The End of Myself

Recently, I came to the end of myself. After decades of trying (and not knowing how to try) communicating (and not knowing how to communicate) in my relationship, I found myself broken and alone. The cycle I had been in for decades (with no resolution) was killing me. I needed a lifeline so to speak. I have struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts throughout my life. This was different. I was literally at the end. Sometimes life feels like one catastrophe after another. Much of which you endure alone. You might share some, but many of us don’t like to share for a variety of reasons. Some may find it helpful to talk, but many of us just find it too painful so we endure. And enduring takes us to dark places. I can appreciate sentiments meant to help us cope and endure, but for many of us who are just tired (cannot go on any longer tired) sentiment doesn’t help. Sometimes we reach a breaking point. I reached a breaking point and made a series of decisions. Whether these decisions were good or bad would be a matter of perspective. Have you ever reached the end of yourself? If not, you don’t know what decisions you’re capable of making. It’s best not to judge because one day it’ll be you. Just when you say, I’d never do that…you’d be surprised.

Our decisions have consequences. Sometimes we can’t see to the other side even when we’re someone who actually does well to always see through the other side. When you reach the end of yourself, it feels like someone else has taken over entirely.

Right or wrong. There are some things we can’t ever take back. The consequences you face may simply be the worst pain you’ve felt after some of the happiest moments of your life. Moments when you felt seen, heard…visible. Believed you had worth. Felt like you were enough. Began imagining again…dreaming, believing…everything you never thought possible. Even if the means to achieving happiness is all a facade, the means can be a powerful drug. Eventually drugs destroy us or we have to go through the pain of withdrawal.

It is what it is. When you get to the other side, some things just require acceptance.

Do your best not to re-live and re-think past mistakes, but do consider the lessons learned.

I believe everything happens for a reason. Good and bad decisions are part of our journey. Part of our story. You can find the good in everything—-even in our pain.

The Opposite of Authenticity

Most of us aspire for honest and transparent relationships. What does it mean to be honest, transparent, and authentic? It’s been my experience that these qualities are impossible to find 100% of the time in human beings.

In the movie, Interstellar, the robot TARS states that absolute honesty is not the most diplomatic nor the safest form of communication with emotional beings.

Do humans want to know the truth or do they want to be lied to? It probably depends on the situation, but I think we often settle for the lie over accepting the truth. There are some truths that are hard to accept. Also, our lives are complicated. For many people, our lives rest in a delicate balance. Whether it’s the truth or a lie may not matter. We just don’t want our lives to change. We spend a lot of time accepting lies and avoiding the truth. We don’t acknowledge our true feelings, which can cause serious problems when you’re essentially lying to yourself and other people.

Some lies are small. Some lies are not so small. Either way, deception, lies, dishonesty, and lack of transparency always has consequences. The truth will always come out eventually even if it comes out as emotions trying to mask real feelings. The truth is always there. Just under the surface.

It’s amazing to me how many people embrace fake people and their lies. By doing so, it keeps our lives comfortable so we can continue pretending that everything is perfect.

Most of the time, I feel like I’m living in WandaVision. Do we ever discuss our real feelings with family, friends, or co-workers? How often? Do we express ourselves fully or only partially tell someone how we feel?

I believe we spend a significant amount of our lives lying thus we never really foster real human relationships. Were we really born to pretend we have it all together? In what ways do our moral codes do more harm than good?

This can’t be really living if we spend so much time lying to ourselves and other people. Lying is so natural we don’t even realize we’re doing it! If someone asks you how you’re doing, we spend 15 minutes each discussing everything that’s going great in our lives—-and pretend that we’re not experiencing any pain or frustrations in our lives. Our lives are messy and painful. Why can’t we embrace these feelings? We must we pretend all the time that everything is ok.

When my husband was hospitalized months ago, I discovered that many family members have struggled with terrible illnesses. Yet I had no idea because we don’t talk about these things. Along the same lines, I have no clue who my parents are as human beings. Every aspect of our relationship has been secrets and lies. Sometimes I just wonder if anyone else experiences these things in their own life or if I’m the only one wondering why we can’t tell each other the truth.

If we can’t experience truth and transparency with family and friends, how can we expect our government to be honest. Everything feels like it’s getting more and more pretentious. Social media does not help. It’s either an endless stream or highlight reels or reminders about what the right decisions are (on everything) that we should be making. Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost our humanity when we’ve stopped being real. We prefer our reality shows over expressing real human emotion and just being ourselves. Anything real could be misconstrued as out of character and we’re quickly given guidelines to get back on track. I get tired of the script. Lack of realness. No meaningful human connections. Faking your way into a better job or promotion. Small talk that goes no where. Then, the surprise that someone’s life isn’t perfect so they essentially come clean (apologize) and discuss what they’re doing to get back on the straight and narrow. So we can all keep on pretending. Life is exhausting, but pretense and facade is just mind numbing.

Sometimes I feel like Jerry McGuire: who wants to be real with me? Who’s with me? Who wants to have real, transparent open dialogue in which we don’t judge each other no matter what—and no matter how weird it gets…we don’t leave. Because humans are weird and life is messy…so I’m taking fish with me on my way out the door…and I’ll be waiting for you…if you’re interested in something real, something life-changing that may actually bring that spark back into your life. 🔥

Good Things are in Your Future (and other myths).

As I review my recent blog posts, I realize that I have the voice of a cynic. However, I believe that it’s important that we, as writers, demonstrate our true feelings. How else will people really know how you feel. Plus, it’s hard to keep up appearances for the sake of (toxic) positivity and the false narrative that good things are in store for all of us. I read something to this effect online and on social media every single day. It makes me wonder: are these posts for us or are people trying to convince themselves that they are inching closer to happiness, love and wealth. It’s just around the bend. The truth is that we do not know what the future holds. We don’t. We may or may not achieve happiness, love, and wealth in our lifetime. Please don’t misunderstand: I want humans to be happy and achieve success, but just because you were born does not mean that you were born deserving. What we believe we deserve are essentially socially constructed goods and feelings. It’s true. The things we want today are not the things people wanted a hundred years ago, or two hundred years ago….and so on. Yet, we’d still all like three wishes. (Or answered prayers) As I get older, I realize that no matter how many wishes come true voids still exist. And I am thankful for my life. Very grateful. Make no mistake, I’m blessed beyond measure, but that doesn’t change my humanness. So many people want to pretend that they’ve transcended their humanness. You see this in their social media highlight reels and constant posts on positivity (live, life, love!) but then out of the blue they post something heartfelt (and authentic) about their struggle with depression, anxiety, infertility, etc. And we see them as humans and not someone just existing on social media to help us laugh through life. It’s a thing right now if you haven’t noticed: the housewife comedian. They go live and wait for you to ‘hop on’ so you can learn about what’s going on in their lives. Again, I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it can feed the notion that others lives are better than ours. They have more fun. Their houses are nicer. They seem to have it all together (until they don’t) and then the world is shocked.

At any given point, any of our lives could fall apart yet we spend so much time smiling and pretending everything is great—-or believing that something better is right around the corner. The truth is it may or may not get better. Wouldn’t it be better (for our own mental well-being) if we just accepted ourselves, our lives, our families, our disasters, our problems, our imperfections for what they are? Why do we have to spend so much time pretending? That doesn’t mean that, as a society, we should wallow in cynicism and negativity but as Leonardo DiCaprio said in the film, Don’t Look Up, why can’t we just agree sometimes that life is crap. Sometimes there are no (easy) solutions. It may or may not get better (no matter how much positivity you bring to the table some things will not ever get better). We live in a fallen world with a lot of broken systems that don’t want to be fixed. (Good example: many of us are enjoying a great life thanks to forced colonization. Yet, we don’t talk about this. The only thing we talk about now is COVID because that’s the only illness that exists right now. And if you don’t care about following all the safety measures that ‘the experts’ say we should be following you’re a terrible human being who is actively trying to kill others).

Good things may or may not be in our future. Even if good things happen for us, nothing lasts forever. Nothing lasts forever. Nothing lasts forever. So, be a good human. Have compassion. Love others. Buy someone a cup of coffee. Give someone a hug. We all need hugs. We are a society starved of real meaningful connection and affection. Plant flowers. Smile. Take a walk in the woods. Reach out to a friend. Take that vacation. Enjoy the little things. Stop worrying about things that may or may not ever fall into place. We have very little control in life, but once you realize that you actually come closer to finding peace and contentment. Peace and contentment will never be found on social media or watching others fake sparkly lives on a phone screen. Facades always fade. You can find happiness and contentment in the small things. If you can’t, then you’ll never find fulfillment in the big things.

Spoiler Alert: This Only Matters Because You’re Alive. When you’re dead (which will be soon) it won’t matter.

What exactly are we doing with our time on earth? You can either make much of time or spend it frivolously because (in the end) it doesn’t matter. Some people (not naming names) spend their entire lives lying to people. For what exactly? What is the gain in lying to people and convincing others that you’re the truth teller. (Don’t believe the other guy. He’s lying). In the end, both die. I’m not going to mince words (I don’t have that kind of time anyways) but so much is pointless. Yep, Ecclesiastes is my favorite book of the Bible. Why? It’s the one filled with relevance. Not the only one, but it resonates and speaks the facts. Much of the news is pointless. Mainstream media does nothing to advance your knowledge and intellect. Why? It all contradicts itself. Does it not? Ok, then just give it a month and it will. The media lies a lot. People lie a lot. People don’t want to tell the truth. People don’t want to hear the truth. People like bandaids. Of course, bandaids don’t solve problems, but we like bandaids because it means we’re pretending to solve problems.

One of the most important life lessons a person can grasp is, it is what it is. Humans are perfectly imperfect and we don’t have all (actually none. We have no answers. We just lie and say we do) the answers. The problem is that society (the conditioned realm in which we live) doesn’t believe that we handle the real truth which is….we don’t have a lot of answers and we’re basically making it up as we go….no that doesn’t work in the world today. We want unequivocal answers to our questions, which amounts to us receiving lies. It does. Just turn on the news. (Another spoiler: truth today may be fiction tomorrow because we live in a static world…means things change). Accepting that death (and taxes) is the only certainty, the only thing that’ll never change, will make you a better, and more well-adjusted human being.

We spend a significant amount of time in our lives arguing about pointless things. And worrying. When we’re not arguing, we’re worried. Is my mask ventilated enough or is it too ventilated? In the end, it would be better if we all suffocated as long as we’re doing our part to save our friends and neighbors. My body, my choice….except for those people terrified that your body’s natural response to germs may inadvertently infect them. Then, it’s not your choice. Abortion though. Still your choice. In most states.

Let’s just stay terrified until we die. Indoors. Afraid. Mad at the people on airplanes who are wearing masks improperly while the airlines tell us we can’t get Covid on planes due to the recycled air.

Are we living in a comedy? A drama? A horror movie? Sci-Fi?

We try to teach our children to get along only for our government and the media to tell us to not get along. If someone disagrees with this list of “values” they deserve to be shunned. We don’t care what they have to say. So, in the end, we’re contradicting everything that we are teaching our kids, which makes values and beliefs irrelevant…you think values and beliefs and community and structure really matters? Who does it matter to? We fight each other within our sacred institutions. We live in disharmony and dysfunction. We put everyone on pedestals. Everyone. Maybe we should put no one on pedestals (except Jesus or God or whomever you value as Supreme Being). As humans, everything is fair game. We are all capable of anything (given the right circumstances and conditions) so why not act like that. Why must we lie about everything….and pretend. And lie some more. There is no greatness (of) in this world. If there were, we wouldn’t all be exiting this world rather quickly. Yet we live in our bubbles. Continue to lie. Hate other people. Spread rumors. Half-truths. Misinformation. We make ourselves look good even though we’re all broken. We lie and say life is good. False positivity is killing this generation. There is so much wrong in the world and we’d rather not feel anything than feel too much.

We’re all going to die. Soon. Shouldn’t that be enough to make us want to be better human beings? To do better? To offer kindness? To say, I don’t know (when we don’t know). I have more respect for someone who says they don’t know than I do for someone who makes something up for the sake of providing “answers.” Be a better human today—-because you may not be here tomorrow.

We can agree (and also disagree) and still respect each other.

Recently, I had a conversation with a fellow parent about politics and the pandemic. Over the course of two hours, we actually discussed almost every controversial issue imaginable. It was a great conversation. So many conversations are filled with mindless small talk, which I tend to loathe. At the same time, people avoid topics that may be uncomfortable. It’s true that topics may be uncomfortable, but we often only growth and develop in our own opinions and beliefs by having mature conversations about uncomfortable topics. We agreed on many topics. I assumed we would given we’re both rather conservative people (shhh…) living in one of the most conservative states in the US. However, it became abundantly clear to me when the conversation moved to women and women’s rights that we had less in common than I thought. At least where it matters—-to me. In his opinion, women should get married as quickly as possible and education was not important for women. What??? This seemed odd and also ironic to me since he’s been divorced twice. In the event that your daughter divorces (I wanted to ask) how is she supposed to support herself. Women are often left with few options because….they’re women! Many sacrifice education and skills for marriage and kids. Am I saying this is wrong? No. To each his or her own. Everyone should make their own choices in life, but it did surprise me that he didn’t value education or skills for women. Side note: he’s upper middle class. I am middle (middle) class. Either way we’re both blessed with abundance, but abundance can be taken away. When the rug is pulled out from under a woman, what is she supposed to do? Just try to survive. So needless to say, we disagreed on this topic. I would hope many women would disagree with him on this topic LOL…but of course many don’t. There are many, many factors going into our thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. I actually see his point (because he made many valid points) but I’d never agree with him because I want my daughter to be independently and financially secure so that she can make different choices in life—-if that’s what she wants. I am a traditionalist with traditional values (yes, I can be traditional with some liberal views…you can too if you like! There is no contradiction here.) The reason I value female independence (separate from their husbands) is that anything can happen! Not just a meaningless divorce or domestic violence. People do die everyday. Husbands die. Usually first. What is the woman to do then? This isn’t Sense and Sensibility——it’s probably unlikely she’ll be moving in with the relatives. So what happens? Especially when you’re middle (middle) class which in America is one step away from poverty since we don’t own anything…except two flats screens and a Keurig. Everything else is rent to own. It goes without saying I have strong feelings when it comes to women’s rights (no equal rights amendment as of today by the way….) but that doesn’t mean I lost all respect for this man. He’s a good man. He’s a good dad. And, he’s a decent human being. You’re lucky to get one traits of these nowadays! Why do we write people off (and cancel them) for having wildly different views from ourselves? I feel like I have a valid reason to do so. I’m pretty stunned that he has taken this stance. I mean, it totally dumbfounds me, but it’s his opinion. And what has gone into that opinion? I have no idea, but maybe deep down he’s a romantic who prays every day for a son-in-law who will cherish his daughter, will take care of her till the end, so she doesn’t have to have a care in the world. That doesn’t sound so bad now. There’s probably some archaic patriarchal ideas thrown in there too, but knowing he’s a good dad who loves his daughter is worth something too. Our beliefs and opinions are complicated. We should be allowed to have complicated opinions and agree to disagree….and meet up next Saturday for a play date at the zoo. One day (very soon) we’re all going to die. Death is a motivating factor for many people. So why doesn’t death motivate us to be better humans? Give people the benefit of the doubt? Love people and their opinions for who and what they are? None of us are perfect. If you don’t believe he deserves grace and respect (for a clearly wrong opinion hahaha) then I don’t deserve grace or respect either.

You can’t move forward if you’re living in the past.

The future is straight ahead. Well, not straight ahead. The road will not be straight. There will be curves and no doubt potholes, but that’s the road to the future nonetheless. We can learn from the past. Our mistakes. Our failures. But that’s all we have left is the lessons of the past. There are good memories in the past, but there’s often a lot of pain too. I believe that pain exists for a reason although if the rest of my life were pain and stress free I would not complain. Sometimes I feel like I majored in The Essentials of Character Development. At this point, I feel like an expert who could guide anyone through the perils of complicated families and failed relationships. Most of my life is a chapter I’d rather not relive, but that doesn’t mean I’m not hopeful for my future. I believe good things are coming. As I get older, I’m becoming less of a cynic and more of an optimist. I feel like I’ve naturally evolved into optimist. Probably because cynic hasn’t worked so well. I certainly haven’t reached enlightenment. Moving forward is not always easy, but it is just that. One step at a time in the right direction. Progress, not Perfection. You will probably not achieve all of your goals overnight, but imagine how much closer you’ll be to your goals if you work towards them every day for the next year. It’s fair to say, you may not be exactly where you want to be (a year from now) but Progress is Progress. I’ve started watching 1883 and think, wow, they started out on a journey knowing that many of them would die and it would be a long, painful exhausting journey. Most of our lives are much more comfortable than what our descendants experienced and who knows if we’d even have what it takes to experience real struggle and real pain for a pile of dirt and some wood so you can build your own house. So maybe it’s not so bad and maybe your goals are more attainable than what you think.

People Don’t Change. How do we accept that?

Usually our intuition about people is correct. The problem is that we see what we want to see and think that (with time) people will change. This is often not the case.

Also you should ask yourself: If the person did change, what motivated their change? Are they just changing to make you happy? If so, they are still the same person at their core. There was no real change.

How many people do you think that you really know? This means that you know their core beliefs and who they are as a person. If the person did something bad, it would surprise (or shock) you. Do you really think that it’s possible that we know someone and what they’d do in any given situation?

Do you believe that human beings are capable of anything? Even the ones you think that you know and would never do anything out of character. I believe that a moral compass only takes a person so far. No one knows what is going on inside another person’s mind except…that person.

How do we accept that (at any given moment) someone might disappoint or surprise us with their actions? Easy. Take a look in the mirror. Sometimes the best way to accept people for who they are is to accept our own humanness. This is not popular. Honestly, even if this is what we say we believe it is not easy to examine ourselves and our own behavior and situations.

It is very hard to create boundaries. It could be one of the hardest things to do in life. It is painful. After all, we’ve forms opinions and beliefs (and often created a false reality) about people. So letting that go is hard. Ultimately, you have to decide is your relationship with the person healthy or harmful? I believe that we usually know the answer to that question. It’s the next step that seems impossible.

Let Us Begin

We have to start somewhere. Whether at the beginning, middle, or end…a starting point is crucial. I went to the Museum of Natural History several months ago. Upon entering the museum, I showed my vaccination card and proceeded through the security area into the main atrium. I love museums, but I always feel like I’ll never see everything…I’ll never be able to read….and absorb all the detail. As much as I love it, I’m overwhelmed by the number of exhibits. On this particular visit, I decided not to read the placards. I started at the very top floor in the very back of the museum in New Guinea where I wondered slowly (alone) in the quiet room observing the artifacts. The museum was a dusty labyrinth and it smelled musty. It was old. The floors reminded me of high school. The bathrooms too. I proceeded slowly through the exhibits admiring the detail in the reproductions. I browsed for several hours. Then, I left to make my way to the MOMA. I got lost in Central Park and then realized I was at least 25 blocks from the MOMA. It was my first time in NYC after all. There was nothing to do, but start walking which is what I did. Where I was. I walked. It felt like forever, but it was one of the best walks I’ve ever taken and as I walked I continued to fall in love with NYC. My eyes were opened to the charms and beauty of NYC. I felt like my life—-which had felt over for so long—-was beginning a new chapter in this city. It felt like anything was possible. These are feelings we never want to end. Possibilities inspire and motivate and churn desire. Hope. Potential. It’s like walking down a hall and unlocking a door and then you toss the key aside. The key no longer matters. You won’t lock that door again. So there’s no need to save the key. Stop saving keys. I’m going to start here and see where the story takes me. Somewhere in the middle is as good a time as any.

New Year, New Goals

Most of us would say it’s been an interesting few years filled with lots of changes and stress. Part of me hopes that 2022 is filled with fewer changes—more predictability, more mundane—but what are the chances in that happening, really? It’s almost easier to prepare ourselves (mentally and physically) rather expect the world to adapt to our expectations. With that being said, I have developed a list of goals for the new year. As I have gotten older, I feel like my “new year goals” have evolved—become more realistic, you might say. It’s important to realize that your year may be more challenging than you anticipate. Thus, you may have to re-order to cut some goals entirely. Life happens. It is what it is. So keep your goals as flexible as your attitude as you set of into the Land of 2022.

Tentative Goals:

  1. Continue journaling daily food and exercise plan. Include hobbies and other interests in my daily journal. Try to get 10,000-12,000 steps per day.
  2. Reach goal weight by the end of the year.
  3. Read 20 books. (I read very little this past year.)
  4. Travel. I have a trip planned to New York City in the spring and a trip to Malta planned in the fall of 2022.
  5. Finish novel. It won’t be good, or publishable, but finish it anyways.
  6. Continue writing articles and submit them (whether they are accepted for submission, or not).
  7. Make time for self-care.
  8. Re-evaluate needs vs. wants.
  9. Continue to lower expectations for people and circumstances.
  10. Finish the backyard. (I’m stopping here because I have no idea how long this one is going to take me haha)