Freckles and All

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I hated my freckles when I was little. They were unwelcome stains across my face, on my chest, covering my arms.

My best friend had long, straight Marcia Brady hair and perfect, pale skin. I was all unruly red curls and polka dots. She was quiet and sweet, a swimmer, a pianist. I terrorized the boys with my wicked strong left arm during recess games of dodge ball.

My sister was a beauty pageant winner. Her feathered hair was perfect. Her dimples, enviable. My cousins were long and lean and gorgeous. They were scholars and student council leaders and track stars and cheerleaders.

I was skinned knees and sweaty t-shirts and cut-off jeans.

I wanted to be someone else.

When I was young, there was this feeling I used to call the weird feeling. It would overtake me on a daily basis — this notion that I was different, a freak, an outsider. That I was looking into a world where I didn’t belong. It was a physical sensation, an out-of-body experience. It made me feel like an alien.

My freckled skin never quite fit.

It’s been just over a year since I came out.

A year of the biggest, most profound changes of my life.

When people ask how I’m doing, I typically say, “It’s been the best of the best and the worst of the worst.”

My 28-year relationship has unraveled. And with it, so have many other relationships. I have lost family members. I have lost friends. In many ways, I am the pariah — the outcast I always knew I was.

My ex and his girlfriend are still invited to hang out with our mutual friends. They have been to dinners, to gatherings, to concerts with the people I once believed were mine, too. He and his girlfriend are safe. They are familiar. They are white picket fences and PTO meetings.

I am not. Those invitations no longer come my way.

My true blue, Andi, says, “Let it go, Kat. You’ve outgrown that life. It’s no longer yours.”

And when I unclench my fists and open my eyes, I can see that she’s right. There’s magic in letting go.

Live and let live.

The ones who have stayed by my side have burrowed themselves so much more deeply into my heart. And the screaming silences from some have been filled with a beautiful community of new loves, new friendships. What once was has made way for the what’s next.

I have found a beloved group of women online. Women who — like me — are coming out in mid-life, after having husbands and kids and so many unanswered questions. They are brave and beautiful. Our stories are all different, yet they are so much the same. Last week, someone lamented that a friend thought her “coming out” was a lie, a way to make her life easier, a means to escape a marriage that no longer served her.

Trust me, friends, there is nothing easy about this.

But there is necessity in being true, in being you.

In the reassembling.

I don’t expect everyone to understand. I know there are judgments and whispers. But here’s what I would ask for myself, for others: Empathy. Kindness.

There is enough pain in the transition. There is enough grief. There is enough loneliness.

And couldn’t we all use a little more empathy and kindness? In whatever situation we face?

For everything I have lost, I have gained so much more.

Most importantly?

I have gained me.

True me.

Real me.

Skin that finally fits.

Freckles and all.

 

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It Is Not a Lie

RainbowI was recently reduced to this by one I thought once loved me: You are nothing but a user, a taker, a fraud. You have lived a lie your entire life.

When a family redefines itself, many ugly words are spoken… from all angles. There is pain and grief and loss, and the jagged edges create dangerous, rocky terrains where soft landings once existed. Some words and actions hurt more than others. It stung, this accusation, this generalization. It was a hard slap on tender skin. It was a minimization of my existence… all the nuances, the moments, the experiences.

Demoralized.

Dismissed.

Diminished.

Those words were a cruel and lazy attempt to tie up a story that could not be easily contained. It is akin to the assumption that the demise of my 22-year marriage is solely due to my sexuality.

Loves, know this: There is always more. Nothing is ever that simple. There are always multiple, complex, misunderstood sides to every story.

Always.

Under the surface of the sea, an entire hidden world exists. Under the surface of our external lives, the same.

When the sting of that accusation subsided, I was left to sort through my truths, my own realities. And I uncovered these…

It is not a lie to not know, to question, to hide.

It is not a lie to choose the easy and expected route in response to your Catholic upbringing, to your community, to your family.

It is not a lie to rest in the cocoon of heterosexual privilege. Especially when – in support of your LGBTQ friends – you change your Facebook profile picture to a rainbow background, and a family member comments on how far you’ve strayed from your conservative upbringing, how much your soul needs prayer and redemption.

It is not a lie to love as hard and as well as you could for 28 years even though it wasn’t the kind of love either of you truly needed.

It is not a lie to give birth to and raise four incredible human beings. It is not a regret. It is not a falsehood. It is the greatest gift you’ve even been given.

It is not a lie to fall in love, unexpectedly, wholly.

It is not a lie to look in her eyes and feel kindness, comfort, equality, safety, warmth.

To feel home.

To those of you who might be hiding, questioning, afraid… It’s okay to be you. You should be nothing else but you. You are unique… the one and only. Those who don’t see, who don’t understand – they don’t matter. But you do. You matter. You and your big, brave heart. Do not stand silent with an angry foot on your throat. Sing your song, tell your story, hold the hand of the one you love. You are not this part or that part… you are the sum of all your beautiful, broken parts – the good and the bad – stitched together in perfection.

I just received feedback from my amazing editor, Peter, on my memoir-in-progress, Hurricane Lessons.

The prologue outlines the story burning inside me, the one I have lived and experienced and maneuvered for forty-seven years. The one that might speak to you, too.

A preview:

~ ~ ~

“And isn’t it a kind of madness to be living by a code of silence when you’ve really got a lot to say.” ~ Billy Joel, Code of Silence

I did not form my own identity. I let it be formed for me. For forty-five years, I allowed circumstance and inertia and expectations mold me into the girl I thought the world wanted me to be. It was important for me to be accepted by the masses, to be identified as the good girl, to acquiesce.

Until it no longer was.

In retrospect, there was always a storm brewing right under the surface, a bubbling that had been there since birth, rolling clouds, dark skies, the ominous inevitable. A wall of thunderstorms surrounding my calm middle, the eye of the hurricane waiting patiently for the atmospheric shift, for the undoing.

Sexual abuse, sexual violence, sexual identity.

All tucked into the corners of my life, neatly, quietly, until the corners no longer held.

A story of unraveling, a reclamation.

A story of a birth, four and a half decades after my first.

©2017

~ ~ ~

It is not a lie when the story you began telling ends differently.

There is great beauty in the unexpected.

Your metanoia.

The truth – even when traversing its darkest, most painful corners – really does set you free. The sunshine is right there, around that turn, waiting to warm your face. Keep going. Do you see it? That tiny, golden sliver of light? It’s yours. All yours. Bask in it.

 

Posted in Big Thinks, coming out | 2 Comments

In the Quiet Spaces

9th

some people

when they hear your story.

contract.

others

upon hearing your story,

expand.

and

this is how

you

know

 ~ Nayyirah Waheed

 

It’s been over seven months since I came out.

 

Long enough to cry a few tears.

Long enough to laugh with inhibition.

Long enough to learn a lesson or two.

Long enough to let go.

Long enough to fall in love.

 

First and foremost, I’ve discovered there is nothing more important than living authentically. Nothing that matters more than choosing your one precious life and saying, This. This is who I am. This is who I’ve always been. This is how I will move forward. For me. Nothing that makes you feel as whole, as powerful, as complete, as real as stripping off your pretenses, setting aside others’ expectations, and stepping into your own skin — the skin that’s been begging for you to come home. To stay.

 

But that doesn’t mean the journey is simple. Or straightforward. Or without stumbling blocks.

 

There are those who will blame you. Those who will shun you. Those who will question your truth, your identity. There are those who will cut you with silence, with their unspoken judgment. Their non-words will hurt more than the daggers others will throw without inhibition.

 

I hear it so clearly — the quiet whisper of disapproval (she’s destroying her family), of doubt (she can’t really be gay), of judgment (this isn’t natural or right).

 

There’s a shift, slow, steady, nearly imperceptible. But it’s there. The once-friends and family who are now silent friends and family. The ones who fawn over your soon-to-be-ex-husband’s picture with his new girlfriend, while your pictures with her, your beloved, remain largely unnoticed… or deliberately unseen. You hear their message in your head: We support this traditional path, not yours. You didn’t ask us to choose, but we chose anyway. We chose safety. Security. We chose what is more socially acceptable. More comfortable. We loved you when you were half of a heteronormative power couple, but not now. Not gay. That’s not the you we thought we knew.

 

Social media as a microcosm of our larger society.

 

Internalized homophobia. I know. I had it, too. For forty+ years.

 

And here’s what I think: I wish you could have chosen and supported us both, as unique individuals… once a couple, always co-parents, now on divergent paths.

 

 

You don’t have to agree. You don’t have to understand. It’s taken me four decades to understand who I am… and I’m still learning. But if you were my friend before, my sexuality shouldn’t change that. My amazing daughter is bisexual. And when she told me? I loved her exactly the same. Perhaps even more. Because I have a deep knowledge now of how it feels to be you in a world that wants you to be someone else. Someone safer. Someone more familiar.

 

And then there are those who will love and support you unconditionally. Those who will say, Yes. This is you. This has always been you. Those who will hold your hand and your heart and your oh-so-fragile soul. Those who will say again and again and again — and always when you need to hear it most, I love you. Just the way you are. Nothing more, nothing less. Forever.

 

Divorce is hard. No matter the reason. And the reason is never simple. The reason is never one-dimensional. But sometimes it’s easier for others to believe it is. Sometimes it’s safer to think, No. This could not happen to me. I am not _____ (fill in the blank). Often it’s easier to point fingers, to assign blame, to draw a line and step over it, choosing, alienating. But here’s what I have learned over the past seven months: Humans are multi-dimensional and complicated and beautifully broken and tenderly repaired. And I will never, ever again judge a situation I know little about. I will not point fingers when I have heard one side of the story, when I know 3% of the facts. I will give those I love the benefit of the doubt. I will understand and accept that every individual must make the best decision for herself. And I will trust that she is the only one who truly understands the decision that must be made for her survival, for the survival of those she loves most and holds closest to her heart.

 

When Chris and I made the decision to go our separate ways, we vowed to be the best divorced couple in the history of divorced couples. I want to walk you down the aisle again someday, he said. I will always be your best friend. I will stand beside you through this transition. But life has a way of stepping in and altering the course. And promises made become promises easily broken. You find you have betrayed and disappointed each other in every possible way. And you hope that someday you will return to each other with white flags raised, as friends, as co-parents, as two humans who were once willing and happy to build a life together. You have to first figure out how to build lives on your own, though. That is new and unfamiliar terrain. You have to find your way to the other side before you can find your way back.

 

But there are these four almost-grown children. And they are kind. And open-minded. And funny. And smart. And understanding. They love their Mom. They love their Dad. There is no finger-pointing, no judgment in them. Of course, there is sadness. There is always sadness when what you thought was forever no longer is. But there is also this: a desire for all six to be happy, to be content, to have what each wants, deserves, needs.

 

And so you try your best to emulate them, these once-babies who are all nearly adults, wise and wonderful. You know their happiness, their security, their growth is what matters most.
And you.

 

You matter most, too. Because you’re the only one who will take care of you. You’re all you have left.

 

Except for those ocean eyes in New York City, the ones you weren’t looking for, the ones you never imagined you’d find. The ones in which you lose yourself again and again. You recall the feel of your hand in hers, the initial fear and self-loathing, the eventual comfort and acceptance, the speed at which it enveloped you. Her wisdom and kindness and support. Her laughter. That smile. Then the fall… swift, graceful, without hesitation. A welcome surrender. The totality of it. A future together. The soft skin. The thumb touching yours.

 

A place you were once afraid and ashamed to call your own.

 

Home.

 

Posted in Big Thinks, Me Myself And I, My Kids | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Love Is Love Is Love

love-is-loveDear Ones, these are probably the most important words I have ever shared with you. Some of you know, some of you are wondering, some of you are speculating. Today, I’m here to clear the air, to tell the story that’s been waiting to be told.

On October 16 — one day after our 22nd wedding anniversary — Chris and I sat down with our three high schoolers and Skyped in the college boy. I’d written a letter to them because I knew I wouldn’t get through the conversation otherwise. And here’s an excerpt of what I read:

“Your dad and I have something to tell you.

But first, there is something I want to remind you.

Each of you grew under my heart – from the day you were conceived until the moment you made your way into this world. You are the best pieces of both of us, the boldest, brightest, shiniest parts. We love you unconditionally, forever. Nothing will ever change that. Nothing. You are always safe in and under both of our hearts. Forever.

Your dad and I have stood side-by-side for 28 years through sunshine and storms. We have deep and abiding respect for each other, for the humans we both are individually. There is nothing either of us would change about the last 28 years.

And we have many more years ahead – both of us. It’s important that we live authentically, that we live fully, that we live our truest lives… both for ourselves and as an example to you.

So what I need to tell you is this: I am attracted to women, not to men. I am gay. Both your dad and I have always known this on some level, it just took me multiple decades to own and embrace it. The labels are a little tricky for me, but the reality is not. This is who I am.

There was more to the letter. Of course, there is always more. Life tends to be a bit more complicated and complex than we imagine. The kids were amazing and supportive and strong. They hugged us and made jokes and shed a few tears. Somehow, we’ve made some pretty amazing human beings. Chris and I had big plans to co-habitate and co-parent while we lived our separate lives and supported each other on our new paths.

But plans and reality don’t always align.

For the previous two years, Chris and I had grappled with how to move forward — or whether we even should. We’d been through counseling. We’d experimented with many possible solutions, including opening up our marriage. But ultimately, we’d recognized this as our truth: Both of us deserved more than just pieces of each other. And although we’d given each other some of our very best pieces, we both understood that “most” was not enough, was not fair or equitable, was not authentic. It was not what either of us wanted for the rest of our days.

And so, we agreed to our separation and began dating other women.

I met someone in New York who immediately felt like a kindred. She is kind and funny and smart and feisty. She is thoughtful and introspective and sweet and inclined to break out into impromptu dance parties. When she first held my hand on 5th Avenue, she asked, “Is this okay?” And I’d never felt so okay. Getting to know her has been a homecoming. We can talk about everything and nothing for hours. We work out together and order meals in and argue about who falls asleep first during a movie. We enjoy both similar and different interests. We are learning each other. She has quickly become one of my favorite stories.

Chris, too, has met someone in Ohio. He says she is the one bright spot for him in this tumultuous time.

He and I have made many missteps over the past few months. We have spoken harsh words. We have hurt each other. We have apologized. We have rinsed and repeated. This is not an easy journey. Twenty eight years is a long, intersected time. There is much to unravel. But we are trying to be the best we can be so our kids have space to be the best they can be.

My sad, sweet Mom — when I had the hardest conversation I’ve ever had with her — said to me, “But if you’ve always suspected you were gay, why did you get married? Why did you have kids?” And my answer remains the same… because I grew up in the Midwest. I attended a Catholic school and was raised by a very Catholic family. I was told from my earliest days what was expected of me — not necessarily in so many words, but in everything I read, heard, ingested, lived. And I met a boy who loved me. And I loved him back… in many good, true ways. And the thought of the silences and stares and judgment was harder to bear than the thought of white picket fences and puppies and the suburbs.

I wasn’t brave enough to be me in a world that told me I should be someone else.

And the silences and stares and judgment have come to fruition, multiple decades later. What I feared for all those years has become reality. I feel the empty spaces where friends used to be. I hear the silences where laughter and conversation once existed. I miss the invitations that used to come fast and furiously. I see the confusion in my mom’s eyes. It’s the hardest juxtaposition of all. For the first time in my life, I finally feel at peace and completely comfortable in my own skin. And yet, there is so much fallout.

There is guilt.

There is blame.

I made a beautiful family, and then I broke it.

I know those pieces will someday reassemble into something new and different and more authentic. I believe that what rises from the ashes will be even better because it will finally be the truth. But today, there is heartache and confusion tucked into the cracks between the joy and peace and contentment.

The other thing I know for sure is this: I wouldn’t change one thing about my past, about the decisions I made 28 years ago… or about the decisions I’ve made today. Because no matter what else we might have done wrong, Chris and I did four things so very right. Their names are Sam, Gus, Mary Claire, and George.

And for those who are wondering and searching and questioning the truth of their own lives, here’s the other story I want to share: Once upon a time, there was a little girl who grew up safe and loved and cocooned in the arms of her mother and big sister. She loved the girls in her life far more than the boys. She kissed her female cousins innocently in closets, giggling and discovering. And when she turned double digits, she learned from a man who should have known better that her purpose on earth was to please men, to serve them, and to stay quiet about the details. She learned from her society and her religion that loving girls was wrong, even though no other love felt quite right. She learned there was a path she was supposed to follow, and she followed it. Then multiple decades later, she learned that life is too short to live for someone else or by anyone else’s rules and standards and expectations. It was the lesson she wanted to leave for her children, for the man who held her safely for so many years, for all the little girls and boys who still wonder… Am I doing what is expected of me? Or am I living what matters most to me? The little girl who followed the path she was supposed to — simply because she was supposed to — doesn’t have regrets. Just a story to tell… one that took a long time to learn and accept and understand. And it goes like this:

Love wins. Whatever love feels right, no matter who might say it is wrong. And the story — even though it might not have the ending she expected and envisioned — will still have a happy ending. Because the final sentences will be these: She loved. She loved well. She loved honestly. And with her whole heart. And she finally — finally — learned to love herself enough to live her truth.

The beginning.

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It’s Not You, It’s Me

what-if-anne-lamott

I just got dumped.

It’s not exactly what you might think.

But it feels close.

I had an agent for my nearly-completed memoir.

Now I don’t.

Well, I guess it’s more accurate to say, I had what I considered a verbal agreement with an agent. Now I have a verbal confirmation that I no longer have a verbal agreement.

It’s a lot of semantics.

It’s a lot of heartache.

It’s a lot of starting over.

I’ve poured my heart and soul into this memoir. It’s everything. All of it. Every dark corner, every unturned stone of my life. It’s my blood and guts and bones. And now it’s standing out there without anyone to usher it into the world.

I won’t name my former agent or bash her in any way. I adore her. We spent a gorgeous Pacific Northwest summer day together, eating, and talking, and laughing, and taking selfies, and I thought she was the one. She thought I was the one.

Then, last week, she decided memoir was no longer her thing. It was a business decision. I get business decisions. But I also get decisions that are less about business and more about heart. That’s where I choose to stand. I can no longer choose practicality over heart. I’ve done it for too long.

“I can’t pay my bills with passion projects,” she said. “It’s the industry. And I hate to blame things on the industry — it feels like such a cop-out. But it’s true. It’s reality.”

It’s not you, it’s me.

We’ve all heard that before, right?

“Your writing is gorgeous; your story, life-changing. Like no one else I’ve ever known, you can turn tragedy into triumph. It breaks my heart that I have to say no.”

We both cried. (One of us might have cried a little harder than the other.)

There wasn’t much more to say. I wasn’t going to try to convince her to stay, to list all the ways I’d make this worth her while, to lay out the glorious adventure we’d take together. In many ways, it’s like a lost love. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You don’t want to coax or coerce it into a reluctant and damaged existence. You don’t want to beg or plead or cajole. Once certain thresholds have been crossed, there’s no going back.

But like most things in life, there’s a lesson.

This one was about bravery. About the different places we each are in our life journeys.

“I’ve lost my nerve,” she admitted. “I’ve been burned too many times in the recent past with projects that didn’t sell like I thought they would. I’m going to stick with cookbooks, with celebrities, with the closest I can get to a ‘sure thing.’ It hurts my own reader’s soul, but this is the world we exist in right now. This is what publishers are interested in. That’s where the big deals are made. That’s what pays my mortgage.”

It’s easy to lose our nerve. It is. It’s easy to find ourselves stumbling into scarcity when abundance continues to slip through our fingers. I know. I get it. I’ve lived it.

But I also know this…

I can no longer live in scarcity. I can no longer exist in “good enough” or “maybe next time.” I have reached a crossroads, and there is no doubling back. My path has become infinitely clear: Now. Now. Now.

There is one life, and it is happening Now.

I cannot move forward with someone who cannot move forward with me… 1,000%. And I am moving forward. I have been stagnant in many ways. I have acquiesced. I cannot do it any longer. I have lived a life for others, to please others, to be accepted by others. It’s been a good, good life, but it hasn’t been a fully authentic life.

It hasn’t been my life.

I believe in my story, in my words. I have precious others who do, too. My tribe. My loyal fans. My squad. The always-theres. The never-give-ups.

What my former agent reminded me was this: Fear is incapacitating. It is weak. It is a position of defeat. I could hear it in her voice. I could feel it when she spoke. It settled into the very air around me and sucked the life from my lungs. Fear keeps us small. It keeps us locked tightly in the illusion of safety, in a fragile circle of security and comfort and familiarity.

But everything that matters — everything — rests outside that circle of perceived safety. Our hopes. Our dreams. Our ambitions. The legacy we leave our children. The example we set for our friends, for our lovers.

The passion. The promise. The potential.

That’s where I intend to live now. Wholeheartedly. I’m embracing what I know in my gut to be true and real. For too long, I ignored that inner knowing. No longer. No longer.

My new agent is out there. The one who will knock down publishing house doors with fire and passion and belief. My new adventure is that I get to discover her.

The one.

The right one.

The only one.

I’m lacing up my boots and heading out to find her now.

Then we’re going to share a glass of red together.

As it was always meant to be.

Posted in Big Thinks, Me Myself And I, Write On | 10 Comments

My No-Trump Vote

the-ending-brene-brown

 

www.dedicateyournotrumpvote.com

When I was barely double-digits, my 20-something neighbor taught me how to give him a blow job. He said it was just a kiss, but even at ten, I knew better. It was more than that. Heavier. It tasted like sweat and shame. Each time, he gave me beer first. I learned how to numb. How to acquiesce. He promised he wouldn’t hurt me.

Just before my 21st birthday, I was raped by a stringy-haired stranger in my campus apartment. He held a knife to my throat and called me by my first name. “Don’t scream, Katrina,” he said. “Remember that I can kill you.” Although my body was face-down on the carpet, the essence of me floated above, suspended in mid-air. Ceiling Girl. I watched from a distance, felt nothing as I tore and bled, my mind and my body separated by necessity, for survival.

Numb. Acquiescent.

One in five women will be sexually assaulted in this country. One in five. Line up all your beloved females and then count them off… 1… 2… 3… 4… 5. Do it again. And again. Then ingest these Donald Trump quotes and understand how an endorsement of him as the leader of our country results in accepting and perpetuating this rape culture, this objectification of girls and women:

“You know, it really doesn’t matter what (the media) write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” (Esquire, 1991)

“All of the women on ‘The Apprentice’ flirted with me—consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.” (How to Get Rich, 2004)

“A person who is flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.” (Howard Stern Show, 2005)

“Does she have a good body? No. Does she have a fat ass? Absolutely.” (Howard Stern Show, 2013)

“Howard Stern: Do you treat women with respect? Donald Trump: I can’t say that, either.” (Howard Stern Show, 1993)

There is no room in our White House for a misogynistic bully who degrades and shames and destroys women and who, by example, makes it acceptable for others to do the same. I dedicate my No-Trump Vote to my extraordinary daughter, to my strong and respectful sons, and especially to all those who have had to leave their bodies to protect their lives. This is for my fellow Ceiling Girls. We will continue to rise like the Phoenixes we are. Flames from ashes.

#imwithher

#dedicateyournotrumpvote

 

 

Posted in Big Thinks, Me Myself And I, My Kids | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Memoir

tomales-bay

Tomales Bay

I am flying to a faraway and familiar place to finish the first draft of my memoir this weekend. The trip itself has been planned for many months, but the circumstances changed at the last minute.

I am simultaneously devastated by the turn of events and grateful for the time alone, to remember, to grieve, to write, to honor, to heal.

Writing this memoir has been a journey into myself, into the deepest depths, into the abyss. At times, it’s felt as if I’m peeling skin from muscle, the pain is so intense. But I know on the other side, I will reassemble into a new and different form.

A reawakening from an unraveling.

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here, and for those of you who have waited patiently, I offer my thanks. It’s interesting how life moves us into unexpected and uncharted waters. I began here posting funny short stories of my babies and toddlers. Today, I am offering up elusive glimpses into my forthcoming memoir, full of revelatory pain and love and loss.

I am nervous about sending it to my agent, even though she is kind and gentle and brilliant. She will guide it into its eventual existence. She will fix all that’s wrong and make it right. But when I hand it to her, it becomes real. Velveteen Rabbit Real. And soon it will become Real to all of you, too.

There is a great deal of truth and revelation in this book. It is not for the faint of heart.

Why write it then? Why step into the maelstrom?

Because of you. Because of us. Because of all the living, breathing, imperfect human beings out there who think they’re alone. Because they — because you — can sigh, “Me, too.” And together, we’ll know that no one is really alone. No experience is truly singular. And it is in the sharing that we feel the human connection, the invisible thread that binds us all together.

I did not know how to end this memoir, but during this past week, the ending was handed to me. A gift? Perhaps. It didn’t feel like a gift, but I accepted it anyway. As the brilliant Mary Oliver said, “Someone I loved once gave me a box of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.”

It may take me years to understand this one.

Maybe a lifetime.

But I have my ending.

At least to this part of the story.

In the midst of my search for the final pages, I thought back to a writing prompt provided by luminous Lidia Yuknavitch at last year’s Tomales Bay Writers Conference. “Sing the song of yourself, a la Uncle Walt,” she instructed in her deep, alluring voice. “Whatever it is, sing it.”

And on that day, with my favorite gray scarf wrapped around my neck, beloved writer friends by my side, and oysters floating in the fog-covered bay, I wrote this:

“I sing the song of myself, blue eyes and unruly middle. Strong hands and stubborn feet and scars that map my story. Lovingly held after brutally taken. Freckles, wrinkles, lines that tell tales.

Babies grown inside, four beautiful minds given back to the earth.

Giving pleasure, receiving pleasure, when first, there was only pain.

Heart beating, loudly, loudly, to the crescendo of I’m here.

Arms to wrap around those who need them, hands to intertwine with lovers, friends, children.

Breasts that nourished both new life and old loves. Blood that has been spilled but continues to pump, visible under the skin that holds all of me.

Lungs, expanding, contracting, sustaining. This breathing of life, this gift.

Brain that says, I am capable.

Heart that says, I love you. I love you. I love me. And that is why I am able to love you.

Generous soul. Kind eyes. Warm hands.

Fingers splayed, palms up, ready to receive and to give. Left, right, one for you, one for me.

Strong legs, continue to carry me.

We have so much more to discover, you and I.”

It is both an ending and a beginning.

Most important things are.

Posted in Big Thinks, Write On | 8 Comments