Safe Space

Yesterday, I was tired. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon, I had gone to church, went to the store with my dad because my mom didn’t feel well, fixed lunch and laid down for a nap.

I recently started hosting at a local eatery and worked both Friday and Saturday night.

I would wake up from my naps when my dryer alarm would go off, check or switch clothes around and nap again.

I was in the midst of one of these naps, when there was a knock at my door. As no one ever comes to visit except my parents, this took me by surprise.

I grabbed my phone and called someone so there was a connection to the outside world before opening the door.

When I answered the door it was a friend of mine. He needed to talk. He needed a safe space to let his guard down and say what was in his heart. Here I was, no bra, in my napping clothes and my hair all over my head.

He didn’t care. He just needed to talk to his friend. He knew that there would be no judgement to what he was saying. I would not offer advice unless he asked for it.

He sat on my sofa and spoke in a hummingbird like manner. Jumping from subject to subject yet somehow managing to connect the garbled thoughts spilling from him.

He stayed for a couple of hours. When he left he thanked me for allowing him into my home. He just needed a safe space to be real.

The same thing happened Saturday. A young friend who is being yo-Yoed around by a guy needed to talk. She needed me to be present while she tried to figure somethings out for herself, it was just easier to have another body in the car while she was driving and talking.

She asked me some questions and I told her how I felt, not being brutally honest but honest. She is going to be hurt. I can’t stop that. She wants the fairytale and Prince Charming has a wandering eye.

Being the personality type I am, when those close to me hurt I hurt as well. So much so that it woke me up Saturday night. Foolishly, I posted a comment on social media that turned around to bite me.

I am glad to be a safe space. I carry a great deal of others worries. It is one of the things I am good at.

I care for people. I am grateful to be there when others need someone, I know what it is not to have a listening ear in the middle of the night. It sucks. It blows. It is horrible.

You have to be careful and never let just anyone see it for they will use it against you. So if my friends need a safe space, I will be there. Today and always.

Advertisements

The Confessional….

In my office, I am the Mama Hen. I work with 6 guys. I am older than all of them. Much older.

I send these guys into harms way on a nightly basis. They depend on me to get them the information they need to be safe. I am a 911 dispatcher.

I worry about “my boys”. If they have to be out on a call that is difficult, if they have to travel on bad roads, I worry about them. My job is to make sure they home to their families safely.

Now,  guys will rag on each other. They compare muscles and daring feats they have performed. They are dudes. When they speak to me though it is different. I can hold my own with them and I get in a good shot every now and then. It catches them by surprises from time to time but over all they are getting used to when I get cranked up, I can give them grief.

As a collective group they are a rowdy group of oversized boys.

When they wander into the office individually, that is when I know they want to talk about something a little deeper.

It may be their marriage, their kids, their spouses sickness and this was just last night.

They know that they can talk to me and I will be honest. I will listen sometimes giving advice, sometimes just being a sounding board.

Last night, the one I have know longest. The leader of the pack, came in and talked to me. His wife is sick and they are having trouble getting her built back up and it has come to the place where he is worried.

Been there and done that. You need to talk to someone who has been in a similar situation. It is getting to the place where it is scary for him and he is a tough guy. He has seriously been through some stuff.

I asked how he was dealing with his stress. He has to be on top of his game mentally and physically. He told me that he works out.

Being a walker for several  years and not much more of  a workout I asked him some questions. He is building muscle. I am trying to lose fat and not get saggy. Pushing fifty and being over weight all my teen and adult life. I have to be careful.

We talked about our gym at work, which is good enough for me but doesn’t have the equipment he wants. He told me some things that might help me. He told me which machines to use at the gym.

He talked about what he lifts when he goes to work out and how he encourages the new guys who come in. He even went so far as to tell me that he doesn’t lift heavy in front of new guys because it could discourage him.

I told him that being fat, I didn’t want to go to the gym. He asked me why. I said you are a dude. You aren’t going to judge the new guy coming into the gym. Women are catty. They are going to totally just the size of your ass; how quickly you get winded; if you can’t do it right the first time. They are going to judge you.

He looked at me straight in the eye and said, everybody starts at the same place. The bottom. I didn’t go in lifting what I do now. I used to be embarrassed when I would see other guys lifting triple what I did. It has taken me three years to get to this point.

They he said the thing that really gave me a shot in the arm. He said “And further more, I don’t see you giving a damn”. After he left the office, I thought about what he had said. Why do I give a damn. I am not doing it for them, I am not doing it for vanity sake. I am doing it for my health. I need to get some issues under control and if someone doesn’t like it, oh well.

I think I will go check it out. I may or may not go until warm weather when I can get out and walk more. I would rather be out in nature anyway.

This time, the confessional was meant for me to reveal my insecurities and maybe for my healing.

 

A Dinosaurs View of Dating Today…

I am one of those people who can talk to people of all ages. I have friends in their 20s and on up.

Tonight one of them called me and wanted to know if wanted to have dinner with him. I told him I had already eaten and promised him a rain check. His dad is a really good friend of mine. He has recently moved back from where his parents moved to and he is still not reacclimated to small town life.

I have a friend who is 22. She makes me think of myself a great deal. She is funny, smart, introverted, she had just not had the best luck with guys. She has been attracted to a certain type of guy and they have treated her like crap.

Not too long ago, she told me she was going to give herself 6 months before she dated anyone.

Now being a teen in the 1980s meeting people and dating was somewhat different.

This was when phones still had a cord and you would lay in the floor with your feet propped up on the wall and they could hear you giggle or shyly respond to a compliment.  They had to actually ask you out on a date. At my house, your parents met them before you left with them. You had to be careful because the whole family could hear what you were saying and believe me, my folks were listening.

Back in a time before texting and smart phones. We didn’t have messenger or tinder where you swipe one way of you are interested or the other way if you’re not. The only way this dinosaur knows about this stuff is that she has 20 something friends.

You were either dating back in the day or you were just friends. There was not a term called “we’re talking”. If you wanted to communicate you had to talk.

Sorry, I wandered. My friend was going to stay single for six months. Here is a sure fired way to meet someone, give up, swear off dating, give yourself the power to decide what you want, so someone can swoop in and shake you up to your very core.

I know this; it has happened to me twice. Both times turned out great or at least the second one has so far. The first time it happened there was an 18 1/2 year marriage.

The second I have enjoyed keeping company or talking to or whatever it is you do nowadays for 5ish years.

This was after being lied to and cheated on by this lame, cowboy wanna be.  So I know what it is like to say, nah I’d rather be alone.

And right on schedule a handsome, charming, brilliant man notices me. Still trying to understand what he sees in me but I ain’t knocking it.

So the night she told me about the six month thing, I told her to buckle her seatbelt. He came out of no where. He wasn’t on her radar. She was taken aback that he absolutely flipped over her. I see her point of view, I would feel the same way.

She of course started with I have never dated anyone like him before  and being the brutally honest type I said and those turned out so well.

Then she started finding little quirks about him. I knew what was happening, she was running scared. She told me in the past that she had done all the chasing, that when someone was interested in her she got more emotionally invested than they did and a lot faster.

She got spooked. He will drive three hours to spend time with her. He has taken her to meet his parents. He tells her that she is perfect. She doesn’t know what to do with that. I told her to enjoy it. I remember when someone told me I was perfect and beautiful although I couldn’t see it myself. That was another life time. It would take someone seeing it before I admitted it to myself .

She is at the point where he wants to meet her parents and she isn’t sure she is ready for that. I get it, there are family members that I don’t want to subject my person to simply to protect him from them. Family will latch on and pick something apart and ruin something good if you are not careful.

She doesn’t know how to handle this. She is not sure of her feelings. I told her to take her time. Not to make any rash decisions either way, to enjoy the time they spend together.

I understand walls, I have them but if he truly loves her, he will slowly tap and chip away at that wall. If he tries to bulldoze it down she will run like a rabbit.

I don’t know how it will end. I listen to her, weigh in when asked, choose my words so carefully that she made a comment that she sees the wheels turning.

She wants the fairytale. I truly hope she gets it. I have just seen enough of life to realize that everyone seems to think that everything is disposable, including relationships. I don’t see life that way, never have and I guess I never will. I take commitment seriously. I have lived through the worst thing I could. Guess that’s a good thing about being around before swipe left, swipe right and such existed.

Trying a Different Approach…

There are situations in life that have you stumped . I have several of those at the moment. One in particular will be the focus of this post.

I deal nightly with someone who is so very angry. They have deeper issues than I wish to go into here.

They often ask for services that we do not provide and see it as a personal attack. It isn’t, we try to appease them but it seems to back fire. When we ask questions we are required to ask we get yelled at and cursed.

I want to be kind and I try but they have the ability to speak to you like you are an underling. Last night they snarkily referred to me as “Humble Servant”, then proceeded to yell at me.

When approached with that much hostility, everybody tends to have a negative response but I have been praying about this.

I let them  have their rant and never spoke. When they  finished, my response was okay. No argument,  no point in that. I did not try to reason. They are not in a place a place in their life where they can not be reasoned with. Perception is reality.

During the second call of the night, they yelled at me,  they accused me of not doing my job and wanted some information. I looked up the information on the web and gave it to them. I didn’t tell them that it would not be helpful, not my place. I did so calmly, I did not get flustered, in an even voice I read off the information on the screen.

When they heard the tone, their whole attitude changed. They explained that it had been a rough time for them. I sat there and I let them talk. See they just want someone to listen.

I never offered advice, not in my scope of duties to do so.

Something occurred to me as well I was talking to them, they are angry at life and the people who sit in my chair are easy targets. Someone is there 24/7. It is easy for people to blame us for their pain.

I know what pain feels like, I never  took it out on others, I punished myself until I learned to cope with it and then learned to love myself just for who I am.

It is how you see the world. Some people see pain as an attack, some see it as a chance to grow because it is as complex and as simple as I said before perception is reality.

Still I Rise; A Phenomenal Woman

I love poetry. It is one of my favorite forms of literature and spoken word.

It is always breathtaking to me to hear a poet read their own words. To hear the inflection the use and the words they stress as they try you to understand the meaning behind their work.

One of my favorite poets would have to be Dr. Maya Angelou.

The two poems in the title of this post are two of my favorites. They inspire me to be a better woman.

Phenomenal woman speaks to all women. It speaks to the power you possess and how you should carry yourself as to exhibit that power.

If you look up the word phenomenal it means: remarkable, exceptional, extraordinary, incredible, unbelievable and stunning.

That is powerful if you change phenomenal with any of those words yet, phenomenal encompasses them all.

I shall rise speaks to humans as a whole both men and women. It talks about the resiliency of the human spirit and now matter how low we get we can rise. The part that speaks to my soul in this piece is the part about the long night and in the morning we look at people and say I’m fine. We all do it. Even if we’re not, we say we’re fine. That is actually a running joke in my family, no matter what, we are always fine.

Dr Angelou and I are very different. I am light skinned, she was dark skinned. She was a college professor, poet, activist, pulitizer prize and Grammy winner, she received the Presidental medal of freedom. I am a high school graduate with a degree in the school of life. I have an important job for my community but I never achieve any of the honors she did.

She was phenomenal in her way and I like to think that I am in mine. I got the chance to speak with her once on the telephone when I worked as a librarian. I was asking her for a copy of one of her poems to give away at a Black History program. When the package arrived, there were two poems. One to give away and one for me.

No one knows until now that I have it. It is safely tucked away.

I was in a Barnes and Noble in the same city she was in the day she transitioned from this life. I had gotten me a cup of coffee and was sitting there when I heard the news. I cried, a friend had left. As I sat there wiping my tears, all I could think was the caged bird was free and oh what a song she must be singing.

Withered…..

I have had some problems with my stomach for a week now. We still don’t know what it is. If it is a bug or medication. We are working on figuring it out.

Now, I am not a weakling when it comes to being sick but this second round of whatever this is kicked my tail literally.

Yesterday, I finally broke down and went to the doctor. I explained to her what was going on.

Her final words to me were, you have to eat. You need nutrition. You are severely dehydrated. We have three options. We can give you fluid here. We can admit you to the hospital or you can drink everything you can hold at home.

I chose to drink at home. So I loaded myself up with Gatorade, water, hot tea anything I could think of.

I have never had anything like this. I really wasn’t able to care for myself. I didn’t want anyone near me, in case it was a virus. I could only react to what my body was doing.

It is hard living alone when you are so very sick. It is easy to fall into the mire and get depressed. About two am yesterday morning, I was praying asking God if I was dying.

I was so sick. Adding to the problem, I caught a cold off a coworker. I couldn’t get warm, I didn’t want to call an ambulance although I strongly thought about it.

I just sat and prayed, waiting for the doctors office to open and believe me, I do not want to go to the doctor. Ever!!!

I had to go for blood work to see if my pancreas had been affected by the new medicines I have been put on. I have been very open about my battle with diabetes. One of the side effects is problems with the very organ that is making you sick in the first place.

Thankfully, that turned out well.

I didn’t want to complain because I have just found out one of my best friends was that same day diagnosed with breast cancer. She was very open about it, which is strange for her as she is very private.

Instead of complaining, I kind of made Where’s Waldo jokes and posted a pic of me in a mask that they made me wear.  Just trying to be upbeat about the whole thing.

Things are better today but I know how a plant feels when it is withered.

Although I have somewhat rehydrated myself, the effects are still there. Now, to get over this hurdle.

Up in Smoke…

Tonight I saw a friend in pain. In our profession, you don’t let your guard down in front of anyone.

It was a busy night and luckily, a coworker was close by and came in to help.

We were all running in different directions and I knew my friend had to be experiencing some emotion as to what was going on.

His grandparents former home was burning down. His family no longer owned the property but he had spent many days and nights in that home.

His grandparents have been gone for many years but the residence was still known as their place, for those of us who knew them.

When everything settled down, he and two more guys came into my office; by now the room that was so earlier crowded with people was now empty except for me.

He came in and for a few moments he allowed us to see that there was pain. He talked about his grandparents even telling some amusing tales on himself.

As he spoke, you could see the emotion on his face. He spoke of his grandfather and how his music room was up stairs.

When he talked about the kitchen, I could see it clearly. I have been in the house many times. I could almost see his grandma sitting in her chair in the kitchen, her cup of coffee beside her and a cigarette in her mouth. You see, this is where she held court, where she welcomed visitors into her home.

As he continued, he said well, both my grandparents houses have burned down. My heart broke for him.

The place where so many memories were made is now gone, not once but twice for him.

I live in my grandmother’s house and I have so many memories of her and I, just having real conversations in this house. My cousin lives in my other grandparent’s house.

I can go back anytime and look at the wall where I wrote my ABCs in crayon although they are long gone. I can visit the place where I spent my years before entering kindergarten.

My friend no longer has a place to visit. That went up in smoke. He does however have some great memories of grandparents who loved him so very much.

I hope in my heart of hearts that his healing began in those wee hours of morning, just four friends sitting around, sharing his memories and his pain.