My things clenched in hand
Holding on tight as I can
Still they slip away
I have a tendency of finding some people irritating for no apparent reason. They’ve never done anything to hurt me in any way. In fact, in many cases they are more than pleasant to me and some I would even describe as close acquaintances, maybe even friends. Yet there remains something that makes me grit my teeth when I’m in their general vicinity.
This bothers me. Disliking people is fine. That’s how the world works. There are people we will dislike and people who will dislike us in return. I’m the first to admit I’m an acquired taste and I’m sure I irritate some people like a speck of sand inside a clam. I understand that. What I’m referring to is when I can’t find any reason for this dislike. Why does this person set my back teeth on edge without even trying?
I have come to realize that sometimes there is no clear, rational explanation. It’s instinctual. I’ve heard theories that sometimes another person’s scent or pheromones trigger something in us that reacts with hostility. I suppose that’s possible – I honestly try not to go around sniffing other people. However, I realize that the majority of the time I’m reacting this way to a specific trait the person possesses and it invariably is one that I possess as well. Surprise!
Sometimes I am reacting to a trait that I share with the other person. Seeing my irritating traits in others is apparently just as irritating to me. I believe this is a common reaction. What surprised me more was when I realized that what I was reacting to was/is a trait that I enjoy about myself and feel the other person is “stealing”. For example, let’s say I’m the type of person who presents a boisterous, outgoing, sometimes outrageous persona to others (just an example clearly). I have moments where I will observe something doing something similar to my “schtick” and garnering positive responses and I feel a flash of jealousy followed by a flash of dislike. If this person takes my niche then where will that leave me? Wait a minute, what did I just write?
Yup, it turns out that in about half the instances I “dislike” someone, it’s really simply that I’m jealous of them on some level. I’m afraid if they can act the same way I do then I will become redundant. I want to be the center of attention; the Sun in my universe. I will fiercely defend my position (see my previous post about my 7 of Wands approach to relationships); guard my niche. Of course, now that I realize this is my proclivity, I try to catch myself before I say or do anything embarrassing or rude. Overall I’ve gotten pretty effective at it. Sometimes I feel like an observer watching my behavior and then catching myself before I make any major faux pas. It’s not easy and I still fail spectacularly on occasion but I’m trying. At the end of the day, I guess that’s the best any of us can do – make a genuine effort to change.
Lead me through darkness
Reveal what hides in shadows
Don’t let me get lost
As some of you out there may know, I spent the last 5 years caring for my elderly, dementia-ridden mother-in-law. I lived with her 24/7 and took care of all her needs. Although not a fun experience by any means, I will say that I learned a lot. Most of it I was unable to process until after she had passed, in fact I’m still processing. One thing I did learn is how to appreciate death. I realize this may sound a bit out there but the truth is that there comes a time when death is a blessing and this was definitely one of them.
In life, my mother-in-law was a fiercely independent and self-sufficient woman. She detested asking for assistance and would have despised what her illness did to her. Towards the end she was unable to recognize any of us (although she did still occasionally respond to my hubby’s voice); she had no control over her movements or bodily functions and no awareness of what went on around her. It was horrible to watch as she deteriorated over time and be unable to do anything about it. In her final days her doctor came for a home visit and told us that he felt she didn’t have much time left – days to months at the most. Ironically she died within two days. At the time we were arranging for in-home hospice care for her. We joked that she found the idea of strangers in her home so repugnant that she decided it was time to move on.
After she died she laid in her bed for several hours before the funeral parlor folks were able to pick her up. Although no funeral services were planned, we did want her to be cremated. The hospice agency sent a nurse so that time of death could be declared (it was actually 4:30 although legally the time was recorded as 6:30). The nurse also change my mom-in-law and cleaned her up. Now this is where things got strange for me. I am one of those people that has always refused to touch a dead body – visions of corpses sitting up and trying to grab me have always filled my mind, blame it on too many zombie flicks. Even when my father died I could not bring myself to touch his corpse. With my mother-in-law it was a very different experience.
Perhaps because I had tended her daily for the past few years (there was literally no part of her body I hadn’t seen), I was able to stroke her head and help prepare her for the funeral hearse. I helped the nurse change her and clean her. Before the nurse arrived I found myself entering her bedroom numerous times just to say goodbye and reassure her that her son, my deaf, mute & retarded brother-in-law, would be fine. There was something soothing about this ritual. It made me understand why having a loved one waked in the home makes more sense than a funeral parlor. Doing this for her made me feel like a priestess.
This experience also taught me not to fear death. Although dying can be traumatic, especially to those left behind, it is a natural part of life. If there is no death then there is no room left for new growth. Death can also be a blessing in disguise. I am often reminded of the classic Star Trek Season 3 episode The Mark of Gideon. The basic plot is that Kirk is beamed down to a fake Enterprise where he meets Odona. It turns out her planet is suffering from overpopulation and in an effort to control it Odona hopes to become infected by a disease Kirk carries but to which he is now immune. To these people, death has become a promise of relief, a surcease. For some people who suffer from a long-term debilitating illnesses or dementia, death but start to become a welcome experience.
What I have learned is that even if I have times when death seems cruel and capricious, there are also times when it is a boon signalling an end to suffering. Yes, it is a journey to the unknown but I now believe there comes a time in our lives when what is known is no longer tolerable and it is our choice to embrace this transition. Instead of fearing death and putting off the inevitable, we should speak to our loved ones and make our wishes known should certain situations arise. We should have the right to consciously decide if and when we chose to make this transition and the only reliable way to make our wishes known is through legal documents. These conversations may be painful but knowing how my mother-in-law felt about such matters make caring for her final days much more bearable.
Weighed down by burdens
Still, I trudge forward arms full
Tasks undone, not fun
Created by by Arnell Ando
Published by US Games (2006)
The Book says: Spiritual awakening, a card of summing up of an important matter, a clean slate, paying off old karmic debts, reward for past effort, a time of rejuvenation, sincere attempt to come to terms with oneself and to take responsibility for one’s actions, rising above the negativity in order to resolve the situation. In the reverse, this card can mean existential angst; fear of the unknown; fear of death. It could imply disillusionment.
TarotHunter’s Theories: This card suggests that our journey to liberty might be long and somewhat gray at times. But at the end of our journey we will be able to see our true selves, to look ourselves in the face and to accept what we see. This card is about facing our reflection in the mirror without harsh judgments or useless self-criticism. It is about reaching a place of self-acceptance and acknowledging our flaws without negativity. To me this card reflects the wisdom of experience and the benefits of completing that long journey towards self-knowledge and freedom from self-defeating, self-critical attitudes and behaviors. It’s about finding the truth and allowing it to set you free.