Movies and Life

I’m walking down an endless series of stairs inside a cavern, a mountain, an old castle, everything looking like it’s been carved out of a cave with stairs surrounded by cave-like walls and ceilings that change shape with each step, uneven, with lighting coming from somewhere below so I can see where I’m going. There are young people, kids, coming up. As I go down, I see/hear what look like saunas, locker room/shower areas.

Is this the last level? Why am I going down?

To get to “the bottom of things.” That’s everything. That’s what I’m doing. Of course, getting to the bottom is about right now. There will be other “bottoms” to “get to,” I’m sure. Some, perhaps of a different, more delightful nature.

In the meantime, it’s weeding out, pruning time. Junk status for lots of email, more “un-following” on Facebook, anyone who isn’t a part of my life – gone. I don’t want to have all that distraction. It’s needless, that’s why it’s called a distraction. Gives the impression of belonging. Not real. Items posted may be pointing to something interesting or worthwhile, but it’s become way too much. A time-sucker. Not worth it.

As I lay in bed this morning, I suddenly become fearful. The “bottom.” Is it “falling out”? Money worries, empty-life worries. Confusion. Anxiety about living.

And then… getting to the “bottom of things” comes to me as I jot that note down from one of my new dreams, those words serving as a cue for later morning journal writing. Aha! I take a toke, listen to my mind (?) my heart (?) and I become aware that I have a choice of versions of reality to pick from, all but one already waiting to be followed. Everyone does. That’s all everyone is doing, all the time: picking their version of reality. There is no one version of reality, however. We may choose to try to believe that, try to align what we think that “version” really is with what we believe is the social version, the compatible version. And so, we stumble along, never really sure. Why? Because it’s impossible to know deep down, since it’s based on something “out there,” an abstraction. “Fitting in” means different things to different people, perhaps done to ease the tension that results from living from the outside-in, and “knowing” deep down, deep, deep down, that something’s amiss, fake. It’s an attempt to foist something less authentic onto something real. And what is that “something real”?

It’s you. It’s me.

In the quiet of my lonely room, eyes closed, mind floating, body relaxed and stretched out horizontally, untethered from top to bottom, I begin to imagine possibilities instead of feeling anxious. At this sleepy stage, it’s more about the possibilities of possibilities than anything specific. I can tell I’m onto something real because I’m nodding off, I can feel it in my body. “Dreaming. Sleeping.” My temporary mantra. I relax and enjoy the blend of thought with feeling, not sure which is which and not caring, either.

An insight into real living leaves behind the worry and doubt of “hitting bottom,” replaced by “getting to the bottom of things.” There is no Secret Code, unless that’s what I want. And then, it’s just a secret I keep from myself, if I choose to. And it’s not about “not fitting in,” because it’s about something that’s not a “not.” “Nots,” after all, have the potential to become “knots” in the end.

Everyone’s version of reality is a like a movie. That movie can be a seemingly endless series of reruns, an endless series of sequels, attempts to play someone else’s dream as you perceive it. It might be “Fun With Dick And Jane,” or it could be “The Stepford Wives.” Or a television show, like “Ozzie & Harriet.” But why something “out there” instead of what’s “in here”? Isn’t what’s “in here” the real thing? And how much do we know that’s what we are doing? Sure, you can like or appreciate certain aspects of those programs. But in the end, they’re just “programs,” aren’t they? And can you see the results of trying to live “out there” instead of from “in here”? One has the potential to become pathological, the other moving us toward personal integration and a lifetime (not the cable channel) of discovery (also not the cable channel).

We are surrounded. Like in a shooting match, and we’re outnumbered. Or so we think. “It” is waiting for us before we’re even born. It “welcomes” us with “open arms.” It’s Disneyland. It’s “Apocalypse Now.” It’s “Nothing But A Man.” It’s your favorite “reality” TV show or “source for news.” Anything but what’s right in front of us.

Being damaged is one thing. Staying damaged is another. Does it come down to “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” (you pick the best version you like) or that which is indescribable except by each and everyone of us, individually, each and every day?

“But is Brain all that important? Is it really Brain that takes us where we need to go? Or is it all too often Brain that sends us off in the wrong direction, following the echo of the wind in the treetops, which we think is real, rather than listening to the voice within us that tells us which way to turn?”

I’m tired, exhausted of being afraid of what’s inside of ME.

The only true claim on anyone’s life is their own.

Concern, Frustration, Peace

  1. What was happening? Describe the circumstances.

Where I live, there is an elderly lady I have come to know since she was widowed about 1 ½ years ago.  To some extent, she is a recluse.  We had lived on the same floor in our building for about six years and I had only seen her twice before her husband was hospitalized.  She did not seem to want or need to interact on a social basis with anyone.  However, quite surprisingly, she was quick to accept my assistance in the later stages of his hospitalization, just before he passed away.   This poor soul had nobody in her life anymore!  She was well advanced in years, she and her husband had never had any children, they were immigrants, and the only family that either of them had were a couple of nieces and nephews who still lived in Europe and were over 70 themselves.  She truly was all alone in this world.  She was very frail, with multiple health issues, though mentally competent and had a great desire to remain independent.

At the beginning of our interactions, she was overwhelmed with the situation that she now found herself in, and she eagerly accepted any and all assistance that I offered her…..interacting with the funeral director, taking her to various appointments, and handling all the various things that needed to be done to finalize his estate….pensions, income tax etc.  As time went by, and things with his estate were eventually being finalized, I sensed that she was gradually withdrawing from me and trying to once again claim back her independence.  This was a good thing, but the resulting solitude, not so much.  A very positive step forward though, was when she accepted the fact that she needed to appoint a Power of Attorney for Personal Care, so someone could make medical or personal care decisions on her behalf when she was no longer capable of doing so. Not surprisingly, it was me she asked to do this for her, as she really didn’t have anyone else she could ask.  Any of the friends that they had had earlier in their life had either already passed away, or were mentally or physically incapable and already in nursing homes themselves. I was happy to accept this role for her, but it is a bit of a two edged sword!  I am happy to know that there is something in place to ensure that someone will be able to make appropriate decisions for her when she is no longer capable of doing so.  However, she is a stubborn lady.  Occasionally, she opens up a bit to tell me how she is doing and the help she needs as her physical limitations escalate.   So, we talk about the things that can be put in place to help her out.  She agrees, and we put it in place with the various social agencies.  Then, she changes her mind and she cancels everything.  And so the cycle continues.  Her personal health and safety are a concern, but my hands are tied.

2. How did it / does it feel in my body (then, and/or now). Describe specifically or poetically. Include impulse (what I felt like doing). Name the feeling.

It is so frustrating and aggravating!  This repeating cycle of complaints, problem solving, meetings with social agencies to put things in place to facilitate her on-going independence, and then her cancelling everything is so extremely exasperating. I feel so angry for my wasted time and energy.

 3.  What meaning did I / do I give to it? Includes how it fits in a current relationship, as well as recurring past patterns.

This change in our relationship where she now has withdrawn a bit and now has this recurring pattern of having me make arrangements for her care and then her immediately cancelling everything as soon as it is in place, has definitely affected my own perception as to my role in her life.  Apart from the frustration of knowing that she is making her life more difficult and painful for herself, it has also resulted in me feeling a need to withdraw substantially from our day to day interactions.

4.  What did I choose to do with the energy?  … and what happened… Consequences can include how I felt as a result of my choice, as well as implications for others.

Upon giving it very serious consideration, and discussing the situation with friends who are in the health care industry and social agencies, I came to the understanding that this is far from an unusual situation with independent seniors who are experiencing deteriorating health, while still maintaining their mental functionality. Part of them knows and accepts the limitations that they are facing, but a part of them still wants and needs to resist the necessity of reaching out to others for help!  As a result, they are constantly fluctuating back and forth in their decisions.  I decided to respect my own physical and emotional needs and not allow her to waste my time and energy, yet still look out for her when she really needs my help.  As I result, I chose to back off dramatically in our interactions, leaving it entirely up to her to contact me if she wants or needs something.  By backing off, it reduced my frustration substantially, I have no feelings of guilt, and it has helped to protect my own personal energy levels, and to be at peace about the entire situation.

 5. Gathering Wisdom: What do I learn about myself? How does the learning fit within major themes in my history? How does it relate to my life purpose? What does it tell me about a specific present relationship? What is unfinished?

In retrospect, my immediate response to jump in and help her in her time of need was a very typical response for me.  I am a person who wants to help people in whatever manner that I can.  However, from a variety of life experiences, I have come to understand that although many people may need help, not everyone is actually prepared to accept the help that they require. It is also important to remember that they have every right to make their own choices as to how they want to live their own life, while they have the mental capability to do so.   As well, as my own health situation has changed dramatically since I agreed to help her, I have come to the realization and acceptance of the fact that I need to protect my own health and energy levels.  This has to be my top priority.  So, it is not only ok, but imperative to have taken the steps that I have to alter our relationship. There are social agencies and organizations that can provide her with the care and assistance that she requires.  So, if I get them involved, I am still caring for her without me taking on the responsibility myself. A perfect solution!  I have finally learned, and accepted, that it is perfectly ok to finally put my own needs first, without guilt, and that if I don’t care for myself, nobody else will.  How freeing this is.

6. What do I choose to do now in response to my learning?

As a result of my altered circumstances, and my deeper understanding of my appropriate role in my own life and those around me, I have chosen to reduce my interaction with her and have changed how I see my responsibilities, not only in her life, but in everyone else’s as well.  Now, the onus is on her to approach me with her requests for assistance.  I will set the wheels in motion for interaction with the appropriate support agencies, but then I will back off and allow the professionals to interact with her without me.  When the time comes that she is no longer capable of making her own decisions, and she really requires my intervention, if I am able to assist her, I will.  If I can’t, I will ensure that there is someone else to take on that role, and be sure to respect my own physical needs and limitations and back off without guilt.