Three Months Later

I’ve received three or four emails from my old friend, but haven’t replied. Except for one where she asked for certain contact information for her son’s benefit; I sent that but said nothing else.

There’s part of me that fears what I’m doing (not doing) is weak, immature, disrespectful, hurtful; that I should have a conversation with her to explain why I don’t want to continue our correspondence after 40 years of continual contact and lengthy letter-writing. That I owe her at least this much.

The other part of me doesn’t want to do any of that. Is done talking. Is finding that not writing to her or reading her emails is clearing my mind and leaving me freer to refocus on what I want in life instead of what I don’t want.

And that’s making a difference in my daily life. I’m more content, more often. More optimistic. Just plain clearer on everything.

Maybe I haven’t been a good friend to her. But I may be saving my own life.

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Rotten, Ugly Thoughts About People I Don’t Know

I have them.

Recently:

a. Brad Pitt found a new love because Angelina no longer has breasts.

b. Debbie Reynolds had to steal the limelight from her daughter, even if it meant dying herself.

There was another rotten, ugly thought I had lately, but at the moment it’s not coming to mind.

We aren’t responsible, really, for the thoughts that come to us, are we?

No; just what we do with them.

Me, I note, reject, and don’t generally repeat them.

Then there are the rotten, ugly thoughts about people I do know. These thoughts are probably no more true; certainly they’re not kind, generous, wise or understanding.

I write them down, though; to what purpose, I don’t know. I tell myself I’m working through my thoughts, my rationale; that it’s good practice in articulation; that it’s worth sharing, too.

I’m not so sure about that. I’ve been doing it for 40 years and when I read back, I don’t sound any more mature in middle age than in my teens. I don’t even like my younger self when I read my old journals.

It does seem as if I’m compelled to tell somebody when I’m upset. And then, as if there are some things I’m compelled to tell, but not to anyone who knows me, knows who I am.

 

 

End of a Long Friendship

Dear Petra,

Every once in a while I think of someone I used to know and do a Google search for fun. Yesterday I looked up J-P and found not only a lengthy radio interview to listen to (loved hearing him talk in French and laugh; he mentioned family members I knew and the camp where I lived with him back then, as he spoke about the times of his life that led to him entering provincial politics) but also a Google map image showing the house where he lives in his hometown – and it’s his mother and father’s house, where we went many times for supper or a bath. I could also go, on Google, down the street from the house, which has been fixed up considerably on the outside from what it used to be, and see that the large warehouse where we Katimavikers stayed is still there, with its exterior stairways and so on. Sweet memories and fond affection and more than a little nostalgia for those days.

Josephine has sent me another email or two, telling about her days as if she didn’t just write me the most self-righteous rant ever, and I’ve read them but that’s all. This rejection will hurt her and I know that, but don’t have the heart to go into it with her anymore. I’ve unsubscribed from her blog notices and I’ve changed the password to my blog so she can’t get in there to get her old entries, which she had asked me to keep when I wanted to start using the blog differently. I don’t like doing that but I don’t want her in there anymore. Soon I will remove the link to her blog from my blogroll so I don’t see when she posts, as no doubt she will try to speak to/about me that way and I’m done with the preaching. I’ll also remove her address from my newsletter list so she’ll no longer receive it.

I’m giving myself a little time to settle into this idea of not bothering with her anymore, as it seems final and high-handed. I don’t like what she has said about my character numerous times, so I’m cutting her off completely. Is that fair? Not really; not after 40 years of correspondence. Granted, there have been many times I haven’t agreed with her views, but before this I’ve remained tolerant and taken the high road in service of friendship. After all, she has a right to her perspective and she may not be wrong either.

But now I do want to protect myself from harsh judgments, as they bother/affect me too much, whether they are true or helpful or not. It might be different if they rolled off my back, but they don’t. I have to struggle to maintain my self-esteem. I don’t want friends who are harsh judges or who seem desperate to validate their own choices in life by trying to convince me I should do as they do and that I am not as smart or good as they are when I don’t. The world will judge harshly enough. I live with a man who judges harshly. I choose to nurture friendships with people who understand and appreciate me, not those who assume the worst.

Why do you think it is, Pet, that when YOU tell me I practise a passive-aggressive sarcasm, I hear you, pay attention, recognize it and work to change it, and when SHE tells me I’m stubborn and bossy, I not only don’t accept it, but after a while I drop my end of the friendship ball?

Love,

Izzy

Writing to Petra

Dear Petra,

Oh, I misled you, saying “that was ours” about our Thanksgiving dinner. I did make myself something else to eat: macaroni with loads of mozzarella and cheddar, seasoned with garlic and onion powders and salt n’ peppa. I didn’t want to insult Fella’s efforts, as we oughtn’t to complain when someone cooks enough for us, but at the same time he knew I wouldn’t like what he was making, so he couldn’t claim he made “us” a meal, could he?

He’s behaving himself since one day last week when I was walking and he stopped to give me a lift home because it was cold and the passenger door on the truck was locked so I waited for him to unlock it and then tried again after he clicked the lock but it still wouldn’t open and, when he realized that, he blamed me and hollered “Get your hand off the fucking handle!” and even if my hand had been on the handle, which it wasn’t, that is no way to talk to me if you are my friend. I just walked on, no longer willing to get into that vehicle with him. A couple days later I thought he was rude to me again, and gave him shit. So he’s been watching his words.

All this to say that this morning we kissed and hugged in the kitchen before he left for the day, and that was very nice. It is what I want every day and don’t see why I can’t have it. What’s the point of living with the man otherwise?

I’m looking at my future and wondering what I’ll end up doing. I wonder if, money needs aside, I’ll have to do something because having complete freedom might be a little too loose eventually, maybe I’ll want some imposed structure.

I booked my plane tickets for Fri 28 Oct, thinking we’d drive from here to Calgary a day or two before, and then I’d fly back from B.C. on Tues 1 Nov and we’d stay overnight and drive home the next day. That would give Fella six nights there and five full days to spend with his boy and visit his relatives, and I wouldn’t be stuck in Calgary any longer than necessary. Fella’s relatives are okay but I would rather visit my own, and I’m sure he feels the same, so this seemed to me a perfect plan. Now he may not be able to get away on that October date and that means the plane tickets I bought with Dad’s air miles may be wasted, because I’m not willing to drive to Calgary alone from here and leave my car there while I’m in BC, nor am I willing to take the bus to get there as I have promised myself never again to take a bus ride that is longer than four hours. I’ve looked at buying plane tickets to/from Calgary on the days I have the other ones purchased, but there are none available that are at good times; I would be vulnerable to missing flights because of cutting arrival times too close to the next departure time, or I’d be getting up at three in the morning, another thing I’ve decided not to do to myself anymore just to save money. And if I went a day early I’d have to stay in Calgary with Fella’s son or sister (or stay in hotels I guess, but why would I want to do that either). I hate being there. I like them well enough but don’t want to spend any more time with them than I have to. God I’m awful.

Love,

Izzy

PS. For many years I thought “misled” was pronounced MY-zelled and did not know what it meant.

When is a Friend not a Friend

J, in our email exchanges, has been saying that it’s too bad I quit my job because of “annoyance” and that people should put their family’s need for money first and put up with the bullshit. I told her that I had already put up with plenty of annoyance from this man for eight months and that his behaviour this time went beyond annoyance, and was abusive.

She went on to say that she cried many mornings on her way to work at a job she held for years (sick because of abusive behaviour of other staff and management, which she chooses to think of as only annoying) but kept the job anyway, and that it doesn’t seem “fair” that I don’t have to do the same.

I’m shaking my head here. You chose to suffer through bullshit that made you sick and miserable for many years, so I should?

Honestly, I sometimes wonder why I continue this correspondence.

Recently in a meditation I was told not to listen to J or let her attitudes upset me and make me doubt my own thoughts and choices. Of course I did not tell J this, but I have mentioned that I’ve received a lot of truths in my meditations and even though I question them and am cynical sometimes, what I learn in meditations has always, so far, turned out to be correct when time-tested.

She has tried to convince me that meditation is not to be trusted; apparently this has been her experience with her own, which have led her astray. If one’s “higher power” is only herself, she said, that leaves her without hope.

I didn’t say anything about a higher power. I talked about my “inner self” and my “higher self,” among other aspects of myself that I meet with in visualizations. This is simply a tool for understanding my own being, which I find has a lot of wisdom if I actually hear what it has to say.

It seems as if she is attempting to validate her own life decisions by convincing me that I should have made the same ones, that I’ve been selfish and immature and weak by thinking my own self is important or deserving of good things. Has she drank the Kool-Aid that’s taught women for centuries that “good” and “valuable” women only serve others and sacrifice their own health and happiness to do so? I think she has, and doesn’t realize it.

For some reason, though, I’m unable to let go of seeing her as a wise and gentle soul, even as I learn, as time goes by, that she’s actually a real mess. Am I just being stubborn and insisting on seeing the best in her, when her friendship (if that’s what this is) is actually dragging me backwards when I give her ideas too much credit and consideration? At the very least, she presents me with attitudes that are negative, the kind that hold people back from being who they are or really want to be. I think about the things she says, trying to be honest with myself — whether they are true and I’m being self-indulgent and spoiled (these aren’t her words; I’m paraphrasing) — but I’m glad I have the strength of mind not to accept the attitudes of people who seem to have little respect for their own selves and so try to make me feel less than I am.

 

As Rotten as the Next Person

 

I like to think I’m not a vindictive person. I see it in others and am glad I’m not that way; that I wouldn’t deliberately hurt another person in order to punish them for what I perceive as their wrongdoing. I see others holding grudges for a long time and I think that is a shame and am glad I don’t do it, that I’m more forgiving.

Hm.

But is it true?

Or do I, too, like to hold onto my anger?

Maybe I’m not grudging and vindictive too often because people rarely do me any real wrong, so I haven’t recognized it in myself till now. But when they do? Goodness, I can be as nasty as the next unevolved person!

My love for the newspaper has dissipated. I used to be in a hurry to read it; now I skip over anything written or even possibly written by The Asshole, and over everything else that bored the shit out of me while I was working there and had no choice but to read it and fix it up. I now read only articles and columns written by others, and the classified and display ads so I’ll know what’s coming up.

I still have the archives for the last historical page I put together. I’ve been in town and have them in the car to be returned, but will have to force myself to go into the office and haven’t felt any pressing reason to do so. Especially if I see his vehicle there, but even when it isn’t.

Our subscription to the paper is due at the end of December and may be cancelled even sooner, as it was free while I worked there. I won’t renew it, though I have been a subscriber for about 20 years.

I bought a subscription for Dad, as I do every year for Xmas/birthday, and this year for my sister and also my brother for the first time. I won’t renew any of them. If Dad asks me to, I’ll tell him he’ll have to call the office himself.

I’ll find other gifts to give them instead of their hometown paper.

I can’t imagine myself being friendly to The Asshole in public, although I don’t think I’d be rude or uncivil, either, but I think I might cross the street to avoid him.

I hope my former employer gets smart, for her sake, and fires him. I – heaven help me – wish him harm.

I’m bad! I wouldn’t permit myself to cast a spell or anything like that, but only because I believe doing vengeful things causes an ugly dive in your moral balance and comes back on you, making you sorry you joined an asshole on his low rung of the ladder of life, because you thought you were better than that and you have always tried to be.

I don’t think I’d be unkind to him in person, and an apology (not expected, for sure; that would require him acting like an adult) would be accepted with good grace and might dissipate some of my anger. But I’ve lost my ability to think of him as a person who deserves my respect or consideration. Now all I want to do is completely purge him from my memory and my mind.

I am pretty sure that anger and resentment aren’t helping me with that.

I’ve told other people with similar feelings to imagine the “wrongdoer” as a small child, lonely, frightened and crying. This elicits sympathy and caring and helps release the dislike and anger; “Anything that isn’t an expression of love is a cry for help,” yadayada; we want to feel compassion for people when they are so fucked up that they act like assholes.

But I can’t bring myself to do this visualization, because I don’t want that man taking up space in my head. He already does due to my pissed-off state whenever I recall his behaviour, and I want him out of there now, completely and forever.

Sigh. Maybe I need the anger. Maybe that’s what’s going on. Maybe I need it to help me carry on through the changes due to being jobless right now. If that’s the case, okay; use it. It’s not as if it’s an invalid emotion; I’ll let myself experience it, I’ll acknowledge it, I’ll live it while it lasts. But I hope soon I will instead be laughing at the absurdity of his behaviour instead of being mortified by it. After all, I don’t have to put up with him anymore and feel sorry for those who do.

Lady of Leisure

This is the one place where I can write down the truth without fear of gossip, judgment, reprisal, accusation, hurt feelings, resentment, and so on.

Oh how I crave that sometimes. A safe place to spill it all out.

Then I forget to come here and write an entry.

Sometimes I forget for so long that I almost forget the username and password to get in here. That’s what happened to another blog I kept, The Little Café That Could. That one was begun after I dreamed that I was to create one with particularly that name.

Whew. So there it is, and there it shall remain, forever I guess, because there’s not a thing I can do about it.

Anyway, a quick update:

I gave my notice at work a few days after my employer’s fiancé, a co-worker for the past several months, took it upon himself to censure some of my work one busy day — at the top of his lungs. It wasn’t his place to correct or criticize me, but I would have taken it in stride had it been done quietly and with respect, in a constructive fashion. It wasn’t. He was a prick about it. My cheeks burned. I responded calmly, like an adult, while he in his two-year-old’s tantrum threw on a jacket and left for the day, hollering as he made his way out the back door, leaving the rest of us to finish his time-sensitive work along with our own in order to meet that day’s deadline.

My employer, as far as I know, didn’t censure the man. She didn’t assure me that this wouldn’t happen again. Instead she made excuses for him; he’s a “hothead,” she said, and she’d meant to discuss some work issues with me but never gotten around to it. The latter would have been fine with me, but not the rest: that he was free to treat me like that in the workplace and get away with it.

I took three or four days to cool down and think clearly, and then gave two weeks notice. I wouldn’t work out that two weeks in the office either, I told my employer, if her fiancé was there. I’d work from my home office till the time was up.

“Fair enough,” she said.

And then I began to realize just how tired I’ve been of working there. How I’d left my home and yard sadly on the mornings I had to be in the office in town. How I was so exhausted after too-frequent 11-hour press days that I spent all the next day just getting some energy back. I had other dissatisfactions and stresses but I was “sucking it up,” as the saying goes, because a job is a job and you can’t expect everything about it to be perfect.

Fella asked me last night if I missed my work. It’s only been a week since my last day there. I don’t miss it one bit! I’m free! And I walk down our country road saying aloud an affirmation that I once hoped could be true and right now seems to be:

“I am so happy and grateful now that I have all the time in the world to enjoy this beautiful place.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering One Agreement

I had another reminder this morning that I must not permit other people’s shit to bother me. I must not take their attitudes or words or blame or accusations or even put-downs personally. NOT MY MONKEY!
But while that is easy to know and even easier to say, it is not that easy to do.
These “arrows of attack” come when least expected and I am not always prepared to fend them off. They are like a sharp screwdriver suddenly popping the bubble of peace surrounding me. I know they don’t come from truth or reality, and yet … I still feel them, and am hurt and angry. I am not detached, alas, even when his words are clearly irrational and unfair and I know better than to take them seriously.
So I remind myself daily to approve of myself exactly as I am.
I look in the mirror and remind myself to like what I see.
I’m not sure what else I’ll do, but I know I must do more to protect myself, my state of mind, my general wellbeing. I need to find a way to let these things blow on by and not hold onto them in any way. Why should someone else’s frustration ruin my day?
I must also not see Fella as an enemy, and that is quite difficult at times when he is acting like one.
“Be careful,” my dad says. But he has no idea what I live with (or does he? he’s had his own struggles in relationships). The value of his advice is that it reminds me of the importance of keeping the hard times in perspective. There are many happy or at least content times. Last night, for instance, after I’d written about wishing Fella would walk with me and sit with me on the step, he did both things. It was my ideal evening and I told him so.
Just thought I’d dash this off before I get further into the day, as I have been thinking about it this morning since hearing (twice) “You wreck everything you touch” angrily directed at me when the coffee-bean grinder wasn’t working for Fella. I’m not responsible for the state of the bean-grinder, but he can’t help himself, he has to blame someone (never himself, of course, but in this case it wasn’t his fault either; it’s just the machine, that’s all, doing what it’s done many times before). The amount that his attitude has bothered me makes me realize I really need to thicken up my skin, as this kind of thing is not unusual around here and if I were to believe a word of it when he talks this way, I’d soon be a snivelling worm with no self-esteem whatsoever. Guaranteed that will never happen, and thank god I am smart enough not to believe him.

Can’t Figure Men Out

Hi J,

The birds here give me so much pleasure, too. Thank goodness for them and for the flowers! The small but intense joys.
I have a hard time understanding why the way Fella behaved “when love was new” is now considered by him to be “jumping through hoops.” It’s as if it was all acting to make me love him, and now that he’s “got” me, he can go back to being his “real” self: unspoken expectations, entitlement to sex and service, and anger when his demands are not met.
I don’t see the logic there. Maybe “new” love makes a person “feel” more loving, and so it was genuine then but has naturally changed over time?
It’s going to change, this we know, but if that’s the case, why not change for the better instead of the worse? Why not become more loving, more giving, more deeply compassionate, more understanding, closer and better friends?
It is what it is. I know this. And I do have a hard time accepting it — I learned in a brief meditation that not accepting things as they are is the cause of my migraines. It’s a good thing I wrote it down at the time, because flipping back in my journal last night I saw it again and had completely forgotten it. Another reason to hang onto the journals and check into them once in a while.
In my relationship with Fella, it sometimes feels as if I’m caught in some kind of game that I don’t know the rules of, don’t know how to play, and never agreed to play. It really does seem sometimes as if he has mental health problems, with which I am at a total loss to cope or even correctly identify.
I think all women feel this way about male partners sometimes, and vice versa. I haven’t had conversations with men about their wives, though; but I hear women voicing similar frustrations all the time, about men. Or as my friend Sadie says, “He’s still a man, no matter how wonderful he is.” Meaning he is going to think and act like a man, which seems irrational to women. Or as my hairdresser said, “The grass isn’t greener somewhere else. They’re all the same.”
All I can do is try to keep my balance and integrity. That, and/or walk away. I think I could fairly easily walk away from Fella; it’s my home I’m not willing to give up. Yet I can think that, and still love Fella and still try to nurture intimacy and companionship, and be perfectly content most of the time while also being outspoken when I am not.
You and I are very uncomfortable with male anger, it seems.
I know I am.
When I was a young child, male anger meant a spanking or the strap.
Maybe that’s all it is; old fears resurface when my fella expresses anger, which he does unpredictably, intensely. It controls him, not the other way around.
Right now I’ve got bigger concerns: Sonnyboy saying he thinks about killing himself every time he walks into the door at his work.
On Sunday we went and got him a cat from the shelter. I am hoping that cat will help him somehow. He has always loved cats and they love him.
What else can I do? Keep encouraging him to see a doctor and a counsellor. Keep talking and listening. Keep telling him how important he is to me. Keep telling him the way things are right now won’t last forever. Keep telling him he can make changes in his life if he doesn’t like his situation. Keep telling him he is loved and he is seen.
Well it’s the last of my days off for this week, and it’s cool and cloudy so far today; I might go put the last of my bedding plants in. Not too many this year, as I’ve been watching my cash and have cut back on the number of flowers I’ll keep in pots.
Breakfast time! I love these long, leisurely mornings when I don’t have to rush off  anywhere.
How are things going at the gym? I bet you are feeling better already. I need to get back to regular walking and yoga, myself; have been a yoga slacker for the past month, after being so dedicated to it for the entire year previously. Story of my life! Nothing really sticks except morning coffee.
Love,
Izzy

Shallow and Thoughtless

I’m not the only person who is shocked and disappointed by what some of my friends and even relatives post on Facebook. It is clear that they don’t think for themselves, if they think at all.

I love these folks, but my respect for them dwindles steadily.

Dad called last night. He is relatively new to FB and anytime I comment on one of my “friend’s” posts, he sees it. I’m sure this drives him nuts but we haven’t found the way to change that setting. Yet. When he’s here in a few weeks, we’ll work on that.

He’d seen my comment “I don’t think so” to a friend’s sharing of some article by or about Kevin O’Leary, known for being a dinkus who has money, thus impressing people with small brains. This turdling is blaming the NDP government in Alberta and its leader for the state of affairs regarding world oil prices, as if the provincial government had that kind of influence or control. D’uh.

I’m only shocked by the way people seem to be completely unaware that there is such a thing as critical thinking and that they themselves could employ it.

Dad has been blocking people from his FB page, and it sounds like he is going to give up on FB altogether. Which is a shame, because its positive aspect is that friends and family sometimes post photos of themselves and their loved ones, and Dad and I both appreciate this. And there is some interesting stuff, too, that one doesn’t see elsewhere.

He is also disgusted by one of my young cousin’s postings wherein she uses the F-word publicly too much for his taste. Young cousin; she’s in her forties. My dad is not a man who says “Fuck” in front of women and who is surprised when men overdo it in front of women and when women themselves throw the word around all the time. I use the word myself often enough, but have the sense not to do it in public, that’s all. A certain amount of tact doesn’t hurt anyone, but it seems that maybe the 20- and 30- and even 40-somethings use the word as a regular part of conversation these days. Good for them, I figure, if they feel free to speak as they wish. But I do value manners too, and spitting out Fuck This and Fuck That in public demonstrates poor judgment, as I see it. I prefer to say a vehement Fuck! when there’s a damn good reason for it. When overused, it loses its clout and is only annoying.

It’s not that we expect to agree with everything everyone else believes, or to have the same tastes or standards as others. It’s that we assume people will demonstrate some intelligence; that they will look at more than one side of an issue, and have some common sense. Why is that impossible for so many people? Unfortunately, FB makes it easy for people to share things before thinking.