vows and nearing 49

I need to write my wedding vows.

It’s 11:01 on Saturday morning, exactly two weeks from my wedding day.

I need to write my wedding vows.

Yet, here I am floating in the pool, watching the reflection of the pool water bounce through the trees. It’s so quiet and with five dogs, that’s a rare occurrence. I know there is a list of things to get done today and only a few hours left to do them. I should probably do some laundry and the dishes from last night’s dinner.

Unknown

But I am so relaxed.

When did I become so relaxed?

I look down at my body and there are white lines on my stomach and I wonder what they are and realize that the sun doesn’t tan in those lines because the skin rolls together there and the rays can’t reach that area and when I stretch out, the lines appear. I guess I am a little fat. Just a little.

I see the stretch marks on my thighs. They have been there since I was a teenager, growing faster than my skin would allow. They appear more pronounced with the darkness of my summer tan. I see them but I don’t react to them. I rub them lightly with my fingers, following the lines absentmindedly. I am 49 soon. Right around the corner from 50. I’m old. But I don’t really care about it. I notice it but I don’t mind it.

When did I stop hating my body?

I need to write my vows…five more minutes, I tell myself and then notice that twenty minutes has passed and I am still floating along, doing nothing.

When did I start allowing myself to do nothing?

I am thinking about my brother, imagining his skin, imagining the last conversation we could have had if I hadn’t been so stubborn. He would be 52 in a few days. 52 years old. He turned 50 without me. He turned 50 without a call or a text or a card. I wish my brother could come to the wedding. I wish I could talk to him and touch him on the hand and look into his blue eyes and remind him how much he mattered to me, matters to me. I long for some sense of resolution and forgiveness and acceptance. I feel wetness at my eyes because there will never be a chance for that final conversation. I let him down. Yet, I am not angry at myself. I forgive myself because I know I did what I could with what I had at the time and that I do more and better when I can. I know I am someone who strives to improve. I know I am not perfect and I forgive myself for it, generally. I still get annoyed with myself when I am not the perfect person I imagined I would be but I recognize that perfection doesn’t exist and that we learn and grow and change and evolve into something different but still imperfect.

When did I start being so kind and forgiving to myself?

It’s 11:33 now and I am still floating and I need to write my vows but now I find myself thinking about my children. Not in a frantic, anxious way, more like pictures of them are floating along in my mind and I am watching them transform into the people they are becoming and I am scared and excited for them. I am honored to be their mother. I don’t get to see them as much as I wish I could see them. It’s harder and harder to connect with them as they grow older. I know how little impact I can have now on my almost adult children besides being more present with them. Simply being present has been such a struggle for me for so long. It’s not a struggle much anymore. Some days are better than others but overall, I am more present with them than I have ever been before.

When did I start becoming more present?

The sun has shifted and I find myself shivering a bit because the pool water is warmer than it is in shade. It must be noon now and I need to write to vows.

I am struck like a slap in the face as I recognize that these are my vows, these thoughts, these floating along musings, this realization of who I have become because you love me and I love you.

More relaxed, more kind to myself and to others, more present, and more forgiving.

You, my love, have broken down my walls. You’ve shown me what love is and can be and should be.

You’ve taught me to slow down. You’ve taught me to relax and enjoy my life more. You’ve taught me to love my body by watching how much you love my body. I shudder sometimes when I see you, seeing me. I don’t know what to do it with it. I like it even though it’s scary sometimes. You let myself be loved. You have taught me to forgive myself for being imperfect.

I want so much to love you completely and I can’t do that until I start loving myself completely. So I will. I do. You’ve asked me to be present and I want to make you happy so I am fighting harder against my tendency to shut down and tune out. You love me anyway, exactly as I am. But I long to make you completely happy, forever, so I try harder to be present and it’s getting easier.

It impacts every aspect of my life, our love…how I am in friendships, work, with my children and family.

I can’t wait to be your wife. I can’t wait until you are my wife.

Oh, there you are, walking outside in your red stripey bathing suit, looking so cute.

Damn, you are hot, I think.

“How’s it going?” you ask.

“Done”, I respond. “Let’s get in the pool.”

Unknown-2

 

Advertisements

Special

 

We are cuddling on the couch, I am sitting and my 18-year-old son has his head in my lap. I am massaging his scalp and telling him how much I have missed him since he left for college. His eyes are watery and I know he might cry but he’s safe here, I am his mom.

 

He has cried a lot this past week. More than he has in years.

 

It’s been a hard one.

 

He feels ashamed and humiliated, he fears the failure he has permitted, even invited, at his first year of college means that HE is a failure…that he is somehow innately flawed beyond repair.  He may fail out of college. Not from partying too much. He might fail because it was too much and he gave up. He became depressed and withdrew. He decided to stop trying because it seemed easier that way.

 

He won’t understand until he is much older that failure is just a part of the journey and that we can learn and grow the most during the times we fall the farthest. But he’s young. He’s got time to figure it out.

 

18 years old.

IMG_5905

I am sitting across the table from my 14-year-old son. He’s talking about his dad, who I divorced six years ago because of irreconcilable differences (AKA: we just couldn’t make it work and both be reasonably happy). He is telling me that his dad is like Superman to him. He is saying that he really does see him as a perfect human being and while I know his dad isn’t perfect, I can’t not be deeply touched by how much he admires him. My son gets really passionate, listing off all of the ways his dad is a great dad and a great person. I don’t disagree although some tiny part of me feels something, maybe jealousy, maybe anger, maybe sadness at the loss of the deep admiration I once had for his father too. And I feel it again but in a new way, through his eyes, his innocence and yet wise perception of his father and the part of me that is still suffering from divorce injury heals a little more. When I drop him off and say hello to his dad and keep my respectful and appropriate distance from my former partner of 20 years, I feel a sense of love (but not longing) that has been gifted to me by my youngest child. He’s the wisest one of all.

 

14 years old.

IMG_1918

I have travelled across the country at the crack of dawn on a Thursday to visit my almost 21-year-old daughter in her junior year of college. I didn’t sleep much the night before and I can never sleep on planes, so I arrive feeling every one of my 48 years, achy and foggy and wiped out. It’s lunchtime in Oregon and she has only been awake for a short time. Her energy and excitement is contagious and I conceal my exhaustion and give her my undivided attention until she leaves for practice when I collapse into her bed and sleep for a little while. When she returns we go to dinner and I watch her drink a margarita with her roommate and giggle and seem so grown up. The days pass in a blur of activity that involves hiking, shopping, shopping, shopping, and more shopping. I cook for a big group of her friends and I share the touching music video of a song I want sung at my upcoming gay wedding in Texas and she and her friends cry watching it. I remember that this is the same daughter who had a violent reaction to the news of my gayness and I cannot believe how much change has occurred and how far she’s come and how much she sees me and loves me anyway. It’s not easy to get to that place of accepting your parents for who they are…which is never quite who you wish they were.

 

She accepts me now. She loves me. She doesn’t care if I am gay.

 

She is glad I am her mom.

 

At the airport today as she let me hold on too tightly at our goodbye and I sobbed and told her how much I adore her and how proud I am of her and how fun is it to watch her become an adult. I am always reminded in these moments of goodbye with her of all of my own goodbyes with my mom and all of her tears which I always felt were a bit melodramatic because “my god I would see her again in a few months”.

 

21 Years Old

IMG_3483

My mom has been dead 12 years on March 28th. Here I am again at this anniversary, this day that marks the moving forward from 11 years to 12. I will have no more goodbyes at airports with her but I feel her so deeply in my soul, we connect in those moments in ways we couldn’t when she was still here because I didn’t know this phase of parenting yet.

 

The always worrying and missing your kids but still letting go phase.

 

The knowing they are making bad choices but also knowing you have to let them fail to grow phase.

 

The seeing the results of your lazy parenting and knowing it’s too late to fix it now phase.

 

The listening to their wisdom instead of doing all of the talking phase.

 

The stepping back into the shadows phase.

 

The excessive care taking and cooking for them and doing their laundry when they visit phase.

 

It’s kind of a hard phase. But I like it. And I hate it too.

 

I am holding my six-foot, 1 inch tall giant 18-year-old son on the couch as we try to figure out what will happen with his freshman year of college. I am watching his eyes fill and I am telling him that it’s going to be ok and he looks at me and says, “you are so good at making people feel special, mom.”

 

Woof.

That’s a sweet thing to say.

 

My brain immediately thinks two things:

 

  • Making your kids feel special (to you, not necessarily to the world…we don’t want to raise a bunch of narcissists) is the most important thing a mom can do. If I have done that then I am probably doing a decent job at this mom thing.
  • I think that’s the hardest part of your mom dying because there is no longer a person looking at you with a giant pair of “I adore you so much” rose colored glasses any more. I miss being loved like that. It’s ok. I am good, healthy, strong, happy…but I do miss being loved like that, in that special mom way.

 

I miss so many things about my mom.

 

I wish I could talk to her about the complexities of this phase of motherhood. I would have so many things to say and so many questions to ask.

 

But most of all, I am so grateful she taught me how to love my children well. Being loved so deeply has given me the ability to love deeply. Thank you, Mom for giving me that gift. I know some daughter don’t get that. I am so glad I did.

Unknown

brokenness

When my brother died, he was a broken man. It’s been 7, nearly 8 months since he was found dead, lying on the kitchen floor. He was alone, although his girlfriend was upstairs sleeping. Toxicology came back three months later and showed that he died of a lethal quantity of fentanyl and cocaine.

I was surprised by the cocaine. I figured it would be oxycontin that killed him.

I assumed it was pain medicine that had triggered the overdose because he was always in pain. So much pain.

The suicide attempts are too plentiful to count. They blur in my memory and become a constant state of worry about when he would finally succeed in ending his own life and release him from the suffering. In his meager belongings I found so many suicide notes and they all said the same thing, “I am sorry, I can’t take it anymore, I have to do this. I love you.”

He did suffer.

So much.

It hurts to imagine the torture he must have felt. I understand the drive toward numbing that pain. I have felt it too and I don’t know what it is about me that has kept me from slipping into the brokenness that controlled his life. Maybe it’s genetic. Maybe it’s the slight differences in our upbringing. I don’t know. I wish I could have given him some of what I have. I really do.

I tried.

I knew a lot of his heart and what drove him and I know that having become such a disappointment to the people he loved most was more than he could bear.

I can pinpoint the moment when each of us gave up on him.

It’s hard to write the words but it’s true.

Each of us gave up on him, some of us sooner than we should have, in my opinion, and I think that added to his brokenness. But everyone is on their own journey and it’s not my place to judge others.

Except for my Aunt. She never gave up on him and she supported him emotionally and financially until the end. Some people might call it enabling and that would be fair. She didn’t give him a lot of money. She wasn’t supporting his habit. But she never stopped offering her time, her energy, or her love. I am grateful that she was able to do that for him. I am grateful that someone was able to continue offering that love that he craved so much, right until the end of his life. She did it without expecting anything in return.

I withdrew my love slowly, over the years. I finally stepped away entirely from him about 14 months before he died. I didn’t speak to him once for 14 months. Our last conversation was on Christmas Day, 2016. I did not tell him that I loved him for 14 months. I did not offer him support or unconditional love. I walked away and I rarely felt much about it besides relief. That’s truth.

I judged him and became frustrated and overwhelmed and tired of the toxicity that went along with loving him. Perhaps I made it worse by how much I let it affect me.

My brother was a very difficult person to love. That’s also truth.

The more you loved him, the harder he was to love.

He lied, compulsively.

He manipulated and calculated and hurt others.

He stole from me, many, many times.

He called me names, told me I was selfish and cruel, he screamed and yelled and accused.

He was a bottomless pit of needs that I could not meet.

That’s truth. The other blog I wrote about him was also truth. All the good things were also true.

But this blog is about releasing the other side of the truth and the complexity of loving a broken man, like my brother.

There are things that aren’t fit for public blogging that I know he did, ways he hurt people. There is no tangible proof that it’s true but I know it in my heart. I know he did the things he is accused of because I know him. I knew him. Deeply.

Here is the saddest part of brokenness, it spreads.

Broken people break other people.

They do.

It’s very rare that a truly broken person is born; the sociopath.

Broken people are made. We create them.

The world broke my brother. Our parents broke him and then the circumstances of his early life, much of which was beyond his control, continued to break him.

I am not sure at what point we stop being responsible for them.

I am not sure when it stopped being my responsibility to help heal my broken brother.

It started when my mother died, the letting go of that responsibility.

And over the last several years, as I have fought for my own emotional health and well-being, I have become less and less capable of supporting my brother.

As I have done the work to heal my own damaged soul, I became intolerant of the brokenness in my brother and it’s impact on me.

In order to be healthy,  I had to let go of being my brother’s go to person.

I know this. I am certain I did what I had to do.

I feel saddened that I couldn’t find a way to disconnect from the affect he had on me enough to love him the way my Aunt did. I really wish I could have figured out a way to love him, to support him emotionally, to love him unconditionally, without allowing him to hurt me.

But I couldn’t.

I wonder if that’s what happens to all broken people, if they reach a point in their lives where they truly are abandoned and left to suffer alone?

I didn’t expect to never to speak to him again. I figured we had time and that we would figure it out. He was very important to me and we had a deep connection that only people who share trauma can really understand. I assumed I would give it some time and we would reconnect. I had been thinking about it a lot the months before he died and I had been asking myself if I was ready to reach out to him.

It is too late now and I will never have that opportunity again.

And grieving him, grieving the loss of him now is difficult to describe.

It’s filled with so many layers and there are days when I get stuck in one layer and I find myself aching or angry or embarrassed and unable to remember the truth of my own right to walk away from him in order to heal myself.

Whenever I am struggling with something, music becomes a way of explaining what I feel inside. Right now there is song I am playing on repeat that captures what it means to love a man like my brother, to love someone who is broken.

“It was hard to hide that his heart had scars
He would stay up late talking to the stars
People tried to blame him for making bad choices
When he was only listening to the voices
And searching for some kind of deeper truth
Between the lines and the Bible and living proof
There’s no point now to judge him in vain
If you haven’t been there, you don’t know the pain.”

My aunt posted a photo of my brother today on her facebook. I cropped her out of it (because it’s her memory and not mine to share) and it left just IMG_4585my brother’s sweet toddler face. I like to imagine him when he was innocent, before the world broke him and before he began breaking others. I imagine the hope in him and the love and the sweetness and the purity. I imagine all the wonderful things about him and it helps me process this other half of him, it helps me love him (and I do and I always did and I never stopped) and to offer that love with pride instead of shame. I suspect that is the most difficult part of this grief journey I am on, loving someone who may have stopped being worthy of that love. Not “worthy” in the sense of his own worth as a human being and right to exist, but worthy in the sense that at some point, human beings must become responsible for themselves and it was NOT my responsibility to carry him anymore (or maybe ever but that’s another blog for another time). It’s easy to know something intellectually and much more difficult to accept it in your heart. I know one thing for sure, I wish I could have helped him heal. I wish I could taken away his pain so he could have had a more fulfilling life. I know he loved me so very much, and I will always cherish the words that I found in a small travel journal “Renee, I loved you more than I have ever loved anything.” I know he did, and I can’t help wondering if it was his immense love for me growing up that allowed me to exit our shared trauma childhood less injured than he was.

Most of all, I wish I could look into his eyes one last time, touch his face, connect with him, and let him know how much I loved him, no matter what.

donnie

my brother died on Saturday

Donald William Bowers II

I can’t describe the myriad of thoughts I have on the subject of my brother, the deep complexities of the love and frustration I have for him, with him, because of him, in spite of him…

I can’t put it into words. Not yet.

IMG_0445I just want to think about what was spectacular about him.

I want to write about how much I loved him.

And why.

This is for you, Donnie. My brother.

 

 

 

 

My mother always told this story about how when she brought me home from the hospital, she would keep finding you sitting on the floor in my room, watching me in my crib. She talked about how you adored me and held me, and just pretty much obsessed over me in the early days. That’s exactly how I remember you in my earliest memories.

IMG_0448

We had matching pajamas. Tiger stripes. And in the 70s we wore corduroy jeans and kiss t-shirts. You always ended up with hand me downs from Aunt Tonia, which were a little feminine in baby blue or maroon. Poor Donnie. You wore it well, though. You always had a flair for fashion. I am pretty sure you can thank Tonia for your early fashion edge.

IMG_0450

tonia’s pants look good on you

We used to walk to school together everyday. We really were free range kids. Sometimes in the snow, we would try to make it all the way across the field without breaking through the snowpack and whoever made it furthest was the winner.

Do you remember when I stood in the doorway of our house, next to you while we watched a tornado brewing across the street because our crazy ass father had no sense at all and let us do it?

They pretty much let us do whatever we wanted to do.

IMG_0449

We smoked their cigarettes.

Do you remember the first time when Dad was asleep on the giant black and white bean bag chair and we stole some money from Dad’s wallet and some of his cigarettes and walked to the store. I was 6 and you were 9.

(No really. This was the 70’s. People just let their kids run wild.)

We bought candy and sodas and then we smoked their cigarettes.

It’s so weird that we both ended up smokers. So weird.

I remember the day they left us alone and I guess something was in my hair when they got home. Maybe candy or something sticky. It’s vague. He was angry and screaming and there were fists and feet and Donnie was there protecting me. And afterwards we were in the bathroom and you gently shampooed and combed my hair and told me it would be ok. I was standing in the shower, and you held me in your arms and you told me it would be ok.

I remember how sweet you were in that moment.

It really is my favorite memory of you.

So many years later in a cabin in Tahoe, I looked up and saw you. Really saw you. You were completely freaking out over this “yule log” you had created for the occasion. My X-husbands entire family was there and it was Christmas. You wanted to sing Christmas Carols and you wanted everyone to focus on just being together and enjoying the yule log. I was super impatient with you pushing everyone toward the living room and the fire you had created. Finally, everyone was in the living room singing carols and enjoying your yule log. And I saw you in that moment. You were as happy as I have ever seen you, basking in the beauty of that moment of family and connection. Everything you had ever wanted.

38717_443494704047_1623439_n.jpgI keep picturing the way you carried Lily around when she a baby. Like you had been carrying babies all your life. Carrying her too loosely, like a football. Eventually sneaking her chocolate and teaching her to tease her mother.

After mom died, I needed you to drive her cats to Tonia in Ohio. You were the only one who could do it. I sent you to mom’s house to capture them. It took you two hours. You came back covered in scratches after what was clearly an epic battle getting those cats into kennels for the 1300 mile drive. You never complained. You just gave me a kiss and told me you would handle it and then you drove 20 hours straight until you got the cats to Tonia. Where they both still live, 11 years later. Thank you.

IMG_0446Did I ever say, thank you?

I have flashes of you with your son, Jacob. Being his dad. Holding him, changing his diaper. The pride in your eyes when you introduced him to your family and friends the first time.

img_0428.jpg

I remember disco dancing with you as kids. I know it was on a real dance floor with lights and serious disco music, in the 70s, when it was brand new. My god we danced like only children can do, with abandon. I can’t imagine what two children were doing in a disco alone (in my memory we were alone) but this is a real memory, it has to be.

IMG_0433

Pacific Crest Trail. You almost did the entire trail from Mexico to Canada. I thought it was a waste of time back then but you were so passionate about it that I got excited for you and we packed your boxes and got them ready to be mailed over the months away. One day we went to visit you on the trail near Santa Barbara. The timing worked out and you were nearby after walking hundreds of miles over weeks on the trail. You came out to meet us at the car and you looked skinny, and hairy, and sunburnt and you smelled pretty bad. But we were all so happy to be together and shared dinner with your friends on the trail and the kids ran around us and we talked and talked. Mountain man.

That’s my second favorite memory of you.

IMG_0416.jpgNew Year’s Eve in Ohio at least 25 years ago. We were bar hopping and there was a midnight celebration and then we were walking the streets and it was freezing, like actually freezing cold outside. Ohio cold. Which is a different sort of frozen solid cold. We couldn’t find a cab and I was wearing a stupid “cute” coat that matched my outfit and didn’t provide any protection from the wind.

You didn’t give me your jacket.

Hell no. You laughed at me for bringing such a stupid coat in an Ohio winter storm.

And then you convinced a complete stranger to drive us home. I love you.

Charismatic charm. Passionate. Fierce. Energetic. Fun. Protective.

I don’t have an ending for this blog.

IMG_0425

Donald, Donnie, Don. September 19, 1967 – March 3, 2018

 

 

I Wonder

I was laying next to her last night, my love. Just laying there looking at the ceiling. The ceiling fan was going round and round. The room was silent except for the occasional licking from one of the dogs on the floor, my least favorite sound. But it wasn’t bothering me. I was just laying there, thinking about nothing. My body and my mind were at peace.

And that never to happens to me. I mean rarely am I thinking about nothing. I just felt rested, at rest, I just felt silent.

I never feel that way. I am usually thinking seven hundred thoughts at once. I am rarely present.

Except lately. Lately I feel this peaceful quiet body and mind a lot.

It’s weird and it’s good.

I turned to her and asked if she thought it’s just easier to be happy when we get older? She needed more information about my random midnight musings in order to answer.

Maybe we just appreciate happiness more when we are older.

Or maybe I am just a ridiculous person in love and it’s fleeting, although I don’t think so because I have been in love before.

But not like this. Not this peaceful way. This certain way. This completely present way.

Or maybe, just maybe, it takes completely falling to pieces and surviving it, and even thriving after falling apart to truly appreciate a silent bedroom (except for that damn licking) and a beautiful love and a simply quiet and perfect moment?

Like the Leonard Cohen song:

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

The light isn’t blinding me. But it’s there. It emanates. I don’t know if other people can see it. And I honestly don’t care that much if they do.

My life isn’t perfect. I am little unsettled at work. I am worried about my middle child and his vaping and the worry grows in my mind at times into visions of his future battling the nicotine demon the way I have. My daughter is going through a phase where she seems off kilter and not quite happy with her life the way I dream she will be. I think about it a lot, how to help her, how to say the right things to be the mom she needs. I want to be a safe place for her to lean on and not the nagging mom who drives her crazy. And my little one who is certainly not little at all, just can’t seem to avoid being the class clown and getting himself in trouble with his antics. Not juvenile delinquent trouble, but enough missteps to worry me a bit. I feel stressed about wrecking my car and paying my property taxes next month and all the general stresses of life…clutter, and dogs that pee on the floor, and bills that seem bigger than they should be and family that is too far away or too disconnected for us to feel like family.

So I am not living in lala land of love drunkness.

But I feel fine. And good. And grateful.

Peaceful.

I am laying here, alone, surrounded by sleeping dogs. No one in this moment is licking, thank god. I just ran a few miles because I wanted to be outside before it got dark. All the smells of my neighborhood still echo in my memory from the run. It was such a good run.

Fireplaces even though it’s still 60 degrees out. You can feel the cold front coming but the temperature hasn’t dropped. Lots of people arriving for family gatherings. It’s still the holidays and my neighbors driveways are filled with cars. I smelled cooking and BBQ’s. And I heard the beautiful sound of children squealing and laughing in the backyards.

I passed a neighbor walking her dog and our dogs pulled toward each other and I called out “good morning” as I remembered it’s evening and I felt silly for a moment as I continued running, fighting the instinct to turnaround and yell, “I mean good evening”.

And all the while, I just kept coming back to this new feeling I have lately.

Of peacefulness. Contentedness.

And I wonder again, if it’s age, or heartbreak finally healed and light shining through like the Leonard song said it would, or if it’s the love of the right person.

I wonder what it is.

I wonder if everyone feels this way and I just haven’t yet.

I wonder if I will get used to feeling this way and take it for granted.

I hope not.

I really hope not. Because I could get used to this.

 

cliche or how i feel when i think of her

I sigh.

I make a little sound. It’s something like a sigh or a tiny moan.

It’s like those tiny sweet sounds babies make when they are sleeping.

It’s an automatic, accidental sound. I think of her and I hear the sound coming out of my mouth. The breath coming out of my nose.

The blood rushing through my veins.

My cells are awake. My body is alive.

I am alive. Again.

I wear a stupid grin.

But I don’t feel stupid.

I feel special. I feel loved. I feel seen. I feel heard. I feel.

I feel.

She is standing near the starting line at a race. And I feel so much.

So many things. Tears are in my eyes.

This woman. This woman who loves me enough to stand near the starting line at a race.

She carried my bike for me and I let her.

She is there to show me that she loves me.

To love me.

The verb love. Not the word love.

And I am overwhelmed by it. I am washed over by it.

Not drowning. Just floating. And there are so many tears that I am blind for the first mile of the race.

Not scary tears. Not pain.

Not pain at all.

Just comfort and sweetness and passion.

There she is again after six hours. At the finish line, 70 miles later. She’s waiting for me. She’s cheering for me. She’s there for me. Just for me.

And the funniest part (which only makes sense if you understand how much energy I have devoted to pushing love away) is that I want her there. I am so happy to see her there.

I want her so much.

I like every single moment we spend together and I want more of it. So much more of it. I like to peel the layers to see what I find. I like the opening of my spirit. I like watching her open. Every nook of her just gets better.

I like the feeling of loving her.

I feel so very grateful to love her.

She is sitting on the couch near me. We aren’t in a hurry. We don’t have any plans. We don’t care. We don’t care about anything. We don’t need anything.

Except food every so often.

Silly girl. Sweet girl.

Pretty girl. Smart girl.

Woman.

PERFECTLY FORMED WOMAN OF MINE.

When she goes away I am not relieved. I am not desperate to get her away from me so I can be alone again. I close my eyes and I whisper her name and I make the sound again.

The sound of love. The peaceful, beautiful, comforting, sound of love.

Of being in love.

Of believing in love.

I want to be so very careful with my precious love. I don’t want to fuck it up.

The treasure of it.

Lovely love. I am not even rolling my eyes when I type that.

I am grinning. Like a fool. A fool in love.

I dream of our future. I dream of all the things we will do and the places we will go and the feelings we will feel. The good ones and the bad ones.

I get scared sometimes and I question and she answers my questions and we talk about it.

We touch about it. Hold about it.

We unwrap our fears and we examine them together and we figure it out.

I like having her around so much. I just like having her around.

Her laughter is my favorite song.

Three months.

I have known her three months. And all the jokes about lesbians circle on the edges of my mind. I am a cliche and I don’t give one single fuck about it.

Not one single fuck.

Not a teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy, little fuck.

Because how I feel when I think of her is a feeling I have not felt in my life.

Not once. Nothing like this.

This bliss. This peace.

This comforting sense of rightness.

And I am filled with joy for this powerfully simple experience.

Of love.

 

 

 

 

The Middle Place

I haven’t felt compelled to add to this blog in quite a while. I realized that I regretted not having the blog be completely private and the thoughts and feelings I wanted to share were too personal for the people who now had access to the blog. So I have been quite deep in thought for the past five months or so and didn’t really want some folks inside my head via this blog. Not because they were bad people, I just needed some space to work through some things.

I am feeling less of that need for privacy and I feel ready to share some thoughts that aren’t so private and feel more useful for the searchers out there looking to gain from other people’s journey’s.

I have been single for  over two years now. I have certainly dated. I have dated hot and heavy. But I haven’t committed to a relationship in over two years. It felt too risky. Not because I was afraid of being hurt. No, because I was afraid of hurting someone else. It should have been a clue to me that I wasn’t afraid of being hurt. I have spent two years dating but keeping a safe distance from anything resembling emotion. And when emotions tried to get involved, I exited stage left…quickly. I never questioned my decision to walk away from a potential partner. I just knew they weren’t right for me. Or I wasn’t right for them.

A few months ago A woman I dated briefly said to me, “you’ve been shut down for so long, you don’t even realize how shut down you are.”

Whatever.  Asshole.

I have spent several years feeling pretty on top of my shit. I went from being the depressed girl pretending to be a happily married heterosexual mom of three…through a difficult divorce (oxymoron) and a very broken heart to being a fucking warrior. I haven’t been depressed in years. Seriously. I have been less depressed in the last four years than I have been in my entire conscious life. It’s been good and I am grateful for my fighting spirit and my energy toward the goal of creating a new life for me and my children. God it’s been hard but I have done it.

Seriously. I have been kicking life’s ass. Working hard. Building a career. Buying and selling houses and cars and saving for my own retirement and learning how to fix stuff and manage stuff and you know, basically just working my fingers to the bone getting my shit together.

My shit is together. You know, my garage is filled with crap and sometimes I struggle to find time to pay my bills before they are late. But generally, I am doing pretty damn well, out here on my own. I love my job. I have complicated but amazing relationships with my kids. I am good. We are good. It’s all good.

I have been (and still am, for the record) pretty proud of myself.

So the lady who knew everything’s words hit me hard. I couldn’t understand them at all. And as I explored what it meant to be shut down and what truth there could be in the words, I have teetered on what I used to call “falling down the rabbit hole”. This is what I used to call the depression I have struggled with for much of my life.

I did some sessions with the therapist I had stopped seeing (because ya know, my shit was together and I was doing amazing so I didn’t need her anymore.)  I have been sucking down these herbal anti-anxiety pills that were recommended to me. I have spent days in bed binging on netflix, rather than keeping myself so incredibly busy every second of everyday in order to avoid anything resembling feelings. I didn’t want to get sucked down the rabbit hole again but I did, a little. A little too much. I don’t like it at all. I don’t want to go back there and I have wrestled with it hard.

The last few months I have been cracking a lot of jokes with friends about how I am “dead inside”. It’s a joke.

And it’s true. I am a little dead inside. There hasn’t been much risk that I would fall in love with someone I dated. Because I am dead inside. HAHA. So funny. Hilarious.

And the realization that I have come to, although I haven’t figured it out yet, entirely, is that the key to a reasonably happy life is finding a way to live in the middle place. The middle exists between dead inside and the rabbit hole. It’s the place where I give myself permission to feel, to grieve, to be angry, to be sad, to feel joy and excitement, all of the feelings and not fall into the rabbit hole. The middle place is where you feel without becoming overwhelmed with those feelings.

I responded to her at the time (and I still believe it) that I think love will and can melt the ice that surrounds my heart. I am experiencing the middle place now.

I am not perfect at it and I don’t expect I ever will be. I am aware of the deadness seeping in and I cannot always stop it but I am aware of it now. So that’s an improvement.

I am feeling deeply and I am not depressed. I am as open as I can be right now. I am willing to be open when someone earns the right to be inside my inner world. But not before. I am still going to vet potential partners and friends. We should all do that.

I am cautiously in love with my world, and myself, and the idea of learning to exist, at least some of the time, in the middle place. We can call it vulnerability but that word annoys me (because it makes me feel vulnerable) so I like seeing it as the middle place.

I have a view of the rabbit hole with my feet planted firmly on the ground. I am not overwhelmingly afraid of what will happen to me if I am a tiny bit less dead inside.

It’s gonna take some time. And somewhere there may be a person that is patient enough to be with me as I learn to let people in again. Perhaps there is someone out there willing to walk through that with me. It’s going to take some bravery and fearlessness and some willingness to be hurt. I am not in a hurry and if she is, she’s not the right person for me.

But I see what the middle place is now. It’s not a bad place. There are risks here.

But I suspect those risks are worth it.