Friday, November 21, 2014

It's time to "Own" Your Own Stuff (Shit)

Confessions of an Only Parent
By: Maria Karampelas




Unhappy Marriage Syndrome vs What does it "feel" like to be a "single parent?"
Most incorrect analogy I've ever heard!

Has anyone ever actually complained to you that they "feel like a single mother"? But in fact, they are supposedly happily married? I don't hear this very often but I have to say, I've heard it about 10 times in my life as a single/(or my preferred title if there must be a status attached), as an "only parent".  I feel it's time for me to say my peace.

I actually find the relation of the analogy rather upsetting and insulting because isn't the purpose of being with-out the other person or singling yourself out so that you don't have stress from the toxicity of something that didn't work? I know as an only parent that I get to make all the decisions and I welcome them and I am free.  If I ever find someone who I share an equality with and excitement about a life together, yadayadayada... then I would consider exploring that but for now I am a very happy "single mom."

To me-hearing that expression, "I feel like a single-mother," from the married person the other day, was the equivalent of hearing her say- "I am unhappy in my marriage and I am unsatisfied... My husband doesn't do enough to help me run the household and raise our child." and apparently there is a missing element there that some husbands are extra work and it is like having an extra kid? So, that also could be why she is upset. I think I would rather be a single mother.  I understood what she meant but I did correct her in saying, "you are not a single mom, you have a dual income family.  I am a single mom-"then I got cut off!!! I was going to offer the idea that maybe their family just has certain roles the couple have taken on- but she was closed- It was the end of the conversation because by that point, I was too busy doing what I was doing to listen to her rationalize it.

I wish these people did not think that being a single parent is unsatisfying or so awful. It can actually be very satisfying when you do it right. There are so many positives here that I have to share my feelings about it because I am coming up to my 10 year anniversary of being a single parent that I think I'm getting pretty good at it and there was a lot to learn along the way.  To be clear I have been an only parent for just over six years- they have two different meanings.
I do feel that marriage is a wonderful partnership but when I hear too many of the repeated complaints that people I know aren't happy about something the couple is at odds with, I'm the first to suggest they cut the charade and get off the bus or work on it. I don't want you to read this and feel stressed out or offended afterward- I don't want anyone to think I'm singling anyone out either- but I feel anxious when I listen to people who are so unhappy with situations (or their relationships) or just life in general and then bring others in to it- in fact they bring in a whole society and then it becomes a statistic.      
I'm just letting it all go here- Thanks for listening and maybe you can relate or learn something from this.

OK - so.  I felt this was a good topic to Blog about because I am the queen of only parenting. Slight exaggeration but at least that's what my Blog is about.  I have many friends who are also masters at single parenting and masters at their relationships with their spouses.  It takes all kinds to keep the world spinning.  I know a lot of people who are just awesome parents and we all do it differently and we all have our good days and better days.  I know I really shouldn't be wasting my energy on things that upset me- however sometimes there are certain points that need to be made, lessons learned and all topics are debatable.  I'm sharing these thoughts and feelings because I think it is very important for everyone to deal with their own stuff and find solutions and be certain and in control of their daily choices and in how they feel.  I am learning and still have lapses with negativity-obviously, but I am finding ways to look on the bright side, so to speak, and not allow other people's shit to affect my own- and visa verca. I deal with my own stuff in many ways. My tool box has gotten pretty well equip and I try not to let others in to it.

With this current feeling I'm trying to make sense of, I realize it has built up over the past few months in conversations with others- and it is not just one person that brings me to this page full today.  It's built up from several conversations I have had with people who constantly blame other people for the way they feel and they are using their vulnerable state by looking for sympathy or something to suck the energy out of others and I want them to take some ownership and stop complaining at the risk of using the old expression, "I don't want to complain because no one will listen."
I think it started with a guy I met recently who was freshly separated from his wife and complained to me about her constantly. I asked him several times to change his energy flow and maybe stop talking about it so much, but he wouldn't listen.  I basically told him he would end up with her again because he hadn't let her go.  Anyway- I have no idea what happened there but I am certain they are still stuck in their toxic problems until they learn to fix them.  My feelings got triggered hard the other day when a person I was speaking with said she felt "like a single mother," cause she does everything around the house.
Oh My Lord, really? You poor thing!  I wish I was able to come up with a quicker response to that one- because it made me think (for three days) how does the way she feels compare to being a single mom- cause she feels she cleans too much? I don't feel like a single mom because I run my ship. I love running things the way I want to and I am very satisfied. I enjoy cleaning my house- I enjoy not cleaning my house.  I don't feel sad about being a single mom and I certainly don't blame anyone for it nor do I ever ask for sympathy. Actually, it is awesome because I don't live with someone who makes me feel vulnerable or frustrated or overworked-children are exempt from this.  I guess she wants equality in her relationship- but it is not about "feeling like a single mother."
Please don't bring me and all the other wonderful single parents in the world in to this. I know a lot of very amazing people raising children in a one unit home and they are doing a great job and they don't pull the "single parent card," too often.

When I start feeling trapped in some body's stuff, I will first drop a couple hints that means "I can't listen to this conversation." I feel I have worked too hard to get rid of anxiety in myself to have to sit here and listen to this. If you can't listen to my advice- because I have been there, done that and got the fucking T-shirt then I am ending this conversation- please pardon my sarcasm but go talk to a mirror.  

I have to say, it started in my early 30's- or maybe late 20's. I opened my eyes.  I have really worked hard on not letting other people's problems affect me.  Honestly, it really has taken a lot of work and time and I have had mentors along the way and friends who have really helped me. I'm so grateful to all the positive reinforcements and to my network of friends and family.  I have experienced some great loss and some hardship- but I've learned many lessons from them all. I plan on continuing to better myself and learning more about myself, others and how the universe works for the rest of my life.
I have learned to avoid bitch fests, not let life stress me out and to take ownership of my problems and look for "solutions within myself" to solve them- sounds simple and it actually is.  I got tired of seeing the same problems happen over and over again.  It has taken a lot of time alone, many psychology books, spiritual readings and changing my own thought process and habits in order to listen to my heart and myself to find solutions.  Every once in a while people decide they should use other people as a sounding board as to why the world sucks.  Now don't get me wrong-we all need to vent to our BFF's sometimes.  But when it happens when we are not prepared is usually when I feel I am being tested on how well I can deal with the stress they are emanating toward me.  I have to really grow a strength in myself at these times to pay attention and get out of the conversation unscathed. I still get irritated when I get stuck in these sort of conversations.... I just asked, "What's new?," I really didn't want to hear how sick you are or how annoying your husband is, what your ex did to make your life so difficult today or about that jerk woman at the government office who refuses to help you. We all have tests and we all have to jump through hoops. It's the law of the Universe.  The only thing I ask is that the person who needs someone to vent to- is to listen in return.  Is there a lesson in this? I only hope they learn to find a new coping mechanism rather than to complain and lay blame.
Find a way to end the cycle!  To learn too much energy is being spent on the negative.  While they continue fighting the feelings, there is no room for change. The only way to correct it is by doing the work. Or else the same pattern will continue until you, yourself learns a new way to deal with it. To some people this comes naturally. They are lucky. Others need to work on it and they reap great rewards.
I have tried to help some people to realize this but for the ones that just refuse to hear it, I have to step back as I have only learned how to do it myself in the past five years or so.  I, in return will just say politely- "then, I don't want to hear your problems anymore." It makes me sound rather cold and uncaring.  Really, I do care and I want to see them figure out the problem- but I'm not sticking around to help them and take in that bad head space. Until they decide they are ready to put their hands on their hips and learn to deal with their shit.  I've actually ended a few relationships because of this problem. I have found myself being that rebound person only to see them move on to the next relationship and decide to get married again- hope they figured out their shit- or they are back with the ex. Yay- Awesome! Enjoy your misery.

When I find myself trapped in these situations it's so hard get a word in. To offer a thought as to how maybe you can change your reality to not let these problems occur in your life again. I would suggest, become friends with it and not fear the problem -they turn and are like, "No, no, no that won't work." Example; a mom I am acquainted with pushes her daughter to get to an extra curricular on time by getting stressed out and who knows- probably loses her mind and by they time they get to where they are going- mom's stressed and her eyes are about to pop out of her head and daughter has obviously been crying and lost another couple ounces of her self-esteem... Mom then complains to others that she is always five minutes late for everything because her girl doesn't move fast enough!?? . Hmmm, but she can't do anything to fix it? - A few years down the road the daughter will probably quit her extra curricular cause it's too stressful.  Being able to relate with a similar problem when my girl was younger- I suggested she not let "time" stress her out cause it just makes everyone in the house more stressed. ---yes, I said it nicely.
I remember how stressful it was for me only a few years ago- to be five minutes late every day for school or work- so, I offered advice in how we dealt with it- I finally surrendered to it.  I decided if my daughter wants to be late then I will let her deal the consequences of how it feels to sign in late at the office and walk in to class late and letting her "own" that one without apologizing and taking all the responsibility.  To stop completely blaming myself and then beating myself up about it afterward. It's a very negative place to be and it actually takes "work" to overcome.  Eventually we were on time every day for school and we had more time to get ready and there was no or very little stress. We started speaking calmly to each other and stopped arguing about senseless problems.  Now, we are never late for school or dance- she is never late-she wants to excel and we have very little stress in our home- especially in the morning which used to be a very hectic time. This morning, she even woke me up, "It's time to get up Mama," she said so sweetly. It was musical to wake up to such a nice greeting, and I actually never sleep longer than her.  I guess I hit snooze a few times as I was lost in a cozy dreamland. What a good feeling when you over come stress though!
Now, I do know there are always going to be challenges. And I welcome them now.  I have the ultimate toolbox. I'm a warrior princess, donchya know?

I'm so glad my daughter and I are both moving in the same direction these days (most of the time) and when she or I decide to lapse we both quickly go back to the more desired time zone. When I tried to say this in an understanding way the other night to this mom- She abruptly snapped,  "Nope- cause when I don't push her she takes even longer."  So, I just said "Oh, that sucks."  I guess she is not ready to leave that head space.  And of course she only gave me like enough time for one sentence.  All I know is that it's not a nice place to be and everyone is much happier (in my household) when we are not fighting time and each other.  She probably even feels like a "single mother," like the other person I conversed with- but guess what? I think it means she blames her hubby for not helping or being home enough- not that she feels like a single mother-she doesn't know what that feels like- she hasn't done that- apparently it's easier to stay together!!??.  I don't even get stressed if I'm a few minutes behind cause I'd rather get there in one piece or without blowing a gasket. So that's a part of this "Confession of an Only Parent" the topic I was feeling a bit annoyed by.  I just knew I needed to clarify a few things and I am not trying to sound like a major bitch in this.  Just setting a record straight.

It took some time for me to get into a more relaxed head space over the years that's for sure.  But, I feel like I have never really complained that much.  Getting here involved listening to myself and spending less time with people who are still stuck in a rut. What I'm saying is, now I really can't spend too much time with people who have too much drama in their lives.  I accept that and I'm open about it.  As soon as I hear that warning go off in my head say "don't go there Maria,"  I listen to it. I don't try to help by sticking around too much anymore or offering advice more than once.  That's what works for me.  I find it particularly upsetting trying to spend energy on listening to people complain and then it takes me about two days to recover from just one high anxiety conversation.  I really don't want to take on those problems cause the only person who can fix it is them and definitely not me.

To finish this off on a very good note, in between finishing up this writing, and going out for a walk today, I ran in to someone downtown whom I haven't seen in at least two years. I hadn't published this Blog yet only "worked" on it all day.  It actually crossed my mind that I was going to get trapped in a conversation with this guy.  In the past he has been known to have many demons and suffers with mental illness.  So needless to say I've been stuck in a few intense one way conversations with him.  But,  he was smiling and looked good considering he has apparently been through a lot lately.  I was pleasantly surprised by what he said.  He said he was doing pretty good and "working on his stuff" lately! He was accepting the help available to him instead of fighting it these days and that he felt he was going in the right direction.  I was so happy to hear those words from him. I was like- Wow. The Universe is amazing! That is what I'm asking by spilling my thoughts out here.  He is doing it and he has received the message.  So, it was good news and I am happy for him and I am happy that he is working on himself.  We all need to do this.  We shouldn't have to hit rock bottom or lose our health before we decide to take care of ourselves.  The soul needs to be considered and everyone deserves happiness and love.  Thank you for considering it.
Love,
Maria

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Finnegan's Walk



 


It’s been a full life for me as a dog. I’ve had the joy of freedom, love from my mistress and many furry friends that have grown up with me. When I came to live with Miss Maria, I was just a wee pup. She always told me I came from doggie heaven where the dogs roam free in Lakeport, Ontario. I remember my momma, she was also a hound cross- beautiful tan and red- I’ll never forget how sweet she smelled. There were seven of us pups. We were born in the summer and lived under the porch in the back yard. My momma’s people couldn’t keep us all so they advertised us in the paper. So when Miss Maria and the man came to the yard that day, I hoped they were going to pick me but they left. I was too young to understand but Miss Maria promised to be back. She seemed so happy to see me and I didn’t even know her but I knew she would be someone I could trust, even though I didn’t really want to leave momma.

 
Before I knew it, she came back all by herself one day and picked me up and placed me in the front seat of her car. She talked to me the whole journey back to her town…

“We are going to stop and get you a collar first little guy, you are so sweet… I love you already… I can’t wait to walk you everyday! Finally! I have a walking partner, someone to go for my walks with so I don’t look weird walking aimlessly around town,” she jabbered on, making me feel excited and confused all at the same time.

I grew into my collars and the walks started off small because I couldn’t walk too far at first. But my legs grew and soon I learned to love walking around town and meeting all these nice people who stopped on the street just to pet me and talk to me. I quickly learned that going for walks and exploring the beachfront and the woods were my favourite things. Sometimes, Miss Maria and the man would get a bit annoyed with me as I couldn’t resist rolling in animal dung and dead fish. But hey, it’s what dogs did. I always made sure I was good in the house, even though we lived on a third floor apartment at first- I never peed in the house and she always took me out when I had to go.

 
I have always been a bit of a whiner. It’s what we hounds do, but the pain inside me has been there for quite a long time and Miss Maria didn’t really realize it because I always put on a strong front and would always go out and walk it off. But, now things are changing. My legs have started failing and it’s getting too hard to ignore. She gives me a sweet piece of bread everyday and for some reason my pain goes down a bit but I still find it difficult to get up. I keep having all these dreams that I can run again and I’m in no pain. I think someday I will probably go look for my momma and my sister in my sleep. I even had a few dreams about the man who just disappeared. Maybe I’ll find him too.  Miss Maria told our girl, Emily, he went to heaven… Is that where we go when we just disappear? Do we get to run free there? I don’t know- I would like to find out though. I really did like the man-even though he was a bit moody. I always tried to please him and he gave me a lot of freedom. He would let me run on the farm that we moved to years ago, after baby Emily came along. Sometimes I would go too far and the truck would pick me up and take me to the doggie jail. I always got in trouble for that too, for some reason. But he was the one who let me out for hours- what’s a dog to do?

 
Now I’m not sure what has happened, we have moved again to this place that they put a lot of that burning stuff on the ground to melt the white stuff. It was so hard to go for walks this winter. I think it was the first time in my life that Miss Maria didn’t walk me everyday through the winter. I think she wanted to but she didn’t want to hurt my paws. That’s what she told me. But, it’s ok because for some reason, I can’t seem to get up the way I once did. My legs just don’t want to work for me and I am feeling a lot of pain in myself. I don’t really know what’s happening to me but it makes me feel sad.

I’m trying to find the happy pup inside me but there is no more beach and the last time she took me to run in the woods with my BFF, Princess and Emily, it took all of my energy and I was pretty sore afterward.

It seems I can just sleep these days, but sometimes even that hurts. Miss Maria is down on her knees and petting me a lot, she has pulled the cushions off of my couch so if I feel like walking all the way into the living room I don’t have to jump up but I can still sit with the family.

 
Miss Maria has taken care of me my whole life. I do remember once though, there was only a few months in my life that we were separated. She left me at the farm with the man and took, Emily (who was just little at the time) and Marley the big cat who has been with me my whole life and moved back to town. That was when I started going a bit wild. But, it was fun- I finally got to do what ever I wanted. He tried to move me to another town and left me with this old lady but Miss Maria came and got me one day and brought me back to her home back in the town where I grew up. That was when we were reunited and never separated again. I liked being in charge of the house- My job was to protect them and make sure no one caused them any harm. I always watched out for Miss Maria and Emily even if they didn’t know it. I had to chase off a few racoons and foxes sometimes but life there was really pretty safe. She was so good to me and always came back for me.

This past summer we went for a really long drive. I don’t know why we all went but Miss Maria said we were going on a cross-country adventure! It was long and even though all of us were in the car; me, Princess, Marley and Emily’s cat Lily and my ladies, I was still happy because we were all together. Somehow we ended up getting to this mountain town and staying for a bit. Then, we got packed up and went all the way back, again to my hometown where we stayed for a couple days with friends. That time she told me she was going to leave me there with her good friends and that we would see each other again soon…. But no way- I was not being left behind- not after we had gone so far together. I wouldn’t let those girls out of my site and when they got the car packed up again to go where ever they were going. I looked Miss Maria in the eyes and she knew what I was trying to say.  I ended up getting to sit in the front seat the whole way, which took something like two more days of traveling.

 
Miss Maria seems so sad these days too. I think she should go back to our hometown-we had so much fun there… or at least the town nearby that we lived last year where there was all that water. Wow, we have moved a lot and seen a lot, but I know we are always happiest near water. I wish I could walk with her now and help her clear her head. She always said her walks are her favourite time of the day. But, since I haven’t really been able to go, she doesn’t seem to go walking anymore. Maybe she doesn’t want me to feel left out. To tell you the truth I do feel a bit sad if she goes out with just Princess but I don’t get mad at her because it hurts too much anyway. I really just want to rest.

One thing I know is that home is not the house we live in. It’s where my people and friends are. Home is where I am loved and I will always know where home is because I have felt so much love and had a good run in this time I’ve had. I don’t think I’m a little puppy anymore and I feel like I’m at a point in my life that things are changing. I just know that Miss Maria will make sure it’s ok. I can’t figure out why my little friend Princess seems so worried about me all the time.

Marley the cat is still here but he says his leg bothers him a bit these days too. Maybe I’ll meet him again after I go check out this heaven place. I’ll wait for him there- and of course I’ll wait for Miss Maria and Emily too. I know I have had the pleasure of experiencing great love. I’ve been well loved and included my whole life with this family and they have never left me out in the cold and always made sure I had what I needed. I hope Miss Maria finds happiness again and can enjoy some good walks soon. I’ll definitely join her… I just have to have a little nap first and I think I will feel better after that.