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To Do No Harm

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“Like any other view, non-harming may be a terrific principle, but its the living of it that counts.You can start practicing ahimsa’s gentleness on yourself and in your life with others in any moment. Do you sometimes find that you are hard on yourself and put yourself down? Remember ahimsa in that moment. See it and let it go. Do you talk about others behind their back? Ahimsa. Do you push yourself beyond your limits with no regard for your body and your well-being? Ahimsa. Do you cause other people pain or grief. Ahimsa. It is easy to relate with ahimsa to someone who doesn’t threaten you. The test is in how you will relate to the person or situation when you do feel threatened. The willingness to harm or hurt comes ultimately out of fear.Non-harming requires that you see your own fears and that you understand them and OWN them. Owning them means taking responsibility for them. Taking responsibility means not letting fear completely dictate your vision or your view.” –Jon Kabat-Zinn

I’m not going to work today

wpid-1411782160538.jpg…and its not because of Thanksgiving.
I had marginally planned to take at least some of the day off, to do a little ahead of time cooking if my work load allowed. It doesn’t, but I’m staying home anyways.
I work in a part of the city that historically has had racial issues. And I’m talking about a city that was once know as the Mississippi of the West.
I love my neighborhood by the way. And it is mine. I lived there back in college with my sister and with my poor mad boy. His family home is there. The place where he hides in his little empty room. I always planned on going back. That’s why I looked so hard for a job in the area.
But I couldn’t get a house there. I was dumbfounded by the prices. I was only gone a couple of years. A couple of years! The gentrification that everyone seemed to be doom saying about back when I moved out was real, and it was here.
I work all day with black and Hispanic and Asian clients who used to live in the neighborhood like me. Their family homes were here for generations. Now they bus in from cheaper neighborhoods. Some of them hang on. A lot have moved into subsidized housing that has been built around the outside edges of the area as a concession to those who protested the gentrification. Right. Because a crappy little projects apartment where you have to get rid of your pets and can’t have a garden or a BBQ or a lot of other things is totally the same thing as the family home you lost because you couldn’t pay the hiked up taxes.
They go without food. The prices in local restaurants are hiked up too, but that’s not the real problem. The problem is you go up to the counter and you wait. And you wait. And you wait while the counter people keep waiting on all these white hipsters that keep coming in the door after you.
And this rears it head up constantly at my work. And I’m not just talking about the clients. I often catch people I work with speaking in terms of “us” and “them.”
The other week, I spent a lot of time dodging around corners when the Hispanic workers felt one of the black workers had unfairly denied funding to one if my Hispanic clients. “You’re on my side, right?” They kept literally saying that. Apparently there’s no Indian faction and we redskins are up for grabs.
I was unaware of the protesting in Portland initially when it started. And I got a weird phone call from a black client during that time. He put his girlfriend on the line too. She seemed confused, but offered her two cents too eventually. It made more sense later in context of the protests.
So I’m not going in to work today. I’m not afraid. I did a self-check: is this just my PTSD predicting a possible crisis and avoiding it? No, I don’t think so. Let’s face it, I’ve kind of sucked at avoiding conflict lately.
No. I just have this sinking feeling I’m not going to get much work done. Clients or coworkers are going to be too caught up in trying to find out from me, “Whose side are you on?”
And I think I’d rather just go cook some cranberries.

Labels

I don’t know what to call him.
Maybe we aren’t supposed to pay such mind to labels, but it does make it hard to write this blog.
Now that he has stated that our relationship is nonexistent, he’s been maintaining a pretty good relationship, for him. His been more attentive to our daughter than ever. He wants to have lunch together every Friday. We end up having lunch together most other work days as well–we still share finances, and (again, his idea) its a lot cheaper to keep sandwich supplies in his parents’ fridge which is close to my work. He asks me to go out and complete Ingress missions with him. When he picks up our daughter after school, he usually suggests we all go out for dinner afterward, or even a movie. In fact, he expresses disappointment if I just hurry out after I pick her up from him: “Oh. I thought we were going to hang out or something… ” He occasionally has been coming over to watch a video and have dinner-about once every week or two (but now that Grimm has restarted, it will probably be once per week). And yes, he stays the night on these occasions. He has even voluntarily helped me a couple of times when I was in need. When I got a flat, he insisted I take his car, then he took mine in and got new tires so I wouldn’t miss any work. So ex-fiancee seems inaccurate and harsh.

But then what? Not fiancee, not boyfriend, not partner, most definitely not the husband he was supposed to be before our wedding crashed and burned. I don’t know if it’s his bipolar disorder or just him, but other things have made it clear that we aren’t having any of those relationships, with or without the label. I have had to find other people to pick our daughter up from school at the last minute because he has suddenly made other plans when he is supposed to pick her up, and not made any arrangements for anyone to pick her up. Including letting me know. I came home from work one day to find that he had gotten into my apartment and filled it with used furniture he’d gotten for free. I mean filled it. My own stuff was thrown aside or unreachable behind this crap. He was truly shocked that I wasn’t pleased and was unable to explain why he thought out daughter needed two beds. (For those who aren’t familiar with bipolarism: this would be a manic episode). This isn’t something you do to someone with PTSD though. Try to imagine the shock and fear of coming home and finding out that someone had gotten into your home, and the utter surreal confusion at finding that they had stacked a bunch of furniture in there willy nilly. Now just magnify the physical sensations and fear and anxiety by about 10000 and you start to get the idea. And he knows this. He knows this. Does his bipolar disorder give him the excuse to ignore it? Why am I always the one who gets second consideration, then? Is there a chart somewhere that shows that Bipolar trumps PTSD?
And yes, he’s been voluntarily helpful at times. But he’s very clearly choosing when. I don’t even want to talk about the lice thing. In a relationship, should you expect the other person to be there when you are in trouble? Or is it OK to have a relationship where you expect to be on your own and are occasionally pleasantly surprised when the other person does randomly pop up to help out?