Ah, the things that we enjoy watching. One of my favorites is, “As Good As It Gets”. A little nothing of a movie that has everything I need in it to improve my outlook.
I don’t know whether it’s the let-it-all-hang-out honesty / sarcasm, without any attempt to be polite. Or, the fact that it’s about self-improvement, and simply trying to get through another day without killing yourself or anyone else.
This film has one of the most significant pieces of dialog that many of us might like to say from time to time, but which we don’t. Because it’s not polite to have a pity party. Or, not polite to have one in front of another person:
Simon (Greg Kinnear’s character):
Please just LEAVE.
GET OUTTA HERE! There isn’t anything worse than having to feel this way in front of you. Rott in hell, Melvin. Is this fun for you? Hm? You lucky devil. It just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it? I’m losing my apartment Melvin, and Frank? He wants me to beg my parents – who haven’t called me – for help… and I won’t. And I don’t want the pain anymore.
So the life that I was trying for is over. The life that I had is gone and I’m feeling so damn sorry for myself that it’s difficult to breathe.”
In the case of yesterday, the sun was shining. The air was warm. I was trying to motivate myself to get started painting, and I needed company in the house to be productive. Rather than turn on the tube, though, I opted for an audio book so that I wouldn’t be distracted and sit down vs. getting some painting done.
So, I turned to the new release of one of my favorite authors, Patricia Briggs, and her valiant heroine, Mercy Thompson, skinwalker of Native American / mystical heritage, who goes from one disaster to another, while finding acceptance in a family she chose for her self vs. one she was born into. Exactly what I needed to boost my butt into working and forgetting about any pain or exhaustion while I did mindless tasks.
However, despite getting the kitty door opened (the prior owner of this tin can bolted it shut for whatever reason), and having a zooming kitty busting into the house from the deck, running under my feet to “supervise”, and then going full charge at the flap to burst onto the side porch, I got some work done. And it helped my attitude a great deal.
Sometimes, the voices in your subconscious take over your attitude, and it’s all you can do to get out of your own way and keep busy in an effort to silence them.
I’ve been fighting that voice all Winter, as I struggled to keep my house warm enough to survive without keeping it warm enough to actually be able to DO anything. The Budget (yes, I mean that to be in capital letters) has taken over my life. The Budget isn’t too bad most of the time, if I’m busy. It’s certainly not as tight in the Summer, as I don’t use A/C.
However, I cannot tolerate “no” from The Budget for very long, and certainly not when I feel well enough to debate reality for what I can and cannot do, despite any pain or exhaustion my body may be enduring. So, I’ve been doing little cheats to keep my spirits up (like buying books that I have no business purchasing, and eating cheap food like Mac and Cheese that works within The Budget but not with my Type 2 Diabetes. Self-destructive habits are different for everyone, LOL).
Anyway, I had a pretty good day yesterday, despite it all.
My business partner, however, was falling apart at the seams. Background: She simply made a pivot turn at work about 2 weeks ago, and did some severe damage to her already weak knee. Like me, she is not a good patient. Like me, she’s been isolating so that no one needs to see her at her most vulnerable.
I get it. It’s been an uphill battle to help her, but like any pest, I’m relentless until I get my way when I think it’s healthier for you than your way. It’s been quite an education to see how much alike we really are when it comes to being stubborn.
So, we had some conversations on Friday in passing about my impatience with her kids and her (which is clearly NOT MY BUSINESS), as she sets the boundaries and keeps the adult children away. It was something along the lines of a fisted finger salute while I rudely commented on their neglect.
It’s not that I’m begrudging any time I’m spending helping my friend. I’m in charge of my own schedule, and I actually like having a reason to get out of bed.
Rather, it was my silent comment on what I would have told my Mom if she’d tried to keep me away while she was ill.
Don’t get me wrong, Mom was sick for 18 years prior to it becoming critical. But, while others lived in denial, I showed up any time it was possible (I lived 3,000 miles away), and was only a plane ride away if needed.
My siblings are wonderful, and they did their best, but neither one of them was able to give her that silent salute regarding her expressed wishes and show up anyway. Both only lived about 15 minutes away in either direction from my Mom’s home, and it got ridiculous for me to be calling them and saying, “Eyes. When did you last lay eyes on her? She’s lying, so phone calls aren’t helpful.” My brother and sister put up with my nagging, and we got through Betty’s health issues together.
So, I get it when my friend tells me that she’s told her adult children to stay away. AND THEY LISTENED. They obeyed. (Those apron strings really need to be cut, but – again – so NOT MY BUSINESS).
However, I tell you all that to tell you this. I stopped by yesterday to bring in the mail and empty the kitty box, etc., and see how she was doing and she was in tears. It had been a rough day, and she was crying her eyes out in fear that she was never going to get better and that her life in that moment was the best that it was ever going to get. Ever, ever.
Understandable grieving. Ridiculous. Very human.
So, we had a challenging conversation where my eyes were watering (as opposed to crying*) as it was a necessary conversation but very tough to verbalize for me. I was stepping all over boundaries (surprise, surprise), but we got through the trauma and I think I helped more than harmed. We’ll see how it goes over time.
To recap: Fear is a part of life. Being unwell or less capable is very scary. Accepting one’s mortality and enjoying life anyway is how I deal.
Apparently, I also come across as incredibly intrepid and fearless (yeah, right!).
But, we talked about life, passages (as well as the Gail Sheehey book, “Passages”), and the fact that she’s gone from not planning to retire until she was 74, to retiring 18 months from now (June 2018), to planning to retire in 60 days. If her body holds out.
Her grand plans to collect both social security and work so that she could upgrade her house was trembling on a precipice, and she was feeling foolish, like the accident wouldn’t have happened if she’d retired at 70, when she was “supposed” to as she’d maxed out her possible benefits. She was getting communication directly from her God about being prideful, and I turned the conversation a bit into a new direction as beating yourself up solves nothing.
Through the tears, we had some laughs about thinking that anything we did or did not do changed the outcome of disasters. We talked about moving the trip to the UK out by a year (no decision has yet been made), and we talked about our shared business schedule and upcoming show dates. We talked about my fears and that my experiences with fragility and vulnerability are different, as well as the fact that I came out of the womb fighting restrictions while she’s just getting into the game for accepting her aging body is going to betray her.
Mostly, though, we talked about grieving as a necessary part of life when your plans are changed against your will. We talked about the anger and frustration of dealing with your body’s betrayal as we age. And we talked about fear. In depth and honestly.
I didn’t have any answers for her, and looking back, it may have been kind of trite to suggest she read a self-help book, but I stuck to what I know. And I also talked about her letting her kids have the respect of worrying about her without pretending to be invincible.
IMHO, my business partner has to accept the fact that she had a duty to respect the boundaries and allow those who love you to worry about you, and to know what’s going on, so that they don’t worry more because she’s keeping them in the dark. She has to learn to be honest about her vulnerability as they deserve her respect enough for honesty, while also managing those boundaries so that they don’t then feel that they can take over her life. Scary territory to navigate, but maybe it’s time to start to prepare for the next 20 or more years.
She is not incapable. Honesty about challenges does not make one unable to come up with a plan to continue to live independently. Boundary management may allow her to have an adult-to-adult relationship with her children that is richer and more intimate then her parent-to-child relationship currently appears to be. It was a different perspective, and gives her something to consider. Hopefully they will all have a good day today, if she follows through on her plan to let them visit.
Finishing up the day with the base of the breakfast bar painted, the plants watered, part of the ceiling and wall painted, and then a viewing of “Lost Boys” and “As Good As It Gets” is sometimes the best thing I need at the end of a day.
No answers here. But progress. Some progress is always good.
* I am often rendered mute about things that I should talk about but which I find difficult to express. Not to be manipulative or anything else, but when I fight my body’s wish for me to shut my mouth, or I’m incredibly moved by something, or for any little reason, my eyes water. Copiously. Some would call it tears, but this is not that simple. This is very different than tears, as it’s more like an internal fight while my conscious mind says “yes, we will speak”, and my internal voice says “For F*ck’s sake, shut the f*ck UP !”