Posted by: susanideus | April 26, 2010

A Strange Message?

Trying to love two women is like a ball and chain…trying to hold two women is tearing me apart…One’s got my money,  the other’s got my heart. It’s a long old grind, and it tires your mind.

~”Trying to Love Two Women” from The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Oak Ridge Boys, MCA Nashville, 2000

Don’t stop reading yet, please. I realize this is a strange intro, but this has been a strange experience. I hope I haven’t just gone off the deep end here. Let me try to explain.

Have you ever gotten a song in your mind and it won’t go away? Usually when that happens to me, it’s something I’ve heard that I like and it just sticks with me. Sometimes it’s a catchy tune. This time, this song–well, this baffles me. I like the Oakridge Boys; in fact, I like them a lot. But,I have always intensely disliked this song. My initial reaction was, and continues to be, along the line of: “Duh, it’s what you deserve.”  The song has no personal meaning for me as an individual nor does it have any context in my marriage.

Why then, over the past three or four days, does it keep playing in my head over and over and over again? It’s been driving me crazy. Are there any Star Trek: Next Generation fans out there? In one episode, Counselor Troi has a music box tune playing in her mind; it literally is driving her insane and she cries out “Make it stop!” I’m not quite at that point, or I don’t think I am. It hasn’t kept me from sleeping but I swear I dreamed about it…

OK, self, I ask, what is this about? Is there any possible meaning? I have to admit, I’ve never done dream analysis, and I don’t as a rule look for hidden meanings in that which I don’t understand. This seemed different, so I looked.

I didn’t have to go far. I read my last blog. I’m quite literally being torn between two worlds/lifestyles–two me’s. Are these the “women” in this song?

One world belongs to the real me, the one who has no artifice, who hides behind no walls, who has no necessity of facades or masks, who doesn’t live according to what others expect of me. It’s where I could do what I truly love–my writing–which is nurturing to me, and allows me to nurture those around me. It’s a simpler existence, where the lifestyle is slower and healthier. That world certainly has my heart.

The second world would be where I am now. A job I don’t like, but feel compelled to keep for now, where to survive I build walls, wear a mask, try to live up to someone else’s expectations of me. I have little in common with the other people there, and absolutely no patience with the way the business is run. It’s just a job. So this “woman” is the other one in the song, I guess, but there’s more. I work with my sister-in-law, technically for her. She’s been at this company for half her life and though she gets frustrated, it’s her life. I started working there because of her. She “took me in” when I needed to get out of the retail rat race and be off of my feet. She kept my job for me when I had to take off an extended period of time when I had back surgery. Now, to be fair to myself, I’ve never taken advantage of being related to her–I work hard, probably holding myself to even higher standards so no one would think I was coasting because I was “the sister-in-law”.  If I were to leave, I could not do so with out hurting my S-I-L. She wants it to be, thinks it is, my life too.  She wouldn’t understand if I tried to explain. I cannot, will not, let a job define me. Sadly, she is her job.  Suffice it to say, in my analysis of the song, this job and the life I live is the one tied up with money. It would be a stretch financially to live without my salary, but oh my, how I want to try!

Again, in the interest of fairness to all parties, it’s not just this job. Since I’ve never been brave enough, or tough enough, or wise enough, to live in my authentic world, I’ve employed many of the same masks and facades my entire working life as an adult. Thankfully, I finally do know what/who I want to be when I grow up!

So, dear readers, am I going a little crazy here? Am I stretching to find an explanation to the maddening music in my mind?  Is it a message or merely a nuisance? Perhaps it’s some of both. However you view it, the picture is clear to me. I need to make some decisions soon that will end the dichotomy of the two Susans. In the words of the song, trying to exist with both “tires your mind.” I’m more than ready to be the authentic me, whatever it takes.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  ~Philippians 4:13
it takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.  ~e.e. cummings


  1. Sid, as you know I am currently in a struggle with two women in my life as well. The one is struggles daily, even hourly, to fit in to the corporate world which she has become increasingly dissilusioned with. Other second is the woman I left behind at Manderly. No stress; no pain in her body; the woman she is meant to be. The choice seems easy, but it isn’t always so.

    • Oh Linda. I would never use the word easy for this desire for change–clear choice but hard to just do. This past weekend I was the me I like–did nothing but baking and writing. I felt so good, had more energy–the fibro beast left for a couple of days. Got back to work yesterday, and by mid-morning, felt like a train wreck. Worse today. What do we do to make the time between now and when we can get to the place/lifestyle of our choice more bearable??? It’s tough! I keep telling myself that working now is a means to the end of getting to NM someday. Problem is, I’m running out of energy and patience. Know what I mean?

      • I know exactly what you mean, Sid. After enjoying a week of vacation, pain-free I might add, by the end of my first day back yesterday I wondered what happened.

      • Amazing, isn’t it, Linda? Our bodies are great barometers of our psyches, I believe. I have to say that I am beginning to suspect that my workplace may be literally toxic–stuff in the air ducts & walls, which is really ironic since it’s an air conditioning company. Another reason I want to leave–their work practices and dare I say, ethics, are not what I am comfortable with. I am envisioning me in the NM High desert and you on the Canadian prairie, contented and much healthier in body & soul. Hold on to that image, my friend!

  2. It could be that you’re going sane. The struggle is difficult, especially when you’re trying to be considerate of family members. But you are kind to think of your S-I-L in the midst of your own conflict.

    • I like that–“going sane.” Don’t think I’ve gone that direction for awhile. I do wish the giver of the message would choose another song–sheesh! Family is important to me and I love this lady a lot, but there’s no way I get away from here without hurting her. She won’t understand that staying hurts me more. I grieve for the “life” she’s chosen for herself. Her only son died some years back, and she buried herself with him. I know I can’t change that, but it concerns me just the same.

      • I don’t really know you, and I’ve been awfully vocal on this matter–but I always let work and a care-giver status define me, and after a death in the family I began working 12-hour days, 7-day weeks. It was easy because at first I loved the job; then I hated it. By the time I tried to pull back, my health had been affected to the point I had little choice about retiring before I should have. Fortunately, I was able to continue purchasing my group insurance. Seven years later, everything is totally different, healthier, happier. One person’s experience never lays out a map for another’s. But if it’s any encouragement, the risk I took was one of my best moves. (And not to make light of anything, but the song I’ve been stuck on for years is, “Never Smile at a Crocodile,” from my Captain Kangaroo days. I’m afraid to ask what that message is.)

      • I think, Kathy, that we’re getting to know one another somewhat, and I know that I value your input very much. You have empathy and I feel like you can definitely relate to some of the issues I write about. In this case, I suspect you are right about the risk being worth it. My own health is to the point where I know a change will be forced on me soon if I’m not proactive about choosing the change.

        By the way, it might be quite interesting to pursue the meaning on that long-running Crocodile song. :~)

  3. I have found when I don’t follow the inner call, the authentic voice, it bites me – when it bit hard enough then I stopped and paid attention. I have many bite marks!!!

    I believe that when something is right, it is right. It is right in the world and the rest of our world adapts. Sometimes, others benefit from it too, whether up front or down the road. If the right thing is for you to not be at your workplace, then it’s right for your workplace for you not to be there IMHO.

    Maybe it boils down to whether we do something for our highest good or for selfish interests. When it’s for the highest good, speaking personally, I find the next step is to trust. Trust. Big time. If I don’t trust after taking steps towards my highest good, then I operate out of fear – which only serves to block me, block my intuition. So I must trust – it has never failed me. Being practical helps as well.

    My gut: you are on the brink of truly embracing and living the You of who you are, and this is the ocean wave building up before it crashes, releasing its marvelous energy. Just a feeling. I appreciate your honesty and authenticity, Susan. And I appreciate you.

    • Wise words, Mary. I regret that I didn’t learn long ago to follow my inner call. But then, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and regrets are best left in the past. Too heavy to carry them forward. As I strive to be more attuned to my body and my soul, I am amazed at how much I can learn by just quietly observing, listening. My plans for the future include paying much more attention to both and starting to care for myself physically in a much more conscious way. I’m sure I’ll be checking in with you! Thanks so much for all of your encouragement.

  4. “It’s never too late to be who you might have been!” I have that quote on a Mary Engelbreit poster, though I’m sure she took it from someone else. You are not alone in your dilemma Susan. I think it’s the natural awakening that all of we women who were raised to be “people-pleasers” go through, when we finish raising our kids and husbands. Just think of it as setting off on an exciting journey – and keep that quote ever in mind! Another favorite that has carried my far in the last few years (even took me to an SCN conference, and made me agree to be on a blog panel!) is “Do something every day that scares you.”

    • Both excellent quotes, Becky. Mind if I borrow them?!

      I am realizing that often women of a certain age (ahem!) feel this longing to embrace their true self. It makes me think of my Mom who died when she was 55 and I wonder what she was longing for.

      Good thoughts all!

      • My mother was much older when she died, Linda, but she was never introspective. That generation, with a few exceptions, just didn’t seem to be. I grieve for the living she missed, the sad flat life she led. I can’t imagine the same for myself or for my darling girls. In that sense, even though it has taken us some time to get here, we are much more fortunate, to be able and to be willing to change and grow and seek authenticity.

    • Becky, you are so right! I find that I am looking forward to whatever is next and I do find it exciting to contemplate. I hope that in my own life it’s never too late to change and to grow. It’s what living is all about. I’m just in this frustrating in-between time right now–anxious to get on with life, but realizing there is some unfinished business here. I too love Eleanor Roosevelt’s admonition to do one scary thing each day. It stretches us and moves us from our comfort zone. I used that at the end of one of my blog posts not too long ago. She was a wise woman.

  5. Hi, there. 🙂 I’m here from Linda’s.

    This is a lovely and honest post. I think many times I can struggle to realize my true self, since there are so many facets in my life. But then, I realize they are all part of what makes the real me. And that, I’m learning to accept… and embrace.

    • Thank you, Janna, for visiting from Linda’s. She is a wonderful person, and I’m honored to call her friend. And thanks for your kind words. It’s always a risk to be totally honest here in cyberspace but I have the loveliest people coming by and commenting and opening up dialogues with me. At this point in my life, I’m striving to be authentic in all I do, and there would be no point to my writing without that. I too am finding that I am more accepting of myself. The more layers I peel off, the better I like me! It’s a wonderful time of change for me, and I’m looking forward to what the future has in store.

  6. I just find it so interesting, especially how we all seem to have some experiences with it…Our other side crying out for acknowledgement, messages to ourselves inside a song, a smell, a body ache or pain…It is such an amazing thing, that connection between our mind, body and soul. It can be scary, the winds of change, rustling our beings…but change is necessary, and usually works out for the greater good! Good luck on your journey. PS. I came by from mom’s page, Linda…

    • Laurinda, I absolutely love your phrase “the winds of change, rustling our beings”. How lyrical, and how apt! I can tell you that my being definitely needed to be rustled. It was scary to me how far down the road to self-neglect I’d gone, just by accepting what I thought I had to be doing, and by continuing to be who I was not. Our bodies do definitely send us messages, if we listen, and don’t brush them aside–“Oh, I’m just getting old” or whatever.

      Thank you for coming by and sharing your thoughts. I hope & pray that you begin now to integrate your body and your soul into one authentic self. I know that is one thing I hope to be teaching my own daughters along the way. Blessings & hugs to you & yours.

  7. Susan I think you express so well what many of us feel, but often put the thoughts away until we have time to give them the justice they deserve. Your blog really inspires me. Just wish I could get all my challenges behind me and “move” on with my life. I love NM, too.
    Keep up the good writings and I will try to read more of your inspiring words.

    • Thanks, Janice. I enjoy taking the time to explore my thoughts. It might not always mean a lot to someone else, but it helps me clarify things in my mind.

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