I was thinking about problems earlier. Well, it’s really been swirling around in some way for a while now, but the last day or so, I’ve funneled my pondering into a curiosity about where people focus their energy. There are all kinds of problems any given person could have, and what one person considers problematic isn’t the same as what another person considers problematic. It’s all relative to circumstance. So what is it that creates our individual problem-no problem spectrums? The body we’re born into, the body that develops, our childhoods, all our traumas and glories, the social and political climates of our homes, media – we have all these things in our lives that impact what is or is not troublesome or limiting for us, and no two life experiences are identical. We each have a unique paradigm within our consciousness that decides how we need to move through the world and what parts of that world are challenging for us. So how do we decide the parameters? It is more subconscious than it is a conscious decision, but it is all rooted in conscious experience. So why do we allow some experiences to categorize as problems and not others?
Why? Because that’s the point. Life is about overcoming difficulties, learning and growing from them, and helping others do the same.
End of story.
So, any time I have a problem (i.e. a significant problem or recurrent type of problem), that’s how I approach it. How do I overcome it? How or what can I learn and grow from the experience? How can I help others with what I’ve gained (and lost)?
What’s the biggest problem I have with my life right now?
I’m living the way my mother does. I lounge around all day in my pjs, usually kinda stinky because bathing is a challenge. I don’t work outside the home, and I rarely leave. The house gets a little stinky sometimes because we have two boy cats with gag-inducing poops and a very smelly dog, and I hardly have the energy to vacuum. The sink is almost always full of dishes because bending and leaning are very hard on my body. The place is a wreck. It’s definitely not the filth I grew up with. Stuff gets cleaned. Really, it’s about like any house I’ve been to with small children and tired parents. But I have no children or job to blame. It’s all just me not keeping up.
Mom would blame my sister and me, her job, or whatever “illness” she had at the time when someone showed up to our house unannounced and it was a wreck. And then we’d get in trouble. There’s the birth of me not wanting people in my home when it’s not clean. I’ve done a lot of work on that problem. I’m better about it now since I just don’t have a choice any more. I do what I can when I can, and if it’s not good enough, they’re not good enough to be invited back. I’m grateful for a life now full of people who know what really matters.(When my husband and I first started dating, I was unwell somehow, and he came over and washed my dishes. He got many points for that. Very many. It was one of the sweetest things anyone could ever do for me, and it was definitely indicative of how wonderful he is at being helpful.)
But still, my life, from the perspective of an outsider, is the same as my mother’s – sedentary, homebound, unkempt, and controlled by medical issues. Her issues are totally different – obesity and mental illness – but it would be very easy for someone to assume my limited mobility is simply inherited laziness. It’s been my goal in adulthood to never live like my mother, and here I am. I don’t communicate the way she does, I don’t enjoy the same foods or activities, we really have extremely few similar interests or attitudes. But as I work to pull out of myself all those parts of her that I don’t want, I still spend most of my time resting, staring at some screen or another, and pretty much only leave the house for groceries and doctors appointments. I appear like a lazy, agoraphobic, selfish person, and I’m none of those things.
That’s where the heartbreak of my health problems lies. It’s forcing me into the same hole my mother dug for herself. That woman exists from a hellspace I make every effort to avoid, and that is why I will keep pushing. I’ll do whatever I can and whatever I have to in the pursuit of an improved quality of life. There are days where I do wish I could just stop because it’s so overwhelming, but then I remember how miserable she always has been because all she does is give up. She’s too good to face a problem. It’s all someone else’s fault, someone else’s to deal with in her world. I’m sure that’s a big part of why I don’t like letting people do things for me. I know it’s not all, but if at any point I might be compared to my mother, I hate doing what she would do. She would expect people to do things for her “because she can’t”, and I need to accept that sometimes I NEED someone’s help because I legitimately can’t. I know that I am not my mother. I know just how opposite we are. It still eats at me, though, on top of all the things I want to do and can’t, on top of all the pain and frustrations, that I’m living as she does – a dependent.
I hate being dependent on others, and I always have been. For a short while, I lived alone, but I was so poor I still relied on friends for social funds. Those were the best years of my life, having only myself and my cat to worry about and all kinds of fun. Then I got married, and pretty soon after that, I couldn’t work.
My husband really did save my life. I don’t know what state I’d be in right now if I didn’t have someone supporting me through what my body has decided to do. It hurts to see him suffer, knowing he does it all so that we can have the life we do.
So, onward and upward, toward a life entirely unlike my mother’s.
How do I overcome feeling trapped in dependency? Well, I keep searching for new ways to be more productive and feel as well as I can. I focus my energy on improving my situation instead of on how bad things are and all the things I can’t do. I’m still transitioning out of the faulty programming I received as a child, though, so knowing and feeling don’t always coalesce, but I’m getting there.
How or what can I learn and grow from the need to be unlike her and the disdain for any comparisons to her I might be subject to? I’ve learned I need to I work on giving less shits about what others think of me and become more self-assured. I know in many regards, I really give zero shits about the opinions of others, but I am actually quite insecure about certain things. I can find gratitude in having been shown how not to do some things and for the intelligence and will power to seek out new ways of thinking and being.
How can I help others with what I’ve gained (and lost)? By telling my story, of course, and trusting that it will trigger whatever is needed to get someone else closer to a healthier way of living.
I think, actually, for each like this post has by November 1st, I’ll donate a toy to a local charity for disadvantaged children. The best times with my family were always Christmas, so this will be to honor the hard work, thoughtfulness, and generosity I learned in the attempt to make each year’s holiday better than the last, or at least the best day of the year.