The challenge this week over at the Sandbox is all about acceptance and asks the following:

Have you ever tried to change someone in your life?

Oh yeah.

How’d that work out for ya?

Utter failure.

Ironically, there has been a terrific little book making the rounds in my circle at work, which dives into those things we cannot control and how to deal with them.

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Amazon Link

“You should never hold yourself accountable for results you don’t control, but always for the strength of trying.”

My days of trying to change people or their behaviours are over and done with.

I have been struggling my entire life trying to fix people, which is a classic co-dependent’s way of surviving.

It began with my Dad, the lovable but totally unreliable alcoholic, then through two significant relationships, and ended with my brother.

I turned 50 and woke up one morning, realizing I didn’t know shit.

I had been picking up and fixing; scrambling to keep fragile plates spinning in the air for years and had failed every single one of them, but mostly myself.

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I actually did them all a disservice, flying to the rescue every single time. Fixing all the problems, applying band-aids to all the financial boo-boos that occur when you have an active substance abuser in your life. Figuratively rolling out the  red “fuck me” carpet over and over again, so they could carry on with their selfish selves, and leave the damage control to me.

What power I had! Sneaky little woman. In reality, moving all those puppets around, and having SO MANY brownie points and emotional debts stacked up and you know not a one of them ever heard the end of it from me.

I am shocked no one asked me to get off the cross, so they could re-purpose the wood.

“This can be a very sobering and humbling insight. We are so often taught by society that everything that happens to us – good or bad – is what we’ve earned and what we deserve. Thus, we constantly blame ourselves and beat ourselves up when we can’t make a change for the better. Yet that’s not how life works.

What we need to practice is a “radical acceptance” of life’s never-ending bullshit.

Bullshit never ends. Life will always make unpredictable turns, throwing us curve balls, and seeing how we adapt.

You’ll never reach a point in your life where everything is perfect and you no longer have any problems or obstacles. You will never reach a point in your life where the “bullshit” ends. So what can you do? Radically accept it.”

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There is such a feeling of relief and weightlessness when you come to the realization that you are ultimately responsible for no one’s happiness/ survival but your own.

Our children will always be in our thoughts and most of us will do anything in order to help them succeed and feel loved, but even there, we must learn to let go the reigns and just accept them for who they work towards being. It is up to them to do the work required in order to be functioning members of society and by giving and giving and not making them stand on their own feet, we are doing them a disservice as well as ourselves.

I have accepted  responsibility for how my life has unfolded and willingly accept that how the rest of it moves forward is entirely up to me and the choices I make.

I have also accepted that I am but a mere speck here in the universe, and although I may have thought I was omnipotent in the past, I must only focus on the small sphere of influence I actually have control over.

 

 

 

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Tired

I spent the day yesterday withdrawn from the world around me.

The night before yesterday, I fell asleep with the assistance of Ativan, knowing in my bones that the citizens of the US were about to have their worlds rocked hard-core when they all awoke the next day.

The reverberations of the outcome of that presidential election were immediate and felt around the world, and I didn’t have the strength to do anything other than go to work and keep my head down. Dodging water cooler talk , in order to avoid having to discuss what had happened and having to listen to opposing views on the event.

I did not eat or even drink water for over eight hours, to ensure I would not have to interact with others.

I zombie-walked my way through 11-09-16.

My only communication yesterday was a response via text to my youngest son, my soul-searching, achingly earnest baby…the one who has always, ALWAYS, done the right thing.

Followed the rules, walked on the greens, watched cautiously on the ambers, and preferred to let his bigger, braver brother break  path for him his entire life up until now.

He texted me at 8:27 yesterday morning with the following:

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And knowing him like I do- those few words said so much to me. He was bewildered.

He was in shock. He was a bit frightened and a whole lot confused.

Because I raised my children colour blind and in a home primarily run by a single mother, his half-awake brain could not even compute all the things that had occurred while he was sleeping.

How the clocks and the years had all been set back.

How the accomplishments and struggles of so many for so long had been neatly cut off at the knees and thrown in a burning, rusty dumpster full of shit and broken dreams.

How a woman who spent her entire LIFE working in public service and primarily focussing her efforts on women and children had been beaten in a democratic process by a misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, ablest, reality-star sideshow barker.

How the conman pulled off the long-con and emerged the winner over the woman who dared to dream there was ever going to be a spot at the big boy table for her.

How hard work and doing the right thing and slogging along on the right path was trumped by a bully with a loud voice and no morals, who has treated women and persons of colour and the disabled and prisoners of war with contempt and disdain.

I have witnessed some atrocities in my life but have never felt so heartsick as I did yesterday, not that the con man won, as I have seen many, many sociopaths rise high over the years.

My heart hurts that there were so many humans in the world that bought into his rhetoric.

My mind struggles in trying to understand how ONE woman could ever cast a vote for that monster, let alone many.

I hold women to so much higher standards than I ever have men, because I know our strengths. I know it is women who run the world, sometimes alone, but often at a man’s side- encouraging, planting small seeds, manipulating, loving, feeding, comforting…but always, always, ALWAYS working to plant those seeds…the seeds of forgiveness, the seeds of love, understanding, caution, consideration for others.

My response to my son was brief, and I prefaced it by saying I had been searching for hours to find even the smallest silver lining, as is my way. Typo intro should be into:

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I know my son is struggling to understand and I have nothing to give him this time.

My mother’s favourite response to us when we were growing up and whined that something was not fair, was ” Who ever told you that life was FAIR?”

I hated that response as a child and chose never to respond to my sons in that fashion.

I wanted them to think that if you worked hard, and did the right thing and treated others with kindness and understanding and with respect for diversity, that everyone’s life would be better.

Obviously, I was wrong.

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It has always been kill or be killed, survival of the fittest and the louder the voice, the greater the rewards.

History has shown that over and over again.

And money talks…boy does it ever.

Obviously, I’m struggling here and I need a minute to gather my thoughts and get myself back on track. I welcome any and all words of advice from those that are wiser than I am.

But there will be changes for me and they will be long-lasting.

I will be encouraging every young woman and girl I know that despite what we have been shown in the past two days, despite the fact that the nude model,the mail order bride who used her vagina and married rich will be moving into the white house with her con man, the woman who used her power in the right ways is the real winner here.

The one who graciously accepted defeat, and who encouraged so many of us to use our voice, and who supported her very flawed man with poise and understanding for years in the public eye…she’s the winner and the one who will go down in history.

No more will I shut up and sit quietly waiting my turn to express my opinions while a man has his say first and I feel the need to just let him have it to avoid being looked at as an aggressive, mouthy bitch.

No more will I allow anyone within my immediate vicinity to spew a racial slur or even slightly try to tear down or discriminate someone based on their colour, or gender or handicap or sexual preference.

I need to feel in control of my environment or else my PTSD ramps right up and causes me to isolate myself in order to feel safe, but I refuse to allow this dirt that is reality now to shut me up about those values I did my best to instil in my children and which I believe in my heart and soul SHOULD be most important and SHOULD be lived.

So maybe the con man and his deplorable minions won this round, but they won’t win the game.

 

 

 

 

 

Immortal

The thought of being immortal in a physical sense exhausts me, while the idea of  being immortal in a spiritual way seems right.

Someone shared the following with me shortly after my brother’s death and I have never forgotten it. It gave me more peace and allowed me to embrace fully my instincts that he actually was not far from me at all. I sense his presence around me daily, and always when I am looking for the strength I need to carry on.

We are all immortal.

It’s science.

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Happy

After a break, I am back to the Sandbox Writing Challenges, with a question about what makes me happy.

As I age, I find I am not so much happy as content or at peace, and that I much more strive for that than I do happiness any more. If I look back at photographs in my albums, there seems to be more pictures of me looking quizzically than with a face-splitting smile even going back to my childhood.

The little blonde girl at 3 is staring back at the camera, trying to work out in her mind what the person holding the black box “wants” from her. What she is expected to do or give, in order to please the large human taking the shot. Even the infant being held closely by loving arms, seems to be staring intently up at the holder, never smiling..instead searching…wondering…waiting.

20-something Shannon holding her babies and toddlers and staring again at their faces, their eyes, gazing down at a chubby hand locked into her own. Never fully facing the picture-taker, instead looking elsewhere, sometimes intentionally turning her head to the side..her eyes away from the camera, allowing the profile to be taken, rather than the eyes..those searching eyes.

My favourite pictures of myself that I have in my possession are pictures that were taken when I was unaware of the camera or the picture being taken.

One is of my Mother and I taken months after my accident, when she flew me home to see her once I was recuperated enough to fly alone.

We are in her living room on the sofa together, sitting closely and I felt a spontaneous urge to lay my head on her shoulder, while she was reading something. Probably to get a better look at what she was reading, quite honestly, as I was never overly affectionate with her. My brother was her baby and her cuddler…not me, and I was fine with it, as I’m not overly demonstrative that way.

But that moment caught in time shows me with my eyes at half mast, closing, and my face moving towards her neck, almost like a kitten searching out warmth or safety.

The other photo is one that was taken right after she died and I had family and friends over and it was well into the night and the drinks and music were flowing. My oldest son was around 18 at the time, and he leaned over the back of my chair and wrapped his arm around my neck, while putting his cheek against mine, snuggling right in. My friend just happened to have her camera ready and stole that moment in time, without either of us noticing.

I look pleased…startled almost that someone noticed me sitting alone, and took the time to comfort me. My oldest son has always signified safety to me, as my brother always did. They are carbon copies of each other, the two men I have trusted the most in my life with my safety.

Happiness to me, whether for good or bad, or for totally dysfunctional reasons, means feeling safe. No drama. No fears of the unknown or what could be coming. A sense of quiet calm. That incredible feeling that you can close your eyes for just a moment..and someone else is watching to make sure you are safe.

I have known for my entire existence that the other shoe will be dropping. It is an exhausting way to live, but I have been doing it for so long that it is second nature. I am not like my younger son, who struggles to even enjoy good tidings, in case it makes the next setback even harder to survive through. But I am always, always, aware of the danger lurking around the corner, waiting.

My way of holding on is to be absolutely prepared and aware- it has served me well.

There is a sadness that I have had to evolve into this person, but has become easier to accept it as me, than it would be to change it now.

I have Plans B, C, and D ready at all times.

I have course-corrected my entire life and it makes me feel less fearful to know that I am prepared to anything that comes my way.

I choose to enjoy the small moments now and am grateful for the little things that we all natter about as we age.

A great cup of coffee.

No red lights for miles.

Discovering new music through my sons.

Walking in nature and sitting with my own thoughts.

I really love spending time in my head and that  brings me closer to where I need to be.