Rites of passage

As the day comes to a close and I prepare for bed, I remember the first night I spent on my own, property of the U.S. Government, in a bottom bunk in an old, wooden barracks at Lackland AFB, San Antonio.

I had no idea what the next day or month or year would hold, but I had made the decision. No one made it for me.

As I reflect on that first night, I recognize now that I knew very little about what it was to be in relationship to other people. I did not know what it was like to have very many friends. Nor did I realize that most of the women that were my “flight mates,” who were in the same basic training squadron that I was in,  had their own stories.  Perhaps, some of them were running away from the lives they had before the Air Force, just as I was doing.

Maybe they, like me, were just as clueless about who they really were outside of a family that did not really know them, as we tried to live up to (and break out of, simultaneously) the expectations of what we were supposed to be as women.

Forty-four years ago, I had a difficult time falling asleep in the old barracks with no air conditioning on a muggy Thursday night in San Antonio.  Two all-cotton flat sheets, a wool blanket, and a feather pillow with a cotton pillow case were all that separated me from the lumpy mattress on the bottom bunk of a metal bunk bed. The newness of being solely responsible now for my own decisions had my mind racing, and I thought back to earlier  that morning…

I had turned 18 just thirteen days earlier. I was now considered an adult. I remember not wanting her to go in with me. I told her that I did not. It was my way of letting her know I was a big girl and to cut the ties.
I wanted my mother to drop me off in front of the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) in Los Angeles, California. We got there before 7:30 a.m. and all I wanted to do is get out of the car, say a quick “Goodbye,” and pass through the doors…by myself.
All of the rest of the memories of the morning are foggy now, 44 years later. what I might say could very well hold some inaccuracies. I do remember that it felt awkward.
Today was the day that I pushed my mother away, declaring through my actions, that I was an adult now and did not need her…nor want her. Of course, I never said those words. Yet, is that not what we all do at some point in our lives when we “grow up”?
I was her firstborn, but now I was leaving. Abandoning the family…abandoning her, a 39-year-old single mother of four more children, ranging in ages of 14 down to 4. My father had left her only a year-and-a-half earlier for a younger woman who was only nine years my senior.
Today was also the day that I felt my mother gave her final push to get me out of her hair. I was an adult now and did not need her. She did not need me either…nor want me. Of course, she never said those words either.
In some ways, it felt like an emotional stand-down. Two generations of women, who had not yet learned how to say, “I need you. I want you. I love you. I am going to miss you.” It seemed so much easier to simply push away or push back.
Forty-four years ago today, I left home–my mother and my four siblings–to join the United States Air Force to serve my country. I loved my country.
I would not do things much differently than I did, except….I would have told my Mom that I was and always would be her little girl who needed and wanted her, and would always love her.
(Original story–“My rite of passage into adulthood”–as written by me and posted at MyLot, 23 August 2017 10:23 a.m. PDT )
As I prepare for bed tonight, many years later, it is still my racing mind that keeps me separated from the sleep that has always proved to elude me.

Six months is too long…

Six months is too long to go without keeping up on a blog of any kind.  If this were a blog which was monetized and I were relying on its income, instead of simply as a way to share my silly thoughts, I would be in dire straits.

Since I last posted, I audited more Spanish classes at my local community college.  It has not done much for my ability to speak, but I can certainly understand more.  Admittedly, the tenses beyond the present and simple past kicked my butt.  I plan on re-auditing the both Spanish II and III again in the winter and spring quarters.  I am also bound and determined to find a place where I can volunteer that will keep me (at least) speaking occasionally.  The more I hear it, and attempt the communication in Spanish, the more I will retain.

In the late spring (May and June), I came up on an anniversary of my diagnosis of stage 4 Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)/Carcinoid Cancer.  It has been five years since the fiasco of 2012, when I was told that I “have six months to a year; two, if lucky.” Each year, I have a little “fight” with myself surrounding those memories.  I keep reminding myself that I am LIVING with stage 4 cancer, NOT dying of it!

I am grateful for this life, and am also grateful for the decades of other challenges throughout my life–family, military, my choices, failed relationships (romantic, friends, family, career)–that have prepared me to handle all that has been dropped in my lap.  Of course, I am ever-so-thankful for the good things that have also come from life. Sometimes, the challenge is staying focused on the good that comes from each and every situation, even though it is not always easy.

I truly believe it is a mindset that comes from releasing ourselves from the shame and guilt that has been heaped upon us by systems (family, school, religion, military, clubs, cliques, etc. ) that feel the need to control us…to make us “behave.”  I have become more and more aware this year of just how much I chose those paths over the years, because I somehow felt so damaged and in need of being fixed.

I have held onto a lot of “clutter” in my life, literally and figuratively.  I have used this to keep people “out”…to isolate myself. Honestly, I have done this much of my life, whether things, people, or thoughts.  I am working on the de-cluttering process in many facets. Whether things, thoughts or people, all can insidiously take over our lives, leaving us no room for taking care of ourselves first.  I am continuing to do some hard work surrounding some of those issues and, I am happy to say, with much less guilt.

Just 12 days ago, I had a birthday–my 62nd.  It has been a challenge to wrap my head around this number.  But it is just a number. Since I never believed that I would see 58, I am always surprised.  I do not dwell much on it, but try to wake up each day and simply say, “Thank you.”

There is always much more that I could say, but I will call it “a wrap,” for this evening.

I will simply end with one of my favorite quotes from Ann Landers.

Nobody gets to live life backward. Look ahead. That is where your future lies.

Remember, dear readers, we are all living with something.  Please do not allow it to keep you from enjoying life.

Love, joy and peace to you…