I’m at a pivotal time in my life. Some would call this a crisis moment, a fork in the road so to speak. I see it simply as a time of frightening and exhilarating clarity of who I’ve been, and why. I see my entire life built upon the constantly changing foundation of what I thought was expected of me. I believed that what I taught myself to be because of that belief, was what gave me value. I lived my life as if my purpose as a human being was dependent upon my giving what was expected.
Now here I am, at 55 years old, holding the knowledge that I screwed myself, and everyone in my life, out of the real deal. I get it, it’s okay. I see and accept what I’ve done to myself, but goddammit if it doesn’t just piss me off at the moment. I’ve been a hot mess posing as someone who has it all together, let me be the first to say it here.
So let me tell you what I’ve learned, and you may do with it what you will.
I have learned that honest communication between us is imperative if we are to have any relationship worth having. I’ve learned that love is a living thing that can be grown to an unbelievable beauty or shoved into a closet for its inconvenience to slowly suffocate until it is no more. Love is a living thing that can thrive and strengthen the environment where it exists or suffer from the poisoning of neglect, thus destroying all that surrounds it with its misery as it dies.
I’ve learned that our lives are an example of what love is to us, and I’ll be damned if that doesn’t scare the hell out of me. The example I’ve set is that love requires constant sacrifice, and the lessening of self. I’ve lived as if it required that I didn’t matter, that I never say “no”, that I turned myself into a mat that it wiped its feet upon. I made myself matter so little to myself (and therefore others) that everyone was a priority before what I wanted was considered. Unfortunately by the time I asked myself what was important to me, I had no idea. None. At. All.
Here is all I know for sure right now.
I know that I want people around me that are brave enough to say when I’ve hurt them, and how. People that are willing to say I’m sorry when they’ve hurt me, and mean it. I want those strong enough to work through the hard shit because our friendship is worth it. I want those who are willing to work hard the same way I am willing to work hard, to build a relationship of value and not just one that skims the surface. I’m tired of the bullshit, the cheap seats and the easy way to nowhere. I’m not just tired of it, I don’t want it in my life at all.
I don’t have time to spend on those who have no courage to really love me.
To be honest, I don’t have time to spend on those I can’t truly love. Because they deserve better and so do I. It’s a ridiculous waste of time to live a half-hearted life in a mediocre way that fits into some la-la-la bullshit of normal. I don’t want normal, I want real. I’m willing to do the real and jump through the hoops that result in looking into the eyes of someone who will go the distance for me. Truly. Someone who deserves me to go the distance for them, and I will because they’ve done the work and matched my resolve and offered their heart. Straight up and without apology. Devil take it, come what may.
That’s the kind of relationship I’ll go to war to preserve.
I don’t want beige. I have no interest in tepid or vague or nerveless little gatherings of comradery. Give me the people who will put themselves on the line for me, start a riot, burn a building. Give me those people and I will give them every bit of that in return. Is that too much to ask?
And if it is, do you mind if I say step aside and let the real ones through?
If you do mind, step aside anyway. These words and this life aren’t for you.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. It took me half a century to figure it out.
No more excuses.
All too often we wake up and find ourselves surrounded by wreckage. We’ve been blind-sided by our choices in what to believe, when to give generously of ourselves, which direction to choose, or who to love.
We open our eyes in confusion at the madness, we can’t clearly recall the catalyst of the psychological and emotional train wreck, we only know that the parts of us that aren’t still numb are in agony.
There is no one to help us. We were the only passengers. So we remain still and breathe into the pain while we take a mental inventory of what we know.
Passers-by are oblivious to our internal carnage, our weakened hold on our ability to thrive, because we know how to keep our shit together.
We don’t release a single groan of despair. We’re strong enough to smile and wave them away while we slowly bleed out from a thousand tiny cuts sustained at the time of impact.
This is when shock sets in, and we know beyond all doubt that if we don’t act quickly most of what lights us will die.
So we hold on. We dig deeper. We know the cost of not living is too steep.
We decide we are worth saving. We decide to repair ourselves with the oft times painful needle of self-awareness, and the thread of determination. We don’t hope; we know.
We refuse to choke on regret as we do our work. We welcome the discomfort that comes with the tug and pull of every stitch we carefully place to keep out the finding of fault, negativity and self-neglect. We stop for a moment to drink gratitude from the cup of life, no longer noticing the spots on the glass that holds it.
We change our mind-set.
What was a tragedy, maybe even a crime, has become an achievement of possibilities. We pick a direction for ourselves and jump off the fence we were sitting on for too long. We leave worry behind us and become warriors.
We become born-again believers of our own value.
In the midst of the hot, smoking debris of our past we begin to build something beautiful. We carefully place every single wrong thought and action firmly and deeply into the ground to create a rock solid foundation upon which we will build our future.
And so it begins.
Water your garden, my friends. Pull the weeds of self-doubt and insecurity. Plant only the most beautiful blooms in the softness of your heart.
Choose your seeds carefully, see in your mind’s eye the magnificence longing to bud and flower, the stunning impact of color that awes the soul and reminds those who bear witness to ask more of themselves.
Fence your garden my loves, not to keep others out or yourself trapped within, but to allow massive growth, room to breathe and safety for those you invite to stop and take in the beauty you’ve created in the landscape of your life.
For every weed you pull, plant a flower there.
Sometimes you give yourself another chance to make things right. You decide to turn the garbage of your past into compost for the garden of your future. You use the trials you’ve survived and the decisions you’ve weathered as tools to create a life that would not be able to exist without the pain you experienced.
This tale of sorrow, transformed into this glorious story of you…
and re-write your story.
We can choose~
a world of darkness
or one wonderfully awash
with light and color…
A future of promise
or days given over to hopelessness
if it’s worth it
to remain open-hearted
or suffocate ourselves
Each day is a coin,
and either side
can be our truth…
we have the power
what our lives
will bring to others
and feel like to us…
We can choose.
This is not a fairy tale.
I’m going to tell you a true story.
My husband and I have been divorced for a little over a year now, and this is what I’ve learned…
We wanted the same things and didn’t know how to give them to ourselves and each other. We couldn’t figure out the right language or behavior to keep the love we had for each other strong and growing and fresh. We married too quickly after just a month and five days of dating.
Nobody knows if they’re suited for each other in that length of time. You can’t have the sight that quickly for any soul. We were two decent people who ended up not bringing out the best in each other, so we hurt each other instead. I used to joke and say that I wanted Romeo and Juliet and he wanted June and Ward Cleaver. The reality could and should have been somewhere in between, but we didn’t have the tools at the time to make that happen, or should I say we didn’t know there were tools and how to use them.
Then life happened, as it does to all of us. We raised a much loved little boy into a wonderful man and then he went out into the world…and we were lost in the silence of all we hadn’t built between us.
Then the “200 year flood” came and we lost our home of 20 years. We relocated and shortly after that the pension that was supposed to kick in for him/us was with-held and that financial blow crippled us even further.
Having dedicated his entire adult life to serving the community that he felt had now turned on him, he became a very angry man. He fought for it and eventually got what he was owed including all back pay, but the damage to his perception, attitude and to us as a couple was locked in.
Five years of anger and bitterness and resentment takes its toll on even the strongest people. Our brains are wired for our survival, not our happiness, and we both shut down in all the ways that matter. My spirit was as broken as his pride; I hid in my writing and he hid in his hobbies. We did not know how to be there for each other.
We did not know how to fix us. We were too busy pointing out what the other was to blame for that we avoided addressing our own issues that would have made the difference.
So here we are. He has dated a few women, and I haven’t dated at all. He has lost his father, and I have found my parents all over again. Our son is Switzerland, as he should be. I’ve been to therapy to discover the tools I can use to be, do and give more in my own life and he is learning his lessons as well.
We are each growing painfully in our own way, as we should.
This is life.
My experiences since our divorce have taught me that the Treasury Department has it right when they teach that the only way to spot a fake is to put endless effort into the study of what is genuine. That way, when the counterfeit is offered to you, you immediately know it is not the genuine article. He has learned this as well, I believe.
I see it all around me and I know. My ex-husband is a good man. I want him to be happy. We actually talk now. I’ve had him over for dinner, and am helping him with his new puppy which is giving him great joy. He knows he can call me if he needs help, and I know I can do the same.
You don’t quit loving, it just changes form.
It makes me happy that we can begin a friendship that should’ve started 30 years ago. It does us both good, I think.
We were hard on each other’s hearts and pride. We both did a lot of damage to the other. There were times, in our anger, that we were not there for each other when we should have been. We are truly flawed human beings. We needed the lessons we’ve learned.
He is not the evil king or dragon in my stories. Those are metaphors for the damaged hurting parts of those who only hurt us in their misery. He is a good man. And I am certainly no benevolent queen or sorceress that benefits all mankind. Those are only metaphors for the very best of us that we can call forth if we choose to do so.
So, just this once, please forgive the lack of drama and imagination as I write this offering to you.
We each contribute something to the burning or the building of our bridges.
We get to decide where to put our efforts, and our rewards or consequences will present themselves to us accordingly.
This is Life.
The silence comforts me
and scares me at the same time.
I feel the fragility of everyone around me
while I draw my strength from them.
It is a celebration and a mourning
this thing called life.
So much to experience
in something so shallowly lived
when you realize
the scope of it.
Moments easily overlooked
when they are the ones that matter most.
People put on hold
when you’re too tired
too wrapped up in things that mean nothing.
We all are are blinded
to some degree to what really makes
a difference to another soul,
because it hurts sometimes to let it be significant
and we just aren’t willing
to bear that kind of pain.
Maybe if we knew the number of our minutes
we would make sure
we used them to touch
the life of another.
“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”
― Anaïs Nin
I absolutely love these words. I believe we can be women with both our strength and beauty at full power, continuously building our lives and interests into an oasis where our truest selves can rest and grow.
We can also invite men into ourselves, into our lives, with their own clarity of vision and self-awareness. These men exist, but are unseen by the untrained eyes of women caught up in living the damage all of us carry with us if we’re not willing to address it and move forward.
A friend said to me the other day that she wondered when men quit being courteous and protective gentlemen. I suggested that those qualities were possibly resting by the roadside next to the grace and femininity we set aside thinking we had to war with each other.
I’m not a man, and I don’t want to be. We are of equal value but we are not equal in many wonderful ways that have apparently been forgotten. We bring different gifts into the world and each is made more powerful by what the other has to offer. Each can bring more joy to the other.
Beautiful music, well written books, cognitive therapy and a willingness to look inside for answers have helped me make my way to the life I’m building now. It will always be so for me, and that makes me happy. When I recognize that in a man, that kind of investment in himself, I am awed. I know what kind of courage it takes to do so.
It’s hard and it’s painful at times. But to be able to bring my whole self to the table with all I have to offer inside, and a man’s willingness to do the same is a breath-taking possibility of unlimited potential for a very real love.
I have a “deeper instinct” to choose wisely in the future. To preserve myself and offer everything at the same time. To be capable of maintaining my individuality as well as answering the masculine call to my femininity. I will consider it a joy, not a weakness to revel in the celebration of like hearts, like minds, and very different bodies.
We should not be at war. I love getting flowers, having my doors opened and a man showing his protectiveness. I adore these things that call to the feminine in me and will consider them a show of respect and an indicator of the value I will have to him. It matters little that I can do these things for myself. Likewise it makes me happy to show my heart in the things I do and the care I give even when he too will be capable of providing for himself.
I think men and women have both gotten a bad deal. We gave it to ourselves, and it seems like such a waste of time to me. There have been too many wasted opportunities to be more and have more as individuals and as companions of choice.
I grew tired of fighting. I set my weapons aside and picked up my books, my headphones and held my hand out for someone to show me the way in. It’s changed me in ways I will never regret. It’s grown beautiful things within me that can’t be taken away.
They can only be given or shared, guided by that “deeper instinct”.
I woke up ugly this morning.
Not on the outside although it wasn’t one of my better days, but my heart, my thoughts and my perception of things were on the hard side. I woke up gritting my teeth and knew it would be a struggle to contain the harshness from those who didn’t deserve it.
Which was everyone.
I usually don’t feel this way, and I don’t like it. I used to deny its existence or hide it from myself, missing every important lesson the meanness was trying to teach me.
I’m a slow learner but when I finally get it, it sticks.
Listening to the ugly parts of me is the only way to see where I’m being foolish in ways that injure my heart. Shaking hands with the side of me that wants to strike out helps me see where I’ve set myself up for failure. The “righteous” part of me that wants to cause equivalent pain in another is a 911 call for pulling my head out of my ass and taking a good look at where I’m standing…
And how fast I’m sinking.
I’m about chest high in bad attitude right now, cigarette in one hand and wine glass in the other, listening to the ugly. I don’t apologize for the contents of either hand or the content of my mind.
I’m sorting it out.
The more I listen the more it recedes, slowing my breath and easing the tightness in my jaw. My heart softens again and my mind settles. I see the adjustments I need to make to defuse my dilemma.
Fortunately, most will never meet the ugly I talk to from time to time, even though that side of me is an important part of who I am. If I don’t listen to the black-hearted, judgmental, vigilante part of me…
How will I ever grow?