Change and the Empath

Everything changes. I do not need to go through a great and deep spiritual awakening to realize that this statement is irrevocably true.  So then why is it so difficult for me to come to terms with all of the changes in my life?

In a few short days, I will return to school.  One of my close friends is gone, finding his destiny is New Mexico.  A love is lost forever, choosing to give up an opportunity for us to connect again.  A new class is on my schedule, waiting for me to put it together.  There are other changes, too. They are various and minor, but they are still there like barnacles on a rusty ship.  Yes, in this analogy I am an old, big, rusty ship.

The way I see it, I have two choices.  I can either embrace these changes and meet them with open arms and an open mind or I can continue to brood and wallow in my fear of the unknown and my sadness that my expectations were not met.  It seems like an obvious choice.  Why wouldn’t one want to put down unhealthy feelings of attachment to people and events that no longer serve?  If it were only that easy…

But do not fret, I know the right direction, and I will venture ahead with my chest forward and hands at my side.  I knew when this summer began that I was going to hide in a cocoon of my own making for awhile, but I also knew that I would have to hatch at some point.  

“Sometimes,” Jem said, “our lives can change so fast that the change outpaces our minds and hearts. It’s those times, I think, when our lives have altered but we still long for the time before everything was altered– that is when we feel the greatest pain. I can tell you, though, from experience, you grow accustomed to it. You learn to live your new life, and you can’t imagine, or even really remember, how things were before.” 
― Cassandra ClareClockwork Angel

Loss and the Empath

Okay, so I think the Universe is trying to tell me something.  I wrote earlier about the realization that any relationship with “the guy” was over.  I talked about how I was struggling with my feelings.  Truthfully, I have spent a number of days dealing with the waves of loss and acceptance that come with all of this pain.

In the wake of all of that, my youngest son finally gave up his binky.  He’s a little old for it, but I let it hang around because he was allowed to use it when he took his nap or went to bed at night. It acted as a nice soother and way to get him to sleep.  But when he came downstairs with it, I sharply told him to bring it back to his room.  I was even angrier when I came back fifteen minutes later, and he was reclining with the binky in his mouth.  

“Put the binky in your room or you’re going to lose it,” I said angrily.

“Lose it, Mom,” he answered with a smile.  I paused.  I could not believe what was happening.

“I don’t think you understand.  It’s going to be gone.  I am going to throw it in trash,” I answered.  Again he smiled at me.  There was no way it was going to be this easy.  How many times had I a bribed, begged, and discussed getting rid of this binky? Each time he stubbornly refused.

“Throw it in the trash,” he said.  I shook my head and promptly went into the kitchen and loudly threw it in the trashcan.  He was beside me in two seconds.  Yes, I thought, this is where he digs it out of the trash. But he didn’t.  He waved.

“Bye bye, Binky,” he said as he closed the lid.

“Okay, little man.  So be it.”

All day I reminded him and told him again and again that he would not have his binky when he went to bed.  I continually asked him where his binky was to which he happily replied, “In the trashcan.”  

When bedtime came around, it was a significantly different story.

“Mom, I need my binky,” he blinked sweetly.

“Buddy, you know your binky is in the trash,” I answered.

“Noooooo,” he screamed.  My heart started to race.  I knew this was going to happen.  I knew he was going to do this.  I started to think about how far down the binky was in the trashcan.  It wouldn’t be that difficult to dig it out.  “I need my binky,” he continued.  “I need it really, really bad.”  I felt how upset he was, and I could relate so completely, but at the same time, I could feel how important this moment was.  

A voice in my head said, “You can give him the binky.  It will have to go eventually, but you can give it to him now.”  It wouldn’t be terrible. It made perfect sense, but with this voice came a feeling of knowing.  He would have to deal with this loss at some point.  I could either teach him that his choice had consequences that could be easily undone and fight this battle another time, or I could stand strong right now.  Now seemed just as good of a time as any.

My little man was not happy with my resolve.  “My binky,” he wailed.  I sat and held him, knowing that when I suffer from feelings of loss I like to be held.  He cried with me beside him for about ten minutes, and then he fell asleep.  

I went to bed believing that the worst was over, but about an hour after I went to bed, my other son woke up with a sick belly.  He was throwing up and moaning in pain.  I helped him through it, got him back asleep and then crawled into bed.  What felt like minutes later, my younger son woke up crying desperately for his binky.  I cringed and suddenly became angry.  I just wanted to ignore it, let him cry it out or just give in. I pulled myself together and went into his room.  In the dark, I saw that he had switched ends in his bed and was crying.

“I want my binky really, really bad,” he cried.  I was so tired.  I felt so defeated. I also remembered that there was another binky on top of the dryer in the basement.  It was displaced months ago and never made it back to my son’s room. Again I heard the voice in my head telling me with the greatest of love that it would be okay if I just gave in.  This battle could be fought another day, but I thought about my own struggles with loss.  I knew that there was an important lesson here because even though this situation could be solved with just giving him the spare binky, there would be things in the future that could not be undone.  I could help him on his journey, and at the same time confirm what I already knew.  Sometimes in life we just have to let go of the things that do not serve us any longer.  We must appreciate the place they had in our lives when they were here. We must take the good memories and lessons and feelings of security and know that nothing in this life is permanent.  

So I took my little guy’s pillow pet and put it under my legs to keep my knees from digging into the hardwood floor as I rubbed his back.  I kissed him, but didn’t say much. I stayed like that until his breathing broke into an easy pattern and I was sure he was sleeping again.  When I realized he did not need me any longer, I went off to bed with a grateful heart.  I was so proud of his struggle.  I felt so blessed that I was given the opportunity to help him through it.  

As I laid my head back on my pillow, I thought about my own life, and the entire experience reminded me of something I just read the other day.  Bukowski has always been one of my favorite poets.  His work is so brash, harsh, real, and these words stayed with me.

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”  

-C. Bukowski

Heartbreak and the Empath

How many times can a person break your heart?  I guess it’s as many times as I let him.

Oh, the moment when you realize that the final little bit of hope in your heart is ripped out for the final time and you are left wondering how that hope ever got there in the first place.

In between the unofficial end of my marriage and my divorce, I fell in love.  It had all the makings of a major heartbreak.  He was younger than me; we worked together; we wanted entirely different things; I needed to go through my divorce.  I stopped the budding relationship because I just couldn’t do it, and in my mind, I believed that when the time was right, it would all come back together.  It was not a clean break and so many things happened that just continued to tarnish what we “could” have had.  

Every single sign showed that this was not meant to be and that this relationship was not for the long haul, but I still wished, hoped, and prayed that we would get back together when the dust settled.  Recently the reality that it is entirely over entered and it is overwhelming and denial is impossible.  

I am vacillating between sadness and acceptance.  The waves continue to crash in my heart and mind, and I can’t believe that I am here again. I can’t believe that he could come back and break the last remaining pieces of my heart like this.  

All of the old adages are of little use right now.  In two weeks I have to go back to school and see his face, knowing that he feels nothing for me and that everything I thought was so wrong and so right.  

How am I going to do this????

 

The Empath and the Miserable Neighbor

 

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but thought about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral. It is as it is.” -Eckhart Tolle

My boys and I went to visit a friend yesterday.  She has two boys, too.  They are a little older, but it was a lot of fun.

While I was there, my friend asked me to read her neighbor. 

“What do you get from that guy?” She asked.  My friend and I work together, so I have heard a lot of stories about this neighbor.  She believes that he is crazy, and she dislikes him immensely.  “Oh,” she said. “I feel like a voyeur.”  And I guess I am a voyeur of sorts, but I was hoping to give her some insight into the man.  He was outside in his backyard, working on things it seemed.  “I think that shed is like a meth lab or something,” she said.

When I tuned in on this older man, he felt miserable and angry.  I don’t think I have felt this level of anger and sadness in another human being in a long time.  He purposely keeps to himself and will not let anyone into his heart or his world.  

“I also see a woman.  She is not his mom or his wife, but she feels older than him,” I said.

“Yes,” my friend said.  “He has a girlfriend.”

“He hates her,” I said.  “She is always telling him what to do and yelling at him, but he needs her.  He can’t leave.”

“Yes,” she said.  “She owns the house.  He calls her all kinds of names.  They are always fighting.”  I saw an image of an old crone with a long pointing finger.  The man’s vibe was so angry and hurt.  I wanted to give my friend a piece of humanity, so she could maybe see past the anger and resentment and see the man instead, but all I could find was hate.  

“The shed’s not a meth lab,” I said, smiling.  “He likes to do woodworking in there. It’s the only place he feels safe and somewhat happy.  But he doesn’t approve of anything he makes.  He just scraps them and starts again.”

“Oh, well, I’m glad to hear that,” she said.

I kept digging, still looking for a passion or love that he may have for something.  Instead I stumbled across an alcoholic dad who was very abusive and a distant mom he also hated.  I could feel that he hated her for her weakness.  I think she either died or physically left him with this abusive father and he could not forgive her for it.

“His father was a really abusive alcoholic,” I said as my eyes welled up with tears for this man.  I saw him as a little boy, scared and frightened, so I stopped there.

“Oh,” my friend said.  “I didn’t realize that.”

I didn’t really achieve my goal with my friend. She didn’t see him any differently after I told her those things, but I certainly did.

In every human life there is a story.  Everyone is the way he/she is because of a reason.  When we uncover the trapped truths, we can develop empathy for others.  When we create a level of empathy, we can also feel love and caring for the other person.  

Before I left, I wanted to talk to this man and give him a hug.  He is just so broken, but I just loaded my boys in my car and drove away.  I made sure to hug and kiss my little guys before we got in.  If I can’t heal someone else, I can at least try and help my two to have a healthy sense of self worth and love.  It is the least I can do.   

Love and the Wandering Empath cont…

A blog post really got me thinking about love once again.  It was a post that featured “I Got You, Babe” by Sonny and Cher.  I started watching the video, and since I can pick up the vibes of people in a photo, I started to feel something.  It was Sonny’s love for Cher, and her tepid interest.  Not every photograph that flipped by felt that intense, but there were definitely a few where his love for her just poured over her disinterest.  It’s almost like a feeling of “I am in awe” love.  It was nice.  I love the song anyway, but the video that accompanied it really added to the overall affect.

As August begins, and my summer comes to a close, I am happy with my ability to stay single and happy.  This has been one of the most wonderful times in my life, and I am amazed that I feel that way.  For so many years, I equated only romantic love with happiness, and now I am finding love in so many different ways.

I still want to find a partner to share my life with.  I still want what I could feel from the above video.  I know that what was there for them has gone and changed, but the reality remains the same.  Sonny loved Cher long after their relationship was over.  

Overall, I think for now  I am finally okay with just me.  I know I still have a ways to go, but I am happy with how far I have come.   

A Tribute to Strong Women-Maxine Hong Kingston (The Woman Warrior)

My travels through the world of strong women leads me to a writer.  When I was in high school, my English teacher gave out copies of The Woman Warrior: Memories of a Girlhood among Ghosts.  At the time, I did not realize that it would be such a powerful and thought provoking book.  I enjoyed it as much as a girl living in the suburbs of Philadelphia could enjoy a book about so many foreign ideas.  The currents of family tradition and Western philosophies didn’t translate well in my adolescent mind.  So when I picked it up again a few years ago and read it with my adult eyes, the view skewed and amazing pictures emerged.

Here was a woman who was haunted by the ghosts, not only of her past, but of generations and generations of women.  Pain and sorrow seemed to walk with almost every one of her memories, but these terrible tribulations give the narrator of this novel strength.  

Maxine Hong Kingston was born in California in 1940, and she published this book in 1976 among a flurry of excitement.  She truly became a leading voice for the Chinese culture in America.  Her writing conveys an honesty and behind-the-curtain feel that can only be viewed as an unbelievable strength.  

The book begins with the death of her aunt whom she never met, but Kingston was told the tale over and over again. These frequent retellings allow her to paint the story for her reader with remarkable imagery. The basic gist is this: her aunt was married and while her husband was off finding work, she became pregnant.  She tried to hide the pregnancy, but soon after the baby was born, the village rose up against them.  She and the baby were found dead at the bottom of the village well.  Killed for their disgrace.

If you want a memoir that reads like an epic poem come to life, you should check this one out.  In a world where Asian woman are sometimes viewed as weak, you will be enlightened by the strength you find in these pages.  Front Cover

A Tribute to Women-Bessie Coleman

For those of you who didn’t catch the first post, I am writing a series of posts that highlight strong women from all different times, races, and walks of life.  

Today’s entry focuses on Bessie Coleman.  Born in 1893 in Alanta,Texas, she was intrigued with the stories she read about the pilots during World War I.  She wanted to earn her pilot’s licence, but the US schools denied her entry because of her race.  This did not deter her.  She learned to speak French and then moved to France to earn her pilot’s licence from the Caudron Brother’s School of Aviation in only seven months.

This woman was almost denied her dream because of her skin color during a time of intense racism, but instead of giving up on her aspirations, she furthered her education and achieved her goal.  Bessie went on to become the first black woman to earn her pilot’s license.  She spent the rest of her life performing aerial stunts for audiences. 

I cannot pretend that I truly understand what it is like to be denied an education because of the color of my skin, and I am amazed at the tenacity of this young woman.  Society was too entrenched in its discrimination and hatred, but Bessie was able to move past this.

There are so many roadblocks in each of our lives, and too often we allow these trials to keep us from what matters most to us.  This is an example of a woman who did not give up.  

Sadly, she died doing what she loved at the age of 33. I imagine that she was at peace with her decisions.