Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Years Eve

I had a couple of invites for tonight, but E and I decided to stay home. Its not that we're antisocial, at least not much, but we wanted to take the opportunity to start the new year together, quietly. This past year has been so chaotic with so much pain - every time I think about it, I am overwhelmed with grief, so I try to not think about it much. E has decided to take a nice bubble bath for the next couple of hours until its time to toast in 2006, and I'm in an introspective mood, so I'm sitting here at the computer.

Am I wallowing in pain? Do I secretly enjoy nursing it along, poking at my wounds until they bleed again? Is melancholy my basic temperment? I'm not sure.... maybe. And more importantly, have I passed this introspective melancholia on to my daughter? Again, maybe. Most people would probably say that she and I have been through a lot (and we have), so its understandable and even expected that we would still the feel effects, but I think differently. Not that we shouldn't feel whatever it is that we are feeling - no, I'm willing to own my emotions - but instead, I am beginning to understand that melancholy is a choice, and a selfish choice at that. Its more me-ism. Poor me. Poor Denise. She's been through so much. Poor Elisabeth. She's been through more than a kid her age should ever have to go through. Do we, both of us, somehow crave that kind of attention? Do I secretly enjoy the admiration of others? There may be an element of truth to this -- I'll have to ponder this some more.

One of the ladies on the Orthodox Women's list said the most profound thing: "Now that you are spent completely, May our Lord our Lord fill you up." I've been thinking about this for a few days. This is my prayer, but the problem is that I'm not spent completely and I don't think that I will ever, ever be spent utterly completely. There is always a kernal of something indefinable to draw on still inside - is that God? Except for once and that was brief in the scheme of things. I've been thinking about being truly spent a lot and I know I'm not there right now.

But, my prayer for 2006 truly is for God to fill me up. How else can I cope? Who else can I rely on? How else can I be the mother that my daughter needs? How else can I ever LIVE? Really LIVE? So, the choice for 2006 is, to choose life rather than melancholy, to choose freedom rather than bondage to the past and things I cannot do anything about, to choose joy rather than sadness, to choose communion rather than loneliness.

In our faith there is a strong image of God as lover and we, the Church, His people, as the bride. The imagery is strongly sensual. If I knew God in that way, I know that this deep longing would be satisfied. I just don't know how to get to there from here. Maybe its like waterskiing - Skippy told me to just hold on tight, sit back on the skis and let the boat pull me around the lake. And it worked - I waterskiied at 4. Maybe thats what I need to do - hold on tight, lean on the church and let God pull me around the lake.

Nah, its too simplistic for me. I have to make everything difficult - if its easy, I can't find the value in it. I really don't know what I'm looking for - all these years I've been blindly looking and searching for something, or someone to fill up that empty space. Maybe that space has been filled all along but I haven't had eyes to see that.

Lord, I pray that you will meet my daughter and me in our little house and take us by the hand and show us what we've been missing. I pray that you complete what is lacking in both of us. I pray that you show us how to love each other, and to love you, and to show love to others. I pray that you give us both strength to cope with whatever 2006 has in store for us. And, I pray that you hold my father gently in your arms.

Friday, December 30, 2005

So, I'm a Type 5 with a 4 wing? What is that?
Since I'm supposedly a Type 5 with a 4 wing, I thought I'd research it a little today.

Enneagram Type Five

The Intense, Cerebral Type:
Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated

Basic Fear: Being useless, helpless, or incapable
Basic Desire: To be capable and competent
Enneagram Five with a Four-Wing: "The Iconoclast"
Enneagram Five with a Six-Wing: "The Problem Solver"

Profile Summary for Enneagram Type Five
Healthy: Observe everything with extraordinary perceptiveness and insight. Most mentally alert, curious, searching intelligence: nothing escapes their notice. Foresight and prediction. Able to concentrate: become engrossed in what has caught their attention. / Attain skillful mastery of whatever interests them. Excited by knowledge: often become expert in some field. Innovative and inventive, producing extremely valuable, original works. Highly independent, idiosyncratic, and whimsical. At Their Best: Become visionaries, broadly comprehending the world while penetrating it profoundly. Open-minded, take things in whole, in their true context. Make pioneering discoveries and find entirely new ways of doing and perceiving things.

Average: Begin conceptualizing and fine-tuning everything before acting — working things out in their minds: model building, preparing, practicing, and gathering more resources. Studious, acquiring technique. Become specialized, and often "intellectual," often challenging accepted ways of doing things. / Increasingly detached as they become involved with complicated ideas or imaginary worlds. Become preoccupied with their visions and interpretations rather than reality. Are fascinated by off-beat, esoteric subjects, even those involving dark and disturbing elements. Detached from the practical world, a "disembodied mind," although high-strung and intense. / Begin to take an antagonistic stance toward anything which would interfere with their inner world and personal vision. Become provocative and abrasive, with intentionally extreme and radical views. Cynical and argumentative.

Unhealthy: Become reclusive and isolated from reality, eccentric and nihilistic. Highly unstable and fearful of aggressions: they reject and repulse others and all social attachments. / Get obsessed yet frightened by their threatening ideas, becoming horrified, delirious, and prey to gross distortions and phobias. / Seeking oblivion, they may commit suicide or have a psychotic break with reality. Deranged, explosively self-destructive, with schizophrenic overtones. Generally corresponds to the Schizoid Avoidant and Schizotypal personality disorders.

Key Motivations: Want to possess knowledge, to understand the environment, to have everything figured out as a way of defending the self from threats from the environment.

Examples: Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Georgia O'Keefe, Stanley Kubrick, John Lennon, Lily Tomlin, Gary Larson, Laurie Anderson, Merce Cunningham, Meredith Monk, James Joyce, Bjšrk, Susan Sontag, Emily Dickenson, Agatha Christie, Ursula K. LeGuin, Jane Goodall, Glenn Gould, John Cage, Bobby Fischer, Tim Burton, David Lynch, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Trent Reznor, Friedrich Nietzsche, Vincent Van Gogh, Kurt Cobain, and "Fox Mulder" (X Files).

Personal Growth Recommendations
for Enneagram Type Fives

Learn to notice when your thinking and speculating takes you out of the immediacy of your experience. Your mental capacities can be an extraordinary gift, but only can also be a trap when you use them to retreat from contact with yourself and others. Stay connected with your physicality.

You tend to be extremely intense and so high-strung that you find it difficult to relax and unwind. Make an effort to learn to calm down in a healthy way, without drugs or alcohol. Exercising or using biofeedback techniques will help channel some of your tremendous nervous energy. Meditation, jogging, yoga, and dancing are especially helpful for your type.

You see many possibilities but often do not know how to choose among them or judge which is more or less important. When you are caught in your fixation, a sense of perspective can be missing, and with it the ability to make accurate assessments. At such time, it can be helpful to get the advice of someone whose judgment you trust while you are gaining perspective on your situation. Doing this can also help you trust someone else, a difficulty for your type.

Notice when you are getting intensely involved in projects that do not necessarily support your self-esteem, confidence, or life situation. It is possible to follow many different fascinating subjects, games, and pastimes, but they can become huge distractions from what you know really need to do. Decisive action will bring more confidence than learning more facts or acquiring more unrelated skills.

Fives tend to find it difficult to trust people, to open up to them emotionally, or to make themselves accessible in various ways. Their awareness of potential problems in relationships may tend to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is important to remember that having conflicts with others is not unusual and that the healthy thing is to work them out rather than reject attachments with people by withdrawing into isolation. Having one or two intimate friends whom you trust enough to have conflicts with will enrich your life greatly.

Addictions of Type 5 The Investigator
Poor eating and sleeping habits due to minimizing needs. Neglecting hygiene and nutrition. Lack of physical activity. Psychotropic drugs for mental stimulation and escape, narcotics for anxiety.

Enneagram Type Four

The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type:
Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental

Basic Fear: That they have no identity or personal significance
Basic Desire: To find themselves and their significance (to create an identity)
Enneagram Four with a Three-Wing: "The Aristocrat"
Enneagram Four with a Five-Wing: "The Bohemian"

Profile Summary for Enneagram Type Four
Healthy: Self-aware, introspective, on the "search for self," aware of feelings and inner impulses. Sensitive and intuitive both to self and others: gentle, tactful, compassionate. / Highly personal, individualistic, "true to self." Self-revealing, emotionally honest, humane. Ironic view of self and life: can be serious and funny, vulnerable and emotionally strong. At Their Best: Profoundly creative, expressing the personal and the universal, possibly in a work of art. Inspired, self-renewing and regenerating: able to transform all their experiences into something valuable: self-creative.

Average: Take an artistic, romantic orientation to life, creating a beautiful, aesthetic environment to cultivate and prolong personal feelings. Heighten reality through fantasy, passionate feelings, and the imagination. / To stay in touch with feelings, they interiorize everything, taking everything personally, but become self-absorbed and introverted, moody and hypersensitive, shy and self-conscious, unable to be spontaneous or to "get out of themselves." Stay withdrawn to protect their self-image and to buy time to sort out feelings. / Gradually think that they are different from others, and feel that they are exempt from living as everyone else does. They become melancholy dreamers, disdainful, decadent, and sensual, living in a fantasy world. Self-pity and envy of others leads to self-indulgence, and to becoming increasingly impractical, unproductive, effete, and precious.

Unhealthy: When dreams fail, become self-inhibiting and angry at self, depressed and alienated from self and others, blocked and emotionally paralyzed. Ashamed of self, fatigued and unable to function. / Tormented by delusional self-contempt, self-reproaches, self-hatred, and morbid thoughts: everything is a source of torment. Blaming others, they drive away anyone who tries to help them. / Despairing, feel hopeless and become self-destructive, possibly abusing alcohol or drugs to escape. In the extreme: emotional breakdown or suicide is likely. Generally corresponds to the Avoidant, Depressive, and Narcissistic personality disorders.

Key Motivations: Want to express themselves and their individuality, to create and surround themselves with beauty, to maintain certain moods and feelings, to withdraw to protect their self-image, to take care of emotional needs before attending to anything else, to attract a "rescuer".

Examples: Ingmar Bergman, Alan Watts, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morrisette, Paul Simon, Jeremy Irons, Patrick Stewart, Joseph Fiennes, Martha Graham, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Johnny Depp, Anne Rice, Rudolph Nureyev, J.D. Salinger, Anaîs Nin, Marcel Proust, Maria Callas, Tennessee Williams, Edgar Allan Poe, Annie Lennox, Prince, Michael Jackson, Virginia Woolf, Judy Garland, "Blanche DuBois" (Streetcar Named Desire), Thomas Merton.

Personal Growth Recommendations
for Enneagram Type Fours

Do not pay so much attention to your feelings; they are not a true source of support for you, as you probably already know. Remember this advice: "From our present perspective, we can also see that one of the most important mistakes Fours make is to equate themselves with their feelings. The fallacy is that to understand themselves they must understand their feelings, particularly their negative ones, before acting. Fours do not see that the self is not the same as its feelings or that the presence of negative feelings does not preclude the presence of good in themselves" (Personality Types, p. 172). Always remember that your feelings are telling you something about yourself as you are at this particular moment, not necessarily more than that.

Avoid putting off things until you are "in the right mood." Commit yourself to productive, meaningful work that will contribute to your good and that of others, no matter how small the contribution may be. Working consistently in the real world will create a context in which you can discover yourself and your talents. (Actually, you are happiest when you are working—that is, activating your potentials and realizing yourself. You will not "find yourself" in a vacuum or while waiting for inspiration to strike, so connect—and stay connected—with the real world.

Self-esteem and self-confidence will develop only from having positive experiences, whether or not you believe that you are ready to have them. Therefore, put yourself in the way of good. You may never feel that you are ready to take on a challenge of some sort, that you always need more time. (Fours typically never feel that they are sufficiently "together," but they must nevertheless have the courage to stop putting off their lives.) Even if you start small, commit yourself to doing something that will bring out the best in you.

A wholesome self-discipline takes many forms, from sleeping regular hours to working regularly to exercising regularly, and has a cumulative, strengthening effect. Since it comes from yourself, a healthy self-discipline is not contrary to your freedom or individuality. On the other hand, sensuality, excessive sexual experiences, alcohol, drugs, sleep, or fantasizing have a debilitating effect on you, as you already know. Therefore, practice healthy self-discipline and stay with it.

Avoid lengthy conversations in your imagination, particularly if they are negative, resentful, or even excessively romantic. These conversations are essentially unreal and at best only rehearsals for action—although, as you know, you almost never say or do what you imagine you will. Instead of spending time imagining your life and relationships, begin to live them.

Addictions of Type 4 The Individualist
Over-indulgence in rich foods, sweets, alcohol to alter mood, to socialize, and for emotional consolation. Lack of physical activity. Bulimia. Depressants. Tobacco, prescription drugs, or heroin for social anxiety. Cosmetic surgery to erase rejected features.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Freud was a nut, you know, but....

Freudian Inventory Results
Oral (56%) you appear to have a good balance of independence and interdependence knowing when to accept help and when to do things on your own.
Anal (50%) you appear to have a good balance of self control and spontaneity, order and chaos, variety and selectivity.
Phallic (83%) you appear to have issues with controlling your sexual desires and possibly fidelity.
Latency (60%) you appear to have a good balance of abstract knowledge seeking and practicality, dealing with real world responsibilities while still cultivating your abstract and creative faculties and interests.
Genital (60%) you appear to be somewhere between a progressive/openminded and regressive/closeminded outlook on life.

Take Free Freudian Inventory Test
personality tests by

Enneagram Test Results Type 1 Perfectionism |||||||||||||||| 62%
Type 2 Helpfulness |||||||||||||||| 62%
Type 3 Image Focus |||||||||||||||| 62%
Type 4 Hypersensitivity |||||||||||||||| 70%
Type 5 Detachment |||||||||||||||||| 78%
Type 6 Anxiety |||||||||||||| 54%
Type 7 Adventurousness |||||||||||||| 54%
Type 8 Aggressiveness |||||||||||||||||| 78%
Type 9 Calmness |||||||||| 34%

Take Free Enneagram Word Test
personality tests by

Main Type Overall Self

Take Free Enneagram Personality Test

Enneagram Test Results Type 1 Perfectionism |||||||||||||| 56%
Type 2 Helpfulness |||||||||||| 48%
Type 3 Image Focus |||||||||||||||||| 72%
Type 4 Hypersensitivity |||||||||||||||| 65%
Type 5 Detachment |||||||||||||||||| 78%
Type 6 Anxiety |||||||||||||||| 67%
Type 7 Adventurousness |||||||||||||| 53%
Type 8 Aggressiveness |||||||||||||||||| 74%
Type 9 Calmness |||||||||||||| 53%
Your main type is 5
Your variant is self pres
Take Free Enneagram Personality Test

Monday, December 26, 2005

What's Your Political Philosophy?

You scored as New Democrat. New Democrats emphasize fiscal conservatism, and have a strong preference for the free market. They believe in small-scale programs that provide targetted help to those in need, while working with the business community.

New Democrat

Old School Democrat


Pro Business Republican


Socially Conservative Republican

Foreign Policy Hawk


What's Your Political Philosophy?
created with

Sunday, December 25, 2005

What I'm Reading Now

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Robert Frost

St Ephrem's Nativity Hymn 13
………………..It is as if your love
hungers for human beings.
You distinguish not your parents
from strangers, nor the one who bore You
from maidservants, nor the one who nursed You
from harlots. Is this your boldness
or your love, all-merciful One?
What moves You to bestow yourself
upon each who has seen You – upon the rich
and upon the poor? With them You take shelter
without them invoking You. From where did it come to You
so to hunger for human beings?

St Ephrem's Nativity Hymn 16
I shall not be jealous, my son, that You are both with me
and with everyone. Be God
to the one who confesses You, and be Lord
to the one who serves You, and be brother
to the one who loves You so that You might save all.
While You dwelt in me, both in me and outside of me
your majesty dwelt. While I gave birth to You
openly, your hidden power
was not removed from me. You are within me,
and You are outside of me, O Mystifier of His mother.

St Ephrem's Nativity Hymn 19
…………..Through You, Honorable One,
even worthless things become beautiful.
So great is contact with You that even if someone
throw a stone at You, it would be a pearl.
Even your sweat, for one who is worthy,
is a baptism, and the dust of your garments
for one who is infirm, is a great fount
of all aids, and even your spittle
if it reach the face, would enlighten the eyes.
If upon a stone You should rest your head,
they would divide it and tear it apart, and if You slept
upon a dunghill, it would become a church
for prayers, and if, again, You broke
ordinary bread, for us it would be the medicine of life.
Who will revile You? For even your abuse
is a blessing of the peoples. Who will kill You?
For even your death is the word of life
for men. And even if you mount
a cross, You are the Paschal Lamb.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve Musings

As I've bustled about taking care of all the last minute chores around the house today, I've been thinking about Christmases past and present, especially present. I am still wound up from things that have been happening lately with someone, even though my pastor told me to just let it go. Its harder than it looks to just let it go. But, I confessed pride, which was the root of it all, and God forgave me, so I need to just let it go.

When Elisabeth was undergoing chemotherapy, Ro gave me a worry box. It was a tiny box, the size of a pill box, full of tiny little human figures, with one figure bigger than the rest. Every morning when I'd wake up, I'd open my eyes and for a minute, all was well with the world, and then I'd remember that my beautiful chubby miracle baby was looking like a skinny, wizened little gnome in the next room and that she might die. So, the worry box was good for me - I'd empty the figures out, and think of all the bad things in my life, one by one, and one by one I'd put a figure in the box. The last figure was Elisabeth's cancer... Into the box it would go, and I would do my best to just put all that out of my mind for the rest of the day. My motto was the same as Scarlett O'Hara's - I'll think about it tomorrow!. I had that first 10 or 15 minutes of the day in which I allowed myself to worry and to think of the worst thing that could happen, and the rest of the day I was determined to put it all out of my mind.

Maybe that's what I need now - a worry box. Just put all my cares and woes into the box and let them out for a minute or two in the morning. After all, there isn't anything I can do about the people in my life that are causing me such grief.

I guess I just really want to not care. But I do.

The one good thing about all of this is that its taken my mind off myself in a way - it *is* something else to think/obsess about, instead of missing my parents and how sad my ex is.

Isn't it really strange that I feel so RESPONSIBLE for all of this? Intellectually, I think I can see that I'm not - I didn't cause people to get obsessive and to blow the smallest things out of proportion. People make their own choices. So why do I feel responsible?

I've been thinking about this today....

And I've been remembering Christmases from long ago, when I was a child, and we lived on Shute Street. I remember walking the half block to Grammie's house which smelled like heaven from all the cooking... and how happy we all were and how much laughing everybody did. How young and beautiful everyone was. So many of my most beloved family is gone now: My mother, Grammie, Grampie, Auntie Anna, Auntie Nette.... George, Jerry... Joe Boy.... Uncle Nicky and Auntie Emily. Even Marie Cadigan next door. And Memiere and Pepiere. Everything and everyone has its season.

There's something about "home" that is so comforting. For me, home will always be that house on B Street. When I think of home, I'll always be about 10 years old, and Grammie will be rolling out pasta and squeezing me to death with her hugs, and Auntie Anna will still be stunning and shapely in her french twist at the sink, and Auntie Nettie will be dipping her folded-over toast in her tea while the pies bake, and my mother will be 47, younger than I am now, bustline around as my Grammie's pinchie. Ethel and Terry will be dancing together in the living room to their records, and Roseanne, beautiful, stunning Roseanne, will be primping in front of the mirror. And all will be right with the world.

And keep them in a place of verdure, where all sickness, sorrow and sighing have fled away....

Merry Christmas, Mama. I'm trying without you.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I need....

I need to devote some serious prayer time today. I'm going to see my
Dad in the nursing home today and bring him his Christmas presents. This
will be the first time that my daughter has been willing to visit him since
last spring because it is so upsetting to her. My exhusband is visiting
and he is going to visit him as well. I am dreading her and his reactions.
The last time I saw my dad, he had a very hard time remembering me and
although I know intellectually that is just part of the disease, it just
about did me in.

My dad will be 90 his next birthday and he has prostrate cancer as well as
advancing Alzheimers. When my mother was close to dying last February, I
had to put him in a nursing home because I just couldn't take care of both
of them and I still feel awful about the decision I had to make. Since
he's been in the nursing home, of course, his Alzheimers has gotten worse
and worse. Today may be the day that he won't be able to recall who I am,
no matter what I do.

The slow decline of your parents takes its toll in odd and unexpected ways,
at least that's how it has been for me. I expected to feel sad and to miss
my father since everything that makes him himself has slowly died. I miss
my mother terribly since she died, every minute of every day, and this
holiday season has been pretty hard.

What I hadn't expected, though, is the lack of patience I have with all
kinds of people and things. You know, the normal petty selfishness that
people exhibit, including myself - I find myself saying, oh great - more
me-ism. We are each the center of our own universe, aren't we? We find it
hard to think outside the box that is our own foibles, sins and neuroses -
our me-ism colors everything, doesn't it?

So, this year, I've dealt with all kinds of things: the death of my mother,
my father slipping away, moving, my 15 yo dd announcing that she is not a
christian any longer, almost losing the program that funds my job, lots of
money problems, menopause and all its hormonal and emotional shifts, my
dearest friend talking about me grabbing for power at my church and about
my parenting skills and basically calling my daughter a slut behind my back.
One of my direct reports died last week and I have to fire a sweet little old
grandmother after the first of the year. I've been traveling on business about
2 or 3 weeks out of four since June. My pastor told me last night that I'm
suffering exhaustion, and its true. I'm suffering from mental, spiritual,
physical and emotional exhaustion.

Its been hard to just put one foot in front of the other most days, but I've
done my best and relied on God to get me through, and He did. I've tried to
stay busy to keep myself from wallowing in my own misery, which has worked
pretty well. But, I'm tired, and I'm so very sad and depressed, and I'm so
alone. My friends don't see that, because I've been careful to continue as
I always have, at least outwardly, so I guess I need to add being untruthful
to the list.

Why is it that people, myself included, have such a hard time looking beyond
themselves to what others are feeling and have some compassion instead of
judgmentalism? This past year, when I've tried to put myself in someone
else's shoes, my basic response has been, to myself at least, just get over
it. Why do I want others to just get over it but I am having so much
difficulty getting "over it" myself? Where is my patience and compassion
for others? And where is it for myself?


No one will ever read this but me, I know, but as I read my post, I'm struck
by what a whiner I am. And such a downer. I want to blame menopause for making
me feel sorry for myself. Or is it some kind of basic character flaw
comprised of selfish self-pity? Is it just the stress of having my
exhusband visiting in my house? Whatever, I'm missing my mother's wise counsel and her loving arms so very much today, and I've vomited this out to this cyber journal instead.

Maybe I should post this on the Orthodox Women's list and get some cyber hugs and lots of good advice as well. And maybe I should stop wallowing in my negative emotions.