Seeking Clarity

pic of my glasses

These are my glasses.  The most recent pair in a long line of visual assistance.  They help me see okay, although that is debatable after the incident early yesterday morning where I mistook a soccer ball for a calico cat curled up on my porch.  I think it is finally time for me to move on to the next rendition–bifocals–as these spend more than their fair share of the day hanging off my face so I can see things that are up close.

I got my first pair of glasses when I was in fifth grade.  I knew the teasing of “four eyes” was coming, but I didn’t care.  The clarity of my sight with them was amazing.  We went over to my great Aunt’s house over behind the Mercer Law School in Macon after we picked them up.  I was so pleased with them, and then promptly forgot them and left them there.   I wasn’t used to keeping up with them or keeping them on my face yet.  Daddy drove us back up there in his truck.  This was back in the day before all of the transportation laws.  I rode down I-75 sitting in the bed of his truck, amazed at all around me.  My head was turning from right to left and back again.  I could see leaves on the trees.  I could READ the billboards.  I was in awe of all that was around me.

I went through the phase of having the self-tinting glasses.  I thought they were so cool.  Until our class pictures were outside and I was the only one whose eyes couldn’t be seen.  That was a hoot.  And it seemed like they never quite lost the tint even when I was inside.

One evening after I had my glasses for a while, I was out riding our horse Betsy bareback.  I don’t know if it was at my urging or not, but she started galloping back towards the house.  Somewhere along the way, with me bouncing on her back, my glasses bounced right off my face.  I wasn’t able to stop her right away, but I knew about where it happened.  There were just two problems.  It was dusk and hard to see, and without my glasses it was even harder to search.  My folks came out to help but to no avail.  We decided to wait until morning when there would be more light.  I don’t know how we thought I would handle school without my glasses, but we had no other choice than to wait.

Early the next morning, we started searching out in the horse pasture.  Betsy followed us around, curious as to what we were doing out there so early.  The sunlight glistened on the morning dew.  Every twinkle I was hopeful.  But no such luck.  Then I saw it, a reflection that was more than a dewdrop.  My glasses!  There was a tiny crack in the frame, but otherwise they were perfectly fine.  We were so lucky that Betsy hadn’t crushed them on the ride back or during the night.  And that we actually found them–it was pretty much like looking for a needle in a haystack.  Just glasses in a horse pasture instead.

I was thinking about those glasses and that incident tonight.  Isn’t it funny how if you sleep on something and try again in the morning, in the light, things can suddenly seem so much clearer and sometimes you even find what you are seeking?  That kind of clarity–they just can’t put that in frames.  Oh if only.

Gators, Cats, and Panic Attacks

I’ve been up since five this morning.  And I’ve not had a nap today.  Neither of these things was planned, nor did they contribute to my general pleasantness today.  But I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet.  (Besides I might need it for next year’s Towel Day…..never throw in a perfectly good towel.)

I woke up to the sound of a cat yowling.  Just outside my bedroom window.  I turned on the porch light and looked out.   I saw what looked like a calico cat huddled on the corner of the deck.  Upon closer inspection a few minutes later, I realized it was the black and green soccer ball one of our crew left out there.  Ummm, yeah.  (Note to self–schedule eye appointment.  Soon.)  Rather than being the return of the stray who serenaded our girl kitty a couple of months ago, I realized our big boy, Sugar, had busted the screen and gotten out.  We got him back in and I made the necessary repairs (well, mending for the time being is a better way of describing it I suppose–Gorilla tape is the bomb!).  I couldn’t go back to sleep.  So I finished reading my book in the quiet, which was a rare treat.

The littles and I had an outing first thing this morning.  After we arrived, I saw I had an email from the neighborhood folks.  A gator has been seen in the pond at the other end of our street and he’s been hanging out in some of the yards around it.   So that sounds about right.  My mind immediately went to what could have happened if we hadn’t found our cat this morning.  Sugar, whom we rescued last year when he was three weeks old from whatever got him and beat him up pretty bad, whom I bottlefed and worried over, escaped just as there’s a gator on the prowl.  Oh my stars.  I was overwhelmed.  I don’t want to lose him that way.  Or at all.  I have to make sure this doesn’t happen again.  I could feel the panic rising.  That’s what all the grief and brokenness and hard times of the past four years has done.  I have panic attacks from time to time.  I look like Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc./Monster U.

pic of mike wazowski panicked

Or not.  Not making light of panic attacks by any means, but that feeling lost and “not knowing what to do at all” look that you see in his face?  Yeah, that’s it.

I am working my way through them.  Today I gave myself a pep talk.  Told myself I could handle this.  One. Step. At. A. Time.  And I did.  I talked and laughed with my Aunt.  For a long time. (Sorry.)  I changed some plans and rearranged my thoughts, and by afternoon, I could hear Mama, “This too shall pass.”  She said that a lot.  She’d also say, “Well if that’s the worse thing that ever happens to us, we’ll be all right.”  Or, “Well, at least they’re not shooting bullets at us.”  She was right.  I did feel the worry and upset and panic passing.  Sugar was back to his old self, no longer the crazed cat of 5 a.m. that refused to acknowledge me calling his name and telling him he needed to come back inside.  By late morning he had forgiven me and was back to being our happy, curious indoor cat that we all love.

That's our big boy, being goofy.

That’s our big boy, being goofy.

I am trying to learn not to let these moments overwhelm me.  I am trying not to let people and their issues steal my joy.  I am working really hard on tolerance and patience as well.  These things called Grief and Loss and Death have also turned me into one great big eye roll.  (Can you imagine Mike Wazowski doing an eye roll?  Yeah, that’s what I feel like too sometimes.)  I just don’t have the patience with some situations or some attitudes like I used to.  Is it a side effect of grieving?  Is it my age?  Is it that I think life is too short to waste time on things that really don’t matter in the long run?  Maybe some of all three.

All I know is that tonight I’m okay.  I made it through today.  The gator didn’t eat my cat.  I will find Sugar a new family (due to allergies, it just has to happen).  Right now at this moment, it’s all okay.  It’s different, but it’s okay.  I made a game plan and kept breathing.  I cannot let myself think about tomorrow.  I just have to do the NOW.  And some days that’s as good as it gets.  Oh, and I only rolled my eyes twice today I think.  Not too bad for a Monday.

This is my superpower, so yeah, I've got this panic thing down.

This is my superpower, so yeah, I’ve got this panic thing down.

Don’t Stop Believing…..Faithfully

We’re running a little late tonight, as we usually do on Sunday nights.  My oldest is in the shower, and she has her music playing in the background as she always does.

Only tonight it’s different.  Tonight it’s special music playing.  The same music she’s been playing all day.  Music from the Glee soundtracks.

Aub is sad and lost today.  My girl has had a lot of loss  in her young life–her Papa, her Cap, her Maemae, and her two great-grandmothers.  She knows life isn’t always about answered prayers and happy endings.  She’s way too young to know these things, but she knows them anyway.

But tonight her heart is breaking in a different way.  A young actor, someone she never met, has died.  She didn’t know him personally, but she felt as though she did, as he was a star in a show she’s only recently found and watched–Glee.  This has broken my girl in ways that I can only imagine.  It’s the first time someone young that she felt a connection to has died, and it’s just hard.

I remember very well August 16, 1977.  For whatever reason I was the one to hear the breaking news about the death of Elvis Presley.  I went in the kitchen where Mama was cooking supper and told her.  She thought I was kidding.  When I assured her I was not, a hush came over both of us.  I was sad.  While Elvis was not related to us, it sure felt like he was.  Daddy had so many of his albums and we watched his movies when they came on TV.  After I told Mama, it was time for me to go out and prepare the bottle for my calf and go feed him.  I remember how dark and unsafe the world suddenly felt when I went to the shed for the bottle and formula.  My world was shattered in a strange way.

I know this today has shaken the sense of immortality for more than just my girl.  There is a family and a young woman who loved this young man and whom he loved.  There are friends and co-workers and people who knew him in passing.  And there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, who “knew” him through his show, who will miss him and grieve this loss in their own way.

He played a fictional character.  I know that.  But this grief is real, not disenfranchised.  Tears have been cried under my very own roof.  And as police and investigators try to make sense of what seems to be a senseless death, the grief will continue.

I’m sorry, baby girl.  It’s a broken world.  Not much makes sense anymore, especially not Death and who it claims when.  I don’t know how to help you through this except to say, I love you and I will listen.  And maybe, just maybe, I will sit and watch a marathon of these shows with you.  In memory of a talented young actor and to do what we all do when Death creeps in and reminds us of how fragile it all is–to huddle close and love each other.

Hoping that light and peace beyond all understanding will reach those who are grieving and mourning tonight.  Tonight I leave you with something my girl sent me with this message: “Indulge me, I’m grieving.”  A talented young man is gone, may he rest in peace.

Piddlin’ and Putterin’ Around

It’s been one of those weekends. I only had a couple of things on the “agenda,” leaving a lot of room in the margins for getting together with my sister Mess Cat and her family. Or not. Whatever. Free time. That has become a precious commodity around here. So it was a nice surprise.

Several times this weekend, I’ve called Mess Cat or she’s called me.
“Hey, whatcha doing?”
“Nothin’ much. Just piddlin’. You?”
“Oh just putterin’ around. Nothing major.”

And this is how our several phone calls went all weekend. (With the exception of her painting trim in their new house. And I think she did refer to that as “putterin’.”)

This afternoon we puttered around at Mama’s. We sat on the porch swing and just soaked in yet another southern July day with highs in the 80’s and a nice breeze.  Beautiful.

The view we had today.....sitting on the porch swing and piddlin' around.

The view we had today…..sitting on the porch swing and piddlin’ around.

Later we checked around on things, uprighted a birdbath our two rambunctious boys decided would be cool to turn over to get the “dirty” water out.  No easy feat, that one.  We puttered around in the house, picking up, putting things away, emptying the ice bucket from the freezer.  A whole lot of little and a little bit of nothing.

In case you were wondering, putterin’ and piddlin’ around are not related to laziness at all.  In fact they are not for the faint of heart, for to putter or piddle around, one must have the ability to do things with ease and focus so as not to enter the level of frenzied activity that could be deemed “work.”  Piddlin’ and putterin’ are good for the soul and not strenuous on the mind, body, or spirit.  Think Andy Taylor and Floyd sitting around whittling on the bench outside the barber shop.  Now you got it.  Good stuff.  It takes skill, I’m not gonna lie, and years of practice.  But yeah, me and Mess Cat, I think we’ve got it down.

We’re working our way slowly toward the new normal.  One day at a time.  I like to think we are resilient.  Like the Back Porch Rosebush.  Before Mama’s back porch was built, there was a little set of concrete steps at the back door.  Next to the steps was a rosebush.  When they were getting ready to build the porch, someone, I think it might have been my brother-in-law Leroy, moved the rosebush to the other side where the porch would end.  It’s growing quite nicely, and there were two beautiful roses on it when we were there today.  It was a few months after the porch was built when we saw a sprig of green coming up through the floor of the porch.  At first we didn’t really pay much attention to it.  I think we clipped it back and kept on keeping on, what with Daddy being sick and all.  It quickly grew back through the floor.  Mama soon realized it was her rose, which somehow enough of it had been left in the ground that it was regenerating down there in the darkness under the deck.  She tried rooting it and cutting it back some.  The rooting didn’t go so well.  In recent months my siblings and I haven’t really thought too much about it.  Today, here it was in all its glory, thanks to all the rain, celebrating reaching the sunlight.

The porch rosebush, our own version of the phoenix, rising up out of the darkness towards the light.

The porch rosebush, our own version of the phoenix, rising up out of the darkness towards the light.

For Mess Cat, me, our brother and sister and all of our family, this is what each day is about.  Reaching past the darkness towards the light and hope for better days, yet still connected to the darkness.  Once you’ve been there, you can never leave it fully behind, but you can soak in all the goodness and love around you and reach for the light.

And so we do.

And while we’re reaching, we putter.  And piddle around.  And sit and be together.

That’s the best stuff in life.  Being together.

As a summer treat to celebrate a beautiful day, here’s a great summer song to putter and piddle around to–y’all enjoy!

And yes, that’s Kris Kristofferson with the guitar and cigar.  And if you don’t laugh with Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish, well, there’s just no help for ya!

Inappropriate to One, Survival to Another

pic of survival doodle
When my Daddy left this world, his two sisters, my Mama, my two sisters, and I were all right there with him. Less than thirty minutes later, my aunts and I were in the other room. We’d been sitting vigil since before daybreak, and we were all emotionally and physically exhausted. One of my aunts teased me about something, trying to lighten the moment. I looked at my aunt and offered an exaggerated pout, “I can’t believe you’re giving me a hard time…..my Daddy just died!” They laughed softly. “Oh, that was good, Tara. Good job.”

Inappropriate? Maybe. But they understood. It wasn’t the first time I’ve been inappropriate in my grieving and it probably won’t be the last.

A couple of months after Daddy died, I was so bogged down in the loss that I was crying in the shower regularly and just missed him so much. I was talking with my sister about it. She said, “You know Daddy wouldn’t want you being like this.” And without even thinking about it, I replied snappishly, “Well he ain’t here, is he?  So he doesn’t get a say.” Just the other day I told my Aunt that I kept doing things, half expecting Daddy to come back and stop me. And that I wish he would. I am pretty sure that if I don’t get my act together about some things, Mama will figure out a way to come back and set me straight. She’s always been resourceful like that. I told someone that and wondered if I really should have said it.  I do that a lot.  I say the first thing that comes to my grief-stricken mind, and then later think, “Uh oh. That sounded just about sacrilegious and downright disrespectful.” If any of those comments have fallen on your ears, I am sorry. I don’t mean to be disrespectful or offensive at all.

You see, in the past several years, that has become our relationship. Mama and Daddy knew I loved and respected them more than anything.  I ma’amed and sirred them right to the end.  But I would play at sassing them and they’d play fuss back. It was never about anything serious, just goofy stuff–like me giving them a hard time at letting my children have treats or watch a movie, all of which I was totally okay with. Or when Mama would want to send home the leftovers with us, and I’d sigh and say well, if I have to for goodness’ sake, but don’t expect me to do this again. Good-natured sarcasm was a mainstay. We lived for the playful banter.

And I miss it.

I was thinking about this the other day when I remembered a particular family I worked with in Hospice shortly after I was hired. A young mother, metastasized cancer, they waited until the very end to admit her to our program. I was at the house a lot, especially in the few weeks after her death, spending time with the children. The patient’s brother stayed in town for a little while after the service. One day he was trying to convince his brother-in-law, the grieving widower, to take a day off from work and go play some sport with him. The widower was reluctant; I think he’d taken a lot of leave over her several year battle with cancer. The young woman’s brother said, “Come on man, you can play the ‘my wife just died’ card. It’ll be fine.”

Quite honestly I was shocked and appalled. All at the same time. How could he even think such a thing, let alone say it out loud?

Ah, the indignation of youth and ignorance.

Because I get it now. I look back now through the lens of my own grief and realize that it was his way of dealing with losing his sister. He was flippant and irreverent and some might say inappropriate. I know I did back then. But he was surviving. He was making light of a horrible, tragically sad situation in order to hold it together. Because if he–if I–really shared any of what was in our hearts, the floodgates would open, and there would be no turning back. All of that brokenness, shattered and scattered like a mirror that has been shot clean through, would be so far gone there might be no putting it all back together.

And so we joke. We kid. Around here if someone says “Maemae wouldn’t like that,” it’s quite likely a “Well then she needs to come back here and tell me to my face” will follow.  We miss them. We miss their laughter, their wisdom, their love, their hugs, and just being with them. Being with them and taking their presence for granted, that would sure would be nice. Because, unfortunately, that’s how we lived…..before the cancer, before the illness, before the surgeries, and the sadness. We took each other for granted. It sure was good.

It has taken a dozen years and tremendous heartbreak for me to look back and understand the words and reaction of a young man whose sweet sister lost her battle with a horrible disease. I wish I could go back now and whisper in the Tara of yesterday’s ear–“Hey, cut him some slack. It’s not inappropriate. It’s survival. Give him the grace he needs. Because one day, sooner or later, we’re all going to need that grace.”

Survival and grief are gritty and hard and raw.  Not pretty.  Or easy.  And the only way to find that out, unfortunately, is to go through it.  Which is why I didn’t get it twelve years ago.  But today, today I understand.  All too well. What looks like indifference or irreverence is often just a way of holding the pieces together.  One moment at a time.  Sometimes that’s just the best you can do.

Mama and the Drug Dealer

Last August when Mama was in the hospital, she had a really rough time.  She had been admitted with a temp registering over 105.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been more frightened in my life.  They took her back immediately and left me to do the intake…..and worry what was happening back there.  She was dehydrated, her blood levels were off–it wasn’t good at all.

As happens they needed to “get a vein” on Mama quite often during that ten day HospitalStay.  Putting in an IV was especially tricky.  Mama did not, for whatever reason, have what could be deemed “good veins.”  I watched her in pain as nurse after nurse tried to find a way to get it set up.  Eventually they did, but each time Mama was left more exhausted than before.  And unfortunately, the vein would give out I guess or she would be in great pain, and they’d have to move it again.

Between me, my Aunt, and my siblings we stayed with Mama pretty much around the clock.  I spent the nights with her.  Though you could still hear voices in the hall and the lights were as bright as ever out there, there was a hush that came over the hospital after dark.  People who came in the room talked in low tones, and were more deliberate in their movements.  Often I dozed through the comings and goings.  One of the symptoms of Mama’s newly diagnosed syndrome was that she could run a fever and then sweat so profusely the bedclothes would need changing.  The staff was very good about helping her and sometimes changing the linens twice in one night.  They understood.  I’m so thankful for that.  And Mama, who had been to nursing school, kept a keen eye out for which ones had those special bedmaking skills.  Before she was discharged, I knew what was considered the right way, and who the best bedmakers were on our floor.

One night I had been sleeping for a couple of hours when I awoke to voices talking quietly, almost a whisper.  I sat up and Mama said, “Oh Tara, you have to hear the story that Sonya* just told me.  She’s the best at setting up IV’s.”  I smiled and rubbed my eyes.  Mama was beaming.  Sonya was finishing up connecting the IV, but it was in, and Mama wasn’t hurting.  Oh so thankful.  “I’d like to hear it.”

pic of drug needles

Sonya had been in nursing school in Virginia I think.  Mama liked that because her baby boy and his family live there, and it was a connection for her.  Eventually, Sonya wound up in New York doing some training.  Late one night she was having a hard time getting a vein on a patient.  One of the more experienced nurses told her to go up on the ninth floor to see Harold*.  He could help her with accessing veins.  Sonya went up and found Harold, an older gentleman patient diagnosed with AIDS.  He was a former drug dealer.  One of the aspects of his business was showing new folks how to get a vein, in the hopes that they’d get hooked on the drugs I suppose.  He was very, very good.  Maybe at selling drugs too, I really don’t know.  But eventually he wanted out of it.  He quit dealing, turned his life around and was involved in many good programs helping people before AIDS put him in that hospital.  On the ninth floor.  Where he taught Sonya–very well–how to “get a vein.”

The next morning as we sat, like you do in a hospital room, I thought about Sonya’s story.  “Hey, Mama, did you ever think you’d be thankful for a drug dealer and his skills?”  I don’t remember her answer.  She might have been sleeping.  All I know is I was and still am thankful for him.  And for Sonya who took the time to learn from someone others might have overlooked, something that all of her patients from then on would benefit from.

A few weeks ago I wrote about all the shades of gray in our world.  And remembering this brings it home for me.  So often in the past couple of weeks I have said to my Aunt or my friend or to my oldest–and yes, in frustration quite honestly–“See, no one can be put in a ‘white’ or ‘black’ box.  We are all a mixture of good and bad, light and dark, and we all go in the ‘GRAY’ box.”  *sigh*  So often I wish I could just write off someone who has upset me or disappointed me because there was nothing redemptive about him or her.  But it’s just not that easy.  There’s no all the way on anything or anyone.  It’s always a mix.

And that’s why I love this story.  The story of how my Mama, a feisty but sweet Mama of four, volunteer, Winnie the Pooh lover, great cook, reader, artist, and writer was touched and blessed by a drug dealer from New York City.  Because that part of his life did not ultimately define him.  Just as no one part of Mama’s life defined hers.  We are all these amazing stories whose lives intersect in the most fascinating and ordinary of ways and at the most interesting times.  And when they do, isn’t it breathtaking the stuff that can come of it?  When I think about the ripples, all the lives touched in a good way by Harold because he was a part of helping programs, because he was willing to share his skills with nurses, I am blown away.  Just as there’s no way of counting the lives that Sonya touched and still touches as she goes about caring for patients and helping people heal and be comfortable.  Or how many little lives my Mama touched all those years she read to children in classrooms at Byron Elementary.  I think that’s one of the coolest things ever.  How our stories travel far and wide to places we’ve never even been.  My Mama and a drug dealer’s lives connected?  That’s the most beautiful shade of gray I’ve ever seen.  Light in the darkness.  I love it.

*not their real names

It’s Okay to Choose Healthy

pic of note on my mirror

Yesterday when we were at the Fun Center with our friends, in the midst of the “drama,” there was a girl we didn’t know who called our young friend a name.  She then persisted in teasing him a few more times while they were all playing.  It was frustrating for him.  I looked at my oldest and said, “Sounds like that girl has a crush.”

She turned serious and said, “I read somewhere that you shouldn’t tell children that other children who pick on them are doing it because they like them.  It could set them up to think that such behavior is okay, and they can wind up in abusive relationships.”

Well.  Mind. Blown.

This takes me back to when I was in the third grade and LP, the red-headed boy in my class, kept bending my thumb back when the teacher wasn’t looking.  Or asleep.  Ahem.  Mama told me it was probably because he liked me.  Then she, my Daddy, and my other third grade teacher all told me I should kick him in the shin the next time he did it.  (Different times, huh?)  I couldn’t figure out why they were saying “chin” so fancy and just how did they think I was going to get my foot up high enough to kick him there?  So I did what came natural the next time.  I hollered out, “Stop it, LP!”  It woke the teacher up, she rapped her ruler on her desk and then used it on his palm when she figured out what was going on.  Yes, for sure, different times.

I don’t think it was bad parenting that had Mama and Daddy telling me his behavior probably meant he liked me.  I’ve told my oldest the same thing, and there was no mal-intent in it.  However, when she told me that yesterday, it all clicked.

Yes.

When we tell our sons and daughters that someone is being UNKIND, even downright mean to them perhaps because they have a crush, it starts a trail of reasoning.  He keeps pulling my thumb, he likes me, so it is okay.  So when, as teens, they meet someone who pushes them or slaps them or belittles them or worse, they see it through the lens of UNKIND=ATTENTION=AFFECTION.

This terrifies me.

I’m reading Ghost on Black Mountain by Ann Hite right now.  In the story the main character is belittled and threatened by her husband.  She wants to break away from it, but she still loves him so much.  I know she’s a fictional character, but I wonder about the story behind her putting up with the abuse.  I wonder about the stories of so many men and women who stay.  Could it have been something as simple as thinking the negative attention meant someone really cared about them early on?  Accepting any kind of attention as okay?  Or scared of what it would take to get out?

And so I resolved to change my thinking–to change what I am teaching my children.

And what I tell myself.

Under no circumstances is it okay for someone to be mean or abusive to you.  To my children.  To me.  It needs to be shared with someone you trust and then what to do about it needs to be decided from there.  But it should NEVER be tolerated.  And NEVER EVER kept to yourself.

Not the belittling by someone on your ball team.

Not being pushed around by a boyfriend.

Not being yelled at by a friend who wants to play a different game than you.

Not being made fun of about your clothes or your weight or how you look.

Not being manipulated and lied to by a friend, a girlfriend, or a spouse.

Not being given guilt by the wheelbarrow load when you follow your morals, your values, your instincts.

Not a single one of these things says, “I care about you.”  In fact what I hear loud and clear (somewhat in hindsight) is, “I care more about myself.  You and your feelings do not matter to me in the least.  I need for you to be weak for me to feel strong.  For me to feel all right I need for you to feel pain, misery, lost, frustrated, hurt.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this today.  Sometimes people who feel bad about where they are or about decisions they have made lash out at those around them, oftentimes those closest to them, in an effort to lessen their own pain.  I have a friend who is doing this.  And after reading the article my oldest shared with me, I recognized what is going on, and that I have to walk away.  As a wise therapist once said, “It’s okay to choose healthy.”  I have this stuck on my mirror to remind me everyday, because I need reminding.  I think it is time I start really taking this to heart and teaching this to my children.  I see friends of my littles already starting the manipulation routine, and I don’t want to see my children succumb to the guilt, nor do I want them to become the manipulator.

If you are interested in reading the article, you can find it here.  While I do not agree with everything on the list, I do think this point alone is worth reading the article for.  We are all human beings, worthy of being treated with kindness and respect.  I know there are times when someone is unkind and hurts the feelings of others without any intent to do so at all.  It happens.  But it’s still okay to let them know, without confrontation, that it hurt.  Chances are, they will be sorry and things will get better.  But it is NOT OKAY for someone, for anyone,  to deliberately hurt you–physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.  EVER.   It has to stop.  Talk to someone you trust.  Call a Crisis Line.   Do whatever it takes to end that cycle.   No one deserves to be made to feel less than.  Not you or me or anyone.  Ever.

This is one national link if you or someone you know needs to seek helpwww.thehotline.org