About betsyw7

Great writer. Nice person. Works hard. Getting older.

Forgiveness

Friends and therapists have said for years that I was too hard on myself.

In my eyes, I should have known better, done better, not given up. I blamed myself for my divorce, 25 years ago. I blame myself for not having children or grandchildren. I’ve been upset and regretful that the thought of freezing my eggs never occurred to me. I never had the courage to pursue acting as my career. I have a career I didn’t chose but “inherited.”

The list would go on for sometime.

With the help of a therapist, with the work I’ve done in my 12-step programs over many years, and with my continuing to work on my flaws and fears, I finally forgave myself.

For all of it.

I realized and accepted (the A word is most important) that given my life circumstances as a child and as an adult, I did the very best I could do. No excuses, no sloughing off responsibilities, just understanding.

I have felt so light and calm. I didn’t really know what the feeling was at first. Then I just realized that I had finally forgiven myself. And accepted my life as is. I even feel that I want what I have. A life that needs improvement but isn’t a mistake. I’m enough as is.

That may be like “da” to you but I’ve been carrying around a big rock for 58 years.

I somehow lifted that rock and threw it away. I feel whole. I have a lot more to work on but not because I screwed up, but because I want to continue to grow.

That’s all I want to say about it for now. I just want to enjoy the lightness of forgiveness. And, with self-forgiveness, I understand and can now forgive others.

It’s awesome.

What’s a Woman For?

That is, if she isn’t, by 58 years of age, a wife, a mother, and, by now, a grandmother? What if she’s been single since her divorce 25 years ago? What if she decided not to have a child on her own because her family of origin wouldn’t have been there for her (although they were for her older sister C – even she was).

This question does not exclude or ignore that she is also a professional technical writer. Has worked in her field for approximately 33 years? (Writing and editing, specifically, not necessarily technical.)

I thought it was hard to define my “woman” experience after my divorce. Or even back in my 20s when Time magazine (circa 1985) reported that most women who don’t marry by 30 never will? [Why does the American media get to influence or define women’s existence? I know that report influenced me to get married before I knew what I was doing.]

But now? I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I still don’t have a great passion for the work, as in my current job, I do. I’m not sure what to do next?

I don’t have a large income, a big savings account, a sure-footed 401K or retirement “plan”. In that way, I’m very much like the majority of most American citizens.

I have no idea how to age into my 60s. Should I be researching medicare? How do I be a “Senior Citizen”? I know I’m not there yet but it’s good to get a head start on worrying about this…isn’t it?

The thing about American culture (besides all the other things about it) that seems odd to me is that there are no instructions for anything – for finding a spouse, for raising a child, for growing old. No real definitive instructions. Everyone must wing it. There are “resources” for all of these phases. And I supposed it’s assumed that parents either teach by example or instruct their offspring on how to relate to others, how to care for a child younger than they are, how to behavior once you get to 20 years of age. There should be an American handbook and training guide for being a human among other humans.

Unfortunately, that guide would be written, in this county, by an old, white man who has little experience, if any, in the many cultures we live in now. And especially no idea about what the American Woman’s experience is. Because they’d have to have life experience as a black, white, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and I know I’m leaving out others, woman. American men, especially white men, grow up in an entirely different culture than American women do.

I may be a bit off topic. I’m just saying that I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated with struggling all the time financially, emotionally, and with aging. I know my situation is not the worst, I’m not saying it is, but it is my situation.

And the only real tool I have any experience, and maybe some talent in, is writing. And though no one really reads this blog – it helps me sort things out.

I am in a position of really needing some sorting.

So that’s it for today – hopefully, my next blog will have some enlightenment to share.


What to do next? (from Archive)

You have probably realized – probably before I ever did – that this Technical Writer career seems to let me down every 6 months.

That is, even with permanent positions, the company I work for decides to down-size or redirect their finances after I’ve assimilated with the development team and the work I need to do, after about 6 to 7 months.

I usually have a job again within 1 to 3 months. I always hope it will only be a month. But I never know. I’ve done this a lot over the last 10 years. So, this time I’m not panicked or freaking out. I’ve had a lot of practice is what I tell people.

Oh, I will freak out, eventually, if nothing comes my way sooner rather than later.

Another Layoff (from May 2017 Archive)

I wonder if we have a destiny, a solid, unbending path from birth to death? I can see that who I am today might be in conflict with whom destiny, or Destiny, intended me to be. Or, at least, I’m feeling like that might be my universal truth.

To explain a bit:

Since my layoff from a full-time employment in January 2009 to now, May 2017, I’ve struggled to stay employed. I’ve taken contract job after contract job with very little hope of being a full time employee again. I finally got a contract-to-hire (no bullshit this time) position and after working my butt off for the company for 7 months, I got laid off. To be fair, lots of people got laid off. Lots of people who thought they’d become FTE (full time employees) got laid off. Because the company wanted to save money, because after buying our company and saying, hire all the people you need, the big company said they needed to cut jobs to save money.

I initially thought – “God doesn’t want me to do well; to have a decent life.” And, “I’m expendable again.” But then again, I sent out 3 resumes before nightfall. So, maybe I am still determined to continue on.

I haven’t had a vacation in over 20 years. The last one was as a 25-year-old with my family at the beach – which got cut short when one of my brothers got drunk and angry and punch a hole in the rental’s living room wall. When I was married, my husband took a 10-day vacation with his pothead friends every year and therefore, didn’t need to take a vacation with me.

I took 2 weeks in January 2005 off, quit my teaching job to do so, and took Feldenkrais training (more on that later) at a ranch in the desert outside Santé Fe, New Mexico. Although the training was all day, that was a vacation for me. The weather was beautiful and sunny every day. The nights were freezing but that was even enjoyable. The people were awesome – a few I still keep in touch with. And, I was much more relaxed when I got back. As an added treat, I missed the worse winter storm that Raleigh, NC, had seen in a century.

But I didn’t continue with the training to become a practitioner. Because I couldn’t afford the tuition and had to earn money, pay bills, I went back to my original, accidental career of technical writing for RTP software companies.

The whole point of bringing in my vacation history was to say that, I had just told friends that YES I could take a vacation – a week at the beach with awesome women in October – for $850 for the entire week! Like, this happened, really, the day before I was laid off.

Hence, the thought that God didn’t want me to have a decent life; but, really, I’m not sure I should hold onto that grudge.

So, what is the point of my starting paragraph? Destiny. I’ll get back to that.

I have worked really hard over the last 20 years to recover from my childhood. First, I went to Al-Anon because I was the ex-wife of a druggie (divorced at age 33) and the daughter of alkies. Then 7 years later realizing I, myself, was an alcoholic, I got to Alcoholics Anonymous. I spent my 40s and, now 50s, working the Steps of the Program, seeing a therapist (I’ve actually seen therapists since I was 19 because I didn’t know why I was stressed, sad, and confused all the time). When I was 48, my shrink (not my therapist) told me he always knew I was ADHD. Well, more accurately, I finally heard what he’d been telling me. I was shocked. WHAT? I’m too old to have that.

Backup – I met my shrink, I’ll call him Nick, when I was still married and about 30 years old. But antidepressants don’t work if you are drinking and drugging with your husband. So, I left the husband, because I was tired of being depressed, and was divorced at 33.

By 35, I was having major panic attacks – the kind where your vision changes, you can’t breathe and you think you have cancer or something worse. People around you step back. I was divorced by then and going to Al-Anon. I had bought a house on my own. But I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t touch things without thinking something would kill me.

I didn’t know I had Anxiety disorder. Or, that I had OCD. Finally, at about 38, I went back to Nick and he recommended Prozac (about 80 mg) to alleviate the attacks. I agreed to take 20 mgs. I was afraid of what it would do to my brain.

I know doctors say this isn’t possible, but I believe that I took one 20-mg dose and within 24 hours I could tell a difference. I thought, “so this is how people do math – they can think!”

Eventually, I agreed to the 80 mg, and the attacks got fewer and fewer. I saw a therapist who taught me to question my fearful thinking and to counter it with the idea that “maybe I was going to be okay.” It’s called cognitive behavior therapy – and it works! I was able to stop taking Prozac. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I still have to take medicine for anxiety and major depression. I take medicine now for ADHD just so I can focus and keep a job.

Some people think that AA is all they need. I know I can’t tell myself that. AA, psych meds, a good therapist, a shrink to check the meds, and sober friends keep me alive today.

By the way, a side note, I don’t abuse my psych meds. People do abuse prescription medicines while in the Program. But I prefer to stay sober and alive. Plus, I don’t get high off of them, so what would be the point?

Talking about getting high. This layoff makes me want to check out in a big way. I just want to stop feeling like a major loser. I’m in debt, I own a small town house (barely), I’m 56, and I am not sure I won’t end up in the street pushing a stolen Target shopping cart. I’ll have to train the cats to walk on leases – not really a possibility. And, I cannot, after coming inches to having legitimate paid-time-off (PTO), think that I can afford that vacation at the beach. I want to talk myself into it, but I can’t make it make sense to spend that money.

And to top it off – I knew, I knew, when the Orangutan was made President, this might happen, that my future was not going to be bright. I knew many Americans were going to get flushed down the drain. I was just hoping I wouldn’t be one of them.

I never got to that part about Destiny. So, I will.

What I wonder is if a child is born into an abusive, violent home, told they were a burden and stupid from day 1, and later find out they have inherited mental illness in addition to alcoholism, can ever really veer off their natural path toward successful suicide? Even after they have spent over 35 years in search of why they seem to think differently than “normal” people and why they self-sabotage just when something good comes their way. Even after they have spent 22 years working on their inner life and their defective character – and actually changing their behavior and reactions – even after that can that child expect to continue down the spiraling destructive path? Or can they hope for a different future?

I’d like to know. Because it sure as hell feels like the answer is No right now.

The 6 Months Mark of Death

I think I have already mentioned in earlier blogs that I have ADHD. This is not a joke. It’s something I struggle with every day.

A couple of the traits I struggle the most with:

  • Boredom
  • Boredom 6 Months into a Job
  • Boredom
  • Boredom

First bullet – Boredom. My therapist tells me that for an ADHD person boredom is like a death sentence. I agree. For me boredom is not a mood, it’s not being fussy and picky, it’s not avoidance behavior. It is, however, an anxiety trigger.

I’m bored at work and my anxiety triggers and my veins begin jumping inside my skin. What to do? Go for a walk. Drink more anxiety inducing coffee. Ask to work from home (denied). Anything to get out of the routine of being in the office where I am bored.

Second bullet – Boredom 6 Months into a Job. This is really not good for me. But it happens every time I start a new job, 6 months later, I’m bored. At 6 months, I’ve got the routine down, I’ve figured out the software enough to document it. I usually finish documenting it well before its release. I prefer to be running against a deadline, but at 6 months, I’m ahead of it. Not much to do. The anxiety to relieve the boredom kicks in. I act out, I lose another job. (Not this time – yet!)

Third bullet – Boredom. At work I start to look for an online degree. Preferably a Graduate program, I have like 3 BA’s. Need something quick and cheap. This search can become obsessive. I get calls from Admissions people. I get irritated and I don’t pick up the calls. The anxiety continues. Veins jumping.

Fourth bullet – Boredom. At home, I lose interest in everything. After work, it’s all I can do to feed the cats and feed myself. I just want to go to bed and play games on my tablet. I lay there thinking, I need a hobby, but I’m uninterested in everything so I can’t figure out where to start.

I want to move. Anywhere but here. I’ve lived in my townhouse for 11 years – that’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere including the places I lived in with my parents.

Actually, I’ve always wanted to go back to my birth city – Los Angeles. But I am uninterested and can’t figure out how to plan that move.

Now the anxiety and boredom turn into depression. And that’s really not good. That’s just a bad neighborhood I need to stay out of.

However at this 6 month mark, October 2018, my meds are actually keeping me out of that bad neighborhood.

It does call to me though. This month has so many anniversaries of and grief of and lost opportunities of that it is hard not to stroll into that neighborhood. But like I said the meds are keeping me out pretty much.

Not having much interest in things, because I fell into the boredom cycle, I’m still doing positive things like going to my favorite meeting and feeling so welcomed I’d be insane to not keep going back, doing social things (okay one social thing) on the weekend. This past weekend, I actually swept and mopped the floors! I can’t remember the last time I did that.

I’m starting with little actions because that’s what I can manage. I’m losing weight 10 lbs at a time. No larger goal than that. I’ve made a rule not to ask to work from home and really not to reply back to emails no matter how right I am on the topic.

And I’m posting a blog about my biggest personality struggle – boredom.

 

 

Misogynistic Rule of Law

I just finished reading an article online on The Guardian website about “what is white culture?” It was not a complete analysis but it had some great points.

I have a few more points I would add about American White Culture (not sure it deserves the capitalization).

For me, the first most important value being upheld today is misogyny and how it is just accepted and not seen as unusual or warped. How it intertwines in everything in our American culture.

One thing that really stuck out to me during the recent Senate Judiciary hearings for Kavanaugh, is Lindsay Graham’s question, “is there anything in the Constitution about a woman’s right to have an abortion?”

Not only was I offended, I was angry that no one else asked something like, “is there anything in the Constitution about men’s sexuality or that states they have a birth right to govern over others?”

One of the worse examples of our white misogynistic culture is that men are try to define what sexual harassment is. These are men who have no idea that a hug can be a violation of a woman’s body. They really don’t know what sexual harassment looks like and, therefore can dismiss it or believe they have never harassed anyone.

I think that only women and minorities have the right to define sexual harrasment.

Now the Senate Judiciary committee wants to hear the Kavanaugh accuser, Dr. Ford’s story, but they are not going to change anything else, they will vote Kavanaugh in no matter what.

If a man is drunk and attempts to rape a woman – the woman is still a victim of attempted rape. Right?

I can personally attest to the fact that the experience of rape can color everything in the woman’s life afterward. It is not the kind of experience that “fades.” My sister was raped in college and she eventually was so distraught and plagued by fear that she left the college before graduating.

Early on in the hearings, I thought that all the women who wrote supportive letters and then, the spectacle of having Kavanaugh’s children and girls on the team he coaches in attendance was odd and/or inappropriate. I was already wondering why he had to have all this female support before the news broke of Dr. Ford’s allegation of sexual assault.

[What may be even scarier to me is the amount of time Kavanaugh spends in the White House with Trump being coached by him. Trump calls Kavanaugh a “good man” but how would he know? I mean, look at Trump’s behavior toward women and his irrational behavior.]

And, what will stay with me forever afterward is that my government will ignore this accusation and vote Kavanaugh in as a Supreme Court Justice. That will make me sick down to my soul. It will ring clearly that I, or any woman, doesn’t matter and doesn’t have voice. Therefore, I will not be one of the people mentioned in the President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”. Feels long gone now.

 

The 5 types of mentors you need in your life — ideas.ted.com

Quote

Here’s how to assemble your personal dream team, with tips from business expert Anthony Tjan. Everyone can use a mentor. Scratch that — as it turns out, we could all use five mentors. “The best mentors can help us define and express our inner calling,” says Anthony Tjan, CEO of Boston venture capital firm Cue…

via The 5 types of mentors you need in your life — ideas.ted.com