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Archive for January, 2020

So being that there are apparently 112 days in January, I have had ample opportunity to do a lot of self-work that I had been putting off for a long time.  This was my plan for the month.  And it feels really good.  I’ve been staying in more than going out and keeping excellent company with myself.  I have been working a lot with manifestation and taking a good, long look at different aspects of my life in what feels like a very productive manner.  I have this whole day planner that I started for 2020; each day I write down what I am grateful for, or what I have learned.  I have been living intentionally and trying to direct my energy towards what I want to bring into my life rather than those things that serve to only weigh me down.

And then I met this guy the other night.  Perhaps one day I will detail this encounter in a future book but for now, in the interest of both the length of this blog entry and the whole not-putting-energy-into-icky-things concept, I’ll just say that I discovered he was a lying asshat, who, when confronted, fully admitted to his douchebag ways.  He apologized, he said he wanted to be friends.  I told him I appreciated his apology but that I had enough friends.  Boy bye.

But the whole thing put me in a really crappy mood yesterday.  I told a couple of friends the story.  I told them that I kept wanting to believe that there were good men/people out there but that I kept getting proof to the contrary.  It’s frustrating to say the least.  It made me wonder if my internal manifestor was operating in a completely faulty manner.

But anyhoo, I had to work at the bar last night.  I was grateful for the opportunity of distraction and during the first part of the evening, a bunch of my friends came in.  It’s like the universe knew that I needed some of my favorite people to show up and smile at me.  It helped more than I could ever really express to them.  Maybe my manifestor wasn’t totally shot.

However, at the end of the night, I was growing tired and there were a group of men in the bar who were sort of invading my personal space by crowding in the service area, so that whenever I actually had to go out from behind the bar for anything, I had to squeeze past them.  (Tip from your favorite friendly bar tender:  don’t do this).  At one point, this one man ordered a beer from me and, as he did so, he touched my shoulder.  I completely recoiled.

Now, a word here.  I have been in the service industry for a long time.  I have been touched in harmless and also inappropriate ways by men I don’t know time and again.  I worked for one summer at a members-only cocktail lounge in Aspen where it happened multiple times a night.  It’s not OK.  But unfortunately, it just becomes part of the territory of holding such jobs sometimes.  That’s not to say that I don’t speak up for myself when a line is clearly crossed.  And to be fair, I am sure a lot of these things that might come across as inappropriate to me have been done with harmless intention.  And sometimes, it completely depends on my mood on how strongly I react.

So my recoil last night….I know that the man meant no harm by touching my shoulder.  I also know that on a less emotionally volatile night, it wouldn’t have phased me.  But, alas, he touched my shoulder.  And I recoiled.

About an hour later, the man was getting ready to leave and he approached me.  He told me that he noticed my reaction to touching me and that he was truly, truly sorry.  He said that he knew he was in the wrong and didn’t mean to upset me.  For the second time in a short span of hours, I accepted an apology.  But this one felt different.  It didn’t feel like a bullshit apology.  It came from a place of true remorse.  I told the man that I had been having a bad day.  His eyes got sad.  He told me that he hoped that things got better for me soon.  I nearly cried on the spot.

I slept hard last night and I woke up this morning and realized that the universe had sent me both a gift and a lesson in this interaction.  The gift is that a stranger’s kindness made up for the earlier events of the day.  Wrapped in that interaction was the universe gently whispering that I didn’t have to give up on the idea that good people did exist; because they did.  And the lesson lay in what I chose to focus on…would I focus on the empty apology of someone who in not worth any more rental space in my brain?  Or would I focus on the apology that came when I wasn’t even expecting one, from a man who could have just as easily written it off…or worse…not even noticed that any harm had been done.

I will never see either one of these men ever again.  They were both passing through town, and through my life.  Yesterday was just one day in my life.  And when I look back on it, I choose  to only remember that kind interaction, that sincere apology, and a stranger’s wish for my happiness.

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Mouse Traps

The other day, a friend of mine was asking our group text for advice on what kind of humane mouse traps she should use.  I gave her the advice that my dad gave me years ago.  “The humane ones don’t work.  You have to kill them to send the other ones a message.”  Now, a word on my dad….he’s the most humane dude that I know.  He’s the man that gave me my love of nature, taking me camping and hiking in every corner of West Virginia when I was younger.  Sure, my mom hasn’t actually asked him his stance on adopting the past five out of six of their pets, rather just bringing these rescue creatures home as a surprise.  But all of these pets had him smitten by the time the day had ended.  He discovered the tenets of Buddhism before I did, which even further evened his keel.

But he’s also realistic.  The humane mouse traps simply don’t work.

Eight years ago, I found myself living by myself for the first time ever.  Previously I had lived with parents and then friends and then boyfriends and then a husband.  Post-divorce, I moved into a small garage apartment and my dog Maggie and I settled in nicely.  She found new napping spots and I was able to decorate for the first time without worrying about if my décor would match someone else’s.  I was there for only a few weeks, sitting on the couch with a book, when I noticed a movement in the corner of my eye.  It was a mouse.  Maggie picked her head up from her nap, watched the mouse run across the kitchen and then beneath the sink; she promptly went back to sleep.  I called my dad.  He gave me the aforementioned advice.

The next day, I went out and bought snapping mouse traps and set one in the cabinet beneath the sink, baited with peanut butter.  The day after that, with great trepidation and only one eye open, I looked to see if I had caught a mouse.  I was conflicted.  I wanted the trap to be empty, but I also didn’t want to live with mice.  The trap was not empty.  I closed the door, gathered my courage, grabbed a plastic bag and donned an oven mitt.  And all by my damn self, I picked up the trap holding the dead mouse and put it in the bag.  I gave the mouse a prayer of apology, possibly cried a little, and then dumped it and the oven mitt into the trash can outside.

I’ll never forget how proud I was of myself in that moment.  For the first time in my life, I was solely and completely responsible for a domicile; anything that had to be done to keep it up, I would do myself.  And gosh darnit, I did it.  The days, months and years that would follow post-divorce would be chock full of moments like this, moments of reclaiming my independence and becoming a woman who belongs to only herself, who cares for herself in the way she once cared for others.  But this was the first one.

I set another trap.  It worked again.  But opening the cabinet door, I saw that this wasn’t a clean kill like my first mouse.  Oh, the mouse was dead for sure.  But it was messy.  I called my dad and he came over and disposed of the mouse for me.  And I didn’t feel an ounce of shame in that.  My request for help did not cancel out the fact that I could have done it by myself.

So this mouse trap text came from my friend on the same day that I was reading in a book about having needs.  It was a synchronicity of the type which I am certain is not a mistake.  Synchronicities are never just random mistakes….but that’s a whole other blog.

What I read that morning was a piece about how, in these present times, we are made to believe that having needs somehow equates to being less-than in some respect.  “When we try to pretend that our needs don’t exist, or treat them as though they were pathological, we only feed the hunger in our hearts that much more intensely,” wrote the author.

When my last relationship ended, I admonished myself back and forth for being ‘too needy.’  Sure, it was partly because that’s the message I was getting from the man I was involved with; but to be honest, it was mostly me making myself wrong.   It took a lot of therapy and journaling to figure out that it was simply a case of my needs not aligning with his.  Because I was not asking for too much; he probably didn’t feel as if he was either.  But I couldn’t fill his needs and he couldn’t fill mine.  “You’re not needy; you have needs,” my therapist said to me.  It was the kind of advice that hit me deep.  I have since repeated it to friends and I can tell it hits their hearts too.

Because to be human is to have needs.  And to be in loving relationship with others is not only giving them what they need, but also allowing ourselves to have needs…..and then asking that they be met.  And if we find ourselves constantly asking in vain for these to be met, or much, much worse, pretending that these needs aren’t important and stuffing them inside, well, then perhaps we need to take a look at who we are asking to fill these needs. And if we are constantly in relationship with people who refuse to honor our needs, then perhaps we should take a good hard look at how seriously we are able to admit, respect and honor our own needs. If we deny ourselves our own needs, labeling them as ‘needy’ or ‘too much’, how do we expect others to treat us?

 

I know I am an independent woman who can do things for myself. I’ve had years of practice and never lose that sense of delight when I accomplish some household task which I could have asked for assistance doing. However, I’m becoming much more comfortable in also creating space for allowing myself to need others. I’m allowing myself to create a list of what I honestly need to feel loved and safe in relationship with others. I’m allowing myself to not only ask that; but to demand it. And if that is not what is being served, then gracefully leaving the table. I can clean up what was left in the trap; I can also ask for assistance when it becomes more than a one-woman job.

 

(I’ve lived in a couple of different apartments since that first one and have not had mice in any of them. Recently, I thought there were mice in my current apartment but it turned out that it was a bat. Which is beyond terrifying and completely justified a 2am Facebook post pleading for help. But I digress.)

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