Category Archives: Life

Don’t pick the broken one

I’ve written about an issue of mine dating back to childhood, related to what I deserve, or more pointedly what I believe I deserve.  I’ve gotten into this before, as I say, and I’m not going to totally rehash it now but the gist of it is I’ve been really thinking hard for many years about this issue – what do I deserve – and trying to correct its negative effects in my life.

I have not always thought I deserved a lot, or even much at all, in several areas of my life. It’s not a happy thing to discover this about one’s self let alone admit it, but as with other topics, I’m more inclined to share AFTER I’ve figured a bunch of stuff out. I need to process things alone.

In a book by Dr. Phil McGraw, aka Dr. Phil, whose title I don’t remember but would find if anyone is desperate to know it, he writes about choosing someone to be in your life, and says words to the effect that the first rule of choosing anything is don’t pick the broken one. That’s obvious right? Most of us would understand that as a reasonable truism. But the reality is, especially for women, that a lot of us DO pick the broken one, especially when it comes to choosing a person to be in our life.

Until I read it put that way, so directly with no namby-pambying around, I would never have thought about it in such hard terms. Lots and lots of people are broken in some way. Many women don’t think they deserve better and/or think they’re going to fix the broken person. Haha! I am in a position to scoff, having finally learned that no one “fixes” another adult. Love is NOT a cureall. Certainly not for major personality or character disorders in other people.😐

Let’s shift gears and look at this another way. The (semi) autobiographical movie, The Homecoming ( pre-cursor to the TV show The Waltons), Earl Hamner’s tale set at Christmas in depression-era rural Virginia, features a scene that had an impact on me. The many kids in the big family have gone to a church where missionaries are giving out presents. The youngest girl is delighted to get a gift, a wrapped baby doll. However, the doll’s face has a big crack in it, and the kids are disgusted and leave, dropping the doll on the ground as they do so. See, in the same position I would not have abandoned that doll. Oh no. I would have taken it home and kept it. Maybe I would have tried to use glue or tape to fix the crack. Whatever. It would not have occurred to me to throw it away nor would I have thought I was allowed to toss it out. A doll is a doll I would have thought, a gift a gift, even it’s a bit messed up.😕

I have a long history of trying to “make things work” no matter how shabby or defunct or defective or pitiful. I know where this comes from and the more important thing now, at this point in life, is simply recognizing it. Nobody but me will ever set the standard for what I deserve, for what is good enough and what is not, be it in things or situations or in people.

For instance when I meet someone now, man or woman, and they seem a bit messed up? I can be civil, even somewhat friendly, but there is no welcome mat into my larger life. You got yourself “a little drinking problem”? You lose your temper on a regular basis? You lie or obscure the truth? You have lots of legal troubles? Not for me.

I shop regularly on Amazon for many things and it’s really in the last couple years that I’ve gotten more into it. It may seem odd but it’s actually the impetus for this post. Now with the pandemic it’s been all the more important since I’m staying out of stores. Anyway, Amazon has been a training ground for me in terms of forcing me to confront what I think I deserve. I regularly send things back or ask for a refund for anything substandard. The “old me” wouldn’t have or not nearly as much. I would have “made it work” or settled for less than I expected. And this is a little embarassing, but I’d have done that so I didn’t bother them.😢 Or annoy them. Yep bother or annoy AMAZON. Sad but true. However, each time they sent me crap, crap I considered keeping, I gave myself a little talk. Would you select this pair of shoes that are scuffed up if you saw them on a shelf? Would you take this browning head of lettuce home from a grocery store? Would you be willing to re-glue a brand new pair of earrings? Why should you do any of these things and many others? (Note that as someone who routinely finds stuff others have cast off & takes them home to fix up, I’m not talking about that at all, which I do willingly and enjoy.)

I have felt like I’ve been tested. Tested & tested. You may have heard the idea that anytime you make an important or momentous decision about implementing a change, the universe will test you to see if you mean it. I do think I’ve had many opportunities to examine and investigate what I deserve in a variety of scenarios, perhaps a few more than was called for! Still, until it’s not even something I (have to) think about, I expect I’ll be challenged. IT HAS GOTTEN EASIER. Which tells me real progress has been made.

Youth in the rear view

Many times when older people see a younger person, they’ll say something like, “I wish I could be 18 again.” This type of commentary is sometimes delivered as if the youthful person either a) doesn’t deserve their youth or b) is deliberately affronting older people simply by existing. [Insert crotchety tone]: “Youth is wasted on the young!”[End crotchety tone.]

I have no time for such complaints. Assuming they live to be that age, nobody gets to be 18 (or 20 or 25 or 30) longer than anybody else. Older people had their turn at bat. I had my turn at bat. If you wasted your chance at being 18 (or 20 or 25 or 30), assuming no mitigating circumstances that were beyond your control, well, too bad for you! Too bad for all of us!

Older people like to talk also about how they’d “do things differently” if they could be young again. Really? Ya think? My youth is in the rear view mirror and I don’t kid myself that, if I was the same person I was in my younger years, I’d do anything differently. “Oh, if I could only do it over again!” people lament. Frankly, put me back there, as the person I was then, and I sure expect I’d do the same stupid things, whatever they were. What’s more, when people wish they could go back, they always imagine how much better it would be, how they’d not make the same mistakes, and so on. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that, given the chance, they might just as easily do MORE stupid things and make MORE mistakes.

Colette in Quarantine…still

IMG_20200425_094343_kindlephoto-32706896

When the public library closed mid March, I vaguely thought it would be closed a few weeks. Nobody said that or gave any time frame. At that point local leaders were getting out ahead of the virus. My governor in particular wasn’t fooling around; there was no sugar-coating as to what was almost inevitably coming.

I personally took the position that if the virus wasn’t already in my community –  it was too early to know for sure – it would be. I was highly motivated to not risk getting sick so I haven’t been in a store or used public transit or been near anybody when I’m outdoors since then.

In March I saw an Italian woman on TV trying to warn us, saying Americans didn’t know what was coming. Amidst all the news, something about her warning was especially chilling. And clearly prescient.

It was indeed coming. I know parts of the country are “opening up” but not where I am. My county has the highest number of cases in the state; currently, the coronavirus is the #1 cause of death. I’m not sure why it’s been so bad here; I can speculate and I’m sure others are too but I wonder if anybody will ever be able to say with certainty.

In mid March I wrote here that I didn’t think it was healthy to be obsessed. I still agree with myself despite having went and gotten obsessed at least for awhile.😐

For several weeks I watched a lot of news and TV related to the virus; I felt a obligation. I also sort of felt like I was waiting for something. For what? I wasn’t sure. Information? Instructions? Pertinent updates? Whatever it was, it didn’t come. I realized it wasn’t ever coming.

I needed a break. I don’t think there’s a lot of virtue in vicarious suffering (which differs from empathy or caring). That said, my little job was to stay home, stay out of the way, AND to come out on “the other side” of this physically and mentally sound. This is a marathon not a sprint and marathons require pacing.

Everyone has been pushed to call on their coping skills, whatever they may be. If there’s a time to find out whether you’ve learned any useful coping skills in this life, I guess this is it. The party is you and your personal resources, tangible and otherwise.

Six feet? I don’t want anybody within ten or twelve feet of me. (I’m going to be plenty annoyed if I do everything right for 6 or 8 or 12 plus weeks only to have some oblivious or selfish clod get too close to me and make me sick. I am just saying.😐)

I like to be home. Yes, still. I WILL say that the first long post I wrote on the coronavirus was a tad premature when I talked about avoiding squalor at home. I am still holding squalor at bay but doing it for months is a bit more challenging than mere weeks. Having my personal environment in good shape is always important to me and it’s been that much more so now.

I don’t have anything GRAND to show for my quarantine. But I don’t want to be too hard on myself. Time in and of itself isn’t the sole key to accomplishing things.

People have been irritating me, I admit it but I have “stayed in my lane”. I have not argued with anyone about any aspect of the pandemic either in person or on line. I don’t see the point. Doing so would hurt me and I don’t expect to influence anyone else’s opinions.

I cry every time they show a recovered coronavirus patient being wheeled out of a hospital while the staff cheers. Prior to this I cried any time I saw the people in Italy and New York making noise from their balconies. Show me a grandmother or grandfather on their front steps or inside a nursing home while their relatives greet them or serenade them or whatever from a safe distance, and I will choke up.

There has been much that is aggravating and much that is touching.

I am okay. Not clicking my heels together but okay. It is hard to find the right words for some of my feelings because this is unlike anything I’ve known as is true for almost all of us. How do you describe something so huge and simultaneously so unfamiliar? I have existential angst about it all. I want to know what it means – beyond pandemics happen and lots of people get sick and die – but I don’t think there’s an answer, not one I’d find satisfying.