Lately I feel like I’m being pulled in a million directions and with that juggling comes a fair amount of guilt for all the things I can’t get to.

I think as women, we tend to focus on the no’s.  We couldn’tWe didn’t.  We couldn’t get to it because we didn’t have time.  We didn’t get to it because we couldn’t add an extra 5 hours to the day.  We couldn’t count the number of things we did get done because we didn’t give ourselves the luxury of that sense of satisfaction.  We don’t revel in our accomplishments.  We often don’t even acknowledge our accomplishments and sometimes those accomplishments equal nothing more than we didn’t wind up on the six o’clock news with the headline, “Woman puts another patron in a headlock at the local grocery store for arguing with the teenage cashier with the ‘BE PATIENT, I’M NEW’ sticker on his shirt in the check out line while screaming all I want to do is go home and put on sweat pants and eat ice cream right out the container with a spoon like the overworked and underappreciated FABULOUS being THAT I AM and I can’t because you’re arguing over 15 cents off on your total bill for the past 28 minutes you twit!”  And for that simple feat, we deserve a medal on pretty pink bow that sings Ethel Merman show tunes at top volume because it’s that amazing!

So this past week I was screamed at by an old woman at a local farm stand.  I was buying herbs for planting and had more than I could carry and the farm was out of boxes.   I borrowed a plastic shopping bin to transport them to my truck and returned it immediately.  As I was walking back in this woman asked/screamed, “YOU WORK HERE?” with all of the grace and refinement of that lady who yelled a lot in Throw Mama From the Train.

No I don’t

“WELL YOU LOOK LIKE YOU DO!”  To frame this properly; I was wearing Levi’s, flip flops and a Ramones t-shirt tucked in rakishly over my cute little pooch in the front and draped artfully over my junk in the trunk.   It’s not Armani but nor do I feel that it’s a total Farmer Joe look either.   No offense intended to any Farmer Joe or Biff or Harry out there.  I’m totally jealous of your work but I’m fair and require SPF 8000 and usually incinerate in the sun sooooo…I’m also slightly bitter.

“WELL YOU LOOK LIKE YOU DO!”

Well you look like you’ve never been laid in your life.  I didn’t say that.  I just thought it – loudly.  I really frigging wish I’d said it.  No I don’t….it’s mean.  Yes I do….

But then I felt guilty for thinking it loudly.  Even if she deserved a trouncing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about life and what it means and the one thing that keeps coming up in my mind is the list of stuff….just stuff that rotates around the clock in a never completed list of items to do or think or say or feel or address or pay or drink with or feed…

I think probably I’m to blame for some of the laundry list of never ending tasks/requirements/expectations.  I don’t say no enough and God forbid that I say I can’t.  That’s not in this chick’s loquacious vocab.  This became evident, glaringly so, a few months ago when I was going through my own personal form of hell with a situation with my family.  The long and short is that I put my situation over someone else’s and was shamed for it.  To that – I’m still trying to unroll my eyes long enough to see them for what they are.  No I’m not/yes I am.  Strike that – no I’m not.  What I walked away with from that situation and a lifetime of feeling always slightly inadequate was something quite simple.

I will no longer own any guilt that doesn’t belong to me.

Let me explain a few of my guilty guilts that I carry around with me like a monkey on my back on a daily basis.  I will assume that once you read this that all of your judgments of all my mental shortcomings will be correct.

I, like most women, have been trained by the beauty industry that I should engage -ad infinitum – in the search for the holy grail of every conceivable beauty product known to man.  I remember my grandmother used about 5 products daily on her whole body but yet had drawers and closets and closets and drawers filled with every tube of Avon stuff you could imagine.  My mother followed suit and so did I.  In turn and bringing yet another generation into it, Mei Mei has plunged headlong into a borderline hoarding collection of Bath and Body Works washes and lotions.  I am not judging because my bathroom could hydrate the skin of a small country whilst leaving them all with the dewiest of complexions.  I decided that I have had enough.  I will no longer participate in the rat race of feeling less than beautiful.  I am paring down to a minimum amount of daily products if it kills me.  What to do with all of the other stuff?  Oh God.  Oh NO!  I will barrage some hapless land fill with the half full/part full/mostly empty/ewww what was I thinking – bottles of lotion and body wash and cleanser and toner and serum and moisturizer and oh my fresh hell!  I will single handedly kill our planet.  Just me.  (GUILT ON GUILT)

So I’ve taken the time to use each and every bottle, tube, jar or carton of product down to the bare nub of it’s existence, even if I don’t like it.  Because I’m messing with the environment.  Just me.  I drive a fairly large SUV by the way.   Because perspective.  How’s that for worrying about the environment?  So now? I’m down to bar shampoo, jojoba oil, Ivory soap and coconut oil/Pond’s Cold Cream and Nivea lotion and deodorant and my favorite perfume which comes in a rollerball.  Oh!  And my 8000 SPF sunscreen. Progress!

YET *clap* I *clap* still *clap* scour *clap* the *clap* beauty *clap* aisles *clap* like *clap* I’m *clap* missing *clap* out *clap* on *clap* the *clap* cure *clap* all *clap* for *clap* aging.  DAFUQ?

I babysit my grandson, now two nights a week but at one point it was as much as four; while my daughter is in school.  So I feel guilty about not spending time with her.  My husband had a boat issue which somehow became my issue (long story and I hate him) in which it was made clear to me that my time, and whatever fashion I choose to spend it, is less important than his time.  And I feel guilty for being mad at him because he is such a good man even if I hate him presently.  I’m tired at work because I don’t get down time and have been going at a lightening pace and I feel guilty for giving it 98% instead of the typical 178%.  My daughter wants to talk every afternoon while I’m driving home and she’s driving to school and sometimes I just want to listen to my audiobook and chill and then….yep…guilt.  I’ve been getting easy to fix meals of late instead of my normal three course dinners and yes, I feel guilty as hell.  I feel guilty if my mother is having a very much understood and deserved bad day like somehow it’s my fault.  Last weekend, my husband went on a business trip and my mother went on a vacation and my daughter was not home which left me and the dog.  I turned down the volume on the movie I was watching because I felt guilty that I may be interfering with my her nap.  My husband asked what I was going to do with all my free time and I informed him that I planned on walking around the house with no pants on.  Apparently I’m not as funny as I thought I was and I felt guilty that he didn’t appreciate my joke.  Yesterday, I was hit on by a septuagenarian in my father’s nursing home and while I firmly deflected Mistah Lovah Lovah’s 78 bad bar pick up line attempts to ascertain “if I lived around here” and “am I seeing anyone” and “do I know how pretty I am” I was also being yelled at by a Korean woman who is also a patient who does not speak a word of English.  God bless her darling heart.  I think she was trying to defend my virtue but there is also the possibility, since I don’t speak Korean, that she may have been calling me a two bit floozy.  She then stole half a sandwich roll off of the plate of yet another patient and thrust it towards my mouth.  This ultimately deterred Mistah Lovah Lovah long enough to lose interest.  He walked away and I kid you not, let out a 30 second fart as he departed.

Guess what?  I felt guilty.  What the hell man!?

So as I was driving home I realized the knee jerk instinct that somehow this madness did not belong to me and that I needed to adhere to what I pledged to myself months ago.

Here it goes:

I have the right to free time and can spend it however I damn well please

I have the right to not answer my cell phone if I am otherwise engaged in any manner which I feel is important

I have the right to set boundaries even if other people don’t understand why those boundaries are being put into place because frankly it’s my decision

I have the right to say no

I have the right to bad days without having to offer up some explanation of my shortcomings in order to have said bad day.  Sometimes it’s you not me…get it buttercup?

I have the right to put my own needs in front once in awhile

I have the right to forgive myself for my many flaws but more so, I have the right to applaud the GODDAMN rock star that I, in all actuality, am EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I have the right to not be perfect

I have the right to pretend that I am perfect because some days I do fake it ’til I make it

I have to right to not require anyone else’s approval now and again….I kind of like how that feels (and anyone who has ever had an overbearing grandmother who liked to lay guilt trips for breathing knows this sentiment)

I have the right to walk away if my well being is being compromised

I have the right to be tired or cranky or misunderstood

I have the right to reject unnecessary judgment with the same level of contempt and dismissal I would give a man or woman who steal from their mother

I have the right to eat the entire container of tapenade in two days and yes ZERO EFFS GIVEN.  Alright maybe that’s extreme.  Let’s count them…

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I have the right to applaud myself or any other woman who is struggling to make it all look so easy.  We are exceptional in every way.

And we do have the right to know that with every fiber of our being…

In short, what I’m learning and trying to balance in day to day life is not assuming the burden of guilt for just being fallible and human…

In the end we all have to own our own lives and choices – both good and bad – and the  consequences that go with those choices along the way.  I will thoroughly reject what does not belong to me, not to be dismissive, but to be concise.  I try very hard not to judge someone’s choices – only their lack of ownership of said choices.  Unless it’s judging myself.  I’m TOTES good at that!

I’m learning the difference between a you thing and a me thing.  Not everything requires my participation.  I do not need to actively engage in the woes of all even if they are in my direct path.  I need to filter ownership better.  I need to cut myself some slack.  I need to stand up for myself and I need to let go of the little stuff.  I would love to become comfortable in this stance rather than feeling combative and guilty about it.  It’s like fighting my own DNA some days.

In the end, if all I accomplish by writing this is to let someone else know that they’re not the only ones who think in concentric circles of guilt….mission accomplished.

Let me at least check that off of my to do list.

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I write about life as I know it.

2 Comment on “Women’s Owner’s Manual

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