Where families are involved life can treacherous. Sometimes the most innocent remark can be twisted into a major conflict. I suspect this is because there is history and much emotion involved. Often the negative reaction has nothing to do with what is going on at the moment. It is rooted somewhere in the past where the emotions are stuck.
I have never forgotten that our emotions are tied to so many things. A piece of music from our past can have us experiencing the emotions we felt at the time. These past connections can emerge at the worst moments and skew our perception of the current experience.
Many of us have been taken straight back to our past feelings by a song, a scent, a person, or a scene. We don’t realize what is happening and our responses are not appropriate to the moment. This is doubly true for those we spent a lot of time with growing up. We are creations of our environment as well as our genes.
It takes real strength to look inside and connect with the past so that we can disconnect ourselves from it. Most of us don’t want to relive the negative things that formed out emotional responses. It make take talking with a counselor to root out those emotions and at least understand them. Hopefully doing so will allow us to reconnect with those we have turned away from. Maybe not. Some we may not want to but there can be some that can heal connections that will change our hearts.
Recently a college near us ran into some controversy. A novelist came to read a selection from her recent book and students protested and burned copies of the book.
The book is:
The novel, Make Your Home Among Strangers, is by Jennine Capó Crucet, an English professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, who came to the Statesboro, Ga., campus last Wednesday to read “Imagine Me Here, or How I Became a Professor,” an essay included in the novel, according to a statement from Crucet.
Make Your Home Among Strangers was selected among a list of recommended readings for freshmen as part of Georgia Southern’s first-year experience program. It is the story of a first-generation American born to Cuban immigrant parents who is accepted into an elite university and is rejected by her family as well as the white students at the college.
Students were offended by some of her statements about white privilege and staged the protest. The school responded with statements.
Vice President for Strategic Communications and Marketing John Lester wrote in an email. Book burning does not align with Georgia Southern’s values, Lester told USA Today. But the university does uphold students’ rights to assert their freedom of expression, he said.
I cannot disagree with the students right to protest. However, I was a young child about 5 years old at the end of WWII. I am sure I didn’t remember much then but as I grew older and understood Hitler’s policies I was appalled by the burning of books. The episode at the school triggered memories of burning books and banning books. This, for me, is a reminder of where things are headed when we are told what we can and cannot read.
These students were not around when books were burned to remove freedoms. They don’t have experience of thoughts being limited and controlled. I know that was not their intention but I am always anxious when I hear about books being burned.
Today I thought about the word disturbance. It struck me in two different ways.
This is what has been happening in my home and my life. Workmen tramp in and out. Stuff is carried about and dust collects daily on anything that doesn’t move. I clean in vain. I know that this will be over soon and the house will return to normal?? ( I use that word loosely) It will be wonderful to have things stay clean longer than one day. We will have a renovated and safe bathroom. We will not fall through the shower into the depths beneath. Hooray!
Our home will return to what I hope is:
Sometimes it is difficult to let go of a grudge against someone. Over time our church has had difficulties and unfortunately we (my husband and I) tend to feel some of them were because of some bad decisions on the part of someone.
We have struggled with this and know it is time to let it go. However just deciding that and actually doing it are two different things. I read something years ago that we don’t really let go until we can think about the issue without emotion
We will work on that. I like to use “act as if” to help change a pattern or habit so I will begin to “act as if” there are no feelings attached to this. Eventually it will go away.
“Act as if” works really well for lots of things. If I am feeling down I will try to act happy. Many times it works. Just setting your mind to change things can make a real difference.
This morning as I was driving out of my driveway I saw what looked like a small creature lying beside the drive. As I passed I could see it was a small, possibly baby, raccoon. It lifted its head and shook in fear as I went by. It was obviously hurt. I assume it was hit by a car. As I paused and watched it gave a last breath and was gone. Sitting for a moment to be sure he/she was gone and then went to my appointment.
This quick incident really bothered me. I felt so much empathy for the poor creature that tears were close. It had such a short life. I really saw it as one of God’s creatures and said a prayer for its passing. I saw the same imagery as with the dogs and pictured it moving over the rainbow bridge. I can’t help experiencing grief over any creature I see in pain. I wish I could have helped but there was nothing to be done. We will give him/her a decent burial.
I can’t help but see all of creation being linked and the death of one creature, flower, tree, insect being part of the whole. I know I am epathic and can feel pain for the smallest thing but we all should feel that loss. It is what we have ignored for too long.
Go little raccoon, over the rainbow bridge and join those who have gone before you.
Addendum: For some reason this was difficult to write. I couldn’t seem to get down exactly how I was thinking. I hope it makes sense.
Seeking peace. I think in a way we are all reaching for that. From my limited experience that’s what leads people to suicide. For them there seems to be no other way to find peace.
Each of us looks for peace in our own way. It may be religion, it could be alcohol, it could be drugs. Some find it in nature, other people, family. There are so many places to look. I remember a story from many years ago in a mystery book about Mrs. Pollifax. (by Dorothy Gillman) This is a paraphrase of the story:
God is having a conversation with Gabriel. He is talking about giving mankind a soul. They discuss where it could be put…the highest mountain, the deepest part of the sea, but God says mankind will look in those places. Then God says “I know, I will put it inside him. He will never look there.”
That is where peace is to be found. Inside us. The trouble is it will be difficult to find. We are affected by the things around us. Life is challenging. I think that there are few of us who can “feel” peace all the time. Maybe the mystics…maybe those like Mother Theresa or Gandhi. I’m sure they would say that they don’t have it all the time either.
So what in the world am I talking about? I guess I am just looking at the times I do feel peace and savoring them. They don’t seem to be any more permanent than anything else.
“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
The next weeks will be challenging as we are having some repairs done to the house. I don’t know how long it will take but I’m geared up to just putting up with the chaos. We will still be able to live here so that is a help.
Sometimes it is so frustrating not to be able to use the skills I developed over the years. I feel that so much experience is going to waste. Sometimes that is just how things go. I will continue to find places to help with the things that I can. It’s just that feelings get in the way and make me sad.
I have no reason to expect others to understand how much I have learned and how much I still have to give. I know that if I keep searching I will find someplace to continue the things I love. Life doesn’t always go along the way we want. I am continuing to explore things I have never done and keep learning and growing. I actually have plenty to keep me busy and should concentrate on the things I can do instead of the things I can’t.
I understand how so many aging people feel useless. We have spent our lives learning and it would be wonderful to be able to share. When I visit those in nursing homes I can see how the lack of something useful to do can sap the spirit. I have seen nursing homes recently who have found ways to give seniors inspiration and a reason to get up in the morning. Some have integrated with child care places and the elders help with the children and are also lifted up by them. A wonderful idea. There are some other that I don’t remember at the moment. I hope these ideas continue and grow.
Those of you who are young and full of ideas put on your thinking caps and suggest ways that seniors can interact with others in a meaningful way. Any ideas welcome!
I have been home too much lately. When this happens I lose my perspective. Things start to close in on me and I spend too much time in my head.
The house is quiet
life is in abeyance
I don’t see
I am numb
After the serious dry spell that we had now we have had rain every day. It doesn’t rain long but enough to help. I hope that it reached the farmers soon enough.
Today I had a call from one of my daughters telling me that my daughter in Texas has lost one of her dogs. She rescued two dachshunds a while back. Both had obviously been badly treated and were afraid of almost everyone. She and her family have been working hard to restore their trust and put their fears to rest. One of them would probably be considered to suffer from PTSD. The dog is on multiple meds for anxiety and panic attacks. While I was there visiting she eventually let me touch her but is still terrified of most things. Apparently last night little Lucy got out somehow. She is so fast. I’m not sure how it happened but my daughter is devastated.
Lucy will not come to anyone if called. She is chipped and has a collar with her name and address but I don’t know if anyone will be able to catch her. Poor thing she is now lost and away from any kindness she has ever been shown. They also live near what is called “green belt” an untouched area designated to allow water retention and wildlife. I know they are worried that if she is there it will be difficult to find her.
This makes me so sad. I would be lost if I couldn’t find either of my dogs and Lucy is at risk in so many ways. Dogs become part of our families and touch our hearts in so many ways. Lucy found a safe place and I hope she is found and returned there.
If we are blessed we gain wisdom as we age. Sometimes those we encounter tap into that wisdom and are (hopefully) helped by it. I have been an extrovert my whole life and am always willing to share. (Sometimes both the person I share with and I wish it had never happened.) Wisdom is best imparted when asked for.
I have talked often on this blog about how much it means for us to share our experiences with each other. Professionals are important but sometimes good advice comes from those whose experiences are similar to ours. All advice must be weighed against our own experiences and our insight into ourselves. Don’t ever be afraid to speak up for yourself when in the presence of “professionals” who may or may not really understand. You are allowed to ask questions and take some time to consider. You are your best advocate.
When working in pediatrics I listened carefully to the mothers who came to us. Sometimes others don’t listen carefully enough and may miss important clues that make a big difference. Doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists hear so much that sometimes they can leap to the wrong conclusions. Don’t let them rush. (especially doctors) Make sure you have the time you need. If that doesn’t work for them find someone else.
You are important. Your thoughts and feelings are important. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.