Friday, January 27, 2017

Remembering Mary

I grew up on 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' and then 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'. I loved Mary's ability to be funny, to be forthright, to be honest and hardworking. I admired her ability to get up and get on with life even when things weren't necessarily going her way. She was a mixture of standing up for what she believed was right and yet not rocking the boat too much that there was hurt. She 'got' Mr Grant, and now that I think about it, maybe some of 'Mary' rubbed off on me; finding something noble in trying to get into the shoes of the other person; really trying very hard to understand where the other person was coming from; the humor in that process.

Mary certainly made me laugh and particularly in those moments when the other person was so...wrong. Mary could see that. We could see that she saw it, and we loved her all the more for not pointing it out or making a fuss of that; just letting them be who they were and working with and around those people.

In reality I think Mary Tyler Moore didn't feel that Mary was her; that she didn't possess Mary's qualities, or at least not all of them. I have been watching today interviews she gave, because I'm processing her death by doing that, and in one interview she commented that she possessed some of the qualities of Beth Jarrett, the repressed mother in 'Ordinary People' who loses her eldest son. When asked why she refers to Beth's perfectionism and her high expectations, and that's one thing about Mary, the real Mary, that I did instinctively feel myself. It oozed out of her, I felt.

Roger Ebert referred to Beth Jarrett as "selfish" in a review and there's no doubt that Beth did have a hard time giving of herself, whether that was to her young son who was in so much turmoil over the death of his brother or whether it was her husband who wanted to reveal his own grief to her. So long as they pretended that they were not damaged people, all was well with Beth. It was when they refused to uphold this pretense that things went wrong.

I have immense respect for the Tyler Moore's honesty in her interviews and in her autobiography. I have not read it but the interviews about it make clear that she didn't shy away from the dark parts of her life, only leaving out those parts that would have hurt those still living. The alcoholism, she thought, related to her genetics. Maybe. She referred to the drink taking off the edges of a difficult day.What we do now know is that any addiction is used to medicate an intolerable reality. It is our way of 'coping'; of finding relief. All the success in the world, the affection of the world, isn't enough if one's inner world is intolerable.

It was said on the Larry King Show in an interview with Mary that those who haven't had enough love and affection in childhood tend to gravitate to show business. I don't know about that. Certainly, many 'show business' people are quite shy away from the stage or the camera but there are a host of ways to go when you don't feel that you got your fair share of love and attention as a child.

We were watching the Federer/Wawrinka tennis match last night when I cuddled up to my husband, sorta spleyed over him, looking for a dose of attention. He wasn't comfortable. He made that clear and I made a move to relieve myself of being a burden. He caught me with one arm and pulled me back and told me to lie still. I recognized the truth of the situation and I appreciated his demand that I stay where I was. He held me down with his arm and I felt secure. I am needy. I try not to be. I just am. This is an unconscious and a conscious need. All the knowledge in the world about self soothing doesn't change the fact that I want and crave particular attention.

So, this looking for love continues on. I'm loved. I know I am loved, but the need for regular reassurance of that love remains. I don't need the world to love me but I do need to know that I am loved  singularly to be secure in that love. I want to hear the words. I want to see the feelings in action. This is the insecurity from childhood still at work.

On the flip side, as much as I love to have regular contact with those I love, enough is enough. I need time alone. My summers find me surrounded by loved ones and there reaches this point, every year, when I think, 'if only they could all be out of the house at the one time.'

When things get too much, I walk, except I can't quite now due to a sore ankle. So, maybe I write here, like now. So, maybe I berate myself about my weaknesses, like now.

A few days ago, as I drove my son to a doctor's appointment, I revealed that his friend, who had been with us for 5 days straight, along with other friends who had visited for shorter periods, was driving me a little crazy.  He got a bit defensive, as people who are criticized tend to do.

'Please don't take it personally. It's not just one thing. It's everything. Your father tends to come and dump his frustrations on me too. 'Here, I'm frustrated. Catch!' I just want one hour to myself. Is that asking too much?'

'Mum, how don't you get this?! Dad is always saying that to get things done well you need to give them complete focus. So, use his logic back on him. That's what he understands. Explain that you need to sit and do your project for a while and you're going to need to give it your complete focus. It's that simple. I do that all the time.'

Of course, by now, I'm laughing. Like Mary, I get people's quirks and my own quirks when they are presented to me in that laughable way. We're all mad in our own ways. That's the thing. That's the thing I get, most of the time, and when I don't get it, I'm taking myself, and life, much too seriously.

Mary Tyler Moore was pretty hard on herself, I think. She really wanted to be her best self and she had trouble living up to her own high standards. I get it. It's endemic in my family. It doesn't feel particularly strange to be this way in this family. Fortunately, we marry that with humor; plenty of laughter. If you must be nuts at least be nuts and funny at the same time.

I do believe that the life you see and experience is a reflection of how you feel about yourself and how you are processing life internally. With love in your heart and a sense of comfort in your own skin the world is a far more beautiful place. I know this and I berate myself when I fall short of these standards I set.

'I am love.
I give love.
I receive love.
I let go.'

I say these lines to myself as I sit with myself on my cushion and when I rise the world is more beautiful.

There is no possession, no accomplishment, no skill, that can take the place of the feeling of love in one's heart. This is what we learn as time goes by.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


There probably isn't anyone these days who hasn't heard the advice 'to live in the moment'. It makes sense to accept the fact that the past is the past and that the future has yet to come, so best to embrace this moment and make the best of this moment.

You can take this simple thought as far as you want. For instance, it is soothing to focus on the senses in the moment. Rather than scoff down that peanut butter sandwich take a moment to notice the thickness of the bread and the crunchy bits in the peanut butter spread, or the smoothness of the non-crunchy variety, if that's more your thing. How does the sandwich feel on your tongue? Rather than chew just enough times to get it down your throat, satiation for your stomach and nothing more, chew several more times and notice how that feels. It's a pleasant experience to pare life down to the simple things if for no other reason than your thought processes slow down for a bit. It's hard to think about your 'to do' list at the same time as you are paying attention to what is happening in your mouth.

One of the patterns of my mind that I noticed some time ago, but didn't realize was making for difficulty was that, when confronted with a challenging period of time, I tended to say, either out loud or to myself, 'Just tell me when it will end. So long as I know when it will end, I can manage.' I remember once a lawyer calling to tell me of the outcome of a situation. I distinctly remember replying, 'Are you telling me it is over?' That's the way my mind worked. Things had a beginning and thus had an end. In the interim, whilst waiting for a satisfactory outcome, I suffered more than was necessary.

I don't think like that any more, although the temptation is there, I catch myself and stop it. I think this relates to my understanding that I can't control all that much, and nor should I. It also relates to the fact that I have come to see that life isn't like that; a beginning, a middle and an end. Of course, we are born and eventually we die and in the middle of those two events we live. So, rationally speaking there is a beginning and there is an end.

However, if you think like that, for example, 'I can't be happy until I find someone to love me completely', or 'I can stop worrying when I get the children into good colleges', you simply miss a good deal of your life.

I'm currently at the holiday house. We must have had it for nearly 20 years now. When we bought it the house was an honest to goodness 'fix her upper'. We can't get here too often but when we do we do something to make the property a little better. It's slow going, although if you look back, we've done a great deal. Yet, there is still so very much more to do.

In moments, I get a little despondent. How I'd love to throw a bit of money at the property and just get things done. But, on the flip side, I've had more fun this summer here than ever before. I've truly relaxed, loved the lake, and my husband and I have had much fun buying a few cushions and stools and bits and pieces at a sale. Every little improvement we make is great fun and one day, probably years from now yet, we'll arrive at the place and think 'its all done'. In the meantime, we are grateful we have a property in the country which we can do up.

Relationships have an overarching 'feel' about them, I think. There are good times and bad times. When you've been together for as long as us, 40 years, you start to look back and wonder what enabled such an enduring thing. Others would have split with much less having gone wrong, with less challenges, so why did we pull through? Why does the love continue to grow?

I think you have to believe; you have to believe in the goodness and the 'rightness' of the union. You have to try to imagine life without this person and realize that it is not the right thing for you, or for the family. You have to dig down into your best self and call on your resilience in the hard moments. Staying together isn't always the right thing, naturally, but if you believe in the union, you'll find a way to endure the tough times. Here's where getting in touch with your emotions helps; identifying them and sitting with them until your brain calms and settles. Time outs to do this is no bad thing.

In the past few turbulent years I never could have conceived of a time when my husband would be more patient with me, more settled with me, more generous and in the moment with me. We talk in a new way now; more positive and more confident about our lives together. We talk and talk now, often in an existentialist way, about the meaning of life and how to live a good life. We are on board about the body and mind connection and it's so wonderful to have this new, deeper bond.

He has called on cindi at times; completely derails the rational girl and reduces the bimbo right down to a mindless toy. I love this, I love his desire for her. Truthfully, I am a little coy at the moment; quiet in my sexuality. It's a transition period for me, he knows this, as I examine certain behaviours of the past that derailed me; derailed my emotional state.

I'm not bursting with impatience to have this interim period behind me. I have faith that the examination of my unconscious mind will lead to a good place. Pia Mellody said in a utube lecture that a relationship isn't a passionate or dramatic thing, until the time is appropriate for there to be passion. A relationship is a calm thing; something that ebbs and flows like a river, rather than being a roller coaster ride. In some ways, the roller coaster ride became 'normal' in my mind, even though I detest roller coaster rides. I came to see that I had to get off the roller coaster ride.

In some strange way, the vast improvements in my functioning, my husband's functioning and the health (though not the strength) of the union relates to this calm approach; calming oneself right down and staying in the moment; being less absorbed with the mistakes of the past and being less invested with the outcomes of the future. Life, in it's simplest moments right now, is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


It has been the loveliest of summers. We've been at the holiday house little more than a week and yet it feels like we have been here all summer. If we open the front doors, and we do, we get lovely breezes from the water and we've not yet had a day that has made life uncomfortable. If it gets too hot we simply get in the old boat and fish out in the middle of the lake, which is much cooler, or we go for a swim in the lake.

We've had company with us the whole time. The last person left a mere hour ago. There has been barely any time to think let alone write, although I've let my mind wander as I've held a lure to catch fish, and caught some, I did!

I have done a little reading: Wayne Dyer's Your Sacred Self, and the novel The Dry. I love Dyer's positivism and the simple statements and suggestions he makes to turn thinking around. I'm smitten too by Jane Harper's ability to create atmosphere and character by using just the right verb. It's inspiring how easily writing can improve for the reader when the writer lets go of adverbs and concentrates on finding the right word to describe the action in the scene. If you are ever looking for a book to describe the Australian countryside in drought, look no futher.

I've not had time to write in this space but nor have I had something worth saying. I did try one day and the attempt is saved in drafts, but it so annoyed me how the writing was inspired by a feeling of anger and that's so last year, that feeling. I don't want that feeling to be part of my new year, so I abandoned it and waited for a feeling that did in fact have an invitation into my life.

Of course, I am going through a 'process' right now, a process that I understood at the outset had long term positives but would have some shaky moments. I'm working on getting closer towards the centre. I'm looking to abandon unhealthy codependence traits and becoming closer to the middle of the range, or to put it another way, a more healthy codependence. I have no goal to alter my innate functioning. That is, I take care of people. I care about people. I'm the follower. That's not going to change. I can't and don't want to will myself to suddenly desire a job at the top of the corporate ladder, for example. I don't seek power, or limelight, although between you and me, I happily daydream of attending (my own) book launch and soaking up my time on the stage!!

It's been lovely lately to note that as I ask for a bit of assistance here and there, or when people ask me what they can do to help, this all seems to flow better. I offer them a job, or ask if they would mind doing something for me, and that's all gone smoothly. It's made my life a dream in that I am no longer feeling that I am slogging through the work, and I no longer feel secretly resentful that they don't do more.

One of the biggest tests of this process that I am in is that the codependent will feel her sense of  inner loneliness return; those same sort of feelings that she felt as a child; the sort of feelings that contributed to making her a codependent desiring to dance with her polar opposite in the first place. For a long time, my sub-conscious held onto the feeling that any behaviour of the other was acceptable, so long as I kept the inner loneliness at bay. The feeling is that strong and frightening; must not be felt at any cost. It took a great deal of research and inner investigation to realize that I could withstand it; that I had to go to the heart of that feeling.

This process, this first part of it, at least, should be done with the aid of a therapist. However, I don't feel I can do that. I feel, and I am bucking the best psychological advice here, that I have to do this alone. Having said that, I do have advice via books and Utube talks that I refer to in order to bolster my resolve. Dyer's book noted above helps me right now. You don't have to fear a lack of approval, he says, because you have a comfort in your own skin that you are on your own spiritual path.

For the first few weeks into the process I think I was probably private and somewhat withdrawn. I think I may have felt that I needed to try as much as I could to concentrate on holding onto my resolve. I wanted to let cindi run free but at the same time I feared what might happen if I did. Like, cindi has no resolve. But, yesterday morning my husband pinned by arms to either side of me while I lay on the bed and bit at my nipple jewellery. I could feel her rise. She has a life of her own that little thing, and my body responded to the force. Oh yes, she was enjoying herself. She liked being taken and used.

I am, in moments, still a little shaky. There is no doubt about that. Rome was not built in a day and one doesn't heal overnight. However, I do feel abundantly healthy right now. Nature has played its part, the lifestyle here, but I do feel better able to calculate what is and is not acceptable; or more aptly, what I will and won't tolerate. cindi is alive, no doubt about it, but she's not so helpless that she can't look out for herself. That's the difference. She won't again choose to dismiss her gut reactions or to rationalize her physiological reactions.

The point, for those struggling to understand what I am on about here, is that the closer you get to the middle of the behavioral spectrum the less inclined you are to going to be to accept, and even desire, the behaviour of those on the highest end of the spectrum, someone operating from self-interest and using various manipulative strategies to get his own way. It's not going to stop you, if you have a disposition such as mine to enjoy interacting with a respectful and polite person who operates on the opposite side of the spectrum, the dominantly inclined. However, your heckles will rise when you are not being treated with respect and civility; kindness; care. A doll's disposition doesn't mean that the requirements of human interaction go out the window; quite the opposite, I would have thought. It's critical, in my experience, to feel a sense of safety in those situations. How else one can let go and be less?

The vulnerability remains. The resolve is well in place. I think that resolve could be equated to self-respect/self esteem. There is a place for ego. It's fine to 'let go', desired in fact, but it's also okay to let self-respect define the limits of that letting go. Anyone who rejects your request for respectful behaviour is simply trying to manipulate your mind.