Friends Locked

For personal reasons I've got about 99% of my stuff friends locked, so if you want to read what I write, just reply to this and let me know how I know you, if I do, or why you want in if I don't and I'll probably say sure.


Respect. What the hell is respect? First, the dictionary definition of the type of respect I'm referring to: esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability
deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment.

Three things leap out there to me- rights, courtesy and acknowledgement. Let's address each of those.

Rights. Deference to rights means allowing others to enjoy their rights. Human rights. You know, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness and all that good stuff. That's the broad base of respect. Courtesy is the respect given others whether they've done anything yet to show they're really worthy of it or not. This is the respect we pay people we have only just met, as well as being how we show respect for those human rights for all. Then there's acknowledgement. This is the respect that is earned. A smart, decent, hard-working person earns our respect by being a good person. They live an exemplary life to the best of their ability and thus, we admire and look up to them.

As a child, I was taught to be courteous to everyone, until such time as they proved to not deserve that. Courtesy is a gift of respect. I think of it as the pre-loaded stuff you didn't have to work to get. It's important to have courtesy in this world, just so we can have a base from with to build relationships- hard to build a relationship with someone if you don't offer up that initial respect to, isn't it?

After a time, once you get to know someone, you may come to respect them for who they really are, for their true self. That's when acknowledgement takes over and courtesy, still important, becomes informed respect. They've earned greater than simple courtesy.

But even if they haven't, they still have rights- those baseline things that every human being has.

And here is where respect so often loses out to bigotry, fear, hatred and other such mental states.

When we allow our prejudices to limit the rights of others, we're being disrespectful on a level that is entirely unacceptable in a civilized society. What religion you are, what color your skin is, where your family originated, what genitals are between your legs, how big or small you are- none of that matters with rights. Rights are just that- rights. You don't have to earn rights. When you deprive others of their rights because of your religion or philosophy, you're a bigot.

Now, there's the flashy, obvious bigots. Westboro Baptist and their leader Fred Phelps, for example. The KKK, for another. These kinds of bigotry are just that- obvious. You can't miss that these people are trying to deny someone else their human rights. But there's a worse kind of bigotry out there. The quiet, insidious kind. Fueled by religion or deep-seated fear, this kind of bigotry is why the other kind keeps on existing.

Those who are of the latter sort wouldn't dream of standing on a street side with a sign that reads "God Hates Fags!", but they'll vote to prevent same sex couples from enjoying the same rights they do. They're the sort who tell their daughters that men of color only want to nail a little white girl, or that all whites only want to control people of color and keep them from success. They're the sort who thought that pulling Indian kids out of their homes and putting them in so-called schools, denying them their language, culture and families was a great idea. They're the people who not only can't, but won't even try to discern between the various Asian nationalities and many of them are still telling racist jokes about everyone who isn't Just Like Them. And the most horrific part of it all? Most of them actually MEAN WELL by their actions. They think they know the right way of things and that they're helping to make the lives of those they're oppressing better.

They're wrong.

Respect. A little courtesy to start with, please, and with that some deference to the rights of others. If we can do this, we'll eventually get to acknowledgment. For now, I'll take courtesy and deference. Even if you have to fake it at first.


Logic and Reason

I cannot go back in time five seconds, let alone decades, so the only rational thing to do about what has come before is to let it rest.

It's done, over with and unchangeable.

I cannot even willingly see what will happen in five seconds, let alone further in the future. I certainly cannot in any way force upon the future my will.

It will happen when it happens, and I cannot really mold that.

I can only live life right now, in this moment. I can remember the past, learn from it and use that knowledge to help now be the best it can be. I can look forward with that knowledge and lay out plans that might lead to my future being what I hope for it to be, though I must acknowledge that my plans are nebulous as the mist on the lake in the spring and just as apt to shift or blow away at any moment.

Logic and reason tell me that I have one life to live. While I do believe in reincarnation, I don't think I should count on that. I have no proof that is solid enough to hang my hat upon, thus it is merely belief. So, today, this moment, this is what I've got for sure, and this is what I need to put my energy into.

I choose in this moment to be happy and to enjoy myself.

Strong, determined, controlling women who get things done.


See, to be a strong, determined, controlling woman you really need those around you to be compliant, weak(er) and needy. You cannot control everything if they're capable of doing so.

Getting them to stop relying upon you to do everything for them is probably the hardest part of becoming less codependent, because they're accustomed to you leaping to fix their problems for them.

I married a man raised by a woman far too much like myself (and Mom and I get on famously- likely because we're two peas in a pod in this matter. She's only recently started realizing her own controlling issues.) Ken was the same way. And of course my kids were raised by me- a strong, determined, controlling woman who is most definitely codependent.

I've got my work cut out for me to help myself, but also to help them towards not being reliant upon me. Much of that is simply me not jumping anymore, but since I'm a huge part of why they're dependent, I think I owe them some guidance in how not to depend upon me or anyone else to fix stuff for them. Just how to do that without it being a part of the longstanding issue is the question...

Forgiving the past.

In the quest to become less codependent, I first must internalize my own worth.

I'm pretty sure I'm a slightly atypical case in that, at least logically speaking, I know my worth. My devaluation of self is emotionally based. Abandonment issues, mostly, which have their roots in my Mom doing the right thing and getting out before she was killed. Her only mistake was trusting so-called experts who told her that we would be safe with him. Well, Jack was. I wasn't.

The perspective of three decades having passed since then has allowed me to really see everything that took place and to forgive my Pop for things he did when he wasn't right in the head. It also has allowed me to forgive my brother for things he said or did as a kid that have left scars on my soul. Neither of them did these things on purpose to harm me, but you know, they did them, and they did harm me. Forgiving is for me, really, because I am unwilling to swallow any more of the poison of anger from a lifetime ago. Pop long ago apologized, though he honestly couldn't remember any of what happened. He KNEW, because there was the evidence right in front of him, but he had no direct access to his own memory of the horrors he inflicted upon us. During that final year of his life he and I worked through it all, and he said "I know I hurt you, and I'm sorry." My brother, however, probably never will. He refuses to believe that unkind words spoken to me when we were kids could and have damaged me so deeply. Still, I'm letting it go, because the only person being hurt by it now is me. My interactions with my brother are minimal. I love him, but our lives have little common ground and I'm really okay with that now. I won't say there's not pain at the loss of my brother in my life. We once were thick as thieves and best of friends. Those days are long since past and he still makes comments that I don't appreciate. I've stopped reaching out to him. It sucks that our family has come apart, but it has and most of it is directly due to misogyny and a callous disregard for how hurtful some of the things he says to me really are.

Pop, when he became Pop, a sadder, damaged version of the man who he'd been when he was Daddy, took until I was 22yo before he saw the value in my work and my skill at art. He'd diminished and devalued my work earlier in life because of his own upbringing, and a fear I'd be poor my whole life (a valid fear, I might add- how many professions do you know that are routinely called "starving"? Just artists. Art is rarely valued during the artist's lifetime.) I remember the day he called to inform me that he was wrong- that I was gifted and skilled and I should never stop creating art. He'd come across a tiny piece, just a doodle, really, of a blue rose that I'd done in ink and colored pencil. I knew I was gifted. I knew I was skilled. It was still very difficult to believe in my work because the one person I most desperately wanted approval from withheld that.

This is a clear illustration of codependency at the unhealthy level. I'd spent years learning to keep my Pop from slipping into that bad state and when your very survival depends upon being pleasing and soothing, you get really good at it. I'm an expert at smoothing ruffled feathers, calming down red-zone humans on the verge of doing something unpleasant. I'm a master of defusing arguments and keeping the peace.

Of course in doing so I almost invariably have to sublimate my own feelings. I don't allow anger or grief or depression to rise up to the surface fully, ever, without it having gone so far that I cannot grab it and shove it back into containment. Even my joy and exuberance are carefully controlled, as bursting into song or dance also makes many people uncomfortable. I'm an odd bird, always was, but you would seldom eve guess at the depths of my oddity. The facade of normality has been honed to near absolution.

It's an illusion, a veneer to hide behind. Inside this carefully crafted mask I stare out and wonder what the world will think of me when I take the mask off and let myself be me without the restraints locked down tight.

Will the world laugh at me, call me preposterous and bizarre? Probably. I wonder if my skin is half thick enough to take that, or will it drive me back into my mask for safety?

I'm an artist though, and at least a little oddness is expected of us artists.

This month my work will focus on letting my true self out to play. I will cry and laugh and if the urge hits I'll sing and dance. I will make pictures that make me happy, that speak to the beauty I sense in the world around me.

I will buy myself flowers. Once the paycheck goes in the bank I will buy myself a big bunch of brightly hued flowers to put in a vase and look at. Because I deserve flowers. Flowers make me happy.

Codependency and Me

Thanks to PJ, I have this year's project for becoming more me.

I am rather profoundly codependent. I didn't realize this, because the term to me really only meant "helps the drunk stay a drunk" and in my case that wasn't the issue. No, in my case it is that I'm a Fixer. I fix everything, and everyone, and I take care of everything and everyone even when it is to my own detriment.


The answer to that is pretty complicated, but it isn't a rare story I'm sure. In the particulars, perhaps, but the overall story is probably pretty much The Story of how we wind up this way.

Age 4 my Pop was in a massive semi accident and should have died, but he didn't. Less than a year later he was in a second semi accident, again he should have died, but didn't. However, he sustained a major brain injury that led to 8 years of him being frankly nuts. He was short circuiting and during that period the man I called Daddy vanished entirely and the man who would become Pop didn't really exist. He was not someone you would like to know or even know much about.

It is during that period that I developed my codependent behaviors. My need for control and for everything to be just-so and as close to perfect as possible found fertile ground, and the fruits of those long-ago-sown seeds are some pretty unpleasant fruits, I'll tell you.

Anorexia, for starters. While I've learned to eat, the urges, the disordered thoughts, they remain and it takes everything I have to overcome that.

Years spent in a marriage with a man I loved and yet who was not right for me. Ken and I were great friends, but our marriage was built on my ability to keep up appearances and fix or control everything. Our marriage worked because I MADE IT WORK! *sniffs* Yeah.

Then there's my kids. I've been there for them above and beyond the call of motherhood.

So, here I am, middle aged and wanting very much to be ME. No apologies, no hiding any part of who I am, good or ill. And I have this journey I've embarked upon. The following statements of what I will do over the coming year are positive statements only.

I will accept compliments and accolades when given simply. I will accept others good valuations of myself as they're offered. I will enjoy these compliments and the good feelings they cause. I will say thank you.

I will spend time only with people who want to spend time with me. I am worth spending time with and those who choose to invest their time with me will know this. I will let those whose value for me is insufficient drift away, for that is how it should be.

I will face my problems with honesty and integrity. I will show my feelings as they exist. I will allow myself to openly express all feelings, for doing so is right.

I will put myself first when that is right to do. I have value, and thus I will value myself.

I will be myself, as I am right this moment.

I will let go of the past and live in the present.

I will make mistakes. I will learn from them.

I will Do Things. I will become and remain active in any ways I can that appeal to me.

I will take chances when opportunities present themselves. I will be afraid, and I will still take those chances.

I will make new friends.

I will feel blessed and grateful for who I am and what I have.

I will take time to breathe, to meditate, to ground and center,in the midst of the maelstrom.

I will make new paths.

I will buy myself flowers.

These are things I will do for me. I will do them because I deserve happiness, I deserve health, I deserve peace-ability in my life. I will do them because they will make my life and the lives of those I love better in the long run.

It will be challenging for those around me who are accustomed to me fixing everything, I'm sure. Still, it is what is right and good and proper and I will.

Holidays 2011

Well, we're a few days out from Christmas, tomorrow is Yule and I've tried to be more jolly and in the spirit this year. Not really a success, but not a total failure, either.

I haven't been writing much this last year or so- depression and a spiritual crisis that has been and is ongoing has left me feeling like I didn't have anything really useful to say, let alone interesting.

But I feel the urge again to pontificate, and since this is my journal, here it goes.

I got angry with the gods, and I admit that I still am. I've never asked for much in this life- a decent roof over my head, food in my belly, clothes on my back and the people I love. This is NOT too much to ask.

Yet we've been on the verge of losing everything for years, barely making it. If it weren't for the kindness of others, we'd have gone down ages ago, and we're still there, still struggling with money problems.

And here's a bit of angst and irritation for you- something wholly uncharitable of me to mention, but I'm mentioning it. If I were a singer, not an artist, I could get help from my community. The same time that a friend (who I do NOT begrudge the help she got one iota, for the record) got sick and needed financial help with her medical bills, I was dealing with the same thing- needing hospital care and having no money. She's a singer, and the entire community got together to help pay off all her bills.

I still owe $60k in medical bills.

Is it selfish? Sure the hell is. I confess! I wish that my community had gotten together to help me raise the money to pay those bills. I wish that my community valued my work as much as the work of musicians and writers.

But I'm just an artist.