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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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house for saleA couple of years ago, I wrote a post called Leaving This Life.  It was about really examining where you are, who you are and whether or not the compromises you’ve made in your life have taken you so far from your intended path that you aren’t able to fully live as the person you know yourself to be.  It was a post full of joy and wonder, excitement and self-awareness.  It was a call to change – not just change –  intentional change.

Well, it’s been two years now, and the thing that strikes me is that while I haven’t moved as quickly as I thought I would have, I have stayed committed to bringing together my surroundings, social views, relationships and personal integrity in a way that reflects me as I understand myself in this moment.  Key words: in this moment.  I’ll get back to that. 

Being deliberate and thoughtful about what I want and need, really weeding out what I thought others wanted and needed from/around me, has been a really long process.  I know that I am a people pleaser.  What I didn’t realize is how deeply that is ingrained in me.  How I actually try to anticipate a desire and have it ready, which paints a false image of who I am.  In examining what I want, I was really torn – over and over again.  Not by anyone’s expectations or desires, but my perceptions of these things.  I really had no idea that I had so few concrete knowings of what I want.  I have many concrete knowings of what I don’t want, but it’s actually taken two years to come up with wants.  Funny how we can know another’s desire, but not our own.

Along the way, there have been distractions and derails from making forward progress, but even for those, I have to be grateful – patience isn’t my strongest suit.  So the gift of being prevented from jumping before I really, really thought is one I have to thank the Goddess for.

So, I am moving out of the suburbs.  I am not moving to a rural area as I had thought I would.  I don’t ever want to mow a lawn, shovel snow, pick a weed, maintain anything ever again.  I am moving into a city.  A small city, that is vibrant and eclectic and has reasonable rents.  It is also very pedestrian friendly.  And I am manifesting an apartment  by water and in a park.  With a washer and dryer in the apartment.  Because when I looked at myself, and my personal needs, without considering anyone else, I rediscovered some things.  Valuable things and silly things – things I like and things I want to reframe.

As I start the packing and culling process, I am amazed at the ways I have changed.  This is where I get back to that “in this moment” thing.  I have found, stored in boxes, hanging on hangers in the back of the closet, in the way back corners of the kitchen cabinets, in the titles of the books on my shelves, the vestiges of who I was in a moment and was sure would never change.  So funny! 

So, I’m intentionally trying to leave room in this process for the unexpected.  I don’t want to lock in to any one idea or belief about myself and set up my world around that.  It’s taken me 24 years to recognize and extricate myself from the box I put myself in, in my early twenties, I sure don’t want to do it again! 

Music for Today:  Changer and the Changed – Chris Williamson; Only Thing That Stays the Same – Indigo Girls; Me and Julio – Simon and Garfunkel; Follow Me – Sarah Bettens

Reading: The Bachelor Brothers’ Bed and Breakfast Pillow Book – Bill Richardson

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Okay, so on Wednesday, on my way home from work, driving up I93, I got rear-ended.  It was peak traffic time and we were going pretty slow – my airbag didn’t even go off.  I pull over and hop out of my car to assess the damage, and the other driver gets out of his car.  He is an older guy, late 60’s early 70’s.  He looks at our cars, says, “Are you all right?”  As I nod my head that I am, his next sentence is, “So, how do you like that Kia?  Get good gas mileage?  They’re built pretty tough.”  HUH????  He went on to ask how my husband was going to feel about this, and to say that he really didn’t think we needed to exchange info.  I did not tell him that I’m queer.  I did make him give me his info.  And I’m glad I did.  Because my neck feels a little wonky today.  But really, “How do you like the Kia?”  OY!

Okay, so here’s a little musing I’ve been ruminating on stemming from a conversation I had this past weekend.  And can I just say as an aside that it was the most perfect weekend I’ve ever, ever, ever had?  So, we’re sitting there and the topic of lies comes up.  Specifically, lies and childhood.  And a revelation happened!  When I was a kid, and my parents were role models, lying was an expected part of all of my relationships.  I didn’t really think too much of it.  As an adult, I have run into trouble with my friends and lovers over lies.  It took me a while to understand that it was a big deal to them.  That it could affect the course of a relationship.  I used to be like, “Really?  It was just a lie.”  I have come to understand the truth about lies, and I don’t do it anymore, but for some reason, I have always thought that I was the only person in the world who had had that experience.  Who didn’t really see harm in lies.  But no, my friend had the same experience and as we talked about it, it was interesting to see that we had had the same perspectives and came to the same understanding that, yeah, no, lying really is a bad thing.  The conversation was short, only about 10 minutes of our morning, but it’s been sitting with me ever since.  Funny the things that will stick with you.

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There are a couple of people in my life, okay, more than a couple, who are sideways.  We connect at really intimate places and enjoy some of the most stimulating conversation I’ve ever experienced, but this is not the habit of these womyn.  Generally speaking, they aren’t comfortable with emotion or intimacy.  So, much of our conversation is done without eye contact, often while walking, or sitting somewhere with a view.  These friends find it disconcerting that I look them in the eye while they speak, but looking me in the eye while I speak is okay.  They are kinesthetic, but not always tactile.  And they are my favorite womyn.  In the whole world.

One of my friends recently asked me why so many of my friends were like this and if it made it harder for me to be around folks who are so challenged.  I look at that last question and it makes me smile.  Challenged?  We all live with fear.  I do.  I just show it differently.  And the connections I make are the ones that make my life rich.  I get to offer genuine friendship and receive quality time, walk through the surface stories and build real community.  When I spend time with my favorite people, (and you know who you are,) communication comes with touch, and wordlessness, and shorthand sentences, and connections are drawn between the unlikeliest of things and boundaries are pushed in loving respectful ways, trust is intentionally built, and I come away from these encounters with more ideas and thoughts and that floaty feeling you get after a really good massage – yeah.  I’m soul-satisfied.   And my world couldn’t get any better.

Remind me again why you all live so far away from me?

I know I have more to say about this, and I’m not quite cohesive yet around my point, but I have to sleep and I didn’t want to forget to write about this.  I’ll be editing this post soon.

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Last night I had a really interesting conversation with a new potential friend.  She wanted to know – if I am committed to living fearlessly, why aren’t I intimate with everyone I know?  Don’t we refuse intimacy because of fear around what people will do with our deepest secrets?  Isn’t not trusting someone the same as living in fear?  Her question made me stop and think.  What I came up with is that in some relationships, intimacy is not necessary.  The clerk down the street doesn’t need to know that I am a left-leaning, Femme, feminist dyke.  It won’t affect the way money exchanges hands.  On the other hand, I would never dream of changing the way I relate to my lover in that store just because of who the clerk is. 

We also talked about intimacy in relationship to friends vs. lovers.  I find that I build intimacy with friends and lovers at about the same rate, but in vastly different areas.  My lovers might learn first about what my sexual desire is, or have more stories of my childhood.  My friends may learn about my passion around my hobbies, or my philosophical beliefs.  It’s like cutting a diamond.  You can chip away at one side or another, but in the end, you’ll see the prism of light through a completely transparent person.  That’s living fearlessly.

In my relationships, the levels of intimacy grow deeper with time.  Mostly they grow deeper by choice.  Sometimes they grow deeper because of necessity.  When I reach a crossroads with a friend, when I start to feel like we’re dancing around topics or conversations become uncomfortable, then it becomes necessary to look at my fear and walk through it.  What do I lose when I share who I am with my friends?  Nothing.   So what do I fear, the potential judgement of my friend, or the potential loss of that person in my life?   What is holding me back from being honest?  When I realize that I don’t really want to feel pain and it’s pain avoidance, then I can walk through and know the joy of my own truth regardless of the outcome.  That too, is living fearlessly.

I don’t have to be intimate with everyone I meet to live fearlessly.  There are some people I don’t choose to be intimate with, not because I’m afraid of what they will do, but because I am simply not interested in them.  No judgement, I just don’t have  the inclination.  And that’s my truth.

Did I mention that I love a good stimulating conversation?

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I’ve really been examining the quality of my interactions lately.  The surface me often draws lots of people to be a little curious, want to know more, be interested.  I try to be open to these experiences and draw others out, too.  I’ve met some really interesting people this way.  And I’ve had to filter a few out.  I have started to look at the way I look at people.  I want to know them genuinely, more than the surface, hear their stories, know their lives.  But I don’t know how interested I am in them knowing mine.  I’ve got the surface stuff.  The things I don’t mind the world knowing, and I can tell it so that it seems very intimate.  But if you got a group of my acquaintances together, I suspect that in comparing notes, they would find that the things they thought were special one-on-one knowledge, weren’t.  It’s like that movie, John Tucker Must Die.  All of the girls John Tucker dated met up and not only could tell his story, but knew the dialogue.  It’s a trick I use to hear other people’s stories.  I’m not trying to use them, I’m just trying to learn them.  It’s how I see people.

I suspect we all do that to an extent.  Share things that might seem deep or meaningful, but in reality are things that no longer have real impact for us personally.  So, they become just things.  They become the jumping off points for other conversations, or places of commonality.  Combine it with real interest in another’s story and they can be instruments to gain intimacy.  And that’s where I have to consciously make my choice.  Am I stepping forward and sharing – creating a connection that goes beyond acquaintance, or am I keeping it at arm’s length?  And is it possible for one person in a connection to be more distant than the other and still have a rich relationship for both?  Is it a lie not to match intimacy for intimacy?  Is there a line where the less invested tells the other, “I know this friendship means a lot to you, but I think we’re in it for different things?”  How like romances are friendships?  Do they parallel?

The contact of my friendships wax and wane with seasons and other occupiers, but even so, once a certain depth has been reached, it doesn’t take much to get back there.  I like that my friendships are easy and confident in their constancy.  No worries about calling too often, or not often enough, respect comes without resentment or obligation, and when feelings are hurt, it’s never intentional.  Disagreements are not deal breakers and false pride doesn’t have to come out, because we are safe with each other.

Some of my friendships have reached this place over the course of a fifteen hour car ride.  Some have foundered in the “I find you so interesting, let’s talk more” phase and then recovered over time.  The ones I like best tend to marinate in my mind, conversations are revisited in future meetings and that gives the dual compliment of knowing that you have been thought about and that your thoughts are worth consideration.  These friendships tend to be grounded in the reality of a person’s three dimensionality.  We talk about our messiness and what the ideal would be versus what is likely to happen.  Judgement is not a part of this connection.  Neither is a pedestal.

When I meet a person who tells their surface story with the practice that I tell mine, that’s when I am intrigued.  That’s when I’m willing to dig in, take time, open a little more, and expose myself.  I’ll even drive six hours and fourteen minutes to do it. 

Of course, the only things that make it all worthwhile are the full bodied hugs.

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Okay, first off, I want to warn anyone who has been sexually abused that this is what this post is about.  I’ll put all that stuff further down, so you can decide whether or not you want to read it.

This past weekend, I went out with some friends to Freeport, Maine to a little yarn get together we like to call SPA.  I totally forget what that is an anacronym for.  But there was the obligatory marketplace and I was the obligatory shopper.  Lots of indie dyers and spinners!  I got me some bunny, and some alpaca, and a sweater’s worth of hand-dyed wool that is yummy!!!  I also got a few sock kits and I even won a doorprize!  It’s a book, Knitting With Beads, which coincidentally, I’ve been wanting to learn how to do.  I’ll post a picture here later.  It was good to go out with my ‘home’ friends.  I’ve been spending a lot of time either traveling or being visited and I have missed them.  It’s too easy to put local people off and expect that they’ll be available any old time.  That’s not always true, and they’re the ones who can be there for you in a pinch.   So, yeah, it was really, really nice.

Trigger- I don’t know if it’s a fact of age, or the cycles of life, but the things that impact us in a big way don’t tend to stay gone.  It’s true of the really great things – dreams we’ve had, adventures we’ve wanted to take, people we have lost touch with and found again.  We greet these returns with joy and wonder, ” Why did I ever let that go?”

But the hard things also circle back.  And then we’re more like, “I thought I had dealt with this!  Why is it coming back now?   I thought I had healed.”  Some of my friends and I seem to be looking at our hard stuff again.  From different angles, different perspectives.  Dealing with feelings around child rape, physical and emotional abuse, how it has changed our lives, how we’ve grown because we had to.  Trying to sort out anger and shame yet again.  And, also, wondering, “Why now?”

I’ve got a theory about that.  Each of my friends who is in this place is also in a similar emotional, spiritual place.  We’ve made commitments to ourselves and to others that we will be more open, be a little more transparent, share more and really, truly connect.  In a word, be more vulnerable. (Okay, so that’s three words – shoot me!) Vulnerability and trust are hard for us.  We’re not special or unique, there are plenty of others who have the same issues for the same reasons, but those reasons broke something we consciously work to fix.  And we fix what we can.  Then we rest and enjoy the blessings that come from learning trust.

After a bit, the joy of that plateau is not enough and we have to cycle through again, because we know what is waiting for us – we’ve glimpsed it, we’ve tasted it.  Because of where we came from and the steel that we are made of, we are an exceptional group of solid womyn who know themselves intimately.  We know the value of introspection and philosophical thought.  We don’t share easily, but when we do, it’s deep and truly meaningful.  We are also adventure seekers and risk-takers – because we know what the worst is, and we have conquered it.  My best friends have all been through some kind of life changing trauma.  We keep perspective and put the trauma away when it no longer serves us to examine it.  Just like we trade in our passions when there is something else we want to spend our time on.  We do the hard stuff, fun or not-so-much, because we truly want to live.

Knowing my friends, and helping to carry the baggage, it’s a good thing.   I like the womon I am, and I know I wouldn’t be this womon if I hadn’t had my own baggage.  I think the time is coming that I will forgive my abuser, but now – to thank him?  No, that will never happen.  Not in this life.

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