Power Trips

I know that you haven’t had a ton of experience dating but alas, I worry. I worry for the hurt you might experience at the hands of a master manipulator, a predatory user, or simply a narcissistic psychopath. A wolf in sheep’s clothing as it were.

Some folks are kind and sweet upon first meeting, or just mysterious enough that their true nature is withheld. You may not see it until much much later, or maybe after a significant challenge to your relationship that reveals it. I can describe all the ways a person could turn out to be the worst possible excuse for a human being but this post is about the aftermath, the recovery in the event you sever the bond.

For your health and heart, when you discover you are in such a relationship and the hurt is beyond what any reasonable person should bear. You must break it off. Don’t look ahead and try to preserve it just because you fear being alone or you think it is mendable.

Once a person hurts you, it is what you do in that moment that defines the relationship. If you stay with them after being hurt repeatedly; you are effectively giving them the power to do it over and over again. The strength of knowing when to leave is the challenge.

You’re going to second guess your choice, because the hurt may cut so deep it feels never-ending. Reconciling with that person may seem like the panacea for this pain, but then you are saying to them “What you did to me that caused our breakup is allowable from this point forward.”

I recommend you walk away and do not look back. It is tempting to look back – to see if they are hurting as much as you are. That’s a torture you should never inflict upon yourself. It will spark outrage, more pain and hurt, immense sadness for your own situation and incite an obsession over them and why they are faring well and you are not.

No matter how they play it, if they reach out you do not respond. If you open a door a crack they’re going to push on through to deliver more of a hurt than before. They may have others reach out to you to taunt and bait you – picking at an open wound that is not theirs to pick. Seriously there are some sick people out there.

Sadists.

If you show weakness or sadness and it gets back to them, they use it. You keep your healing private. I know you’re not a social media user but you may have mutual friends and it will matter with whom you confide. Yes, confide in close friends of your feelings but only the ones you truly trust and will not allow your status to get back to your ex.

Some things I need you to do on a breakup, which helps the healing process:

  1. Block them from contacting you – block their number, their ability to email you.
  2. Remove all reminders of them (pictures, notes, gifts) for the time being. This may mean a donation to a charity shop or just putting things in storage but get it out and away from reminding you.
  3. Do not listen to the music that reminds you of a moment with them (either positive or negative)
  4. Do not watch programmes or films which may immediately remind you of moments with them. (this is not forever, just until the association is distant enough)
  5. If there are still belongings of theirs in your possession place them in a box and drop it with a mutual friend or if the break is exceptionally bad, leave it out on the street and tell the mutual friend to inform the ex to get it before others do.
  6. Do not – I repeat – Do Not ever expect closure. Do not try to maneuver for an apology. Just be okay with never getting closure or an acknowledgement of their transgression and any sort of remorse on their part. It will not happen.
  7. Get involved in new activities & change your routines to get you away from common haunts which could allow you to run into them.
  8. Find ways toward understanding what you need and what makes you happy. Invest in yourself. Go on a trip, take a class to learn a new skill, pamper yourself. Be with supportive and loving people.
  9. Give your time to a charitable cause to make life better for others. See my prior post to you on healing your heart.

And lastly, build your confidence up to find your inner peace before embarking on a new relationship. Rebound relationships do not really help. Give yourself at least a year to really recover from a bad break before getting back out there.

Rehab Time Rebuttal

Trent Shelton is promoting a video where the tag line is “It’s rehab time!” Much of the message is quite true – it seems to miss the mark by a margin. I will leave the link here for you to view:

I understand what he’s trying to convey. However, he still leads the viewer down the path of expectation in which others are there to support you throughout your life and if they are not they should be cut from your life. This is categorically not a realistic expectation.

It would be lovely to think that everyone was here to help you achieve or self actualize, but to tell you the hard truth. It is all on you to get there. People cheering, assisting or promoting you along the way is just extra.

My grandmother told me from early on, “There is no one truly looking out for you but you. Never forget that. Not your siblings, your teachers, your doctors, your government, your parents, your partner or your friends. Only you.”

I realized once I accepted that level of expectation – that I am the captain of my own ship, I guide the sails, I maintain it, I decide the course I am on and when to correct it; no perceived let down from others mattered.

If you go into life knowing that everyone is ultimately out for themselves and you are not their primary concern, then you can not be phased should they turn away or leave your life.

Read “The Giving Tree” again. It is an important message. You give but you do not expect a return. This is parenting. However, eventually, I will let you down – when I die. I cannot be there to give until you die. That’s just not how life works. Does it mean you should cut me out of your life? No.

You shouldn’t cut anyone out of your life just for not “serving you”. That’s a horribly self-centered point of view. I have a ton of friends I enjoy in my life but I would never expect them to constantly lift me up in times of crisis or need. That is on me – not them. They have priorities outside mine. I need to respect that. There could be things going on in their lives which need their full attention and I am not a part of that.

Making a Mean Sauce

We’ve made this together before and I shared how I learned it as well. But for the sake of your occasional lost memories, I’ll go though it again.

My grandfather (my mother’s father) cooked. He taught me how to grill, bake pies, make a decent roast. And he taught me this basic barbecue sauce recipe.

Remember this is a recipe of unmeasured amounts, though I always mix mine up in a 2 cup Pyrex measure. And like the dressing, make only what you need.

This recipe is flexible too. The base consists of a tomato sauce (catsup, tomato purée, unseasoned tomato sauce, or during desperate times – a can on condensed tomato soup), a sweetener (honey, OR brown sugar OR molasses), a mustard (yellow, Dijon, brown), liquid smoke, seasonings (Worcestershire sauce, OR BBQ rub seasoning) AND liquid smoke

The one we made together was pretty basic but my go-to for ribs or chicken on the grill.

You need:

1 c tomato base (catsup in this case)

1 generous handful of brown sugar

2 TBSP of BBQ rub seasoning

1 tsp of yellow mustard

And a few drops of liquid smoke (to taste)

Mix until all is incorporated and smooth. Taste it and be sure it is how you remember it.

If it’s too sweet add more tomato base and a little more mustard.

Not smokey enough? A few more drops of liquid smoke.

Not sweet enough? A little more sweetener.

Too Smokey? Make more of the base without the smoke and add to your too smokey concoction.

This is another where you use whatever is on hand that fits the basic recipe premise.

This should cover both sides of a rack of ribs or all areas of a whole chicken.

Never reuse the sauce days later if you have leftovers. Cross contamination of meat juices from partially cooked meats is a recipe for an all night date with the toilet.

Seriously only make what you need. If you had to double it due to a “too smokey” situation, split what you have into two containers so that you don’t have to pitch any leftovers.

You should be able to keep the overage for about a week tightly covered in the fridge.

**A note about molasses: a little goes a long way and it has a powerful dimension of flavor. If you use it start conservatively until you have the taste where you like it.

Dressing for Success

I will not leave you without you knowing how to make the dressings and sauces I made for you. My grandfather’s cousin made a killer dressing for salads which I never had the recipe. She made it from scratch every time and would pour it over iceberg lettuce and it was hella good!

Another was made by my mother’s mother and it was simply a hot dressing made from what I believed to be hot bacon grease and scratchings with vinegar and she would dress bitter greens with it. I never knew how to make them, lord knows I tried some experiments; but they never quite met my memory of them.

If anything I can leave you in terms of knowledge about cooking, is that you do not have to buy bottled dressings or sauces. You’re better off making it on the fly. Use only what you need in the moment.

If you need a salad dressing you need to know I make one dressing but then doctor it to be whatever I need it to be.

The base consists of an oil, a sweetener, a seasoning, and some acidic agent. I start with 1/4 c of olive oil. Then the sweetener (to taste) is either a balsamic vinegar reduction (light or dark), OR honey. Any acidic agent could be a citrus juice, pomegranate, cranberry (unsweetened), dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar. Seasonings, could be any herbs, spices or onion or garlic – just to give it punch.

It is a flexible dressing.
Honey mustard dressing you say?
1/4 c Olive oil
2 TBSP Dijon Mustard (either creamy or the seedy kind)
A generous squeeze of honey (but be careful- start small and add to taste)

Use a fork to whisk it together until smooth.

That citrus salad dressing?
1/4 c Olive Oil
The juice of one lemon (lime) (orange)
A generous squeeze of light balsamic vinegar reduction glaze (you can make this from scratch too)
2-3 crushed garlic cloves
Fresh ground pepper

Use a fork to whisk it together until all is incorporated. It is best if you let it rest for a while to let the garlic infuse with the dressing.

An Italian dressing?
1/4 c Olive Oil
a splash of the apple cider vinegar
2 crushed garlic cloves
Fresh minced oregano and basil

Whisk until smooth.

Get creative with it. I did a lime and crushed mint vinaigrette for a fruit salad using this method.

Lobbing My Bombs

This morning I woke up knowing that this is my second day into year 52 and it was a Sunday. Scanning through the headlines or propagandist matter that floats through my media feeds, I realized in 52 years I have been leading a life filled with lies and hypocrisies. Some I have known long ago and some I have learned over the years.

I am sad and angry at the same time but you know that.

I think you’ve asked me a couple times indirectly, why I no longer go to church. It’s simple. I don’t believe that my faith in god requires me to present myself to a gathering other others to prove I believe. I go in there and all I can do is look around and see a bunch of poseurs just gracing each other with their presence in their finery and to me, it is purely superficial.

“When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for
they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the
corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most
certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward.” – Matt. 6:5

I believe every action and word is a prayer/offering to god. The omniscient ever present deity sees what is in your heart and all that you do. And although I should not, I do judge those who show up and posture in the churches and on the street corners –shouting/singing the loudest as if they think their volume lofts them closer to their place in heaven.

That’s why I do not go. I invest my time and money in the immediate community regardless of their faith because I believe that is what we are meant to be doing. And I am not looking for recognition for any of it.

This goes to my next bomb. I don’t think people need a pat on the back for every good deed turned.  Being a decent human being is not a show which requires some sort of compensation/reward.  I think that’s why it irks me to see people filming themselves doing good in the world as a sort of self promotion. Dear lord! If you have to be seen doing it otherwise you won’t, then you’re lost far beyond what a map can handle.

I will also stand by my avoidance of all things evangelical. I should not force my opinion on you or anyone else. I can tell you what it is, but I am not going to expect you to believe the same thing. Everyone has a choice to do good or not. It is not up to me or anyone else to coerce others toward a path to be a decent human being. Ultimately, one will face their deeds on their last day.

I will say it has taken a number of years to put aside my vigilante ways. Fighting against those who have done wrong to show them the error in their ways. I felt it was a cause I needed to front. Sometimes I was able to deal the punishment for the crime, but sometimes it backfired on me and I should have taken that as my hint to leave it to their last day as it was not for me to exact the retribution.  I know now it is not up to me.

I know we part ways on the next bomb and that is that I believe a woman has a right to choose how she handles her own body. If she chooses to terminate a pregnancy, prevent it from the onset, remove her reproductive organs, or change her sex completely; it is her choice and not yours or mine. What you do with your body is your business and yours alone and what I do with mine is mine alone. We do not get the right to decide how others should manage their own bodies.

Nor do we have the right to decide who lives or dies. This is ultimately not for us to make. No murder, death penalties, wars are something we should promote or participate.  That said, I do not decide your fate nor you do mine…

BUT….

I do decide my own, as that is my body – my choice. I will not serve to decide if someone gets the death penalty. I will not kill someone in self-defense or in times of war; but if my condition becomes so bad that I will be a burden you or anyone else I will find my way out.

The one other thing that I believe is that the guiltiest of guilty are the most vocal and exaggerating in their piety.

“The lady doth protest too much methinks.”  – Hamlet (Shakespeare)

Being an observer of people — when one overcompensates (too goody goody) or is totally vocally condemning and overly pious, there is a strong chance they are hiding something which is the opposite of their posture.

After all said, I am no saint and I know my fate if everything I have studied is correct. I would rather be a sinner than a hypocrite.

Less Than a Month To Go…

In less than a month, I will hit the milestone year which aligns with my father’s collapse at work and his resulting brain cancer diagnosis.  He did not last a year from that diagnosis. His half-sister, Cindy and his brother, Tony also had the same kind of cancer originally found in my father which caused him to have a kidney removed. Cindy survived. Tony did not.

Last month, my voice had become hoarser with all the speaking I had been doing at work and my neck and sinuses have been inflamed. Each year, a new set of symptoms present themselves and I struggle and carry on; but I often wonder if I won the genetic lottery and I am going to get the same diagnosis as those before me.

He died at age 53. I turn 52 in less than a month and I am finding it hard to enjoy things while I feel less and less like myself. I am not steady on my feet after prolonged sitting. I don’t quite trust myself on trips alone for fear of collapsing one day myself.

I’ve noticed changes as I get closer to 52. There is an odor to me which is unlike the natural scent I have always known. It is strange and putrid. My skin is an off shade. (Don’t get me wrong, I knew it was changing since 1999 when I got paler and paler) Now the pink hue is missing and it is sallow. Really notice it in my lower limbs and my left arm.

And oh how I am tired! I’m not eager to run errands on weekends or nights after work anymore. I’m now having the groceries delivered most weeks and ordering supplies for the house online.

On a good day I take advantage of what I’m given and do as much as I can. The good days are not as frequent as they were a year ago. I am struggling.

You might have wondered why I’m going on about all of this. One reason is the genetic factor of what killed my father and his brother and how to identify the onset should I be the one.

Second and most importantly, each day is one better than the last; and even if I struggle and I am barely hanging in there it’s a gift. I cannot stress this enough: don’t waste a single moment. Enjoy it like a fine meal–savor every second you have.

Each Birthday after this point is a huge milestone and I’m going to appreciate the hell out of the day each year.

Learnings through grief

When I was given the news that Mom’s condition has worsened quickly and her organs are shutting down as marbling process has begun, I fell into a whole host of emotions.

It’s an unimaginable sadness for her condition. Shocked over how quickly she had degraded since I was out there in July.

Anger & frustration because I cannot do anything from 16 hours away.

Remorseful for being such an asshat in childhood.

Guilt ridden that your Aunt has had to support and comfort mom in these worst days without me there to give her relief

Fearful that because this is hereditary our children will have to experience this very same thing

Really sad that there’s no cure for LBD and this couldn’t have been reversed

Hopeful mom’s suffering is short.

You weren’t aware of the pain I was processing while my mother was in her last days, as I try to shield you from most of the unnecessary burdens to keep you on your own path. You should never shoulder the pain of mine.

I had those who reached out to offer solace and comfort as I processed. My good friend offered these words,

“…our challenges are but learning opportunities. Sometimes we cannot make it right with that person but we can make it right going forward taking what we have learned.”

I share that opinion. And I searched for the learning. From the hospice website, it instructs to try to be a calming presence while the loved one is dying. Sharing memories and playing their favorite music because they can still hear.

I sent as many songs as I could think of for your Aunt to play softly to our mother. I played them myself and a whole flood of memories came back. A lot of these songs reminded me of the times we grooved and bopped along while spring cleaning. Or the summers sunbathing and planting marigolds, bachelor buttons and zinnias in the back yard.

This lead to extended memories while your Aunt and I were young and we’d spend days watching shows together with mom. Teaching us yoga in the living room, laughing along with the Galloping Gourmet and the game shows, or watching soaps, Phil Donahue and Oprah.

My best memories were the little moments.

But the larger learnings were those times when I would fall short of strength or courage and in her toughness she’d inspect the situation and declare, “Oh, you’ll live.”

She encouraged independence and self reliance, through her own example of complete dependence. As a cautionary tale, we knew she wanted more for us than she allowed herself.

And although she and I had a rocky relationship as I grew older, I often wished our relationship was as close as the mother-daughter bonds a lot of my friends had with their own mothers.

My take-away from all of this is that we may not get the mother we hoped we had, but the one we were intended to have to make us who we are today.

For that I am grateful, I am independent and self reliant. I strive to be attentive and ever present for you.

I know both you and your father feel I do things with so much extra effort that you deem may be over the top and over-extend myself for others needlessly; but you see, I am taking what I have learned and striving to be better with the time I have been given.