Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Women's Issues: Turning 50: Healing Wounds and Becoming Feral Again

A friend of mine just did a reading for me. Currently, I am having financial issues that I am having difficulty getting passed. Part of it is the economy, but not all of it. Cate told me that I have an issue with a female family member. For a moment, I was confused. The female members of my family were the supportive ones. In more cases than not, the male members were the ones that caused me pain by attacking myself esteem. Or so I thought. In reality, it was more of cooperative effort. While the abuse of the males was active, the female abuse was more passive so it was able to sneak past my radar.

This year I am going to be 50. A bench mark for most people. Last year, I quit a job that was emotionally and physically toxic to focus on my writing. At the time, I had a paying writing gig to pay the monthly bills. In addition, I cashed out my 401K to use as seed money to start my own publishing house. I put all my eggs in one basket and went for the gold. Most people would say that I was foolish in this economic climate to risk everything; however, those are the same people who look back with regret. Win, lose or draw, I will know that I reach for my dream with my best effort and whole soul--not to mention a great deal of research. I belong to the cross over generation--not part of the fifties mentality, nor really of the independent woman, I find myself still confronting the self-doubt and victim mentality the women of my mother's generation.

Growing up my mother did her best to turn me into a lady. She was never able to civilize the heathen out of me. She would buy these beautiful, frilly dresses for me to wear. My garment choice was the sky. I learned how to undress myself before I learned how to put any clothes on. I played with trucks, climbed trees and roughhoused; quietly playing with dolls never interested me. I was precocious and wild; imagine a feral kitten who was born in the wild suddenly finding itself limited to a small cage. At the age of three, Mom and I were visiting a friend of hers. They were boring so I found a child’s birthday party next door and invited myself. The neighbor was amused. My mother was horrified. When I was tired or just needed time for me, I had a habit of finding a quiet spot behind furniture, in the back of closets--any out of the way spot to curl up and take a nap. My mother would panic if she didn’t know where I was every moment. More than once, she called the police thinking I had escaped out the back door and had gotten lost. They would come and search the fields around my parent’s home. I always came out when I got hungry or when my nap was over.

Overall, many times and many ways I was an embarrassment to my mother. I simply didn’t fit into the daughter mold that she had expected or wanted. I was never meek enough. I was too forward. I was too outspoken. I looked boy’s in the eyes and wouldn’t back down. She once told me that if I wanted a boyfriend, I need to be more submissive, less independent. I didn’t want a boyfriend in high school; I wanted an education. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in boys; I had my crushes, but they were never my primary focus. I wanted a life. When I daydreamed, it wasn’t about being a wife or a mother; I was a star traveler; I was a doctor--a Texas Ranger. When I was nine, I dreamt I was a techo-agent and connected to a secret advanced society; there was a tunnel from the basement closet to the headquarters beneath the hill close to the house. From there we listened and observed the world’s leaders scheme, preventing them from doing any real damage. Back in 1967, if there were computers they were nothing like the sophisticated equipment I dreamt of. Looking back, the equipment would be advanced even for today, yet I dreamt of instant real time communication with the moon base and traveling at the speed of light.

My family history wasn’t exactly Leave it Beaver. My father was an alcoholic; my mother enabled him. To say the home environment was unstable was an understatement. You never knew what was going to happen or when, only that it was inevitable. Many times, I was sent to my grandmother’s for my own safety. Instead of dealing with the true issue, my mother made the conflict go away. I remember one dinner, my father had grabbed at me--I don’t remember the reason; instinctively, I fought back with nails extended. I didn’t think; I just reacted. There was silence in the dining; then memory goes suddenly black, except for the fact the seating arrangements at the table suddenly changed. Afterwards, I began spending more time at my grandmother’s. Whenever conflict arose, I changed residence. It got to the point that I nearly started calling my grandmother, mom.

My mother’s mother was a blessing to me; however, not all of the family saw her in the same light. Helen Davis quit school at the age of 12 and started working. By the time she was 16 she was pregnant and was forced into marriage, becoming Helen Kubanek. She worked until she was forced by a medical issue to retire. However, retirement didn’t mean she was a lady of leisure. She was married but my grandfather never could tame her. Until my grandfather’s death, she had both a husband and a boyfriend. Rumor had it he had many other interests as well. He was a cook on the lower lakers, so he was gone nine month out of the year. When he did return home, the battle of wills lasted the entire three months. My grandfather was also an alcoholic, but his absence and my grandmother prevented him from being too much of a negative factor in my life. She ran the household, making sure the bills were paid and keeping order. My grandmother’s boyfriend, George, was an interesting character. Although he had a limited education, he was a wise man. He knew how to work the earth to produce plentiful crops, yet he had definite options on life. He once told me that if I knew I was right--stick to it. He owned an 80 acre farm that was made of field, swamp and forest. Frequently I accompanied my grandmother when she visited George. At age 6 or 7, I had free reign to explore. If my mother knew how much time I spent exploring alone, she would have locked me in a closet. I knew when I had to be back. If they needed me earlier, they blew the car horn. He gave me my first job. I picked vegetables and weeded the garden. It’s not that the family needed them money; I just wanted my own. In addition, I went door to door selling the extra.

Another positive factor in my life was Leona Gramza. She was what they called back then my grandmother’s lady friend. Back then I suspect that the meaning was different than today. However, I was a kid and I have no clue. When the two of them teamed up, nothing and no one stopped them. They lived together until Leona died of diabetes. Leona was a “sturdy” woman. She was an honorable, wise woman with a loving heart who also had a formable temper and the courage to use it. She had no problem telling anyone what she thought and didn’t care what they thought about it. If she loved you, you had a valiant protector; if you got on her bad side, it was prudent to be elsewhere. When she pulled her fist back, grown men quivered. The day she died, I lost someone who loved and protected me. She was a shelter in the storm. She had been the gatekeeper that had kept much of the negative behavior suppressed in my nuclear family. If my father raise a hand, he had better have had a damn good reason or he would have Leona to answer to.

My mother’s sisters, Betty and Delores were more traditional. They believed that women came second. They were to be taken care of and pampered by their husband, but didn’t have any real power in the relationship or the world. The disapproved of my grandmother led her life. They were quick to make use of the benefits, but just ask quickly they would gossip and back bite their own mother. It is amazing what little pictures can hear when everyone thinks she is asleep on the couch. Their husbands were just as quick to make use of George’s tools, equipment, and ask for free labor, yet they treated him with total contempt. My mother refused to take sides; once again, she sat on the fence. She was kind to George, yet she never defended him. Later in life when he became ill, she helped care for him. George had shown his gratitude by remembering her in his will. Betty and Delores were furious that they had been ignored. They did nothing; they received nothing.

In reality, my mother and I were living in two different realities. She was of the generation that devalued intelligence and personal ambition in women. While she saw challenges as a reason to give up and allow someone else to find a solution, I saw a learning situation. In grade school, I was quick to learn, but by the time I entered junior high I had started to withdraw. My greatest desire was not to be seen. Neither of my parents had graduated from high school; although later in life, my mother did go back and finish. They didn’t see getting an education as important, especially for girls. It was only a place to find a mate. When I decided to go onto college, first the local community college the Michigan State, not only did my family not support me, but also in many ways they actively set up road blocks. I was unable to gain the family financial information to receive financial aid. Initially the only financing I had access to is what I could save from my part time job. When I was accepted at State, I had enough for one term, no job and my mother telling me not to try. I was determined and I had faith. I spite of the negativity, I went anyway. Within two days, I had a job. By the end of the month, I had the financing for the rest of the year. Through out the years, whenever I had the courage to have faith, what I need appeared in my life. However, during the last decade that the subtle programming was activated; I lost my faith and courage, so my blessings stopped reaching me.

Some may say that I have treated my mother unfairly. I loved my mother. In many ways, she was a kind, loving woman who helped many people, yet I can't help feeling that if she had been less negative and a stronger person, I wouldn't have taken the long way around to achieving my dream. Mom always thought there would never be enough and would squirrel away money. It is the one belief that I have been challenged with my entire life. Once she cried, telling me that she didn’t even have enough money to bury herself. When she was killed, she had over 300 dollars in her purse, mostly in small bills and change. She hid small amounts in different places in the house. She never had enough faith to trust that she would be provided for. Every good thing that came into her life, she expected something bad to follow. She didn't feel worthy of receiving blessing. She was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Because she expected it, it usually happened.

I remember calling her up to brag about something wonderful that happened in my life; by the time the conversation ended, I was depressed, because she would find the dark cloud in the silver lining. My first real job after college was working at TV station as tech. It was a good beginning in the industry. However, the station had political undercurrents that I really wasn‘t prepared to deal with. During one of our conversations, Mom told me to quit and go on welfare. The message was stop trying--you won't succeed. That's not what I needed to hear. In hindsight, I wanted her to say, you deserve better treatment, take your experience and find a better job. But I didn't get that then or for years after. A week before she was killed in the car accident, she called me. We talked like equals for the first and only time. When I hung up the phone, I felt good about myself and our relationship. I regret that we didn't have more time to work out the old issues.

Over the past, six years I have done my best to heal the old wounds and regain my original feisty spirit. I’ve done the healing steps to forgive the past. I have done the visualization focusing on the end result instead of questioning the logic. I have gone out on the limb to reach for my dream. Yet, no matter how I organized and how hard I worked, success still stayed out of my reach. When Cate told me that I had an issue from my past that I needed to deal with, my first thought was ya right. Been there. Done that. Yet the more I stepped back and thought about the message, I started remembering and piecing together events. Some where along the way, I started waiting for the other shoe to drop Instead of having the courage to jump blindly off the cliff, certain that I would be caught safely, I started doubting and giving into fear. Financial when I was secure, I always expected to loose it--and I did. Whatever I feared, manifested. Whatever I worried about, I created. In reality, both create walls around you that prevent your blessing reaching you.

Last July, I looked at my life. The job I was working at was physically and emotionally toxic. I was doing 90 hour work weeks and not achieving my goals. I did the research and the math then jumped off that cliff. I cashed out my 401K and had a part time writing gig that kept the bills current. But after four months, the writing gig ended. Once again, I was financially challenged. Only this time it was finals. I couldn’t find a job. Target hired me, but it took almost a month for me to start working; the job lasted five weeks. It would be very easy to fall back into old patterns. But I‘ve found that part of me that I lost along the way. I know, just like I knew when I went away to State, that I will be safely caught. There are no more shoes to drop, except for the size 6 that will look spectacular on my feet. I just have to do my part and only my part--the rest will take care of itself. No longer a kitten, the feral has been reborn and this kitty-cat has just resharpened her claws. And Grandma, if you are listening, could you give me the good luck you had with the lottery. I wish and ask for 5 million dollars for Valkyrie Publishing. I wish and ask for 5 million dollars for the animal rescue reserve. I wish and ask for 80 million dollars for Valhalla. Thanks I appreciate the help. One more thing--what’s this shit with these stupid bunions?

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