Letting Go When There Is No Rope Left

Letting Go When There’s No Rope Left

I have a friend who is trying to get divorced. This has been going on for two years. The marriage was a good length, (ten years), and a good part of it was not unhappy but the divorce has turned into a nightmare of hatred, accusations, bitterness, anger, paranoia and deep despair on the part of both parties.

There were no children involved, several properties purchased together, and a long stream of expenses for their life paid for by my friend who gave his partner free rein to do what she wanted in terms of the household accounts. By the time he realized most of his money was gone it was too late for reason or recompense: his life had become unbearable as daily verbal abuse had escalated to the point of physical pain. There was no surviving the atmosphere in the house, no love left between the two marital participants, and so my friend left.

His partner filed for divorce immediately and thus began the long history of demands for money, property, shares in imagined earnings, financial reports, tax returns, and appearances in court, depositions and more depositions. Interestingly enough, at this point in time my friend’s net worth had diminished to one tenth that of his wife’s yet she continued to threaten, hire new lawyers, fire old accountants, make new lists about what she wanted, hide possessions from my friend, and make her life’s goal destroying her husband.

Now I ask myself “Why?” If I were in the same position would I behave in the same way? Of course not. I am a reasonable person who likes to work things out and find reasonable solutions to problems. I like to have situations that are emotionally complicated solved as smoothly and expediently as possible as drawing them out only serves to upset one’s health and make oneself look like a fool in the community. People that continually fight over nothing and act in irrational ways are usually ostracized by others and find them alone and unloved in their lives. Who would actively make a choice to live like this?

Why am I writing about this today? I think it’s a really good lesson to all of us about how to destroy your life and your Karma. Holding anger, retribution and bitterness inside yourself is a good mechanism to destroy your own life. I think it does more damage than smoking. Imagine inhaling all that rage each day with every breath and then imagine not being able to release it. Imagine getting into arguments with everyone that surrounds you and then not having any real friends left. Imagine acting in a way that is dangerous to you and to others. Then take a breath and wonder why.

I think people get so caught up in their battles they forget why they began them in the first place. Much like all the needless wars we have been involved with we often can’t remember why we started to hate each other. We forget our compassion towards others and towards ourselves. We exist on our own fear and we can’t even see how it is destroying our lives. We lose all reason and all awareness of our own behavior and become fearful individuals who are living solitary lives as it becomes too risky to trust anyone else.

How many stories out there are like that of my friend? How many people hold on to old stuff as its familiar: pain is familiar. It may not be pleasant but sometimes fear makes us choose the familiar rather than the new as the new cannot be predicted.

I am no angel. Believe me I know that and I am aware of my own failings just as others are. I am writing this to make sense of the situation to me as well as to you as it seems so insane. The only thing I do know to be absolutely true is that operating from a fear based self will ultimately ruin your life and leave you with no friends or family to support you. In the end as they say we die alone but I hope when I die there are people who love me all around who can send me on my way to a new plane with love and joy. After all, there is really nothing else worthwhile in life but love.

 

Heart

Subject: heart
I was waliking in San
Francisco and I felt a sudden jump in my chest: a kindove a flip flopping or a fist turning or maybe more like something foreign inside me that was trying to get out. I kept on walking as that’s what I do. I was the master of my heart.

Other times in my life my heart had tried to get the better of me and I had prevailed. Sometimes, cruelly I thought, it was at night just when I was going off to sleep. I had to remind it rather sternly that I was tired and had no time to play jumping games. Just a small cough or a walk to the bathroom was usually enough to discipline it back into shape. Until this time, that is.

I had a doctor’s appointment up the hill and I was right on time which I usually am so I kept on walking. The hill seemed steeper than usual and I, more breathless than usual, but onward and upward I went.

My heart kept jumping.

I found my new doctors office, checked in, filled out the forms, chatted with his receptionist, all the while noting my new internal enemy. I commented to myself how calm and controlled I was during the examination of my nose, throat and ears. I commented to myself how impressed the doctor would be if I had a heart attack right in front of his very eyes without a word of complaint! I think I was kidding here.

Finally, at the end of my visit, I asked the receptionist if my internists office was on the floor we were on now and she said yes. I found my way there, sat down in the waiting room, and told Serena my heart was out of control. She looked at me with concern, brought me in the back room and had the doc come in.

Apparently my heart was stuck in arythmia and I needed to go immediately to the Cardiac Lab for an EKG and so I did. Except I wasn’t allowed to walk on my own and was taken by a very nice medical student who was there to observe what happened in the course of a typical day in a doctors office.

The cardiac lab seemed weirdly abandoned which I quickly learned was true as it was lunch time. The tech assigned to me was from Egypt and efficiently attached wires to my chest all the while commenting on the fact that it was lunch time. Once she got the EKG machine up and running her tune changed and she exclaimed to the medical student to take a look at my heart! Of course this was unprofessional and very alarming, needless to say, but she did it anyway. The two of them stood looking at the monitor for a good five minutes all the while commenting and exclaiming. I was in deep conversation with my heart asking it to just stop this behavior.

Clearly my heart was enjoying all the attention as it kept right on with its really weird rhythm. At this point I as fluctuating between total terror and a nice and calm feeling of detachment. I’ll take detachment any day given a choice.

Later, while sitting with my brand new cardiologist, I was shown the places in the EKG where I had been able to disrupt the heart rhythm all on my own. All I felt was frustration that I wasn’t able to stop it completely.

Its disconcerting to lose control of your heart as you feel frightened about the next time .You know there will be a next time. It’s as if your heart has been working up to this for long time. Though I now have a bottle of pills in my purse that may or may not stop the arythmia I don’t feel safe. I feel anxious but also more peaceful. Its hard to explain.

I have learned that this is a very common condition and that this condition can cause a stroke which can kill you. I really don’t like that idea. I don’t like the idea of drooling, l don’t like the idea of losing control of a part of my body, and I really don’t like the idea of dying.Aparently this condition is hereditary. My father died of a stroke. I am not sure he had arythmia but I would bet on it. He had everything!

Now I need more tests to see why the upper and lower chamber of my heart are not getting along. There are things called “rogue cells” that disrupt heart rhythm and the cure is extermination of these cells through a process called “ablation”. Sounds like a skin procedure or a religious event. I wonder if I will be purified or remain in the underworld. I also wonder how long I have.

My Bunion

My Bunion and what it taught me.

First of all…was the bunion named after Paul Bunion? Does anyone know the answer to that?

I am an expert in what it feels like to have a bunion as I have had one for 15 years.

I never knew I had a bunion until a friend of mine who happens to be a plastic surgeon looked at my foot one day and said, “Oh MY! How long have you had that?” “What?” I asked…

When he pointed out my “deformed” foot I was in shock. How could I not have noticed my problem? Then my yoga teacher noticed it and focused on teaching me exercises on how to help my bunion. Frankly I had no desire to do this as I had no sympathy for my bunion. Apparently it was unsightly and it was causing all of my very expensive Christian Louboutin’s to be uncomfortable. I spent a bit of time each night trying to straighten it out along with trying to flatten my hammer toe.

None of these attempts were very successful and in the long run I grew accustomed to my bunion. Until the other day, that is.

I was at a friend’s house and it was a “take your shoes off “house which, thank God, only happens in California. I had taken off my right shoe and was working on my left when the child of the house who was standing next to me asked, “What is the matter with your foot?”

I swear, until that time I had been willing to overlook my bunion. It rarely caused me pain, it seemed fairly normal to me, and I just assumed the yoga teacher and the plastic surgeon were focused on symmetry and perfection.

Coming from the mouth of a child, however, I knew my foot must look weird.

All at once my world has changed. I am reluctant to wear sandals or go barefoot. I don’t wear the shoes I used to that I think now show my “deformity” too much. I am now really angry with my foot. You see, it is my second deformity. I also have scoliosis and never and I mean never walk away from anyone wearing a swimsuit. If I did I know they would also know about my major curve.

Basically for the past few weeks I have been whining to myself about my bunion. This whining has lead me to other imperfections in life that some of us have. Like cancer, for example. Imperfections, you may ask? Why use that word?

I use it because I think that’s how we secretly look at any human being with any type of disability at all. From bunions to cancer, we want to be perfect and if we find we are less than perfect there is a bit of embarrassment , an almost shame, that we feel.  It is so interesting to me how I came to this point.

I have a friend who has just had bunion surgery and has enormous pain right now. She had to have the surgery as she could barely walk. Sometimes at night I think of the doctor performing the surgery, wielding a giant hammer on that hammer toe, smashing it down, placing a pin in it, believing it will all grow back perfectly and be symmetrical again. This frightens me. I also feel frightened if I imagine getting sick with cancer and how I know I would feel as if I didn’t want anyone to know. I can’t be less than symmetrical, myself.

Life is so fragile: the constant unfolding of layers and the dropping of disguises. The process of understanding where you fit and what you stand for. Many of us have bunions. Many of us get cancer. Many of us have other issues that also make us fragile in life.

Loneliness, for one. I don’t really have a conclusion here. Just a commentary on bunions, an ordinary part of life and a wish that we could allow ourselves and everyone else to be less than perfect.

Dr. Oz Insults Women!

Dr Oz Insults Women

All right, I will admit right here that I love Dr. Oz but this week he disappointed me. I returned from a bunch of frustrating meetings and flipped on afternoon TV only to find it was “how to take care of your man  day” on Dr. Oz TV. At first, I couldn’t believe it. Here was a guy I had liked BECAUSE he was a feminist. His wife is a REIKI Practitioner, for God’s sake! What was he thinking? All these women jumping up to be the first to quote their recipe’s for a healthy male heart! All these overweight men being fawned over by their “oh so loving wives”! Where in the world is the “How to take care of your wives day”? Dr. Oz! What are you thinking? Do a show first on us! We are the ones that spend our days worrying about our men despite our knowledge of feminism and other important facts. We know we are supposed to put our men first in the eyes of America on the whole. How can you desert us like this?

Anytime you even think of doing a show like this, please do one first for women. Make it seem as if men really want to take care of us. We know we are all totally codependent but please help us out here. What would it be like if men were taught that the most important thing in life was to take care of their women? How amazing would that be? I, for one, have never been taken care of by anyone, not my husbands, not my parents, not by anyone. Do I care? Actually I like the way I have turned out. Feisty and cantankerous I may be but I can’t be described as anything other than independent. I hate the fact that I can slip into the “care for the guy” role. Hate it. But I know it is a part of my DNA. Dr. OZ! Please take a breath here. No more shows on male breast cancer. I don’t mind listening to prostate cancer shows or heart disease in men but don’t make us listen to more shows that find ways to show how we can help our men survive. Let’s have many more shows first on how men can help women survive and achieve! Now that’s how I really feel!

Insomnia

I have insomnia.It is perfectly clear to me that waking up every hour during the night is not what one is supposed to be doing during the night sleep hours but I can’t stop myself from doing this. I exercise, eat right, and drink plenty of water. I meditate, take walks, look at the moon, appreciate nature, but I still can’t sleep.I don’t understand why the medical profession reports constantly on the need for sleep. Obviously we all know about this need. Most of us who don’t sleep enough would like to but can’t. It drives us crazy.

William Shakespeare said it best.” Ah sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care”.

If you don’t sleep properly you live in a constant state of stress and anxiety. If it is morning you dream about actually sleeping that night. You say to yourself, “Tonight I will take an Ambien and sleep” Then you justify this decision. You make rules about how many times a week you can take Ambien to sleep. Is it two or three times or only one time? My rule is one time as I know the night after I take the Ambien I will not be able to sleep at all.

I don’t know why I can’t sleep but it began when I was about 46. Before that time I was the best sleeper in the world. I slept through everything and loved to sleep. I slept through births, deaths, divorces and disasters.I headed to my cozy bed and curled right up and went to sleep. When the sleep problem hit I couldn’t believe the universe was taking away the one thing I really needed in life.

Since that time I have tried to rationalize my sleep problems into one deep meditation on life. When I wake up and see the flashes of anxiety in my mind, I try to unpack it and put away all those fleeting and anxious thoughts but I can’t. For some reason when the darkness comes so does the anxiety. I remember being a kid and worrying about whether or not I would remember to breathe if I fell asleep as it seemed to require so much effort while awake. I know, I know…this is a sign of anxiety but this was the 50’s and everyone was supposed to be living a Donna Reid life. Anxiety was certainly not something kids were supposed to be feeling.

I hope someday they  invent something that will allow all of us insomniacs to sleep. I hope they do it soon. Sleep is the way we escape our worlds and dream of magic and reality disguised as magic. Without it we feel as if everything about the day lasts too long. Meals, movies, meetings, moments…everything takes a lifetime and all we think about is the night ahead of us and whether or not we will escape into our dream world for a few hours.

I wish all you other insomniacs out there sweet dreams and a solid six hours!

happiness

I read somewhere a long time ago that the happiest people were the ones who could look at their accomplishments and be proud of them. This seems simple, right? You set a goal for yourself and then check it off your list once you have finished with it. I find the idea of this is appealing but the actual process seems to  become more difficult. First of all, how do you decide what is a worthy goal? This part always gets to me. I compare my goal with other accomplishments in the world like maybe the Mona Lisa, or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. perhaps the Polio vaccine or the invention of sign language. Ridiculous, right? Why in the world would I even begin to think in those terms? That’s what I used to do when coming up with my own goals. Now that I have advanced in age I have changed my approach. I use smaller and less grand measures to evaluate my goals and try to keep them in perspective according to my own life. Like maybe the Golden Gate Bridge!I still find it hard to feel pleasure in my own accomplishments. I think all of us who are hard- wired to be filled with self-doubt feel the same way. No matter what it is we accomplish in life , it is never enough to make us happy. Sometimes we do feel happy but not that deep-seated sense of contentment we all long for. I was talking with a friend the other day about how we miss so much of the present by focusing on the future. There is always something better out in front of us than what we see at the present moment in time. I have missed the most magical things by having these types of thoughts. Once I caught only the tail end of a flight of  pelicans leaving for the winter, suitcases packed and in their mouths, flying south. After that I decided to start practicing being in the present moment. It is not always easy. Sometimes when the present moment is stressful I tend to wander off. Not in the physical sense but definitely in the mental. I am going to work on completion this year. Completing my poetry book , completing my novel and completing anything I find not completed in my life. This may also mean completing relationships that have been left uncompleted. Harsh words hanging out on a line. Angry thoughts still present when a certain face comes to mind. I used to think superficial relationships were useless but now I have changed my mind. We sometimes need superficiality to balance those other relationships which may be very intense. Sometimes it is a good idea to just be nice to someone if it means you can avoid any feelings of ill will. Yikes! It has taken me a long time to realize this.

The best thing about life is hanging on to the right to change your mind about anything and everything.

one foot out the door: go with instinct or denial?

When in a relationship it is a good idea to keep one foot out the door: true or false ? You might not believe this was a good way to operate? All the self-help books as well as the “right way to have a relationship” books would be shocked at that credo. You are supposed to trust with your heart and jump right in  when falling in love and making a commitment. I always preferred to keep one foot out the door. Keep a full tank of gas. Buy a small house in another state. Make lots of single friends. Always note any possible sign of a failing commitment and take a step away. Never trust anyone but act as if you trust the whole world. People are shocked when I say this as most others view me as open-hearted. I think I am open-hearted on the one hand, but on the other I see things I am not supposed to see.  The most difficult thing in life is to merge your instinct and your intellect.

If you have the gift or the ability to connect with your instinct you have an awareness of others in a way that gives you a clear picture of what they are and what they do. You know when you have been betrayed and you also know when, where and who it was with. I have had clear visions of  betrayal and when I confronted my partner about it and was told I was crazy, I felt crazy. My instinctive self is so strong it wouldn’t allow me to move on but kept on nudging me  into seeing the truth. I wanted more than anything to believe I was imagining things as it would have made life so much easier. It is easier to think you are crazy than to know someone you love has lied to you. Women have done this for centuries. We are trained to overlook our third eyes or even to overlook our real eyes. I remember that funny scene from an old Flip Wilson skit when the wife comes home to find Flip in bed with another woman. Flip jumps out of bed and says, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

We chose more often than we can admit to believe the guy and doubt our own instincts. I think there are men in the world who are faithful and who don’t lie to their partners. Unfortunately the more money and power a man has, the more likely he is to fool around. My mother used to say to me, “Dear, they all do it!”

I wonder what it is like to have both feet in a relationship and to trust your partner? I wonder how you determine whether or not someone is trustworthy and then what you do if you find they are not? There are those who will say it is best to trust and then deal with the loss of trust when it comes but I think this is incredibly painful. I think as you get older the ability to trust is gone if it has been damaged in past years. My philosophy in loving now is to see the truth about others and try to view everyone with compassion. I have spent decades whining about men and their failures to my friends, therapists and my pets. Now I am trying to see what someone has to offer and not judge this offering but choose whether or not it works for me. This practice makes life so much easier and I wish I had started years ago. Yes, it is painful to know someone has lied to you and  been unfaithful but in the long run it is less painful than to live in a fragile state of denial.

I am hoping to be able to find a relationship that is rich in trust before I die. I can’t imagine how relaxing it must be to know in your heart and your intuitive self your partner was truthful, open and loyal to you. I think only in finding this person will I be able to be the same way myself and keep both my feet inside the door. That would be the most interesting thing to me about  finding a partner to travel with. in this lifetime.