Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You

Psychologists tell us that we have three identities: Who we think we are, who we really are, and who we are as other people see us. Sometimes we like the three “Whos,” and sometimes we don’t.  Trying to get to the bottom of these differences in personae has made psychiatrists rich for years. Having three distinct personal realities becomes even more complicated when we realize that everyone else is in the same boat. There’s a big difference between knowing about a person and really knowing that person. Our friends, partners, lovers, colleagues, and families may know that we love clog dancing, breakfast scrapple, the subtle comedy stylings of Andrew Dice Clay, and mud wrestling, but they only know these things because of who we are when we are with them. When you are by yourself, you may be an entirely different person.

Subconsciously, we all turn into someone else to adapt to the needs and demands of others in all of our associations.  In the case of a toxic relationship this becomes even more apparent as we do anything it takes to save the relationship or, in some extreme cases, survive.  We lose all three of our identities; we lose ourselves completely because, simply put, it is easier to be someone else.  When you finally leave the relationship, you can begin to regain your identity, your purpose, and your sense of self.  The partner in this toxic relationship will no longer recognize you, associating the person you became to exist peacefully with him or her as the person you really are, if that makes sense.  Basically, he or she never knew the real you. Oh, they probably did at first, at the beginning of the relationship … before you were forced to morph into an overly accommodating persona simply to retain your sanity. Affronted at your newfound “change” once you’re on your own, this person will in turn pass a false perception of you on to others, making it seem as if who you really are NOW is the fake face while who you WERE in the relationship is the truth.

This can be hurtful – or at the least, annoying – to the one who is now accused of being fake when he or she is simply returning to a sense of normalcy. Normalcy being the key word. The vengeful ex will ridicule your attempts to improve yourself as putting on some sort of show, never realizing that you gave up all of the hobbies and activities that you enjoyed pre-relationship simply to appease him or her.  The only reality about you that they know is the one they have built up in their heads; they don’t know the real you … the happy you.  They see you living your life and tell people, “That’s not at all like her.  Who is she trying to fool?”

With possibly some exceptions, the results of this aggravating situation carry over into any friends that you met while in the toxic relationship.  They have only met the personality that you had morphed into to keep the relationship steady and peaceful.  In turn, you begin to have a bit of shame and self-recrimination as you recall all of the things you did to keep up the false façade.  “What the hell was I thinking?  I hate watching Monday Night Football while doing Jagermeister shots!”  Well, the football part, anyway.

You would think that being with your family would be a release from the expectations of having to morph into someone else, but that’s not true, either, is it?  Although your family thinks they know you better than anyone else, they also have a biased perception, for better or worse.  Think of how often you have to bite your tongue and alter your behavior and views to keep peace during holiday dinners and family get-togethers.

The 21st century has added yet another dynamic in the search for true identities:  Social Media.  If you think you can be yourself online, think again.  How many times have you stopped yourself from posting a status because you are afraid of people’s perception of you changing?  The only opinion your cyber friends can make about you is based on your words as they appear on Facebook or messages through email or text.  Even posting videos, FaceTiming or Skype will not allow you to present the real you; would you appear in a video wearing your favorite flannel pajamas, hair uncombed, or for women, with no make-up on? This gets even more complicated with the advent of online dating.  You are both on your best behavior and acting or reacting in a way you think the other person would appreciate.  For women, especially single moms, you feel as if you are interviewing for the coveted position of “Girlfriend” in a large company.  The other person has created an image of you based not just on the information you present to them, but also their imagination and desires.  No matter how honest or upfront you try to be, eventually some aspect of your personality emerges that doesn’t fit in with the “you” they have imagined.  They feel hurt and betrayed, and rather than accept you at face value, they allow the relationship to end and continue forward in search of the next candidate.  While this happens to women all the time, I’m sure men can relate as well.

I know this has been a long and rambling post, and I hope that I’ve made a little bit of sense. There’s one truth to all of this and that is this: There is only one person qualified to say they know who you really are, and that is YOU. Don’t let someone else make judgments and certainly don’t critique yourself based on someone else’s opinion of you … because they don’t know the whole story of you.  Half the time, if I ask myself who I really am, I have no clue how to answer.  But that’s my right, and no one else’s.

Abandonment Issues

Okay, I know I’ve been quiet the past few days – the only excuse I have is, it’s been a bit chaotic on my side of the world. As excuses go, that one’s not too shabby. But have no fear, you’ll soon be regaled with the craziness that is my life. Lucky you! In the meantime, I thought I would leave you with a rant. I haven’t ranted in a while, so face it, we’re due.

I have to say that every now and then, something comes along that makes me wonder if humans are truly the most evolved species, as experts claim.    Take this incident, for example … dogs abandoned on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, by their despicable owner.

This hurts my heart on so many levels.  Those dogs are terrified, and looking to their owner for direction.  You can see the confusion in their eyes when she leaves them.  How heartless do you have to be to take an innocent animal who depends on you and dump them on the side of the road?

The look on the woman’s face speaks volumes about her personally.  She doesn’t have an ounce of regret in her expression.  The only thing she regrets, I’m sure, is being caught by the Good Samaritan.

Was it a boyfriend, making her choose between the dogs and himself?  Sorry, sir, you would lose that gamble every time if it was me. Maybe she just got tired of caring for them or couldn’t afford to feed them any longer.  Was she too proud to take them to the shelter?  How did she think leaving them on the side of the road was any better?

I find it interesting that she took one of the dogs to the local shelter after she had dumped them.  I’d like to think she had a twinge of conscience, a moment of humanity, or a sense of guilt and went back to find them.

More likely, though, she probably was afraid that she would be caught and punished for her thoughtless, selfish behavior if she didn’t turn herself in voluntarily.  I am not sure anything close to a soul exists in someone who would do this. Quite frankly, I also blame the driver … not as much as the owner, mind, but still. How could they witness what was happening and say nothing, do nothing?

If it sounds like I’m being harsh, well, yeah, I am.

I can’t imagine living in a world where people leave babies in dumpsters, kill each other because one driver cut off another on the freeway, and abandon animals.  This is not the world I want to wake up to.  Every morning I turn on the news, open social media, or listen to a morning show on the radio hoping that the day before would be free of atrocity and heartbreak.

And every morning, I am thoroughly disappointed.

I find comfort in the fact that two out of four of these dogs have already found forever homes, and I know the other two will as well.  But I wonder if they ever miss the woman who abandoned them.  I wonder if they watch for her out of the window, tails wagging, hoping to see her car pull up in the driveway of the place they now consider home. Or maybe they realize all too well they’re better off now, without her.

Mostly, though, I wonder if the woman who dumped them like so much garbage at a dead-end, on a cloudy, grey day feels regret, and I wonder if she ever replays the moment when she closed the car door and saw them looking at her in fear, confusion, and expectation before she left them.

I hope she does, and I hope it haunts her dreams.

Because it sure as hell haunts mine.

Grammar Police:  Heroes or Villains?

They are all over the social media sites.  They are hated and feared, but we all have to giggle at them.  Maybe you know one.  Maybe you are one.

The Grammar Police.

This is a very unique group of people who can take anyone’s heartfelt sentiment and reduce it to rubble with their inability to resist correcting misspellings and grammar.

Here’s an example of how the Grammar Police can ruin nearly anything they read:

Poster: I am thrilled to announce the birth of my sweet baby boy, Paul.  After years of trying and much heartbreak, we have a little miracle of our own.  I finally feel at peace with the tragedy that has struck so often in the past when I look at his perfect little face.  We weren’t sure he would make it through the delivery, and it was touch and go for me for a while, too.  An emergency C-Section saved both of our lives, but the surgeon accidentally dropped his watch into the incision and had to go back in to get it. The hospital lost electricity and the surgery was done without anesthesia by candlelight. We are so pleased that Paul is not only cute, but healthy, to.

Grammar Police: *too

Poster:  Really?  Your heartless.

Grammar Police: *you’re

I am anti-Grammar Police, personally.  The poster has clearly gotten their point across and has anxiously hit the “post” button, awaiting the outpouring of support or debate the update will bring.  Instead, an entire segment of the social media population fixates on one thing: the unfortunate use of “there” instead of “their.”  Or “to” instead of “too.”

I admit, any error in grammar or spelling jumps out of the impassioned sentences and slaps my brain like the thought of Elmer Fudd in the shower; impossible to ignore no matter how hard I try.  I am stronger than my urges, however, and will overlook the errors in the spirit of solidarity with the poster.  Inside, however, I am correcting with the best of them … I just choose to keep this obnoxious behavior to myself instead of posting it out there in public for all to see.

What I can’t ignore are people who abbreviate words in their postings for no reason whatsoever.  I’m sure you’ve seen these, too:

Poster:  U no I like u, rite?  Wut u doin’ l8ter?

Me:  What the hell are you saying? I know you’re trying to communicate … but come on! Work with me here!

I wonder what these people do with all the extra time they have saved by not typing out complete words.  My eyes wander across these posts, filling in the blanks, but the time they saved posting is time I waste translating.  I could have used those precious seconds to do so much with my day.

I think my favorite are the pseudo-intellectuals who attempt to drop big words into their posts, and use them incorrectly or spell them horribly.

Poster:  I just finished a grate autobiography today.  I understand Lincoln’s Emaciation Declaration much more, now.  People are so dumb; everyone should edukate themselves like I do.

Grammar Police:  Where do I start …

My own personal fear is auto-correct when I use voice-activated typing or texting.  If I don’t proofread my post before sending, I end up with something that reads:

Me: I read the cantaloupe yesterday.  I don’t knife why pickles hate digging that; I looped it.

Grammar Police:  I think I just had a stroke.

Grammar Police are either the unsung heroes of the internet, correcting their little world one word at a time, or they are the villains, wrecking dreams and sentiment with just a few keystrokes.  There is no in between; Grammar Police are all or nothing when it comes to their obsession.

If you are a member of the Grammar Police Force, knock it off.  We ALL see the errors, but we just don’t care; we read through the mistakes to the underlying message.  If you have been a victim of an overzealous Grammar Cop, keep on posting and know you are not alone.

As for the visual of Elmer Fudd in the shower?  You’re welcome.

The Classic Battle

One day early last week, on Facebook, I posted a picture of a male actor – you would know him, he was amazing in that thing about the thing (won an Oscar!), with an even more amazing body – posed provocatively, wearing only a micro-Speedo.   I was very pleased at the way the picture focused on his … um, attributes. When I posted the picture, I was hoping to get a bunch of likes and exploit the man, you know, as you do.

Right about now, there are two groups of readers.  Half of you wonder where the picture is, and the other half said, “Well, now, that just isn’t right.”  Okay, so there is also a third group, comprised of members of both groups, who are trying to bleach the picture of the Speedo out of their brains.

Of course I didn’t really post any picture like that.  But I have to wonder; were you more outraged over the idea that I would exploit someone for “likes,” or was that outrage brought about because it was a man?  Men don’t commonly get exploited and paraded around for their bodies instead their talent; that is a privilege usually saved for women.  In fact, it’s expected.

I belong to a Facebook group that focuses on films from the “Golden Age of movies.”  The ground rules are simple: be respectful, no politics, no religion, and discuss classic era movies.  Shouldn’t be too hard, right?

In any group, there is bound to be the one who pushes the rules to the limits.  In this group, one guy not only pushes the limits but crosses them over and over, to the giggling joy of his caveman supporters.  He continues to  post pics of actresses in their most sultry persona and one, he even cropped to be sure her breasts were on clear display…in fact, it was just her breasts, so if he hadn’t mentioned who the actress was, there’s no way you would know. Unless you’re a breast aficionado.

Not all of the actresses he ummm … discusses … are from the classic era either. A cropped, very risqué photo of Catherine Zeta Jones, who is truly a lovely woman (inside and out from what I understand), was duly submitted for inspection and I don’t think she was even born in the classic movie era, let alone acted in any movies from that time-period.  His pics, as no doubt intended, elicit the usual responses from other men, suggesting graphically what they would like to do to the women, among other lewd comments.  The moderator keeps deleting the posts, but somehow the guy is allowed to remain.

Finally, a female member took a stand against this sorry excuse for classic movie discussion.  She made a post about how she’s tired of seeing it, that it’s disrespectful, goes against the rules of the group, and stop being assholes basically – though she was very nice and polite about it … more so than I would’ve been.  Predictably, her post was met by a bunch of men jumping on her saying,  “Just block the guy, choose your battles, it’s not important, get over it, scroll past it, let it go, grow up, stop being a snowflake,” and  complaining that she was “on her soap box,” and that it wasn’t a real problem so why complain, etc.  One guy, who I guess was trying to “help,” said “Agree with the concern, and more, but believe part of the solution is to stay calm and positive. Just breathe.”

As is the norm, although the post she made was calm, cool, and anything but hysterical, she was, quite literally, accused of being hysterical and over-reacting.  The reactions came, of course, from men who have never had to battle these types of attitudes and comments personally; in fact, these same guys are the very culprits who keep feeding the caveman’s posts in the first place.

I am sure there are lots of good guys in my group, too, just like in real life.  Most likely, they stayed quiet throughout all of this to simply keep clear of the scuffle – just like in real life.  The women, as could be predicted, came out in full force to support the female member’s post, rallying around her in true “girl power” form.

The problem is, this idiot guy and his rude followers probably genuinely don’t even perceive a problem.  But come on! Why on earth should a woman have to block someone, scroll past lewd pictures, or just suffer sexism silently? I mean, this question is relevant every day of our lives, but especially in a freakin’ group meant for classic film discussion of all places!  Then, God forbid, a woman has the spiritual fortitude to confront the men and call them out on their overt sexism … well, then she’s down-played, ignored, ridiculed, and gaslighted.

Sexism is real, and it plays out nearly every single freakin’ day in women’s lives. Women are taught to ignore it, deal with it, cope with it, and never act on it or they’ll be perceived as “over-reacting” or being “hysterical;” it is, after all, just boys being boys.  When can women unite and finally say, “Enough is enough?” If not now, when!? Sexism is so pervasive that it shows up everywhere and anywhere, even in an innocent group on Facebook that was formed to discuss classic movies.

Granted, this is a small group on Facebook.  Alarmingly, though, Facebook tends to be an interesting and realistic mash-up of the real world. Meaning, the people who are your Facebook friends or fellow group members are representative of a small microcosm of who you would find on the street every day.

Frankly, I think I need some new friends.

The Original Cat Burglars Unveiled

Tucked in between “news articles” about alien abductions and man-eating butterflies on the World News Daily Report, I found this gem hidden away.   Long story short, it claims that an elderly lady trained her cats to steal jewelry from her neighbors; the epitome of “cat burglars.”

click photo for story

I admit, there is a part of me that wishes this was a true story.  I could absolutely get on board with training my cats to do cool things other than bringing me dead bugs. Let’s face it, though; cats only do what they want to do, and it always involves a smug, self-serving attitude and a “what’s in it for me” end goal.

I can see me, 20 years from now, in full Crazy Cat Lady mode.  I’d train my cats to do things like weed my garden, mow my lawn, put away the dishes, and fold the laundry.  In my fantasy, I am the ruler of the roost, the commander of the cats, the kitty whisperer.  The truth is, I live to serve my cats.  They have me so well trained that I respond to the smallest puking noises they make, even from a dead sleep.  I have given all of my furniture to them to use as thrones, perches, or beds.  I believe all of the cat food commercials I see, and my cats eat better than I do.  I clean litter boxes religiously and keep lint rollers to clean off the clothing that my cats allow me to wear when they aren’t using it as a bed.

On that note, the article makes me laugh when it references that these cats were voluntarily malnourished; apparently, according to the report, they deliberately made themselves seem skinny and underfed so that people would take them in to their homes to feed them.  After the neighbors opened their hearts and homes to the skeletal felines, the cats would abscond with anything of value.  Only then would the elderly cat-keeper reward them with food.

Really?  If I tried to train my cats this way, they would laugh at me.  “What’s in it for me? Better make it worth my while. And don’t even think about not feeding us, we know where the treats are. More important, we know where you sleep.”

Now I have no doubt that a cat COULD think of this clever scheme.  The only thing that keeps cats from taking over the world is the lack of opposable thumbs.  But would they really want to?  And perhaps therein lies the real reason cats don’t rule world…they simply can’t be bothered.

Let’s review the cons against this whole organized feline crime spree:

  • The scheme cuts into the most important time of the day: Nap time.  That rare 20 out of 24 hours they spend napping would suffer if they were involved in such a time-consuming racket.
  • Ignoring humans: The burglary idea would definitely require freely interacting with humans for something other than dinner, and seriously, what cat wants that?
  • Movement: To fully realize the potential of this scheme, cats would have to move.  More than from one end of the bed to the other.  This is an instant disqualifier.
  • Potentially uncovering plans to rule the world: Cats cannot have their plot revealed.  While it is no secret that cats plan to take over the world, the exact plans cannot be revealed until the perfect time.
  • A drop in Facebook and You Tube ratings: The cat community doesn’t like to talk about it, but it thrives on internet ratings.  If cats are implicated in robberies, it’s very possible that cute kitten video viewings will drop to dangerously low levels, resulting in a complete breakdown of the internet as we know it today.

Now, let’s review the reasons cats would voluntarily choose to do something, heck anything, at all:

None

Lastly, let’s consider the odds of a cat being trained by a human to do something that he does not already want to do:

 None

As much as I wish this story could be true, I think this will forever be relegated to the land of satire.

And that’s probably a good thing.

Memory Lapses

I am creative.  I am powerful.  I am woman, hear me roar.  I am also just a tad forgetful.  Like “forget what I had for breakfast while the fork is still in my hand” forgetful.  I need to document my thoughts while I am out and about or they will be forever forgotten in the vast jungle of my mind.

What do you do if your mind is a sieve?  If you’re anything like me, you send notes via text to yourself to remember ideas, appointments, and events.  If it’s not written down, I can forget a thought quicker than anyone else I know.  I was going to suggest an Olympic Sport called Speed Forgetting, but I forgot to mail the letter.

Yesterday evening, I was looking through my text messages for something and came across this message I sent myself over a week ago.  Check this out:

“The eyes are the windows to the soul. Sometimes they reflect a vision of hell.”

Wow.  What a deep thought.  What a great lead in to an unforgettable blog post.

Too bad I cannot recall for the life of me what I was thinking when I wrote it.  Or where I was, or what I was doing.

This cryptic line seems to be the beginning of a wonderful biopic journal of my life’s journey.  It is a cool line for the first sentence of a horror story.  It could have been what I thought when I woke up one morning and saw bags and dark circles under my eyes after spending a sleepless night trying to remember my Great-Grandmother’s middle name.

I have absolutely no idea why I sent that to myself. At all. Was it because of an instance of animal cruelty that I’ve seen? People suck, I’ve said that often…because they do, and it’s very possible that an incident of animal cruelty prompted that comment to myself. It’s equally possible that the stories about school shootings or perhaps a news story of a child abuse victim or domestic abuse victim set me off.  Or, the amazing line could have come to me as I was watching a poor retailer slog through a transaction with a customer who was acting like a complete asshole, or a woman who realized she was wearing white after Labor Day.

The world may never know.

The way my swiss cheese brain works is a mystery, even to myself.  There are just so many versions of hell, and everyone you meet everywhere has their own personal hell.  For some, hell might be driving to work.  Someone else’s hell may be dealing with their cable company (and I suspect the cable guy has a few versions of hell as well).  The upper class may think it is hell dealing with the butler, and the butler sure as heck knows it’s hell dealing with his snobby boss.  The lower class sees the hell of poverty and sadness every day, and the middle class thinks it is hell to have to pay taxes to help the poor through that particular hell. A child thinks hell is when school is not cancelled for a snow day; the teachers probably agree with that version of hell and the parents may, too. Hell is not being able to use that amazing word in Words with Friends that you really want to use, or my personal favorite, forgetting why I walked into a room.

So many meanings of hell.  So many possible reasons for my amazingly creative phrase.  Such a shame to have such severe short term…and long term, apparently…memory loss that I cannot recall the moment this profound statement was imagined.

Think about it.  “The eyes are the windows to the soul. Sometimes they reflect a vision of hell.”  I want you to consider this phrase carefully.  I want you to ponder it deeply.  Repeat it over and over.

And then, can you please tell me what the hell I was thinking!?

A Radical Idea

Now I’m not about to pontificate like some hippy guru coming down from her cabin in the Vermont mountains, but please, take a look at the picture below. That’s our universe. It’s where we live. See how small we are?  See how absolutely minuscule our existence is in the grand scheme of things? We’re pretty much a drop in the bucket and that’s being generous.

I don’t mean to say this to be depressing. Quite the opposite, truth be told. It’s supposed to be a reminder that before we get livid over political differences, religious beliefs, or even just the people who cut in front of us in traffic, we should remember that we’re really sort of insignificant in this vast web of gases and atoms.

Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be involved in what’s going on in our world today, especially politically speaking (goodness knows, we have to be now, more than ever), or that we should give up on our faith to placate someone else… what I am saying however, is that when it comes to arguing with strangers online or with Uncle John at the next family dinner — neither of whom will be listening anyway, because they’re so entrenched in their own mindset — maybe rethink your participation in an argument that will only serve to create stress and anxiety for you and will likely end up being more of a name-calling contest than a civil debate anyway.

Instead of getting enraged, how about we just focus on being nice to each other? That’s it — just be nice. Pretty simple, right?  I just think that as we rotate around our gargantuan sun that in itself is part of an unimaginably vast galaxy within an inconceivable array of other galaxies (with the potential of other dimensions that could be just as large), let’s just try to make the ride a little more pleasant for each other.

And let’s not include just humans in that concept – include animals, too.  Be nice to other living creatures.  I mean, really, how hard is that?  When you sit down and think about it, it just seems like the most logical thing to do.

However, I know it will never happen on a large scale because we’re human after all, and something as simple as “being nice” would just never work for our species as a whole. It’s beyond us, which is sad, really. But imagine what we could accomplish if we could pull off this amazing yet simplistic feat!  The issues that could be settled and the problems that could be resolved are boundless.

So maybe we start small.  Maybe smile at that neighbor who is always grumpy or hold the elevator for that person who is obviously late.  Perhaps throw some food to the stray you usually shoo away.  Or give some change to the homeless person you always try to ignore as you make your way to work.  Maybe realize that your kids can have a bad day too so you ignore the half-made bed that would normally spawn a lecture, and instead pull out a family board game.  It should all be so easy, really.

And the craziest part of this hare-brained idea is that the world, which is already so overwhelmed with stress and worry, would actually become a better place, allowing for less and less stuff to be stressed and worried about.  I know….ironic, right?