Thursday, July 09, 2009

Learning To Embrace Unpleasant Tasks As Part Of A Great Life

This morning the temperature was mild, the sun was streaming through the curtains and the cat I'm looking after was outside at play. Thanks to my Brita water filter pitcher and portable coffee maker the house had that great scent of freshly brewed coffee. I sat at the dining room table with deep satisfaction, looking over my prepared meal. All I had to do now was enjoy it. Something stirred in my mind. Why haven't I been doing things like this all along?

Usually, when doing pet care, I'd either eat what the owner or I bought. I'd choose the easy, frozen and quick. Substantial nutrition: corn dogs, pizzas, Fudge Brownie Ice Cream and lots of instant coffee.

After six weeks of a very scary bout with the flu I changed my diet and my world. No white sugar or chemicals. I have gone organic. But I know how my employers would react if I asked them to provide water filtration and "only-organic-fresh-blah-blah-blah" food. Most people assume a fresh carrot from Safeway is the same as a fresh carrot from Trader Joe's, or Whole Foods. No, but I realized it was my problem, not my employers problem.

Now I require a medium suitcase and a backpack along with my walker when I am away from home for work, or even on vacation. I have to plan, work and plan again to keep up my new diet, even when I don't feel like it.

I didn't want to go to all that effort for a ten-day job. But drinking unfiltered water really bothers me after a few days. So, I cleared the laundry out of my medium suitcase and started packing.

Water filter and new portable coffee maker, filters, coffee, medications, vitamins, jar of nuts, produce from my refrigerator that had to come with me, or wilt while I am away. Sigh, then I had to deal with clothes and toiletries. Organic soap, shampoo and after over ten years a new Gelette Fusion razor. (Whoa, that is a great razor). I could feel my back ache under the load of the backpack.

I caught myself toying with the temptation to "forget the whole thing". But I am afraid of getting sick again, so I began this new adventure. Medium suitcase on walker seat, backpack on my back and I'm off to work. Bus drivers and fellow passengers were wonderful. I had use of the bus lift and passengers were eager to help with the suitcase.

Getting up and down stairs is now a two part process. Suitcase goes down on first trip and then I come back with the walker. Then suitcase rides the walker and I continue the journey. I was shocked at how I resented having to do all this extra work.

A few moments in prayer reminded me of how fortunate I am to a) have a job to go to b) have the ability and strength to walk and lift weight and c) the funds to buy the water filter and coffee maker. Some people can't walk, or carry, or buy anything. They are bedridden and too sick to go anywhere. Returning to being grateful for the many good things in my life stopped my "Its tragic, me having to work so hard" pity party.

I began learning a new lesson about work when I went on the mini cruise to Vancouver Canada. There were experiences aboard ship that I found jaw-dropping wonderful. Moments of religious splendor, being awed by the beauty and size of the open ocean. The food was as good or even better than what I enjoyed at Squaw Creek up in the Sierras.

There were also moments where I wanted to scream in total frustration. Due to the Swine Flu outbreak, all ships bound for Mexico were diverted. Many of them came to Vancouver. Each ship carrying between 2,000 and 7,000 passengers. We were ship four and instead of leaving the ship on schedule, we were hung up in the bay for almost an hour before we even got to the dock!

The last morning on a ship is a bit insane. Everyone has to eat and get their rooms cleared out by a certain time. Then we all gather to get off the ship and WAIT. That entire morning tried all my spiritual skills. While hating the situation I remember longing for the "easy" Courtyard Hotel vacation with a hot tub in the room... Man, I'll never do this cruise stuff again!

Then I remembered some of the great parts of the cruise. Maybe some of the good part comes with something that is hard. This was an entirely new concept for me. I'd learned it on the job, but I'd always shied away from "hard" everywhere else in my life.

I had already planned to do a longer cruise to visit the glaciers of Alaska. But I kept coming back to this having to wait issue. Waiting in line for food, during the safety drill and while Canada processed our ship to come into their port. Yeah, I'd put up with the hard, because there were other parts of a cruise which are completely worth the effort.

I now realize I've had to take this same lesson into life in general. It is a bit difficult to lug my extra things to a work location. But, it is so nice to have the water I like and fresh brewed coffee. It is also worth the effort of preparation when I sit down to a lovely omelet, or complex salad. One thing about fresh fruit and vegetables, they have work associated with their presence in a meal.

I am shocked to realize that as a child, the neglect I experienced taught me all the wrong things about caring for myself. My parents were troubled, ill people. However, I lived on jars of cold baby food until I was put into a foster home at age seven. My parents were arrested for child neglect while I was taken from them in a police car.

When this came out in therapy my Doctor got extremely upset. I was nowhere near having a clue as to why this wasn't a good way to care for a child. Most of the time mommy remembered to keep baby food in "my cabinet" and I could get it whenever I wanted. My Doctor pointed out that this scheme also made it possible for my parents both to be in alcoholic stupors without having to feed their child. (oops).

My mother hated having to deal with me. Sadly, even after years of therapy and being around loving friends, I still carried that pattern of loathing to put in effort for myself. Now, if YOU were coming over, heck, I'd bust my back to make it all nice. But for me?

Up until my diet change, I'd hate to do work for myself so much I'd sometimes not bother to go to the store when I needed food. I'd just live on rice, or noodles, or whatever was around.


Just like in my childhood!

Oh nuts!

This is very painful to write. Until I wrote of it, I'd never realized my "funk" about not shopping was just re-visiting my life of being a neglected child. Now that it is out in the open God can cure me of it, like He has freed me from so many other crazy patterns from the past.

I long to tell you all, that knowledge will set you free, but I've known about the baby food deal for 20 years, but never realized I was still acting out that self-hatred I learned from my mother. I'm glad I finally got the lesson, but God, how I hate the never-ending process of attempting to have a normal life, learning to thrive, and not just to survive child abuse.