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.

 

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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

46

Chair PicI’m sliding gently into 46 today with coffee and contemplation.

My birthday is a time in which I find myself reflective, introspective, even a bit melancholy.

Don’t get me wrong… aging doesn’t concern me. I’m learning to love myself and my life a little more every day. It’s the wisdom and perspective that comes with age, I guess. My 40s have been fabulous. I expect my 50s to rock the world.

But my birthdays make me think: Am I becoming the best version of me? Am I moving forward? Am I expanding my mind and my heart? Am I honoring those I love? Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes not.

Here’s what 45 brought to the table…

I’ve learned there are people who are beautiful on the outside and empty in the middle. That when you take a bite, expecting a solid, satisfying experience, they crumble in your hands like hollow milk chocolate. A fleeting pleasure, unsustainable.

I’ve learned that some people will say words like “love” and “forever” and still leave you crying on the floor in a heap of confusion and pain.

I’ve learned that those people include me.

I’ve learned it’s okay and necessary to say words like “no,” and “that’s enough,” and “I’m done,” and “I’m sorry.” And I’ve learned when someone says you’ve hurt them, you don’t get to tell them you haven’t.

I’ve learned we all get to live our lives the best way we know how. We all get to love in whatever way works best for us. That societal rules don’t always fit everyone equally. That belief systems are personal and complex and sacred. That we get to define our lives and loves with honesty and careful consideration. That the shackles of what should be can be thrown off to welcome what is instead. That the beauty of life is in the choices we make… for our loved ones, our friends, our families, ourselves. That our hearts will guide us if we listen and let them.

I’ve learned my sensitivity isn’t a weakness, but my strength instead. Vulnerability, kindness, authenticity… these are my Super Powers. This is the cape I wear proudly. I don’t want to be tough and hard-hearted. And that also doesn’t mean I want to be mistreated. Or used. Or thrown away carelessly. Sensitivity, self-care, and self-respect can coexist. I’m learning how to make a home in my heart for all of them.

I’ve learned that this song will always bring me to my knees:

And that love isn’t about leaning, but about lifting. About walking together, side-by-side, about choosing that companionship every damn day. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. That falling into someone else’s gravity is a surrender. And that we should never, ever surrender ourselves to another. Because without our own core, we have nothing to offer… to ourselves, to anyone else.

I’ve learned — and am finally, finally owning — that my words are my gift to the world. That this is what I was put here to do. To be a truth-teller and an inspector of lives, both others’ and my own. To share my experiences so someone else can recognize — and maybe even love — herself within them. I’ve learned that it’s uncomfortable for some. But I’ve also learned that discomfort is where we discover our truest, best selves. Growing pains. Aching limbs. Swan emerges from ugly duckling.

My first book will be published in my 46th year. A lifelong dream fulfilled; a goal achieved. Books in hands with my name on the cover. I’ve learned this is what I was meant to do.

I’ve learned that time is my love language. That face-to-face interactions fuel and fill me. That I desperately miss those whose distance keeps me from hugging and holding them. That I appreciate the ones who move heaven and earth to spend time with me. That the effort itself is the love. That I’m learning how to give it back — in whatever form is needed — on the other side. That all our lives are busy, but if we don’t make time for what matters, then nothing really matters.

And I’ve also learned that I don’t matter to some. That I’m not a priority for those who cannot make time for me…. no matter how much I want to be. That I cannot force someone to see me if they’re unwilling to look. I’m learning to navigate that knowledge with grace and acceptance. Still learning. Always learning.

I’ve learned that authenticity and introspection are vital to me. That I don’t want to be a person who is blind to my own faults and shortcomings. That I don’t want to invite those who are blind to their own faults and shortcomings into my life. The always-rights. The my-way-or-the-highways. The the ways versus the a ways. That I can kiss them and wish them well and that we’ll both be better humans for having let go.

In my 45th year…

I felt sand between my toes, heard the crash of the ocean waves, held starfish in my hands, flew through cumulus cotton candy clouds, traversed mountain roads and trails, explored bustling city streets, tasted new foods and exquisite wines, and came back home to rest fireside with dogs and kids and love and solid ground.

I sent my firstborn to college, watched his life become more his and less ours.

I lost 65 pounds, two kidney stones, and a relationship I thought would be forever… one that ended up being for just a moment. And in that lesson, I lost my expectations of others and learned to love them (which sometimes includes letting them go) right where they are instead.

I was hurt by those I love most.

I hurt those I love most.

I went back on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds because sometimes the world is just too much, too big, too glorious, too bright, too challenging for me to walk through with any semblance of grace and balance. It’s like wearing those gorgeous high-heeled pumps that make your calves look fabulous and turn your weak ankles at the same time. And I’ve learned that it’s okay to switch into your running shoes when necessary — for comfort and support and safety. Life is a balance. Yin/Yang.

I learned the suicide rate among middle-aged people is steadily increasing. That mid-life is a turning point that drives many to choose an end over a new beginning. That I feel that pressure, the sadness of it sometimes. But that I also see the light and opportunity and adventures ahead. That I choose to run toward that instead… despite the obstacles that may thwart the journey.

I watched my mother’s health decline, experienced the transformation of her house to accommodate the transformation of her failing body.

I stood with my daughter as she attended her sophomore Homecoming dance with her first girlfriend. We got to discuss what it means for her to be attracted to both male and female. We got to discuss what it has always meant for me as well. The biggest “me, too” of our lives, my girl and I. How far we’ve come societally, how far we have yet to go. How sacred and profound love is, how gentle and precious and often misunderstood.

I publicly revealed pieces of my past that both broke and made me. I got to bear witness to those whose stories were parallel. To hold space for them. They did the the same. We broke for each other again and again. And then we held, lifted, carried on, created something beautiful from the pieces we discovered in the aftermath. Because as Ram Dass so beautifully states, “We’re all just walking each other home.”

I got to experience, again — on the edge of a precipice — what true love and commitment is about. What forgiveness and grace looks like.

I’ve learned that nothing stays the same. And that this reality will simultaneously make and break us. And that if we understand and embrace and welcome those changes, we get to grow and reinvent and rediscover what we love most about each other and about ourselves.

I’ve learned that life is a great unraveling, and that I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of it.

I have so much yet to learn.

Teach me, 46. I’m listening.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Big Thinks, Help From My Friends, Man Of My Dreams, Me Myself And I, My Kids, We Are Family, Write On | Tagged | 6 Comments

Face to the Sun

Lucy in the Light

Lucy in the Light

I let go today.

It had become a toxic relationship, this one, serving neither of us. So after twenty-four grueling hours of angry words and misunderstandings and unfounded accusations, I kissed it goodbye, wished it well, and released it.

After I deleted all the text messages, stopped reading the empty promises, the declarations of forever… after I hit unfollow and unfriend and unsubscribe… after I removed all the pictures from my camera and took down the framed photos in my home… I thought I would feel empty, sad, spent.

But I didn’t.

The sun shone on the frozen lake behind our house, the dogs slept at my feet, a calm quiet filled my home and my soul… and I felt at peace. Centered. Strong.

For the first time in many, many months.

I had already been through the sadness and the uncertainty, had already tried to make sense of the nonsensical, had already questioned and cried and explained and explained again, had already been through the “how did she interpret that from this…?” and “why did she think I meant this when I said that…?,” had already tried to find my balance on shifting sand. All of those efforts were for naught, though, because this relationship was never meant to be. I tried to make it mine, but it wasn’t. It was an impossibility from the start.

I wanted it, for sure. I was addicted to it. I was fed by it. I eschewed other – much more important and vital and real relationships – for it.

But I also let myself be destroyed by it, surrendered a piece of my soul to it.

It has always been challenging for me to believe there are people who walk through this world with closed hearts and minds, with angry and bitter and resentful hearts. It is difficult for me to believe that some people operate from distrust and fear and unkindness. I want to believe that as human beings, we are innately good and giving and understanding. And I think, for the most part, we are. I believe strongly in humanity. But I am also beginning to better understand that there are others among us, too – those who can never fully love or be loved.

Perhaps he’s chosen to live a life of solitude because it’s easier than risking a broken heart. 

Perhaps she was too damaged by her absent, abusive parents to ever be vulnerable again.

Perhaps he has a biological imbalance that renders him incapable of compassion.

Perhaps there is a missed diagnosis of narcissist or sociopath.

Perhaps she’s built a wall thick and tall enough to keep out any more pain.

Perhaps it’s easier for him to blame and accuse and name others’ faults than to recognize his own.

I know for certain that I am a completely imperfect human being. I fuck up in a million different ways on a million different occasions. I’ve said things I wish I could take back; I’ve done things I’m not proud of; I’ve hurt those I love the most with careless words and inconsiderate actions; I’ve caused disappointment and pain. I’m sure I will do it all again. But I also know this… at my core, I am not unkind. I try to recognize and own and right the wrongs I’ve caused. I do not shut others down when they need compassion and understanding, I don’t try to make others feel out of balance, questioning their own sanity, licking their wounds alone, second-guessing.

And I now know this as well… I will not take the blame for that which is not mine.

As much as I would prefer not to, I operate from a deep sense of abandonment. It is my Achilles. And when someone sticks her finger in that wound… again and again and again… and then twists reality to suit her own needs, her own ambitions, her own selfishness, her own story, it is nearly unbearable.

It was nearly unbearable.

It left me on the floor, gasping for breath, begging for mercy.

But here is what I learned on that floor…

There are some people who are not made for you.

There are some hearts that will not protect your own.

There are some conversations that will never be resolved, some questions that will forever remain unanswered.

There are some human beings who will never appreciate – or care about – who you truly are.

There are people you will love who are incapable of loving you back.

There are those who will lie to, manipulate, and abandon you.

There are humans who are broken beyond repair, and it is not your job to save them… especially at your own expense.

If someone is unwilling to listen to you, to engage with you, to get vulnerable with you, to crawl around in the mud with you, to forgive you, to ask forgiveness from you, to learn you… that person is not meant for you. Not now. Not ever. You cannot save him. You cannot change her. You cannot, no matter how hard you love or how deeply you hurt, make him see through your lens.

She gets to make that decision. He gets to close his eyes. She gets to lash out at you if that’s what makes her feel important and heard. He gets to place all the blame on you, owning nothing. She gets to choose who she wants in her life. He gets to tell his own version of the story.

But on the other side, you get to say no. You get to say enough. You get to walk away and never, ever look back. You get to take a deep breath, straighten your shoulders, and say goodbye. You get to reclaim your heart… the one that is — at its core — good and kind and giving. You get to say, “No. That’s not who I am. I am worthy. And kind. And deserving of so much more than your lies and your manipulations and your vitriol.”

Each of you knows who you are inside. In the deepest corner of your heart, you know. Claim that. Own that. Live that truth. Don’t let anyone else make you feel less than, unworthy, not enough.

Because you are so much more than enough.

And you were never meant to be defined by someone else.

When that weight of uncertainty is lifted and the unsteady ground beneath you stops shaking and you open your eyes to look at the horizon, the light is there. The sun is shining. The clouds have lifted. And what is meant for you is once again revealed… truth, honesty, love, solidity, friendship, good humans, understanding, empathy, time, compassion, kindness.

Those are meant for you. All of those.

The pain was never yours. Give it back. Let it go. Walk away.

Face to the sun. Face to the sun.

Posted in Big Thinks, Help From My Friends, Me Myself And I | 18 Comments