Wandering

I started a new job and a new schedule last week.  It means that I have every Saturday off and today I got to spent it with only the smallest of the small ones.  With three kids, it’s hard to get one on one time with any of them, so I relished this day with just the youngest.

It took me while to get him out of the house – in part due to his protests, in part due to my unwillingness to interrupt unstructured play.  Plus, we really didn’t need to leave and pajamas are comfy.  But sun is scarce this time of year in Maine and I felt it was my parental duty to get a little vitamin D action and fresh air.  Also, we’ve been reading Eating the Alphabet, and he really wanted to try star fruit and kumquats, so I promised a trip to the grocery store. (They were out of starfruit, but had kumquats.  Those buggers are tart!)


A trip to the grocery store doesn’t beget much sunshine and fresh air, so I convinced him to go for a walk and hunt for mushrooms.  We’ve been foraging for mushrooms since late summer. Don’t worry, we’re careful and haven’t eaten any yet, though I did put some birch polypores up in tincture.  There are a few paths by our house, I knew we wouldn’t find any interesting mushrooms, but it was enough to get his Bogs on and get him out the door.

On our way back, our neighbors and their two toddling girls were outside.  The boy went to grab his Scuut bike and helmet and enjoyed our hilly driveway and dead end street for a good long time.

Today I am grateful for this slow day with my boy, temperate fall days, and, because I’m human, early bed times.

No Place Here


1997 was an interesting year to finally come out. Me and Ellen Degeneres… trend setters. Tigger and I rekindled a friendship that quickly turned into more. She hadn’t come out to her family, maybe wasn’t even sure if she was gay yet. I’d come out but only officially to my mom with the hope that it would burn through my family like a wildfire of gossip and save me the awkwardness of having to pronounce myself over and over. It did. 

A couple weeks into our relationship we were walking down the streets of Portsmouth, one of the safer feeling places to be ‘out’ at the time, in the middle of the day. A man strode past us, wild hair on the top of a head and a neck that sprouted arms and legs like knobby tree limbs. A block up he turned toward us and yelled “fucking dykes”. We froze; I don’t even think we’d been holding hands. He turned back and carried on his drunken windmill of a walk towards the edge of town. In those seconds though, we had no idea what he might do. Would he keep yelling? Would he come at us? Would anyone intervene and help? I can still see it so clearly, like it was yesterday.

Even though eventually everyone in our families knew, and most of those who initially weren’t comfortable came around, it still felt very vulnerable to be open with our love. Enter The Desert Rose.

The Desert Rose was THE lesbian bar in Portsmouth. It was the one public place where we felt comfortable enough to truly be ourselves. It was open, accepting and, most importantly, safe. In that bar we didn’t have to worry about being bullied, yelled at, targeted, or assaulted for who we were. We could finally just be in our bodies without being ready to hide at any given moment. 

It’s been nearly 20 years since I came out as bisexual. In that time she and I fought convention and, wanting to be mothers, we brought two beautiful children into the world. Neither of them think their situation is anything other that a normal manifestation of family life. Even though we eventually split up, we continue to coparent like normal, regular people.  

However normal it seems today, it’s still not easy for everyone, by a long shot. Queer folks, teens and trans folks especially, have significant suicide rates. People, children, teens who come out are still disowned by families and communities. Trans folks are being killed every day. Cis-gender women who look too ‘male’ are being beaten up for using the women’s restroom.  

It continues to be dangerous to be queer/LGBTQA in our culture. But there still is one place where it’s safe. The gay bars and clubs that are scattered around like warm, inviting homes of love (such a foreign concept to a lot of queer folks). In there it’s safe to hold hands, wear what you want, be who you are, love who you love, and exhale, finally let that breath go that you hold in all the time without even knowing it. 

He violated that. I don’t know his name and even if I did I wouldn’t speak it. He took the most sacred environment in the gay community and burned it to the fucking ground. 

I haven’t wept until today. I’ve been in shock, like so many others. But today I saw a meme suggesting that this was a set up, a hoax. That there’s no video so it didn’t happen. 

And finally I cried. For the corrosive ignorance, for the humans so barren of compassion that this concept is anymore than a flicker of thought, and mostly, for the dead men and women who were hunted down and executed in the only place some of them ever felt at home. 

My tears shifted swiftly back to rage, a fire that had been burning since I first heard, but blazed and leapt with this idea that it was a fake. Are you shitting me? 

1. Who would it benefit? Those crazy soccer moms trying to take your guns away? Those poor trans folks who pretend to need to pee so they can perp your daughter? WHO?

2. I don’t even know if Pulse has cameras, but I’d be surprised if they did. A lot of people who are gay or trans are not out. It’s not safe for them. I can see why there would be no video cameras in a place where people are seeking refuge, where who they are in there could destroy who they have to be outside?

3. Who would want to see video footage of people being killed? Oh, right… the kind of person who would want to celebrate their deaths… people who even feel threatened by gay people who are already dead. 

4. Why would the queer community destroy its own consecrated ground? That massacre blasted holes in the foundation of every gay bar, everywhere in the WORLD. It’s like blowing up the Vatican and sending bomb threats to every church at the same time. A place of wholeness and holiness is no longer safe across an entire planet. 

There are a hundred reasons why it is, with heartbreaking certainty, real… but I’m wasting my breath, my words, and my thoughts. 

My point is this… if you believe this was in any way okay and if you don’t stand up and hold up your fellow humans during this time, and listen while you’re doing it, you are the problem. Your ignorance has no place at this table. You are why 100+ people out for a night of fun were injured or killed yesterday. You are why gay teens kill themselves at alarming rates. You are why trans people are killed everyday for simply living as who they are.

You. 

Now shut up. You’re done talking. 

A rustle of leaves

I feel broken.  I don’t want to sit here and type this because it feels pathetic and like, enough already.  Get a grip, I tell myself.  But I can’t. I don’t have traction anywhere.  I’m slipping and skidding on this mess of a life that I created, that I allowed, that I chose.  Again and again I chose “try” instead of “escape”.  I convinced myself that there is shame in walking away, that it would be ‘giving up’ and that’s a bad thing.  I convinced myself that if we, he, I, could just get through this next Hard Part, things would be brighter, lighter, happier, safe.

Every time I told myself this.  And every time it’s not what happened.  Every time I walked through the fire swamp dodging things I told myself I could handle, battling things other people would have turned and run from, every time I believed.  Every time I had hope.

I had hope this time too.  But hope is a funny thing. Hope is sometimes a false prophecy, a thing that you believe not because you know it’s true, but because your wanting it to be true drowns out even the loudest protests of your intuition.  I’m good at that kind of hope. I give people chances, and second chances, and 72nd chances.  I believe that people are good… or I believe I’m only worthy of the kind of good they have to offer (which, turns out, isn’t really that good at all or the kind of good I really need).

I told myself that if I tried my very hardest, if I turned myself inside out and upside down, if I showed up perfectly, I could save this.  I saw myself as a life raft tossed out into rough waters; I was going to rescue him, rescue us, rescue our family.  But this thing, this category 5 life, it’s too much for me.  It’s too much for anyone.

I don’t want to say I’m giving up.  I never gave up.  I wanted this to work more than I’ve wanted anything in my life to work.  So no, I’m not giving up, it’s just that I have nothing left to give.

leaves

The trees all around me are finally letting go of their beautiful, dead leaves.  Leaves that once brought them food and energy have reached the end of their lives.  In the tree’s last breath of gratitude, she knows she can no longer hold onto them anymore.  She has to give herself time, without heavy, dead things sapping her minimal resources.   It’s time for the tree to acknowledge what she can give and what she can’t.  It’s time for her to slow her breath, focus inside herself, brace herself for the cold, harsh, lonely winter.  The tree lets them fall, one at a time, until her arms ache with emptiness.

The winter will be brutal.  She may become coated with ice, wind bending and cracking in her branches, shivering with loneliness.  But before she knows it, spring will come.  It always does.  She will be able to feel the warmth of the sun deep in her core again.  Life will churn in her, sap will flow in her veins once more, her roots will stretch a little further into the thawing earth, and new growth will sprout from her fingertips.  It hurts… the saying goodbye, the empty arms, the stretching and waking up again.  She will survive it, though, she always does.

I know spring will come.  I know it’s time to let these things, this relationship, drift gently away on a wind that I can’t control.  Still, I breathe sharp, ever colder air in my lungs.  I’m scared.  It doesn’t matter much that I know things will be fine eventually – it’s the time between now and eventually that feels treacherous.  I want to turn back, but there’s no where to turn.  Time stubbornly marches forward and I am compelled to march alongside, no matter how unwilling I am.

While I march alone in the darkness of this, I will hold onto spring like a talisman, a promise of thawing and warmth.  A promise of rebirth.  It may be the only thing that gets me through.

~~~

photo credit via photopin

Walking the Walk

open heart fern

I’m holding on.  Things are changing, shifting, healing.  I’m healing.  He’s healing.  Our relationship is healing.  I don’t know what tomorrow holds.  I’m still scared, terrified really, but things are moving.  I’m still willing to believe in miracles.

I watch the last few weeks like a reel to reel zipping through the projector, whirring past my vision and slowing to a crawl at those moments when I found grace in myself, in The Man, in the kids, in our life.  I can hear the tumble of locks releasing, dusty doors creak slowly open, small beams of light shamelessly touching darkness, sadness and grief, illuminating what’s here, what’s good, reminding me to look.

There was no lightening, no cataclysmic change.  Just subtle movements, unfolding, finding newness where we thought there was only rust and rot.

Well, there was this one thing.  I decided to start showing up.  I stopped complaining and railing against the ways The Man wasn’t showing up in our relationship to my satisfaction.  I told myself “self, you are a fucking hypocrite. Where do you get off? How can you expect anything from anyone when you are so busy being SUCH an asshole?”

I can be kind of hard on myself sometimes.  But sometimes hard things require hard truths.

I started being more kind.  I started being more compassionate.  I started seeing him they way I wanted to be seen.

I reached out and touched him. 

One of the things I’d stopped doing was reaching out.  I had taken my fear and resentment and anxiety and built a fortress around myself.  From behind that wall I launched grenades, there was heavy artillery, there were cannons.  I pretended I was protecting myself from the hurt I just knew was coming from him.  But what if it wasn’t?

I waved my white flag.  After he’d had a challenging day I got out my grounding oils and gave him a massage even though I was tired myself.  I started giving more hugs.  I started asking for them.  I held his hand.  I touched his face.  I looked in his eyes.

I started saying how I felt. 

Behind my fortress I packed my feelings into those cannon balls of passive aggressive bullshit and shoot them at him.  I expected that after being knocked over by them, he’d be able to look at those hard iron cannonballs and just ‘know’ that there was a feeling buried under layers and layers of thick ore.  What was I thinking?

Well, I wasn’t thinking.  I was scared.  I started to say those very words. “I’m scared” and “I’m afraid”, “I love you”, “I miss you”, “I need…”.  I started to say hard things, truths, with love and compassion.  I’d lived behind that fortress so long that it felt awkward and hard at first. But I did it anyway. I had to.

I showed him my heart again.  This time without listening to the fear that once caused me to pull back like a turtle in its shell.  We were, we are still, at risk of losing each other and I just know that I truly have nothing left to lose by being vulnerable.  I have been facing one of my worst fears and I have to do it with an open heart if I have any chance of surviving.

In truth, I didn’t just do it for him, I did it for me.  Being harsh and cold and closed off, living in that fortress, that’s not me.  I thrive with a wide open heart, free, caring, loving.  I had to get back to myself, for myself.  I had to remember who I really was before the fear swallowed me.

A tiny miracle happened, it’s not just me who is changing.

He’s different, too.  There are other factors at play for him, but I like to think that part of it was me coming out from behind my walls, palms up in submission, calling a cease fire; me taking his hand, looking him in the eyes and saying, “I’m here, all of me, let’s do this, together.

He’s receptive. He’s scared, too, but his eyes and heart are more open than they have been in a long while.  He’s reaching out. He’s talking about his feelings. He’s apologizing for things. I’m seeing him in ways I’ve never seen him, in ways I thought were just a fantasy.  We’re learning how to trust each other again.  We’ve been so careless with each others’ hearts for so long that this new found gentleness we have with each other feels surreal, like a dream. 

It’s still hard for me to trust him, so I’m trusting in the Universe, or God, or whoever she is.  I’m trusting that there is a Plan and this Plan does not include me suffering forever.  This Plan includes joy and beauty and so so so much love.  I’m trusting that all I have to do is show up with an open heart.  I have to believe this.  And in order to believe it, I have to live it.

So, I’m living it.  I’m alive, I’m here, I’m showing up.  I’m still scared, but I know wherever I land will be the right place and I know that landing will be softer if I’m living with an open heart along the way.

~~~

Photo credit via photopin (license)

On not being okay…

image

When people ask me how I’m doing, I respond “I’m breathing”.  It’s not a lie.  It’s not the story.  I’m tired of telling the story.  I’m tired of the story period.

I’m tired of how I feel like I’ve been written into this story against my will, forced to play a role I don’t want to play.  But no one is truly forcing me, are they?  Technically, I can cut the strings and say goodbye to this mess. But I don’t want to.  I’m still holding out for a miracle. I really want to believe in miracles.

I’m not good at change.  I know, you aren’t either.  Some people are; I’m suspicious of those people, for the record.  But I’m not at all good at this sort of thing. When you’re from a background where your life was full of land mines, you either get good at uncertainty, or you don’t.  I didn’t.

Uncertainty is scary.  Unfortunately, it’s also how life is.

What’s going on right now is really hard to talk about.  A huge portion of what’s going on for me is borne out of the what’s going on with someone else, and mostly what they’re doing about it.  Someone who I care deeply for.  Someone who I believe I was meant to meet in this life because I believe we have known each other in previous life times.

What’s going on for this person is his story. His journey. His truth. His stuff.

And because the Universe works the way it does (I’m starting to figure out your tricks you little vixen) I am coming to realize that my part in this is to figure out just which parts are actually mine.  Fine. Lesson time.  I get it.  Well, I don’t get it, but I will. Or at least I’ll keep getting bashed over the head with ‘opportunities’ until I do.

These lessons are painful.  They are confusing.  I do NOT want to do this work.  I don’t want to cry myself to sleep one more goddamned time.  I don’t want to feel shooting pains down my arms as I weep out of grief, confusion and loss.  I don’t want to have to tell my children “I don’t know” when they ask questions I can’t answer.  I want answers.  I want a crystal ball.  At this point, even a Magic 8 Ball will do.

My resistance to what is, is taking a toll. I’m not sleeping very well. I look forward to the distraction of going to work. I feel the familiar, and unwelcome, spin of obsessive thoughts, of checking and rechecking, of unfounded fears and worries. I know I need to get off the hamster wheel, there is no question. But I can’t force myself to do it, not yet. I can’t surrender hope. I can’t surrender to the possibility that in the end of this I may lose something so precious to me, something my heart and soul are invested in.

Maybe that’s the lesson, too. The losing. The letting go.

Whatever it is, I’m not ready.

~~~

Photo credit via photopin (license)

The Break Up

A few weeks ago I decided to end a relationship. It’s funny to call it a relationship when, for the most part, I’ve been held against my will.  To some degree I’ve even developed Stockholm syndrome. But this relationship isn’t with a person or a food or an inanimate object. It’s not with anything physically tangible at all.

I’m talking about my relationship with fear.

Fear and I have been on the outs for some time. For too many years I have clearly seen the ways it has been holding me back, keeping me from doing what I love, from being who I am.  When I notice it, when I am honest with myself and really look at how trapped I am, I don’t totally ignore it.  Sometimes I even think… hey, maybe I should do something about that.

Instead I’ve just sat back, expecting that awareness would be enough, that my pathway out of fear and into light and growth would just magically become clear one day. And I’ve waited. And I’ve stayed, a hostage to fear, in a familiar place of worry and anxiety that kept me from having to take risks, to open myself up, to be vulnerable.

Prickly Landing

Over the last few months I’ve been in a position where I have to show up. There are no distractions.  I have to be present in my life and doing so has forced me to really look at what that life is. The tugs and pulls to do more, to unfold, to be authentic to myself have become strong tides. But, I’ve become so used to dragging around this ball and chain of fear.  I’ve become so complacent to it’s limitations that I usually don’t even let myself dream about what it would be like to run into the arms of the sea and swim untethered into the great ocean of opportunity.

Until now.

I had been thinking a lot about writing, which is one of the most important things in my life yet faces the most chronic neglect. In the past, blogging gave me the push to write, to create and to share. I’d been feeling the siren song to blog again. But I’d left this space and wasn’t sure coming back was the right thing.  I had to look at what I wanted to say, where I wanted to say it, and why I was afraid to use my voice.

I wanted to be here. This little corner of the internet meant so much to me in those early months of Rex’s life, when I was processing my post-partum anxiety disorder and what it meant to have a newborn and to change the constellation of my family and my partnership with the Man. The act of writing and sharing and connecting with other mothers was very healing.

Yet when someone who is no longer a part of my life, whose exodus was full of deep pain and remorse, found this space 18 months ago, I went into lock down. This was a space where I’d opened myself up wide, where I let myself be vulnerable, where I felt safe doing so out of perceived anonymity, and I barely looked back at first. But I’ve been looking back a lot lately, wondering what to do, whether or not to start over.

About a month ago, on a weekend, I was standing in my kitchen mulling my dilemma over the meditative act of making lunch for my children. Suddenly, the last tile of awareness shifted into place with an audible click and I stood there looking at a crisp, clear picture of all the ways I was not living my life because of fear.

The answers to all my questions became so obvious when I looked at them through this new lens. When I asked myself “what exactly are you afraid of?” the answers seemed so trivial.  What was I afraid of? That someone who hates me will read my words and… what?  Hate me, more? Judge me, more?  Exactly who cares?

By sitting in fear I had handed over gobs of power to someone who I wanted having no power over my life. The irony was a much needed slap in the face.

So I said “fuck it” and that sentiment cracked through my life like a bolt of lightening.  In a flash, it illuminated who I was and all of the parts of myself walled off by fear. Now that I could see, I looked at those parts of my life with reverence.  Instead of grieving lost opportunities or berating myself, I just sat with them, becoming so acutely aware of how fear permeated nearly every decision I made.

I can no longer accept a life lived through fear. I am done stifling the Realness of me because of the unknown. I’m done making choices based on how someone else might see me or how they might feel.

If I keep living with fear driving this ship: the parts of my life that make me who I am, that should be rejoiced and celebrated, will whiter up and die. And that’s just not what I want to do with this one life I’ve been given. I want to live it. I want to love with my arms outstretched. I want to love myself boldly, without a single care for what other people see because what they see doesn’t matter.

Does. Not. Matter.

For far too long I have kept myself small, quiet, and easily digestible. Who does that serve? Not me. And not my partner or my children, either. They deserve to know a partner and a mother who loves herself, who can teach by example that they are whole and perfect and worth loving just the way they are. I never want them to bear the legacy of that uncertainty I’ve felt my whole life. I never want them to be where I am today, having to re-learn the purity of love I was born with.

freedom

I am here. I am whole. I choose love, for myself, for my family, for those who love me and for those who hate me or don’t understand me.

I choose a life lived with love and not dictated by fear.

Finally, for the first time, I choose me.

photo credit via photopin cc

photo credit via photopin cc

snack

I wasn’t sure my banana muffin recipe would transition well to bread, so I used some mini-loaf pans I had.  They came out perfectly.  I ate one (yes, all by myself!), one for a friend and her gluten-free family and I managed to save one for the man who should be rolling in in the next couple of hours (I had to make another cookie pie to keep myself from eating his loaf – hush, the cookie pie is healthy, remember?).

After leaving later than expected today and his car breaking down in the Bronx (!) he will come home to freshly made lentil soup to fill his belly and after capping that off with a slice of this yummy bread he’ll snuggle in with me and the baby.  Hopefully Mack will let us sleep in just at titch in the morning.