my friend tina is struggling. i caught her in bed yesterday at 3:30 in the afternoon. well, i didn’t ‘catch her’ in bed, she crawled back into bed, and when i called… that was where she was.
another old friend – who i reconnected to just last night – is struggling too. he sent a sweet long email, telling me how thrilled he was that i connected with him. i had to inform him it wasn’t really me who reached out to him, it was a spam email and while I’m generally horrified by all the spam crap, his reaching out was truly wonderful. delightful.

loads of friends are struggling.
some more than others.
some have run out of money, and are trying to eek by.
some have run out of energy, and are trying to rev up.
some have run out of inspiration, and are trying to reinvent themselves.
some have run out of KY Jelly and just don’t give a shit anymore.
some have run out of options, health care, savings, and lovers.

i read all these blogs and posts and essays about being POST 50, and what we can do and need to do to recharge, reinvent, rejuvenate. what we should do, can do, ought do and all that. everything from hair products to exercise to new mascara to flossing to wearing heels to anti-aging products to what length to wear or not wear, what words to use, not use… and all of that is good and positive and kind. it is.

but it isn’t helping my friends.

and part of the reason it’s not helping my friends is because we grew up wanting to be taken care of. we did. it’s true. we wanted the mommy, the daddy, the boyfriend, the girlfriend, the white knight, the boss, the career, the house, the two car garage… we wanted to fit in, to please everyone, to make everyone happy, to bend over backwards, to say yes when god knows we really wanted to say no, to give it all away in hopes we would get it all back in spades.

we wanted to be loved. to be needed. to be liked.
and we were taught that we would be taken care of. which by the way is very different than being cared for. being cared for is filled with love. filled with love and kindness and goodness and teaches us the value of our own life. being taken care of is all about someone else being good to us.

and maybe this wasn’t you. maybe not. maybe this wasn’t your karma, destiny, upbringing, life experience, life schooling. maybe this wasn’t you.

but for many of us… many of us in our 50’s, 60’s… 70’s… getting older isn’t just about being bolder. more courageous. all out ballsy. it’s about coming to terms with the truth, the hard core balls out truth that no one is going to take care of us. no one. they’re all long gone, or long broke. we’re waiting, hoping to be taken care of.

we’re looking to be saved. and as much as i love my husband, and god knows i do, my wanting him to save me isn’t making me a better, bolder woman. it keeps me small. it keeps me from seeing the power of my own life. and it has nothing to do with love. nothing. he loves me. i love him. period. and being loved (and giving love) is much better than being saved.

i don’t know about you, but i was brought up believing that if i took care of others, i would be taken care of.

i think we mighta confused being taken care of with being loved, being worthy, being saved.

when really truly it’s about nurturing our souls. really paying attention to our lives, our needs. our hearts. it’s about letting go of the notion that we are incapable of being good to ourselves without permission.

because being “taken care of” has always been about permission, someone giving you the permission to be huge, to be yourself, to stand tall, to be unique, to be an individual, to walk alone, to love anyone you want, to use your life fully and to grab life by the balls and find your joy.

when i asked tina what she was feeling, she said she felt like no one cared. and i asked her how would it feel if she cared about herself, if she loved herself…

she said she wasn’t good at that. she was much better at taking care of others.
and i said, well fuck that, fuck that right now.

and right then and there we made a pledge, a vow to each other that every single day, for at least a half hour – no matter what – we would chant, pray, meditate, WHATEVER it is we do, or need to do to manifest our greatness. our fortune. OUR BEST. that we would replace the need to be taken care of with the desire to NURTURE OURSELVES, to fill ourselves with goodness, and joy, to stand up for our own lives and god knows, it’s gonna be scary and frightening because when you set out to change your life ever single fucking obstacle stands right in front of you… and screams: NO YOU CAN’T.

but that’s how you know you’re doing it right. when the obstacles and doubts and self-loathing appears.

and you gotta ask yourself: what am i afraid of, what am i afraid is gonna happen if i take care of me? if i save me? will everyone (i thought would take care of me) disappear from my life if i’m good to me?

maybe. but they weren’t gonna save you anyway. they were bandaids.

so go on, go on… GO ON.

save you.

nurture yourself.

next stop: INCREDIBLE.

Category: Uncategorized 8 comments »

8 Responses to “NEXT STOP: INCREDIBLE”

  1. Julie

    Amy, loved the exploration of these ideas. I remember on a retreat several years ago realizing that I had grown up thinking that being happy and good were mutually exclusive. You couldn’t do them simultaneously and you were in danger of NOT being good if you were genuinely happy of your own accord. I discovered that I had learned that if I was “good” (taking care of the needs of others), I could sort of draught off of the happiness of others. But that’s not the same as *being* happy.

    Taking care of ourselves… maybe it’s like this—care *for* ourselves (like your distinction). Maybe that means to find ways to give to ourselves as opposed to doing our duty to ourselves.

    Thanks for the stimulating ideas on this Friday morning.

  2. Cherry Woodburn

    yes, that’s what I believed (and still sometimes do) that if I take care of myself, then no one ever will take care of me. I’ll be alone. The irony is that I’ve been on my own, literally, for years. I had many years of being a single mom. But I can still have that fear.

    Also, I think I was so afraid of being left alone that I created my own existence of being alone. SElf fulfilling prophecy shit.

    One more thing Amy. Also the younger generation of women may have grown up with more of a message that they can do anything etc. but overall I still see caretakers and similar insecurities to our generation. I think it will take a long time until that changes.

    great post, thanks, Cherry

  3. another Julie

    But … that means we’re responsible for ourselves … we can’t blame our shortcomings or failures on others … we have to accept who we are or … and here’s the scarey part, change. Change and be proud of who we are, not how others perceive us.

    very powerful ideas, thank you.

  4. Maya

    You nailed it again. I DO want to be loved. Fortunately, I am. But I do know that only I can save me. Dangit.

    I have these pants-around-the-ankles epiphanies. I call them that because they always seem to happen in the bathroom. It’s probably because that’s when I am sitting still. I was working at a particularly ghastly job with bullying bosses and bigoted coworkers (one in particular was just staggeringly so). It was so bad I had taken to putting up a sign saying I was in the bathroom because I’d get blasted for being away from my desk.

    So there I was in my cozy, comfy little stall, pants around my ankles saying “God, get me OUT of here!” And as clearly as if spoken aloud, I heard “I gave you every tool you need.”


  5. Hollye Dexter

    Just like you.


  6. June O'Hara

    When I read your writing, I soak up every word.

    On the “being taken care of” front, I’m wildly ambivalent. Mostly I have to work on fear.

    A woman recently said to me, “When women get into our 40’s, 50’s, etc, we feel like our physical selves are falling apart, so we begin to rely more on our wit.” I found that fascinating. And think it’s probably often true.

    Thank you for another opportunity to read your writing.

  7. Debra DeAngelo

    Interesting… I grew up learning that I couldn’t rely on anyone to take care of me. If it happened, great. But it wasn’t a given. There was a patch of time when my grandmother lived with us that I was taken care of. But that was short-lived.

    In retrospect… maybe a non-nurturing childhood and adolescence made it easier for me as an adult. Taking care of myself feels normal to me. Asking for help is excruciatingly difficult.

    Great blog, Amy!

  8. Katherine Jenkins

    I’m kinda in Debra DeAngelo’s boat. At the age of 15, my mom told me to “get a job!” Being raised in a single-parent household, I had to learn to take care of myself early on. I didn’t like this at the time, but now I’m very grateful for it and respect my parents very much. I learned early on to nurture myself and to stand on my own two feet. It made all the difference in my life.

    I’m glad I stopped by your blog Amy! I love how you can make me think and laugh all at once. Anyone who can make me laugh is a sister indeed. Is KY Jelly still around? ^_^!

    Have a great day!

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