What If I’m Right? What If I’m Wrong?

Do you believe there is something out there running the show? Do you have faith that you are being cared for in the worst of times?

Personally speaking, I am unsure of this. I was raised to not believe in anything. My mom told me God did not exist at a young age. I was told organized religion was for fools who couldn’t think. Mom hated all forms of religion but knew it fairly well. She went to Catholic school where she was beat across the knuckles with a ruler for being left-handed. No one was going to tell her what to do or how to act. Once she got old enough, the only time she darkened the doorway of a church was for weddings or funerals.

It wasn’t a big leap for me to follow my mother. My grandmother was the classic bible thumping individual who told you at every opportunity you were being punished for some transgression. This made no sense and made God not someone I wanted to follow. Why follow a deity who hates his subjects. Was I missing something here, or was all of this faith business a bunch of baloney?

Does this mean I think those who do have faith are wrong? Absolutely not. What my grandmother did was wrong. She shamed a child into thinking all the bad things in her life were because God was doling out endless punishments. That was wrong. I am of the opinion that circumstances happen just because shit happens from time to time. Free will does not mean each person runs around handing you flowers. To me it means we are all free to screw up and there will be instances where those errors can have tragic results for another person. Yes, there are evil people who intentionally harm others, but I am talking about the random stuff that we know is an accident.

Did God do that?

I guess the issue with faith is that of blind faith. I have no ability to believe something because you told me to. Since I question everything, why would I not question the existence of a supreme being? If what they say is true and he does exist, what proof is there that he takes a vested interest in how things work out? What about the people who mean well and try hard, but their sincere requests go unheard? How does one continue to believe then?

That is why I envy those who do have faith. They have the strength of their convictions, whether others agree or disagree. Faith is highly subjective and personal. More often than not, there are days that I wish I did have faith in things unseen, but the concept is so foreign to me.

The past few months has found me looking for answers to these questions. As I am fond of saying “The jury is still out.” Before I decide for myself what is and is not the truth, I want to make an informed decision.

What if I am right? What if when we die nothing happens?

Then again, what if I am wrong?

Take It Or Leave It

What is it that makes us look at things the way we do? Is it our upbringing, is it our friends input, or could it be something else?

For years, I have wondered why I am the way I am. Are all of my perspectives on life wrong? Do I need to overhaul my entire belief system in order to be happy? The answer is as complicated as the question. There have been instances when I felt that my perspective on emotions has been skewed permanently. Looking at others and how they respond to situations makes me realize none of us is perfect. I do not hold the answer to the mysteries of life. Never have and never will. What does interest me is how circumstances have forced me to reexamine my focus.

The main shift now is letting things go. In my life, this is harder than it sounds. My upbringing was one where nothing ever got let go of. Grudges were held. My mother went to the grave hating more than a few people. If you wronged her, you no longer existed. Mom had a sister who she never spoke to again because she hater her for embarrassing the family. In the days when my mother was young, getting “in trouble” was not accepted. So, rather than deal with an uncomfortable reality, she cut her sister out of her life.

Have I ever been that resentful? Sure. Do I want to be that person til the day I die? Nope.

I grew up fast. I had to. Mom and dad took me to Atlantic City often. They would go to the casino, and I would be given money to go on the Steel Pier. I knew what a bum was at a young age. I also knew not to talk to strangers and to keep it moving. All those years and many trips, nothing ever happened to me there. I saw a lot of interesting things. I learned what a hustler was. I got to see people gambling in all kinds of ways. I knew what a slot machine was and also had been to the racetrack many times.

Growing up in a house where gambling was common had an impact on me no doubt.

My parents did teach me to be responsible while gambling. First off all, they had a separate bank they both put quarters in. Only quarters, nothing else went in the AC bank. The mortgage money was never touched. Neither was the bill money. This was money they saved up for the sole purpose of seeing if the slot machines were in a giving mood. Sometimes they were. I remember mom hitting once on the slots. Boy, was that ever a day to remember. She played poker Friday nights with the ladies. They played all kinds of cards. It has been a long time, but I was pretty good in my younger days at poker. I was democratic about it, I took everyone’s money.

Did it make me cynical? Maybe.

I got to see the underbelly of society at a young age. I got to see what happens to people who let other things control them. It isn’t pretty. I thought for sure I would remain a sarcastic, cynical person who doubted more than she trusted. Living the way I had to for a few years also made me lose faith in people. That began to turn around once I made a few friends here in this new state where I felt so alone. These days, I don’t need to be as hardened as I once did. I needed those tools to survive, but they don’t work for me anymore. I have replaced doubt with belief and fear with love.

I am the sum total of all my experiences. I am me take it or leave it.

I Wish I Was A Little Bit Taller

As a kid growing up, I would make the same wish each year when I blew out the candles on my birthday cake. I wanted to be taller. Not just a few inches taller mind you, I wanted to be much taller. I was the shortest kid with the longest hair who looked like Cousin It from the Addams Family. I would even eat more in an attempt to grow faster. Sadly, it was never going to happen. I am not even five feet tall.

It seems to me that many people want what they don’t have. I bet there are tall people who want to be shorter so they don’t have to be asked if they play basketball all of the time. It would drive me crazy if I had to constantly reach for items that us short people can’t reach. Damn you high shelving. While I drag my jeans on the floor, they have pants that are not long enough.

As a short person, my head gets used as a drink rest occasionally. I get patted on the head like a little kid which is annoying beyond belief. Why don’t I come pat you on the head? Oh, because my arms are painfully short. Yeah, just like a T-Rex. I have short arms that don’t reach a whole lot especially when food shopping. I have resorted to the Spider Man climb rather than ask for help. The part I love is how random people walk right up to me to inform me that I am short.

I did not get that memo. Does my lack of height offend you? Yes I am short. You, on the other hand, are ugly. All I have to do is put on high heels.

Years ago, I worked in downtown NYC. Each day I took the E train to the World Trade Center. Early morning trains were often packed. In fact, most days there were no seats at all. This was just another morning on a packed subway. In walks a tall man in a business suit. He looks me up and down.

“Wow! You are really short!” He announces to the entire subway car. An idea hits at that second. I look around, stunned. “What the fuck happened to me? I was five foot ten when I left my house this morning!” The laughter and applause from the other commuters was enough to send tall man heading to the next car. Height is something folks love to comment on. It is socially unacceptable to comment on a person’s weight. It is also considered poor manners to call someone bald. Yet, we make fun of short and tall people.

Yes I am short. You don’t have to tell me. I am already aware of it.

My Sincere Hope

Growing up, my favorite word was “Why?” I wanted to know why this, why that. Why was I born? Why was I here?

As an adult, I still like to question things. I want to know why people do the things they do. One of my favorite things is to find out what others believe in. I am often curious about why they feel the way they do. There are people who want to make a difference in the world they live in. Others simply want to balk the status quo. Myself, I am here for many reasons.

I blog when I feel I have something to say. There are many days that blogging helps me figure out how a situation has affected me. This is how I do my best thinking. There are days where self-analysis is a good thing. Other days, I might be beating the shit out of myself for no good reason.

My other reason for being here is to amuse. Making others laugh is great fun for me. I have been looking through my old posts, and spotted one about being a dork. Yep. I wrote about being a dork. What am I going to say, at least I admit it. When I first started dating my boyfriend, my roommate at the time helped me pick out an outfit. She then emphasized the need for me to not be my usual spazzy self. I am a spaz. I have never been able to flirt with men. I am far too awkward. It is part of my charm, or, so I like to think.

The other reason I am here is to show folks with not much to be happy about that life can improve. In the past few years, life has changed many times over. I have gained as much as I have lost. The one thing I never did lose was hope. If I can offer nothing else, I want to be the one who gives a person ready to give up a reason not to. Many days I ask why life is working out this way and not that. It boils down to we are the sum total of the choices we make, be they good or bad. This is my reality, and I am here to make the best of what I have. Over the past few years, it has become easier to deal with certain recurring issues. I have overcome huge obstacles, and now have a good life. A few years ago, my life was in shambles. I blog to offer hope to those who have none. If I can bounce back, so can you.

So many people suffer with mental illness, and feel lost. There is help out there. It is my sincere hope that someone reading this may reach out and get the help they need. There are services and helplines for individuals who are suffering. There is no need to suffer alone any longer.

A friend of mine has begun a resource for college students who suffer from depression, anxiety, or who have thought of suicide. It is called The Friendship Bench. There is no shame in asking for help.

That alone is reason enough for me to keep blogging.

Do you love what you do?

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

My mom was not a gossip. If you asked her a question she deemed too personal, her response was straight to the point. M.Y.O.B. (mind your own business.) Her other reply was “Are you writing a book? Make it a mystery.” There is something to be said about not needing to know all of the news twenty four hours a day. In my younger days, gossip did not bother me. Today it does, because I realize it tears people down. There are three sides to every story – my side, your side, and the truth is in the middle. In most cases, we have one side of a story and have formed our conclusions based on what we know at the time. This is when I have to remind myself this is not my problem, and I do not need to offer my marvelous thoughts on it.

A few weeks ago, a person I am friendly with asked me about a person who is much closer to me. She had questions about this person’s relationship status. All I did was answer the first question, and refused to give any other details. She was insulted that I gave her nothing but a basic answer. Too fucking bad. If you don’t know, perhaps you don’t need to know.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

The past few weeks, I have seen friends and acquaintances airing all sorts of issues on social media. My urge to have some input can be overwhelming at times, especially if I feel strongly about the issue. I have to remind myself that my opinions are not always needed or wanted. The best course of action in many cases is to listen, be there, offer support. These problems are not mine to fix. If asked, I will say what I need to. If I am not asked, keeping my mouth shut is a good idea.

If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing.

The past few weeks, I have had strong ideas about all kinds of subjects. I continue to reiterate “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” My thoughts are strictly mine. Sharing them can hurt people without meaning to. This is why I do my best to keep those thoughts to myself. Why cause a problem when it is not necessary to do that? Not every thought that comes into my head, needs to exit my mouth.

I would love to fix my friend’s problems. They are not mine to fix. What I can do is be there as a friend. To me, it comes down to this, when my life sucked, the last thing I needed was someone waving a finger in my face. I do my best to not do that to others. Situations work their way out with little to no input from me. It is not about not caring. What it is about is realizing that even when I mean well, my help is not needed or wanted all of the time.

When in doubt, M.Y.O.B

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

They Call Me The Fixer

We all have those roles we play in our family. Some of us may be the black sheep, others are the scapegoat or the golden child. I am the fixer. Bring me your problems and I will fix them. My own life can be a chaotic mess, that doesn’t mean I cannot help you fix your problems.

That is where the difficulty is. I need to feel needed if that makes sense. Taking care of other people comes naturally almost to a fault. I can say with total sincerity what I want or need is last on my priority list. Now, there of course are times when this is the right thing to do. Somewhere there is a balance that I have yet to find between times to put others first, and the times to put myself first. Placing other people’s wants and needs ahead of mine makes me think my desires are unimportant.

This is the thinking that I want to change. Having a fixer mentality puts me into a mind frame of wanting every one around me to be happy at all times. What if I don’t want to do something? Do I speak up? Nope. I hate confrontation, so I go along with what is wanted or needed. Do I not care about my own happiness or health? What if I am feeling sick, or haven’t slept?

If I am needed, then I handle whatever needs to be done. All the while, I blame myself for not being able to say what I need. If I were to guess, it must be from feeling unimportant most of my life. Finding out I was not blood related to my family was the first part of feeling not as important. My parents often said they loved us both, but there was a big difference in how I was treated. That is the kind of thing kids pick up on. We know when we are not the favorite, trust me.

I will give you an example. My dad had a triple bypass on my twelfth birthday. The only surgeon we could find in the area was in New York City. This was major surgery and I waited for hours in the waiting room alone wondering if my dad was going to live or die. What kid wants to be in a waiting room in a hospital by themselves? How is that going to make you feel?

Yeah, that felt great.

Where was mom? Upstairs waiting for the surgeon to come out of the OR. My brother and his fiance were with her, not me. I was left to fend for myself. That right there told me how important I was. No one gave a shit that I was downstairs bawling wondering if dad was going to die. The fact that it was also my birthday did not help. All I wanted was to fix daddy and make him better.

So, the fixer was created. The person who always wanted to help. It is not a bad trait, except that I take the whole world on my shoulders. I want to fix problems that aren’t even mine. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, or so it is said. Maybe the road out of hell is to stop feeling the need to fix situations. You know what? If it is broken, don’t call me. I am not going to fix it.

Do you have a role in your family that no longer fits you?

A Major Milestone

This weekend is Memorial Day in the US. This weekend is often time for cookouts, parades, and gatherings with friends. Memorial Day weekend has an entirely different meaning for me. It is about remembering, but it is also about celebrating. This is the weekend a major milestone was achieved.

This weekend is the one year anniversary of moving in with my boyfriend. The struggle of being homeless was officially over.

Finding a place to live for me meant everything. It meant freedom. It meant autonomy. It also meant feeling like a human being after what may easily be the hardest struggle of my life. Being homeless dehumanizes you. It makes you hard edged and cynical. You learn not to trust anyone since every person you meet in the streets is up to something. Since you have to find ways and means to survive, you find yourself doing things you never would, like panhandling. Having nothing teaches you how to survive. It also shows you how to appreciate what you have.

When you live in a homeless shelter, getting out seems like a pipe dream. As the date to sign the lease drew closer, i began to dream about it. Was I really moving into an apartment? The whole experience was surreal.

Moving into an apartment meant leaving the world of begging, shelters, and not knowing who to trust behind for good. It represented a new start in my life with a person I can see myself growing old with. We realized that we would be able to create a nice home for ourselves and that is what we have done. Our apartment even has two spoiled cats who are like our kids.

We have talks of purchasing a house together. Due to my medical conditions, I am a homemaker now. I have taken to my new role and enjoy it. Life has gone back to normal for the most part. I remember all too well the days living on Long Island in an unfinished basement sleeping next to an oil tank. Those days are a far off memory. They taught me how to survive something I thought was impossible. Those days showed me that I can have a good life.

This year went by so fast. Time flies when you are having fun.