Paint by Number

My parents had a paint by number picture for their kids, not necessarily individualized. Neither one of my parents was educated beyond the eighth grade. Their respective fathers died when my parents were young, and they were expected to quit school to help support their siblings. My mother had ten kids in her family; my father had eight.

All we kids were to do was make it out of high school without getting arrested, pregnant, and with a diploma. Boys could go to college; girls didn’t need to go to college to be wives and mothers. When we moved out of our parents home, the expectation was that we would either be married or entering the armed forces. My poor parents! My older brother and I were the real trouble makers in the family, but I don’t think we were an easy bunch overall. With limited education and resources, probably was the only way for my parents to keep their sanity was to have a blueprint for their offspring!

I left without going into the military, and I certainly wasn’t going to get married. My father ruled the roost, and I wasn’t going to have anyone telling me what to do. I knew early on in my life that the only way to be who I was inside was to get out as quickly as I could. Eighteen came and I went.

I don’t blame my parents. They did the best that they could. And they stayed. Some of my cousins were raised in foster homes because their parents couldn’t do it. For me, I’ve always done better when I was told I couldn’t do something. For instance, my dad said I wouldn’t ever complete college, that I didn’t need to go. I wore him down (hence my sales career) to pay for few classes so I could see, and I spent my time getting high. I got good grades, but I didn’t have the follow through to make it all the way. When I made it to twenty-four years of age, I was willing to do the work because I saw what my life would be like without it: I would have a life like our family’s, and that wasn’t acceptable to me. In the 1960s and 70s, there were far fewer options for women. And I could get a grant without using my parents’ income.

When I entered chemo, I did so with the belief that things had improved since my stint as a director of a hospital department. The doctor and his staff reassured me that that was the case. If it’s this horrific now, what was it like back in the 1980s?! It must have been like being dragged over hot coals with nails embedded in them!

Luckily, I had a history of not following the blueprint. That’s how I left chemo. When someone lies to me – even if they believe that they are telling me the truth – I can leave. And that’s what I did. The planets aligned, the stars shone, God sent a messenger, it all worked together to allow me the strength to do what I needed to do to live my own truth.

Day 5 of the cbd oil: I limp when I first walk, other than that I am writing this blog at 12:30AM after getting up at 7AM. I’m doing fine, thanks! Still taking the supplements for my lungs and heart, and yesterday and today I was able to be with a dog for two hours and feel fine. I guess I’m better than fine.

 

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