Just because I’m paranoid…..

Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t really after me! I’ve said that countless times in my life, and I continue to feel that paranoia at times even if I don’t express it.

Most often, I’m paranoid that people are talking about me – not actually behind my back, but in my presence with enough vagueness that, although my name is not mentioned, it feels directed at or about me. And it’s always when I hear something negative, or else it would be shared with me.

My self-esteem gets confused when this happens. One part of my brain tells me that I’m crazy to think that I’m so important that people are even bothering to talk about me at all. Another part tells me that I’ve yet erred in some way to make someone need to express something negative about me that he/she doesn’t want me to know.

My previous nail salon was owned by a Vietnamese couple (they are US citizens!). Vietnamese is their native language, and so they always speak to each other in it. They could be talking about absolutely anything, but I’m certain in my head that they are talking about how ugly and calloused my feet are during my pedicure or that, although I think I tip more than adequately, they think I don’t tip enough for the amount of work they do in my manicure/pedicure.

I’m so paranoid that people are talking about me that I’ll often jest, “I’m here, stop talking about me now” when I enter a small group of people. Again, logic tells me that I’m most likely NOT the topic of conversation, but I can’t stop the fear that maybe they really are all huddled together saying negative things about me.

I think some of this stems from my childhood. In my family-of-origin, if you had to say anything with the slightest twinge of negativity in it, it was said in a whisper. My grandfather had stomach and throat cancer, and died while I was in high school. These days, the word “cancer” is a common word, but I remember, back then, that when they talked about it, the word “cancer” was always said as a whisper. I later came to understand that there was a theory – misled as it was – that if you didn’t say something out loud, you could pretend it wasn’t true. That’s why psychotherapy was frowned upon at that time, I guess – if you talked about your feelings and thoughts aloud to another person, you could no longer pretend they weren’t true.

I hate that I still have these issues of paranoia. I hate that my sense of self gets so muddled up in all of my imperfections that I assume they are a topic of conversation. It’s probably why I have such difficulty accepting a compliment, or why I question at times why anyone would want me to be their friend. It might even be, perhaps, part of why I’m so generous – subconsciously, I have to wonder if I do things and give things to other people as a way to pay for the fact that they are willing to like me?

That thought stirs up even more negativity in me! I recognize that I’m generous from a true choice to help people, but is that only part of the reason? My saving grace from that is reminding myself that I give to strangers as well as loved ones, and I certainly have no expectations from those strangers. Donations to the food bank, for example, are done to help humanity as a whole, with no personal reward to my relationships with the recipients. Donations of gently used items to non-profit thrift stores are the same way.

Still, I cannot seem to quiet the voices in my head that immediately assume I am the central topic in conversations that could be about me, even if they’re not! And once again, I go back into that cycle of asking myself why I think I’m so damned important that, of all of the people in the world, they choose to talk about me?

The only answer I have is this: Just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t really talking about me!

The fact that there’s a meme means I’m not the only one!
Word!

Heroes

My brother, my favorite poet, has given us rhyming lines that tell such a true story in our times…..

commonsensiblyspeaking

I am sorry it has taken

A pandemic and viral fear

But we’ve finally awakened

New values that we hold dear

Our heroes not in spandex draped

No other-worldly set of skills

Rainbow-hued scrubs replace the cape

With all the hope their care instills

No single seat built as a throne

The work of many good souls

Not one is doing this alone

Each given a critical role

You leave your friends and family

In a time when you need them most

And care for us so tenderly

As with great strength you stand your post

The fear you see in our eyes

Holds a glint in your caring gaze

The fear that you have set aside

Our heroes in the darkest days

I hope that we will remember well

When this fatal foe leaves some day

To our children the story tell

That actions make heroes today

It’s not…

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The Value of Human Touch

I’ve always been an affectionate person by nature. I believe that there is nothing that speaks silently with more value than an embracing hug. (And I have hugged a tree, though in my defense, I was drunk at the time, ran into a tree, hugged it and apologized to it!)

I’m also a pet lover – dogs more than cats, but I like friendly cats (or cats that are declawed, at least). I don’t have a pet. My original landlord had a ‘no pets’ clause in the lease, My bestie is also fearful of dogs in general. When new management took over and the first new tenant came with a cat, I assumed the no pet clause has been relaxed. As much as I often want to have a dog – have the name “Biscuit” picked out so it fits either gender – the cost of a pet has kept me at bay.

The governor of my state (Pennsylvania, USA) has officially extended the ‘stay home’ policy until April 30th. I’ve mentioned being a homebody anyhow, but I’m now at the point where I’m really starting to miss interaction. I have spoken to one person in the last several weeks – my upstairs neighbor who always knocks on my door when she’s going out to see if I need anything. I have only gone to the grocery store twice in the last month, using self check-out both times. I’ve picked up one prescription refill using the drive-thru window, a short business conversation with a relative stranger.

I am grateful for the relationships I have through the Internet, but I finally had to talk to myself out loud the other night simply to make sure my voice still worked! And I’m really starting to crave a good hug – to be honest, a mediocre hug will help! I’m envious of those of you who share a home with other human(s) or animal(s) whom you can at least talk to and be physically loving. I feel bad feeling bad about my need, when it’s so simple compared to so many people suffering far worse during this pandemic.

And yet, I’ve actually started to get a bit anxious about going out, even to the grocery store. With chronic sinusitis and the onset of spring allergies, I don’t go long without having to blow my nose, and I can just imagine envisioning people taking determined steps to move even farther away from me than the social distancing protocol!

I have always valued human touch, but I know many people who don’t really care for it much. To you, I challenge you to recognize the message within it, especially during these times. If you can hug someone, I encourage you to do it pronto! Social media shows photos of people being separated from their loved ones by glass in a hospital while their loved one lays dying. They will have no chance to give that final hug, to whisper that final “I love you” into their ear. Much like the events of 9/11, this pandemic is a wake-up call to us to show our love while we can.

Hug your spouse, hug your kids, hug your pets. We all need to be touched and tomorrow is not promised. And as God as my witness, assuming I survive this pandemic, those I love are going to get the biggest, longest hugs I have ever given out! Never forget the value of human touch!

Happy Blogversity to Me – 4/2/20

It’s almost overwhelming to realize that my blog has now been live and active for a year! I mean, I set out with the hope that it would continue to be a place for me to share written words, perhaps inspire others with those words and to propel my thoughts and feelings out into the universe. I know from comments on my blogs (major thank yous to those of you who comment!) that I do inspire some folks now and again, and that is truly the biggest gift that I get from writing it!

Though no blogger would ever turn down having a slew of followers and commenters, I didn’t think about that when I first set out on this venture. To be honest, I expected it to be like a ‘home sales’ project – you get your family and friends on-board out of, perhaps, some sense of obligation, but after that, you expect your growth to stagnate. And yet, when I look at the number and see that I have 123 followers, I realize that I may personally know 20 or 25 of them at the most! The rest of my followers are people who only follow me because something I’ve written along the way has brought meaning to them and they wanted to make certain to be present in case I write something in the future with meaning as well. To you, those people with whom I am connected only by technology, thank you for your support and belief that I have something good to say!

I’m certainly not someone who has made it a habit to post every day (bless those of you who can do that!), and my articles certainly are random and all over the place in terms of theme and content. I had no concept of how I would continue this blog – I’d only started it to share some of what I thought, and still think, were the best writings I’d ever done – and realize that what I’ve continued to write since then has often been a mirror of some moment in real time in my life. Someone says something that flips the switch to “on” for an idea that I want to explore further, and my blog posts become about that exploration.

At times throughout the last year, I thought that this blog might die off from neglect. To be honest, that is a fear I will probably carry on throughout this journey. When thoughts for article ideas aren’t sparked, I don’t know the magic button to push to make something mundane into a sustainable blog post. I don’t honestly believe I have a muse of any kind who is assisting me in that way. Nonetheless, I am grateful for the sparks of thoughts that come from interactions with other people (many of you follow this blog and know who you are!) in the daily course of life. To you, I say thank you for being a part of my life in a way that enhances my ability to write here.

To each and every one of you, thank you for hanging out here with me this past year! I am very grateful to all of you who take the time to read what I write. My blog is one drop in a bucket that contains thousands of really great writers and blogs, and I am humbled and honored to have the following that I do have! Seriously, thank you, thank you, thank you!

This, That and the Other…

I have been a homebody long before it was “cool”, so staying home isn’t nearly as stressful to me as it is to others. I am, however, discovering the nuance between choosing to stay home and being forced to stay home. Because my kitchen is my happy place, I’ve often enjoyed my usual weekly jaunts to the grocery store, but even those aren’t happening on a regular schedule. And when I DO go, it’s to pick up necessities from a list, not wander the aisles dilly-dallying over what appeals to my eyes at the moment. Unfortunately, my regular store recently underwent an internal remodel, and I spend more time than I’d like simply because things in the center aisles have been moved to new locations, many of which make no sense to me. They no longer seem to put ‘like’ things together. What was once crackers on one side and cookies directly across is now crackers on one side and cat food directly across. The dog food is someplace else, and the cookies might be next to the bottled juices. I know I’ll eventually figure it out again – I mean, it took a while to get used to this store’s system when I moved here – but this is not the time I want to be figuring it out!

My bestie and I cancelled our monthly lunch out for March, which would have been the day before everything closed up, and even though she lives only a mile away, I haven’t seen her in far too long. Our plans for a show and overnight trip for this coming weekend, of course, were cancelled as well. It’s been months since we have made one of our thrift store/foodie shopping day trips to Lancaster County, and I was looking forward to that as well! While the food stores will probably be open, I suspect that pickings will be slim, just as they are here. It doesn’t seem worth the 3-hour round trip just to discover that what we’re coveting can’t be found!

Speaking of that, I don’t really enjoy shopping at Walmart, and I’ve always made Walmart runs only for my coffee pods, paper products, cleaning supplies, etc. As such, I always have had a surplus, as I usually buy everything I buy from there when I go, whether or not my supply of it is running low. As such, when the toilet paper crisis hit, I was in decent shape…. and had plenty of boxes of tissues as a back-up. I was there right after the toilet paper crisis started, and, of course, the shelves were barren. At the time I had 12 rolls, so I didn’t panic. I went back once, and although there was a sign limiting how much you could buy, the shelves were again (or still?) empty. On a whim, I looked on Amazon and found they had quite a few varieties (non brand-names) available and in stock. Crisis diverted and back-up plan in place! Until….. I went looking again the other day and found they still have some – all made in China and shipping from China with an anticipated delivery time of 4 to 6 weeks. Crikey! Plan B failure! Now what?

And, while I still have some boxes of tissues, my chronic sinusitis and the onset of allergy season having me using from my stockpile for my actual nose! Egad! I glanced, as I always do, at the sponsored ads on Facebook, and saw one for Angel Soft toilet paper. I went to it, because I’m good, at best, for about two more weeks. I ended up ordering some. As a brand name (I usually buy the Walmart generic brand), it was a bit more expensive, and I paid for expedited shipping, which means I should receive it within 7 to 12 days, but I ordered enough to easily last me for two more months, if not longer. I’m hoping that things will be better overall in another 60+ days!

Surprisingly, the last time I made the (unsuccessful) trip to Walmart, I noticed that the Dollar Tree, in the same shopping center, was open, so I stopped in. Of course, there were no rolls of toilet paper to be found, but I got my shampoo and soap and stuff I usually get there. I asked the cashier how they could be open, and was told that they are an ‘essential’ store since they sell some food and a bunch of over-the-counter medicine. Go figure!

I don’t eat a lot of fast food or take-out pizza. Our little town’s only option for fast food is McDonalds. It’s drive-thru has been sporadically open, usually on a nice-weather Saturday or Sunday. I only know that because it’s in the same shopping area as my grocery store. There is a Dominos pizza place, but I think their pizza is average at best. Ace Hardware can remain open – you know, in case someone has a plumbing issue or something – but people are shopping there to get out of their houses and starting to buy lawn and garden stuff, including all of the ornamental stuff. I get it, but I don’t get it….

The biggest plus to this stay home policy is that I am making a small dent in my ‘to be read’ pile of books. I am not really a big TV watcher, but I still tend to turn it on to see if anything interests me. Kudos for the Hallmark Channel for re-running Christmas “feel good” movies.

So, what is everybody else doing to keep themselves occupied? It may be a while until we return to normal and I suspect we will all be facing a new normal once this all passes. I hope that people are taking some time to count their blessings, when things we’ve taken so easily for granted are no longer taken for granted. And I remind everyone that we’ll get through this either by laughing or by crying. Me personally? I’m saving my tissues, because you just never know….. Meanwhile, here are a couple of “funnies” that won’t make you cry!

Emotional Contagion

Rachel’s fear and guilt resonate with me, as I suspect is true for many of us!

rachelmankowitz

There are no bombs falling, no explosions or fireworks. The world looks pretty nice, actually, and everyone I can see looks healthy, even with the face masks. There are no workers in Tyvek suits walking the streets spraying for errant Coronavirus droplets. At least, not yet. So, while doing the right thing, and staying home, I feel a bit silly. It’s hard to trust the experts on television instead of what I see with my own eyes. The President clearly struggles with this, too, but those images from Italy and Spain are hard to ignore (the horror stories on Facebook, about monkeys in Thailand starving for the bananas they used to get from tourists, and pets in China dying while their people went into quarantine, and dogs being euthanized because people believe – incorrectly! – that pets can spread the disease, are too much for me to take in).

281 “People…

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