Tuesday and then another attempt at the wall yesterday, but I talked myself out of it and avoided the chill pills.  I sat down and made a list of everything I need to do to, both large and small, and having it all in one spot keeps me away from the walls.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I just love ticking things off a to do list gives me a deep down, tickle of a thrill.

The list is a two fold tool.  First, it puts everything that I need to do, everything I need to think about, everything that I need to buy in one place.  I need to put them in line with priorities, and I’ll put that on the list to do.  Second, it gives me a sense of accomplishment when I cross something off, but not enough to celebrate and blow off the rest of my to-dos.  The most important things that I need to do is get the credits for my CEC ‘classes’, study, pass the test and then start looking for a job in medical.  The other is to bolster my meager income and finish the chapter for House of Dragons.*

What is surprising me is that I am still getting up relatively early, I’m getting a good nights sleep, though some nights I stay up as late as 11:00pm (scandalous, I know) but I’m feeling the need to stick to my work schedule.  I don’t want to sleep the day away.  That said, that doesn’t exactly mean that I want to take the world be storm either.  I’m not hiding in TV, but I’m not as productive as I could be…..but then again, it’s only been four days…..I should probably just get to know myself without having some place to go in the morning.

* Soul Searching: House of Dragons is the first installment (hopefully) in my stories of missionaries all over the world.   This is about a cadre of companionships in Vietnam trying to return a lost Vet home and the general struggles that go along with being in the Lords service.

Miracle & Milestones

Miracles abound when you have faith enough to welcome them.

Last Thursday I took a trip up to visit Sammy (the parrot) as my sister spends time with Mom on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings which gave me the freedom to go.  (Sammy didn’t want anything to do with me other than take a chunk of flesh out of my fingers, but that’s another tale of woe.)  I called to check on Mom while I was there, as I’m want to do when I’m not home to make sure she knows that I worry about her and she said she was anxious for me to come home because she needed to talk to me, but she was soooo apologetic I wasn’t sure if I should believe it to be good or not.  The last thing I needed after a long drive back from one valley to the next is to have another “talk” in *that* tone of hate, disgust and disappointment.

I guess I should back track at this point.  The day before, Wednesday, it was written on my calendar that I should put her name in the temple for prayers.  They rotate out the names ever two weeks so I call and put her name back in.  I didn’t want to.  I fought with myself because of the way she still talked to me after we had our fight over Sammy and the lock on my door, which in her mind was the greatest betrayal I could have ever perpetrated against her.  She doesn’t have boundaries, so no one can have boundaries.  I asked her a few days after the bird was moved to my sisters if she would ever like me again, she told me it still remains to be seen.  And from that point on she has tolerated me, sniped at me every chance she got.  I remained happy and chipper and trying me best not to flinch at her tone.  There is some sort of dark hollowness that you feel when your mother treats you like you are the worst person in the whole universe.  Needless to say, I didn’t want to, I didn’t think she should have it because of the way she treated me on a regular basis the anger started to push everything else aside to pour salt in my wounds.  I had to stop, redirect the anger out some sort of internal overflow spigot and rethink my position.  She can treat me how she wants to treat me, I can’t do anything about that other than not let her hurt me but I made the decision not to let her behavior dictate my actions so I put her name, a friends name and my name in the temple.  (who couldn’t use extra prayers)

Okay, back to last Thursday….

She apologized, she was terribly sincere.  She wanted me to know that she loved me, appreciated me and was truly proud of what I have accomplished in my life.  She didn’t relent and let Sammy back in the house but the air purifiers haven’t come in by that time, so hope still spring eternal on that front.  The other portion of this was she realized she can’t keep trying to make me secure a happy end of life for her.  She has to make that choice, and she has to make the efforts to do so.  Now THAT is a miracle and a milestone for her.

My milestone is unemployment….again.  Only this time I have a plan, I have hope and faith and determination to make it worth while.  I also have someone to take care of Mom during the day so I’m not the only one with her.  I’m going back to my post The End Is Nigh…..Or Not.  Mom is afraid of dying alone, without someone who loves her there for her.  She’s having more and more problems in the night sleeping, or rather breathing well enough to stay asleep.  I’m thinking during this time I will do more watching at night, so if she needs me, I’ll be there and then sleep while the other caregiver is there with her.  I do want Mom to have a good end of life, I don’t want her to be alone, that said, I don’t want her to do it during the holiday season.  My father died on Fathers Day, and now I associate both days….actual death date and the holiday….with him.  I can live without two death dates for her as well.

It’s amazing what happens when you walk in faith and hope for the best by letting go and letting God.

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys.

Mom and I hit the rocks, then the reef, then the iceberg over the weekend.  One realization that came from it was startling, sorta dream-crushing and it needs to go through the journal process before I can share coherently.  Sorry.  The other realization is that I can’t make my mother have a happy end of life.  I can’t do it for her, I can’t ease her from her dystopian state into the station where she believes she belongs.  It’s not my job to make those choices for her.  It’s like trying to have a pet polar bear in Phoenix, just isn’t going to end well.  I will be there to help her with her choices, of course, but I’m no longer going to foist them on her.

The fight was bad, things were said, apology made but we’re still dancing around each other not sure when the other one is going to launch the next salvo of words to try and destroy the other.  Neither of us willing to admit we love the other, and there are moments when she talks to me and I wonder if I still do.  I guess I do, I haven’t called the Shady Pines to come and take her away.  She hasn’t called the police to report me for elder abuse, so I guess we are still on an even keel.

What I don’t really like about myself in this fight is the war in my head of how to behave.  I don’t want to be mean to her, yet I think bad things, and wish I had the wherewithal to do what I imagine.  I get too much pleasure out of calling her bluff and watch her try and squirm away from the consequences.  For example she believes I don’t love her because I won’t dust my room or clean the birds cage on a more regular basis because of her allergies.  So, I’m sending Sammy away to my sisters to live for a while.  My reasoning is two fold, I want the feathers that stay aloft in the air for hours, the one she breathes in, to settle down and to see how well she improves and to, mostly, call her bluff.  I won’t let her use my parrot as a wrench in her manipulation toolbox.

It’s those words, the mean words, that I want to get away from.  I know I’m angry right now and I’m working hard to keep my head from swimming in the anger and frustration.  When I start getting angry I start deep breathing and chanting in my head, but that’s ameliorating the symptoms, not ripping out the foundation of them so I can build anew.  I’m at a loss of how to do this though.  How do you plug the holes and snip off the pour spout of the venom in your brain in favor of peace, love, and …YIKES…I sound like a hippie!!  I don’t want to feel the bile bubble up or the desire for revenge or strut the I’ll-show-you posture any longer.  Part of me is hoping this declaration will be enough, that making the choice to do so will be all I need to do to become that loving, peaceful zen-like person…..I guess that is my circus and one of the many monkeys that are on my back.  Reality sucks, and it’s hard work.  Maybe I should rethink the hippie thing.

Prayer: The Hearts Sincere Desire

I’ve been praying again, at least making an honest effort.  I still forget that I’m praying sometimes and let my mind wander but I pull it back as quickly as I can, apologize to my Father in Heaven and push forward.  It seems odd that prayer is so hard for me.  That it was nothing before but “Please, Father, get me through today.” (And He did) But because of my meager efforts I’m no longer extremely anxious about taking the forward steps I need to into the haze of uncertainty because I know He will prepare a path for me even if all I can see it one step at a time.

It’s so hard to describe the sensation of this for me.  I’ve always known there was a higher power (mine is God/Heavenly Father/Elohim) for as long as I can remember.  At one point I wanted to be cloistered away as a nun;  a life of service and reflection apparently appeals to the writers heart.  However, I chose the secular world and now my realities are 1) my job is ending 2) my education to be a phlebotomist is a joke in the industry 3) I’ve not stuck anyone in years and 4)it’s going to pay less (especially a non-union job) than the pittance I’m making now. (I’m not even going to go into the lack of writing, lack of journaling and lack of any creativity in my life right now).  My mind races and then collapses from exhaustion.  I think R.E.M. said it best:

It’s the end of the world as we know it

And I feel fine

I’ve never been able to really make plans for my future because I’ve always had the concept hard wired into my mind “Live now for tomorrow we die”.  So now, I pray about it, when the anxiety, fear and general loathing of change overtakes me and then a calm comes and the gentle words of peace and comfort scatter the emotions like cockroaches in the light and I feel fine.

Though I’m still anxious about a lot of things:

  • Mom’s ultimate destination and getting her ready, getting me ready, fear of walking in on her and finding her when I’m alone
  • Money lasting to the end of the month and not being able to buy stuff with my own money
  • Getting money together for my nephews wedding (This is new one, he’s going on a cruise and we’re all invited)
  • Job ending
  • Job searching
  • Being trapped forever with Mom
  • Never getting my eating under control and never being able to eat Golden Mega Stuff Oreos again
  • Dying before I have a chance to live
  • Being around people
  • Dealing with my family and the anger it stirs up in me and the fear of not being able to control it around them

That’s just off the top of my head, the things that I can pick out when it’s spinning.  Though I know everything in my heart will be okay, the chemicals in my brain still won’t settle down and leave me in peace.  I’m hoping to replace my emergency anti-anxiety pills and the half one I take every day, with meditation and prayer.  It is my sincerest desire to be trusting and rest in the Lords embrace and know everything will be okay.  Though my heart is starting to trust my head is still overly paranoid and distrusting of everyone and everything, both physical and spiritual.  It’s not the end of the world, just a change, and I will be fine.  Prayer needs to be my bridge from this life to the next, I can feel that in my heart to be true and I need to be more persistent in following the whispers of hope and orient myself to the feeling of warmth and comfort the Spirit provides when I follow my heart.

The Avoidance Obfuscation Sublimation Observation

Mom was busy yesterday.  She met with her Hospice nurse today, she had a large job of instructing someone how to make her famous potato salad and yet still carved out time to accuse me of being lazy, slovenly and piggish.  Okay, the piggish statement was a joke, though knowing the comment “Don’t eat it all” makes me see red.

I can’t get mad at her, well, I can, I just can’t let it blow out all over her.  She knows she’s pushing my buttons. She even admits to it.  I don’t know why.  I’m not sure I want to know why, it would probably make my head implode.  I know my emotions are in a snarl as well so I think any kind of joke or button pushing will hit me so totally off center that there isn’t really any hope for me not to walk away and keep walking.  I can’t do that, I don’t want to be that person.  I won’t be that person.

I have noticed when I’m angry, really, really angry I stuff it down with inappropriate behavior, like Mega Stuff Golden Oreos (the absolutely most perfect Oreo in the whole universe), I avoid coming home by “researching” things on the internet and sorta stretch the truth as to why I was late “Traffic and red lights all the way,”  Never mind that I left an hour or so later than when I got off.  The last few days I’ve been sublimating my anger by buying stuff for her.  Not horribly expensive, but expensive looking.  Well, expensive looking on a monitor.  Trinkets, baubles and tea.  I signed her up for Tea Sparrow, it’s a monthly tea delivery site out of Canada.  It’s going to be delivered to her without my name on it so she thinks she has a secrete admirer.

Though the goal is to make her feel loved, in truth it’s to help me assuage the guilt for feeling so irritated and angry with her.  I did this in MTC 150 years ago when my companion and I didn’t get a long at all.  I would have Elder Kelsch pick up something from the book store and post it from the outside.  It didn’t change the way she felt about me, but it did make me not liking her….well…hating her….more justifiable to me.  In my mind it took the power I thought she had over me, actually the power I gave her over me, and magically transformed it in my mind as me having power over her.  Power is a lot like control: It’s an illusion.  It was before I realized that the only power I have in this world is the power over myself.  I’m doing it again.  I’m trying to supplant the anger, frustration and emotional distress in my heart and mind by buying her things she really doesn’t need, so I can make her feel better but in reality I want the power over her, in my mind anyway.  Luckily for me, though she hasn’t changed much…… well ever……..but that shouldn’t deter me from doing my best in making her last days loved and as nice as possible.  Even if it means staying up and extra hour or so to do the dishes so she doesn’t think I’m leaving all the work for the morning person K.

But seriously, if I don’t do a button-ectomy  soon she is going to drown in chiffon scarves, packets of tea and crystal watches.

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