Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance


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Highly Sensitive

Touch lamp

I’ve been writing about my mother lately (maybe for a Chicken Soup story) and found this post by Trini Lind about highly sensitive people which made me realize that my mother was a HSP, too! It helps me appreciate her more, even though she’s no longer in this world.

“Overly sensitive,” was the phrase back when I was a kid. I fought against my sensitivity my whole life. I didn’t’ want to be like my mother who had nervous breakdowns and migraines. I loved my mother, but I wanted to be strong like my father. Since I couldn’t fix my mom, I watched Star Trek and developed a huge crush on Mr. Spock. Calm, cool, logical Spock. Someone had to stay calm. So I suppressed. I did well in school, drew pictures, and made up stories in my head. And I watched a lot of Star Trek.

Somehow, I managed to become tough enough as an adult to work as an addictions counselor for 30 years, with only occasional meltdowns on my kitchen floor after a hard day.  With all the counseling skills I applied to myself, I guess I became a moderately sensitive person – on the outside at least.

As a retiree, I have begun to embrace my sensitive nature.  I love staying home with the dogs, writing, doing a little painting. At home, I have plenty of time to recover from the times I do go out and interact with people and plenty of time to think about my parents.

Now that I understand more, I wish I’d been nicer to Mom. I wasn’t mean to her. But she tended to bring out my logical side which might been cold sometimes.

I finally painted over the hearts that mysteriously appeared on her bedroom ceiling after she died in 2008. I try to go to my deceased parents’ house at least once a week to sort through their things. There’s a Tiffany style touch lamp on my mom’s old nightstand. On two separate visits in the past month, I was sure that lamp was off before I left the house.  But when I returned on the following weeks, the  lamp was on. Maybe touch lamps are highly sensitive, too. But I have to wonder.  Was that you, Mom?

On my last visit, I unplugged the lamp. If it’s on again when I go back, I’ll know something’s up.


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Getting Real About My Mess

Window w Blue with Stars

“Don’t Compare Your Insides to Other People’s Outsides.”

The other day, I was listening to an interview on public radio with Peter Sagal, host of “Wait, Wait… Don’t tell Me!” “Wait, Wait” is a comedy quiz show I’d never watched or listened to, so I checked it out on youtube. In the recent interview, Mr. Sagal talked about mental health challenges and how looking at social media sites like Facebook can make a person think: everybody else is so happy. What’s wrong with me? Am I the only one with problems? 

I got to thinking about that and realized that if you look at my Facebook page, or read my book, you’d think I must be pretty darn happy these days. Most of the time, I feel moderately happy.  Yeah, I got to retire from my stressful job, and I’m married to the love of my life, so a lot of the big challenges (stupid mistakes, divorce, more stupid mistakes, and the death of my parents) seem to be behind me. Knock on wood. But life can still be messy.  So, in the interest of being real, here are some of my current messes:

Codependency is still part of my life. After years of recovery meetings, step work, and reading daily meditations for codependents, I still worry too much about other people’s mess – what they think about me, how I might be able to fix help them, etc. But I’m making progress. I don’t let codependency run my life like it used to. I’m a “Recovering People Pleaser,” but some days, I’m still too nice. Or when I’m not nice, because I’m tired of being nice, I feel guilty. The good thing is I feel guilty for minutes or hours instead of days and weeks.

I struggle to let go of my adult children. Not as much in my actions as in my thoughts. Their lifestyles and beliefs are not what I imagined for them. I worry about them. I know some of that’s normal. My parents must have felt the same way about me. But it sure is uncomfortable sometimes. I’m slowly learning to let go.

I’m still more sensitive than I’d like to be. My feelings can get hurt by little things which don’t seem little and which I dwell on too long. Intellectually, I can tell myself all kinds of reasons not to let it get to me, but it’s a struggle.

With all this residual sensitivity and codependency, I get to work on issues with the love of my life. We both have issues. Now we get to work on them together. That’s why we are in the relationships we’re in. And to support each other and have fun. Let’s not forget that!

I have lots of conversations in my head. Thank God and my guardian angels for protecting me when I drive. I’m working on this. I tell myself to focus on the road ahead, to practice mindful driving, and it works for a while, then I realize I’ve been rehearsing a conversation that probably won’t ever happen.

My house is messy. I have a lot of dog hair in my house, and my 16 year old terrier/beagle has incontinence issues. I need to brush the dogs more and buy some air freshener.

It’s been a while, but I like to look at photos of stars with no make up.

So that’s my current mess without touching on the bigger messes of my past, or the mess I don’t even see, because we don’t always see all of our own mess.

I’m thankful that my life is mostly good now, but it’s not a bed of roses.  Okay, there are  are roses, slightly wilted with thorns. Everybody has thorns. Everybody has messes. We all have stuff to work on. And God’s grace is always available.

pale pink rose with thorns