What I Already Am

“Finally, I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself—and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself. For it is the unaccepted self that stands in my way and will continue to do so as long as it is not accepted.”

–Thomas Merton

What I already am

Comments

  1. Asma says

    WHAT I ALREADY AM?
    What I already am? I am a deeply caring person who has confused caring for others for the sake of being cared for one self and when they do care for me, I am uncomfortable in that seat.
    What I already am is scared of the future and distasteful of the past and not wanting to repeat it.
    What I already am: an adventurous person bound within the confines of the laws and inhibitions of my inner prejudices.
    What I already am is someone who struggles to release herself from the predators in her life and then freezes and plays possum.
    The wild animals in my life have left a lot of scars on my possum self which has transformed my outer self into a porcupine.
    I want to be like a snake and shed my skin and start anew, but I am not a snake, never could be. I am a possum or at the most a deer caught in the lights unaware of the dark shape and tonnage of the vehicle hurtling towards me to blow me into smithereens.
    I know from what I already am that I will survive all my ill fortunes and disasters and rise again like the phoenix from the fire
    Thus what I already am is a possum who in fear has frozen, thinking that the predator may bypass me due to my immobility.
    Who I am tells me that the porcupine surface of my self will not go unchallenged by the predators and they want to get me belly up financially and emotionally so my needles are of no avail to their feral attacks.
    What I already am is someone who does not want to be who I already am, but wants to be someone else, who is brave not stupid and fearful like the possum, not quite as sensitive as the porcupine so that I can drop the quills with ease.
    Most of all I want to walk the jungle with my quills down and my stupid possum genes mutated so that I am comfortable in my skin and not fearful of the predators.
    I need to be on the golden brick trail and someone in Oz needs to give me a heart full of courage.
    I know what I really am, but I don’t know how to get to who I really want to be.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Beautiful and honest metaphor–I could feel the struggle in it–so well defining the porcupine and the underbelly and the reasons and also against this resistance or want to be the snake or another. Beautifully put! Thanks! And I like the honesty of the ending with not knowing…

    • Laura Davis says

      Asma, I’m just back from a little vacation and am catching up with the blog posts and I loved seeing your name and your words here. I recognized your voice–eloquent and true. I loved the whole piece and what it had to tell us, but this line hit a personal chord with me: “What I already am: an adventurous person bound within the confines of the laws and inhibitions of my inner prejudices.” I can relate to that wholeheartedly–my inner adventurer and my security seeker at war with one another. Thanks for posting this week. Let’s catch up soon!

  2. Mary Bucklew says

    WHO ELSE MIGHT I HAVE BEEN?

    I’m tempted to go totally “Walter Mitty” here, skydiving like the Red Baron and pirouetting like Ballanchine through alter-ego lives full of derring-do and romance, but the truth is, I’m mostly smitten with the me that is…

    Who I am is mostly a result of the choices I’ve made in my life, and less so the result of external forces, at least, that’s the way I see it.

    My parents assumed I would graduate from public high school and GET A J*O*B. But I’ve never been one to jump into anything without a little research, and I didn’t expect anyone would hire an 18 year old high school graduate to play sandlot baseball, write melodramatic poetry to the light of the moon or crack jokes, and those were the main skill sets I had acquired at 18.

    So college beckoned despite my father’s insistence that he wouldn’t pony up the tuition so I should just GET A J*O*B!!!

    I knew how to craft a sentence or two back then, so I wrote an essay, masquerading as a senatorial scholarship application, outlining my suitability for higher education and my total lack of financial resources. A brash young state senator from Maryland, who is now the House Democratic Whip (Steny Hoyer) in the US House of Representatives, liked what he read and decided to take a $250 a semester chance on me to attend Frostburg State College.

    So that choice, to go to college, detoured me from what might have been a more traditional (back then) path of high school, job, marriage, kids, divorce.

    When a teaching job didn’t materialize upon graduation from college, I GOT A J*O*B working for an international freight forwarding company in DC for the summer, thanks to a high school friend who was working there full time. On a lark, having shipped tons of household goods all across the planet, I applied for a Peace Corps teaching job in Western Samoa, never for a minute thinking they would seriously consider me.

    Must have been another craftily worded essay, because a month or so later, a large manila envelope arrived from the Department of State/Peace Corps, inviting me to an orientation in Chicago that November, where they would interview me and psychoanalyze me and grill me and test me within an inch of my 23 year old life, to see if I was suitable Peace Corps material.

    So off I went, for two years in James Michener’s South Pacific, looking for remnants of Margaret Meade and finding instead a descendant of Bloody Mary… it wasn’t Bali Hi by any means, but neither was it Capitol Heights, Maryland, the small town from which I hailed.

    I had never seen poverty and wealth juxtaposed so closely as I did during my two years in the Peace Corps. Funny thing was, the Samoans didn’t consider themselves poor or impoverished, and were in fact some of the most generous and genuinely hospitable folks I’ve come across, before or since. I learned more about myself than I taught over the course of those two years:

    * Sexuality is a fluid and often confusing endeavor.
    * Teaching kids is fun – hassling with school administrators is hell.
    * Abundance and scarcity are in the eyes of the beholder.
    * Grading papers for the rest of my life was not for me.

    I chose at that point to return to the International Freight Forwarder in DC when I returned from Western Samoa, and basically stayed the course of transportation for the rest of my working career, albeit not in the same place or doing the same thing.

    A lucky internship with the Department of the Army resulted in the government paying for my Master’s degree in Communications and Public Affairs, and I parlayed that degree and those wonderfully useful skills and abilities into a lifetime of writing and photographing for various DoD and government transportation agencies. In the bargain, my employers sent me around the globe, interviewing soldiers, photographing cargo ships being loaded with ammunition for mock military battles in Europe, and generally chronicaling the lives of ordinary folks doing often extraordinary feats.

    Now that I am retired, once again I have the opportunity and the means, within reason, to be someone other than who I am… but the fact is, whether I’m a cat burglar or a science fiction writer, I’d still be who and what I am:

    63. Female. Lesbian. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Niece. Friend. Blessed.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Lovely journey–rooted in the facts of a life and places…I love what was learned from the peace core stay and the way it was put–the sexuality line. And how writing led to opportunities. Thanks for taking us along on the journey…Love the solid–boom boom boom ending as well–thanks!

    • Laura Davis says

      Mary, I loved learning about the trajectory of your life (at least on one level). For me it was wonderful to reflect on the crooked path my life has taken as well–and your story inspired me to do that. I’m in the process of launching two young adults from my home–one a junior in college now, one heading off to college next year and your piece reminded me how their lives will be determined by factors and connections and experiences and impulses I can’t anticipate at all. I loved the reassurance in your piece that when we follow one thread, it will lead to another and another and another….

      • Mary Bucklew says

        Thanks Laura. I never had kids but I can well imagine all the hopes and dreams and maybe even fears you are experiencing as your daughter readies for college and your son (?) prepares to burst out into REAL LIFE.

        What I can tell you is, watching kids grow up and leave the nest seems to be a little like watching your stock portfolio – make sound decisions based on the best available evidence at the time, don’t make knee jerk reactions, keep your eye on the long horizon, and trust in your “investments.”

        And as just I read your 2013 recap, I am sure that your own lust for the new possibilities your future now holds will help to temper any instinct to helicopter the kids. Embrace the look back AND enjoy the ride into 2014 and beyond!

      • Mary Bucklew says

        Thanks, Hina. I knew from the time I read my first Nancy Drew mystery that I wanted to write, and as I sketched out my future, I tried to find writing assignments or opportunities no matter what the job description read… and fortunately, that lead me, both educationally as well as professionally, up the right path, even if the path twisted and doubled back on itself on occasion. Life is good, and I hope 2014 is good to you!

  3. Dianne Brown says

    The Cosmic Flyer

    I am spirit sister of
    Angels and UFOs,
    Designed to fly at speeds
    That no one else knows.

    I sojourn and walk
    On planets and stars,
    Beyond Hubbell’s eye–
    Beyond Star Wars.

    Dancing in space,
    I bound through the night
    In my silvery, shimmery
    Shape-shifting light.

    The sky is my lover,
    And seducing my trust,
    She covered our passion
    In sheets of stardust.

    By whim and fancy
    And star charts I design,
    I navigate space
    With no thought of time.

    Unlicensed by man
    Yet by a power that’s higher,
    In my cosmic cockpit
    I am the Starlight Flyer.

    by Dianne Brown

  4. Lee Xanthippe says

    What I already am:
    a smart ass
    fun-loving
    a teacher
    a student—perpetually
    a lover in a large sense
    a critic
    a try-er
    a chicken
    a darer
    a yukker, when anxious, at times
    freewheelin’ with time
    a songwriter, singer, guitar gal
    an activist, an advocate, an educator, a poet, a writer, a voter

    a searcher, a re-looker,
    not interested until I’m interested and then so interested
    a model (not in the traditional sense but okay to model in writing or performance—the trying, daring, failing, falling, seeing what the view is from down here and writing from where I am, finding that the sky looks better this way

    a woman who gets wrapped up in the moment and forgets to close her parentheses

    was a hard-to-get-started person, now is a hard-to-get-finished person

    a person who puts work ahead of my own goals
    a person who just started sort of making goals

    a woman and everything that comes with that socialization—for better and for worse—yes, I am married to “woman” as most women find themselves but have to figure out how to become married to not the socialization that it is to be a woman—polite and nice to my own detriment,
    not confident myself but comfortable building up others,
    too critical at times,
    taught to be apolitical (why aren’t women taking back the night every night? Why…I’m stopping myself from writing what was in my head…which was… “Why aren’t we vigilantes?” Do we care too much about those who have done us wrong, so to speak, or do we fear too much what would happen to us? Why aren’t we vigilantes—if not in the literal sense, in a figurative sense. If the best revenge is good living, why aren’t many of us living better? (Or is it a catch-22 we need to muddle our ways through?

    I usually do not slip into the “we”—I feel like I should not speak the “we”…the “we” invites the “Not I!” but I guess in this case, that’s fine, that’s another prompt for you, but I guess I am speaking to what I see and experience.

    And nothing beyond the regular things that happen have happened to me, but aren’t the regular things too much? I hesitate at the door of “regular things” to get specific (or rather not get specific) at 7:25am.

    What I am…too much, mostly in a good way.
    I am a woman who does not like to wake up early but as of late, I will…to write.
    To sit here, the heater shh-ing a little too far behind me to warm me effectively. Heels of my hands resting on my wristrest despite advice to the contrary.

    A woman who likes looking out the windows right in front of her—no wind to push the tattered last pale orange leaves off the last occupied branches, other trees bare, beyond them, nearly colorless sky, although I know even the colorless skies have color—but not much compared to my fuzzy striped sweater—blue green black and white. The red and black bold circles of my fuzzy pants, the stripes of my socks—pink yellow blue white on a navy background and the grippy star bottoms.

    I am a woman who likes to tie it together well and end well, but I am also a woman who is trying to accept that sometimes it’s perfectly okay to not be perfect, to not pull it all together. I’m trying to accept that it’s okay sometimes to not be impressive.

    What am I…too little, I fear, (no offense to little) or that I will appear too ineffectual way to myself although I know I am much. I fear I will die without making enough of my mark on the world, without making more things better. Or things more better. They say goals should be specific. How will I know I have reached a goal if I am so mushy?

    I must stop or I will be
    late for work
    poor
    destitute
    irresponsible
    hungry

    I am everchanging, resistant, epiphanous, effected.
    I am uncontainable.

    • Ilana says

      Bravo!! Bravo! This piece soars with excitement, beauty and passion that I find so delightfully contagious. Thanks for starting my day on such a positive note! Ilana

    • Hazel says

      Lee,
      This is great! All the things you are, how delicious.

      I loved your ending, “I am everchanging, resistant, epiphanous, effected.
      I am uncontainable.”

      Thank you sharing with us.

    • Laura Davis says

      I loved this piece….these lines in particular: “I am a woman who likes to tie it together well and end well, but I am also a woman who is trying to accept that sometimes it’s perfectly okay to not be perfect, to not pull it all together. I’m trying to accept that it’s okay sometimes to not be impressive.” and your ending: “I am everchanging, resistant, epiphanous, effected. I am uncontainable.”
      That was evident throughout your whole piece–uncontainable and free.

  5. MaryL says

    What I already am

    Merton was one of the sojourners who believe that people must strive to be better, always more loving, more obedient, more sacrificing. So he was trained to think of himself as always on-the-way, never good enough. An entire philosophy is based on this perspective. And I, once a follower of this path, spent far too long fretting over the past, worried about the future, and hardly noticing the present moment. If you aim for perfection, you need to be careful not to be a perfectionist, that kind of person who is never satisfied with self or others. I love Merton, but I disagree with his philosophy. There!

    Let me tell you what happened this past week.
    December 20, 2013
    It is 9:20 AM when I pour myself the first cup of tea. I’ve been thinking constantly of my daughter. I cannot be with her … the weather is treacherous … so my vigil unfolds at home. I sit with tea and look out the window, try to busy myself with knitting, and the monumental task of sorting all the old photographs.

    This is the day.
    I offer the (Buddhist) Metta prayer for her:
    May she be safe.
    May she be strong.
    May she be well.
    May she continue to live in serenity.

    And for the little boy:
    May the baby come safely.
    May he be strong.
    May he be well.
    May he always live in pace.

    C is due at the hospital at 11 AM, but one can never be sure with hospital procedures. I trust that the road will be clear and safe, and that the freezing rain to snow storm will hold off until later. I trust that the other children are already settled in with our dear friend Molly, who will watch them lovingly, along with her own children.

    I trust that Dr. S___ will be empowered by the powers of the Lord/Cosmos with sharp mind, agile, blest hands, compassionate heart, completely focused on the wonder of this new baby, and this woman and her husband. I visualize and offer healing energy all around and inside, within and without, deep within the hearts and bodies of C and P and baby, and the other staff in the room.

    I pray that good news will come soon ~ perfect news! I pray that my grandson will be happy to be with them and with us, I trust that the parents will grow more gentle, and confident, and patient, and joyful. I pray that my daughter will recover without distress and pain, with clean, perfect healing, and no complications.

    At 4:30 PM, I feel that the time is right. I call the hospital and I am connected to pure joy! C is in her room with their new baby and he is a fine, big boy, with bit of dark hair. All is well. Mother and baby are fine. Father is delighted.

    I tell this story because in the past I would have missed much of the unfolding emotional tides of thoughts and emotions. I might have been stuck, paralyzed with fears and worries. I might have brooded that I wasn’t there at the hospital, and that the other children were not with me, or that I am so often alone when big events come up, and that I run out of ways to distract myself. I would have felt a little envy because C’s husband cherishes her (mine did not cherish me); this fine man cries with joy, takes charge when needed, and also is full of wonder.

    These days, I understand that all that is part of richly living, allowing myself to really feel what I feel, lean into the scariness and the joy, experience in a profound way what is going on inside me as the child I birthed thirty years ago is once again giving birth. This is a new way for me … I am still working on this way of walking my path. I move along moment by moment.

    I am here now!

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Beautiful…the step by step details of the situation, getting into the moments…I love the beginning too–moving away from Merton’s kind of perfectionism, always striving and never stopping it seems.
      I loved the part with the daughters husband and the feelings that came up, where they came from and the short description of him–and the appreciation in this piece, the being with each thing.
      I felt the tension–but it felt like a being there with the tension rather than fighting for what cannot be–the words and thoughts put out into the world, that things will be okay with the birth.

      I felt the relief and joy and a kind of maturity of being with and staking out one’s own path. Thanks and congrats to all!

      • MaryL says

        Lee, I was aware of the tension with which I have struggled, but I do believe I am becoming more of an observer than a victim when life doesn’t go the way I would run the whole thing. Thanks so much … your comments are very helpful. MaryL

        • Lee Xanthippe says

          I suppose by tension–and here, I am only talking about the writing (that is where I am most comfortable or most comfortable addressing the writing itself which encompassed a universal sort of tension (for me) of being on the edge of life and birth–something that would cause most people tension, but the writing was so beautiful the way it addressed those feelings through the details. (Specific writing that can speak universally because it is so specific.)

          I did feel the trust that one needs when at a distance but also when confronted with the unpredictability of life and birth and the medical….thanks for your comments and for the writing!

    • Ilana says

      MaryL- I loved being pulled through the whole story. Then the end was so perfect. “I am here now!” It was a joyful proclamation and I felt the triumph in it. Nice job! Ilana

    • Hazel says

      MaryL
      Very interesting. Your starting with an (as you are concerned) outdated philosophy; then taking us through a Buddhist prayer; to knitting; then the call, and your present philosophy. We traveled through time with you. I liked the ending, “I am here now!”

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Laura Davis says

      MaryL, I love the way you led us into this piece and that I didn’t immediately know what it was about. And I loved the way you described the psychic and emotional choice you made–and the rich rewards that brought you. It was an inspiring piece–how we can rise out of our habitual patterns and responses and experience life from a different, more satisfying, more connected view point. Same experience–different point of view. You expressed it so very well. Thank you!

  6. Fran Stekoll says

    What I already am is The Delf . I just gave birth to a composite figure who
    through verses of insight and awareness wants to share it’s messages.
    “Inside each of us lives both Devil and Elf, every day in many ways, each tries
    to gain power.” This was conceived in a dream by my Mother 100 years ago
    and after her death New Years Day 2003, I removed the pitchfork, barbed tail and honed down those devilish horns making them into “Wisdom Bumps”
    I realized when looking into the mirror yesterday, I am The Delf”
    Happy Delving. http://www.wisdombumps.wordpress.com

  7. Ilana says

    The Person I Already am Is so Powerful

    This week I found out what I was in the past and how my hard work has paid off to make me what I am now. It all began at five o’clock in the evening on Thursday, December 19, 2013. I was home alone and the phone rang. It was my Zander.

    “Hello?”
    “Hi, Ilana. I just got a call from Kristi. She’s really upset and but I don’t know why. Would you mind giving her a call?”
    “Oh, poor thing. I’ll give her a call and see what’s up.”
    You may remember Kristi from an earlier post. She is a dear friend of mine. Zander and I were out with her and her wife, Julie. Julie is the doctor Zander works with. I described them as “two of the loveliest women I’ve ever met.” Okay back to the story. So I called Kristi.

    “Hi Sweetie.”
    “Hey Kristi. A little birdie told me that you were having a rough time.”
    “Oh, Ilana…” Here she broke off into tears. “You’re just going to hate me.”
    “Listen. I am here for you. I’ve got to take the kids out to dinner for a school thing but you can come over as soon as they are in bed. Then we’ll talk. If you would prefer we’ll just sit together and you don’t have to tell me anything.”
    “But you’re going to hate me so much.” More sobbing.
    “No, it’s okay. I promise, unless you hurt me or someone I care about I could never hate you.”
    “Do you care about Julie?”
    “Yes but it will be alright. I promise you.”
    “And you won’t judge me?”
    “What’s the point in having friends that you need to judge? It’s alright. I promise. I’ll call you when I get the kids home and I should be able to get them down while you are on your way. Alright?”
    “Okay. Thank you.” She paused. “One more thing. I know you and Zander are all about honesty but can I tell Julie that I am coming over to comfort you? I don’t want her to know about this.”
    “If that’s what you need to do. I love you, Kristi.”
    “I love you too, Sweetie.”

    I got off the phone and went to pick up the kids at their after school programming. We went straight to dinner from the school and bumped into a good friend of my son’s. Sitting with him and his mother was a lot of fun but all the time I was worried about my friend. We got home at 7:00 and I called Kristi back.

    “We’re home. I should have them down by the time you get here.”
    “Thank you so much. I’ll be there soon.” She was still crying.
    When Kristi got to my house I went out to get her. As she stood from the car I put my arms around her and she clung to me, crying. Finally, I guided her inside and opened a bottle of wine. I didn’t want any but no one should have to drink alone. I poured an inch into the bottom of my glass, then filled hers and sat down on the couch with her. “What’s goin’ on, Kristi?”
    “I’ve been cheating on Julie.” She paused to stare at me but I made no response. “with a guy and he just broke up with me.” She burst into tears again.

    For the next five hours I listened to her sob about how much she missed this man. She showed me naked pictures he had sent her on her Iphone, and naked pictures she’d sent to him. She read me obscene texts reliving their sex life, in great detail. All the time I simply listened. This kind of behavior was completely foreign to me but my opinion didn’t matter. I was her friend and determined not to judge her. She talked about how dissatisfied she was with Julie. Once this man broke it off with her she’d had a tryst with another man but that was over too. I encouraged her to come clean, tell Julie everything and try to work on their relationship. She made noncommittal responses.

    By midnight I hadn’t had a single sip of the wine but the bottle was empty. Kristi had consumed the entire thing herself. Zander and I had arranged in advance that I should wake him up to drive her home. He assumed I’d be drinking too. I was tired and shocked by her behavior so I didn’t feel comfortable driving. I woke him and he drove her home. When Zander returned I was laying on the couch fighting to stay awake so I could wait up for him. “I don’t want to be alone with Kristi again.”
    “Why.”
    “If she needs to look for men now I don’t want to end up in an uncomfortable position.”
    “But there’s nothing to worry about. She would never do anything to you.”

    We went to sleep. For the next two days Zander acted strange. He was very upset about having to work with Julie knowing that Kristi was cheating on her and keeping the secret.

    Finally, on Friday night he was so distraught that I offered to make a phone call for him. I explained to Kristi that Zander and I were in a very difficult position. It might be best not to see too much of each other until she had told Julie the truth. She was angry but agreed to tell me if/when she had talked to Julie and we’d keep our distance until then.

    Zander felt better but still seemed worried. I could not understand why. Saturday night after we had put the kids to bed we sat on the couch watching television. Suddenly Zander turned off the TV. “Kristi made a pass at me on Thursday night.” He blurted out. The words were clearly painful for him to say.
    “What?” I was shocked.

    The story came out in small pieces. He didn’t want to give me details for fear it would hurt me too much. Kristi had informed him, when she thought she was going to succeed, that “This will kill Ilana.” I assured him that she was wrong. The more information he gave me the better I felt. Over the next two days he told me most of what happened. Kristi had put her hands on him and made repeated advances even though he turned her down each time. He took an alternate route to her home in order to stay off the highway because he feared he would get in an accident as a result of her physical advances. Finally he pulled over and was eventually able to convince her that she was not going to wear him down. He had no intention of sleeping with her.

    The following morning, Friday, Julie had called him to say she’d be late to work because they had to come back to our house to pick up Kristi’s car. Kristi took the phone and slipping away from Julie reminded Zander that “My offer still stands.” He refused her again and later that morning she sent him a text giving him one more chance. At least this one promised that if he asked her to she’d drop the subject and not bring it up again.

    So here we were, Sunday morning and I was dealing with the betrayal my dear friend has perpetrated on me, my husband and my family. I was downstairs with my children when my cell phone rang and did not hear it. When I came back into the bedroom I saw that I’d missed a call from Kristi. I listened to the voicemail. She was furious with me. I had lied to her.

    “You said I was safe telling you anything; that you wouldn’t judge me. Maybe you didn’t know that’s how it would make you feel but you lied. I made a mistake but you did too. I’ve learned my lesson. I guess I have to be what everyone wants me to be. This perfect person that just does what everyone else wants. I have made my decision. I am not going to tell Julie anything. That would only hurt her. I know you disagree but this is my life. If this means that I lose you as a friend then, so be it.” Later there were two text messages swearing me off as a friend as well. “It’s just fine because I need friends who will not feel threatened by the fact that I am an imperfect person.”

    She had assumed that Zander never told me what she did to him so in her mind she had every right to rail against me for having feelings (which I didn’t really have) about keeping a secret from her wife. I could not wrap my mind around her ability to act like she had done nothing to me. I could not wrap my mind around her confidence that Zander would not tell me the truth.

    I’ve been through all sorts of reactions in the last five days. Mostly, disbelief, anger and shock. The person I was before would have found a way to blame herself. She would have made rash decisions that hurt everyone and regretted them. If she’d had the self control not to respond, she would have just let Kristi dissolve the friendship and never let on that she knew the truth, never expressed her shock and anger at the betrayal. Zander still works with Julie and though we have those texts and voice mail Kristi could say that he tried to force her. We could prove what really happened but the messy fall out would affect Zander’s work situation none the less. The person I was would have valued peace over the expression and honoring of her own feelings.

    The person I am now calmly thinks through all of her options. Now I can discuss the situation with my husband and be sensitive to his feelings as well as my own. Having done this I wrote r a couple of e-mails that have not been sent yet. The first one is furious and holds Kristi accountable for her behavior. After thinking about it I wrote a second e-mail, one I think will be sent provided Zander feels comfortable with it. This e-mail has a lot less anger in it. In this one I tell her that the reason I have not responded to her messages is that Zander told me the truth about that drive home. I was too angry to contact her for a few days and feared I might say something I regretted. Now I’m okay, though. I have no need to tell anyone that she has cheated on Julie. I have no need to make a big deal out of her pressuring my husband for sex. We are not the friends we used to be but, as long as she never puts my husband in that situation again, I can keep up a friendly acquaintance for appearances. I also asked her to respond to the e-mail and agree to my conditions.

    The person I am now is so powerful. The person I am will be happy in the knowledge that I did the right thing, protected my husband and his work situation from her. The person I am now is clever because if Kristi does what I ask and responds to the e-mail without denying anything I’ve got proof on paper that she was the one who violated Zanderd and cheated on Julie. She will have no choice but to leave my husband alone because if she does not, the truth that will come out will be far more damaging. That’s who I already am, someone who protects her family with well thought out strategies and does not react instantly out of fear and anger.

    • Hazel says

      “The person I am now is so powerful.” and so it seems! This is a powerful piece written sincerely, open and fearless.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Laura Davis says

      Ilana, I can feel the strength and clarity just pulsing through this piece. Thanks for sharing your process in working through this sticky and uncomfortable dilemma.

    • Ilana says

      Thank you both. Last night Zander told me that the attorney said it was really best not to say anything to Kristi at all. She could turn the whole story on its head and then it turns into he said/ she said. I am angry and feel like all the power has been taken away from me again. The person I already am will fight to find power in the limited options I have. Right now my plan is to go to the party on New Year’s Eve and hang on Zander’s every word. I will be sweet and kind and obviously smitten with my husband. Maybe there will be some power in that.

      • Mary Bucklew says

        Recapture that power, girl! Your marriage is strong, there is obviously trust between you, and “hanging on every word” of Zander’s at a NYEve party sounds tantalizing and romantic! And cutting a wide path around anyone who is toxic is always a prudent course, as is refusing to “engage” in what is clearly someone else’s problem. Go and HAVE FUN!
        Happy New Year!

    • Hina says

      Hi Illana
      I’m just reading this now, but I have to say you do sound very calm and considered through everything, you are indeed powerful with that frame of mind.

      • Ilana says

        Thank you, Hinda- I have to smile at your use of the word “calm.” That is the last thing I’ve felt through all of this. But hey, maybe I’m not giving myself as much credit as you are. Thanks again, Ilana.

  8. Hazel says

    What I already am . . .

    I am a: writer
    photographer
    student
    poet
    mother
    Occupational Therapist
    painter in oils
    wife
    lover
    passionate
    slow
    sufferer
    survivor
    reader
    visionary
    curious
    playful
    tease
    wimp
    small
    large
    hopeful
    desperate
    discouraged
    energetic
    tired
    arthritic
    ossified
    rigid
    giving
    flexible
    thoughtful
    respectful
    short sighted
    selfish
    rebellious
    conformist
    stubborn
    imperfect
    whimsical
    realist
    a crone who knows the magic of living and having lived these many years with openness to the universe in all of the situations I have found myself in. A woman who has felt the many feelings of all kinds of loves, hates, depressions, and delights. A woman who has know the depths of poverty and the heights of wealth; who has found contentment in each of them and learned the lessons each has had to teach. A woman who has been saved (not in the religious sense) and who has saved. A woman who seems quite open but has many secrets. A woman who is smart, well educated, and connected to her “source.” A woman who is bent with the weight of my life but who stands defiantly as straight as she can with her cane. Most of all I am a writer who is “writing down the bones.”

    • Laura Davis says

      And this: a woman we all love getting to know. Thanks for this vivid portrait of many of your different selves.

      • Hazel says

        Thank you all for your comments and encouragement. The last four weeks have been especially difficult for some reason I have not yet figured out. just my usual SAD thing I guess although the sun has been shining it has been cold and I have been inside all of the time. I just couldn’t find answers to a couple of prompts although I read all of them by others.

        Thanks again.

  9. Deb says

    What I already am…..

    I am me

    Deb, a fighter, a winner, a stubborn old mule that refuses to lie down in the dirt and die,

    A shouter, a screamer, a silence breaker,

    Don’t think you can shit on me and get away with it!

    I’m a mother, a lover, a wife and a friend,

    I’ll stand by your side and hold your hand,

    I’m a reader, a writer, a general book lover,

    I’ll share what I think and read what other have shared.

    I’m a dreamer, a hoper, an emotional fighter,

    To feel all the feelings is better than numb.

    But most of all, most important of all,

    I am Deb!

    • Laura Davis says

      Deb, I loved your declaration of all that you are. I could feel your strength, love and determination pulsing through the lines of this piece.

    • Hazel says

      Deb,
      I liked your statement, “To feel all the feelings is better than numb.” I wouldn’t trade any of my feelings for that of being numb either. From what I have known of your here on the Roadmap I know that you are Deb.

      Thank you for sharing.

      • Deb says

        Hazel I so agree, I remember that terrible numbness before I had the courage to break the silence and speak the truth and feel the feelings! I do think that other parts of my family have chosen that numbness and now feel nothing, good or bad!

  10. Raymonde Savoie says

    This is who I already KNOW that I am…

    A writer, in the process of writing her first memoir book on healing from abuse, principally from the help of my dreams and my inner wise woman.

    A woman living alone, sometimes not liking that very much, but most times loving it. Surrounded by my books, plants, comfort and soul sacredness.

    61. The decades have flown by and each one a memorable lesson, thanks to all my journal and dream record entries that I am cherishing now more than ever, as they help me with my book.

    On a new spiritual path…embracing Feminine gifts.

    … and still questioning life, being the eternal student, the Nature lover, and a dream chaser, still finding out.. yes, who I am. For I believe the quest never ends, though at each pause or stop or look backwards, it is imperative that I love and accept THAT me that I have become, as TM states, or else I cannot continue on my journey.
    And I know I must continue
    on my writer’s journey…
    Thank you, Laura.

    • says

      Raymonde, welcome to the Roadmap blog! I love that you are still actively learning, growing, exploring, and coming to greater and greater acceptance of yourself. I hope to see a lot more of your posts here.

      • Raymonde Savoie says

        Hi Laura ~
        You helped me so much when I was first starting to heal from my abuse (in 1990) and I thank you immensely for giving us “The Courage To Heal” …
        I am so happy to have found you through Linda Myers, and I will continue to be inspired by your work.
        Thank you!
        R

    • Hazel says

      I to ” believe the quest never ends,” and “I know I must continue
      on my writer’s journey…” Thank you for sharing. Perhaps we will both continue to share our journeys, that would be so much fun.

  11. Karla says

    I AM . . .

    I am best in a crisis. He was hospitalized recently to resolve the extensive blood clotting in his neck or chest. He’s out of the hospital now, and we are awaiting the results of the biopsy of his lymph nodes.

    “Your husband’s jugular vein is blocked with clots, from his neck to his superior vena cava.” That’s the main artery that returns blood to the heart. As the admitting doctor said, there were other blood clots on the other side of his body. I’d been to his primary care physician with him two days before, where she’d felt the enlarged lymph nodes and grimly scheduled him for a CAT scan.

    There’s a way that doctors look at you when they are concerned that you have something serious. I don’t know how many times I’ve been to the doctor, for myself, my child, sure that they were going to tell me that whatever it was needed specific treatment, immediately, probably to prevent death or certain mayhem.

    “Rest. Drink Lots of Fluid. Take aspirin for any discomfort.” It’s a virus and it will pass. “Hypochondriac” is most surely written in my chart, maybe “overly protective mother” in my child’s.

    I’d never seen a doctor be so careful, so thoughtful, so deliberately intentional. Then the words, “I think you have lymphoma.”

    At the hospital, I ask him, “Can I call your mother for you?” “Your father?” “Anybody?” He shakes his head. “I don’t want anyone to know.”

    I’ve lived with him for fifteen years, and our child is twelve. We haven’t weathered many family crises together, but I know him, and he’s a turtle in a crisis. Pulls in for protection, hunkers down for the incoming, waits for it to be over.

    I am a . . . I don’t know. A squirrel, maybe? I run around, gathering what I need to for the stark days ahead. I am exceptionally good at synthesizing large amounts of information, sorting out research, distilling the take-away lessons from medical articles, internet sources, consumer boards. I call his father—at this point, not for him, but for me. His father won’t tell him I called. His father will be an unflinching support, a calming presence. He hasn’t visited us in 10 years, because he’s afraid of flying. He tells me he’s getting on a plane the following morning. I think I’ll believe it when I see it. Right now his plans are just another thing for me to manage, and I delegate to no one.

    I’m the one who talks to the doctors—the attending physician, who doesn’t like questions. The oncologist, who has a smarmy smile and an evasive manner. The interventional radiologist, who talks straight and without conveying the impression that we are so fragile that we’ll break to pieces if we hear the word “malignancy.”

    It is a whirlwind. Five days in the hospital, he needs company, reassurance, and food. He refuses to eat from the hospital cafeteria. I bring him homemade chicken soup and take out from his favorite places in town. He’s lost 30 pounds and has almost a complete loss of appetite. I’d do anything to see him chow down. I notice right away if I bring something for myself and just sit with him, he eats much more. We talk. He slides away from denial towards being afraid to die. His biggest worry? “How will you get health insurance?” He’s the one with the steady job and the good benefits. I reply, “Have you heard about this new thing, they call it ObamaCare?”

    He smiles. I have always been able to make him laugh. Actually, there’s another “I am.” I’m pretty funny a lot of the time. He often thinks I’m hilarious, except when I’m detailing the ways that he’s failed me, our son, made a mess of our family through his own selfishness. There in the hospital, I can’t stop myself. I break down, and I weep, more than once, I am sorry to say. These were not Hallmark Card moments. Here’s another “I am.” He’s in the hospital facing a serious condition caused by a life-threatening disease, and I’m hitting him over the head with the harshest stuff I can articulate about what’s he’s been doing wrong. I am . . . the worst person in the world.

    I realize, objectively, that I have a lot of competition for that title. I’m sure I was extraordinarily insensitive and perhaps downright cruel. I can’t even imagine all the judgmental things that I would probably say if I heard someone else had done this to her spouse. But, and here’s my last “I am.” I am someone who tells the truth, at least as I see it.

    • says

      Karla, I was right with you on this roller coaster road. I loved the way you characterized your response to crises–the squirrel and him like the turtle. I loved your honesty in this piece. If I could I would absolve you of all your guilt. You’re doing the best you can and I have complete faith you will continue to do so. I hope writing the truth here helped relieve at least a little of the pressure. How can it be that life goes on and then suddenly, it’s our turn to have our whole world turned inside out? You expressed that reality of all our lives so well. Good luck my friend. Keep me posted–online or off.

      • Karla says

        Laura, thank you for your responses, they mean so much to me. What has helped me the most about writing this here is that I realize that I’m still “the writer” or “a writer” and that I can always turn to the page to help me sort out the truth. I’m not just a person posting for emotional support. I’m doing okay, really I am, and no one here needs to worry that they have to take care of me. Tell me you like my piece and how? That would be great. I realize it’s a holiday coming up and that is unlikely. But that’s okay too.

        Happy New Year, to you and everyone else here. It’s been a great writing year for me, and this blog is one of the reasons why.

    • says

      It’s a holiday time so you won’t be getting as much of a response here as you normally might. I’m sorry about that, but know that we’re all behind you as you move deeper into this crisis.

    • Hazel says

      Karla,
      I think that you are much like the rest of us wives in that: “I am best in a crisis.”

      Really liked these descriptions: “he’s a turtle in a crisis. Pulls in for protection, hunkers down for the incoming, waits for it to be over.” and then: “I am a . . . I don’t know. A squirrel, maybe? I run around, gathering what I need to for the stark days ahead.” I am picturing you as a squirrel, hmmm.

      I feel you have captured perfectly the different faces of the doctors.

      Always be who you are: ” I am someone who tells the truth, at least as I see it.”

      (I am sorry this has come upon your family. Take care in the New Year. Know that you are loved and appreciated here for your voice and your courage.)

    • Terry Gibson says

      Karla, I am glad you shared this here. I read through taking note of the things or qualities you said you are or possess. I decided to ignore the second-to-last statement, especially since you described the sudden change in you, your husband, and son’s lives so far. I always find crises like these to be the toughest in life. How do you prepare a ‘case’ to fight against illness when there’s no forewarning when it’ll pop up on the docket? I’ll be thinking about you all. Wanting to help any way I can. Please feel free to contact me if you like. Take good care. Will watch for updates.

    • Mary Bucklew says

      Hi Karla – BIG HUGS for what little virtual comfort this may provide, but perhaps, facing something this life threatening for him and life changing for you, HONESTY could be a blessing because it is your truth, even if that truth changes as his health changes. No one can/should judge you, even if they own moccasins your size, as each life and relationship is different and sacred. Courage for him and compassion for you as we ease into 2014.

  12. Hina says

    What I already am is a survivor of violence, a champion of rights.

    What I already am is a woman who struggles with the current deceit, cruelty, betrayal and inauthenticity of my family, and have done for so many years.

    Although I am waking up, trying to discover a new way to care for me through it.

    What I already am is a writer, a teller of stories real and brutal, imagined and magical.

    What I already am is a loyal lover and friend, with courage that wont bend.

    I follow through to the end.

    What I already am is exhausted by suffering and strife, that goes on in so many lives.

    When will it stop? when will it end?

    Will all this deliver a friend I can depend?

    It hurts my heart, my soul in agony.

    Start the healing, start the grace. Bring on Happiness so that I may wear that on my face.

    What I already am, and I must remind myself of this, is that I have accomplished and challenged and made the very best of this.

    My battles have been fought and I’ve vanquished a lot.

    Still shadows haunt me, extra pressures fill my mind, of memories I cant ever leave behind.

    What I already am is a woman who stands as strong as she can.

    Despite low support, I do the best that I can.

    • says

      Hina, your strength and your vulnerability both shine through this piece. It was a vivid portrait of where you currently stand in life. Thanks for your honest true words.

      • Hina says

        Thanks Laura, your comment means so much, I am constantly worried I’m being misunderstood, but I realise that just stems from my family. So your comment that you ‘get me’ means so much.

    • Ilana says

      Hinda- So beautifully rendered. I feel your pain and it shines through this piece so elegantly. There is strength in your power to express yourself so eloquently. I, too, am a survivor. You are not alone. Thank you for posting. Ilana

      • Hina says

        Ilana, thanks so much for saying it was eloquent, I feel so all over the place with this bit. Thanks too for sharing you are a survivor and for standing with me.. it feels good to know I am not alone.
        Hina (not Hinda- but happens all the time ;) )

    • Hazel says

      Hina,
      Thank you for sharing this picture of you as woman. I like your very last phrase, “I do the best that I can.” who could expect any more?

  13. Deb says

    I am me, I am the girl who lived through abuse and rape, the girl who fought to stay alive yet cried when she failed to die, the girl who eventually spoke out loud!

    I am the one who broke the silence and was accused of breaking the family, the one who refused to be quiet no matter the cost!

    I am the woman who broke the patterns and showed my children love, the woman who gave her children voice and taught them how to grow!

    I am the strength and the power who now laughs in the face of all those who have harmed me for they no longer have a hold!

  14. Deb says

    I remembered another thing that I am.

    I am the woman who had her head shaved in April to raise £550 for the MS society, to support her husband who lives with MS every day x

  15. Bobbie Anne says

    I already am blessed to be one of and among such wonderful people! You are already such a joy and so special to me. My heartfelt thanks to each
    and everyone of you. :-)

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