Category Archives: the view from here

Dementia Grief.

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Mr. Maui

What if you woke up one day and a bunch of your friends showed up announced to take you out for the day to have fun, and then at the end of the day they took you to a totally different place and told you that this is where you would be living from now on and that you could not return to your old life?

This is what just happened to a long-time friend of mine. He has early-onset dementia and has been struggling to live in the “regular” world for a while. He has steadily become more forgetful in the past few years, to the point of not even remembering me the last time I went to visit him.

I totally understand and support the move his sisters and friends carefully arranged for his benefit. And I know absolutely that he will be taken care of now. I feel better about him now, knowing he is in a memory care facility that will ensure his comfort and safety.

And I wonder how much he understands and remembers about his former life. Does he realize that he is never going back to the house he has owned for over 40 years; does he remember his cat of eight years and does he know they will likely not see each other again? His house is being cleaned to get ready for an estate sale. Then the house itself will be sold.

What does he know and not know? What does he remember and not? That is the insidious nature of dementia, isn’t it? And everyone knows, according to the standard safe practices of our day, that the best thing for those with dementia is to, at some point, make sure the dementia-sufferer is kept as safe and as happy as possible.

When I last saw him, he was quite frustrated and agitated. He was paranoid, as anyone would be, I suppose, who can’t remember people and events. I mean if you can’t remember where you put your shoes, and you have looked everywhere, then maybe you really would begin to think that someone is coming into your house to take your shoes. What other explanation would there be if you can’t remember that you can’t remember, if you are trusting yourself, but don’t remember that you can’t trust yourself anymore?

I have a deep fear of dementia, I think, because that last paragraph gives me the actual chills. And we, ourselves, at some point, would never really know if we have dementia or not. We are at the mercy of those around us. And that involves great trust, doesn’t it?

Wow.

He is an introvert, and he valued living by himself, spending whole days in silence, alone. My sincere hope for him at this point is that he actually doesn’t remember too much. Because if he does, I know he is grieving mightily. If he remembers too much, then I know he is grieving the loss of his privacy, his home, his kitty, his huge workshop with all of his wood-working equipment, and his life.

Maybe it’s just me grieving for him. Maybe – hopefully – it’s just me that is trying to fill the hole in the universe that was his life. Maybe. I hope. I pray.

Meanwhile, my kitty has been returned. He went to live with my friend about 8 years ago when Maui was 5 years old. And now he is back with me. I lost my last pet in April, and now Maui is filling the house with lovely, sweet kitty energy again. I feel him missing my friend, so I cuddle him close and leave my tears in his fur. Life cycles around and around us, doesn’t it?

The trick is, can we ride that cycle with grace and humor and acceptance, or do we fight it and make ourselves and everyone around us miserable?

I don’t know what to do right now except mourn for my friend and be happy and relieved for him all at the same time. The Universe marches on, and time rushes at us like a metal measuring tape rushing back to its little shiny metal house we’re holding, rolling itself up at high speed, ready to snap off a finger if we’re not careful.

Godspeed, Stephen.

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Listening to Sorrow.

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Sorrow is a weird thing. It can come from so many sources—conscious and not—and blindside you with a smack to the back of the head before you can figure out what is happening.

Recently I was rereading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Near the end of the book she describes a wonderful meditation. Every time I read the book, I do some form of that meditation, because it is so informative.

She describes how she sat in silence and asked all of her sorrows to come and present themselves to her. She let them come, one by one, listening to them, feeling the sorrow as if each were happening for the first time. Sorrows came from her entire lifetime.

She listened to each and then told each one, “I hear you. I see you. Now come into my heart and rest.” And each sorrow moved into her heart. She then went through all her anger, all of her shame.

It’s a very informative, enlightening meditation. It is not an easy one to do, but I highly recommend it.

So I began with sorrow, as usual. I asked them to line up and present themselves. One by one, they came, telling me of their pain, the grief and sadness. They started in my childhood and marched forward in time. The death of my sister, my divorce, the death of pets…

One relived the grief of giving my daughter away in marriage a year ago. Because even though I love her husband as my own son, I still feel pain and sorrow at “losing” my only daughter. And then a pain came that I couldn’t readily identify. It took me a few seconds to recognize it.

It was the pain of being hated. That surprised me. I hadn’t expected to feel pain at being hated.

Brene Brown talks about how we are hardwired for connection and belonging, and how even though many of us talk about how we don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks, that is not what we are wired for. It’s important to have a few folks whose opinions we do care about.

So I sat with the sorrow of being hated, listened in surprise at the pain. There was a lot of pain.

I’ve been having to deal with a lot of hate coming my way lately. And I’ve been trying to brush it off, to sink inside myself in response to find the stillness, the peace that knows no hate. I thought it was working. Apparently, and unbeknownst to me, a part of me was grieving despite my best efforts to “rise above it all.”

I listened to Jeannie Zandi talk on Sunday about how we, as humans, often try to worm our way up or down in response to hate, a crisis, the natural “wreak” of human life. Up, to rise above the fray of humanness and become as close to god-like as we can; or down, to vilify our actions, thoughts, and emotions as “sinful” or lacking in faith in some way.

Which is exactly what I been trying my best to do:  worming my way up to hopefully not feel the sorrow of being hated. It is very interesting to me that it was not working. I also find it interesting that I was grieving on a level that my conscious mind was not aware of. The worming up was not reaching my heart of proverbial hearts; it was only my mind that believed it.

So now I breath into that sorrow, asking it to reveal itself to me. I invite it into my heart to rest. I promise it respite, and I promise it I will not try to rise above an issue that needs my attention.

I also make a promise to myself: speak up to the haters. Because even though I cannot stop the haters, I can voice my discontent. I can tell the haters to fuck off. I can be a human with a need to belong, a need to connect—a human that feels pain at being hated. I can feel the pain. Then I can turn to those who love me, knowing I am loved, knowing I belong. And also knowing I have not “sinned” or been unfaithful.

This human condition is sloppy at best. Sublime occasionally. Sucky quite often. We are not gods; we are not demons.

In response to my new promise to myself, I sent an email to a long-time hater, telling her I was tired of her disrespect and passive aggressive behavior toward me. I told her stop it immediately. I don’t know if she will stop or not. I do know that a whole world of anger lifted off of me when I clicked “send,” and I felt free.

Your Scented Plug-in & Laundry Detergent Contain Cancer-Causing Ingredients.

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We are traveling, and I am sick. I’m sick because everywhere we stay, they use Glade Plug-ins and other myriad products that contain synthetic/petrochemical fragrance.

We are staying in Air BnB’s. I have a constant headache, dizziness, burning eyes, skin, and throat. I also have a difficult time thinking and talking – my brain does not function correctly when poisoned by this shit. And after being exposed to this crap for a while, it starts to produce anxiety – and anger – in me.

I did not have this problem when we traveled to Panama last year. In Panama, we stayed in Air BnB’s also and a couple of hotel rooms.

I use mostly unscented – or naturally scented – products at home, because I am allergic to synthetic solvents and chemicals. I have been diagnosed as “chemically sensitive.” And I try and keep products to a minimum.

It is my goal to have one or two products throughout the house that do everything – from washing dishes to cleaning the toilets. Mostly I use Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds – usually diluted. It contains spruce essential oil, so is not completely scent free, but it is mild and all-natural.

I have not used body soap for years. And I do not stink. I smell like a human. I would bet that you have no fucking idea what a human really smells like, do you? And you don’t know, because all your life you have been using synthetically-fragranced products in every part of your life.

Why is America obsessed with adding synthetic fragrance to absolutely everything? Are we so afraid of what we, as humans, actually smell like? There is the constant brainwashing – via commercials – that everything in our world must smell “fresh” – whatever the fuck that means. And that “freshness” can only, apparently, be achieved via synthetic means – petrochemically.

Think about all the scented products you use. Here are just the few I can think of right now:  bath soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, bath salts, bath oils, bubble bath, bath bombs, lotions – for body and face (and then there are the “specialty” lotions and creams for just your elbows, or only for under the eyes, etc.), cosmetics (base, powder, eye shadow, eye pencils, mascara, eye liner, lipstick, lip gloss, etc.), perfume, cologne, deodorant (ironic), antiperspirant (which contains aluminum, along with the petrochemicals), body powder, foot powder, foot spray, vaginal products (spray, douche, powder), hair spray, hair gel, hair mousse, hair oil, hair pomade, body sprays, aftershave lotion, shave cream, shave lotions (for before, during, and after shaving).

These all have added fake/synthetic scents – and they usually all have difference scents.

Meaning, all of your different product scents are competing with each other and creating a petrochemical cloud on and around you everywhere you go. Because of you, I sometimes can’t eat at restaurants, can’t sit through concerts, etc.

Now think about all the household products that have scent added or are toxic in and of themselves, because of the ingredients they contain. There are hundreds of cleaners – for the sink, the toilet bowl, the bathtub, for floors, for the kitchen only, for the deck and driveway, the car, etc., laundry products (detergent, softeners, dryer sheets, etc.), dish soap, dishwasher soap, dishwasher additives for spot-free dishes, etc. There are all the pesticides made specifically for home use. One for ants, another for roaches, another for wasps and hornets. Let’s not leave out mice and rats and termites.

How many products do we actually need that say they clean, disinfect, and “freshen” the toilet bowl, your house, your body?

Then there are the plug-ins, the sprays, the diffusers, the scented candles, the “deodorizers” that have nothing to do with actually deodorizing. Let’s be clear here:  They do not get rid of odors. They cover up odors. They numb your olfactory system so completely that you become unable to smell anything – including the synthetic fragrances themselves, which makes us use even more of them.

Toxic. Poison. Synthetic.

You are killing brain cells, people. You are killing your children’s brain cells too.

And if you want to kill your own brain cells, that’s up to you. But you are also killing everyone else’s when you go out in public. “The problem with fragrance products is not the scent but the properties of synthetic chemicals that they are derived from such as petroleum or coal tar.”

The American Society of Business and Behavioral Sciences released a PDF document called FRAGRANCE IN THE WORKPLACE IS THE NEW SECOND-HAND SMOKE which says, “A recent analysis of 6 top selling laundry products and air fresheners found ‘nearly 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were emitted from the products and five of the six products emitted one or more carcinogenic hazardous air pollutants which the Environmental Protection Agency considers to have no safe exposure level’ (Steineman, 2008).”

In my opinion, it is amazing that we are not all chemically sensitive. We have overloaded our neurons so completely with synthetic shit (of all varieties), it’s a wonder we can still function at all.

I’m tired of being sick so everyone else can have sheets, towels, clothes, skin, hair, breath, carpet, cars, homes, businesses, armpits, and lives that smell like a fake “spring meadow.” WTF, people? Are you that fucking afraid to smell reality?!

Why is America (is it everywhere else too?) obsessed with this shit?!

I can’t go outside my home without being bombarded by your stinky, chemical, synthetic, solvent, brain-killing, cancer-producing, skin-burning, throat-closing bullshit assaulting me. Do you really need to wear all that perfume? Do you really need eye-wateringly strong clothes detergent? What the hell are you afraid of?

Please have a look at the National Toxic Encephalopathy Foundation’s website and educate yourself on the health damaging effects of synthetic fragrances.

Also take a look at Women’s Voices for the Earth to find out, besides stopping using poisons on your body, your children, and in your home, what you can do to help stop this synthetic petrochemical assault.

You are wearing so much perfume and products that when you walk in, I have to leave to be able to breathe, to be able to function.

And all Air BnB owners, for God’s sake, STOP with the fucking Plug-ins! At one place we stayed, that was not over 600 square feet, their were two of them, for cripe’s sake.

Owners, you are just inviting a law suit, too, with that shit, by the way. That same PDF notes: “There have been many lawsuits pertaining to MCS and synthetic fragrance sensitivity filed using the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.”

And if you absolutely must have fragrance in your life, have you ever thought about the fact that there are actually natural fragrances and methods that you could be using? Used responsibly, they will not kill brain cells or make you and your children sick.

Finding Beauty Again.

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My daughter recently got married to a wonderful, wonderful young man.

They had dated—and even lived together part of the time—for a little over four years. The proposal, the engagement, the planning, the wedding shower, and the wedding were beautiful things to behold, as my daughter set about, in her very organized (learned from me?) way, to make the wedding of her dreams manifest.

And it worked. Her dad helped them some with the money part, but she and her man paid for most of it. She planned and worked and created for almost two years, and it was the most beautiful wedding I have ever been too.

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(I have intimate knowledge of both of these dresses, as I did all of the alterations—and additions—to make hers fit her so beautifully, and I made mine from scratch.)

It was fun, loving, and profound. I got to connect again with my brother—who I have not seen or talked to in 17 years. I got to authentically and really connect with my daughter’s dad, who I have not been married to since my daughter was about two years old (that’s about 26 years ago now). I got to “give” my daughter to a trustworthy, hard working, good, good man. I got to see my child and her new husband surrounding by so much love and admiration and respect.

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I am so very happy, happy, happy for—and with—her. Throughout her life, she has constantly amazed and delighted me (dare I say? she might be the perfect daughter!).

And I am devastated. Emotionally wrung out. Read: crying jags, depression, anxiety, joy, anger, confusion, raw, relief. Etc.

I am back to where I was when she moved three minutes (literally three minutes from my house, driving) away into a condo from where she went to college to get her undergrad. I was devastated.

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At that time, I spent a lot of time to try and figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my now-on-the-tail-end-of life. I started my Etsy shop, I started dating again, etc.

Apparently, it’s time to do that again. And I don’t want to. But I will. I am.

I remind myself, with this latest emotional tornado, that nothing has changed with her and her man. They still live in the house they bought a few months ago, in the same place, work at the same place, do the same things, etc., etc., etc. I talk to her the same amount. I still see the lovely photos of them on Facebook on their adventures.

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The only difference? She added a new (beautiful!) ring to her left hand. She is not even going to legally change her last name until next year, because they are traveling internationally part of the rest of this year and already have tickets booked in her maiden name.

But still I feel like I have somehow “lost” my only child. . . tears threaten every time I think about it too much.

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And now here I go again! Who am I? Am I no longer a mom? What kind of mom am I now? What do I want to do with my life? Why is this so hard?

Help is on the Way?

On Friday mornings, I usually take some time to wander around the internet and find inspiring blogs and websites. I sit with my morning smoothie and let myself be lead to wherever I land. I veg, relax, take my time, enjoy myself.

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This morning I found a blessing of a blog, and much of it sounded like I was reading my own mail. I am in love with Tamera Beardsley‘s lovely, authentic, hit-me-in-the-heart blog. I want to run away with her blog and get married to it on a beach somewhere with just the starry night as our witness.

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Check out her blog and be inspired and blessed and renewed—and humbled—by her strength, her insights, and her willingness to be vulnerable. I took her advice and once again started taking photos of things I find beautiful.

So, with her blog as a new inspiration, and with my recent tornado still whirling around me, I must begin again to define myself. Ugh! And. Yay! (But really, Ugh!)

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Today I am going to immerse myself in upcycled fabrics and create a pair of “don’t get out of bed pants” out of a thrift store sheet—or maybe a table cloth (pattern from Tamera Frampton), because that’s how I feel these days. I’d rather just stay in bed—but when I can’t, I’d rather be creating.

Let’s see where this journey takes me this time. . . (she said nervously).

Love and light and Godspeed, my lovelies.

What is your emotional journey these days?

Perfectionism, the 20-ton Shield.

“When perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun. And fear is the annoying backseat driver.” ~Brene Brown

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I do not like reminders—about anything. I’ve got to be perfect, so how can I do that if you keep reminding me that I’m not? Even if I have already done that thing you are reminding me about, I don’t like the reminder. It implies that I am not perfect, that you think I forgot something—or that I don’t know something I’m supposed to.

 

When reminded of anything, I tend to think things like, “Of course I already did that! What?! Do you think I’m stupid?!” Or, “No, I haven’t done that thing yet, but I’m not so stupid as to forget it!” Even though I may have forgotten it.

 

Brene Brown says that perfectionism is about fear. In her research on shame and vulnerability, she has discovered a few things about perfectionism that ring true for me.

 

“If I look perfect, live perfect, and work perfect, I can avoid or minimize criticism, blame, and ridicule. I won’t get hurt.”

 

And while it may keep us from getting hurt, it also keeps us from being seen. Perfectionism is concern with what other people think instead of me doing what I think is right for me and striving for my own personal excellence. And as she points out, “You can never do something completely brave if you’re wearing the straitjacket of ‘what will people think.'” She calls perfectionism the 20-ton shield, because we use perfectionism to try and shield ourselves from hurt, vulnerability, shame, etc.

 

Perfectionism is trying to be beyond judgement, because being judged is too scary. But of course, there’s no such thing as a nonjudgmental world. And the irony of being a perfectionist is this: It makes me super judge-y—of others—and especially of myself.

 

My perfectionism probably comes from a not so pleasant childhood, where the only way to get positive attention was to be super perfect. And everything was a competition, therefore. I competed against my siblings, my classmates, teammates, teachers—the whole world—to try and be validated in some way that was good and positive. It was the only way I felt I had any worth. But as all responsible adults hopefully figure out at some point, it’s up to me to fix this shit.

 

“It’s not your fault you’re fucked up. It’s your fault if you stay fucked up, but the foundation of your fuckedupednes is something that’s been passed down through generations of your family, like a coat of arms, or a killer cornbread recipe…” ~out of the You are a Badass calendar, January 5, 2018

 

The impetus for me to begin thinking about my perfectionist tendencies came a few weeks ago when, during meditation, I heard, “What if you were good enough, Grace, right now and just as you are?” I felt my whole being—body, mind, spirit, and emotions—relax. And I really really really really really liked that unexpected relaxation. It felt so very foreign, but so very good. Because as a perfectionist, vigilance is a way of life—the only way. And it is absolutely exhausting!

 

It felt like taking off that stiff, painful, full-body, pinching girdle that has been holding everything in and up my entire life and getting to finally take a full breath and letting the cellulite fall where it may. But it was more than that too, because not only did it feel good, I flirted with the idea of being okay with all those freed rolls of fat—and even finding them beautiful. (Did I mention the really liking it thing?)

 

Just in case you have not been cursed with perfectionist tendencies and are curious, the perfectionist manifesto goes something like this. (Insert chronic pounding heart, elevated blood pressure, upset stomach/gut, your usual and favorite anxiety symptoms here) I can’t mess up. I can’t get it wrong. I can’t be wrong. I can’t make mistakes. I must keep up appearances. I must keep going. I must not let them see how upset I am. I must look good. I must appear to feel good. I must appear to be happy. I must not appear to be weak. I must be strong. I must always appear to be in control—especially when I am not. I. Cannot. Let. Down. My. Defenses. What will people think?!

 

And if by some horrible (normal), circumstance, I am wrong or make a mistake and my tight little weird world starts to tilt out of control? I can’t admit that—because that would mean I have no worth, wouldn’t it, if I can’t keep my shit together?

 

Then, my historical—and dysfunctional—recovery system consists of some variation of:  When confronted with making a mistake or being wrong or being out of control, make a joke of it, “Oh, I meant to do that,” with as much (covertly frantic!) manufactured-on-the-spot practical humility and sincerity as possible. Blame someone—even myself. Every mistake is a chance to find someone to blame, right? Get defensive and angry and then slide right into martyrdom and throw it back at the other person (blaming, again), “What, I can’t make mistakes? Why are you always such a hard-ass? Can’t I be human and make mistakes? Are you being a bully?”

 

Wow. Ouch. I cannot express how embarrassing this shit is.

 

“In those areas where we feel most vulnerable to shame—those are the areas we’ll be dealing with perfectionism.” ~Brene Brown

 

To keep from going into shame about how much of a perfectionist I actually am, I remind myself that I am in good company. Brene Brown admits to being a perfectionist too. “I’m like a recovering perfectionist. For me it’s like one day at a time,” she says. Me too. All I can do is be aware of it and stop it in its tracks when I experience it.

 

I don’t expect to necessarily be able to “cure” myself of perfectionism. If the queen of all things vulnerable and shameful, Brene Brown, talks about taking her perfectionism one day at a time, what chance do I have? What I do expect is to always be aware of it, to stay in awareness and know I have those tendencies. And to be aware of the areas where shame is likely for me, and know that my perfectionism will be strong in those instances when a shame button gets pushed. It would also be a great thing to get past my shame, at some point, at being a perfectionist—maybe even be able to develop some sense of humor about it.

 

So far, the thing that is working for me? I feel the defensiveness and impulse to make someone else feel inferior (because that keeps me superior and perfect, right? Oy!), and I make myself stop, drop, and breathe before I open my big mouth. Then I think of that voice, that sentence, in my head, “What if you were good enough, Grace, right now and just as you are?” And I am able to relax, tell myself, “Okay, this is how my perfectionism manifests itself,” smile, and speak in a way that still feels defensive, but at least doesn’t sound defensive and superior as it comes out.

 

I am hoping to reach a point where I don’t even feel the defensiveness. A girl can dream, right? Because as a perfectionist, as someone trying to avoid being less-than, making mistakes, being wrong, etc., it is actually hard to admit I am less than perfect by having the flaw of being a perfectionist. Hay-suse! So, into the looking glass we go—again (ugh!).

 

Hello, my name is Grace, and I’m a perfectionist.

The Story I am Making Up in My Head.

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“Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.” ~Maggie Kuhn, Social Activist

When we allow for vulnerability and reach out to others, offering our love, offering our real self, and people ignore, shame, or reject us, it is easy to feel crushed. It is easy to decide to let that feeling of being crushed keep us from showing up.

And it feels like self-preservation to withdraw and shut down—to lock that door to our heart. We are embarrassed, crushed—sometimes even ashamed, because we dared to think we were worthy of connection and love and that person’s reaction (or lack thereof) seems to have proven those things untrue.

But remember that when we do shut down and withdraw from life, love, and people, we also withdraw from the self. We shut down our connection not only to other people and their love, we also shut down our connection to Source and to our big “S” self.

Brene Brown’s research has shown us that when we numb the bad things, we also numb the good stuff too. We cannot selectively numb ourselves.

So that act of extreme courage it takes to allow yourself to be vulnerable again after being rejected and feeling crushed, is actually an essential, necessary act. It is what we must do—unless we want to end up walking through life like a zombie.

It has to be done. We have to allow vulnerability again. Even in the face of possible repeated rejection. Otherwise, we cannot live that wholehearted, albeit painful, life we desire—because we would be closing the door to joy along with the pain.

And what about those people who continue to reject and shame me? Why would I continue to be around them? And are they really rejecting me or is that just the story I am making up in my own head?

In her book, Rising Strong, Dr. Brown introduces a brilliant life hack that has proven so very useful, simple—and non-threatening. She talks about how it might be beneficial to do a bit of spelunking into our first, knee-jerk reaction to find out what button is actually being pushed. Then, instead of choosing to believe those stores and be angry/hurt/shamed, she suggests we (kindly) share the stories we are making up in our own minds.

She even suggests we use those very words, “The story I’m making up in my head when I felt you mentally withdraw from me is that you think I’m a bad mother because I forgot it was my day to pick up the kids.”

Then the other person is invited to share the story they are making up in their head. This hack is proving itself invaluable, because it means I don’t have to accuse anyone of anything. Instead, I am readily admitting I am probably not correct and please correct me if that is the case, but here’s what my over-active left amydala is telling me.

So instead of an accusation, it becomes a conversation about how real and vulnerable we are trying to be and how we are sometimes incorrect about each other, about life, about how your brain works differently from mine—and about how I fit into your life, thoughts, and heart.

Because I am finding when I share my made-up stories, I find out that they are mostly incorrect. So it’s not that you think I am a bad mom. Instead, you explain, you were preoccupied in thinking about the kids’ pick-up schedule and whether you could manage to pick them up one more day a week in order to give me some more wiggle room in my own schedule.

In other words, you were actually trying to help me.

What stories are you making up in your own head—about me, about yourself, about your partner, your boss, your child, the friend who seemed curt with you the last time you talked?

How Women Routinely Castrate Men.

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A few weeks ago I witnessed something that broke my heart.

A watched and listened as a mom emasculated two preschool boys. I was horrified. They looked unaffected by it, but that made me even sadder, because that told me they are accustomed to it.

I watch emasculation of men happening all the time. And it breaks my heart every time. But this was especially horrible to me, because they were so young. Because even when young, males still need the same things from us, as women, as they do when they are older. They need our trust and appreciation. They need us to allow them to make us happy.

Males just want to make us happy.

I used to blindly emasculate men too, gawd help me. I didn’t know anything different. I never questioned my treatment of men and my beliefs about them as I was growing up, as I was having relationships with them – relationships of all kinds.

This mom was subbing for an absent teacher and therefore didn’t know the usual preschool routine. She came in the office with them and said, “These guys are telling me the recycling goes in here, but I think they’re lying to me.” She looked at me in expectation, expecting me to sympathize with her, to join her in emasculating them.

That’s what we are taught to do, isn’t it, ladies? We are socialized into joining together against males, no matter their age. We are expected to roll our eyes too when women express their disappointment with their man, or men in general.

I wonder if I had a horrified look on my face. I tried to keep it neutral as I defended them, “Of course they aren’t lying! This is where the recycling goes.” I looked at them and smiled, trying to let them know that I trusted them even if she didn’t. In their minds, I didn’t want to be lumped into the classification of adults, and adult women, who treat them so horribly.

Normally they deliver the recycling by themselves without an adult escort. They have been bringing the recycling in all year. Of course they know what they’re doing.

I encouraged them to proceed, but she was not done, apparently, because she insisted on following them, saying, “It can’t go in there! Surely not,” as they were walking to the closet that holds the recycle bin. I may have physically cringed at that, I’m not sure. I was trying to remain calm, but inwardly, I was angry and horrified.

“Yes,” I said as I looked pointedly at her, hoping she would back off, “They know what they are doing.” It continued though, because she followed them into the closet and stood over them as they emptied their full recycle bag into the bin and said, “Are you doing it right?” with disdain in her voice.

I felt sick to my stomach and wanted to cry, and was actually finding it difficult not to.

They were finally done, and I thanked them with smiles and words of appreciation at the successful completion of their usual task, trying to convey my confidence and trust in them. They left, and I let myself cry.

So it begins as soon as they are born, I guess, doesn’t it? In our society (does it happen all over the planet too?), as females, we are taught to emasculate males. We are taught they can’t be trusted to do anything the “right” way. We are taught they are fuck-ups most of the time. We are taught that the emasculation of males is not only okay, it is the norm, and it is expected.

We are also taught to look for their “mistakes”—those times that they don’t do something the way we think they should—and we are taught to emasculate them by pointing it out in the most embarrassing, worst way possible—usually in front of other people. Is this supposed to “put them in their place” somehow? Or teach them to do it the “right” way?

More Ways we Emasculate Men

Rolling our eyes at him and/or his behavior

Not accepting help from him (opening doors, etc.)

Expecting him to think like a woman

Not trusting him

Belittling him for doing things the way he does them (instead of the way a woman would do it)

Not listening

Taking over something and doing it ourselves, because he is not doing it “right” or in the time we think he should

Never letting him win – never letting him make us happy

Not appreciating him for being a man and being himself

Interrupting him when he talks

Interrupting him when he is focused and working

Expecting, and even asking, him to think/act/talk/argue like a woman

Not appreciating those things that make him masculine:  being driven, single-focused, competitive, etc.

Not realizing he is a hero and not treating him like the hero he is

Competing with him instead of trusting him

Making passive aggressive “jokes” about him or his behavior—especially when others are present

Tacitly or openly criticizing him in front of others and attempting to get others to join you in the criticism

Treating him like a child

Not showing our appreciation, love, acceptance

Assume criticism motivates a man when only appreciation will do that

Not Following the Trend

If, as a woman, you decide not to participate in the emasculation of men, you are seen as a traitor. And worse, if you decide to actually defend men, you are seen as the enemy—like men—someone who cannot be trusted.

A couple of years ago, when I began studying men, women and relationships, I came across the mother of all relationship books, The Queen’s Code, by Alison Armstrong. This book represents the results of her research of over 25 years into men, women and relationships. It is presented as a novel, a story, but it really is the compilation of her research.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It should be required reading for everyone—as early as grade school—especially for females.

Those couple of years ago, I took the Queen’s Code vow. I gave up the “right” to emasculate men. Because most women do see it as their right to treat men so horribly, to crush them, to emasculate them. I gave up my right to defend the emasculation of men. I laid down my sarcasm, my distrust, my habits, my self-righteous anger, my sword, my ignorance of men.

I began exploring the idea: What if men actually have a good reason for everything they do and the way they do it? What if the way a woman would do something is not the only fucking way to do something?!?!

The Queen’s Code is a code of honor and a code of conduct. To embrace the code is to embrace men, to embrace their inherent goodness and honesty, to embrace them as teachers, trainers and as the incredible support and providers that they are.

So ladies, I will not join you in emasculating men. I will not roll my eyes at them ever again. I will not tolerate you doing it either. I will leave the conversation. I will defend them. I will treat them with the respect, appreciation and trust they deserve.

And I am angry that those two little men were treated so off-handedly horribly in my office. I am angry that this is the norm. I am angry that no one seems to be offended by this. I am angry that no is paying attention. I am angry that this happens all the time, every day, everywhere. I am angry that that mom has no conscious idea of what she did (and is undoubtedly still doing). I am angry with myself that I spent so much of my life in that same category. I am angry that when I defend men I am treated as a traitor. I am angry at women. I am angry at our society that thinks this is okay. I am angry when I watch a movie or a TV show and see the castration of men by women that passes for humor.

I am angry.

Ladies, let’s give it up. Let’s wise up. Let’s educate ourselves.

Gentlemen, I’m sorry. Please forgive me for being that self-righteous, emasculating, blind, ignorant bitch for so much of my life.

At elephant journal:  Ladies, Let’s Stop Emasculating Men.