And If You Did Know?

In Memory of Sharon Michele McAvoy Nichols .:. December 24, 1949 – October 10, 2005

November 29, 2003

Now What?

Filed under: growth,her words — mark @ 5:35 am

We are back home from a small vacation. We went to Manteo, NC to spend Thanksgiving with my Mother. Wow, what a trip. It is about 1,100 miles from here and it is not an easy trip. We do love going through the mountains of West Virginia and Virginia. We also love spending time in the car together. But Mark and I are tired. I am up and sorting through the joy and the trauma of seeing my Mother.

Mom is getting more and more frail. It is hard to see her in this condition. She has trouble breathing and she is less able to take care of herself. It is so hard to see her like this. I know she is coming to the end and that is so hard I cannot get my mind around it now. There are so many things running through my mind I cannot sleep. I know that she needs more care, but Mom is very independant. She is now living in section 8 housing that is alright but could be better. It fits her income and that is good. But there is no one there to take care of her. She talked about falling down recently and hurting her leg. She said she wrapped it and stayed in bed for a week. Then she felt it was alright. I can see that she needs several things. One is that she needs someone to see that she has food. Another is to see that she is alright. She will not tell anyone when she is hurt. She needs to see a doctor to see if there are things that can help her feel better. But my Mother is afraid to let anyone see her pain. She grew up with a very punishing father and an ineffective mother. She is very afraid of letting anyone see her weaknesses. She wants to do things her own way.

My problem is how do I sort out what I want to do to help her, and what I can do that will help without taking away her independance. It has always been a delicate dance. It is made harder because she is not direct. She does not talk in ways that show anyone her truth. She trusts me as much as anyone and yet she does not tell me the truth about what is going on with her. For example, she has always hated where she lived. Within 3 to 4 months of being anywhere she starts finding fault with the place and the people. She is now talking of moving from Manteo to Williamston, NC. This would be a very hard move as it is 300 miles. She wants me to help her and this would be hard since I live in Springfield, IL. Add to that the fact that she wants to do things her way and will not tell me what those are and you begin to see how hard it all is. I would like her to move into an assisted living situation where she can have as much independance as she wants. This would give her a place to have her own apartment and her own car. She could have a kitchen and cook for herself but there would also be prepared food available if she did not want to cook. There would be someone to look in on her. She wants to move to Williamston and move into section 8 housing again where no one will be in her business.

I would like her to move to Tampa, FL where my brother lives. He would like to have her there. I think it would be ideal because the Tampa Bay area has many services for retired people and she could have a place to live where people would be as involved as they need to be. But she is afaid that my brother and his wife would be too involved and that they would want her to baby sit with my sister-in-law’s adopted child, who has special needs. I truly do not want her to move here because I know she would become a hugh part of our lives and that would cause me to resent her. I spent a number of years trying to take care of her. I put off my own life in trying to make sure she was okay. I know I will fall into that pattern again. I now have a wonderful life and do not want to interfere with that. Gosh that sounds and feels very selfish. I know that taking care of myself and putting my needs first is important. But I want to take care of Mom as well. So I am up and trying to sort it out. It is very difficult. There are no easy answers and I admit to having a hard time between what will take care of me and what I can do to take care Mom. I do not want to take away her independance, nor do I want to give up mine. I know my wanting her to move to Tampa is about having her near family. I also know I do not want her near me. I feel as though living with or near her for 40 years was enough. I know I do not like who I am when I am around her. So I guess I have some more sorting to do.

November 15, 2003

What Now?

Filed under: growth,her words — mark @ 12:21 pm

It is 11:54 pm and I am awake. Normally by now I am fast asleep. I cannot seem to turn off the rolodex. I am tired, but I am still awake. So I thought I would just talk to my blog and see where it takes me.

I spoke with my mom today. That always takes something out of me. I love her. She is an amazing woman. She has managed to get through some very difficult times. She has a big heart and she can be very cute. We have worked through a number of issues. We have talked about our perceptions of the time we lived together as a family. She saw things differently than I and being able to talk openly about those helped a great deal. She is almost 80 now and she cannot do what she used to do. She lives in an apartment where they keep an eye on her and this is very good. She also lives near her family and they keep an eye on her. But sometimes I wish she lived closer. I start to think that I want to be closer to her. But then I actually talk to her, or I go visit, and I see that we do not do that well together. I do not like who I am when I am around her. She has a different life style that I do. We tend to bring out the worst in each other. So I know that I am better off having contact with her on the phone 2 or 3 times a week. I think what I am missing right now is the dream of having a mom who loves me unconditionally. I know intellectually that my mom loves me very much and shows it in ways that are meaningful to her, but not always in ways that mean that much to me. I know intellectually that I am the only one who can love me the way I want. I know that I am the only one who knows my needs and can fulfill the parts that felt ignored or put off as a child. But sometimes in the night, or the day, I wish I could have that perfect mom. I think that is what I am missing right now. The holidays are coming up. In my house this was a time of tension and fighting. My dad did not like the holidays. He was always angry and on edge. This made the holidays stressful and difficult. Since I have become an adult I have worked at making the holidays fun and full of love. I have built some of my own traditions such as wrapping presents while watching Christmas movies and drinking eggnog. Like riding around and looking at the lights people put up. Like shopping and looking for something special for the ones I love. I even decorate my house now. Most of all I have a wonderful partner to share all of this with. We have made Christmas a time of love and joy. But I still wish I could go home, like the movies I used to love, and be with my loving family. It is a dream. My family was never like that. So now I can make it whatever I want. That makes me happy, but there is still that part–way down in my soul–that wishes. Aw well, I know this is just wishful thinking. I love me and I will give my little girl, that is my inner child, a special present.

As I am writing this I also feel a sense of loss about not having children. I was afraid to have children when I was younger. I knew I grew up in a dysfunctional family, I know all of us did, and I was afraid to pass that on. I did not trust me enough. It has taken years for me to trust myself. I now trust me more than ever because I am as honest with myself as I can be. I know that my parents were not honest with me. I also know that they were not honest with themselves. They kept things from me, in an attempt to take care of me and not talk about their fears. The problem with that was that I filled the void with fear. As a child that fear was of monsters and big horrible things that I could not understand. As I grew up my fears became even more difficult. I know that I was afraid to face many things. I have worked at making a safe place for myself in the world. Now I can face more and more. I am very proud of the work I have done. It has gotten so good that I can even face the loss of the dream of having a Norman Rockwell family. Gee I guess there really is a Christmas!

September 26, 2003

Perhaps Not

Filed under: growth,her words — mark @ 11:57 am

I just read an article on One of my very favorite sites on the internet. They have such interesting stuff. This one was about sex. The author is a psychotherapist who works in New York. She was talking about a seminar she attended in New York. She is from Europe originally. There was a couple talking about their sex life. She reported that the couple who were being discussed had been married for about 10 years and had 2 children. The husband was not feeling excited by his wife, and the wife reported that she did not feel like having sex with him. The author of the article was talking about how Americans are goal oriented and too involved in having “open” and “honest” communication. She said that in talking with other non-American therapists at the conference they all decided that we are too inhibited. We need more mystery in our sex lives and that this will make eveything alright. We women need to understand that it is important to be more sexual with our men. That because we have been repressed in our upbringing, we are not sexual enough. Further that men have more of a need for sex, they need to be able to have their needs met, and that it is our job to see to that. What a bunch of hooey!!!

As a psychotherapist myself I have heard all of this as being the right way to counsel people. For that matter as a women I have heard this from men as a way to take care of them.

Let me begin with a simple statement. Sex is good. Sex can be a wonderful part of life. Sex is normal and appropriate. Sex carries on the species and this is important. I gave all of these disclaimers so that I could say some other things and not leave any impression that I am anti-sex or anything close to that. But I will say that we have been far too wrapped up in sex (and by this I mean intercourse) as being the most important thing there is. Because we think that intercourse is the only expression of sexuality it becomes the most important thing.

From my prespective a more important thing is intimacy and sensuality. I have been married for 6 years and what I am learning is that there is no right way to do anything. If we can let things happen naturally it will work. Now this does not mean just mean drifting along and not paying attention to the relationship, it means being very connected and doing work of being human. I think the hardest part of being in a relationship is building the intimacy. There are many components of this. Each person, or couple, has to decide what this looks like. We bring with us so much from our childhood and from the societal norms. We tend to want the other person to be what we want so that we can be alright. This does not work. No one can be what we want them to be. In my case I am in this relationship with someone who can give me a safe place to grow. If I become bored or unhappy whose issue is that? It is mine. I am the only one who can decide what is going on with me. My partner is not responsible for what I feel or do not feel. We have discovered that our relationship does not look like what we saw portrayed on television or the movies. The point of being together is to help each other grow and learn and discover who we are.

Perhaps when people began to come together as couples they did so in order to have families so as to help the species continue. But today we are not truly in need of more people so this reason is not quite as pressing. Marriage is about many things. Having children is perhaps one for many, but not all. Today marriage is more about two people coming together and creating an atmosphere wherein each can find what they need so as to discover who they are.

I think that when we discovered the need for formal marriage it was about children. It was very important to have them, they were important for many reasons. Helping on the farm or the family business, carrying on the family name, etc. We also died about the time they grew up. So marriage was about children. Today we live much longer. The children are grown and gone long before we die and so marriage is not just about children. There is no right way to be married. I am not trying to say people should do anything in particular to have a good marriage. I think marriage is an opportunity to discover who we are. This can be accomplished in many different ways. One example of this is that the traditional roles may fit you, or perhaps they do not. Perhaps some men are better at childcare or cooking. Perhaps some women are better wage earners. I think marriage can be a wonderful situation when everyone gets to find out what is important to them. When we struggle to fit into the traditional, when it is not truly you, perhaps it actually restricts us. The point I am trying to make here is that marriage is not about sex or children or doing what is expected. It is about finding out who you actually are. Letting this happen is not easy. We are rather goal-oriented and perhaps that puts unrealistic expectations on the marriage and our partner. What is the goal? The only one who can truly say is you. Your marriage is your own. Whether you are the “perfect couple” as defined by society, and we have all seen how well this works by looking at the divorce rate, or your marriage is between the person who will help you grow is up to you. It would be helpful to look at marriage as something vibrant and alive as opposed to some amorphous “thing” that is driven by arcane and outdated ideas. In so doing this would be an opportunity to be with the person who helps us grow and discover the truth of ourselves as opposed to the one that “looks” like our mate.

June 26, 2003

Solitary Thoughts

Filed under: growth,her words — mark @ 8:40 pm

I have not written for a few days, mostly because I had put what I had written on this blog on the Internet. When I did that I saw all the grammatical and spelling mistakes. I realized that if I am going to write it needs to be for me. I have been caught in that trap of seeking external validation.

I want this to be for me. I know that I will get much more out of writing if I do it for me. I know I exercised for years thinking it would transform me into the right kind of person. What I found after 10 years was that I am who I am.

I am here for a reason and that reason is to be me.

Not the story for publication or the one everyone else thinks I should be, but who I am. That is the hardest part of being human; to just be yourself. It changes all the time and yet it is amazingly the same. I am just me.

I just read a beautiful e-mail from my Sweetie. I know how lucky I am to have found someone that loves me without conditions or demands. Mark gives me a place to find the truth of me. He accepts me completely. In this atmosphere I can take the time to truly discover me. That is the true purpose of being here and yet it often becomes lost in the struggle of life.

I want to know more about me. I want to understand me more. I want to accept me more. I want to hear me more.

That is an important piece of this. To hear me more. I have talked to others often hoping to learn more about me and yet that does not really work. To hear me I need to talk to me. That is the reason for writing. It is me talking to me. It need be nothing else.

I know that recently I have been talking to Mark about wanting to share this information with others, but it is more important that I do it for me. I am a solitary person. I need quiet and peace. I do best when others are not around me. I like my own company best. I like people, but I need a lot of alone time so as not to get to far away from me. I get caught up in the stuff others easily.