Invisible walls.

Have you ever come across a wall that you didn’t even know was a wall?

There is a wall at the library. We have an open part of the counter. The counter is very long, and one of the ways behind it is to the left. People see it as a wall. If their children run behind the counter, they stand, helplessly, calling to their children. Come back, they say. The children ignore them. They will never cross that line to come behind the counter to get their children unless we tell them to. It is programmed into them.

Now it is more interesting. Now we have the DVDs that are on hold behind the counter. They started getting taken by people who didn’t have them on hold, so we had to move them here. The shelf for these holds is right next to the end of the counter. We’ve told the regulars to just go ahead and get their DVDs if we are busy. They still see the wall. They still don’t want to. Sometimes they will stop, just at the color change on the carpet, and lean in as far as they can to get their movies.

And it got me to thinking. What other walls are there? What else is there in my head that I’ve been programmed into thinking is something that can’t be done, some rule that I’m breaking?

The view from the patron’s side.

The “wall”.

The view from our side. Notice that the carpet is different on our side versus their side.

That dark blue line is used throughout the building, wherever there is a post or a counter. It probably makes it easier to blend carpets when they come together around a difficult corner. I don’t know if the blue part is the bit that stops people, or that it is the end of the counter.

What “walls” do you have? What prevents you from doing something? What has been programmed into you, that you needed to know then but don’t need to know now? What have you generalized as a “rule” that really is a “suggestion”?

Poem – the room for actual dying.

Finally I was in the room for actual dying.
Not all the dying are dying.
Some are just practicing.

But finally, now, I’m there.

We’ve waited so long for this room,
this time.

We’ve waited, breathless, hopeless. Helpless.

We couldn’t even drag ourselves here.

We fell on the conveyor belt of life and inched along
until we got here.

I wasn’t supposed to be here.
I was supposed to be an observer.
I was supposed to help.

I was supposed to be the compassionate one,
the listener, the solver of problems.

I wasn’t supposed to be broken,
Empty and aching
Hollow and hurting.

It was a surprise to see myself
in this room of bones
these sacks of flesh
these walking wounded.

I’m not a zombie.
I’m awake.

But veil after veil after veil
reveals, unveils

That I’ve been fooled.

Christmas, and bottled up feelings.

I hate Christmas. I don’t hate the idea of it. I hate the execution of it. So painful. So hard. So tedious. Many Christmases I’ve washed down with a bucket of tears and a side of regret.

One was with my boyfriend, now husband. We met with his brother and then wife at a Mexican restaurant. Jeff gave him presents. Scott gave both of them presents, some of which were from me. I got nothing. Not even a token something. I wanted to go sit in the car and cry. I wanted to remove myself from all of it. I wanted to just leave, because it was obvious that I didn’t matter, I didn’t count.

I didn’t leave. I sat there, being ignored. I ate my chicken enchilada and chalupa in silence. I drank my sweet tea. I held in my hurt and my anger and my sadness.

I cried all the way home, wee wee wee, just like a little pig.

Sadness and anger are the same thing. They are signs that expectations aren’t being met. They are a sign that what you think should happen isn’t happening.

Perhaps I need to lower my expectations. Perhaps I need to not care so much.

Life was a lot easier when I was stoned. Things didn’t hurt as much. Feelings were further down. Pain didn’t last as long.

Last year was another painful Christmas with that family. I’m married now, and I’ve known them for ten years. The years previous were awkward. I kept feeling like nobody knew what to get for me, and that I didn’t know what to get for them. Since there was a new member added to the family I decided to go to the effort of getting each person to fill out a gift list. I asked each person what they liked and didn’t like. What is a good present, and what is a terrible present? I figured it would make it easier. I gathered the lists from each person and made sure each one got a copy of all the others. There. Done. Everybody knows what everybody likes.

When Christmas Day came, I made sure that each person had at least two presents from me. Some were handmade by me. All were picked with that person’s wants and personality in mind. Somewhere in the middle of the opening of presents I realized that I had gotten two presents. Two. For me. That is all. And one of them was a blanket. My sister in law got a similar blanket, but hers was in the color I liked.

Why did I go to the bother of that list?

Why do I go to the bother of caring?

Why do I keep allowing myself to be hurt by these people that I did not choose?

When I commented on my Facebook page how hurtful that Christmas was, my sister in law insisted that I take it down. She’s a therapist. You’d think she’d know something about pain and hurt, and how dangerous it is to suppress it. She cared more about her husband’s feelings than mine. That is her right. I should have taken it as a sign of who she really is.

Once again, I don’t count. I don’t matter. I’m ignored, and forgotten, and left out. I’ve asked my husband to tell his family that it would be easier if nobody bought presents for each other this year. That way, everybody would save money. That way, no feelings would be hurt. He hasn’t taken the time to do this. It would be really embarrassing to show up at that house with no presents and they actually, for once, got me something.

Perhaps I shouldn’t go. Perhaps I shouldn’t care. His mom has had cancer all this year. She should be dead by now, according to the doctors. It is a big deal that she is even still alive. Perhaps I’m just not caring. We are all dying, and it doesn’t make anybody special. She announced that she had cancer before Christmas of last year and it was super difficult – people pretended like everything was fine.

I’m sick of pretending.

Being emotional and getting upset is embarrassing. It is right up there with vomiting or defecating in public. People can’t handle it when your insides come outside. They want you to take it to a private place and do it all by yourself and clean up the mess. Don’t show. Don’t let anybody see that things aren’t fine.

But sometimes you’ve bottled it up for so long that it doesn’t come out in a clean way. Sometimes it doesn’t come out when you want it to. Sometimes it bubbles up and out and over and it leaves a big mess right there, all over you, standing there, right in the middle of the room.

Sick of being hurt.

I keep getting hurt. I keep getting left out, ignored, forgotten. Christmas just reminds me of this. But it happens all the time.

There are friends who say “How come we never see you?” And then they post about the great time they had with friends at their house, at the pub, at a class that they know I would like. How can I be seen if I’m not invited? How can I be a part of the group if I’m not included?

It hurts, sure, when people I thought were my friends exclude me. They have that choice. They can invite whoever they want. If they had to invite me it would take away the meaning of the invitation. But when they then say that they miss me, and it is their fault, then I’m confused. How could I know there was something to attend if I’m not told?

It hurts to find out that I’ve missed out on a gathering.

Social media is great for pulling people together. It is also great for breaking them apart. It is proof that you are missing out. Look at all those pictures of people having fun without you.

Nobody thinks about feelings anymore.

We all know more about the goings on of the Kardashian’s and the Duck Commander than we do about our own friends and family.

Crazy house – work, weight, and wasting your life.

When you are in the crazy house, all the crazy people know when you are one of them. When you start to get normal again, they leave you alone.

I’ve noticed that dysfunctional people tend to hang out with each other. Birds of a feather, you know. They don’t want to hang out with people who have gotten better. They don’t want to get better. Misery loves company, you know.

People say that they want to get healthy, they want to get well, but they don’t really. They want to talk about it and complain about it and whine about it, but they don’t want to do anything about it. And people who have been in that pit don’t want to listen to them whine and complain. They want them to walk with them or write or eat the same things they are eating.

They don’t want to get dragged back into that pit.

I spent so much time trying to come up with workarounds for the people at work. They would notice that I’d lost weight and they’d say that they wish they could. They can. They won’t.

Come walk at lunch, I said. “But I like to read at lunch” they said.
Get an audiobook, I said. “I can’t do that” they said.

It is only 20 minutes for walking, that isn’t a lot of time to miss the book. “It is too much.”

Round and round it goes.

Their choice.

I wish they would just be honest and say that they want to be healthy, but they don’t want to do the work. Who does, really? It isn’t easy. It isn’t fun. But nothing worth having is easily obtained.

I have a coworker who says that she needs to get exercise, but everything makes her hot and her knees hurt.

Go to water aerobics, I said. That is the perfect answer. Her responses started with “I can’t find a swimsuit my size” (I found a website that has all ranges of sizes). Then “I would be embarrassed to wear a swimsuit” “Everybody at the gym is in shape, I’ll stick out.”

None of that is true. People go to the gym to get healthy. They aren’t in shape. There are plenty of people who are huge who are there.

Then she came up with the “fact” that she has to cover for us at work. She doesn’t. We’ve got it. The schedule is fine. And ultimately, what is more important, work or life? If you have to sacrifice your health for your work, you are giving up the wrong thing. The job doesn’t care if you kill yourself at it. We aren’t saving the world here. We are running a library.

Use the recumbent bike at home, I said. It doesn’t need special clothes, it is easy on the knees. Her husband bought it for himself. She doesn’t have to worry about other people seeing her. It can be used any time.

Finally she admitted that she just doesn’t want to. That would have been so much easier if she had started with that.

I don’t have time for them anymore. I don’t cheer them on. If they want to come walk with me, great. If they want to see how I eat, great. But I’m not coaching, I’m not cheering, I don’t care. Not anymore.

Nobody holds me accountable. Nobody found workarounds for me. Nobody cheers me on to exercise every day.

I can’t be the reason they take care of themselves. They have to want to. They have to care about themselves.

This has to be a lot like what it is to be part of a relationship with an alcoholic. They have to want to get better. You can’t do it for them. You just have to make sure their madness doesn’t get you down.