I turned the furnace today. My intention was to wait until it was consistently 52F indoors. It was what I did last year to save money, and what I was going to do this winter season, as well.
When I looked at the thermostat a few minutes ago, it was at 55F, and I thought, 'well, great, only two more degrees before I can fire up the beast in the basement'. Then I came to my desk to begin working and had to uncover one of the heating vents, where I had placed a box with some papers that do not have a permanent home. I guess that if they are simply tossed into that box that their home should probably in the trash.
On the top of that orphan pile was a sheet of paper, folded in the way that I do for the handouts from the domestic violence survivor support group. Some of those meditations I just throw away when I get home, but others resonate for me and I hang on to them. I do not keep them in any kind of meditations that might be useful again place, and I often find those saved thoughts on my desk or in my purse or one of my bags. Maybe on the little table in my bedroom, or in the car.
When I come across one, I unfold the paper and read it again. The message on this one is titled "Owning Our Power." The pages are from a book of meditations by Melody Beattie. One is shared each week as a starting point or the only point if no one has anything they want to share or discuss, which, frankly, never happens. Yeah.
Anyway, this one concerns the patterns and habits we develop when in relationship to someone who is not good for us. Relationship-wise. It is about being held under the spell of someone, and says, halfway in:
"There may be a powerful tug-of-war between feelings of anger and our need to be loved and accepted, or between our head and our heart."
and a bit further:
"We don't have to stay under a spell."
Whilst most of the ideas and thoughts in these meditations (interesting aside is that I keep typing medications instead of meditations) are spot on for my relationship from that other life, as surely is for other people, not everyone of course, but some people, caught in the thrall of someone in their lives that they use and keep because it feeds their own pathology, their own need to be treated badly, and more importantly, their need and desire to not take personal responsibility and make the changes in their own beliefs and behaviors that they use as a barrier and excuse for moving forward and taking care of themselves.
I am not making excuses for the creepazoids who abuse others, but only that I believe that this aspect is a part of my marriage. It was not in the beginning of our relationship, the ex and I. I bonded with him, married him and stayed for most of those years because I loved him like crazy (important word, I am thinking, right now). It was only later that I was sufficiently groomed and tested that what he did became the determining consideration in every single way that I responded and behaved.
This is important.
That process was so gradual as to be unnoticed, like the transit that the earth makes around the sun. Sure, we notice the rotation that brings us dawn and day and night. We notice how we tilt and enter winter, to be followed by spring (short that it may be) and gardening fun and round the heart and measure of seasons, the Turning of the Wheel. However, we do not notice the more than three-hundred days it takes for our little planet to circumnavigate the sun, at precisely the distance that allow life to exist here. Well, at least until we screw it completely up...another story, but the metaphor is just as precise for how I have lived, as the conditions that make our planet the glorious and nearly unbelievably amazing place it is.
I always had choices about how I would treat other people and how they would treat me. I just did not believe it, or that choice was even possible. I marvel at that whole thing. Surely he did not meet me and decide that I was the one who could be molded into the submissive person he wanted in his life. Surely he did not marry me with the intentions to manipulate and mistreat me. Surely I did not enter all of that mess with the purpose of being hurt or the goal of being killed. Surely there was love there at some point in his heart; perhaps not the same quality of crazy love that I had, but there must have been some sort of caring and loving and cherishing and good will.
I think about this more and more, wondering where that moment was when things could have gone in a better direction if I had only noticed or understood what was happening. As hard as I think, I cannot find a single time when I could have done something different enough to change that direction. I have been using the road not taken process and they all lead to dead ends. I would have had to be aware and much smarter when we first began becoming closer. I can think of many times when I should have walked away, but that is now, back then I was too stupid to notice, too immature to make better decisions, too needy for that crazy love.
So. Here I am. I feel regret for not making choices that would have been good for both of us. I do not regret leaving, though, because it was the only choice. Not the most reasonable, not the most supportive for both of us, not the most understanding or loyal or generous, and certainly not what he wanted.
It was the only choice.
Now, with this past year supporting me, I am choosing different things.
I have chosen to decline a job that would use my skills and energy is a great way, but does not support my desire to work directly with people. The job required creating relationships with companies and organizations that ultimately support the kind of work I prefer to do, but lack the personal interaction I want. I have developed the beginnings of a plan to free-lance my services to several agencies. I am in the middle of creating a new program at the library, so that agency work is temporarily on the side.
I have chosen to get rid of perfectly usable things and replace them with frugal items that more properly and personally reflect who I am and what I want. First I donated the dishes from that old life, replacing them with the least weird choice I could find in my price range. Then, I donated those and bought another least onerous set and they work perfectly with the mugs I already have and I am completely satisfied with them. Things fall into alignment when I pay attention to this stuff.
I have made a choice to not be at the beck-and-call of a friend. I have been helping her a lot recently, with a head lice problem. She makes it very difficult to complete the process of getting rid of those little bastards, who do not exist anywhere but on our heads and do not provide benefit to anyone or anything. Anyway, she is tired of the burden of lice and whilst she has plenty of people in her life that could be helping her as well, I am the only person she asks and am the only person with whom she feels comfortable venting and talking. This week she made unreasonable demands on my time and I declined to change my schedule from the days and times on which we had agreed. She was particularly incensed because I would not put off doing laundry until next week. I go to the laundromat, she has a washer and dryer a dozen steps from her kitchen. I am allowed to refuse to let people take advantage of me. She called me today to hint about me coming to help her again, and I kept silent and did not offer. I could hear her frustration and the stress in her voice, but I kept thinking that if she wants help, she needs to ask for it. My offering all the time, other people just hinting or stating their needs, none of it is good for any of us. Of course, I could be asking for what I want, but that is not going to happen any time soon. I will continue to take care of my own needs. It is what it is.
I chose to turn on the furnace. It is a choice that is connected to feeling and acting poor, which is silly because I am relatively poor. To turn on the heat and have it higher than 52F is a huge financial decision on my part, one that requires me to use savings intended for emergencies. Like, if I get sick or the car breaks down, or whatever crappy thing might happen. This heat/furnace/extra-expense thing is an exercise in trust. I am deciding that if I use this money to be warm this winter that I will have what I need should crappy stuff happen. My only regret with this is that I could not do this last year when CoolCat was still here. Both of us could have been comfortable. I am also preparing for when the utility bill comes. Lordy.
As long as I am spending money willy-nilly, I am choosing to buy better food. 'nough said, and on to actually doing it. Since last Thursday, I have had pumpkin ravioli, the most delicious beef soup ever (with more cooked beef cubes in the freezer for next week), roasted butternut squash, lovely bread. Today I will be making a curried squash and sweet potato soup. It will be a nice pot and I am hoping to have enough left for lunch tomorrow.
I may have intentions when I begin to write, have something I want to work out, but the truth is that the process takes what it needs, and (like painting) decides what it wants to say. So it is here. All I wanted to write about was feeling empowered to turn on the damn furnace. What I got was an understanding of how the decisions I am making are, well, they are considered. I am not lurching along anymore, I am making changes in my life that make sense, both right now and for the future. I never would have believed or dreamed that I would have everything I have now, this great life. Man.
Today signifies something else. It is the one-year anniversary of the murder of an abused wife and two of her fellow employees by her ex-husband. I was newly installed in this flat at that time. At work we were all settling in to the belief that my ex would not bother me there. There was a series of murders of women who had been in abusive relationships, including a police officer, and I can, even now, hardly express how distressing that was. The deaths of those women and the havoc caused in their families seemed like a personal loss. If they could be killed, with all of the precautions they took, then no one was safe. Not women, certainly not children, not men who are abused. Along with those incidents were schools and malls and random killings all over the country. There have been recent ones, too, and I have to wonder if there were always so many terrible and intimate crimes or am I more attuned to them now. I wonder if I will ever feel safe from that other life. Maybe this insecurity about safety is one of the costs of being here now.
Did you know that today is the 216th anniversary of the first parachute jump? Talk about courage. Or, maybe stupidity, but I prefer to think of it as the embracing of adventure, willingness to take extraordinary chances and change the concept of what one might be capable.
During this process, the entirety of the past few years, especially this last year and a half, I have been challenging my old notions and beliefs about what life might be, of what risks I might be willing to take to have this new life. All of these things are how and why I am so invested in crafting my life, and it is a constant amazement how inter-connected and relevant so many things are. Everything that spewed out of me today is part and parcel of the kind of forward movement I need right now.
I need to be more conscious and respectful of how this works. Now, off to make soup, and maybe set a loaf of bread to rise.