Choices are Terrible

1343863240_3320_fearFear is a terrible thing.  The stories we tell ourselves of what will happen if we do or do not do certain things can spin out of control in our own heads.  If we have any imagination our internal stories can cause us too cower in corners refusing to take the steps we know in our hearts are right.

What do I fear?

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  • Losing everything
  • Never working again
  • Being alone for the rest of my life
  • Never being loved again
  • Dying alone
  • Not achieving any of my dreams

What am I willing to sacrifice so this doesn’t happen?  Apparently everything at least that is how it feels right now, today as I face the nearly untenable return to work in a hostile environment leaving too much unsaid at home.  What is it in my personal psyche that will accept what is indefensible under any normal circumstance rather than take risks that are not grounded in facts.

Yes, some of them are grounded in personal  historical realities.

Yes, some of them are grounded in societal standards and those translate into well founded fears.

Finally, some are simply my own fears, my own personal insecurities built over years of hearing “not good enough”.

Somewhere, somehow there comes a time when it is important to separate what are unreasonable fears from what is simply the truth about choices we make and why we make them.  Is there a part of us that chooses jobs because we think, ‘this is something that makes sense and I can do this; be successful at this.’  Or, as we get older in a market that values youth and beauty do we think, ‘shit thank you Jesus, someone is willing to pay me now if I can only stay under the radar long enough to retire I will be good.’

I wonder about this one, I truly do.  After twenty plus years in an industry that is unkind at best to women, one that I have fought hard to succeed in I find myself on the cusp of antiquity.  I still love what I do. I badly want off the road, badly want to find a ‘forever’ home that will value hard won knowledge and my years of experience.  Truly want to find somewhere to rest myself, on the laurels I have earned through years and 3 million miles in the air.  I still have it in me to work hard and contribute to success.  I still have it in me to mentor and lead.  What I don’t have in me any longer is surviving in hostile environments in silence hoping it will be better tomorrow.  I just don’t have that in me, I simply can’t find the strength or wherewithal to hope next week or this week will be better than the last one when I know the same people will be there and nothing has been done to change their bad behavior.

hazardous-waste-symbolsThe idea of getting in my car and driving four hours to an environment that is so toxic it makes me want to weep or scream every single day makes me weep now.

Funny though, when the environment I am leaving is as toxic it is choosing between two rooms one full of Sarin the other full of Rican.  Which is worse?

Dying alone seems a better choice, it is simply a matter of telling myself this isn’t the worse that can happen.  Never being loved is a silly fiction, I know I am loved it is simply a matter of definitions, love comes as a gift in so many different packages.  Being alone, how much worse could it be than it is right now when I am more alone together than I have ever been.

Losing everything, now this is a terrible one.  Terrible because I have been here before and I am too old to start over again.  Terrible because it is a very real fear, not just one I made up in my over active imagination but one I have lived.  Terrible because it truly does scare the hell out of me and causes emotional and intellectual paralysis.

Love is a sometime horrible state of being, we hope beyond all reason what we love and whom we love will be good for us and that in turn we will be good for them.  We hope, rightly or wrongly we can fix what is broken in ourselves and that our baggage will match theirs so our travels are along the same roads.  We hope we speak the same language, from our hearts and our minds; both are important as we walk along paths no others have medium_diverging_paths-270x180tread dragging our histories behind us.

Sometimes we fail.  Sometimes, despite all our best intentions we fail miserably.  Sometimes there isn’t enough love to fix what is broken inside of us.  Compassion, empathy, humor, self-confidence these have to be part of the mix we bring.  When we try to force another person into a mold, whether it is an image we have of him or her or of how marriage should work we are doomed before we place our feet firmly on the path.  When  we have no flexibility in our personal views, in our vision of the world we have doomed ourselves to a very narrow future and we doom our partner to unhappiness if they don’t agree.

What am I willing to sacrifice?  Myself? My pride?

What happens when we don’t tell, or worse when we do but the other person doesn listen or doesn’t hear?

I have to answer these questions soon.  Choices are terrible things, aren’t they?

I leave you with this from one of my favorite Broadway shows, I think it says what we should all ultimately strive for.

Silent Spaces

A house in the Woods

A house in the Woods

I am alone, often. Don’t mistake this as a cry for company, I like my silent spaces and will paint them in deeper silence more frequently than I realize. I am I think strange in liking my silent spaces, no television, no background music, no white noise to distract me; only me, the clacking of my nails on the keyboard and occasionally the roll of my lighter as I fire a cigarette, or a candle.

I have always been this way, always liked the silence the quiet of empty beaches with only the waves for company. I have always liked mountaintops in the winter with only the crunch of snow as your feet break through icy top layers or you slide across the top during a solitary run on slick ski’s. I was always able to dance in a silent studio, without music except what I heard in my heart my body following a rhythm all its own.

Don’t mistake me, I like people truly I do like people in small doses. I enjoy a night out with friends; a great meal with magnificent wine is my idea of a fabulous way to spend money and time. Given the right cornersoftheroomgroup of women (or men) I could sit up all night and talk, I know this is true I have done it. With some people, I can spend hours on the phone and have far ranging conversations that touch on nearly every aspect of life, from children to government misconduct. I am not I don’t think a hermit.

Nevertheless, I love my silent spaces and have never felt the need to fill them. As I have grown older, I feel as if I am growing in. I am looking for balance; you know that ever-elusive balance we all seek in life between our mental, emotional and physical well-being and what the world requires of us. The requirements of paying the bills, keeping a roof over our heads and the lights on and if you live in one of the hot as Hades during the summer months keeping the air conditioning pumping, at least at a reasonable temperature so you don’t look like the Wicked Witch of the West or the Polar Ice Cap, you know…melting.

Growing in, what does that really mean? For me it means I am finding myself less and less likely to be tolerant of the bad behavior of others, this is especially true of what I perceive as the ‘entitlement’ syndrome. What is this you ask; well you should ask as this it is a growing phenomenon within society today. There are many infected and this nasty and pernicious disease of the soul spreads into both their personal and professional interactions touching all they touch and leaving an oily residue behind.

Growing in, I find what it means is I am unwilling to sell myself short or cheaply. What was acceptable even five years ago is not any longer “just part of the package, just part of the business”. I have ten, maybe fifteen years left to work, I love what I do, at least I use to truly love what I do. I worked very hard to carve a niche for myself in what had always been a man’s world, I had put in my time and when I say this I don’t just mean the years I mean the 70 hour work weeks and the millions of air miles. I now find I am truly unwilling to accept the disdain from some asshat recruiter who calls me with an opportunity but then has the nerve to say the following to me:

“Would you be willing to pay your own expenses to Philadelphia for a face-to-face interview?”

This for a 4-month project!

Then had the nerve to say to me, “Your rate is too high, I can find someone for half that price at an all-inclusive rate.”

“No, no you cannot, not with my level of experience, not with US Citizenship which you stated is a requirement and not with my references. But you know you should go ahead and try, call me back when they screw up the project my rate is double when I do project remediation.”

Yes, I did say that. I don’t know if that particular recruiter understood half of my response, however since it was in writing he can look up the big words.

perfectly silent and stunning

perfectly silent and stunning

Growing in, I find has created a great big question mark in my life. That question mark is leading me down the path of questioning what I really want to be and do right now and for the remainder of my productive / working life. What are the other things I truly care about and that matter to me? My independence in work, yes that matters. Being able to take time to myself, yes that matters. My silent spaces, yes that matters a great deal. The questions though are these:

Does my independence trump stability, focus and being able to chase other important dreams?

I am alone, often. This is not a complaint, not a cry for company. I like my silent spaces. I like my growing in. I like I am questioning my new places and maybe yet again reinventing myself, what I don’t like is I am being forced to this by an environment unkind to people like me, people of a certain age, certain gender, certain type; people who are growing in like me.

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