When I was a little girl, my mom taught me to ignore the annoying kids in my class, and maybe then they'd get bored and go away. As a strategy, it worked fairly well. Certainly, the parents and teachers loved my "adult approach" to problems.

By the time I was in third grade, I was such a good little two-shoes that the teacher, Mrs. Z, put me in the seat between two of the most disruptive goof-offs in class. Both named Aaron. Problem was that they were funny and interesting, and the conversations that went on behind my head weren't always that easy to ignore. I tell you, bad boys just have more fun.

In sixth grade, a boy with a really tough life figured he could out-annoy my tactic of "ignore and avoid." And eventually, he was right. I caught the attention of a teacher and explained the challenge I was having with locker-access between classes, since JO was always there to slam the locker shut for me again. When the teacher explained to JO that his homeroom teacher was my dad... Well, he left me alone after that. And I continued to ignore him.

In eighth grade, a different boy went straight from annoy to abuse. And no matter how hard I ignored him, I still went home from school every day with extra bruises. Eventually I again approached a teacher for help. This time it took a while, but eventually the kid's parents decided it was in his best interests to pretend I didn't exist, and I was allowed to get on with my life. We both worked hard to ignore and avoid each other for the whole four years of high school, where we both played violin in Orchestra class every day.

My first serious boyfriend was in high school... And he often forgot to show up for our planned dates and get-togethers and such. He often ignored my phone calls, too. I worked very hard to ignore the things I didn't like in our relationship because I wanted to succeed with him the same way I'd learned to succeed in school as a little girl. His other girlfriend-- when I found out about her-- was a bit harder to overlook. So I decided to ignore them both.

Add six years, a different guy, a wedding... and you have my marriage. In which I learned to ignore my own needs, my feelings, and my right to be treated with respect. Because that was the only way my marriage was going to succeed. And I didn't want to be the bad guy. Ignore the annoyance-- the way the boy in the seat next to you is goofing off and making bad choices in his life and generally distracting you from your work and your goals-- and it'll stop. Right?

So here I am. Knowing already that I am not Cinderella (in other words, no magic wand or prince charming to make it all better)... And I am facing the fact (again) that my most-used coping mechanism for things that bother/annoy/frustrate me... is to ignore them, and hope they go away. Some life skill. It didn't work in my marriage. It sure isn't working on my financial and job woes. Or on my cat's arthritis, come to that. And it's all gotten a bit over my head, really... But the thing I just tripped over is the realization that there's no teacher to go to for help on this one... And the last few teachers (or Argmy Commanders) I went to weren't always that helpful in the situation anyway.

So now I'm thinking--
Maybe we should teach little girls Aikido or Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, and encourage them to confront life's frustrations HEAD-F*ING-ON!! Because we sure aren't doing them any favors by training them to believe that being nice and pretending the problem doesn't exist will make everything in their life okay.

I'm just saying is all...


Where The Heart Is

I have been sitting here-- and on GB's sofa-- for the past several days, worrying and worrying about money. Feeling that no matter how hard I tried, there would be no way to make ends meet on my own-- or even at all. And I have worried, and cried, and been generally unhappy with the way of my work opportunities and with my own inability to make things work out "right" with my budget this month.

Finally, I sent my best friend an email, with all my worry about money and my dwindling choices packed into it. With my disappointment that I couldn't make my life turn out the way I want it to-- financially.

And she called me back, and told me that her dog-- her best friend of the past thirteen and a half years, since just before she and I became friends-- her Aussie has stopped eating. She is skin and bones, and she is dying. And there is nothing my friend can do to change this reality. There is no way for her to make the outcome what she wants. That she is scared to even consider the future that waits for her after that final trip to the Vet with Aussie tomorrow morning.

And I realized how narrow my worry has been, how shallow. I realized that I am blessed in the most important parts of my life. I have my family, my cat, my friends. I am so rich in love and in having. And I wish with all my heart that my best friend and Aussie could be spared the pain of this loss, the worry and fear of this decision. I wish I could be there to hold them both at the end.

It is in the heart that the greatest tragedies are weathered, and in the heart that the greatest loves and the greatest fears are embraced. And Aussie has been my best friend's heart for so very many years now.

And after we discussed all this in a not-quite direct way, so that we could put off really feeling just how deep this pain goes, just a little longer, and only feel the beginnings of the hole Aussie is leaving in her heart... That's when my best friend turned the conversation to me, and told me that it's okay to need help. It's okay NOT to face everything alone. She reminded me that I've been facing my challenges alone my whole life-- and maybe now that GB is here, it's time to let someone help me. I don't know what it is about death that makes the living so wise... but it does.

And if tears were money, I'd never have to worry about such foolish things as budgets and banks again. I overflow with this terrible richness of feeling. How much worse it must be for her. The sorrow I feel for my friend brings understanding of just how important such a friendship is in my life. In some ways she's right-- I have overcome huge obstacles to reach this point in my life, and I've done it by myself. But yet, she herself (and others like her) has often been there supporting me. And now it is my turn.

Please let me be worthy of the gifts that fill my life. Of the deep friendships, and the trust that is so easily given to me by friends and strangers alike. And let me guide them through their pain and back into harmony with the cycle of life-- as I have been guided by them.

Please don't let Aussie suffer, and help my best friend's heart to heal.
And thank you, whoever you are, for the reminder of what is truly worthy of tears.