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Posts Tagged ‘open heart’

Those were the words that followed me home last Thursday.

I haven’t posted here in quite some time.  I just really haven’t felt like I had anything important to say, and that my blog had become some kind of me, me, me drivel.  Not what I wanted.  So I’ve pulled back.

Recently, though, a few things have brought me back to a place of feeling like I have something important to say.  So quick catch up.  By now, if you’ve read much of my blog, you know that the main focus I have is about fearless living, and not letting anxiety or uncertainty stop me from doing the things I know are my path.  I’ve zeroed in on intentional, deliberate, “create your own best world” behaviors, and bless the Goddess, it works!  Over the past couple of years, I have found a womon who I wake up every morning feeling more grateful for than the last; I have and am making friends who are interested in real intimacy.  I have ditched my house and moved to a pedestrian-friendly, super active, unique kind of town that also has a deliberate vision for itself, and I’ve committed to being that pedestrian who uses mass transit to get her places.  My work rejuvenates me.  I travel, with or without companions.  And I make time for the activities I love and the ones that are good for me.  I forgive myself for mistakes.  My life is so unbelievable!  And every big thing has come by baby steps.  Even the scary ones.  I am living the life I designed – but then you are too! (That’s something to think about, eh?)

So, what does this have to do with hearing those startling words?  Well, I’ll tell you.  I have always felt that I had firm moral convictions, liberal political opinions, and a sort of  covenant with my community to help uphold common values.  Most days, that means picking up some litter, or offering the homeless guy a breakfast.  It means greeting strangers with a smile, direct look in the eye, and a pleasant, “Hello.”  It’s a commitment that is very important to me.

So, Thursday, I get off the train coming back from work.  It’s about 4:00.  Across the street from the station is a park that I usually cut through to get home.  I’m walking beside this older guy in his late fifties.

As we walk, I notice that there is a group of about fifty highschool students standing in a large circle in the park.  I say to the guy beside me, “Is that a fight going on there?”  He doesn’t acknowledge me, but veers down the hill toward the group.  When he realizes that, yes, indeed, it is a fight, he turns and walks the other way.

Oh, but not me!  I storm right up through the crowd saying in a loud and firm voice, “What is going on here?” (You know that voice your mother used with you when she caught you doing something you weren’t supposed to be doing.)  The scene in front of me was the saddest thing I have ever personally witnessed.  One young man had another in a headlock and was punching him repeatedly with upper cuts to the face.  You could see blood fly and hear the wet smack every time he landed a punch.  The other boy was trying so hard to get away.  The kids were cheering and laughing watching him being beaten down.   I totally went into playground teacher mode and  marched right up to them demanding, “What are you thinking?!” 

Now let me give you a little visual.  Here I am, a 48-year-old womon of size, in a screaming orange dress that may be a little too small (and has a rip in the skirt), wearing a bright green backpack, and Chacos.  I didn’t have time to wash my hair that morning, so it’s a little flat, and as usual, I have no make-up on.  Not really the look of authority.  But unbelievably, these boys stop.  And I am grateful, because the boy who was being pounded was so covered in blood.  His nose looked sideways on his face, and I watched him spit out a tooth.  He looked scared.

Everything was quiet for a second or two.  There were three of us standing there in the middle of that gang of kids.  Each boy I made eye contact with looked a little abashed.  And then my golden moment was broken.  A girl, a girl, screamed, “Bitch!  Go away and let us get back to our fight!” and threw something that hit me in the shoulder.  I didn’t look at  her.  I didn’t look to see what was thrown.  But I was suddenly afraid.  I could tell by the “oooohs” that gang mentality was emboldening these kids.  A few more girls started screaming at me.  My cell phone was in the back pocket of my backpack and I couldn’t reach it without taking the backpack off.  All of the wise, “this is not the way” words that were forming in my head suddenly ducked for cover, and all I could come up with was, “You know what?  FINE!”  and I walked away.  I didn’t run, and I didn’t look back, and I was terrified.  But when I got about fifty paces away, I did stop.  I did get out my cell, and I did call 911.  The kids had been watching me walk away, yelling and screaming, and when they saw me on the phone, they scattered.  By the time the police said they would drive by, not a child was around. 

The absolute worst part of this, the part that is so horrific to me, is that almost every one of the teenagers witnessing this fight had their cell phones out and were recording it.  Not one of them was calling 911.  They were more concerned with the potential YouTube value.

What will become of us if the almost womyn of our society cheer for violence, as if it is a spectacle put on for their pleasure, instead of working for peace?  This is what keeps me up at night.  The ringing, high-pitched voices of angry teen girls shouting, “Bitch!” at me because I stopped the violence.  Guess I’ll be walking with cell phone in hand from now on.

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Another interesting meta-phrase, “I miss you.”  Was talking about this with a friend who was feeling particularly lonely and said those words.  Followed by something to the effect that saying so seemed needy, didn’t it?

Now, let me go back to the truth that communication is never as clear-cut as we would like it to be.  I say something, or write something, or even move my body and the first thing that happens, even before I do any of those things, is that my mind considers my purpose, my audience, what I know of that audience, and what kinds of response I have received in similar situations with others and with the intended audience.  All of these filters come together to help me choose the way I convey my message.  And then my message hits your filters.  I can say ‘your’ in this case, since you (whoever you are) are reading this.  And those same filters come into play, except from your perspective.  So, really, do we ever communicate exactly what we want to communicate?  Ah, too big a question for me!

But back to ‘I miss you.”  I have a pretty standard overall feeling about the receiving of that meta-phrase.  It’s a compliment.  It says, “You are important to me.  I want to spend time with you.  I enjoy your company.  You bring me joy.”  Why else would we miss? As the receiver,  ‘I miss you’ are words that I enjoy hearing.  It makes me think about the giver and often spurs me to find a way to make more real time with them.  Because, honestly, I miss them too.

But now to the perspective of the ‘sender’.  I think that all of the above apply in any situation of saying, “I miss you.”  But emotional state is a big factor.  When we are doing something that we know the other person would love, we might give them an ‘I miss you,’ because we want them to have that fun experience.  Or when we’re doing something that we think we would enjoy more if that person were there, we can have an ‘I miss you’ moment.  Both of those are happy and celebratory of that person. 

But when we’re feeling low and/or sad, it’s a natural tendency to think about what external things would make us happy.  Often it’s a good friend or lover.  Connecting then and letting them know you miss them feels weak or wrong or needy because we’re not in great shape.  But really, let’s look at that.  The people who are important in our lives are important because we can turn to them.  Because they support us through everything – the good and the bad.  And to recognize that – they’ve helped us feel good, shared their joy –  to want that when we are down, isn’t that normal? 

What a gift to give someone!  You enhance my life.  Thinking about you makes me smile and right now, I could use a smile.  I miss you.  I would feel better than I do right now, if you were here.  It would help me get out of my own way.  Telling someone you miss them is not a demand for time or attention.   In this case, it’s an acknowledgement of not feeling good and one possible solution.  It’s still a celebration of that person.

Okay, so, ‘I miss you’ has been sent, it has been received and now the reaction.  This is where needy, greedy, happy, grateful – judgements come in. 

As I have been writing this, I’ve been thinking of anther friend who has just gone through a really sad break-up.  It came as a surprise to her and she has had a hard time really believing.  Her ex would probably even say that the deluge of texts, e-mails, snail mails, etc. would amount to stalking.  And every one of those communications had some form of  ‘I miss you.’ 

So, as I’m writing this, I’m also thinking about that, and what I’m writing is losing form and purpose, because I’m writing about people who care about one another, and who want to spend time together, but I’m writing as if my truths about this meta-phrase were universal and then I’m trying to accommodate the ‘I miss you’ that is not a reciprocated feeling.  so.

I think what I’ve come up with in my muddle is that I still believe ‘I miss you.’ is a compliment.  I still believe all of the things I have written about it.  Whether one takes the compliment or not, is up to them.  But the needy part, the part that feels ookie to the receiver is not the I miss you, but the rest of the message – “What is wrong with me? I can change.  Please come back.”  All there, although maybe not in those exact words.  We mix the compliment with the tragic lack of self-esteem and have that, “Ew!  Yuck!  Get away from me now!” feeling.

Remember when I talked about our filters?  I think we’ve all had the ‘I miss you’ around a lost partner or friend.  I know I have, and I’ve had the ‘I can change’ feeling too.  And I’ve communicated it.  I think that’s where my friend was coming from when she said something to the effect of ‘sounds kind of needy, doesn’t it?’  We start to associate missing someone with them not wanting to be around us.  So the more important someone is, the less we want to reveal that they are.  Because if you are important and I want to be around you, you are going to leave me because wanting you around (or to be around you) is needy.  And nobody likes needy or clingy.  How sad that our experiences can be so convoluted that we become guarded with our joy in each other. 

I know I’m just beginning to unlearn it.  It’s a part of an intentional life.  A life not ruled by fear.  And so to my very best friends, (and I know you’ll get this message) “I always miss you.  You help me be the best womon that I am, and you make me feel more alive.  I wish that I could spend so much more time with you because of who you are and who I am when I’m with you.  There is richness in our togetherness that I cannot find anywhere else and I carry it with me when we are apart.  I love you.”

lifetimes

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LDR

One of the things that I’ve found interesting about being a teacher and being in a long-distance relationship has to do with summer vacations.  First off, let me say that my lover and I are both people who value our alone time.  At the same time, we enjoy sharing  the small events of our days with each other.  Gotta’ say, texting is perfect for that. 

The other thing I should mention is that I like to be busy.  My mind is always going, even if my body isn’t.  Summer is my time to travel, explore, catch up and visit.  And there is the odd part.  The visiting.  As I said, my lover and I value our alone time.  At the same time, I miss her and see summer vaca as a great opportunity to go visit, spend some quality time, spend some not-so-quality time.  She and I are all up for it – before the visits occur. 

Honestly, it messes with our equilibrium a bit.  Neither of us is looking for a live-in lover, but being long-distance, we look forward to having more than just a long weekend together.  But, the visit always ends up a bit like playing house.  Goes well for 5 or so days, but then it takes on a different tone and while we might not be ready to end the visit, we are ready to not be living in the same house.  But not ready to sleep apart, either.  It’s an interesting dynamic.  I’m on vacation; she is not.  Our internal baggage starts to show in really kind of sweet ways.  I worry that she’s not getting enough alone time.  She worries I might be bored.   What I love is that we notice what is happening and talk about it.   And I have to say that she is one of the most caring, gentle womyn I’ve ever had the good fortune to be loved by.

So at this moment I’m back home, having some alone time for the first time in a couple of months, and I’ve been thinking about that.  I’ve also noticed that with my still being on vacation, I am able to send a few more emails, and a few more texts than usual.  I’m enjoying the flexibility in my time and activities, but our equilibrium will not really settle back in until work starts back up for me.

In the meantime, we’re enjoying those extra moments, and I’ll be going to visit again sometime next week.  Yay!

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When children are little, they go through a stage where they can only have one friend.  The best friend.  The only friend.  And they want that friend to have only them.  Inevitably, the one friend makes another friend.  For the original friend, it can be devastating.  They aren’t willing or able to share and anger and hurt ensue.  Later, we learn that there is room for all friends.  That no one person can be the only friend.  It’s not healthy.

As adults, however, society has trained us to believe that this is the way of lovers.  To find one and only one.  That person has to be the sole partner, and if they turn out not to be, if it turns out that we are not the entire reason for their being, anger and hurt ensue.  I could go into the whole patriarchal reasoning behind single partners, having to do with ensuring that the offspring actually belong to the particular male that chose the woman, but that’s really another post.  What I’m more interested in is the delineation we keep between friends and lovers.  When you’re my friend, there’s more than enough love to go around.  I can have lots of friends on many levels.  I can have all sides of me fulfilled by my myriad friendships.  But when it comes to lovers, I have to choose one.  If I find myself physically attracted to another, I must fight it, or be seen as betraying my first lover.  I don’t get it.

It took me awhile to really examine my beliefs around lovers and what fit me most, and then even longer to put it into practice.  It took some experimenting and some tweaking, but I’ve been living my truths for some time now and every day, I feel so good, so happy, so blessed that I can’t believe I am in the societal minority! 

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe in love, commitment, and happily ever after – I just believe that a person can do it with more than one partner at a time.  And right now, I’m living that blessed life, with two fabulous people with whom I share a committment to be together, as friends and as lovers for at least this lifetime.  Today I am grateful.  Today I am blessed.  And today I am humbled by it all.

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Fool me once…

Bless my child’s heart.  Keep a lookout for his safety.  Let him have enough food and shelter in a storm.  But not at my house.  Never again at my house.

There is such a mixed feeling involved in relationships that are abusive.  More than that, when the abuser is your own child, there is guilt, shame, responsibility, anger, helplessness, even this weird sense of sympathy and a need to justify why your child had to do what they did – make it understandable or something.

My son has been homeless since last Christmas, when I had to have him leave my home for stealing from me.  He’s been back twice when he needed a place to sleep.  The first time, we had had 8 inches of rain and I did feel so bad for him.  It’s so hard for a mother.  I never know where he is, and unless he posts on Facebook, I don’t even know if he is okay.  So when he called, after almost three months, I was so grateful that I let him in.  Evidently, so he could case the joint.

I should have known better.  My son does not have a good track record in my world.  He has stolen from me for the past five years.  We go on and off; he appears to hit bottom, comes to me for help, starts to make progress toward where he wants to be, then something happens and it all falls apart within days.  And in those days, my stuff goes missing. 

It makes me feel like a callous, unfeeling mother that I cannot allow him in my home ever again.  Not, at least, without tangible changes in his world.  But I am so tired of feeling victimized.  I think I’ve learned finally, at last, that where he is right now is not in a place where he can even consider others.  He is so desperate to fill  his own needs.  (Okay, this is me trying to justify where he is.)  The truth of the matter is that in this moment, the child I raised and tried to instill a deeper truth and sense of purpose in, that I love with my whole heart, is a thief.  And he doesn’t care who he steals from.  And I have to somehow let him go, with love and compassion, but even minimal support must end.

How will I get through this?  It’s not so much the gone stuff, it’s the deliberate saying ‘no’ to his infrequent requests for help.  It’s having all this love that spills out just for him that cannot be manifested in the normal ways we show people we love them.  It’s the pain of crying every night that your child is so lost and you are so helpless.  I can’t even offer him shelter in a storm. 

And it’s always that unanswerable question – why?

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More than a few of my friends are sideways people, and within that group, many of them also have depression.  One of my most intimate friends and I were having a conversation about her depression and it struck me how very responsible she feels about it. Not about having it, but about her perception that she burdens others with it.

Now, I’m not talking about getting the blues, or even seasonal affective disorder.  I’m talking about the kind of depression that is there, more often than not.  The kind that, even when you’re not feeling it, you know it just took a day trip and will be back soon.  The kind that you live with like a parasitic twin. The kind that feeds off of you, some days more, some days less, and you can’t control it.  You never know how each day is going to make you feel, and an attitude adjustment simply won’t fix it.  Exercise, meditation, diet, sleep – none of it really ever fixes the problem.  Sometimes it helps, sometimes not.  Even medication can be a long shot.

The process of building relationships with my friends who are sideways and have this disease ensures that we will always be moving slowly around getting to know each other.  Trust is not easily given and experience has proven to my friends that intimacy breeds the “I want to fix you” syndrome.  There’s also the fear of being percieved as being needy – especially on bad days.  And so there comes that wall.  The wall that keeps my  friends from opening up, from sharing too deeply, and from being able to trust completely.  The internal view that they are flawed, somehow, and as I said, a burden.  Everyone always eventually leaves or is pushed away – in either case, gone.

Everything about us can teach us a life lesson.  It’s not the situation you find yourself in, but how you deal it.  Depression is an aspect of my friend that I accept just as much as her eyes, or the way she makes me laugh.  Some days I hurt to see her in pain, and it’s taken quite a while for her to trust me with it’s existence.  Other days, we can joke about it and it’s not so scary. 

There is a real conscious awareness on my part that while I wish my friend didn’t have this, she does and I can do nothing about it.  I can sit with her, hold space, and be loving enough to have frank conversations and acknowledge it.  Never, never is it my place to offer suggestions, or try to do the pep talks.  It’s minimizing and disrespectful.  It is always my place to love her unconditionally, be there whenever, and allow her the knowledge that I’m not going anywhere and that she is never a burden.  I choose this relationship, and all that it entails.  It’s no more work than any other friendship, which is to say that it is no work at all.  It’s simply love in action, which is what I hope to always bring to all of my relationships.  Intentional, unconditional, fully present, respectful love in action.

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I have spent the last two days cleaning.  Scrubbing shit out of hardwood floors – literally shit.  Scrubbing walls that had something I don’t want to know on them.  Vomiting as I cleaned.  And I have spent the last two days trying so hard to convince myself that this was not my fault.  That I have not caused it.  If you’ve ever been raped, if you’ve ever had a home invasion, you know the feeling.  Of no safety, of crawling out of your skin, of utter devastation, of thinking that if only I had been more aware, or paid better attention, then this would not have happened.  But the truth is, there was no way to foretell or to know to prevent what happened.

What happened?  Well, you know I’m a story teller, so let me tell you my story.  Please keep compassion in your heart for everyone involved – right now my anger and hurt may not allow me to write from the perspective that would reflect the compassionate womon I strive to be.

If you’ve read my blog all along, you know that last year I went away and left my son in charge of my home for a week, during which a large, scary, home destruction party took place.  You can read the entry, called It Feels Like Rape.  Anyway, this year I knew I would be away for a couple of months and I really wanted to get someone I could trust to come in and look after my cats, keep my home, and mow the lawn.  I found someone who was a friend of a couple of people that I really trust and respect and who was looking to move to the area.  And she was a Festie! What a win/win!  She and her partner could stay here for free and look for permanent housing, and I could go work for Fest with a sense of peace.

Two days ago, I came home.  The lawn had never been mowed.  The grass was a foot and a half high.  My house looked abandoned.  Have you ever watched with morbid fascination the videos of animal control officers going into “the cat lady’s” house?  Seen the shit and urine everywhere?  The open cans of cat food that have been there for weeks, in the can, on plates, covering the floor?   The piles of dirty dishes and laundry in every room?  The tub filled with water and bad, bad unidentifiable things floating in it? The mold?  The slime on the walls?   The ripped down curtains?  Things broken and not cleaned up?  And then the interview with the cat lady who doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about?  Yeah, that is my house.  Be grateful you can’t smell it, too.

I can’t tell you what happened to the womyn who stayed in my home and destroyed it.  I can tell you that I found many prescriptions for pain and anxiety.  I suspect that they both have issues that bloomed in each other’s presence, and someday I will truly be able to believe that they were doing the best that they could do.

Right now,  I’m feeling… I don’t know what.  On the verge of tears, hard core anger, total helplessness,but mostly numb.  I have a couple of really good friends who keep reminding me that small and compartmentalized is best. 

I can’t really describe what has happened in my house – but it, and I have been violated.  I smudge often.  I am having to spend money I don’t have.  Small, but important things have been broken or sullied.  I slept in my car the first night, because there was no safe space for me.  And the lies.  The lies.  The lies.  I have tremendous fear that there will be more that I have yet to uncover.  I want to read my mail, but the cats have shit and peed all over it.  I want to clean, but when I opened the drawer to get a rag, there was dried cat vomit and piss all over the rags.  Every place I turn, every cupboard I open, any place my eyes can see, I cannot find safety.  Today I will clean the shower – because I need to take one.  But I cannot find my towels and really, it doesn’t matter because I couldn’t let them touch my body anyway.

I’ve cancelled my credit cards.  I’ve notified my bank. 

And as to the cat ladies?  Well, they really don’t seem to think anything is all that wrong.  They did take my cats to the vet (for fleas?!?)  And I am actually grateful, because what I thought was old age in my oldest guy  turned out to be something treatable.  They fed them expensive veterinary food, treated the fleas, bought lots of cat toys with feathers and catnip.  They even listed me as a reference while apartment hunting.  Really?  What they have never done is apologized for the horror that was my home.  Or even acknowledged that they had done something so out of bounds that it could send them to jail.  Or offered to help clean.  Or offered compensation for the things that I will need to have repaired or replaced.  And now they want to let me know that the cats are due back at the vets for follow up treatment for ear mites and fleas.  Really?

So, I know I am notoriously hard to buy for, and my birthday is coming up.  Here’s what I want:  chopsticks (don’t ask what happened to the old ones), sage for smudging, your good thoughts, and that feeling of safety and security to come back.

Soon, really soon, I hope, I’ll be able to write about what an amazing, life changing experience I had at Fest, and about the beautiful loving womyn who are a part of my life because of it.

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