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My Hospital Phobia

My friend, Gail, just released a new episode on her podcast, Wildscape. This 5th episode is called “Where’s Beauty.” Gail’s podcasts often speak to me in some deeply personal way, and this one is no exception. She starts with her “hospital phobia,” and those words trigger a rush of affectionate kinship. Hospital phobia? Me too!

She moves beyond that and into the rest of her story pretty quickly, but the thought lingers with me and I find myself ruminating a bit on my own hospital trauma. I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of hospitals, cringe at the thought of visiting someone there, although I do put in an appearance when needed. I used to say that I’d never been hospitalized myself, and that was true – as an adult, I never had been.

I was three when I was hospitalized. I don’t remember it at all, not consciously anyhow, and the stories I’ve heard don’t seem quite real. I had been – not really sick, but tired. My parents were worried; they took me to the doctor. I was still an only child at three, and I can imagine their worry.

The doctor explained that my iron level was low, I had anemia, they were afraid I might have leukemia. I would have to be hospitalized for more tests. Of course my parents agreed, what else would they have done in 1959?

So, the story goes, they took me out for ice cream and explained to me that I would have to go to the hospital. I don’t remember any of this. But I can imagine me enthusiastically eating my ice cream with no real idea of what they were talking about. I do love ice cream, so I guess there isn’t any lingering sense of betrayal connected with that.

Of course, in those days, parents weren’t allowed to stay with their children in the hospital. When they left me there, late that afternoon, my mother says she started to cry. I patted her cheek and told her not to cry, assured her I would be ok.

I guess I was ok. I don’t remember any of it. I was there for several days.- three or four anyhow. I can’t imagine why, when I think about it now. Why would it take that long to do tests? I don’t know. But I was there for several days. I don’t remember it at all, but when I think about being in the hospital, I feel my guts twist, my heart aches, I want to run away.

Parents were allowed to visit once a day. My mother tells me that she and my father were always the first ones in, rushing to my bed. That I was so happy to see them, and so sad when the time was up and they had to leave. I had never been away from them overnight before. She says the nurses would tell her how good I was, how brave. I wonder now what the hell that meant.

The story goes that one time, just as my parents got there, they saw one of my doctors. That was rare, and they stopped him to ask him some questions. Because they had stopped, the other parents had already arrived when mine entered the ward. They hurried to my bed, but instead of greeting them with joy, I was lying curled up on my side and didn’t even lift my head. When they tried to get me to sit up, I said, quietly, barely moving my lips, “I have to lie here.”

A nurse was passing by and saw me, saw them, and stopped. She patted me reassuringly, told me it was ok to get up. To my parents, she explained that when the other parents came in and they weren’t in that first rush, I had started to cry. Sobbing loudly. One of the doctors on his way out had stopped long enough to tell me I’d better be quiet and lie right there if I wanted my parents to come. Apparently, I had taken his words to heart.

I was three. I don’t remember any of that. I did not have leukemia, and whatever was wrong with me, I got better.

I think I had already become a therapist, immersed in trauma work, before it occurred to me that my extreme avoidance of hospitals might be connected to that experience. I could barely stand to visit family or friends, and was pretty sure that made me a terrible person. When I got pregnant, I was delighted that to be able to have a midwife and go to a birthing center, but didn’t quite realize that I was mostly relieved to avoid a hospital.

Listening to my friend Gail’s podcast was actually the first time it occurred to me that hospitals might be redeemable. That they were not necessarily places of terror, pain, and oppression. Ok, I might still think they are, but I can acknowledge that I might be wrong.

Somewhat ironically, a dear friend of mine recently invited me to join them for a meal at a hospital cafeteria, just like Gail’s grandparent. Maybe it would have been a transformative experience, but, unlike Gail, I could not be persuaded. Eat in a hospital??? Omg, no, that’s a hard no, absolutely not. Just no.

It’s interesting watching how the trauma sits with me now, or how I sit with it. My heart aches for that little girl that was me, and I can almost touch her sadness, her terror, feeling abandoned in a strange and scary place for some indefinite time. But when I think about that, I also think about children removed from their parents by Child Protective Services, immigrant children separated at the border, each individual child traumatized in so many ways. And how many of those children won’t be returned to their home, won’t be returned to their parents. Trying to hold all of that is too much, too heavy

So I back off a bit. I notice those feelings and remind myself that most of us have experienced those feelings. “Common humanity.” That’s what we call it in Mindful Self Compassion, knowing that we all have the same feelings, even if we don’t have the same experiences. I remind myself that some children are feeling this with all the intensity right now, and that I’m called – we are all called – to alleviate that suffering as best we can.

That’s at the heart of compassion – knowing that people are suffering, feeling the urge to end the suffering, and then acting on it. We recognize suffering in others because we have felt it ourselves. What each of us chooses to do with that knowing spins together like threads on a loom and creates the world.

Lesson for the Day

Apparently, it’s really helpful for me to start a blog post here and then discover it belongs on my professional blog. That’s kind of cool. I think it takes the pressure off and eases my perfectionism. (Yes, I’m supposed to be a recovering perfectionist, but you know how it is.).

My trip to the beach today sparked the post. Here are a couple of pictures from that. It was lovely. Also, you can see there are no crowds of people there at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

In other news… we’re working on getting our pool usable again. Yes, it would have been nice if we’d done it in the spring. It would have been nice if I hadn’t neglected it in the first place. But we’re getting it done, and that’s what counts. (Yes, this is another anti-perfectionism moment.)

And finally, I stopped at the little fruit market on the way home today. They had tomatoes that look lovely. With tomatoes like these, can BLTs be far behind? No! (I only eat BLTs twice a year, once at the beginning of tomato season and once at the end, so that’s a real treat.). But aren’t they beauties? And they don’t have that greenhouse ripened feel, so they’re going to taste great too. Now all I need is some green beans and maybe little red potatoes… or corn.

Time to Begin Again

It’s been over 2 years since I posted here. I think I’ve completely changed my life since that last post about visiting museums with my sister and brother-in-law. It’s occurred to me that I need a space where I can talk. Just talk about what’s going on with me and how I experience it. Hardly anybody reads me here, and the people who do are friends, so this seems like a good place to do it. At some point, I might make this private with invited readers only.

But for now, I’m just going to leave my thoughts here. Things I might talk about:

  • Surviving the pandemic with my daughter, grandkids, and significant other, Dee.
  • Getting more healthy and fit.
  • Learning how to teach Mindful Self Compassion
  • Building my business as a Trauma Sensitive Consultant and Coach
  • The protests and the need for structural changes to move toward racial equity
  • The adventures Dee and I have riding electric trikes
  • Trips to the beach
  • Who knows what else?

These are not going to be carefully planned and crafted, it’s more like a journal. Just talking about what’s on my mind. Probably short, cause who has time for more? Comments and discussion are welcome.

At the beach with the grandkids yesterday. Expect selfies…

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

I wish I could separate this day of thanksgiving from our history of murdering Indigenous People and destroying their culture. I keep trying to figure out how to celebrate all the things I have to be grateful for without dismissing the history around this day. I haven’t quite figured out how to do it, but I think part of it might be holding lots of gratitude for the people who’ve helped me, challenged me, walked with me, and pointed me in a different direction.
I’m not entitled to that help, it’s not owed to me, but I’ve gotten it, from so many people – from family to teachers, clients, clinic escorts, people I used to go to church with, co-workers, people who grow food, prepare it, and serve it, construction workers who build things and mechanics who fix them, and on and on and on. I want to recognize and hold appreciation for all of them, especially today.
I was looking for a picture to post with this, and noticed what interesting ideas we have about being thankful. We tell people they should be grateful because it could be worse, be grateful because it will make you feel better, or be grateful because God likes it. There often feels like an underlying threat to me – be grateful or else… Ooooh like the story of The Wish Fish!
In that old fairytale, a fisherman catches a magical fish who promises to grant his wishes if he will set the fish free. The fisherman and his wife are very poor and so he asks for something simple. The fish happily grants that wish and the fisherman goes home. His wife is appalled that he asked for so little. (The story is sometimes called the Greedy Wife.) She keeps sending him back to ask for more until the fish gets so angry that he takes away all the wishes he’s granted and leaves them just like he found them. Obviously, a cautionary tale about wanting too much, being too demanding, and not appreciating what you have.
Our messages about Thanksgiving often remind me of that story.
Unknowntop 50 be thankful quotes - moveme quotes on Quotes About Being Thankful For Someone
That’s not the stance I want to take. I want to be thankful without threats and thankful without looking for the pay-off.
And I don’t want to direct the thanks to some supreme being, regardless of whether or not there is one.  If I’m grateful to God for sending me this person or that thing, grateful to God for giving me shelter and food and so on, then it seems like I’m imagining a God who portions these things out. “Here, you can have these supports and these blessings in abundance, but I’m not giving everyone all this stuff. Just the people who deserve it, or just the people who appreciate it,” or whatever rationale you use for God letting people starve to death.
I think that’s how the colonists saw it. “Thank you God for sending us these Indians to help us.” So the Indigenous People were seen as tools God sent to keep the Pilgrims alive rather than wonderful people in their own right who generously helped. Or grudgingly helped. Whatever.
And that kind of thanks is not what I want to do. I want to see the big picture, just for minute – be able to see the overwhelming vast network of people who help make life alll the wonderful things it is. And then to imagine each of those people, with their own lives, their own stories, their own struggles. And for a moment, to be able to hold all of that with appreciation for what it is.
Have a lovely Thanksgiving. ❤



Day Two: Hidden Horrors

In today’s adventure — we were starting a training. One of the participants had started a fresh pot of coffee. As we were wrapping up introductions, she got a funny look on her face and moved as if she were going to get up. My co-trainer Sarah Cannady said, “Oh, is the coffee ready?”

The participant said, “Nooooo, it’s not the coffee,” and pointed to the floor, at the edge of the room. Suddenly, people in that area were jumping up and moving away, just like in a horror movie, and all I could think was, “Omg, it’s a really big bug, or a mouse – I should run!” But nope, it was neither of those things.

It was a snake. Which was a great relief to me, but sent several people scrambling to get out of the room as quickly as they could. One brave soul trapped it with a garbage can while we waited for help. Fortunately, someone from the Environmental Protection agency was passing by and, unperturbed by the scary snakiness, she removed him from the room.



Whew! We didn’t really need coffee after all that excitement!!

In other news, the ferry I was supposed to catch in the morning has been cancelled due to mechanical repairs. I had to choose between a later ferry or driving around to a different ferry. I’m going to drive. It will take longer, but I can leave earlier and get there earlier, and I’m sure it will be interesting.


The blue line is the way I was going to go. The grey line is the new route. It includes a ferry ride, but much more driving.



Day One: The Lake

So I had gone to the grocery with the intention of having crackers and cheese and fruit for dinner. However, the B&B woman’s husband was telling me about how to get to this one restaurant with wonderful food. He was promoting the fried chicken special, which is made with lard and therefore delicious. That didn’t really appeal to me (sorry, I grew up with olive oil, not lard.) But then he showed me how to get there, which involved driving over this HUGE lake – Lake Mattamuskeet.

So I went for the lake, but stayed for dinner.

The lake went on for miles. I took a couple of pictures on the way down – notice the very cool bird in the first picture! You do literally just drive through the middle of the lake.

The restaurant had some of the most delicious grilled trout I ever had. Potatoes au gratin and baked apples on the side. One piece of cornbread and one beaten biscuit, which I had with the apples for dessert.

Driving back home, the light was lovely and the lake was even more picturesque. Stopped to walk out on a little fishing pier and noticed a couple of men fishing on the other side of the road. I considered the possibility that they were poaching or doing something illegal and would have to kill me, thereby making all of this just an intro to a terrific murder mystery.

But, as you can see, either they weren’t doing anything illegal or they realized I was too ignorant to know what they were doing, so they didn’t have to kill me (Yes, I really have these thoughts.) We chatted for a few minutes, as they came over to my side of the road and were casting their net in the water. They caught a few fish immediately that were looking pretty big to me, but they seemed disappointed. Then I was able to drive on back to my lovely B&B.

With Appreciation

The last couple of trips my partner, Dee, and I have taken to Mexico, he’s been having some issues with mobility, so we’ve needed a wheelchair to get from one flight to the next.  It’s been awkward and odd and amazing.

Overwhelmingly, I am grateful that airports have a system designed to allow us to travel.  I had no idea.  When we ask for a wheelchair, a staff person is assigned to push it.  That person may go with us to pick up luggage and take it though customs, walk us through immigration and document checks, and go through security.  They may be with us for 15 minutes or for hours.

It’s no longer just me and Dee traveling, we’re a little parade.  Dee and the wheelchair and the staff person, me, and often a second staff person with the luggage.  There are some benefits.  We breeze through immigration and customs now.  No waiting in line for security.

The staff people are invariably nice and helpful.   In Mexico City, they don’t always speak any English, which matches our lack of Spanish speaking skill, but Dee makes an effort to communicate and they do too and it all works out.

Well, that one time when we wandered around the airport for about 3 hours trying to find our luggage and figure out what we were supposed to do to get a flight the next day was not so much fun.  Our person kept stopping to ask different people for advice, they would speak rapidly in Spanish, with some gesticulating, and I wasn’t sure what he was even asking, much less what they were saying.  Then he would be back, taking the wheelchair in hand, heading off in some direction, and all I could do was follow him.  At one point, he gestured to me that I had to go through some security check – I didn’t know why, but the security guy spoke a little English, and he explained that they needed me to look for our luggage.  So I headed back into some baggage area, while our guy and Dee headed off in the opposite direction to “los banos,” and I did wonder what would happen if I came back and they were just gone.

What would I do then?

But they were there when I came back, and I had the luggage too, so it was all good.

We had a young woman in Charlotte who was warm and reassuring.  “Don’t worry,” she said, “You’ve got plenty of time to make the next flight,” and of course she was right.  In Charlotte, their system involved her getting us to the right cart, which then carried us on to the right gate, where they had a wheelchair to get us to the door of the aircraft.  The young woman and I chatted for a minute or two – she’s just working at this until she can get a job with one of the airlines, and then she’ll be able to travel.  She was telling me about the many places she wants to go, and I hope she gets to do that.

I’ve begun to see the networks of people who staff the airports and the way they relate to each other.  Sometimes, our person – our helper? I don’t know what the right term is – but sometimes they’re really outgoing, flirting and joking with everyone along the way.  Sometimes they’re more quiet, but alway helpful and kind.

Yesterday, we left Mexico City, landed in Dallas, headed for home.  The wheelchair attendant (there, does that sound better?) is a soft-spoken woman, wearing a burkha.  Her name tag reads “Ayisha.”   She is pleased to hear we have three hours between flights, “Plenty of time,” she says, “No need to hurry.”

She directs us.  “You’ll need your passport and boarding pass,” or “show him this form with your passport,” telling me, “follow me,” or “you go ahead.”  We move a bit more smoothly than usual.

We are delayed at security.  “Only two wheelchairs can go at a time,” she says,  “so we just wait.  Sometimes, people get so upset, but it’s ok, there’s lots of time.”

We get to customs, and she helps us scan our passports, answer the appropriate questions (no, we have not visited a farm) and get our pictures taken.  With our printouts in hand, we are heading on, when a male voice behind us says, “Ayisha, help her with this!”

She turns, I turns – Dee is up ahead just a bit – and there’s an older woman in a wheelchair in front of the machine, passport in hand, saying querulously, “I don’t know how to do this.  I don’t know how.”

Ayisha says to the man staffing the wheelchair, “You can help her,” but he turns his head away, and the woman in the chair says again, “I don’t know how to do this.”

I think Ayisha is going to say something sharp to the man, I think she starts to, or maybe I just want her to, but she doesn’t.  Instead she takes the woman’s passport and shows her how to insert it to start the process.  She gently and kindly walks her through the couple of minutes it takes to complete it.  Then, without waiting for thanks, she turns and we move on.

“Why didn’t he help her?”  I ask.

“Oh, he’s very  – busy,” she says, in a tone that I think means he thinks he’s too important to do that.

“But – he was right there, he could have helped her,” I say.

“Yes,” she agrees, “He could have,” and she says it in a tone that allows me to let go of my own frustration at what seems like him being unreasonable.

We pick up our luggage – two bags, about 40 pounds each – and Ayisha stacks them on a cart.  She takes the wheelchair with one hand, the cart with the other, and starts off.  “Oh, I can help with that,” I say, meaning the luggage, but she laughs.  “I’ve got it,” she says.

I’m a bit awed.  Often the wheelchair person will take one bag and ask me to push the other – which is fine if we aren’t going miles.  And sometimes they’ll recruit a second person to help.  But she’s handling both wheelchair and baggage as if it’s nothing.  “I’ve been doing this job for 15 years.  Sometimes,” she says, “I push two wheelchairs.”

She hands the luggage off again effortlessly.

We’re about to get on an elevator – there’s a couple standing there with a full cart of luggage, about to go up.  Ayisha says, “Are you going to check your luggage?”  They shake their heads no.  “Are you looking for a taxi?”  Nods this time.  “You need to go that way,” she says, pointing.  Off the elevator they come, heading down the hall in the right direction.

“How did you know they were going the wrong way?”

She shakes her head, “Easy, you don’t need to go up with luggage.  You either go that way to check in baggage, or the other way to go out.  You don’t go up.”

We are pre-TSA, but are delayed while they check Dee’s hands for evidence of explosives and pat him down from head to toe.  “He is new,” Ayisha says, talking about the security guy.  “He doesn’t have to do all that, he was pre-TSA, but that guy, he’s new, new ones, they always do too much.”

She delivers us to an electric cart, “You stay with this cart,” she says, “Don’t  take any other one, this one take you all the way to your gate.”  I assure her we will, and thank her profusely, as she sends us off with a smile and a wave.

I hate for Dee that he’s had to use a wheelchair.  I would not have chosen this experience for either of us.  But I am left with such lovely images of the network of people who make it possible for us to travel.  So many times, I’ve seen wheelchairs at the end of the ramp as I exit the plane, without giving them another thought.  Now I feel connected to the people who do that work day after day.   And to Ayisha, who did it with such warmth, dignity, and grace.



Kim Davis: Is she acting as a “Lesser Magistrate?”

I’ve read lots of articles about Kim Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, Ky and her defiance of the marriage equality law.  Living in Kentucky, it’s particularly interesting to me.   But I haven’t seen anyone in the mainstream talking specifically about the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate and whether that doctrine applies to the stand Kim Davis has taken.

According to Wikipedia, the doctrine of the lesser magistrate dates back to the time of John Calvin and the Protestant Reformation.  Simply put, it states that if the government is wrong, individuals still have to follow the laws, but magistrates – people in public office – have a right and a duty to stand up against the laws.  Which makes sense.  They have a duty to defend their people from tyrants.  But ~

Fast forward to 2013 and Matthew Trewhella, author of The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate, available here on Amazon.  {No, I’m not suggesting you buy it, but I’d rather you check it out on Amazon than on his website…}  Trewhella says:

“America has entered troubling times. The rule of law is crumbling. The massive expansion of Federal government power with its destructive laws and policies is of grave concern to many. But what can be done to quell the abuse of power by civil authority? Are unjust or immoral actions by the government simply to be accepted and their lawless commands obeyed? How do we know when the government has acted tyrannically? Which actions constitute proper and legitimate resistance? This book places in your hands a hopeful blueprint for freedom. Appealing to history and the Word of God, Pastor Matthew Trewhella answers these questions and shows how Americans can successfully resist the Federal government’s attempts to trample our Constitution, assault our liberty, and impugn the law of God. The doctrine of the lesser magistrates declares that when the superior or higher civil authority makes an unjust/immoral law or decree, the lesser or lower ranking civil authority has both the right and duty to refuse obedience to that superior authority. If necessary, the lower authority may even actively resist the superior authority.”

Then I found this website, that blogs about the doctrine of the lesser magistrate.  They are thrilled with Kim Davis.  According to them,   “What Kim Davis has done is not about religious liberty – it is about reining in a lawless federal judiciary.”

If she, and others who resist issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, are following the doctrine, then they don’t actually want the state to find ways to accommodate their religious beliefs.  Their goal is to keep the state from issuing licenses – from acting in ways that their religion deems immoral.  As the blogger says:

“The clerks (and others) do not want to have to lay their hand to this great evil (by issuing marriage licenses), but then promote a change in state law so that people can still do the evil – just not through them. This is not true interposition.”

The blog then goes on to complain that the clerks “seem to be taking some bad advice from politicians and lawyers.”  I agree with them, but not the way they mean it.  They’re critical because it looks like they might settle for having a new system that would issue the licenses without them.  “True interposition” doesn’t work like that.  According to the website:

When standing in interposition against wickedness, lesser magistrates – like county clerks, judges, or legislators – should understand that their primary duty is to protect those who reside in their jurisdiction against the aggression of the tyrant – not to protect themselves.

Not only does the interposition of the lesser magistrates protect the people in the jurisdiction of their office against evil – but it also abates the just judgment of God.

Kim Davis (and others) are attempting to stand in the gap. Their fealty to the Lord does not allow them to join the higher authorities in their rebellion against God. But, it is all an utter failure if they proffer actions to see the evil accomplished another way (via a website at the statehouse). It is not true interposition.

So don’t be confused by discussions about religious freedom.  This is not about an individual’s right to act in accordance with her conscience.  It’s not about the need to make accommodations.   The intent is to stop the government from acting in ways that are against her religious beliefs.

No, she can’t win this battle.  In my worst fantasy, her attorney is encouraging her to see herself as the first of the Lesser Magistrates to stand up to the immoral, tyrannical government.  Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe he’s not helping her envision herself as – oh good grief, yes, seriously, the Rosa Parks of her time.  I think he is.  The website, after a lot of talk about why the Supreme Court can’t “make laws,” says:

What Kim Davis has done is not about religious liberty – it is about interposition, it is about honoring Christ, it is about reining in a lawless federal judiciary.

It is now incumbent upon all other magistrates – sheriffs, district attorneys, judges from all spheres of government, and legislators from all spheres of government – to rally around Kim Davis, interpose on her behalf, and defy a lawless federal judiciary.

It is now incumbent upon the people to rally around Kim Davis and assure her of their support – with their persons, with their finances, with their prayers. They must also prod their state and federal magistrates to interpose on her behalf and defy the lawlessness of the federal judiciary.

So don’t be surprised when Kim Davis goes back to jail.  Don’t shake your head and say, “WHAT does she want?”  She wants to lead the lesser magistrates into battle to defy the Supreme Court.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Then Whose Fault Is It?

{Reblogged from my website:}

Just as I was beginning to write my last post, I ran across this article entitled: How to Land your Kid in Therapy. The author, Lori Gottlieb, starts off expressing her relief (as a parent) that parents don’t have to be perfect – that the real goal is to be a “good enough” mother. Then she talks about her experiences as a therapist. She describes how her first clients clearly suffered from having parents who were not emotionally nurturing. Then she begins to describe some other clients:

Imagine a bright, attractive 20-something woman with strong friendships, a close family, and a deep sense of emptiness. She had come in, she told me, because she was “just not happy.” And what was so upsetting, she continued, was that she felt she had nothing to be unhappy about. She reported that she had “awesome” parents, two fabulous siblings, supportive friends, an excellent education, a cool job, good health, and a nice apartment. She had no family history of depression or anxiety. So why did she have trouble sleeping at night? Why was she so indecisive, afraid of making a mistake, unable to trust her instincts and stick to her choices? Why did she feel “less amazing” than her parents had always told her she was? Why did she feel “like there’s this hole inside” her? Why did she describe herself as feeling “adrift”?
The author spends the rest of the article explaining what the parents of her young clients have done wrong to create young adults who “have it all” but are still not happy. Drawing on the most sound psychological theory, she explains how over-protecting your child from disappointment, giving them too many choices, and treating them as if they were “delicate tea cups” puts today’s young people at a disadvantage – and “lands them in therapy.” She describes what parents can do to keep from handicapping their children in this particular way.

It made me laugh. I don’t disagree with her – in the ideal world, parents would know how to provide exactly the right amount of protection balanced with the right amount of laissez-faire. I’m sure there are parents who know when to negotiate and when to stand firm in exactly the right amounts. And maybe their children grow up to be perfectly well-adjusted and happy in all the right ways.

I don’t know any of those parents, or their kids either. Maybe they exist – I just haven’t met them.

But I appreciate a person in their twenties who “has it all” and still feels that something is missing. I don’t think it means there’s something wrong with them – I think they’re on track to discover who they are and their purpose in life. I understand that they may be a bit miserable, but I don’t see any reason to hold their parents accountable for that.

Good grief, in order to be perfect parents – including being just the right kind of flawed – would take some phenomenal perfection. Ridiculous. Some people have trauma-laden pasts to heal from, others may suffer from lack of experience with difficulties – but everybody has problems. Going to therapy is one way to learn how to deal with whatever your struggles are.

Being anxious, depressed, unhappy, bored, or miserable might mean we need to make changes in how we live. It might mean we need to accept some things about how we live, or about the universe. We might need new skills or a new perspective. Maybe our childhoods were traumatic, or maybe they were “too easy.” The question is still not “What’s Wrong With Me?”

And the answer is not, “Well, here’s what my parents did wrong.” Don’t misunderstand me – if you had a traumatic childhood, as many people do, there is healing work that you need to do. If you had parents who thought you were supposed to make them happy, you have healing work to do. And if your life was so easy that you’re a bit spoiled – well, you still have work to do.

I’m pretty sure that we’re all scarred from our childhood, not to mention adolescence. Our parents are only human, and they carry their own scars. Most of them do the best they know how to do. Figuring out where your parents went wrong is not, actually, the goal. It might be a place to visit, a little exploration might help, but that’s not the end of the journey.

So if the question is not, “What’s wrong with me,” or “Where did my parents go wrong?” then what is the question?

Sometimes, just figuring out what the question is takes time and energy. Sometimes, it’s about looking at the things that have happened to us, seeing them with adult eyes and a new perspective. Looking at the rules we’ve learned about how the world works, deciding which rules are fact-based and helpful, which ones aren’t. Figuring out what we feel and where we stand and who we are. Ultimately, the question becomes, “Given all the things that I’ve been through, given the things about my life that I can’t change, given all my goals and dreams and needs, what do I need to do to be ok? Right now, what do I need to do to be ok?

More Airport Adventures

The morning we have to leave Puerto {which we don’t much want to do} I’m talking to the women at the front desk of our hotel, Natalie and that-other-blonde-woman, whose name I don’t know.  One of them says, “You’re leaving today?? Ohhhh, hmmmm, well, you might want to go very soon.”  They exchange looks, nodding seriously.  “Yes, I wouldn’t wait too long.”

“What?  Why?  What? Our plane doesn’t leave til 4…” I am baffled.  Natalie is German and occasionally I have trouble understanding her English, maybe I’ve misunderstood?

“Well, we heard – I don’t know if it’s true or not – we heard they are trying to shut down the airport.  You may not be able to leave if you wait.”  It takes me a minute to process this.  Seriously?  Then – “‘They’ who?” I say.

“The teachers, the teachers are protesting.  Usually they shut down the road to the airport.”  With a shrug, “Then you cannot ride all the way in, you have to walk with your suitcases, but you can still get there.  This time they say they are shutting down the airport and no one will be able to leave.  But I’m not sure.  I heard this, but I don’t know if it’s true or not.  I will tell you when I find out more.”

“Ok, great, that would be helpful,” I say.   I’m trying to decide whether  to panic, and then I shrug too, “I guess if we can’t fly out, we’ll take a bus to Mexico City.  Our plane doesn’t leave there til 9 tomorrow morning.  No point in worrying about it.”

But it feels a bit like I’m in a bad novel, you know?  The kind that makes me anxious because I think they won’t “get out” and bad things will happen and all that.  But here in real life, I’m just not too worried  I go back to our room and pass this information on to Dee, who is also not too worried.  Whatever.

When Conan gets to the hotel, we share this possibility with him, and he says he’ll call his cousin and find out more, but no one really knows.

So we get packed, and load up the car, pick up my daughter from work and have lunch.  Lunch is in a small, non-touristy restaurant near the Mercado- the same restaurant we had lunch in when people were leaving after the wedding in February, so it may become our traditional farewell lunch place.  Paulina, Conan’s mother, insists on paying the tab, which is nice of her.  Lucia is cranky, which may also be a tradition, she was cranky at lunch that day in February, and I remember Holly or somebody taking her out and walking up and down the street with her.

Memorable lunch moment this time – Julia has distracted Lucia with some delicious rice water, and Lucia is playing with the empty glass.   She offers her Mommy some pretend rice water.  Julia “drinks” from the glass, and says “Ahhhh.”

Lucia smiles and asks, “Good?”

Julia, “Yes.  Delicious.”

Just a moment’s pause, and Lucia says, “Say ‘thank you,'” in the Exact Same Tone of gentle prompting that her mother uses.

And what can Julia say but, “Thank you!”

I’m trying to hide my laughter, but omg, I’m cracking up, it’s so perfect.  Timing and tone, Lucia captures pure Julia.

Anyhow.  Lovely lunch.  Then on to the airport.  We take a cab as well as the car – Julia and Lucia and Paulina and I are in the cab, Conan and Dee in the car with the luggage.   Conan asks the cab driver about the protest and the airport, and the driver is reassuring, “O, si,” he’s sure we’ll be able to leave, but we might have to park and walk.

As we get closer to the entrance, there’s a line of traffic.  Some cabs and cars have pulled over, stopped, just sitting on the side of the road.  A couple have turned around and are coming back on the wrong side of the road.  We make our way through them for a bit, and then we can’t go any further.  We get out of the cab, Conan and Dee pull the luggage out of the car.  Fortunately, we’ve crammed our carry-ons into the larger suitcases, so at least we only have two bags and our backpacks.

We can see now ~ It is a protest.  Not a huge protest, and it’s very calm, but there are a bunch of people – kind of like a loose picket line – that we’ll have to pass through, and the gate to the road – a huge metal gate – is closed.  The road is definitely blocked.

So Conan goes to park the car somewhere; the rest of us get the luggage and start walking.  We don’t really have far to go, and I’m relieved to see a small gate on one side of the entrance, with guards on the other side.  As people approach it, they’re opening it and letting some people through.

The guards are armed of course and the protesters aren’t teachers.    “We always just assume it’s the teachers,” Julia says, but it isn’t this time.  Googling it now, I find this story:

9-hour blockade by Popular Revolutionary Front

It is ~ just a little bit scary.  Not dreadfully scary.  Just a little bit.  Ok, the armed guards scare me.  They always do a little bit, even thought they’re super polite.  And the line of people protesting is peaceful, but there’s tension in the air.  Anyhow.   We walk through without any problem.

When we get to the gate, the guard has a list, they ask for our names,  and – good news – Dee and I are on the list.   They open the gate ~~ there’s a van waiting, we won’t even have to walk the rest of the way ~~ we hand our luggage through, they put it on the van ~~  and i realize ~~ we’re going to have to say to good-bye right here, right now.  This is it.   No, oh, wait, no ~~

I turn to Julia ~ she’s looking panicky too ~ holding Lucia, and pregnant, ~~ and I start to say good-by and hug her, only I start crying, and she starts crying, which we had both planned on not doing ~ and Lucia looks worried ~~

and I say to the guard, “Can’t she come back? with us?” and Julia says it in Spanish, and ~~

~~ then the guard says, “Si, yes, si, come on,come on, you can back go too,” and Julia says, “Really?” and her face lights up and  I quit crying.  They assure her, yes, yes, she can go, and she says, “But m’esposo?” and they assure her that he can come too, when he gets here, and then we get on the van and go on up to the airport.


I don’t even quite know why that’s such a big deal, but it was.  We still don’t want to leave, but it’s somehow better saying good-bye after we check in rather than having to let her go right there at the gate in the heat and in the middle of the protest and all.  Paulina waits for Conan and they join us just a few minutes later.

Sadly, we do our good-byes and then Dee and I are on to the next stage of our adventure.

When I look back, it seems a bit surreal.  I wish I had pictures of what it was like, the protesters and the gate and the guards and all, but you know, it was not really a photo op.   I can’t do it justice with words though.  You really had to be there.

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