In the bleak mid-winter

We’ve nearly reached the end of February, and with it the end of my patience regarding winter. A blizzard warning here today, and my reaction to that is simply:

NO. Just…no.

I’m ready for warmth and color and sunshine. I want to ride my bike. I want to go outside without first putting on 17 layers of clothing. I want to mow my lawn and smell fresh grass and see flowers blooming in my garden. I want to see Clover, the little bunny who lives under the big cedar in the backyard and know that she’s alright.

I’m sick to death of gray and white and day after day without a hint of sunshine. I’m sick of boots and gloves and having to brush off my car in the parking lot at work before I can return home. I’m sick of shoveling.

Before I could do laundry this morning, I had to wade through thigh-high snow to get to the place where the dryer vent on the side of the house was buried and dig out a trough to unblock it. When I came in I had to put my jeans and socks in the dryer cuz they were soaked through.

Throughout the entire 20-minute or so ordeal, I was thinking, “WHY am I doing this?” Other people do not live like this.

I’m winter-weary and just generally fed up.

The reality is, though, that we’re nowhere near the end of winter here in Michigan, and Mother Nature couldn’t care less about how I feel. She’s just doing her thing – same as every year – and she’s not ready to give up the cold and snow just yet.

So…I have to change my thinking. I can’t change how I feel about the weather, but I can change how I think about it. I wish I could say there were some things I appreciate about winter – that would go a long way toward thinking about it differently, but there isn’t even one thing I can think of that I like about it.

Let’s see…nope. I got nothin’.

So I’ll just have to work at acceptance, as I do with so many things in my life over which I have no power, and remind myself that it could be a lot worse. Yes, we have snow – so much snow – but we don’t have hurricanes or tornadoes. Also, most of the deadly little creatures on the planet – snakes and insects and other nasty critters – can’t live in the cold, so I have to worry less about meeting my death by inadvertently stepping on one of them than someone who is basking in sunshine and warmth right now.

So not all bad. I’m not likely to lose my house in the blizzard today – power maybe, but that will be temporary, if at all, and if I don’t freeze to death in my house without power, I’m golden!

How am I doing? A stretch, I know. Acceptance of the things I don’t like but can’t change is a toughie for me. Endurance is hard. I want change, and I want it now! I saw a quote yesterday that said, “You’re not a tree – MOVE!”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? And sometimes possible. Not for me, though, cuz the old lady is welded to this place and all its misery. Ah, the old lady – another thing I can’t change or control.

My challenge: Acceptance of life as it presents itself to me in the moment. Endurance ongoing.

Going on.

Yes, that’s it. Just keep going. Spring has never failed to come. Until it manifests itself in the outer world, I’ll have to nurture it within. Light and new growth.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

 Only 3 1/2 months to go…

 

 

Another step forward

491930967_f98d9b5bf6_o

I was listening to a talk by Dr. Christine Carter today. I’ve heard her speak before, and I read her blog, but she said something in this talk I’ve never heard or thought about before that really resonated with me.

She pointed out that being comfortable is a relatively new thing for human beings. For the most part, our ancestors led mostly uncomfortable lives by comparison to ours – long days of manual labor, the constant threat of disease, early death by our standards. Even creature comforts like a warm house, readily available food, and comfortable clothes were not something they could take for granted.

Pleasure was an occasional thing. Not the focus of every day and every activity for most people. Folks were much too busy just staying alive to make pleasure a priority. Certainly they found pleasure in life, but it wasn’t the focus or the expectation. Those who survived were those who could tolerate and survive physical adversity. Until relatively recently humans didn’t have the luxury of considering their mental health – about whether they were happy or comfortable or leading a meaningful life – they just lived. They got through each day doing what needed to be done to survive to the next.

In some countries, this is still true, as well as for the poorest in this country, to some degree. But for most humans living now, life is relatively easy in those terms – our basic physical needs have been met and in many cases, exceeded. Now we are free to spend our time and energy pursuing pleasure – and we’ve gotten very good at it. Sugary foods, mind-altering substances, shopping, the internet, gambling, TV, porn, etc. are all readily available.

The trouble is that we’ve confused pleasure with happiness. They are not the same thing, and we’ve lost sight of the distinction. We’ve become addicted to pleasure, but we’re unhappier than ever. We’re too comfortable and we’ve become complacent and dissatisfied because it takes more and more to meet our need for pleasure. The “high” wears off too quickly. It’s not the robust, sustaining happiness we really need and that we think we’re reaching for. Pleasure is merely a brain receptor thing, not a soul thing. It doesn’t feed us fully – quite literally, pleasure provides only empty calories.

This was quite a revelation to me this morning, let me tell you. It caused me to evaluate my perception of my situation with my mother yet again in these terms. I realized that some of the things I’m missing by devoting so much time and energy to her care are things that really only bring me short-term pleasure, not necessarily happiness, and that being without them for a time isn’t that big a deal.

Further, my anxiety stems from the fear of discomfort in this situation. I’m not comfortable having her rely on me for everything. I’m not comfortable going to the emergency room every few weeks. I’m not comfortable being unable to solve all her problems. I’m not comfortable having another person, especially her because of our history together, determine the course of my days. I’m uncomfortable spending so much time with her because I’ve always been uncomfortable with her.

So.

Life is uncertain. Life with my mother is, and always has been, uncertain. This is something I’ve struggled with all my life – I am never safe from having to deal with her. She has always been ill, she has always been needy. She has always been a big source of discomfort. All of my life.

So.

I survived, didn’t I? The discomfort hasn’t killed me to this point, and it won’t going forward. As Dr. Carter said in this talk, human beings have survived for millennia being uncomfortable. I can make it through a couple of months, or in this case, years. Being with her and taking care of her now is still the right thing to do, and the fact that it makes me uncomfortable doesn’t change that. Having less pleasure in my life makes it dull, but that won’t kill me, either. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger is a real thing – adversity helps us learn and grow as humans. It’s hard-wired.

Having said that, there are a couple of things that I’ve identified in the past couple of months as being necessary to my health and well-being – my long-term happiness – and mom and I are figuring out ways together to insure that I have time and energy for those things. So that is easing the discomfort to a great degree and has raised the pleasure quotient at the same time. It doesn’t remove the uncertainty, but that’s just the way it is. Life is uncertain for everyone, all the time. Even under the best of circumstances.

This too shall pass is true of all of life – the good and the bad. The pleasure and the discomfort. The trick is to be happy through all of it. In each moment joy is available to us, and if we reside there as much as possible, focus on what’s good, even joyful, in each moment, we tilt our brain scale toward happiness. That’s a lot easier to say than it is to do, but it’s worth a try every single day.

In another talk I heard yesterday, Geneen Roth said she tells her students to list everyday the 5 things that aren’t wrong. It made me laugh when I heard it, but it resonated with me because it’s related to gratitude, but it’s not as hard as gratitude. Sometimes I find it hard to feel grateful for really difficult things, really difficult days. Often I look back on those times and realize what I’ve gained from going through those uncomfortable experiences and then I am grateful, but in the moment, not so much.

But even when everything seems to be falling apart, there are things that aren’t wrong, that are still wonderful and helpful and beautiful – friends, pets, books, flowers, bicycling – and focusing on those things and knowing they’ll be available to us again at some point, is very comforting.

I may not always be able to list 5 things on any given day that I’m grateful for, but certainly I can think of 5 things – even really mundane things like the hot water heater is still working – that aren’t wrong. A shift in thinking is sometimes all it takes to turn things around even when you’re the most uncomfortable and feeling low.

So. I learned a lot this week, and that makes me happy.

I’m grateful without reservation for these and other teachers who offer their wisdom and insight to us daily. Thanks to the Awake Network and the Shambala Mountain Center who sponsored Mindful Living Week, I have been able to listen to these speakers and others for free. What a gift. Definitely tops the list everyday this week of things that aren’t wrong, and how appropriate during this time of new beginnings.

Happy Spring.

Lost in the world

Are You Lost In The World Like Me? from Steve Cutts on Vimeo.

One of the best things a therapist told me to do a number of years ago was to stop watching the news. It’s overwhelming and depressing and not usually anything you have control over, though it may affect you directly: the very definition of stress.

It also directs your attention away from where you are in the present moment, and flings you headlong into a faraway place in the past. The news has already happened. It’s not now. It was then, even if that then was 10 minutes ago. It’s over. And it’s there, not here. Not right in front of you in this present moment, where you should be focusing your attention. Be here now. Not there then.

What I did, actually, was stop watching TV altogether for the most part. I watched hockey (Go Wings!) and cycling fairly often, and I loved Big Bang Theory, reruns of which my local CBS affiliate played during dinner time on weeknights. After dinner, if there wasn’t a hockey game I cared about I turned off the TV. I read, or wrote, or went for a bike ride or a walk, or something. I never lacked for things to do.

Now, living with my mother, I don’t watch TV much at all. We watch DVDs mostly, of old British mysteries, and old US detective shows like NYPD Blue or Homicide: Life on the Street. She likes Naked and Afraid, and we watch that on Sundays. Sometimes movies or a series like Outlander on one of the premium channels. That’s it. No news, no reality shows. No current weekly comedies or dramas.

I don’t have a moral objection to TV nor do I judge people who watch and enjoy a lot of TV. Whatever floats your boat is fine by me – your business.

I simply discovered that I felt better about myself if I wasn’t comparing myself and my life to people on TV, and that I worried less about what was going on in the world if I didn’t know about it every minute of every single day. It’s really that simple. Self-preservation. I also found that I liked other people more, and was more tolerant and less likely to judge if I took them at face value and wasn’t influenced by the ways in which certain people are demonized on TV.

So now I’m feeling the same way about social media. It’s partly what I do for a living, so I’m on FB alot during the day for work, but as for my personal feed, I pay less and less attention to it, for the same reasons that I don’t watch TV. Ditto Instagram. Everyone on my Friends list is someone I know and most are people I’ve known a long time and really care about. Some live far away, so I’m happy for the opportunity to connect with them easily.

I find, though, that if I spend a lot of time watching everyone else’s life scroll by, I feel worse about mine. I celebrate their successes and mourn their losses, and I’m genuinely happy for all the bright and shiny fun things my friends and family are experiencing in their lives. However, I’m not experiencing a lot of that in my life lately and haven’t actually much of my life, so I feel left out, or like I’m not doing it right, or that there’s something wrong with me. Honestly, I don’t need that.

I do better if I’m just in my head, in my body, doing my thing. Here. Now. In this moment. My moment. Not someone else’s.

My life. Not someone else’s.

Not self-centered or self-absorbed – just self-contained. Not comparing my unique life, my unique path, so someone else’s singular walk in this world. I’m not like anyone else, so I don’t need to live like anyone else; to have the things they have, or to do the things they do. So it’s easier for me not to be distracted a million times a day by the shiny happy pictures scrolling past all day long.

Having said that, I also have to say: I love to read blogs, and I love Twitter. I think the difference is that I don’t know any of the people who write the blogs I read, nor do I know any of the people I follow on Twitter, which are for the most part publications and organizations that post great content that teaches me things. I love to know about people’s experience of life on this planet, and when I don’t know the writer I’m less likely to compare myself to them; I can just take in what they have to teach me (or be entertained) without feeling bad about myself and my life.

So, whatever. Just my thing. Your mileage may vary. Life is big and there’s room for everyone.

I love the video above, though, cuz I am a little lost in the world. (And I love Moby and I think Steve Cutts is a genius.) I’ve always felt a little out of sync, really, and for a lot of my life I felt like I didn’t belong here at all – that there was nothing here for me. That my presence here was a mistake.

I’m grateful I don’t feel that way anymore. It was a long, painful struggle to get past that feeling. But I do still feel a little lost quite often. There is just so much I don’t understand about life and people and why things happen the way they do. But I’m pretty sure about who I am these days, and what I’m up to, so that’s all I need to keep track of, really: that I’m where I need to be, doing what I need to be doing.

Here. Now. Watching the rest of the world flow by, without getting caught up in the undertow.

Blisters

I raked for a couple of hours yesterday. It was a warmish sunny day, and there was no reason not to rake. Believe me, I tried really hard to think of one. 🙂

I wait and rake in the Spring because I’m more willing to be outside in wet cool weather in May after 6 months inside than I am in the November, when it seems much colder after 6 months of nice weather. Mostly in Autumn I’m just pissed off about the prospect of the long miserable winter ahead and not in the mood to do much of anything outside. When Spring comes, though, I always wish I had done all the yardwork in the fall.

All my neighbors do their leaves in the Fall, so mine was the only unruly lawn once the snow melted. I would rather have been out for a nice bike ride, but I succumbed to the “yard guilt” and picked up the rake. There was nothing for it but to get out there and get ‘er done.

While I was bringing order to my lawn universe again, I thought about my dad, whose birthday it was yesterday, and the pride he took always in keeping the house and the yard looking good. I thought about all the years he had raked leaves, and all the years I’ve done it at this same house, and others I’ve lived in over the years.

Sometimes the “again-ness” of life gets me down, but other times, like yesterday, it brings me comfort. So much is uncertain, but there will always be leaves to rake (as long as there are trees, and let’s hope that’s forever), and snow to shovel, and laundry to be done, etc. No matter what horrible or fantastic thing you’re dealing with, you still have to do the dishes or someday you’ll have to eat raw potatoes with your hands. There’s no changing that. You just have to figure out how you’re going to deal with it.

Raking (and all chores like that) are opportunities to connect with the essence of life – it’s againness – and find your place in it. The leaves don’t care who or how important you think you are, or how you feel about raking, or the seasons, or your job, or your life, or anything else. They’re just there, and you have to deal with them…or not. It’s your choice. How you feel about any of it doesn’t matter. The trees drop their leaves in the Fall whether you want them to or not. Period.

The universe couldn’t care less about you or me, or what you’d rather be doing or having or being.

It just is.

You can rail against that is-ness – cry and moan and feel sorry for yourself – or you can just go get the rake and get out there. Do the dishes, shovel the snow. Or not. Deal with life or don’t. Life doesn’t care. It’ll break you if you let it. It’s not personal, it’s just the way things are. Over and over again.

Do what needs to be done, and shut up about it. It’s the same for everyone. Life is ultimately about the ease with which you handle your particular again-ness.

As the man said, “Let it be.”

Wasting Away

“To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life.”
T.S. Eliot, The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism

I caught up with a childhood friend yesterday on Facebook. She and I were best friends and neighbors until she moved away when we were both 14. I’ve seen her once since then – 30 years or so ago when she came back to town to visit her mother – but then we lost touch. It was nice to see pictures of her now and to hear about her life, but it made me sad, too.

When asked to superficially describe my life I find the only thing I’m comfortable talking about is my work. I don’t want to admit that much of my life was determined by the severity and duration of the chronic depression I’ve struggled with since high school, and the rest by my obligation to my parents. I feel good about myself and the fact that I’ve survived the depression and done right by my family, until I’m talking to someone else, especially someone I grew up with. Then I find that I feel that – compared to them – I’ve wasted my life. Or, at least, that I have nothing to show for it.

On the face of it, anyway. In the condensed Facebook version you can’t see how much I’ve grown as a human, or what I went through just to be alive now. On the surface, it seems like maybe I took the “easy way out” by staying in my hometown and living a “small” life by myself. Maybe I was lazy or scared and couldn’t manage anything more important or exciting. Or more normal. 

What’s not clear is that my life has been the hardest way out, for me, anyway, because none of it is what I wanted or dreamed of. I’ve had to deal with the worst things I could imagine as a child – never getting away from my family and being alone all my life. I didn’t ask for depression; it just took over. I didn’t ask to have the parents I got or to feel obligated to them. I didn’t choose any of the things that made other choices impossible as my life went on. I have always just made the best of what I was given, which in terms of freedom to choose, was not a lot.

In the vast realm of human suffering, my life doesn’t even register on the scale, but it was hard for me. It’s been a struggle. I don’t have anything to show for it except that I AM STILL HERE. Still getting out of bed every morning and facing the days as they come. Going through a very difficult time right now and hoping that things will get better, but knowing they may not for a while, and still getting out of bed.

Every. Single. Day.

That’s worth something, isn’t it? Not giving up? Still trying to be a good person, and trying to do the right thing. Isn’t that valuable? I think so. But it doesn’t condense well, and that will always be a problem for me, as much of what goes on between people never goes below the surface.

I know, though. I know the whole story and I know I’m alright. My life has been worthwhile. I haven’t wasted anything. Most importantly, the ending hasn’t been written yet. There is more to come and I will keep showing up for whatever it is with the best that I have to offer.

 

Throw me a line

2669235141_91a1e1a137_o

I spent most of yesterday at the hospital with my nearly 86 year-old mother. First we were in the Emergency Department, then later she was admitted for an overnight stay and some tests this morning. (She’s home again now and everything’s going to be okay.)

What struck me most about the day when I finally got home last night and thought about it was the waiting. There is no sense of urgency in the ED these days. We’ve been fairly frequent visitors since I moved in with mom 5+ years ago, and it doesn’t seem to me that it has always been as bad as it was yesterday, but waiting is definitely a big part of that experience.

There’s no choice but to gut it out, though, cuz the fact that you’re miserable and that it might be their job to ease your misery as if it were an emergency, clearly does not seem to register with anyone there. It makes me wonder how these people are being trained, and maybe even why they wanted to be in a “helping” profession in the first place. Didn’t they know they were going to have to deal with sick people?

The most helpful thing they did in the 5+ hours we were there was to admit mom into the actual hospital, which was a completely different experience. Thank goodness.

Anyway, that’s another blog. Back to waiting

I had an epiphany sitting in the uncomfortable chair in the little room in the ED in which my mother was on a gurney writhing and moaning in pain, and we were waiting for someone to decide to do something. I realized that I’ve been waiting for my mother all of my life. Waiting for her to let me go. Waiting for her to grow up and realize that she was the parent. Waiting to begin the life I dreamed of, not the life she envisioned for me with her as the center and my own needs secondary (read: non-existent).

There are a lot of dynamics at play in our relationship, adoptee guilt, fear of abandonment and need to please not being the least of them. I take responsibility for my choices – I could have walked away and never looked back, certainly. That’s not my nature, though, and there were other reasons I gave in to the manipulation, so I own my decisions. I spent a fair amount of time in therapy a while ago working through the resentment, so that’s not really an issue anymore, and I am certainly here now with her since my dad died by choice. I have been a good daughter to her and my dad and I feel good about that. I think it matters. 

But I realized yesterday that now instead of waiting and hoping she will change, I am waiting for her to die. I think about the changes I’ll make in my life after she passes and that makes me feel hopeful about the future in a way I’ve never experienced before. Being tied to her and her needs has always been a given, a limiting factor in my life, and the end of that is in sight now. I’m not wishing for her death, and it is most likely years away, but it’s no longer a lifetime away.

It seems a little ghoulish, but I’m making plans for my life without her and Iooking forward to that time, much the same way I’m looking forward to retirement. To me both those things represent the freedom – the liberation – I’ve been hoping for all of my life.

I felt a little guilty last night when I realized I was thinking in those terms, but there it is. It’s probably just rationalization, but I feel like I have done my time, and it’s not horrible for me to be thinking about my mother’s demise as a good thing. My parents have lived good long lives, and in a lot of ways I eased the way for them, certainly for my mother. I served my parents well and when that service comes to an end, I will be free and clear. All debts paid, and a clean slate before me on which to write the rest of my story.

No more waiting then – for anything or anyone. I have a lot to catch up on!

 

Today’s the day

DYf7J2wX4AIWIPW

Yes. Exactly.

This was a long time coming for me, but I’m so grateful that I finally got here. Proud of myself because I didn’t give up, even though so many times I wanted to. Up until 15 years ago I never could have imagined the way I feel now;  comfortable in my own skin, forgiving of my flaws and those of others, accepting what comes as the days unfold (mostly – sometimes it takes a while…), confident that I have the ability to get through (or over, under or around) any roadblock I encounter on my path.

I would have preferred to be “normal,” I guess – to have lived life without the chronic depression that dragged me under for weeks at a time and forced me to fight for my life over and over. One thing those struggles taught me, though, is that everything passes – the good and the bad, and that – no joke – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…and smarter and more compassionate, if you let it, toward yourself and others.

Because life is hard in some way for everyone. Absolutely everyone. Always. Regardless of all those “living large, shiny happy people” posts on Facebook and Instagram – everyone struggles in some way with something. Everyone has something they hide from other people; something they think makes them different from everyone else.

I’ve learned to enjoy the good times, and to appreciate them, for I know that life is up and down and nothing lasts forever – good or bad. The “ups” are fabulous, but the “downs” can be pretty deep. Even without depression life can be really challenging and discouraging at times, with no end in sight; but I’m learning to set fear aside, split problems into manageable pieces so I don’t feel overwhelmed, and to ask for help if I can’t do it alone.

Let me be clear about this: it was easy to write that last paragraph, but it is still not easy to do those things always. But thanks to a good therapist several years ago I have tools now that help, and I learned that running away just postpones the pain, and that there is no value in “toughing” it out, either. There is a big difference between being strong and being tough.

Being tough is just bluster, blundering through, knocking things around, sometimes making things worse. Being strong is facing things head on, making good decisions, finding the way through carefully and thoughtfully, while keeping yourself whole and healthy along the way. Never backing down, but not pushing through blindly, either. Remembering always that this too shall pass.

I encourage myself to rise to a challenge now, rather than shrinking from it, and every time I do that it gets a little easier. I take a deep breath, get a drink of water, pat myself on the back, and start assessing the situation:

  • Is this my problem to solve?
  • Is the problem solvable?
  • Is the solution within my control?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” I’m setting myself up for failure right from the start. Better to let go of solving the problem (getting through the obstacle), and to start working on accepting the situation as it is and trying to minimize its impact on my life and wellbeing (getting around the obstacle). Either way, I keep going on. I keep learning and growing and trying.

That’s all anyone can expect; all we can ask of ourselves in this colorful, hilarious, difficult, tasty, challenging, cacophonous LIFE:

Just keep moving forward. That’s enough.

Born free

4415335933_7c62e94651_z

I have regrets. There are things that haunt me now and again – things I should (or shouldn’t) have said or done, people I’ve hurt, opportunities I’ve missed. I’m not alone in this, I’m sure. I don’t think you can experience human life past age 5 without racking up a couple of really juicy regrets.

What I think is most interesting, though, is that I don’t regret the things I’m supposed to. Our culture tells me in a lot of subtle (and not so subtle) ways that I’m not living my life correctly. If you watch TV or movies, or read books, single people are usually the subject of pity. The message everywhere in our culture is that it’s not okay to be alone and be happy about it. Love is the answer and the question. We don’t care what your family looks like much anymore – 2 dads, single mom, grandparents raising grandkids – whatever. Anything goes – that is – any kind of family, as long as you have a family, or you at least feel bad if you don’t.

I don’t.

I never wanted to be a wife, and I never wanted to be someone’s mother. I knew from a very young age that I wouldn’t be good at either. What I understood about marriage and family growing up with my mother and father was that you couldn’t be free – to be yourself, to do what you want to do, or go where you want to go. In a family, if one person has trouble, it becomes the whole family’s trouble. (The same is true of joy, presumably, but I didn’t experience as much of that.)

When I was young I thought I would probably have to get married and have children cuz I grew up in the 60s and I only knew one person over the age of 25 who wasn’t married and/or a mommy or a daddy. She was a spinster, “whose fiance had been tragically killed in the war and because her heart was broken she never married, and she lived a sad a lonely life.”

I didn’t want to live a sad and lonely life, but I knew family life wasn’t what I wanted either. Imagine my joy when I got old enough to realize that not only wasn’t it mandatory, it wasn’t a trajedy if it didn’t happen. By the time I got to college, attitudes had changed pretty dramatically about women and family and while some folks are still taken aback now to find out that at my advanced age I have never married or had children, I don’t think most people give it a second thought.

The truth is, I don’t care what they think, because my life is right for me and not marrying and not having children are two things I do not have a single regret about. There have always been spinsters and bachelors, and I’m happy I’ve been spared the kind of assumptions that have been made about single people throughout history – that there is something odd and sad about them or that there was *ahem* something wrong with them.

Certainly, in the past, some men and women remained single because they were gay and unable to marry. That’s changing and that is as it should be. No question that if you wish to be in a relationship and to make that relationship public and/or binding, you should be free to do so, no matter what. Ditto raising a family.

Conversely there are people, like me, who wish to be free of relationship – gay, straight, or otherwise – and that should be okay, too. I think for the most part it is. I live in a small town, and even here, most people just accept me as is. I’m sure there are some folks who think I’m gay, and that’s okay. I’m not, but the reality is that it’s none of their business what I am, so they can just wonder. I’m good with that.

For me, though, the biggest non-regret has been my decision not to reproduce. I probably would have been willing to marry if any of the men I was involved with over the years could have allowed me the degree of freedom I require to be happy. Having kids, though, is – as they say – a whole ‘nother sack of cats. Pregnancy never scared me – the deal breaker was being responsible for and raising a good human being. Yikes!

I had enough trouble handling my own life and my own faulty brain chemistry and general craziness. How on earth would I have managed to guide a child through the minefield of life when I couldn’t see the way through myself? No, I always knew I was not cut out for motherhood. I didn’t want to be responsible for unleashing another damaged human being on society, and I didn’t want to watch someone I had brought into this world and loved struggle in the ways I had growing up.

So no regrets. My way through this life is not right for everyone, but it has been the right way for me. Ultimately, that’s all we can ask, isn’t it? As human beings, each of us should have the opportunity to live on our own terms, whatever they may be. For better or for worse, I am free.