Abnormal

feminity1I have been accused of being abnormal, of not being feminine in my responses, of not being sufficiently emotional. This is not the first time someone has said this to me, likely it will not be the last. My only answer to these accusations is I keep my emotions under control and am not given to public displays, even if you are an audience of one. If you are acting out to gain a response from me you will be sorely disappointed and I will not apologize for this.

I don’t believe I am abnormal, only that I have examined many human emotions closely and found they don’t suit me; I have discarded them. I am at peace with myself, with my imperfections. This does not mean I am happy to traipse alone through the last part of my life journey. It simply means I am unlikely to make significant adjustments to my core being to accommodate the expectations of others regarding who I ‘should’ be as a woman.

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For most of my life I took care of everyone around me, everyone came before me their needs before mine. This is part of my nature and can be draining. My tendency was to hold everything very close until I had enough, then I would blow up with sometimes catastrophic outcomes. Because I didn’t ask for what I needed, didn’t tell what was wrong, didn’t talk to partners, friends, parents or anyone in my orbit if there was a problem no one knew until it was too late to prevent that blow up. While those blow ups often hurt others, they all to often hurt me far more.

I don’t do this anymore. I am still quiet. I still listen more than I talk. I still have a tendency to take care of the people I love more than ask for care when I need it. This is still my core nature. What I don’t do is allow it to go without speaking up if I believe a relationship is not reciprocal. What I don’t do is not care for myself. The odd thing though, I am accused of not being sufficiently womanly e.g. emotional in my response to things.

It is true, I frequently withdraw.

It is true, I do not weep and gnash my teeth.

It is true, I do not fling myself to the floor and beg for attention.

It is true, I do not scream, yell, call names or other such nonsensical behaviors one sometimes sees on TV these days. If this is the expectation there will always be disappointment, always.

The emotional blackmail I do not respond to and have not responded to for years? The attempts to force me to react, I think they are childish and demonstrate a lack of confidence in the other person, these sometimes seem to be tests in whether I care or not. If I fail these tests, we are likely not good partner material. Some of the ‘tests’ I have failed recently, the emotions I have failed to adequately demonstrate:

Jealousy, it simply isn’t part of my DNA. It once was, I admit I use to feel horrifyingly jealous and it would tear me apart inside. Now though I no longer respond or react. I don’t know when I stopped feeling the monster of jealousy rise in my heart, I think it was jealous-700x450when I realized I could not make someone love me, could not force someone to stay and could not change another person’s heart no matter what I felt. There was no point to this emotion, it hurt no one but me. I didn’t do anything to change myself, it was simply I stopped feeling jealous. I still felt angry at a betrayal, at a lie but I no longer felt jealous.

Envy was another of those strange emotions that simply disappeared, it seemed in a day though I am sure it didn’t just poof away. I remember being younger and envying other women their perfect bodies, their clothes, their husbands, their jobs and the list goes on. I remember seeing others and wanting what they had, even just wanting to be them. I would sit sometimes and simply daydream of not being me, being anyone but me. My envy would envelope me in a fog, then suddenly it was gone. Suddenly I cannot imagine being anyone but me, despite everything I cannot dream of any life but my own. There are days I see a beautiful woman in the store and admire her, but my admiration is not envy.

Fury, I held on to my fury for days, sometimes weeks or longer. That fire would burn me flameWomanand others in a destructive path. While it might have been justified it was not healthy in its expression and it never ended well. Now, I know how to express anger when it occurs rather than let it burn me out. Now I know how to speak up and speak out. Now I know that to hang on to anger, allow it to become fury, give it free rein and rent in my soul is one of the most self-destructive things I can do.

Hate, I let this one go a very long time ago but I have to frequently check up and check in. I have said for a couple of decades you have to feed hate to keep it alive and I believe it. There are people and things I don’t like, I don’t allow in my life; but even those who have done me great and terrible harm, I do not hate. Some of them I had to teach myself not to hate. Some of them I had to let go of, I had to find them in my head and kick them out. Some of them I had to write about, here and elsewhere until they were purged. Some of them I had to learn to understand so I could justify not hating them. Slowly though I let go of hate, slowly I learned peace through letting my monsters go.

I still hate green peas.

So some men find me uncomfortable. They do not understand my ‘lack’ of emotional response. They find me to pragmatic, to logical in my responses to some of their actions and behaviors. They find my quiet disarming. Some men find my ‘lack’ of normal female emotions uncomfortable.

Relationships and dating at this age is difficult if you don’t follow the rules. Unfortunately, apparently I don’t follow the rules.

I am an introvert. I am perfectly capable of taking care of all my needs. I do not need anyone though I want someone in my life who will partner me evenly and is capable of a balanced relationship.

I am quiet. I know myself. I have clear expectations. I do not play games and it is unlikely I will respond the way you expect if you attempt to play games with me. These statements about my abnormality just got me thinking, I am perhaps more of an anomaly than I thought and should maybe be prepared for what I once considered an intolerable future. It is not that I don’t have hope, but these statements of my abnormality certainly leave me wondering.

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62 and Single

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I never thought I would be single at this age; this isn’t what I believed my life would look like. Truthfully, I assumed my life would be much different than it is today. Some days I wake up and wonder who is living my life, who is inhabiting the life plan I had. Well if I am honest, I wake up and think to myself, just what the fuck.

Excuse my expletive. There might be a few more so if you are offended easily you might not want to read this simple exploration of life at sixty-two, where nothing is quite as planned.

If someone had told me when I was twenty-five the trajectory my life was going to take, I would have laughed uproariously. I wouldn’t have believed them, sixty-two was old as the hills and I didn’t expect to live that long in all honesty. In the back of my mind though, I had expectations;

  • To marry, once
  • To have children, two
  • To have a careerlifethegame
  • To have grandchildren
  • To build a future and a home

To live the same life, follow the same path my father followed and embrace the same familiar patterns I had grown up with once my rebellion was finished. I was nearly done at twenty-five, almost completed my teenage angst and young adult anguish. I had started down the path of adulthood and was building that future though perhaps not quite in a regular fashion I had expected early on in life.

Yet here we are, thirty-seven years later and I am sixty-two years old and I am alone. I have had two husbands and a few wannabe husbands. One who I left and the other who left me. I have helped raise two children, both who remain close, but who are not mine except through bounds of love. I live alone in a house that is mine but still feels not quite home. I have lived a life that by all accounts was not normal but certainly built character, still I have to ask why am I alone when this is the last thing I intended to be.

Oddly, I am not unhappy or lonely most of the time. I enjoy my time within the self-imposed Personal_spacebubble, the time I can spend in my own company is strangely comforting. There are simply times I would like to know there is another person who is uniquely part of my world and chooses to share in my future. Someone who is a dependable source of both solace and pleasure. That single person who I can turn to as companion, partner, friend and yes, lover. Does this seem to be two distinctly different, even polar opposite spaces to occupy?

It may be. I cannot determine if it is or not. This sometime overwhelming longing to have a person in my life, a man who sees me, looks on me with compassion and desire does not take away from my pleasure in finally having peace and quiet. It does not reduce the enjoyment I take in my self-determination, of being able to finally do what I choose without thinking of anyone but myself. There is a strange dichotomy in finding yourself at sixty-two finally on your own, alone and independent of all responsibility but to yourself.

I remember thinking, there will come a time my sons will be grown they will marry, have children and be independent adults. There were times during my marriages I sometimes thought, my husband(s) will grow the hell up and become responsible grown-assed men, they will be full time contributors rather than emotional and financial dependents. I will be free to do what I wish, to work differently, to travel more or whatever else I wish to do. Then of course, divorce struck and financial setbacks took away my freedoms.

I recovered; I was most fortunate. Now I think, I cannot afford to just do anything to squander my recovery and my future. I must think like an adult, huh.

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Can you guess where I sit on this spectrum?

So, adulthood hits at sixty-two and what it looks like doesn’t thrill me. Who in their right mind wants to do this, alone? This isn’t what I thought it would look like. Dating isn’t something I can do easily; I am not good with new people or small talk. Years ago, I tried on-line dating for a brief minute, that didn’t work for me so I won’t try it again. I am far too picky, a man would have to be extraordinary to catch and hold my attention, he would have to be part superhero, part bad boy and part old school gentleman (like my father). He would have to have the smile of an angel, clean fingernails, the patience of a saint and be able to laugh at himself.

Does this even exist anymore?

ShhhI have been so fortunate in my life. I have been loved and I have loved. I know what both look like. I have also been terribly disappointed, yes, I have also disappointed. None of us are without flaws, none of us have gone through life without mistakes. The thing is, I am better for mine, I hope. I don’t want to spend my last years alone, I want to share this last part of my life with someone who will love me knowing all my flaws, all my skeletons, all my baggage. Who will see me fully and without judgement hold me closely through the end.

I just keep wondering, how did I get here, sixty-two, single, alone and is this it?

Telling the Blues

Starting Here

You wouldn’t know it by my writings I am extraordinarily private about much of my life, especially if it is imperfect in my own eyes. I intimated I was struggling in my last somewhat personal writing, here Introversion and the Blues, still, it doesn’t tell the entire story. I find I haven’t had the words, my voice simply silenced by my internal war with depression. I could not find a way to tell the story of my own fear, melancholy and my failure to be compassionate toward myself.

The truth, while this isn’t the first time I have been laid low by depression it has been one of the worst. It was exacerbated by external influences, some over which I had control but chose to push to the limits and others over which my control was limited if not non-existent. I allowed others inside my world, wanting to believe they had my best interest at heart, even while knowing they did not. I dug my hole deeper, shook my soul harder turned myself inward, allowed myself to be hurt, time and again and ultimately doubting myself, questioning myself, my value and my worth.

There were days when the sun came up and I despaired that I had woken with the sun. There were nights, I lay down and prayed for that one last seizure that would stop my breath and heart.

Terrible, I know. Terrible to write the words. Terrible to admit that I felt this for so long. Terrible to acknowledge there are times I still feel this way some nights, some mornings.

The truth is, my blues had gripped me hard this time and initially I had not realized just how hard or for how long they have had me in their grasp. I kept thinking I am out of it, the fog is lifted I am moved beyond this thing but the truth is, I hadn’t. I keep looking for the starting point, that place in time I can put a stake in the ground, in my soul, in my psyche; when did it start where the Y in the road had appeared and I took that path that led here, to this place right now. Honestly? I don’t know. There are so many intersections over the past five years, so many points in time.

I am so grateful there are a few beloved friends and family members who saw my despair and continued to stand by me, shake me now and then, reach into my self-imposed bubble of silence and demand my participation. They did this even when I retreated further into my natural state of isolation. It would have been so easy to stand aside, let me draw my darkness closer and allow me to withdraw further knowing my introversion was simply part of my personality but that this was different. They saw me and saw this was more, this was dangerous and they sometimes kicked the shit out of me and other times just gently prodded me into the world, if even just for an hour or two.  These diehards, who dug in knowing I was closer to the edge than I would ever admit to withstood my rejections, my absolute and outright sometime lies of “I am fine, really”. They threw lifelines and drug me through and demanded I stay in the world, even when my one true desire was to give up when the world seem pitiless and I wanted nothing more than to get up and get off.

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Am I beyond this funk, this fog, this blue? No, really I am not yet. But I know it has been clinging to me and I get that I have been reacting badly, letting too much of my life be taken over by this terrible. I know I have made some horrible choices because I was hurting. I know I allowed others to hurt me because I was hurting and thought they were the most I deserved. I know now I nearly broke myself because I didn’t heed the warning signs, I didn’t listen to my own heart and soul when I screamed. Thankfully, even during this time, I have made some great choices too. I have done some good things for .  myself though I nearly took myself to the brink of destruction and lost it all.

Is it over? No, not yet. I have recovery to do. I have to find those doors to walk through, those steps to take to recover what I have lost. I have to find ways to be healthy, to embrace what I know and allow others to take care of me when I need it. It is time for me to start the slow climb back, emotionally, financially, physically and elsewhere in my life so I can live with all the choices past, present and future. It is time to re-engage the world on my terms, without apology or recrimination. I have to recognize I am subject to the Blues, not let them overtake my world, destroy what I build and be proactive or one of these days I won’t have the opportunity to say no more.

For those who suffer from Depression, I get it. This is hard. It is always hard. We lose so much every single time. Do not do this alone, reach out if you can and if you can’t let others reach in grab the lifelines they throw.

Friends, Lovers et. al.

It has been a strange, trying and even sometimes miraculous few years. My world turned inside out, upside down and sideways. I lost myself, struggled to find the way through to a new normal and all too frequently wondered just what in the hell normal really was.

I find, my new normal isn’t normal at all. In fact, I find my new normal is constantly shifting under foot and I am frequently reevaluating to test theories. Just when I think I have it down, when I think I am settled on the answer for what ‘normal’ needs to be I prove myself wrong or slightly off center and must try again. So what is it, is it me? Is it my expectations? Is it the world we live in? Really, what is it? I surely wish someone would let me in on the secret, this constant shifting of the sand under my feet, it is making me dizzy as hell and I am tired.

The past week has proven to me I am not who I believe myself to be, at all. Most days I think I have a larger portion of bitch than most, you know tough girl bitch. Been there, done that and come out the other side, bitch. Not mean girl bitch, simply not going to take your shit, bitch. Then something comes along to prove me wrong, someone meanders through my day and I am pulled up short, set back on my heels and sent searching my soul and asking my monsters, ‘hey, wtf, where the hell did you hide my bitch!’

It isn’t that I pride myself on bitchiness. It is simply life has taught me I need some of this to protect me from harm, from the hurt the world and other people will do if I don’t surround myself with12341638_10208005258989848_2508813082028178841_n a hardened exterior. But I am weak, I am soft. I am figuring this out also. I forgive easily and I don’t like hurting other people. I have a difficult time turning my back on those I love or have loved even when they have broken me, even when they have consistently placed themselves and their desires ahead of me. Still, I have a very difficult time saying, ‘get the fuck away from me’. I don’t do ‘No more’, easily. I don’t draw boundaries easily, I don’t like to feel as if I am the source of other people’s pain.

Now, just how truly stupid is that? Really, how truly stupid can I be that I fail to place boundaries and walls that will protect me from future hurt. Even when those I am trying to prevent from hurting have proven they do not, will not and have not in the past shown the same consideration, the same concern.

Well the other side of this failure, I own my heart and forgiveness often leads to unexpected releases of held pain, even pain I did not know I still held. Despite my natural tendency toward isolation and introversion I reach outside of myself, leaving doors and windows open for people both old and new to sneak inside, around edges and corners leading to friendships unlooked for. Doors swing wide where I thought I had slammed them shut, where I had turned my back and wept my tears of hurt, frustration and pain. At the slightest breeze, the quietest knock I open the door and allow myself to be drawn back, without hesitation or trepidation even knowing how much pain the last encounter caused.

11210400_10207936403708509_5830202822718948331_nAm I an idiot? Perhaps, certainly I open myself to more pain. Surely I open myself to being hurt again. These relationships, these friendships are not always healthy and often difficult to sort out. This is especially true where the relationship wasn’t a friendship but a lover or a spouse. It is hard as hell to change the boundary, draw new lines in the sand and not rehash old hurts. It is difficult not to ask, ‘Why the fuck did you do this to me, do you know how badly you broke me?’

Yes, it is likely the other person knows. It is likely, both of you know the content of the ending. Whether short or long-term, whether lover or spouse one of you left, one of you ended the relationship. It is never mutual, no matter how you might portray it to the public. One of you was ready for it to end and the other was left in pain and wondering what happened and why you are alone and in pain.

Do you wonder what in Hades I am babbling on about today?

I have had a strange week. I am trying to sort relationships. Trying to not hurt those I care for. Trying to regain balance, take back my life and make healthy choices for myself. I recognized many things about myself over the past year, things I needed to understand about what I needed from relationships and from myself. I also realized just how easily I sometimes allow myself to be manipulated, not because I am weak but because I am by nature kind, beyond my kindness though is a history of not standing up for myself within ‘love’ relationships. This history goes back 40 years, is grounded in brutality, fear and force. I realized over the past year I haven’t shed some of my history, it remains rooted inside of me, a dark part of my make-up easily called up and easily taken advantage of; one of my personal monsters I clearly haven’t danced with in the light.

As I have struggled toward enlightenment, toward taking back all of me and all of who I want to be I have also fought to let go of hurt. Perhaps it is simply providence, this shedding of anger and 12507215_10208294405378327_4514737177470774775_nhurt this not holding on that out of the blue as I come more to peace with myself, the one person who had so deeply hurt me reached out to talk. Yes, my ex-husband sent a friend request on Facebook and we talked about God and being better people than we were before. We did not talk about why we failed, I don’t think for either of us it was relevant.

That, that one forty-five minute chat allowed me to finally let go.

So despite I ask my monsters to stop hiding my Bitch, maybe it is fine they leave holes in the wall for people to sneak through. Maybe, just maybe this is how I find myself and find peace. There is no going back, no true second chances. There are though opportunities to learn, to forgive and to forge links in the chains that bind us to the world and our own humanity.

Need, Want & Nature

Everyone wants something; it is our nature I suppose, to want things outside of ourselves. We start as infants being dependent on others, wanting little more than to be sustained in our needs, including being safe, clean, fed and touched. As we mature so do our needs, though truthfully it is really how we fulfill these needs that change rather than the needs themselves. With maturity our core personality come into play so some of our needs might also be more or less at play, specifically the need for touch and safety may be very different for each of us.

I didn’t start with need though, did I? I started with want, I wonder can we entirely separate want from need in all cases? Is it possible some of our wants, our desires are so intimately tied to our basic needs; they truly are what we need to sustain our lives in some form that is both sane and comforting. Is it possible, where we started with basic needs though they change in their make-up, change in how we express them do not in truth change all that much at all.

I want shoes, frequently I see them in a store, on-line or even on another woman’s foot and think, damn I want those. I don’t need them, in fact left to my own devices I am frequently barefoot much to the dismay of the poor young woman who does my weekly pedicure.

I want never to have grey hair, never to have a single strand of grey show on my head. It is unreasonable to want this. It is also unrealistic, nonetheless I want it and I want it forever and ever, amen.

I want to stop the world, now. I want off the merry-go-round and round. I want to stop being jerked around and pulled by my heartstrings by people who don’t truly have my best interests at heart.

I want to stop leading with my heart. I want to stop wearing my heart on the outside of my chest where it is easily the most vulnerable, easily hurt and easily sliced and diced.

I want to stop being taken for rides, where I am the amusement, the shipwreck and the battlefield.

I want to stop pretending it is fine, that all is good, that I feel good about paying the bill when it is presented. It isn’t fine, it isn’t all good. I don’t mind paying my fair share, I don’t mind going dutch now and then, in fact, I think this might be fair. Splitting the bill down the middle, compromising seems only fair and right. So why isn’t this happening? Am I too fast to say, ‘don’t worry, I don’t mind you beating the living shit out of me, I will take care of whatever it is so long as you have what you need or want.’tumblr-broken-heart-photography-broken-heart-3-by-mv79-on-deviantart--photos

I want to come first; every now and then, I want to be first. I want someone to think of me and my needs and put me and them first. Not all the time mind you, that would be selfish; but, every once in a while I want to be first. Not, how bad can I make her feel. Not what can I get from her today. Not how can I make her pay for what I want today, but instead, ‘how can I make her day better.’

I want my safety, my heart, my sanity, my health to be important to someone. Not as a secondary thought after they have considered everything they want and need, but as the first thing they consider when thinking of what is important. I don’t want to be more important, I just want to be as important. My ex use to say to me, ‘if we are ever confronted by a person with a gun I will not stand in front of you, I will tell you to run baby run.’ He thought that was funny, I never did. Now, not only do I think it was unfunny, I think it was sad I stayed in a marriage for so long with someone who placed himself and his own safety so far above mine, you see he wasn’t joking.

I want to feel protected, safe and valued. Not for what I can do for you but for the content of me. I want for anyone who has ever said to me, ‘I love you’ to actually show me by their actions rather than say the words. Words, they have little meaning if they are not backed up with acts of care, compassion, empathy and a giving heart. Don’t tell me you will do something, don’t make promises you have no intention of keeping. Stop stripping me down to nothing left.

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I want someone to hear me. Just listen and hear me. I want them to hear the tears in my voice when I am lonely. I want them to hear me screaming when my skin is on fire from the lack of loving touch. I want them to hear me when I say; I miss being held in the night. I want them to understand this isn’t an invitation; it is simply reaching out to be heard.

I am tired of trying to do everything myself. I am tired of paying the bill when presented. My body is tired, my heart is worn out, my soul is shriveling into itself. I didn’t think I would have to work this hard, maybe I don’t, maybe I simply won’t anymore.

Our wants and our needs, though sometimes they are the same; to be safe, to be clean, to be fed and to be touched. Perhaps we simply need to learn to adjust our expectations. Certainly, I am learning this is what I must do, it seems I am enough to pay the bill when presented but not enough for much more.

What is Love, My Version

Linda1How do we love? What makes our hearts sing, our skin tingle, our knees weak? What makes our hearts soar, how do we love?

For the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about the question of love, is there really different kinds of love, different types of love? I have written about love before here and here, mostly I took a rather pragmatic view, even while talking about what I wanted from love and from life. I have had some time to consider love, some time to watch love at work in my family and elsewhere in the world. I have also watched what it means when we extract love from our world, when we fail at love, when we fail to include love in our lives on a daily basis and it is heartbreaking.

Love is incredibly selfish, this is my first conclusion; yes, I said it Love is an incredibly selfish emotion. Even while we expand our heart to include others, even while we open our arms, our homes, our circle of trust it remains a selfish emotion. Let me explain what I mean by this statement. When we love, we want, not just for the other person but also for ourselves. When we love, whether it is an individual or something other, something more amorphous something intangible that simply opens our heart and defines us as human and with compassion and empathy, we still want something, some recognition of self. No matter what love is for us, it is at least in part, selfish.

This year saw many changes, blossoming of new love, maturing of loves already in progress, coming to peace with love lost and finding new family members to embrace and celebrate.

This month I was privileged to see love at work in my extended family, more than once I spent time in the presence of love and was uplifted. This made me consider what love was when we simply wish for good things, when we are simply part of a larger circle and we aren’t trying to make it about ourselves. There is something wonderful, when we are simply there and part of it. This month, my youngest son married for the second time, this time it truly was a celebration of love, a coming together of families and friends and it was joyous. I watched my son and new daughter take their vows and my heart expanded, not just to include her but to include her children, her parents, her siblings also. I realized with this marriage, my circle to love had grown and my heart simply stretched to include them all.

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Holiday time is always interesting in my world. For many the holidays can be stressful, it is no different for me and mine. Last year, of course saw my marriage fall apart and at that point, I thought I could never look at this time of year without sadness again. Indeed, last year was difficult but with the love and kindness of many people I got through it and realized just what family really is, what it means to be cocooned in warmth for no other reason than for being me. I wrote about last year here, I learned a great deal about compassion and love and it stuck.

Family gatherings mean extended family with in-laws, multiple generations and of course with us all the ‘by marriage’ and ‘step’ relationships. We are the classic blended family; marriage has expanded our families with steps, in-laws, new grandbabies and all sorts of other people to love. My oldest son married a young woman with a boisterous and loving family that exudes warmth and has taken me in, embraced me as if I was one of their own. When I was most in need of a place to land, somewhere to feel safe her family gave it to me and continue to open their homes, hearts and arms.   This Thanksgiving my oldest son and his wife hosted family Thanksgiving for the first time, great food, great wine and lots of laughter. Again, I was reminded why love lifts us up, love has no boundaries and no timelines. We can not see each other for months, yet pick up where we left off; laughter and hugs without stinting and whispered, ‘how are you?’ with an arm wrapped around shoulders letting me know I am both welcome and cared for.  I must admit, I needed that moment of quite affirmation.

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Finally, the latest addition to my personal extended family; a new half-sister. Discovered a couple months ago, she is only a couple of years younger than I am and like me had been given up for adoption. I think she is the only one of my first father’s children he was unaware of. I won’t tell the entire story here, today; suffice to say she is a delight and I am so pleased to find another sibling. I think with all my full, halves, adopted and steps this takes me to twenty-four. What an amazing and strange mix we are what a fascinating world we live in that siblings can find each other through a random DNA test.

The famdamilySo what is love? What I am discovering, it is impossible to define. Love is selfish and selfless all in a single breath. Love is the greatest expression of compassion any of us can show to another. Love is our greatest gift, it is the one thing we have that is entirely ours to give and entirely free if we choose. Love fills our silent spaces while at the same time allows our silences safely. Love lifts us up, beyond ourselves and above ourselves. Love encourages us to do better and be better than we believe is possible. Love heals us and allows us to reach out and heal others.

What is love? The Hell if I know, but I know I would be lost without it.

Over It

images (1)Recently I have been more than a little bit annoyed, have you noticed? Oh, I know mostly it has emerged as a bit annoyed at the body politics; certainly this has gotten my dander up. It is fair to say our nation is in a mess and we have more than enough reasons to jump up and demand changes, more than one reason, more than five reasons, more reasons in fact than can be counted on all our fingers and toes, if that is the only way you can count.

This is not the only reason I am annoyed though, not at all. Ebola rages in West Africa and sneaks into the US, the GOP uses this as a wedge and another battle-ax to swing at those willing to be afraid, very, very afraid.   However, this is also not, why today I started in a pissy mood and frankly ended in one.

My mood was set off today by something far more idiotic, something stupid yet hurtful, something personal, near and un-dear to my heart and ego. Yes, I do have an ego and yes it can be bruised and it seems today it seems was one of these days it needed a good stomping, a good drubbing as it were. It all started with this piece of loveliness.

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Now this in itself wouldn’t be bad, except for some reason it scrapped my very last good nerve, I only have one last good nerve and this entire issue of ‘big girls and their need for love’ well it simply danced on the red hot end of it. What does that Meme mean? Really, what does that mean? What assclown thought that was funny?

Then, if that wasn’t bad enough someone thought it was so funny, they felt the need to add this.

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I was rocked back, thrown right back into nearly a year ago when I was sitting on my bed looking sideways in the mirror and thinking to myself, ‘No one will ever love me or want me again. I am old, crippled, fat with dimples on my thighs and ass; who the hell would want all this’. Yes, that is exactly what I thought. I hate Fat Jokes; they are mean spirited and ugly.

Have you noticed, for those of us who are not a size 0, or even a size 10; it is getting harder to find anything to wear. Harder to find pretty clothes, things that make you feel good. I have noticed this and it aggravates me. One of the things that download make me feel ‘girly’, sexy even are thigh-high stockings, I wear them all the time. Not just for special occasions, all the time. I hate panty hose and rarely wear them, when I wear skirts or dresses, I wear thigh high stockings, sometimes with a garter belt and sometimes without. I have worn them for years, I think they are wonderfully sexy and whether anyone knows I have them on or not, I know. They are my secret.

It use to be I could buy thigh high stockings everywhere and anywhere, Target, Macy’s, Dillards, Neiman Marcus; everywhere. I could walk in the store and buy what I wanted in my size. A size that rightfully was made for women, sometimes called Queen sometimes called Women. I am not unhappy with buying stockings fit for a Queen, sized for a Queen. It does not insult me or bruise my ego to march my happy ass to the checkout counter with black, white and flesh colored lace topped thigh high stockings sized for a Queen.

I am a Queen, dammit. What yanks my chain is every single store in creation has taken my size off their shelves. Oh sure, most of them will sell those sizes on-line, but for some reason they no longer wish to see women without a thigh gap making a purchase of sexy thigh high stockings in their store.

Now if it were just stockings that I had unsuccessfully gone hunting today, last week and last month perhaps I would not be so ego bruised. Maybe if it weren’t for the truth of the matter, that finding something I feel fabulous in for my son’s wedding is damned near impossible, maybe then I would take the fat jokes with more of a grain of salt. Honestly though, everything looks like my grandmother would wear it to her own funeral and complain. Conceivably, if I didn’t look in the mirror and see every single one of my flaws I wouldn’t be so damned insulted by the random fat jokes. Unfortunately, I do see them and my ego does get bruised, the voice in my head does repeat ugly words and my heart hears them.

One of the things I always go back to is this, before Twiggy and the domination of thin women in our media; women had hourglasses figures with tits, hips, asses and yes thighs. Women came in all sorts of shapes and sizes and men enjoyed them. Men drew them, rarely if ever did they draw stick figures, they drew voluptuous women with curves, like this.

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Every single time I see women touted as ‘big’ or ‘Plus Sized’ models they look almost normal. Honestly, these women are size 10-12. This is barely normal. I will grant you, one of them might wear a size 14, the average American woman. Since my divorce I have lost 237lbs, yes 200 of that was the ex the rest was all me. Even with that loss, I will never be thin again and I accept that. My problem though is the stores, whether high, medium or low end who have decided they will not carry clothing, not even stockings that fit me or other women who wear a size above the average.

Let me help you all, we not only wear clothing to cover the fat you find so distasteful, many of us dress well and have the money to spend to dress really well. Your desire to have us shop only on-line and keep us out of your brick and mortar stores, well eventually it will keep us out of your bottom line entirely. Therefore, what started out as a pissy mood, one that somewhat hurt my feelings and had me feeling low ended with me just being frankly pissed off. I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but someone loves me, loves my curves and sharp edges. Someone thinks I am beautiful just as I am. This is what I ended up thinking and feeling.

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Reciprocity

OpEdI believe strongly in the idea of nature and nurture that we are products of both but that we also ultimately choose how we will interact with the people we meet throughout our lives. We choose whom we will love and how we will love them. We choose what we will give of ourselves, of our time, of our resources, our heart and yes even our secrets in each relationship we engage, whether friendship or love.

At the end of the day, no matter what happens we choose how we will react and thus, how we will act. Each of us makes a conscious choice how we will face adversity and whether we will live our lives with joy or something else, something less, whether less is apathy, guilt or true regret. What I know, deep in my soul is we do have choices, no matter what, we have choices.

What else I know is human beings are taught to be evil through nurture and despite our nurture, we can overcome our training and choose to be better human beings. Parents have enormous influence on their children; they bring blank slates into the world and write evil onto their hearts turning them into horrifying, selfish, racist, misogynist shits. Children are sponges; they walk through their young lives watching their parents, their neighbors and other influential people, sucking it all up into their hearts and spirits.

If you are a racist shit, it is nearly a guarantee your child will carry on your terrible legacy of race-based hate. Beat your wife, some lucky girl will likely be the recipient of your son’s future fury or your daughter will lay down and accept some man’s fist as her due. These are some examples of the horror stories of what happens; the legacy children are gifted by ignorant parents. There are more, abused children are likely to abuse, children of alcoholics are likely to become alcoholics. Children are blank canvases; we paint upon them what we want the world to know about us.

Despite history, despite learning at the hard knee of a parent we still have a choice not to carry forward a legacy of hate, racism, of violence. We are all gifted with free choice, whether you are Christian or otherwise, all of us share one core value: Free Choice.

I do not believe in angels and devils as a birth ‘defect’. I believe we choose how we will interact with the world and those within it. I believe we choose how we will interact with communities or individuals, it is true whether we are talking about friends, family, lovers or a broader community. I choose how I love, where I love and whom I love, without asking for or excepting the judgment of others, I choose.

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My nature is not formed by my history, or perhaps it is but not in the way planned or expected by those who tried hard to warp it. My nurture did not corrupt me, those who would have twisted my heart into unrecognizable forms failed to change my core. Yes, there are days, even weeks when I question, when I pull into myself and build walls; those times do not last. Yes, I know my nature opens me up to the potential of being hurt more easily, even of being taken advantage of at times. I also know there are those who think I am blind to their faults, that I live in a world where there is only sunshine and rainbows without a darkside. I do not live in that world, I have seen the worst in people, I have lived on the darkest side of the world and within the shadows. I made a conscious decision not to be corrupted, not to be bent, not to be twisted, not to hate others or myself by the hurt others did to me or I did to myself. I made a conscious choice to choose joy, to choose hope.

Choosing joy doesn’t mean I don’t grow despondent at times. Choosing hope doesn’t mean I don’t feel hopeless at times. Truthfully, there are days I feel despondent and hopeless, unloved and unworthy of love. Choosing joy, choosing hope LindaHead_2doesn’t mean I don’t see the possibility others are not kind, it simply means I don’t base my willingness to love on reciprocity. My giving doesn’t require an even return, love is not an investment rather it is simply a choice we make. For me, it is a choice I make every single day.

Agape and All That Jazz

Sleeping Beauty“You are free. You are free before the noonday sun. You’re free before the moon and you’re free before the stars, and you are free where there is no moon or sun, where there isn’t a single star in the sky.

But you are a slave, you are a slave to the one you love because you love him, and you are a slave to the one you love because he loves you back.”


 

I don’t know where the quote above comes from, if anyone else does please let me know I suspect it is part of a longer poem, ancient and likely Arabic. I think it is beautiful and the truth. We are all, at best, slaves to our hearts. Each of us, wanting to love and be loved in turn willingly opening ourselves to greater or lesser degrees throughout our lives to achieve acceptance and love.

We want to be loved, for ourselves, for who we are and what we bring without hiding anything. We want to open ourselves, explore and feel safe in those explorations without risking our core. We want love to blanket us and free us, all in one embrace. Love is one of the most frightening emotions of the human experience. Each of us feel it differently, our responses and reactions differ depending on our histories and how much we are willing to risk, to give away.

C.S. Lewis, in his book The Four Loves, explored love based on specific principles within his own life, including his own Christianity. His understanding of love wasn’t much different from many of our own; whatever else we might believe, including these:


CS Lewis

Storge – the basis of affection, the most natural and most emotive. Storge is both Gift and Need Love, the least discriminating and the most diffused, this love that pays the least attention to what is ‘valuable’ or worthy, giving without question and thus is the love that can lead us to be most hurt.

Philia – the bond of friendship, the least biological and the least natural according to Lewis. Based on his observations, even during his time friendship was a lost art and because it was the one bond we did not need for reproduction or protection, Philia is also the one Love that was most fully human of all the other loves.

Eros – romantic / sexual love, in a nutshell the bond of lovers.

Agape – the final and all-encompassing of the four Loves, although Lewis never referred to Agape specifically others later used the term. Agape subordinates the other loves, whether one refers to Agape as the love of God, or a broader love of mankind, charity, kindness or some other virtue. Agape is in my mind what makes us fully human and allows us the compassion and empathy to Love fully and with our entire hearts engaged. Agape can be found within our interpersonal relationships and is often found within Eros relationships. Where this is of a reciprocal nature these relationships work well with both partners being aware of the other, forgiving of foibles, generous in time and praise, patient and understanding of differences.


If we believe the premise of C.S. Lewis, then love is fairly simple, straight forward even. We are working with a set of principles that stay consistent throughout our lives; it is only for us to understand how they apply in any given situation and with any given set of people. The only other important thing to understand, we our history and whether we like it or not, we carry with us from one place to the next, all that came before us. We are formed by how we loved and were loved before, by family, by friends and by lovers.

I believe strongly in Agape, that we must strive to be compassionate, to be loving and forgiving; that our hearts should be generous and we should be patient with those we love, even when we disagree, even when we are hurt. Without Agape, the rest doesn’t work. It is my belief this is true whether applied within the context of relationships with lovers, family, friends or our relationships with the broader world. I may rage at times, I may find the world harsh and hateful even, nevertheless I believe it is within me to search for a way to make it better, even in some small way and this is the gift I can leave behind for those I love.

I do not always react in ways people expect of me. My friends, family and those I love all too often grow impatient, even angered at my reactions. Sometimes my reactions are directly tied to my history, the very real and active pieces of my history that trigger me. Those triggers cause me to retreat, hide behind pragmatism, logic or what seems to be no response at all. This takes us to the Storge / Philia love bonds, where Need Love and Choice Love are most important. We may not always remember another’s triggers or their history, just as they may not remember ours. We may not always react in the perfect manner, just as another may not provide us the perfect comfort when it is needed. The best we can do? Apologize when we have fallen short (Storge), stand together and try do better in the future (Philia) and most important forgive (Agape).

I am not even going to try to tell you I am an expert or have an opinion on Eros, I am not and I don’t. I have far too many failures to ever claim expertise. I can only say with any level of certainty, I believe without the other three; Eros isn’t even in the cards.

imagesLove in all its infinite and delightful permeations is waiting, is out there and is holding its breath if we are willing to open the door and lay our hearts bare, I am certain of this. Love is hard as hell and when you are human with history, it is even harder. Love burns, leaves skid marks across our spirits and our hearts, every single time we open the door, no matter what we do or who we are we can’t help but ‘want what we want’. It is our humanity seeking to be loved for ourselves, supported as we are right now not as we might be with some prodding to improve to be better than we are today. It is our humanness seeking to mold ourselves to be worthy of love, while still holding onto our uniqueness, our core.

Constrained as we are by all that has come before, we dance with our demons. Every single one of us battle demons, some of our own making and some left behind by those who said to us once upon a time, “I love you and I will always love you”. Now, we question motives, reactions and responses. Now we devalue the love of the next person as they fall short of our demands and needs, because the one that came before them lied. Now each trigger carries with it a history, no time for forgiveness only remorse if we fail to hear, “I am sorry”.

I still believe in Love, in all of its great glory. I believe we deserve love, to be loved and to love. I believe we deserve acceptance, kindness, forgiveness, generosity, trust and comfort as part of  love, I believe mostly in Agape. I am forever hopeful, silly and maybe even stupid in my hopefulness; yet still I believe.

This remains the song I want sung into my soul someday, that someday someone will scratch into my heart.

 

Served Grown Up, Part Deux

LindaHead_2Well here we are again, things have moved along and I must say some things have moved in directions I would have never thought possible. I am learning a great deal about myself, what I like and what I want from the world, from life and for myself I am truthfully learning every single day. One thing I have learned is there are no timetables, things happen, when they happen and unless you choose to ignore what makes you happy (which would make you an idiot) you just need to jump in with both feet and let the tide take you where it will. Another thing I have learned is there are no set rules or patterns, you might think you know it all, you might believe you know how things are going to come at you and how you are going to work the program, it simply isn’t so, things happen the way they happen.

I learned one other thing, one thing that truly surprised me about myself; I am entirely and completely susceptible to romantic gestures and a well-executed plan of action.

Where is this all leading? On 13-April, I wrote Served Grown Up Please, it was a soliloquy to what I wanted in the next man I would love. I said then I would return to my list, so as a continuation is Served Grown Up, Please II.

I Want A Grown Assed Man

He makes me laugh uproariously at life, him and me too. His jokes are never mean spirited though at times they do cut through all the political correctness we have grown accustomed too and simply says it likes he sees it.

He isn’t afraid to ask for help when he needs it. He is adult enough to recognize we all need help sometimes.

He is truthful about himself, his strengths and his weakness. He doesn’t pretend to be what he isn’t but he doesn’t hide his power either. He is clear about who he is, where he has been and what he has done in life. Takes real pride in his accomplishments, not that chest beating machismo stuff but the quiet pride of a job well done.

He listens and he remembers the important stuff. He cares enough he can hear the timber of my voice, that there are some things I just might not want to talk about today. He listens not just to my words but also to what lies beneath and can ask questions to draw me out when it is important. He knows I carry the burden of a lifetime of keeping secrets, mine and other peoples. He knows I have been hurt, my heart has been broken and encased in ice. He knows and he is strong enough to share his strength with me so I can finally let go.

He is outrageous and demanding. Yes, I said it. He knows what he wants and isn’t at all shy about stating his needs, wants and desires. There is nothing vanilla or passive in the Grown Assed Man of my dreams. His eye doesn’t wander because he values what is in front of him and he makes clear what he needs, involving his partner in all of his world both the here and now and future fantasies. He is not about “Me” in anything he does, but instead fully about “We”, knowing there are two of us in the room at all times and nothing is ever pleasure if both of us are not fully engaged and fully in the moment. He would never think to do harm or cross boundaries, never think to cause fear or discomfort.

He makes plans and executes them. He doesn’t look to others to do his planning, he doesn’t demand others run his life for him, he doesn’t blame the world when he doesn’t get exactly and specifically what he wants. He identifies what he wants, creates a plan of attack and executes that plan. He is unflinching, fearless and patient. His observations about what it takes to win are keen; he has a great eye for detail.

He has no fear of showing his own emotions, whether it is what he feels about me or about the world around him. He knows his emotions do not make him weak, instead, they prove his humanity and his strength.

He understands the power of conversation, whether it is about dreams of the future, the world around us or simply what is important; he knows how to share information. He doesn’t withhold information or dominate but simply participates in conversation fully.

He knows when to stand in front of me, when it is important to be the protector even when I don’t believe I need protection. He wouldn’t think to leave me standing alone and without a safety net, without protection. He knows there are monsters in the world and knows I have met a few of them; he wants to be a protector, without ever diminishing me as a woman or a human being.

Finally, loves me exactly as I am doesn’t want to subtract anything from me, doesn’t resent anything about me except I am late coming to his life, doesn’t condemn me or ridicule me, doesn’t want to change me. He thinks I am sexy, funny and brilliant just exactly as I am from the inside out. He appreciates my peculiarities and oddities, even those I have developed because of my life history.

Let me Repeat Myself … I Want a Grown Assed Man and This is more of what he looks like

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