And I’m the pudding. It’s all well and good to write endless tomes on how much I’ve learned in recent years, but try putting that to the test. One of life’s pop quizzes on how I’ll respond when things get bad.
I aced it.
Last week the temporary job I was working on — one I’d hoped would become permanent — abruptly ended. The explanation was vague. Colleagues who messaged me said management terminated the contracts of several temporary employees. In all fairness, it is what happens when you’re a contract worker. Still, it’s nice to have a reason.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
I discovered I’d accepted the truth of that statement, something I’ve written about on this blog in the past. Rather than agonize and speculate over what happened, I’ve decided not to dwell on it. Time to move on.
This puts me in a bad place financially. In addition to facing a difficult time paying my bills, my credit is at risk. That could have long term consequences.
But I’ve been through bad times before, and I’ve learned you live through them. Things eventually turn around.
I hope my next job lasts for years. I’d like something that could become a part of me, rather than another passing experience. I believe when you set your mind to something it’s more likely to happen, and my hope has become a part of my search criteria.
It’s like they say, wish I knew then what I know now. But that’s such a universal conclusion in people’s lives it tells me there’s some order to our experiences, some reason we internalize beliefs like these when we do.
Ah, one of my favorite quotes, most often abbreviated to “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”:
“Heaven hath no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” — William Congreve, The Mourning Bride
That shortened form keeps part of the original thought intact, but it overlooks another important idea: there is no one we despise more than the one we once loved the most.
Something every divorce attorney knows, and the best make a fine living on that understanding. The rest of us can learn from it, too. Why do I hate him so much? He shouldn’t have this hold on me anymore.
Because the pendulum has swung. Once upon a time, you would have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge for him. Now, you want to push him off it.
There’s good news about pendulums. They swing to one extreme, and then to another. Then the arc of the swing is smaller, until finally, there’s no more momentum. Unless, of course, something happens to start the swing all over again.
We’ve all seen that happen, and if you pay attention, it usually happens while the pendulum still has a pretty good arc. Once it’s stopped, it’s hard to start things up again.
A thought that has application both for you who dream of the day the passion will end and you who dream of the day it will begin again with the one who’s got the power over your pendulum.
Today, while in the ladies room, I heard two co-workers talking. One was crying.
“I told her I got back together with him because I married him,” she sobbed. “I thought maybe he’d changed.”
Well, you can guess the rest of the story. He hasn’t changed.
“I know I’m a good person. I’m doing things I don’t want to do because of him.”
As I stepped up to the sink to wash my hands, I said to her, “you remember who you are and don’t let anyone change that.” She nodded, and opened up about what was happening. I listened.
Then I went on to say, “Sometimes we try so hard to make something work, and it just isn’t working. We try to change things, but there’s often something else going on with the other person, something we don’t know about. If someone else makes you feel bad, you need to walk away. Don’t try to figure it out and fix it. Walk away.”
I could see that had an impact. She heard me. Maybe, just maybe, something it took me a long time to learn can change things for her and make her life better now, while she’s still so young.
I’m not saying give up on marriage at the first struggle, but if there’s abuse, if someone is scared, it’s time to jump ship and swim for your life to safer shores.
We never know when what we’ve said changes someone’s life, or a part of it. Years ago I had lunch with a former colleague. He was struggling with a job he hated, and the weight of his despair was leaving him seriously depressed. I asked him the same thing someone else had asked me, and my answer had changed the course of my life.
“What you be doing if you were doing what you wanted to do?”
He didn’t answer me then, but I saw him a couple of years later. He bubbled over with enthusiasm.
“I thought about what you said, and I knew the answer. It changed the entire direction of my career. I have a job I love!” he told me. “Thank you!”
Really? Wow. Frankly, I didn’t even remember asking him that question, but I’m not surprised I did, knowing how it had affected me. What else have I said or done that has had a positive impact on someone else? (I ask forgiveness for things I’ve said or done that have hurt others.)
I hope my young co-worker makes the right decisions and moves on to greater things. I hope she holds out for a man who treats her right.
Written on Christmas day 2014, it reflects the pain I was feeling then, as well as my resolve and hope. The latter, thankfully, still remains, but the loneliness and pain have left me. I’ve grown and changed since that day, and while the truth of what I wrote still reflects a part of myself, I’m standing stronger, in part because of the process of writing and the support of fellow bloggers. Thank you.
So here’s the original post, just as I wrote it then. Many of you likely haven’t seen it, but I know some of you did when I previously re-posted it.
Blessings to all of you!
resolutions and revelations
I’m not motivated by New Year’s Resolutions. No surprise there, most people aren’t. No surprise what does motivate me either: trying to impress someone important to me is always a big one. Problem is, that comes and goes. Here’s the reason that actually works: finally realizing my life is truly better and I’m going to attract better things when I do things the right way. And typically it has taken failure in my life, and some humiliation, to get to that realization.
My friends say, oh, we each worry about those things a lot more than others do. After all, we have to live with our own failings, our stupidity, our repeated efforts to resolve what’s gone wrong with yet one more foolish gesture.
Right now I’m faced with what seems to me to be huge failure brought on by circumstances I had no control over. Wisdom from others tells me to learn to control what I can and live with what I can’t, but what I can’t control has taken over and felled me. Now I need to stand up and return to where I was only a short time ago. But will I fall again? Probably. That which I do not control will always be with me, and I fear that those I care about will leave me.
So I must do what I can to perhaps ward off the beast that follows me everywhere for longer than before. I must learn from this and pray I have another chance that will allow me to succeed. I weep at the thought I won’t, and realize I now have little control over that, but in and of itself there could stand a truth I need to learn. Truth that belies what I have held so dear for so long.
I face difficult yet not insurmountable odds. I tell myself I can take advantage with hard work and fierce resolve, with fortitude and purpose. No trite quotes for me, but strength of mind and character prevail. This year was better than last. I can’t guarantee next year will be better than this, but I’m hopeful it will be.
At the age of 18, I went canoeing for the first — and last — time.
Don’t get me wrong. It was an extremely successful venture. I was with my church youth group at a river in northern California, known for its great canoeing. It was perfect for beginner and advanced canoeists alike, as the more treacherous areas all had an alternate route (walking).
In particular, there was one rocky streak known as “WipeOut Curve.” No one — I mean no one — made it through WipeOut Curve. I was in a canoe with my friends Debbie and Russ; Debbie was manning the back of the canoe, I had the front, and Russ sat in the middle, sans paddles. Both Debbie and I were novices, and we were advised to walk the path that bordered WipeOut Curve.
We weren’t particularly adventuresome gals, and knew our limits. We’d been doing well, handling the worrisome areas like experts, guided by Russ’s experience and our own common sense. It felt good, but the odds remained against us. For some reason I have long forgotten (quite possibly we were too self-conscious to walk in front of all the picnickers in our bathing suits), we decided to go for it. We headed straight for WipeOut Curve.
We made it.
The crowd of a two dozen or so people were incredulous and cheered us through the treacherous waters. We were focused on the river, so only Russ waved back, but we were thrilled. We had conquered WipeOut Curve. The two of us, who had never canoed before, had done what the most experienced canoeists hadn’t been able to do.
We successfully completed the rest of the route and enjoyed the admiration of the others in our group, particularly the boys, for the rest of the day. It was a high point of my teenage years.
I haven’t been back in a canoe since. The opportunity hasn’t presented itself, and I haven’t sought it out. But that victory has stayed with me.
The truth is, both Debbie and I were scared of wiping out, and that kept us upright as much as any skill we may have had. I don’t remember if it was the embarrassment of looking like drowned rats or the fear of hurting ourselves, and being teenage girls, the former is just as likely as the latter. If I’d had a choice, I may never have stepped in a canoe to begin with.
Except I did have a choice, and I chose to take the risk.
How many times do we succeed because the fear of failure is so strong? Is the victory any less sweet?
Taking a risk doesn’t always pay off. That day, the worst that could have happened is we failed to do what everyone else failed to do, so the risk was nominal. However, something about it motivated us to try the seemingly impossible.
The motivation doesn’t minimize the success. Let your fear take you places you didn’t expect to go. Yes, pay heed to the warning signs, weigh the risks, but be willing to take the curve.
I have an important decision to make…and what I’m thinking of doing doesn’t feel right.
I won’t do it, no matter how logical may seem. I’ve learned my gut, my soul, has valuable things to say.
It’s almost as if logic and reasoning is the lazy way out sometimes, although I’ll never dismiss the necessity to reason through a life-changing or costly choice. Sometimes, however, what the prevailing wisdom might say is the right thing to do isn’t right for me.
When you know, down to your core, what you’re doing or about to do is wrong, it can be difficult to justify sometimes. The logic points one way, but the logic is missing some vital information.
There have been times when I’ve been told to trust people or trust a system I’m not familiar with, and my soul has known better. I knew once I was being led in the wrong direction by someone I should have been able to trust, desperately wanted to trust, and instead of saying, “this isn’t right,” I accepted his decisions. I was afraid not to; I had lost faith in too many people.
I should have let go. Ultimately, perhaps only a very short time later, my faith would have been restored. I likely would have found someone to trust, a person who could have provided me with the support and power I needed to rise above an impossible situation. Instead I let this individual lead me down a path where even more people betrayed me.
It was a horrible lesson to learn. Rational thinking has its place, but you can never dismiss the weight of knowing you don’t have all the facts.
I’ll make my decisions in the future using all the resources available to me, the rational, the instinctive, and yes, the spiritual, for all of my major decisions need to be doused in prayer for wisdom.
I’ve been binge-watching the show Younger for the last few weeks, and in addition to being entertained by the program, I’m intrigued by the idea of going back in time and starting over, knowing now what I wish I knew then.
I remember my twenties as agony, my thirties as much greater fun. As my body calls out with daily new aches and pains, I long for the time when age wasn’t catching up with me. With what I’ve learned up to this point in my life, think of what I could do with all that health.
There are moments, somewhat fleeting, when I’d love to be 27 and have the full opportunity to start a new career, with a lifetime of growth in that field ahead of me. In my mind, I can picture myself as professional, successful, innovative, and admired for my deftness in cutting edge work. I have long hair and a stylish wardrobe, and if my lipstick wears off, I doesn’t dangerously age me.
As intriguing as the idea of a second chance may be, it discounts the opportunities available to me today. Yes, youth has its advantages and its appeal in the workplace. But for many, too many, it comes with limitations, arrogancy and insecurity.
Younger isn’t a going-back-in-time show, it’s a pretending-to-be-14-years-younger-than-you-really-are show. The reality is, I do, in fact, look younger than a lot of women my age. Not 14 years, but enough. It’s heredity, and I’m thankful for it. Still, not enough to pretend I actually am in my 40s, with all the opportunities that still exist for women of that generation. That’s because, at some point, in some way, I’d have to return to the angst of that decade. And as Younger shows us, you can’t escape who you are.
I’m best at being who I am today. At times confused, somewhat scared, yet more than anything else, optimistic. In recent years I have been blessed with greater wisdom and insight, and a more relaxed attitude toward life. I don’t worry as much about what others think, I see through the lies and pandering of popular media, and I’m better about standing up for myself. Far from perfect there, but I no longer fear the consequences of saying “you can’t treat me like that.”
There is a reason I am where I am today, and given the chance to take my life experience and place it in my resurrected 27-year-old body would fail the human experience somehow. I am meant to be taking risks, making friends, loving my family and defining my priorities in part by the age I am, with all the gifts and drawbacks that brings.
Authenticity and being true to oneself are such lofty terms. I don’t seek my authentic self. That self is already here. I seek integrity in my actions, reality coupled with creativity in my goals, and those precious moments when my cat curls up in my lap and purrs himself to sleep. I have my insecurities, but they don’t dominate my life like they used to do. I have my responsibilities, and I seek to meet them.
Authentically, honestly, I am 56 years old. That brings baggage and relief, wisdom and roadblocks. It is like any other age, with limitations, frustrations and opportunities. Life is a journey, one you are constantly having to re-navigate. Thankfully the tools get better with age. After all, I now have more wisdom and experience to break through those roadblocks.
Oh, heavens. I’m a bit embarrassed at how dependent I’ve become on my computer, and really mortified at how excited I am to be getting a new laptop soon. I’m lucky, I’ve gotten some extra work lately, plus my brother is helping me with the financing.
I may be less excited when I actually get this laptop. It’s only a 14″ screen, and I’m used to much larger. But I think I’ll get over that very quickly. Lots fewer cords — oh my!
This reminds me of a book my teacher read to us in maybe first grade. It was about a little boy whose entire house was automated — the stairs, the doors, the hallway, you didn’t do anything. It was all done for you. Until the day the electricity went out. Poor boy had to learn how to walk, pour a glass of water, even call out for his mom. He was helpless.
I’m not quite helpless, but I’ve had to rethink a few things. Like this blogging stuff! It’s definitely different on a smartphone. You’ll have to excuse the unedited nature of this post.
Last summer, a young woman I work with took a few days of her precious vacation time to be in a childhood friend’s wedding. It turns out the other bridesmaids were sorority sisters of the bride, and Lindsey didn’t hit it off with them.
Since they were the only guests at the wedding she even halfway knew, she spent most of her time alone at a table, talking occasionally to relatives kind enough to stop by and ask how she was doing.
The maid-of-honor had something to say about this. In a pseudo-friendly manner, she reached out to Lindsey and said, “you know, you’re kind of a sweet, socially awkward nerd.” The other bridesmaids laughed a little, and reassured her, “we mean that in a nice way!”
That comment is #1 on today’s list.
After she related this story to us the following week, I told my young co-worker, “better to be a socially awkward nerd than a catty bitch.” I wasn’t even certain about their assessment of her. But no matter.
Lindsey is hesitant to call anyone her longtime friend would have in her wedding a catty bitch. So to help her identify these types in the future, I gave her – and now you – six examples of CB conversation (as I mentioned earlier, #1 the bridesmaids provided for us). We’ve all heard these things said in one form or the other:
#2 “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that’s the dress I gave Goodwill last year.”
Sandwiched by insincere compliments.
#3 “It’s a shame the bride didn’t stick with matching just the color of the bridesmaid dresses.”
Said near the presumably (excuse the pun) misfit bridesmaid.
#4 “Oh, don’t worry, I’m sure in the right lighting that lipstick works.”
Unsolicited, to the woman standing next to her at the mirror in the ladies room.
#5 “My husband has a shirt made of the same fabric as your dress, but I refuse to let him be seen wearing it in public.”
Zing! Zing! Multiple targets there.
#6 “Is shrimp supposed to taste like this?” (Granted, in the right situation that may be an appropriate question.)
Most often said when eating chicken.
Stick with being a socially awkward nerd, Lindsey, if in fact that’s what you are. You’ll grow out of it, but these woman will never change.