May 31, 2015

One Step At The Time

This is not a good week for posting, so I'll be short. The whole process of being single again is going slowly. I did cut my hair, but the result wasn't nearly as dramatic as I expected it to be. I gave my hairdresser free range and she gave me a cut that reminds me of Jennifer Beal in Flashdance. Why all my hairdressers want to see me in that cut? I still have a lot to do, put away pictures and so, but currently my university tasks are filling up my time. We are on the last of it, struggling to get all the balances done, all the stuff finished, but I feel kind of at loss. I just don't seem to find my footing.

Boy, that feels awful.

May 24, 2015

Hidden Resentments

People tend to keep certain cards quite close to their vest, whether to the best or worse. These are cards we don't share for different reasons, but mostly because we feel they would do more damage than good. But it is so? What motivate us to keep for ourselves negative opinions or believes we have of others, instead of sharing them and clearing the air between us?

There's this group of people where everybody is really friendly towards each other. I've always assumed they were really good friends, and on the surface it looked so. However, as I've got to know them better, often having conversations on a one-on-one basis, it turned out that none of them really liked the others, always having rather important objections about the rest. Curiously, all of them resented the others because they felt all the others imposed on them, minimized their jobs, all of them assumed the others thought in a negative manner of them, an often they thought the others lied or made up excuses to get out of some commitments, tasks or so. So why they kept meeting and making plans together?

Perhaps sometimes we feel it's strategic to remain in the supposed good graces of others, maybe because we don't want to lose our belonging to a given group, specially if being alone in a given environment means we would be exposed to harsh conditions, or because belonging to a given group mean we have access to benefits we otherwise won't have, or just because we've been in a given group so long that we don't want to be without them anymore. In these cases, perhaps, we make a pro-con analysis and we come up with the decision that we are better if we continue suffering the bad because the good is better. We convince ourselves that we are making a commitment by bravely enduring what bothers us of others. But are these analysis always correct? Are we really making the measurement, or are we pondering with already a result decided and fixing our measurements in order to fit that measurement?

I think that often that's what we do, and in some occasions - specially when we talk about relationships - our actual friends do tell us about the shitty situation we are in, and yet we convince ourselves that still, things are not as bleak as our friends tell us. Even though they are.

The thing is that separation, breakup, is hard. It's always hard, no matter how much you prepare for it. We are willing to put up with a lot of things that only fuel our further accumulated, unreleased, unspoken resentment because truth it that we are not brave enough to walk away from a sickening situation. We seek validation in others, try to convince ourselves that though something is already insufferable for us, if others see it as something manageable, then we should manage it too. But if you are the one living and suffering a given situation, shouldn't you empower yourself  to put a stop on it?

There's a magical measure we should always keep in sight: if you catch yourself always complaining about something or someone, then it's time to take that something or someone out of your life. Hard as it is, but nothing and no one is worthy of sacrificing your happiness so you won't be alone or you could reap benefits you won't even enjoy.

Yes, it's hard, and it goes out for everything: your family, your relationships, your job, your projects, your hobbies, your friends... Some of them would be harder for us, some of them maybe easier, but none of them would be painless. That's the true bravely, not pulling up with shit because we "don't walk away from hardship" or "you are not a quitter" or "maybe it would change". Walking away is a form of hardship, which you face in order to make things better. Quitting something that no longer works doesn't make you a quitter, because you are not quitting yourself, you are not quitting your happiness, you are not quitting your integrity: you are standing next to it.

You can change yourself, but you can't expect others to change for you. And you also have to be realistic with yourself: there are things of yourself you can change, but there are things you can't or shouldn't, because they are who you are. No one should ever renounce for anyone or anything to those things that make them who they are. There's no job, no relationship, no family member, no group, no "opportunity" worth denying who you are and what you believe in. No commitment should ever be made on the grounds of sacrificing those features that make up your personality. Commitments should always be respectful of your core elements.

No, we can't live without hidden resentments, I believe. When I started working in the public sector, way back in 2001, I learned that hypocrisy is an important element of the working environment. Little by little I learned to halt my natural tendency to be brutally sincere, and learned to lie, or hide the truth as much as I could, in order to get on with the program. The six months I spent in Hungary in 2012 put me back to my factory setting, and unable to be hypocritical, life at the office became quite hard. In these years that have passed, I began reclaiming those old acquired skills, slowly re-learning the obscure art of pretending to be pleased and pleasant while wishing people dead. I'm far, I know, from the master level of being able to be friendly and pleasant while stabbing people on the back - skill I don't think I'll ever be able to master - but as I walk down the path of this necessary evil, I realize hidden resentments lurk in a dark place of our souls, and they are not good for us. We choose to live with them, for whatever reason we have, but as they rot our spirits, shouldn't we, at least, try and hold as few of them as possible?

Last week the dams opened for me, and I let out resentments I had been holding in my chest for many years. This week - today, actually - they were talked over and a door closed behind me. I won't lie, it was damned hard because with this admission, with this releasing I released also something very, very precious in my life. I'm mourning a sensible loss now. Tomorrow, to mark this change in my life and perhaps find a symbolic milestone, I'll cut my hair. I still don't know how much, how short, but I want to have this symbol, to remind myself now that life goes on just like hair keeps growing, and that this is a new chapter in my life, a new begining and that chances are there for the taking. The loss will be felt, fuck, I'm not made of ice and stone, no matter how much I wish I were, but must keep my head held up high and keep on.

May 17, 2015

Lots of Thinking

This week has not been easy at all. With my agenda full of activities, I had plenty to keep me occupied. From meetings at work to tasks related to my studies to arranging my personal affairs, I hardly had a moment of respite. I really awaited for the weekend to have a moment to rest, to finally put myself at ease and calm, but then I had today a fateful talk with someone I care deeply about. I didn't intend for this to happen, but words got the best of me and my closely guarded thoughts came rushing to the open, and with it the unstoppable wheels began to turn. 

Truth to be told, I feel overwhelmed by this. I would have thought that almost three years of thinking this over has given me clarity and strength to face what seems like an inevitable outcome of events, but as it turns, I'm not as chilled within myself to take certain decisions so easily. It's time to be hard and relay entirely on rational thinking. That's all I've got for now, all I can relay on. Hard days are coming my way, and I still have to work hard at my job and concentrate on my studies. I'm completing important things, so I can't be derailed by other matters. I'll cry my row when I'll get the time to do it.

Let's change to a lighter note, shall we? On that lighter note, I recently discovered a store called The Face Shop, that sells Korean skin care products and cosmetics. It was kind of my salvation when it came to pick presents for Skylar and then for Laura. I haven't tried out their make up (I've plenty still from my Oriflame make up stash), and I still have plenty of skin care products also from my purchases of L'Occitane and Oriflame, as well as my recent treasure, products from Rituals, a Belgian brand. However, one thing I'm using quite intensively is hand cream and my stash in that has been quickly depleting, so I decided to gift myself with a little pot of hand cream to keep at the office, where I use it more often. The Face Shop presents some of their products in lovely little containers shaped in ways that look like toys or cute adornments, perfect to keep at sight, and yet nobody would be the wiser about what they really are. Something else I like a lot of these products is that they aren't all that expensive, but quite affordable, and they feel wonderful on your skin.

I'm still not sold on the make up, as I tried on my hand some foundation and I noticed how it became quite visible and ugly in the little cracks and wrinkles of my skin. How would that look on your face? I definitively don't wish to being attention to whatever wrinkles I may already have on my face! So yes, I'm being cautious, specially as I need to balance back my financial situation, and I'm not hoarding up on the product, but what I have, I already like.

And I definitively rather concentrate on that right now than on whatever other things going on in my life that might end up painfully, no matter how much I work on doing control damage. Boy, it's time to prepare for the blow.

May 10, 2015

Getting Back on Track

I wouldn't want to jinx this, but I'm so, so excited because it seems that I'm finally getting ahead with my letters, replying to all of my penpals. Yay! ^_^ So excited! After nearly... a year and a half of holding a bunch of unanswered, unopened letters crammed in a nook of my desk, I'm finally down to the one I'm answering and one more. Really, I'm working on my reply to a letter to a friend in Austria, and then have a letter from a friend in the U.S. and I'll be done! I'll be back on track! I'll be ready to be a good penpal again! Well, maybe that's reaching too far, as we have to see how do things go when I get my replies, but so far, really, it feels awesome to be this close to be ready with all of my letters to my friends, having shortened... well, not shortened, but brought their waiting to an end.

If you ask me, as someone who has gone through a letter-jam that lasted me from 2013 to present, what advise would I give to people in the same situation, well, I really don't have any advise to give, that's not what you already know: keep working through it, but don't force yourself to write if you don't feel like writing.

Of my penpals, I must say that while working through our letters, I realized something about all of us: actually we all are on the same page. I noticed that pretty much all of our letters had the same starting: "I'm so sorry I replied to you this late". Ok, I won the prize to replying tardiness, with over a year of delay in some cases - and I'm sorry and ashamed because of that - but yes, we all tend to reply to each other in a couple of month spans of time. Why? Well, because my penpals and I are all rather busy women and have our hands full with our jobs, and more often than not, also our relationships, our studies or even our personal projects, like buying a house, moving, remodeling and so on. Neither of us is some college kid who has plenty of time and energy for long letter writing between exam periods, so that we would be able to reply not in a matter of months, but a matter of hours. I know, back when I was 20, I would be often posting my replies one or two days after I received the letter from a friends, letters often 40 A4 sheets long, on both sides. And I still had time to study and party.

Well, truth is that when you are young, you really can do that. Spend hours letter writing, studying just a little here and there and yet keep all in your head, then go shopping, partying until 4 am twice a week, get completely hammered and then pour a can of tomato juice into your gut and be ready for classes at 8 am. I know, that was my routine when I was 20. But at 40, your body isn't plugged all the time to that endless source of energy. You need a greater effort to study, and what you could absorb at 20 in a night, at 40 takes you four weeks of everyday studying for 4 to 6 hours. You can't party until 4 am, because by 10 pm you are tired. Your obligations and concerns are different, and so, as your job takes a chunk of your time and energy, your personal concerns, household matters, relationship matters, all chip off from your schedule and your battery, the time to delve into writing letters also suffers.

My friends, many younger than me, others my age, are in this stage of life, which is good because we understand each other also that way. There are never hard feelings for the delay, never a lost friendship over this, and always lots of understanding. So I have proposed to my friends that we stop apologizing for delays and accept this as the natural rhythm of our correspondence. Truth to be told, the delay in the reply of our friends is also a blessing, because we are just as busy as they are, and though we love to hear from them, while we wait we can work on our daily life and accumulate more stories to then tell them about.

I know I've been inexcusably late with my letters - though now I worked hard to get all my correspondence done - I don't feel like my penpals have anything to apologize for, even if it takes them five years to reply. We are all busy, working, interesting, complex women, and in order to be so, we need time to manage our interesting, complex lives.