I’ve Had a Rough Relationship with Love

Oh, who hasn’t had a rough relationship with love? (Not a surprising UU Lent word, is it?) If you haven’t, count yourself as fortunate and give yourself a big hug. Wait, everyone else, also give yourselves big hugs. And now for some brutal honesty.

My issue, like so many of us, has been with romantic love. I was always a big fan. And boy oh boy was I full of it. Those happy hormones it kept pumping into me were my drug of choice. I kept seeking it out, even when I had perfectly good relationships. This here was my biggest failing, because I repeatedly did really inappropriate things in my quest for my love drug.

No, I do not blame my parents for how I came out. They did their best.

And, what did that do to me? It made me love myself less. And that led to the feeling that I was worthless if nobody loved me, so I did more unhelpful things to try to get the people I loved to love me or continue to love me. I worked way too hard for my Dad’s love, which spilled out to romantic relationships.

That led me to like myself less and less. My inner monologue consisted of, “No one likes you…you have no friends…you are so fat…you are a failure…” I’m surprised I could get up every morning and go to work, take care of my kids, or volunteer constantly.

Do you see a downward spiral looming? I sure do, in retrospect. I ended up with the pathetic tendency to do just about anything to get love, romantic or otherwise. I was one of those people you read about who change themselves to try to be the person their object of affection wanted.

Note: That does not work.

It never occurred to me that it’s very hard to love someone who doesn’t love themselves, and I certainly didn’t love myself. I needed to learn about other types of love than romantic love, obsession, and sex hormones.

I did it! Was it easy? Nope. I had to admit a lot of icky things about myself (see above) but thanks to a good therapist, I was able to figure out what led me to end up the way I was, and forgive my past self. I was able to see that all those past actions were leading me to current wisdom and peace.

Loving myself just as I am. Pink hair is all faded, too.

Learning to love myself has let me love others in so many ways without having to have all that hormonal stuff mess with my mind (I still have hormones; I just recognize them for what they are).

What I Can Do Now

I can love my family without expecting anything in return (thank goodness, since one of them seems to not love me back at the moment). And I can appreciate their love without basing my self esteem on it.

Shine on, Suna.

I can love my friends and be okay if they go away or have a problem with me. If they want to work it out, I’m there to do so. If not, I’ll love them from a distance.

I can love people I don’t know. For all I know, my loving vibes may be helping in some way I can’t be consciously aware of.

I can love all my animal companions and enjoy their love back.

I can love my planet.

Will I have bad moments? Will I get jealous or envious of someone else’s relationship, or hurt when things don’t work out? Yep. But I’ll pick myself back up and keep going.

Gratitude

I’m grateful to everyone I’ve ever loved and hope you got some good out of it. And I’m sorry for those I hurt.

My favorite picture of my spouse. Thank goodness for his love.

I’m grateful for my spouse, his patience, and his ability to love me as I am.

I’m grateful to Victoria.

I’m grateful to Brené Brown. Even if I generally find self-help books annoying, her conversational style and repetition of the same point in different ways helped me break through and shut my inner voice up. Go read a Brené Brown book.

“I know something about love.”

Birds and Bees, and a Weird Morning

It’s not even noon, but it’s already been a weird day. I got to the Hermit Haus for work, and was just making my coffee when the lights went out. Well, most of them did. For some reason, my red lamp and the light over the kitchen sink kept glowing, eerily.

It was just barely glowing when the power was out. Wonder why.

So, Kathleen and I went outside, and saw Chris talking to the neighbor (at way over 6 feet away) about the power being out. We got a text from Mandi saying Oncor (power folks) knew about it and would get the power back on in a couple of hours. Great. I had a couple of things I’d wanted to get done immediately.

Grr.

After standing around and thinking for a while, we each went back to our respective areas to do work that could be done on the phone. Kathleen made phone calls, I did weekly employee reviews, Chris painted trim.

We opened the doors in our office for more light, and Chris did the same at the Pope house. A mistake? Maybe.

That’s when the invasions occurred. Chris heard noises and saw that he had a new coworker, but one that just banged on things randomly. This poor mockingbird was not helpful at all.

Hey, you’re not paying me enough to work in here!

At the same time, all the honey bees that have been out enjoying our wildflower meadow (the one with all the yellow flowers) decided to check out our basement. At the time it was no problem.

Then at 10 am, the power came back. Yay. The bees were still in the building. They decided to visit my office, with its bright lights. At first they checked out the monitor, but then I realized at least three of them were on my light fixture. Kathleen could hear them all buzzing away.

This moon is beautiful!

Finally I couldn’t concentrate on my work, so I turned the light off. Hooray, the bees went out. And we shut the doors, so no more can come in. We’ll shoo them back out at some point today, since there’s not much nectar down here.

I’m glad the June bugs are only at the ranch. I don’t think I could take them all bouncing around down here. Back to work.

Who Do YOU Trust? Or What?

This one’s just sad.

The cynicism I’m developing from watching national government representatives continue in-fighting and saying really horrifying things (I am now expendable, oh boy!) has just heightened my mistrust of all of them. Let’s work together, everybody.

Oh my. When I started thinking about trust, today’s word for UU Lent, my first thought was “trust no one,” then I came up with “trust but verify.” I think usually, I lean toward the latter. I have issues, I guess. I give people and institutions a chance, but it takes a long time for me to build up enough trust in anything that I don’t want to verify.

And for goodness’ sake, do not go look up memes about “trust no one,” unless you want to look at a lot of guns and implications of ideologies I personally don’t trust.

Trust Is Tricky

Even without pandemics, trust has been an issue with me. I certainly could not trust my parents, since they came from a society where lying to children was an accepted thing. I found out all sorts of stuff about what happened to my pets, what was really going on when Mom disappeared periodically, what really happened in relationships…etc.

I finally found a meme I could go with.

Later on I learned that I should have been much more careful in trusting friends and coworkers. So, I’m a lot more careful and do a lot more verifying, which I thought was pretty darned healthy, to be honest. But, then I went and read how it’s a relationship killer. Here’s what Nan S. Russell said:

Here’s the simple answer: when the outcome is essential and matters more than the relationship, use “trust, but verify.” When the relationship matters more than any single outcome, don’t use it.

“The Problem with a Trust-But-Verify Approach”

Who to Trust

I’ll tell you who I trust! My animals. The dogs are just so sweet and obviously trust US, so I trust them. And a relationship with a horse just isn’t worth trying for without trust. Apache and I have done a lot of trust work, and even though we misunderstand each other sometimes, we trust each other. I am SO glad for animals.

Today’s Instagram features Fiona, who still has one icky leg.

There are people I trust completely. It’s a risk, but to live with people, you have to trust them. It would be hard to shake my trust for the people I live with in both my houses and the people I work most closely with. They have all earned it.

Sigh, it’s time to stop. I’m getting upset about how we can’t trust our fellow humans to take care of each other. Instead, I’ll end with these nice keywords to live with. They are perfect right now.

This sounds like a great motto for today and for the future.

FIRE Brings Hope

It’s the SUN! It makes the earth shiny! It kills germs!

The UU Lent word for today is fire. It came on a good day, because a fiery ball of light appeared in the sky for the first time in a LONG time, or at least it seems.

Seeing the sun this morning made me hopeful. I have read that it’s harder for some viruses to thrive when the sun is out, baking away. I keep hoping the coronavirus is one that will be slowed by sun and heat. It’s supposed to get to 90F today, after many days of cold and damp here in the middle of Texas. (I also hope it helps Fiona’s legs heal up.)

While I’m mostly a watery Pisces kind of person, fire has always meant a lot to me. Like my favorite goddess, Brighid, the goddess of the hearth, the forge, and poetry, I like to make things from fire (pottery, bread) and I like to use my words to ignite a spark of recognition, passion, or learning in others.

Notice how different each brick is.

I took the picture of the bricks a few days ago. I love how every one of these hand-made bricks is different. And that they’ve required some repair to the mortar holding them together. But they still stand, because they work together. WHOA! A METAPHOR FOR OUR TIMES! We need to be this way.

Alfred’s still guarding the fort. We all need an Alfred from time to time.

We may be just “another brick in the wall,” but in reality, we have our own jobs to do right now. And so what if we’re cracked or a little broken, we can still do it! I’m thinking of all my family and friends who are trying hard to hold themselves together. That means YOU!

Cheers. Who needs to brush your hair in a pandemic?
I do still wear a bra, but it’s a comfy one.

I’ve actually lit a fire (sticking to my theme) under myself and am getting lots of work done for all the jobs. I guess I’m getting used to the new normal.

I recently read that Texans are drinking the most alcohol during this time. I did my part yesterday with some proseco.

But, here’s a weird thing. I took off all the dip polish and cut my nails. I am hoping that Tina, my nail technician, is able to take some time off to take care of her family, so I spend some time bonding with the smell of acetone and made my nails naked.

They are pretty thin anyway, so even when I go back to the nail place, I’ll probably just get polish for a little while, so they can grow out.

Now I look like Granny Kendall, who had little short, fat fingers and bit her nails to the quick.

I don’t recognize my hands. They are very clean. I’m having to use so much hand lotion that I took off all the big rings. That’s a new normal for me, too.

What’s your new normal?

Who's Struggling?

That’s a relief. Image by @wanaktek via Twenty20.

If you’re not struggling, at least a little bit right now, I salute you! Tell me your secrets, on this Monday of isolation. For once, the UU Lent word of the day, struggle, seems mighty appropriate.

I like being at home, and I like being in my little basement office full of cheerful colors and numerous little things designed to keep me in a good mood (see below). They usually help, but geez, listening to the news, being unable to go to Austin to see Anita, and worrying about the health and safety of people I care about is weighing me down.

I ate goldfish crackers and cottage cheese for dinner. That’s a sign of someone struggling.

This is NOT our worst nightmare, really!
Image by @Boris79 via Twenty20.

Life’s always been about struggle, though. Every so often some kind of malady shows up and wipes out a lot of people, disregarding their wealth, social status, or degree of universal belovedness. That’s part of humanity (and other life forms as well). That doesn’t mean it’s not hard right now. I just wanted to get some perspective.

So yeah, life’s a gift, and let’s all enjoy it while we have it. That doesn’t sound cliched at all, does it? But that’s the best I’ve got right now.

My yellowish office and my newsletter, as seen on Instagram.

Still, I’m getting stuff done, and actually got my newsletter draft finished over the weekend, so there’s actually time to proofread it and get it reviewed. My entire family spent all their time in their offices, so I figured it was better to hang around in the office than go home and stare at the animals (which I did a lot of, anyway).

Gratitude

Me and Mike’s family.

There’s always something to be grateful for, and just because I don’t share it every day doesn’t mean I don’t feel it. I’m very grateful to the companies that made all the social media software we’re all relying so heavily on. Last night much hilarity ensued when I joined with my friend Mike’s family in an extremely goofy Facebook messenger filter festival. Now, that’s family fun. So, thank you, programmers of filters.

And I’m extra grateful for the creators of Zoom, who allow me to attend meetings online and actually SEE my coworkers. I’ve also enjoyed a couple of Zoom sessions with women I’ve been in an email/FB group for 25, that’s right, 25 years. Shout out to the Sislist!

Me, Zooming solo.

Heck, I’m even grateful to the post office for letting me send letters to my family and friends to cheer them up. Are you doing that? A woman I admire in Minnesota (who founded the email list mentioned above) is sending letters to anyone whose address you send her. She calls it Sunshine Mail. It’s keeping her busy and brightening so many days. Knowing about it brightens mine.

There! I’ve cheered myself up just by pointing out these ways we have to cope, while we struggle along. Send me more ideas!

I Don't Want to Write about Justice

Nope. Don’t want to write about the next extra-PC concept the UU Lent folks brought forth, justice. My Instagram says it all. I got a rock.

Rocks are grounding, though. This is my grounding rock.

I’ve never seen a lot of justice out in the world. Luckily I do see small amounts of mercy, which I find more important, anyway. Creepy people do well. Good people fail and suffer. The wrong people get punished. Whatever. Just keep moving forward one day at a time and see what you learn, but don’t expect to learn a lot about justice.

Ugh

One of my friends on Facebook said it best yesterday:

Today I hit a wall.

FB Friend

I did, too. I was trying to work on my perky email newsletter for friends of LLL, and I just didn’t have any perky in me. I read too many articles on predicted deaths, people doing unsafe things, and tragedies. I always wondered how I’d cope with one of these weird times. I guess, like many, I’ll have good and bad days.

Folks, we are allowed to have bad days, to be sad, to miss things from our previous life, and to worry like crazy about people we care about (and people we don’t know who have it worse off than us). Let’s be gentle with each other and support the people who have a hard time, even while doing our best to keep our own spirits up.

Where I spent yesterday. My ridiculous bedroom would make a great isolation area.

So yep, I spent a lot of time in bed with the dogs, reading a book. It helped. The rest of the family all worked until late in the evening. I’m worried about them, too. But, we are all doing our best and trying to do self care!

We’re entertaining.

I’m glad I have the horses and chickens, who make me go outside even when the weather is awful (we have flooding today, which means the chicken food is a mess). I’m glad the dogs can run around and play, even when it’s raining.

Playing in the wildflowers.
I like the stripe colors, anyway.

I’m glad other people are finding stuff to do. I looked on Amazon just to see what books are popular right now. Best sellers were all preschool math, for some reason, I guess homeschooling. I looked in the crafts section. I had to chuckle, because I never saw so many adult coloring books in my life. My favorite was the obscene one. Maybe I’ll get it.

I shall try to be cheered by the basement office’s art and fake flowers.

Keep in touch with me, and with those you care about. I like hearing from everyone. It helps. Now to go be perky.

Remorse Is Complicated and Unhealthy

When I saw that remorse was the UU Lent word to think about today, I got a sinking feeling. There’s something I’m familiar with and that I’ve really had to grapple with a lot.

Remorse is a distressing emotion experienced by a person who regrets actions which they deem to be shameful, hurtful, or wrong. Remorse is closely allied to guilt and self-directed resentment.

The Wikipedia

The key here is that remorse has to do with something that a person deems to have been wrong, not that anyone else might necessarily view it that way. And the part about guilt and self-directed resentment sounds really, really familiar to me. I don’t know that remorse is something we should be cultivating for good mental health.

Way too much of my life, this was my internal monologue.

I know. I did some things in my twenties that really were unfair to people I loved, hurt them, and in retrospect, I see are very wrong, even though I couldn’t see it at the time in my immature and very confused mental state.

The remorse I felt after that led me down a path of further poor decisions, because I was so upset with myself that I felt I didn’t deserve to look for a happy life, a good job, or close friendships. I felt like I’d just let everyone down. And the poor self image my remorse led to absolutely ensured I’d lose friends, chase away partners, and treat myself unkindly. Ugh.

The Instagram of the day. I did love that poopy, butt-scooting pug.

It took a lot of work after my divorce from my children’s dad to learn to forgive myself of my mistakes and stop trying to make it all better for people I disappointed. I learned to move forward and learn how to deal with my hormones and childhood abandonment issues in a respectful, adult way (with the occasional totally human slip-up).

My dog forgives me, so should I.

If you are feeling bad about yourself, you can get to a new place, too. Therapy is your friend. So is Brene Brown.

Right now, I’m experiencing periodic remorse about what happened to my relationship with my older son. I’m not even sure if I did something awful or he’s embarrassed about something or what. I try to stick to sadness over the loss of a relationship to dear to me, rather than blaming myself or imagining hurtful things I might have done. It’s tough. Remorse is hard.

Spiderworts behind the Pope Residence say hello, and are happy, even after being mowed.

Enough brutal honesty for one day, right? I’d love to hear your thoughts. enjoy some flowers.

It’s a parasite, but it feels no remorse (Texas paintbrush). At the Hermits’ Rest.