Photo by Elyssa Fahndrich on Unsplash

Don’t Be You

Posted: November 28, 2019 in Self-esteem, self-respect
Tags: , ,

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

I was really surprised when my friend Amy invited me over to meet someone, a blind date. I dreaded that more than getting poked in the eye with a hot poker. But I acquiesced because I hadn’t seen her in a long time and I was also out of food. I didn’t have money to go food shopping and I was hungry. I wasn’t going to get paid for another three days. I had enough money in my account for gas to get to and from work, so I agreed to come over even though I knew it was to meet some guy that was recently widowed.

“You know it’s not a good idea to set him up with anyone right?” I asked her. “It’s probably too soon for him.”

She is the first person to tell you how happily married she is whether you asked or not. She’s even more assertive about this point if you’re single. She must have some sort of an odd genetic need to make sure all her single friends got married. It didn’t matter that I had been divorced a couple of times and wasn’t interested in dating, let alone marriage. She had made up her mind that this needed to happen.

I figured it would be fine and she was a great cook and I really liked her husband. He’s a very sweet and someone I respected as someone who had overcome great obstacles growing up. He was a successful business owner and obviously adored Amy. This was each their third marriage so they seemed to be a good match. I figured since she had threaten to kill him rather than divorce him, he went along with whatever she said. It wasn’t any of my business but I found her threat of death something I had never considered as a foundation for a relationship.

Maybe she was onto something.

She told me to dress very casually, which is sort of pointless since that’s the only way I dress. Having given up high heels recently because I could no longer wear them, all I wore was flats and in my mind and my fashion sense, anything that goes with flats is casual. That to me was the hardest part of growing older. It wasn’t the menopause or the hot flashes or the sudden belly I had when I always had a flat one. No it was an inability to wear high heels without wanting to scream 30 minutes later. I had ruined my feet after decades of wearing them and I miss them. I did agree to wear clean clothes and put on some makeup and maybe run a comb through my hair. I vowed I would put a bra on even though it was Saturday night which I usually spent with my dog, in my pajamas while watching Netflix and drinking Amaretto.

She gave a nervous laugh as if she wasn’t sure if I was kidding or not and I actually wasn’t sure if I was either.

I did put on a bra with blouse, clean jeans and a pair of my black flats. I did run a comb through my hair and managed to put on some mascara and lipstick.

I was as ready as I would ever be to forage out of my house on a weekend.

I wasn’t particularly nervous that night as I drove over. My biggest concern was where to park because they lived on a street that was packed with cars for several blocks. I knew if the husband’s truck wasn’t parked in the driveway I could pull up behind him.

But if the driveway was open it had to stay that way for when he got home. I understood. A man puts in his 18 hours a day and the least he can ask for is to park his own damn driveway and not have to park blocks away where his truck could get broken into and his tools stolen.

I pulled up and saw the bright red truck in the driveway and for a moment my life was happy and made sense. The planets had aligned and I arrived on time with a place to park and not having to walk six blocks and then forgetting where I parked my car.

I rang the doorbell and Amy answered. She gave me a great big hug. I brought a bottle of wine even though they didn’t drink. I had no idea what kind of wine I got but it was expensive so I figured it would taste good and I would drink most of it. A bit selfish on my part, but I had gotten dressed and driven across town, so I felt fine about paying for it. It had been a long week and I was about to be fed and maybe meet someone who didn’t annoy me.

Mike, the man I was to meet, wasn’t there yet. I almost felt sorry for him even before meeting him because I felt this could be the scenario of a lamb being led to the slaughter.

Amy pulled me into the kitchen after putting my coat and purse away and we chatted a bit. Then she said “There’s something I have to tell you and since we’re good friends I’m sure it will be okay.”

I didn’t like the sound of her voice and all of a sudden there’s a very serious vibe in the kitchen and it was making me nervous.

“What?” I asked. “Is there something in my teeth? Is there snot coming out of my nose…”

“No it’s just a little thing that I wanted to say and I’m sure you’ll get what I’m saying.”

I put my glass of wine down on the counter and leaned against it, braced for God knows what.

“Okay,” I said. “What is it?”

“Well,” she said and put down the knife she was using to cut to the tomatoes for the salad and turned to me.

I felt myself stiffen and wanting more wine.

“I just need you to not be you.”

I laughed and actually snorted.

“No, really what is it you wanted to say to me?” I asked.

She had a blank look on her face and it suddenly hit me that that was what she meant.

She wasn’t kidding.

“What the fuck are you talking about, Amy? What do you mean ‘Don’t be me.’ Who am I supposed to be? What’s wrong with me? What the hell are you talking about?”

I felt my hackles rise. I could see she was serious. I know I have pretty thick skin but this cut deeply and quickly.

“See, I don’t want you to get upset or offended. It’s not like it sounds. I just mean…well… you know maybe not be so…I don’t know…loud?”

I raised my voice and shouted “YOU MEAN LIKE THIS? SURE I PROMISE NOT TO TALK LIKE THIS! I PROMISE NOT TO SHOUT AND YELL AND SCREAM!”

“No that’s not what I mean,” she said, “Just don’t be too demonstrative. You know how you’re always talking with your hands? Mike is a very soft-spoken man and very introverted…

“Hold on a second Amy,”I said. “You mean you want me to meet someone that is quiet and introverted and now you’re asking me to, what? Keep my opinions to myself? Smile and nod at everything he says? Tell you what; why don’t I just fucking sit on my hands and you can feed me through a gag or something. I’m sure David has some duct tape in his truck. You could use it to tape my mouth shut and put a little slit in in so I can eat.How does that sound?”

I was furious but hurt more than anything. Her words cut me but I did not want to show it though I think I pretty much failed at that. I picked up my wine glass and slurped it as loud as I could and then belched as loud as I could. I put it down on counter without breaking it.

Photo by Alfonso Scarpa on Unsplash

“Oh I bet I shouldn’t do shit like that, right?”

She said she was sorry and that I wasn’t understanding her but I knew that I was. I understood her perfectly.

I was too much me but the problem was that was never going to change. Actually, using the word problem isn’t correct. I should say the way I am is the way I am a little bit like Popeye “I yam what I yam.”

I know not everyone is everyone else’s cup of tea but I always assumed a friend liked me for who I was.

I left it at that because there was a knock at the door and Mike came in and we met. He was a very nice man but he didn’t have a chance with me because I was fuming and couldn’t wait to get out of there.

Part of me just wanted to get up and walk out but the food looked good and I didn’t want to be rude. I just figured I would bitch slap Amy later.

I left earlier than I had anticipated with only half a glass of wine. I was tempted to take the open bottle home with me but now I was just being petty. I said my goodbyes and left.

By the time I got home I was sobbing and my makeup was running down my face. It took me weeks to acknowledge how badly her words had hurt me and in hindsight, that was the end of our friendship.

I haven’t seen her since and I’ve never brought it up to her because there was nothing left to say. A “friend” who is telling you not to be you isn’t a friend.

A “friend” that is trying you to be who they want isn’t a friend. They are someone with a hidden agenda. You are a means to their end. They don’t have your best interest in mind; they have theirs.

In an odd way I was upset about being upset, if that makes sense. It was like I was that fat ugly girl with acne playing alone in the playground again. I couldn’t believe how quickly those feelings came smashing in and how hard it was to get rid of them. I was still that girl that didn’t fit in anywhere yet liked everybody. The neediness in me came back and the strong desire to be liked and admired which goes against everything I believe

I find that our wounds don’t so much heal as much as we think. I think we learn to live with them. Some of the wounds will dissipate a little (or a lot) and we can think the scars are gone, but the hurt is always there.

It still bugs me that she said what she said, and for months afterwards, I didn’t feel like myself. I felt fake and insincere because on some level, I felt what she had said had some truth to it.

It didn’t, but it threw me off for as long as I gave her words validity.

That was on me and therefore something I could change. I admit her words still sting, but now they motivate me to work hard of my sense of self-worth and value.

I don’t recommend learning your true value this way, but if there’s someone in your life who doesn’t like you just the way you are, cut your losses and run.

Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

 

Maybe there is hope for me.

My God, I’m getting published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. I thought I was a good writer most of the time. A decent writer that could spin a story and put together a sentence or two. My followers always kept me going up until recently. Finding out today that they are publishing my story in their next book made me feel like I’ve finally been pulled out of a really dark place that I knew I was in and was getting way too accustomed to it.

Call it whatever you want — I’m not a subscriber to most of the mental health chatter, bull shit, and self-diagnosis — but it’s been a long period of worry, anxiety and complete lack of joy or sunshine. On the outside, everything looked fine. I worked my 3 jobs as best as I could. Missing a day or two created more pressure on my shoulders, that were already weighed down with too much pressure, that I could barely move.

But move I did. Every day. All day. From one job to the next.

To create something that I loved, I would write. Becoming successful was vital but the more pressure I put on myself to do better, to be better, and to do more, the further down the rabbit hole I pushed myself.

I wrote to keep some semblance of sanity but then the pressure to write well and often turned my self-created solace into more anxiety, with a touch of self-loathing just for fun.

I knew if I read one more article about writing, I would explode. So I stayed away from my pad of paper and pen, stopped reading Medium and other blogs that I subscribe to, and just deleted any email to do anything with writing without reading it.

I’ve had become a bit of a hermit because every moment of every day had turned into how much money I still needed and didn’t have. Going out was not an option. The cost of housing and food and gas in Silicon Valley was pushing down on me and I didn’t see any way out. I couldn’t afford to go out, so I laid low. Really low. I stopped talking to most people, did my work, and would collapse on the bed as soon as I got home and managed to eat something for dinner.

It was the mental and physical exhaustion and numbness that made it almost impossible to think of anything to write. I didn’t want to work another moment after a 12 hour workday without any time off for weeks. I knew I needed to ease up, but it’s highly unlikely that my creditors would understand that I needed some time off and therefore couldn’t pay my bills.

Yeah….right…..that would be nice.

But then the email came this afternoon that they picked my story out of thousands to publish in their book in February.

I called my Mom and she cried.

I talked to my sister and she cried.

I cried from the relief and the ultimate pat on the back — Chicken Soup for the Soul picked me!

Me!

And oddly enough, just last night, I started to journal again. I wrote that I just need a bit of validation that I am good enough. Just a little something to get me to get back on it and stop whining.

And there it was.

I don’t have words of wisdom. The only thing I know is hard work and persistence and trying not to look back. That’s all I know. That’s the way I’ve always been.

Do your best.

Show up when you say you’re going to show up.

Do the work.

Fulfill your obligations.

Rinse and repeat.

My hope is that this gives me a launching pad to write well and more often. I’m excited to finally be included in a group of writers that I can talk with, share thoughts with, and maybe finally find a group that “gets” me and where I don’t feel like a 3rd wheel or the weirdo that writes and is broke.

A place where it’s OK to be me and know that I’m not the only writer out here, slugging it out and always alone.

Alone. That’s what gets me more than anything. No connection to another that finds who I am and what I do interesting.

I don’t want to be a stereotype or a cliche because I’m not.

We’re writers and we all need an acknowledgement, a sense of value and purpose.

Getting that email rekindled that purpose to write again. It’s exactly what I needed to get back on the saddle. It’s not in my nature to quit but sometimes you need to walk away in order to get perspective.

I think that’s something worth considering when you’re in a grind and nothing is working. Working harder isn’t always what’s needed.

Sometimes you need to just say “Fuck it” and go do something else.

I’ll be writing about this adventure as it progresses. Please follow this blog if you’d like to be notified as I post about it. I’d love to have you along for the journey.

The fat girl

Posted: August 12, 2019 in Self-esteem, self-respect
Tags: ,

Image by pixabay.com/users/pgbsimon

It was an incredibly hot day as we wandered around the Arts and Wine Festival in San Jose. The heat was unusual for us. Sure, we had a hot day here and there when it would get close to 100 degrees, but it would quickly cool down once the fog in San Francisco arrived. The fog was magical and cooling and made everything seem right with the world again.

I loved the fog and hated the heat, so it wasn’t a hard choice to leave my house without air conditioning and go with an acquaintance Casey to the festival. It’s not that I wanted to go, as I didn’t like her much, but anything would be better than sitting in front of two fans on my bed all day. That was a guaranteed recipe for an onslaught of apathy, despair, and just the general “My-life-sucks-and-I-hate-myself” mantra that is always so readily available, with or without my permission.

I met her there and was proud of myself for remembering to put on some sunscreen. I don’t usually wear it because I’m an odd person that actually thinks the sun is good for you, but I knew I’d probably be out in the sun longer than I wanted. I didn’t bother with a hat because I can only wear one for a few minutes before it starts to give me a headache.

I found her at the entrance. She lived much closer than I so did but didn’t want me to pick her up. I didn’t ask why as I am someone who never has people over. I’ll meet my ride down the driveway, but they never make it past the gate. It was simply a matter of space. I live in a very tiny house that I share with a roommate, a dog, and two cats. My roommate sleeps on the couch and has that entire space and I stay in my bedroom. It’s only about 600 square feet and there is no place to sit, not even me. I have a bed and he has a couch.

The cats hide under my bed if anyone dares to cross the sacred threshold of the front gate, but I’ve got no place to put my dog. He’s 80 pounds of muscle and mouth and doesn’t have great manners. He gets too excited and is impossible to control once he hits his over-excited zone. He will either be happy to see someone and jump all over them, or he’ll be scared and growl and bark.

Either way, no one wins so I avoid it at all costs.

So, no one is allowed in so that I can maintain my sanity and friendships.

We greeted each other and quickly found the beer and wine stand. We bought our tickets, got our drinks and began the obligatory walking and admiring of the vendors. The heat started to get to me immediately and I wanted to leave, but I knew my house was at least another 20 degrees hotter, so I walked in the shade as much as I could.

Casey had a full-blown summer festival outfit going on. She wore a huge straw hat, large sunglasses, and a summer smock that was bright colors. She had sandals on but they had a slight heel. Her make-up, as always, was flawless and heavily painted on.

“How do you do it?” I asked. “You know, the whole make-up thing going on in this heat? Mine melted off before I even got into the car.” That was true. Though I didn’t wear much and didn’t want to put any of since it was hot and a Sunday, I had put on some foundation and mascara. I wore my usual Vaseline on my lips and had my long hair pulled back into a tight ponytail.

She chuckled. “You are so funny,” she said which is a comment I never know how to take. It’s like when someone says you are interesting. Interesting is a good way or interesting in a bad way?

No one ever answers that question.

“Well, yeah, I’m hysterical but…how do you do it? How come your make-up never smears or fades away?”

“That’s because I don’t sweat,” she said.

I had no response so I just nodded and kept walking.

We came upon a stage with all the cute little kids dancing in their tutu’s. The music was coming from 2 large speakers on each side of the stage There were a few people sitting in the seats. Probably just the parents and volunteers.

I wanted to sit down and so did Casey. I didn’t particularly care about the performance since I didn’t know any of them and it was a school event, but it felt good to sit in the shade and sip my beer. I stretched my legs out and put my feet on the portable plastic chair in front of me. Even that was hot in the shade, but it was better than walking any further. I kicked my flip-flops off and watched the kids on the stage.

There were about 10 of them and looked to be about 6 years old. The did look quite cute in their costumes as they spun around, trying to be in sync with each other as best as they could. Their teacher was in front of the stage, smiling and encouraging them. The music was loud and their smiles and pure joy made me smile and forget about the heat for a few minutes.

The dance ended and they left the stage and got ready for the next performance.

“God they are cute,” Casey said. I nodded. She was right. I scanned the audience and saw so many proud parents.

They started the music again as a young girl walked onto the stage. She owned that stage. You could see it in her eyes. Her smile was from ear to ear. She was wearing a leotard with blue glitter all over it. She had on blue ballet shoes and blue leggings. Her hair was pulled back into a bun and had blue and purple flowers.

She looked like the cutest blueberry I had ever seen.

She was also very large. She was at least twice the size of the other girls.

She began to dance and could barely contain her enthusiasm and joy at dancing for the small crowd. She glowed and I found myself smiling and silently cheering her on.

“Wow, isn’t she a little too big for this?” Casey muttered. “I mean, she’s really fat.”

I ignored her comment because I wanted to slap her for saying it. It made me sad because it was only a matter of time before some asshole came along and made it clear that she wasn’t good enough because of her weight. It was only a matter of time before she would learn that she would be judged on her looks and not her talent and contributions. It was only a matter of time before she would be indoctrinated to what was acceptable for life and what wasn’t.

It was only a matter of time before she learned that as a woman, she would have to learn to ignore what anyone said or thought about her and live the life she wanted.

I suddenly felt sad. I told Casey I wasn’t feeling well and left. I knew her comment was simply from her life of battling her weight and the naysayers she had fought all her life, but I always expect a woman to be kinder and more understanding of another.

I have battled my weight for most of my life. I’ve been thin and I’ve been heavy, but it wasn’t until that what mattered was my health, then if I was healthy, my looks and weight would figure it out.

I saw a beautiful dancer on that stage and that’s all that matters.

That’s the world I want to live in and that’s the world that I know we all fight for.

I’ve had plenty of times of people judging me and I’ve gotten old enough to no longer care, but how do you deal with it?

Following

Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash

An asshole, that’s who.

I was shocked he was going to take off and leave me there. I am not someone that posts pictures online of people without their permission, but this is one time I wish I had. I wish I had taken his picture before he took off and been able to post it here. I know I’m being vindictive and mean with my thoughts, but that’s where my head is at right now.

It was last Sunday. The weather was near 100 degrees when I got the ride request for someone right down the street from me. I was bored and had just logged onto the Lyft app. I figured since I needed the money and there wasn’t anything left to do for the day — except clean my house, but let’s not go there — I’d drive around for a bit. I just needed another $20.00 to make my financial target for the week. I was super happy to see the fare coming in was over 45 minutes.

I happily hit “Accept” and took off.

I got to the location and waited a few minutes. There wasn’t much traffic since it was a hot and lazy Sunday afternoon, so was able to park EXACTLY where the pin on Google maps said.

After 3 minutes, I called him because the app was getting ready to cancel the ride as a “No Show.” He answered and I told him I was outside waiting. He kept asking me where I was and I said: “Right in front of the XXX apartments….”

Ends up, after he booked the ride, he decided to walk away from his location and wait on the corner.

I’ve realized after being a rideshare driver, never underestimate the stupidity of some people. Apparently, there are those that think the rideshare app is a tracking device.

It is not. This is not Harry Potter. The rideshare app is not “The Marauder’s Map.” We don’t know where you are if you walk away. We are not mind-readers. We are not going to drive around to find you. We are going to arrive where the app places us and wait. You’ve got 3–5 minutes before your ride is canceled.

We have to find you by following the app, pull over safely and find a place to safely park until we get your happy ass in our car.

  • Please don’t order your ride while standing on a curb that is painted red. Read the signs; we can’t stop for you and we’re the ones that have to pay the ticket.
  • Please don’t request a ride on a street that has been blocked off due to a street event.
  • Please don’t order your ride from your third story condominium. I can’t drive up there.
  • Please don’t be a dick and wait for us to call you before you decide to come down to the car. I’ll cancel your fare before you know what’s happened, collect the $5.00 no-show fee and block you from ever contacting me again.
  • Don’t make us wait. It’s rude and even though we are getting paid, it’s our car and our time. It’s not as if we are making a shitload of money doing this.

The app was just about to cancel his ride when I looked around and saw someone standing on the corner. I called him and asked him if he was the guy with the backpack, wandering around in circles on the corner.

He said he was. He said he saw me drive by. Apparently, it didn’t dawn on him to walk towards my car. Instead, he called and waited for me to find him.

I made him walk over to me. I wasn’t about to pull away from the curb WHERE THE PIN CORRECTLY TOLD ME TO BE, go 100 feet, make an illegal u-turn to pull up to him and wait for him to get into my car.

He came over, got in the front seat and off we went. He was a nice enough young man, but about 10 seconds into the ride, his body odor was apparent. I cracked my window a bit, looked down at Google maps and saw I had 45 minutes to get him to his location.

“I can do this,” I thought. I know people of his culture do not bathe as often as us native-born Americans. It was still enough to make me want to roll down the windows and forgo the air conditioning. I also knew he was hot from standing out in the sun, so I just decided to buck-up and ignore the stench.

We chatted quite a bit and had a very pleasant ride and I actually enjoyed his company despite the smell.

It was about 30 minutes into the drive when I hit the turnoff to make our trip shorter. It is a freeway that goes between the two major freeways in Livermore California. You end up going up into the hills for a few miles and then dumping back onto the main freeway. It’s a slick little highway. It was packed with cars doing the exact same thing we were doing, taking a shortcut.

Everything was fine until I got behind a truck that was going very slow. It was over a hundred degrees outside so I had the air conditioning on full blast. As we ascended a steep hill I put on my left blinker and began to pull out from behind the big truck when suddenly there was no power. My car shook for a few seconds as I attempted to pass the truck and then the check engine light came on.

That dreaded check engine light that strikes the fear into the marrow of my bones and stomach. I lost all power. Fortunately, I was able to pull over to the shoulder right next to a highway patrol call box. I put the car in park and shouted: “Oh my God my car has stopped working!”

I got out of the car and it was extremely windy and hot. I walked over to the call box and picked up the phone and waited five minutes or so for an operator to respond.

Image by pixabay.com/users/dotlizard

There were so many cars going by and it was so windy and hot that I could barely hear her. He got out of the car and got on his phone and was making a call. I couldn’t put my phone down but I wanted to get his attention to hold on while I ended his trip. About 10 minutes later, I got back into my car and called AAA. I began the process of getting a tow truck while he continued to talk on his phone and walk up and down on the shoulder.

He got back into the car and told me he had just ordered an Uber and it would be there in a few minutes.

I looked at him and said “What?”

I couldn’t believe what I thought I heard. Maybe it was windier than I realized and the heat was getting to me. By then we had been on the side of the road for at least 15 minutes. My feet were already showing a slight sunburn from standing outside.

He said he had just ordered an Uber and was going to go and would I please take care of his fare so that he wouldn’t have to pay for it.

I had already driven him 40 minutes. I looked at him and said “Sure. I’ll tell you what. First, let me get my car towed and safe. And then I’ll need to make sure I don’t die or get killed out here and then I will very happily take care of your fare. No worries, I’ve got my priorities straight.”

He smiled and thanked me. Not only was I pissed off he was leaving, but I was also angry that my sarcasm was lost on him.

Right then a car pulled over and he jumped in and took off.

He didn’t stay.

He didn’t wish me luck.

He didn’t even wave as he got into the car.

The Uber driver didn’t check on me. He had his fare and was good to go.

I watched him drive away and could not believe that anyone would leave a woman stranded on the side of the road. I began texting my roommate and waiting for the tow truck. My cell service was spotty because I was in the mountains and away from the thousands of towers in Silicon Valley, where I call home.

Fortunately, my text got through to my roommate. I thanked him and told him I was fine. I said I was sorry to ask for help because he was going to have to drop what he was doing on a Sunday afternoon and drive an hour and pick me up in the middle of the mountains.

The tow truck eventually arrived and I was taken to a place about three miles away and waited for my roommate. I never felt unsafe or scared. It was a Sunday afternoon, bright and sunny out, very hot but I was very upset that I had been left alone.

I can honestly say I would never leave somebody like that. It wasn’t as if he was on his way to donate a kidney or accept the Nobel Peace Prize or go off to another country and cure cancer. He was simply going to his mom’s house for the afternoon and apparently that was much more important than a woman stranded on the side of the road.

And to ask about getting the ride for free was the icing on the cake.

Needless to say, I said nothing to Lyft about him getting a refund and I did get paid for the trip, which was great. Just in case there was any dispute on it I cashed out early to make sure I got my money.

The next morning I did get an email from Lyft at telling me my account has been deactivated until I took it to my mechanic and had a very thorough safety check done. They emailed me the form they needed to be done. I got it done the next day and everything was fine.

As far as we know my car just started to overheat a bit and I have learned my lesson:

  • Never run my air conditioning when it’s over a hundred degrees while I’m going up a hill.
  • Never depend on anyone to help you. Assume you are on your own and appreciate those that help you.
  • Block the asshole passengers.

Image by pixabay.com

Yes, there are lots of good people out there but I cannot conceive of a good man that would ever leave a woman or anyone alone and vulnerable on the side of the road.

Photo by Marco De Waal on Unsplash

I wanted to care but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t. Nothing I said to myself could get me to change my mind or feel anything but…nothing. Just…nothing.

It was as if I was reading about some random stranger’s death with a cursory glance while I sipped my coffee and wondered if I had enough gas to get to work or if I should leave 5 minutes earlier to get it.

I didn’t like her, not one iota, but I felt that I should feel something when I heard of her death. I wasn’t surprised by the news. I had seen her posts on Facebook for a fundraiser her son was doing for her. She had pancreatic cancer but wanted to try an herbal program that boasted of wonderful success in remission for all types of cancer.

I had felt sadness when I first found out she was ill but not for long. I had not seen her in years, so she was no longer part of my life.

I didn’t judge her for trying or have much of an opinion about it. It was her life and far be it from me to say what anyone should do once they’ve been given a death sentence. I don’t know what I would do so I can’t say what someone else should do.

She looked horrible in her profile picture. Much older and worn, but that’s to be expected when you’re dying. She still had the great hair and red lipstick and smile, but she had aged 25 years since I had seen her 5 years before.

I felt nothing when I read about her illness. I felt bad that I was ambivalent about her and her pending demise. The more I tried to feel something, the worse I felt.

Is it possible to feel numb and annoyance at feeling numb at the same time?

I didn’t like her when I knew her and worked with her but I tried to. I felt that I should like her since she started working for us a few years before.

Things at work had slowed down. We were looking for someone to bring in sales. I knew things at work would be better if I liked her. I even tried to be nice and insincere to smooth things over. I failed at it and she could tell.

I don’t have a poker face, but there have been times when I would have paid a million dollars to have one. To be able to hide my feelings and thoughts, carry on with an insincere but pleasant conversation, and get away from them as soon as possible.

But I don’t posses that ability. I am envious of people who are hard to read. Is is something a person is born with or is it something that can be self-taught?

My boss asked me if I would be friends with her and include her in my circle of friends. She and I knew some mutual people and they all seemed to like her or at least I thought so.

I was never unkind or cruel. I am not that way, but it’s not a matter of what I do; it’s a matter of what I don’t do. If I don’t like someone, I don’t have long conversations with them. I am short with my responses and greetings, my smile disappears quickly from my face but it’s there just long enough to be seen as polite.

She was brash and rude and the main topic of all her conversations was how great she was. She would go on and on about how many people loved her and how lucky we all were to have her around. By her insistence that we needed her, the back end intention was we were doing everything wrong and she was our only savior and chance at survival. The fact that we had all done well for 15+ years was no longer relevant.

She proclaimed herself as our savior and we were not in the market for one.

She talked her way into our small company and I, like others, were hopeful she would be an asset. We had been struggling lately with our sales and needed a full-time individual to take the lead.

We were doing okay, but wanted to push the business to the next level. It was a logical decision to bring on someone full-time and take the job off of my boss’s plate.

We weren’t looking for a miracle; we just wanted another employee who would learn about the company from the ground up and help us push it further along.

She had had some success with her own small business and she came with some good recommendations. The fact that we all had mutual friends made her appealing to us.

My intense dislike of her wasn’t immediate but it didn’t take me long to begin to dread coming into the office. Having her barge into my office with unsolicited advice on anything and everything, commenting about what I was wearing, and how she thought I could improve my job performance, were things she did on a daily basis.

She had ruined a dinner party at a friends house when she began to tell everyone what an asset she was. When she started on her third glass of wine and told my best friend how lucky I was to know her, my friend rolled her eyes and left the table.

That’s when I began to suspect that I wasn’t the only one didn’t like her.

Funny how we try to like people. We first must lie to ourselves before we begin lying to others.

She shouted when she spoke, barged into offices even if the door was closed, knew more than anyone else. She was impossible to train. You can’t teach anyone who thinks they not only know the subject, but they know more than the trainer.

That particular day was when I came close to throwing the training binder her across the table. I know within a few minutes of working with someone if they can be trained. Most can be, but the few that can’t, it’s because they don’t want to learn. It’s as if admitting they don’t know something, it makes them feel like prey.

  • You have to be vulnerable while opening your mind to new ideas.
  • You have to admit you don’t know something before you can learn it.
  • You have to be willing to be stupid in order to gain knowledge.

All of this we could have dealt with if the numbers had been there, but that was not the case. Her inadequacies began to show up quickly.

First it was the padded (false) stats. Everything sounded good, according to her, but upon inspection, not so much. The money wasn’t there and then when it did appear, the new clients asked for refunds before even starting.

Her appointments kept cancelling on her. It was as if she were a magnet that repelled rather than pulled.

I felt sorry for her. She made me uncomfortable because she seemed so desperate and alone. The more I attempted to befriend her, the more I felt my integrity slip away.

The day she was fired, she cried on my shoulder. I limply put my arm around her shoulder and patted her back. I felt a twinge of remorse for not feeling anything but relief that she would be gone. I felt as if my comfortable world was about to return.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t like her and didn’t have to. I wished her no ill will and had hoped she had gone off onto better and more interesting adventures.

I am sorry she’s gone too soon.

Have you ever known someone you didn’t like but wanted to? Was it something that bothered you or not?

Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash

In a world that values things more than people, it’s easy to forget what’s important and what isn’t. That can vary from day to day or even moment to moment.

One day, you have a fender bender. No one is hurt, but you’re upset that you didn’t see the car and backed into it in the parking lot. You were distracted with the kids screaming in the back seat or your day at work wasn’t that great because your boss let you know your performance could be better.

It could be a million little things that are bothering you and then BAM! You bump into the car you didn’t see parked there.

You exchange your information with the other driver, apologize profusely, and remind yourself to make sure you paid your insurance premium for the month.

You’re thankful the other driver was kind and didn’t throw a fit.

You worry that your insurance rates will go up again as you drive home, forcing yourself to pay attention.

You’re upset that you were so distracted that you didn’t see the car parked when you back up and you should have.

You take a deep breathe and calm yourself down. You debate whether or not you’ll report the claim to your insurance carrier or maybe bite the bullet and pay for it out of your own pocket. You say another prayer that it won’t be much because you’re about to be overdrawn in your checking account if your rent check clears before your payroll check get deposited.

All of these things are on your mind until you turn the corner onto the street you live and you see smoke.

Lots of smoke.

Pouring up into the sky…near your home.

You see the fire engines as you approach your home but you can’t tell exactly what is happening and you say your third prayer in the last hour that the smoke is from a house way down the street from you.

The last thing on your mind now is the fender bender.

All you can think about is your home being on fire.

Then you realize that if it is, right now all you care about is your family and pets.

You accelerate, with all thoughts of being a more careful driver evaporating immediately.

As you get closer, you can see that it’s not your house, but a neighbors home 6 houses down.

You heave a sigh of relief, suddenly grateful that you have not lost your home and family and pull into the driveway.

You stand there and a new emotions step in and it is one of compassion, worry, and care for your neighbors.

You’re happy you are safe and you are worried that your neighbors are not.

And that, that right there, is your greatest asset.

You thought I was going to say you are your greatest asset, didn’t you?

Well, you’re not wrong but you’re also not right.

Your greatest asset is more than something you can put in a Hallmark card or quickly write as in inspirational quote for Facebook.

Your greatest asset is what you do with you. It’s:

Your empathy

Your ability to understand others

Your level of ethics

Your integrity

Your moral compass

Your ability to be kind

To be decent

Sometimes it feels as if you have to be mean and unfeeling to get through life. There are days when the worries and stress of the world, or just the day, weigh on you relentlessly.

Sometimes we feel weak if we aren’t constantly being rude or unkind. We don’t understand why life has become such a burden.

We feel justified in snapping at the person who is moving slower than molasses in the store aisle and you can’t get past them.

What do they expect if they are slow AND blocking the aisle? What? They think they’re the only person on the planet?

There are always plenty of reasons to be mean and unkind, but there are just as many to be kind and decent.

Your biggest asset is when your heart reaches out to resolve a problem. When you let yourself be kind even though the world has given you plenty of reasons to be ornery and mean.

It is your heart and soul that is your biggest asset and it is often not your first reaction when you’re about to take the bait.

It’s important to give yourself a second or two or three to decide how you want react to a situation. Your emotions and actions are always your choice and one else’s.

And that’s what puts you high on the food chain.

Your ability to see, to decide and then to act.

No one is perfect, but don’t fall prey to those that tell you to be harsh in order to get ahead. Pay no attention to anyone who tells you that you don’t matter or you don’t make a difference.

Kindness can never be overrated and if you find yourself tempted to lash out, don’t beat yourself up if you do.

The beautiful thing about time is there is another moment right around the corner.

You are important. You influence the people around you and you make a difference in their lives.

Life is hard enough without being too hard on ourselves.

Your biggest asset is what you do with you.