Can’t Always Be Right

I articulated something the other day, one of those things I say and just knew I’d nailed it. This: “You cannot always be right and maintain a relationship.”

I was talking to someone and realized I’d just said something I’ve felt and said by going around the park many times before, but never articulated it so concisely.

right wrong

I had a friend (deceased now, alas) whose spouse did a world-class stupid thing. The friend said to me afterwards, “I realized I could have a really GOOD fight, or a marriage, but not both.” They opted to keep the marriage, which lasted a bit longer.

Someone else, a few years back, asked me how you forgave a spouse what they considered to be just short of adultery in severity. My answer, “You decide the relationship is more important,” which only sort of worked for this person, as they’re someone who has to be “right.”

The other couple I know where someone has to be “right,” both people involved are passive aggressive. Sounds like hell to me, but it isn’t my marriage, thank Gawd.

All of that went into the mix which resulted in this truth.

If you always insist on your own way, the other person will eventually get tired of it (unless they can’t for whatever reason) they’ll leave. It’s Gone with the Wind too, right?

Relationships are a continual negotiation, if you insist on “winning,” eventually you lose. You have to be willing to lose, just like you have to be willing to give some ground in a financial or legal negotiation.

I know a book dealer who was disliked by almost everyone in the biz in this state. The reason? He always wanted a bigger discount than the industry standard (20%) but when you were buying books from him, he always had a reason he couldn’t give you a discount at all. It only took a few transactions with him before you decided that you didn’t want his business or to look at his stock — for that reason.

You have to be willing to listen and give up something to get something. It’s the only way relationships work.

Bullying/abuse starts when there’s no willingness to give up anything, you have to always be right or in the power seat. At the extreme, you can get me to do what you want with a weapon pointing at me, but you can’t (unlike Chuck Colson’s adage) really change my mind. You can shut me up and mandate my behavior, but my heart will not be in it. When I can, I’ll revert to what I was before. True change only happens with negotiation, give and get, between people, groups, institutions, and within myself too.

The only way I can really live with the PTSD and the pain it causes is to acknowledge it, accept it, and give it some ground by paying attention to it. I mentioned to someone online that I do something I realize is dumb as a “safety” measure, because it really doesn’t make me safer, but it appeases my PTSD anxiety. In return, I sleep more.

I had to stop trying to get it to go away, stop being there, or change it. None of that worked. I have PTSD. It’s there; it’s going to stay there, and it is what it is. If I start there — now what? I do things like my “safety” measure because it keeps the PTSD quiet. I have to negotiate with myself. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, that is, giving it time to, was another way I acknowledged it.

It has taken me a long, long time to pull together all these strands to see their similarities.

Today

Off to work for someone else today.

Went by the antique store, the peg rack sold — hurrah! The desk chair is still unsold, alas. Went to the storage and dropped off some boxes I had prepared and moved things around so that the person helping us and taking furniture can get to things easily.

Then I came home and did the last of the knot sealing in the living room, so that part of the “paint the living room” project is done.

Our “company” is coming tomorrow, sometime. I’m off to go empty the dresser which is leaving and pack up some more boxes to go to the storage, tomorrow a.m.

Busy, busy!

 

Secrets

Next section of the living room wall is available. The only real question now is whether I do only that  or move an additional smallish chunk ‘o stuff first, then move the flat file — and access the entire remaining piece which needs knot sealer. It’s tempting to only do the piece we uncovered earlier today by shifting things, but I think I’ll wait till I can move the flat file (it’s 6′ tall and 5’ wide, and on wheels). All of the living room’s log walls are at least cleaned, sanded and then cleaned for the second time (tack clothed) 8:46pm.

Then I can do the actual priming and sanding, first coat.

Some of DH’s family are coming to visit. They’re going to pick up furniture. Hopefully they’ll help us get the table out of here, the cabinet out of the storage to here and also take the dresser and table they’re coming for. That will be hugely helpful! I keep trying to institute a “rotating work week/end” thing among the relatives. Two of them live in the midwest. I’d gladly spend a week out there helping one or both of them doing maintenance and house chores, like painting or yard work, or . . . and I’d like the same in return.

They already do that, to some extent. Well, one of them helps the other. Not sure if it ever happens the other way. . . .

If the dresser is leaving my office, that means that I can get the dressers which are supposed to replace our double dresser painted and maybe in the house? Maybe? One of them is in the wood shed, the other is in the storage.

In order to deal with the cabinet coming here from the storage and into the attic, I’d need to clean up the entire attic — yesterday, or maybe the day before would have been good. (Tomorrow I’m working for someone else.)

Today my helper was here and we caught up. Folded the laundry which hadn’t gotten put away, he taped the trim on the space which is ready for paint, and he dried dishes while I washed. I put them away. All catch up, but necessary.

I also felted a blanket, but that’s another blog.

We had salad and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. The salad was romaine and argula for greens, I’m proud to say that we’ve eaten up all the bok choy, mustard greens, etc. Usually, by this time of year there’s a mountain of green slimy ick on one shelf of my fridge. This year, not. WIN!!! Between working at this, and drying things I am NOT tossing food like I have in years past. I found 1 bag of spinach which needed to join the compost heap and a bag of herbs — that’s it. As I said, by this time of the summer, there’s usually far too much green slime in my fridge.

The dinner dishes are done. I’ve learned that if I leave a mountain of dishes to do after dinner — I won’t. But if I can manage to clean enough before we sit down that all I have is the last of the cooking and eating things to clean? Yep, I’ll do those.

A lot of this dehoarding stuff is learning a new mindfulness. I always thought I’d just know what needed to happen, when. Not so. I ate my cheese sandwich and when I was done, reached for the big salad bowl to get some — and put it on the plate I’d eaten my sandwich from. Before it never would have occurred to me that by doing that I’d have one less dish to wash, it just wasn’t on  my radar.

It’s more of the “adulthood” con job I think? As a kid I always thought that adults and some other kids just “got it” and I didn’t. That adulthood would be conveyed to me at some magical age — 17 was the number for many years. I was really disappointed at 17 and later when I realized there was no magical transformation into adulthood.

Since, I’ve discovered the secret, it’s that con job. As you get to be an adult, you get better (hopefully) about learning what you’re likely to forget/not do/need to do and how to compensate. To do lists, calendars, alarm clocks, whatever.

As I’ve aged, I’ve gotten much better about such things. I rarely really lose my keys these days, or wallet, or am late to an appointment, etc. I did all of those, fairly regularly, as a kid and young adult. But the housekeeping has always been beyond me because of the panic.

The secret to a clean house seems to be consistency (or repetition) and mindfulness.I get to learn how a whole new set of the secret adult “cheats”!

clean-wordpress-database

 

 

 

I May Offend You with This Post. If so, I’m Sorry!

I have been contemplating religion a lot. Partly because I realized the Abuser’s mantra that “God can’t love you, if He did, you wouldn’t be in pain” has been (along with the equivalent piece about my family) the hardest thing for me to “fix.”

My family, in the form of my brother, and I may just get to be easy acquaintances, although I doubt we’ll ever be friends — we have few interests in common. My brother made a real effort to see me in my own world and not insist that I meet him in his. I didn’t have to be a student to his college professor and we tried. I don’t expect we’ll ever be buddies, but we can be friendly. He didn’t sneer at me, which was what I was most afraid of. I know him well enough to know/see it when he’s mocking people. He wasn’t.

So my human brother can at least respect me. And, given that I realized not too long ago that I could have loved my sister if she hadn’t kept propping her ego up by making me less to her more, then what does that lead me to with God?

If I believe that I was likely NOT unlovable at birth, then I can accept God/Jesus/Christianity — right?

No.

It isn’t that I don’t think Jesus was likely the Messiah — he might well have been. It isn’t that at all. It’s the “get out of jail free” thing. I don’t want to be forgiven, or not in the traditional sense anyway.

cross

Where I am — seeing myself as flawed and that being okay, is a huge step up from where I was for 50+ years — thinking I was damned, vile and had to be perfect to be merely adequate. To go from that to seeing myself as so flawed that I then need redemption seems like going backwards. Am I perfect? No way.

This is also tied to forgiveness. I don’t believe in that “get out of jail free” card either. I’m sorry. I don’t think if Attila the Hun or Hitler had said “I’m sorry” and done whatever religious conversion that it just washes it all clean. No. More, I want to be responsible for my own actions. I’ve hurt people. I’ve been nasty, judgmental, done careless things which got other people hurt. Done them as a kid, done them as an adult. Am I sorry? Yes. Do I want to be forgiven? I don’t really know. I would like to know that whatever stupid, careless, selfish, arrogant, nasty, hateful, etc. thing I’ve done to or caused for another did not result in lasting harm. I’m afraid that isn’t so and yes, I regret each and every one of those instances.

By the same token, other people have done that type of thing to me, sometimes for decades (my sister for example) and with the repeated pain, I don’t want to forgive them, don’t want to hold the pain/anger tight either. I just want them removed surgically from my life, and no, I do not want to forget the pain — because it is instructive.

I think I have a different perspective about pain, especially emotional pain, than many. I have this completely overwhelmed grieving child stuck in me. I can’t make her feel better. I’ve never found the edges or end to her pain. It’s basically a baby’s grief of abandonment. Not rational, not limited, not controllable.

Because of that, and having to cope with it nearly as long as I can remember, people and things which consistently added to my pain I have written out of my life. No, I don’t want the anger or the bitterness, but I  can’t afford to forget either. That grieving baby takes a chunk of my resources. If person A or situation B consistently pushes me that way, it’s too expensive.

That colors how I feel about God and Christianity and that “get out of jail free” card. I didn’t need Jesus to die for my sins in order to be able to live with myself. I had to learn to live with myself without Him, as He was part of the “proof” that I was beyond redemption. If I hadn’t learned to live with my flawed self, I would have kept trying to kill myself until I succeeded.

Having gotten where I can live with being both flawed and human, I have no desire to “chase” forgiveness or redemption. I also have no interest or intention in pursuing relationships which continually push my buttons.  My mental health has been too dearly wrought.

At the worst, an encounter with these people can cost me two weeks of well being. Ask yourself, who’s worth two weeks of happiness or just being okay in your life? If you’re me, the answer is: no one.

The irony here is that this means I’m also denied the comfort of religion, and the Abuser wins again — sort of. This is still the best I can manage.

Falling Through the Cracks

FALLING THRU THE CRACKS

Three’s a lot of data/support out there for abused spouses. I’m not.

There’s a lot of data/support out there for PTSD victims who’re vets. I’m not.

There’s a lot of data/support out there for children being abused. I’m not.

There’s a lot of PTSD studies for people who have PTSD and have never had a TBI (traumatic brain injury). I have.

There’s a lot of data/support for rape victims, but I was raped over 50 years ago.

And it goes on and on. I don’t fit.

I’m not being stalked or abused by my husband. My abuse happened when I was a kid. I’m not a vet and have never been to war. I have PTSD but I grew up with it and so many of the issues related to dealing with it I’ve done, decades ago.

I AM the walking wounded, but I’m functional. I DO hurt from PTSD, but I learned long ago to mostly set it aside. I DO have repercussions from being raped when I was a teenager.

I keep coming back to this. For those of us who’ve learned to cope with (whatever) it is in many ways the worst possible scenario. We cope, mostly. So others don’t understand when or where we can’t. (Their coping mechanisms don’t work all the time, why should mine?) And, there’s next to no support available for those of us who’ve managed to not become so debilitated we’re institutionalized, whether in a hospital or a jail or ?

I didn’t become a homicidal maniac, have multiple marriages, get addicted to something, have fits of rage or pain, or . . . . Somehow the fact that I refuse to apologize, ignore or “forget” the PTSD as a MAJOR part of my life means that I’m less.

I guess it’s that I make others uncomfortable. Long ago I got that I was wounded, and would always be such. People who say things like, “Well, you don’t have to dwell on it.” or “Just give it to God.” or “You can be happy if you try.” or a 1,000 different variations of those are actually reacting out of their own discomfort. They want the world to be a happy place or at least don’t want to deal with the pain I carry.

Somehow I come out of these encounters, whether they are with my oldest friends or someone I just met, feeling like I’ve just admitted that I’m “less” because the wounding still matters and I talk about it. Part of that is social stigma, yes. Part of it is the abuse/brainwashing, “No one of any value will want to have anything to do with you.” my abuser says in my head.

I’ve been battering at that wall my whole life. When I was a kid it was because I was hurting so badly I needed a vent, any vent, or I might just have gone off the deep end. When I became an adult the wounding was/is such a large part of my life that to deny it is to deny a fundamentally HUGE piece of who I am, because it’s wounded. (I don’t remember more than a few days, maybe 3, before I started hurting.)

That’s like asking a paraplegic to not ever talk about how they lost the limb, the pain associated with it, the training they had to do to learn to cope, learning to use the crutch/chair they use or even admitting that they’re in a wheelchair. But maybe that’s an idea?

Maybe I should go find out how folks who lose limbs, etc. deal with the lack of real empathy around them. Still it’s different, but maybe there’s something I can use there.

I don’t know.

Why should it matter if my wheelchair is invisible?

Sorry About the Slog

This blog has become a journal of what I’m doing in the house, obviously. And although I don’t talk about it much, it’s also a way to give myself credit for the triumphs and disasters — the connections between my house/home and the lack of safety and abuse which gave me PTSD.

I’m pretty sure it’s a bore to read sometimes. I read blogs occasionally. The really good ones are funny and make a point — this one not so much. The good ones almost always have illustrations of the writers’s life. Again, not so much here.

The daily reminder that I’ve gotten something done is a huge help. The house still looks like a hoarder lives here (she does). The house still looks like I never get rid of anything or put anything away (not so). Reminding myself that what I’ve done and am doing is hard and I don’t need to hide and cringe in shame is a huge help.

So, I apologize for the boring bits and thank those of you who read this, regularly or occasionally. The idea that there’s a group of people cheering me on and the positive vibe that brings was first shown me in a now-defunct website, where Calypte and I met, more than 15 years ago. And although I know it’s not the same group of people, what I learned  was that believing I had a supportive community made a huge difference. It is as close to a real family as I’ve ever had (except my husband). People were involved with what I did, cared, and didn’t walk away or get busy when I was in a funk. If person A was busy or in a bad place, well, person B or C could and likely would step in.

Years ago, I travelled many miles to go to a convention in the town where my brother lives. I got delayed for a day. A friend in Virginia put me up that night. She and her husband live in a house on part of her family’s old farm land, as do both of her brothers, their kids, her mom, and two people, hand picked who they allowed to buy lots and put up houses. It’s an enclave, without walls, sort of. No, it’s just one family adjusting to the reality of the 20th and 21st centuries. Anyway, my friend said, “Aren’t you going to call? They must be worried sick!” I looked at her and said, “Becky, my guess is that they’ve forgotten I’m coming, and until I call, I’m completely off their radar.” She shook her head and told me I had to be wrong — but I knew I was not.

If my family had been involved with my day to day life beyond getting me to appointments, I wouldn’t have gotten PTSD I think. It would have countered one of the most damaging  pieces of the abuse  — that I was an embarrassment and only marginally tolerated by my family. But my abuser did what abusers do, she tailored her abuse to what existed. I have a laissez-faire birth family. At this point, I know why and can trace its origins. But as a kid I saw it as “proof” that I was vile, because that was how it was explained to me.

Anyway, the online community countered that. In its own way, it was a major miracle. The nearly daily blogging here is a continuation of that faith: that I’m not vile, people will listen and care about what I’m doing — even if it’s not presented with funny bits or pictures, most of the time.

So, again, I apologize for the slogging, boring bits, but I am grateful for every single one of you!

J

Today’s Plan

Well, I was going to make cardamon buns (see BBC’s good food site). I haven’t started, so the chances of that happening are decreasing, rapidly!

We need to go to the storage, with a tape measure and writing implements in hand. There’s a cabinet (about 2″ too wide to fit INSIDE my wagon) which I bought for the attic. There’s also the 2nd Hoosier cabinet, purchased for the revised kitchen.

With measurements in hand, I can determine what will go where. (Attic cabinet measurements and attic measured for it, done! 6:19pm) And, if we manage to get both cabinets out of the storage this summer, that with all the other things we’ve purged, will probably let us move the remaining furniture and books to a smaller unit, which will save us $, every month.

The major steps remaining of the house revision (except the neverending culling and cleaning) are:

  • Finish knot sealing, priming, painting the living room.
  • Get the cabinet into the attic from the storage.
  • Get the table from the kitchen and its leaves sold. (Leaves have been taken from the attic and are in the kitchen.)
  • Get the wooden floor cleaned, sanded and finished.
  • Get the windows out of the kitchen into the living room. (Long story, another day.) which will allow us to do the next step, below.
  • Get the sidelight window and zinc windows in the kitchen (part of the great kitchen move)

I have decided again, alas, that I pretty much HAVE to sell my wrought iron candlabra. I love it dearly but there’s nowhere to put it, except where it is. (It screws to the wall.) It’s too big to really work there, and there’s a limited number of walls in this house where it could fit. Wall space is at a premium, since our household is comprised of people who’re photographers, artists and book collectors, which means there’s enough artwork and books to cover every wall in the house with art or bookcases, at least 2 or 3 times.

I know I’ll make money if I sell it, I got it ridiculously cheap. But I didn’t buy it for resale, I bought it because I loved it and instead of the high price I expected, it was cheap; I snatched it up! It’s just too big, sigh. If it was 36″ across instead of 45″, it would be much easier. I keep deciding to sell it, then finding another possible “answer,” and then reluctantly admitting the new idea won’t work. . . .

I’m off to go get a bowl of cereal, my last cup of coffee and begin my day.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

J