It is early morn and once again I am awake. This morning I sit contemplating something a friend recently told me: that all men hate their wives. Apparently this information was given to him by a trusted therapist. Personally, I think I would have asked for a refund and gotten a new therapist but that is not my decision to make. I have pondered this sentiment and I am astounded that a therapist would have this as a point of reference. This is supposed to be someone trained to deal with issues of our minds and help us navigate the sometimes tricky aspects of life.
I am left wondering how we got to this point where grown men believe it is the norm to resent women or wives? My friend discussed this as if it was Ok and an accepted fact because it was the valid opinion of a therapist. Almost like a silent agreement or understanding amongst men. Many in our culture speak of relationships or marriage as if women are standing around waiting for any man to hogtie and force down the aisle to holy matrimony. Many buy into the notion that all women want marriage and there is not a man alive that would go along unless forced. There is no denying that marriage is not for the faint of heart and leaves a lot to be desired in the area of personal fulfillment, but that is another story for another day. I am left wondering why some grown men need a scapegoat for their inability to navigate their lives? Why are women to blame?
We do our young boys a disservice. We fail to help them understand or be present with emotion. We tell them that to cry is a sign of weakness. “Be a man, be strong, don’t be a sissy, crying is for little girls.” We teach them that vulnerability is an emotional disorder, one best avoided. In the end we are left with a society of men unable to express emotion. We fail to teach them the importance of emotion and how to navigate the arena of feelings. We are raising a generation of future men who feel it is normal to resent women or wives. We raise our boys to believe boys will be boys and that women are responsible for loss of freedom or independance.
If we want a society of caring men,we have to tell our boys it is ok to cry, to ask for help or to be tender. We must call upon men to teach by example. They must show our boys how to be vulnerable and soft. They must demonstrate to our boys how it looks to cherish, value and love women. Boys must be taught that healthy relationships require healthy people. They need to hear affirming and positive descriptions of relationships and women. We need to stop pointing the finger of blame at women and we need to raise compassionate and loving men.
Last night I had a dream. I saw the world spinning as pieces were being dismantled and flying off into space. i witnessed large divisions and splits around the globe. It all dismantled into crumbs and ashes of what had been. When I awoke I sat with the dream and realized it was speaking of rebirth, renewal and a new way of being. The old paradigms are dying and we are being shifted to a new reality. When change is afoot, it is never easy and we can spend an inordinate amount of time digging in our heels and refusing to move. Old patterns and habits die hard. We want to cling on to what we know, what is comfortable. The devil we know is better than the devil we don’t. We fear change and the discomfort it will bring.
With changes in America’s political landscape, as a black woman I could allow myself to feel a certain amount of fear. I am the product of parents who lived life before civil rights for minorities. My parents lived in the South where hate groups such as the ku klux klan routinely spread fear among people of color. I am the product of segregated elementary schools. I know the history of little Ruby Bridges who as a first grader had to be escorted to school by armed guards as she integrated an all white school in Louisiana. As a young child I watched nightly news as police in Birmingham, Alabama unleashed vicious dogs and powerful fire hoses on children and adults as they marched for human rights. Unfortunately some among us decry the loss of those times. The rock has been lifted and allowed ignorance once again to slither out.
I could allow myself to fear but I also understand this is the last hurrah for a dying breed. it is the death knell, the breathing pattern of the dying. Times are a changing. What we once had faith in is now being questioned and brought into the light. Those standing in pulpits and altars around the globe are being called out. These are the ones with whom we have placed our trust. There is a saying those living in glass houses should not throw stones. We have been living in a world of lies, control and oppression. We have fallen for the story that has been meant to divide us. Fear is the order of the day. We fear those that are not like us or any lifestyle that does not fit into our set of prescribed beliefs. We can spend billions to build a wall and bomb humans around the globe one hundred times over yet fear still prevails.
The universe will not be denied and is now calling for a shift in human conciousness. Either we join the call or we are left behind. It is time for allowance. It is time for compassion. What we knew in our world is crumbling but we must understand there is another side. Growth hurts but so does stagnation. Like the phoenix, we rise from the ashes
Today i did something that a year ago was unimaginable. I disconnected from social media. I was one who could have definitely benefitted from a 12 step program or an intervention by concerned friends. I was an addict. Somehow I accepted the belief that it was possible to have 699 well meaning friends. I am not angry or hold any ill feelings towards facebook even as it usurped a large part of my waking life. It did allow me to connect with people I had not seen for many years. However there comes a time when too much input is not good for a brain. Was it really that important to know what my friends had for dinner or what fancy restaurant they were visiting? Did I really need to get a blow by blow account of vacations and did I need to share mine? Did I not have enough to handle in my own life without adding other’s drama? There is no arguing that technology does not have its advantages as so much has changed and there are many of us walking around that would not be here had it not been for the marvel of medical technology. However, there is a price to pay and more of us are coming to the realization that increased technology brings increased isolation. What was designed to bring the world closer is pushing us further apart. Instead of reaching for our partners in the early morning hours, we are now reaching for the computer. We are hiding our minds and our hearts behind a screen and losing an important piece of our soul.
I am sitting in a coffee hut in a small town in Cuba. I watch as a little boy dressed in his sunday best looks up at me as I write. I watch the local people talking over drinks or just sitting with loved ones in the park. I watch a young father take a break from work to kiss his wife and cuddle his young son. Wi-fi has found its way here too as evident by the crowds gathered around a certain spot. However, the need to walk and the cost of a wifi card helps keep it in perspective.
In the Western world we have lost our way. With so much advancement and increased quality of life, more of us are lonely and sad. Anti-depressants to keep us from feeling and pills at night to help us sleep are the prescription of the day and any substance in between to take the edge off. This is not to downplay the necessity of certain medications to treat legitimate forms of mental illness and their use has made the difference in many people’s lives.
For many, this is a time of reckoning. It is a time for deciding what is real and what really matters. I depart social media and I begin to hold out for my true friends. The ones I can call in the middle of the night when the demon won’t let me go. The ones who i can touch and hug and know for sure they have my back and I theirs. I now seek a real life with all of the rawness, life, joy and pain and all the other crazy wonderful things that come with it. For me, a plastic material world is a plastic material existence. We are being called into something more.
Recently I read an obituary of a well known woman. As obits go, her many achievements were shared as well as personal family related history. Her many friends expressed their grief and sadness at the loss. I read on and noted the special gift she had that so many valued; she gave to others without any thought of her self. They spoke of how she always put herself last to ensure the needs of others were met. Her associates spoke as if this were her crowning star, putting others first.
As a child I often heard the word “selfish” bantered about. It was used to demean, to accuse and as pressure to put one on the path to “being good.” It would ensure that others will like you. I was told to give, to share, to put others first. I was told I would get my reward for being good to others. As a young first grader the word “selfish” was given to me by my teacher when I refused to share my halloween costume with a child who had forgotten to bring one. The teacher had requested that I give the little girl my mask since I had the costume piece. As a 6 year old I knew the value of having my costume in its entirety and refused. Selfish haunted me throughout childhood. Being a loner and a creative, it was used when I refused or had no desire to play with others. It was used when I felt the need to be alone, to gather my thoughts. Coming out of a big extended family, it was used when I needed to escape the madness and just breathe, alone. Of course it made me question myself and to think of selfish as something negative. As I have matured, I have come to understand the need to be selfish. I like to call it self preservation.
Society hails us for putting ourselves last, taking one for the collective. We are expected to follow the rules, play the game and be a productive member all while being a good team player. In my time as a hospice nurse, I learned the value of the caretaker taking care of themselves. Any one who has ever cared for a sick parent or child knows how physically and emotionally draining it can be. Often times when we are caring for those we love, we forget ourselves. Heaven forbid, we can’t be seen as selfish. Some of us equate how much we love someone with how much we suffer. I have seen loved ones sitting round the clock at bedsides of the dying refusing to eat, bathe or practice other self care. To be available for others, we have to be available for ourselves. We have to protect our time and our own physical and mental state and we have to be selfish. Healthy boundaries and the ability to say no does not make us selfish, it helps us to be whole. Take care.
This morning I wake up at 330 am. Being the insomniac that I am I figure I will make use of my time instead of languishing in bed praying for sleep. Here I sit Continue reading
A while ago I watched a horror movie called The Babadook. I have always enjoyed a good horror movie but always left wondering about the intelligence of those afflicted by the evil entities that are usually the mainstay of such entertainment. The Babadook, the evil demon, is risen from the pages of a children’s book by the mere mention of its name. It proceeds to unleash terror by inhabiting the body of a widow with a young son hellbent on destroying monsters. In one scene, the monster opens the bedroom door with intent to take over. Instead of jumping out of bed and giving all to getting out of the bedroom, the haunted woman puts her head under the covers in hopes the Babadook will leave. Helplessness seems to be a big part of the horror film genre. In the movie The Amityville Horror, a family inhabits a dream house in Amityville, New York that of course is haunted. Although the stairs are dripping blood and a voice repeatedly warns “get out” the family remains, hoping all will be well if they ignore or not read any serious meaning to the events. How one ignores bleeding stairs and warning voices in the night escapes logic.
Unfortunately, it is not only scary movies that bring red flags of need for action. Every day we are given red flags that its time to move on or make a change. Be it in a relationship, job or any other life event. We often tell ourselves it will get better, the symptom will go away or others will change. We live in our own fantasy land of delusion. As humans, we may often feel the devil we know is better than the devil we don’t. It takes guts to make a change as often we are leaping into the unknown and have no idea where we will land.
As a health care professional, I have had the fortune and the misfortune of working with and knowing victims of domestic abuse. I have heard one excuse after another of why they could not leave. I have witnesseed women return to their abusers telling themselves it will all get better. Fortunately, I have never had the experience of being a victim of domestic violence and I would hope I would have the determination and courage to leave a dangerous environment. However, unless one has lived it, no one can say with certainty the outcome of behavior. When we do not feel good or worthwhile within our own skins, it may be easy to allow others to hurt us as we do not feel our own worth. Red flags are warnings meant to save our lives. They are our signs along our road we must learn to heed. If they are seen early and taken seriously they can not only save our lives but help us to help others. When something feels uncomfortable or “off” it deserves further awareness. Look, listen and pay attention. When the boogie man knocks, get out.
We all want it and many of us spend our entire lives looking for it. Happiness, the elusive entity that tells us we are all good on the inside. We are in love with life and life is in love with us. It appears it would be easy to find if we only had enough. If we only had enough money, enough family, enough trips, enough adventure, enough material goods, a bigger house. You name it, if we only had enough finally we would be happy.
We may feel it that nagging little feeling telling us that something is missing. We search outside for just the thing that will do it. We fail or refuse to look inside. Many of us fail to realize that what we are searching for lies within us. Of course a huge windfall of cash, the house we have always wanted, the fancy car or the exotic trips will bring us momentary joy but with time the joy lessens. The trip is over, the house needs repairs and the cash is spent many times wondering what happened. We see it on tv. We watch others around us laughing, smiling, enjoying and we wonder what we are doing wrong.
We in our civilized modern world are working longer and harder yet many fall further behind. We grasp for our gold as our children flounder and we wonder why our relationships are crumbling. As an ex hospice nurse, I have spent countless hours at the bedside of the dying. They often speak of regret, what they wished they had done. I cannot recall anyone telling me they wished they had made more or owned more. The major themes were related to relationships. Many wished they had spent more time or showed more interest in loved ones. They also spoke of wishing they had not been so serious or afraid of life. One man simply said “I wish I had said I am sorry more.” In our busy world, we tend to forget, we take others for granted. We believe when we finally have what we need or want then we will have time to tend to those left on the back burner. Unfortunately, in life there are no guarantees and what we ignore today may not be there tomorrow. Material wealth can never fill an empty soul or an empty heart. Take care.
The ground is shaking and you just can’t seem to get your stable footing. You no longer recognize all that you thought you knew. You are on a journey but have no idea to where. Life tosses curve balls, sometimes strong enough to knock the wind out of our sails. Loss, illness, grief, any so called misfortune can set our path awry.
10 years ago my curve ball was cancer. It came out of nowhere and landed in the midst of my liver. Having no risk factors and being what I considered healthy, it landed in a time of my life where things seemed relatively calm. I thought I had it all figured out. I knew where I was headed. A diagnosis of cancer changes things. It causes a body to wonder why or what and brings the thought of death up front and very close. It causes one to question. I had been given a reprieve as the tumor was large but slow growing and able to be removed. I was going to survive but now what? I had been spared. Now what was I going to do with the rest of my time and how did I want to live?
When we set out to live a life that is truly ours, often we are met with demons and dragons along the way. We know what is calling in our hearts and souls but others close to us cannot feel what we feel. They cannot feel the pull of our soul or hear its whispers. They want us to come back to where and what we used to be. Familiarity brings comfort. After trauma, no matter the source, we no longer are the same. Something has changed. We struggle for a time to make sense of it all. We may even try to go back tothe person everyone else knew and loved especially when the road ahead looks uncertain. We want to jump back into the box. This is when we must continue our walk. When the path gets tough, we need to be tough. We need to understand there will be rocks and holes and pitfalls. We need to be prepared to fight the dragons and stand in our power. As long as we hold onto our soul’s calling and walk on the face of fear, we will eventually reach the other side of the bridge. To face fear and uncertainty requires courage.
Twas the day of Christmas and all through the house I sit here with my family in Eleuthera Bahamas. I am feeling very blessed to have my family here sharing this island paradise. There is no tinsel, tree or a multitude of presents. There is no brined turkey, stuffing or mashed potatoes. There are no stockings hung on the mantle. We are taking a break from tradition. Every year my family has celebrated the traditional Christmas since I was a child. Sitting together 6 months ago, we decided to make a change. We love Eleuthera and have had the privilege of visiting every other New years Eve for the past 4 -5 years. Of course this is change and not all of us are taking to it like ducks to water. There has been a little discussion about missing the usual fare, the lights or the smell of cedar, but we understand the importance of change and being flexible with tradition as change is the only constant in life.
I watch my father now maneuver from a wheelchair. Due to a back injury he is now in the chair at least for the next few months. This was the man who danced around the pool on our last visit here. This is the man who was a regular in the kitchen as he made his mouth watering rolls. Now he navigates a different terrain, one of a disabled individual. I watch my own relationship with tradition as I now navigate a new way of being in a long term relationship with my mate of over 30 years. Yes, we understand how uncomfortable change can be. Many of us dig in our heels and lean into tradition and familiarity even when it no longer serves us but we can allow change and growth to forge a new path. Change will happen, whether we want it to or not.
2 days ago a dear friend’s mother died. I had marveled at how close the two of them had been and watched as he cared for her in the most tender of ways. She had undergone a mastectomy 2 years prior and the outcome of her health always weighed heavily on his mind. I watched as he mourned her death with great anguish and spoke of the emptiness he would feel without her.
We cleave to our mothers as they were the first ones who saw us and gave witness to our being. They were the ones we could call no matter the hour or the day. They were the ones who were supposed to love us through thick and thin. However that is not always the case as with some the relationship with mothers can be tenuous and often leave feelings unresolved. Even in strained relationships, a mother’s death leaves a deep void.
The death of our parents makes us all orphans, a term my sister in law had used at the death of her mother in a hospital emergency room. We realize that we are up next. There is no longer a buffer between us and the grim reaper. For many of us that leaves a big pill to swallow. Our realistic mind knows we all will die one day but in the interim we hope against hope that maybe we will be the one to be immortal. We just cannot fathom our own mortality. We watch our loved ones bodies wither and the vibrant souls we once knew we feel are gone from us forever. Death scares us.
My friend was fortunate to be able to hold his mother the night before her death. He got to rub her hair and smell her skin. He got to tell her he loved her and take in any parting advice she had for his ears. He told me how difficult it was to watch her leave. He also knew how fortunate they both were as she was now free of pain and had died at home surrounded by her loved ones. We will all grieve the loss of loved ones and if we are fortunate, we will have made peace with the process. Early on in my career I had the good fortune to sit at the bedside of the dying as a hospice nurse. I got to be witness to last words, last thoughts and last regrets. I got to be present with others at the most vulnerable time of their lives, it’s physical ending. Sometimes we do not have the luxury of saying what we want to say or spending those precious moments as no one knows when death will come. Be it in the still of night or the brightness of day, with a rush of speed or a long journey into the unknown, it will come for us all.