A few weeks ago, I wrote a post I called “Recovering from Name Calling and Bullying.”
In this post, I shared the heart-breaking experience of finding myself the target of adult bullies (whom, much to my surprise, were just as scary to the adult-me as remembered childhood bullies were to the child-me).
I guess I had kind of assumed bullying went away when we got older and wiser. In this, I now suspect I forgot that growing both older AND wiser is more of a choice rather than a guarantee….and that not everyone is as keen to make both choices as I apparently have been.
All that to say, THANK YOU for reading and for your kind words of support and encouragement and concern and caring both here and on Facebook – your love and compassion helped me navigate through some painfully choppy waters and make some fast changes that would not be put off any longer.
As of this writing, it has been 4 weeks since that horrifying incident occurred, and 3 weeks since our little flock moved to our new SAFE and LOVELY new neighborhood.
After reading and re-reading your messages and doing some seriously inner-voice LOUD praying and pretty much keeping my Craigs List open 24/7 to catch any glimpses of new apartments coming available for rent, all the stars lined up and we were able to make our recent move in the kind of near-miraculous short order that only ever seems to happen (in my life, anyway) when the prayer is short and sweet (“HELP!”) and then the choppy waters part and the path suddenly appears….
At that point, it is time to JUMP ON IT and MAKE IT HAPPEN. And that we did. With the help of some strangers and some friends (plus some friendly people from the U-Haul company), we bundled me up, shells, feathers and all, and within 3 days we were out of the old and into the new with only some minor reorganizing left to do.
I want to share what a relief it is to be here.
Every morning I wake up and it still feels like a dream that we are back in the neighborhood I most love in Houston and are surrounded by graceful 100-year old trees, hike and bike trees, friendly people who actually smile and wave – even if they don’t know you!, thrift shops and coffee houses and WINE bars (an essential if you happen to be me) and people who put signs in their yards that read, “Drive like your pets live here.”
(Oh, and not to mention that here, the pet owners walk their dogs on LEASHES. I swear it is going to take awhile for me to stop wanting to take pictures of that rare and miraculous sight.)
It probably also won’t surprise you to hear that I’ve been on a continuous learning curve ever since that awful night. But it has only been post-move that I’ve really been able to start to unpack some of that experience’s most valuable lessons.
First of all, I have learned that I’m grateful for that experience, and this in spite of the bonafide fact that I’d like those 7 months of my life back now, please.
But living there taught me that sometimes it is not possible to be a blessing to others.
Sometimes, trying to be a blessing can make other people’s lives worse. What I’m trying to say is, looking back, I can see how those people living in that neighborhood wanted their noise and their chaos and their street trash and their stray dogs and their me-first attitudes and what they called “fun” – they wanted the freedom to live in a way that worked just fine for them but not at all well for me. By coming in and trying to change all that, I temporarily caused more stress and chaos in their lives.
Whoops. My bad.
I have also since learned that my mentor is oh-so-definitely right about people coming from what she calls different “pots of energy.”
As a former musician, I might instead say that different people resonate on different frequencies. When I was learning piano, I sometimes confused sharps (a notation on a sheet of music that means to raise a note 1/2 step) with flats (a notation that means to lower a note 1/2 step). But let me tell you, when you confuse them and try to play the music, you notice right away. In fact, everyone notices. The cacophony you produce is a dead giveaway.
By which I mean, I should have noticed far earlier that I was confusing sharps with flats yet again.
There were signs even in the first month, like when I was first moving in and the dogs barked for 72 hours straight while the monsoon-like rains fell and fell and fell, turning the entire lot where my little casa was located into a kind of grass-lined swimming pool. I should have noticed then.
And then when I discovered new stray dogs and feral cats getting dumped onto the streets outside my house every week and started feeding one pregnant mama dog, only to get criticism for doing so….
When I discovered the reason the dogs were barking and then howling was because there was no food and water in the yard behind mine for them….and when the next door neighbor began blaring his music and I asked him to turn it down for the second time and he angrily replied that I needed to move my car back over to my own small portion of street parking….oh, and when the leather-clad motorcyclists down the street broke out into a violent fight one afternoon that had all the neighbors standing in their front yards to watch (better than DISH and free, right?!)….and when the unofficial chop shop across the street suddenly moved out in the middle of the night and the next morning all their stuff was piled up on the front lawn for anyone to take….
Yup. There were so many signs. There were far too many signs for me to miss, if I had been seeking signs. But when I moved in, I wasn’t seeking signs. I was seeking to save money. I had put my head and my heart and all the rest of me into “bank account mode,” and I had placed money in a position of priority over all else, even human (and avian, and tortugan) safety. And yes, I needed to get out of debt, and yes, my 7 long months living there helped me achieve that goal.
But it took a lot more from me in other ways as well. What I got back in money I lost in my mind and heart, and I’m still working on getting those depleted stores replenished.
In making this cash-first choice, I now realize I wasn’t respecting myself or my flock. I wasn’t respecting my family, who was worried sick about me the whole time I lived there.
I wasn’t respecting my neighbors in that community, who just wanted to make their own choices without my interference.
Most of all, I wasn’t respecting what I do have to offer this world, which is only going to be beneficial and welcomed and appreciated in an environment that is seeking those things.
I know better now. I hope I will never make that same mistake again. I will endeavor not to, for my own and everyone’s sake.
And I want to say – I am grateful for YOU, for your kindness and empathy and faith that there is a better place for me and my flock to live – to thrive. We have found it, and you played a big part in that!
Today’s Takeaway: Isn’t it wonderful how, in the world we live in today, a “friend” doesn’t have to be someone who lives next door and loans you flour or gets your mail when you go out of town? Today, a friend can be anyone you care about who cares about you, even if they live half (or a whole) world away and you’ve never met face to face! I LOVE this. I am so grateful for it. I am grateful for you, and for the awareness that today, my friendship circle extends to places I’ve never yet had the good fortune to visit in person.