Vulnerable and Real

So, I’ve been an emotional mess.

I’m tired. This is the worst quarter of grad school and I’ve just been… emotional. I’m so tired. I haven’t slept as much or had much time for rest. I’ve been spending too much time alone. I’ve felt this deep neediness and insecurity and loneliness. My brain has not been nice.

We studied these attachment theories, which honestly I fucking hate. We read all of this stuff about kids who didn’t have stable caregivers and how they are fucked for life, how their brains wire poorly and they develop abnormal amygdalas. I just read all of this shit, and it’s all about people like me. They talked about children like me, who’s moms abandoned them and how we cannot form secure attachments and are permanently and irreversibly broken. They talked about kids who’s parents were neglectful, and absent and the children they raise who cannot regulate emotion and can’t form normal connections. And fuck, I hate that.  I hate it.

I hate the idea that someone would read this and think, “well that explains it. Poor fucked up girl. Of course she is this way.”

And then I’m reading this other stuff about how humans crave connection. We need trust and belonging. We are wired from birth to attach and connect and seek intimacy in all kinds of forms. We are balls of fear and longing with center cores of gushy love. We all want to be seen and heard. Continue reading

Stir that Lemonade

Sometimes a thing just resonates with you, like a sounding rod, like a shot right to the core.  It’s the weirdest thing, but I am there with Lemonade, by Beyonce.  It’s her new visual album.  I watched it the other night when I desperately needed a break from school and zing.. it just struck a cord.  I can’t stop thinking about the ideas and the things in it.  It stirred up some shit in me.

gorgeous underwater surface image found at https://sandroworrell.wordpress.com/. Check them out. GREAT stuff.

The other night I just kept thinking about lies and lying and the dishonesty with those we love. I thought about my mother’s lies, the root of my hatred of lies.  I thought about lovers and friends and my chosen family and the lies.  I keep thinking about other things in the video.  I thought about love and redemption and trust and healing.  She just went there, like for real.  And she came out of it too, and I thought of my own times recently when I’m remembering who I am.  I’m remembering what I am.  I got a little lost there for a while, hurting, healing, reeling maybe.  But I’m not that girl.  I stayed there a long time maybe, but I can’t live in self pity or fear.  I’m not that girl.

I am my father’s daughter.  I am resilient and forgiving and strong and tenacious.  I feel deeply and widely and strongly but never easily.  I don’t like being vulnerable, but I’m learning to be okay with my capacity to do so.

It still bothers me, this way I need people.  But I know that the fact this bothers me is the real bother.  People need people and I am not immune.  It’s the weird thing about vulnerablity being a strength.  My love can wear it down.  I’m remembering that I love me too, just not more than I love you.  I am remembering that I make plans and dream and actually make some of it happen.  I’m remembering that there is a long line of times in this world that you love someone as trully as you can and maybe they just can’t go there.  But it says nothing about you.  It’s about them.  And no.. this isn’t remotely about Traveler.

Traveler can go there.  He’s learned to speak and I’m learning to listen more and more and more.  He says the stuff because I love it, but I’m seeing it too.

And family.. well.. that one’s hard.  but isn’t it always?  Family is loving people beyond the parts of them that make you crazy.  I chose my family, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make me nuts.  Love them anyway.

I don’t know.  I just feel a lot of things popping up to the surface that have maybe been down under the waves for a while.  I feel myself rising to the shimmering surface there.  I can see the bubbles and feel the pressure of my breath held so long, but I feel it faster and faster.. I’m coming up.

Conflict

“One thing you who had secure or happy childhoods should understand about those of us who did not. We who control our feelings, who avoid conflicts at all costs, or seem to seek them. Who are hypersensitive, self-critical, compulsive, workaholic, and above all survivors. We are not that way from perversity, and we cannot just relax and let it go. We’ve learned to cope in ways you never had to.”
Piers Anthony

I hate conflict.  But I also sometimes create it or add to it.  Sometimes my feelings bubble up and I can’t hold them back and they come spilling out in a mess.  And I spend a LOT of time apologizing for that when it happens.  I know how much it sucks, and for someone who hates conflict it is the literal worst.  It feels like I betray myself.

Otherwise, I avoid conflict with anyone I care about. Even if it has nothing to do with me.  Even if I have a legitimate beef with you… Even if I caught you lying.. if you were mean or unfair or cruel.. even if you were the one that treated me badly, my tendency is to want to take the hit if it will just end this gnashing of teeth.  The FIRST thing I think when anyone I care about is upset is, “what did I do?”  I apologize for my feelings.  I apologize for wanting.  I apologize for being a mess and for needing.  I apologize for having felt hurt.   Continue reading

Difficult to Love

I have to admit that all my reading and writing has belonged to grad school, but I’m here and I’m thinking of you.  I do a lot of thinking these days.  I can’t stop thinking about this tonight.  I talked to a friend going through a break up from a terrible man, and this kept running in my head.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/38766162″>Warsan Shire – &quot;For Women Who Are Difficult To Love&quot;</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/movingonworks”>MovingOn</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

You are a horse running alone
and he tries to tame you
compares you to an impossible highway
to a burning house
says you are blinding him
that he could never leave you
forget you
want anything but you
you dizzy him, you are unbearable
every woman before or after you
is doused in your name
you fill his mouth
his teeth ache with memory of taste
his body just a long shadow seeking yours
but you are always too intense
frightening in the way you want him
unashamed and sacrificial
he tells you that no man can live up to the one who
lives in your head
and you tried to change didn’t you?

closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
prettier
less volatile, less awake
but even when sleeping you could feel
him traveling away from you in his dreams
so what did you want to do love
split his head open?
you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.

It doesn’t directly relate to my life right now, but I feel it. I have spent my entire life trying to be smaller and easier and simpler and less of a pain.  I can remember, one of my first memories and one of the few of my mother in early childhood, she was suddenly there and her face was evil red and she grabbed my arm and yanked me up by it.  I had been laughing at something.  I found something hysterical.  I have no memory of what it was.  Maybe it was a cartoon or a game I was playing with a doll.  I had been laughing in the sunbeam streaming in the living room window and then suddenly her red angry face was inches from mine as she yelled at me to stop it, that my laughter was too much and would I please just shut up.  And suddenly I was crying wracking silent sobs.  I felt so ashamed and I could see this was making her madder.  I knew I needed to just shut up but I was overwhelmed with tears.  She looked at me like I was a disgusting vile thing and dropped me and walked away.

Another time, playing with friends, we were playing house and I was the mama and my two friends were my kids.  They made me a drawing and brought it to me and I got so overcome in my fake mama role with the joy of their present and their love of me that I rushed to hug them and kiss them.  So charged was I with the intensity of wanting to love on my pretend children, I knocked my friend over and kissed her face over and over again until she shoved me off of her and stood up, infuriated.  “What is WRONG with you!  Jesus.  Holly.  You are too much”.  They both shot me a look and walked out of my room and out of house and away.

My best friend’s birthday party.  I excitedly watched her opening her presents and was thrilled that I had bought the most presents for her and wrapped them all individually in the years of Christmas wrapped paper and home made wrapping I’d decorated.  After a couple of presents people were looking at me funny.  What happened?  What was wrong?  Melissa got up and asked me to go talk.  “That’s so embarrassing.  Why did you do that?  Do you want people to think we are lesbians?  Damn it, Holly.  Too much.

I felt sometimes like everyone had a book about how to be that I didn’t.  I thought for a long time that my mother had left because I was so infuriating.  I thought my father was depressed so much when I was a child because I was a shitty daughter.  He told me he hadn’t been able to meet anyone because of me.  I think he meant being a single father made dating hard, but I heard “because you are defective nobody wants to be your step-mother”.

I tried to be simpler and easier and to care less about everything.  I was a disaster with the first guys I dated and I got hurt.  It happens.  I’ve learned and learned and learned and learned and it’s been HARD work.

But I know I’m still a little difficult to love.  And maybe that’s okay.  Maybe I *am* a little difficult to love, and maybe there will be people, as there have been and are people who are up to the task.  I am a lot, but sometimes people want a lot.  Maybe you are a bit much too, and maybe there are people in your life or in your future that are looking for something a bit much.

 

The Cats Will Eat Me…

I really dislike my brain sometimes.  I woke up this morning with my brain churning a little.  I noticed it and realized what was happening.  Every now and then I start spinning about something.  I used to see Great Date do this, and it’s how I finally realized I did it too.

Sometimes it’s fear.  Sometimes I feel a little afraid and my mind casts about to understand my fear.  The house is not on fire.  The cats are okay.  Maybe I had a nightmare I don’t remember.  I don’t know, but my mind is an unkind place.  I cast doubts around about my worth.. my friendships.  I chew on the edge of my relationships.  I pull up reasons I should be afraid or sad or that things could be bad.  I pull up real and imagined evidence for how I suck.  I tell myself mean things.  I am the voice in the dark.

catsI’ve learned over time that this is just me petting a worry stone.  I can spin up elaborate bad things, and I know it.  I’m cherry picking the little rotten things to make problems that don’t exist.  I’m fine.  I’m more than fine.  I’m happy.  I’m here in my quiet apartment with my sweet kitties.  I live in a neighborhood I love.  I live in a city I love.  I have a family that I love that loves me.  I’m making the best choices I can and I’ll be ok. My relationship(s) are good.

And I learned to pull out the anti-venom for poisonous thoughts.

Continue reading

A Million Years Ago

shrek far far away

From Shrek- The Far Far Away Sign

A million years ago….

  1. I kissed you in the vacant lot and ran home breathless.
  2. I broke your heart because I wasn’t ready.
  3. I thought this was what relationships were and I didn’t know this was rare and special.  We danced all night.  We made love and when I called it that I didn’t giggle.  We said shit like “soulmates” and “forever” and I didn’t doubt for a second they were real.  Nobody had ever loved like we loved.  We sang songs to each other.  We took baths together and sat there until we were pruny.  You fucked her.  And you lied.  I felt worse about the lie because it meant we weren’t what I thought we were.  I walked away hurt and insecure.  I spent a decade feeling the image of you in an Indian blanket in our cold apartment, silent, as I dropped the key into your lap.
  4. I got her note. She was gone.  She needed to be with him.  She had a family back home. Wouldn’t I please understand?
  5. I fucked him at some party, the entire time wondering if the pool table took quarters… “mmmmhmm.. yes.. oh baby”.. does that pool table take quarters?  What is the mechanism to drop the balls if it doesn’t take quarters?
  6. I wondered if she’d ever love me back.
  7. I wanted to break it off but his dad had just died.  So I cheated. A lot. I felt more and more sick and when I broke up with him I thought I was doing him a favor.
  8. I couldn’t sleep with him because it would have been too real.
  9. She played with me next to my bed and I thought she liked me, but we never talked again.
  10. I liked him and he liked her and she liked someone else.
  11. He was a lot worse than I thought.  He was a lot worse.  He left a scar on my back from the event that changed my life.  He committed suicide years later, after hurting a lot more girls, and eventually going to prison.  He got out and killed himself.  I felt relieved that he wouldn’t hurt more girls and ashamed I’d been silent and hurt those girls.
  12. I waited a long time to touch him because I wanted to do things differently and when I finally touched him it just didn’t work and we couldn’t make it work so I broke his heart.
  13. He was my friend.  He was deeply honest and really flawed and fucked like a demon.  We talked about EVERYTHING with utter and complete honesty that wasn’t brutal because we bore no brutality.  It was the most comfortable I’d ever been with my body in his pure love of it.  You’re supposed to learn to love your body but I loved mine because he did.  We kept the lines really straight and loved each other for years, around and in between all the others, coming home.  We’ll never be lovers again, but I still consider him a friend.
  14. He left me for groupies and I met the women he’d cheated on me with when her boyfriend was cheating with me and I didn’t know it.  She and I were great friends for years.
  15. I loved him for his letters and got swept up in them and the things he created in them.  It was too late when I’d realized my mistake and I spent a long time trying to stick to my mistake.  When I could no longer be faithful and couldn’t be unfaithful, I left.  I like seeing his happy pics on Facebook.
  16. I never thought it would happen again, but it did.  I met him at Starbucks.  We shared a humor and a passion and loved each other through a million challenges and rewards.  We wrote love poems and songs and gave each other gifts of 100 kisses on post-its and notes hidden in lunches and suitcases and pockets.  For years I knew great love and great passion.  He was my best friend and I was his.  And we grew and grew and grew.  I wish I made him dinner more.  I’ve only learned that these past few years and I wish I’d learned it with him.  Some of the greatest and the worst days of my life were spent with him, and the love we had carried us through them.  With the end I wondered if I’d imagined it, but my box of letters tells me I didn’t. The passion never died until finally, that last year it did.  He told me she was too much and there was nothing left.  He wrote a poem based on a speaker we’d heard together when we were first dating, and redid it at times over the years to delight me. He used it again with the next women, which did not delight me. I don’t understand what happened really.  I make up theories and live with them and discard them because I’ll never know why.  I’m trying to accept that but it sits uneasily without ever having had my closure.  I read the things he said, to me, and later to others, the lies. He was intentionally cruel and admitted it.  And I’ll never understand.  That is not the man I loved. He replaced me and then replaced her.  He lied a lot to them too, and I’ll never understand it.  This is not the man I loved.  He is not the person I loved for so long and so well.
  17. In the midst of all of that I fell for him.  He seemed sweet and honest and clear, a relief in troubled times.  I loved his dazzling mind and the force of his love.  I fell hard and had a hard time letting go when the mask fell.  But I did.
  18. I fell for him so slowly and so well, my love sneaking in on quiet cat feet.  It took a long long time to know him and I’ll always be learning.  His kisses stayed dizzying, and his arms became home.  I love our adventures and our quiet nights and that we can get lost in each other doing absolutely nothing.  And then he told her he’d leave me if she asked him to.  I’m still not totally sure why it changed either, but suddenly all the things we were talking about for our future were different.  All of the little plans we were playing with were off the table.  He didn’t want what he said he wanted anymore.  Or he wanted it differently.  I wondered if I got this love wrong, if it wasn’t what it seemed.  I didn’t get it wrong.  It’s just complicated to live with all of our commitments and honor and complexities of life and history and it’s hard to navigate for women with a past.  There are a lot of moving parts.  It’s beautiful and hard sometimes, but he’s worth it.  Eventually it came that he would not trade me for the wishes of anyone on Earth, and I know it in my marrow.  He’s part of the family I’m making.  I sometimes miss the surety of when I was a girl, or think maybe other ways might be easier.  But then reality reminds me that relationships are always complicated.  Grown up love is complex and beautiful and long-awaited and deep… if you’re lucky.

I’m lucky.

shrek and fiona in love

Shrek and Fiona ride off into the sunset. From the movie Shrek and found at http://basementrejects.com/

 

Resonate

Lindsay & Austin // EngagedFor some strange reason my ex-husband has been on my mind a lot lately.  It hasn’t been an angsty thing.  For a little while now I have been able to look back with a more balanced view.  I remember all the good things and acknowledge the bad with less pain.  I would be friends with him if that were possible, because I miss some really great things about him as a human being, but I would never want to date him or any of that.  And I do of course remember the hurts, but without that fiery ember.  I’m not angry with him and I see it more clearly, the ways neither of us meant to hurt each other and the collision that was our end.

And maybe that’s why I’ve been thinking of him.  For a long time I made myself crazy going over things and then for a long time I tried not to think of him much at all.  But I can think back now.  I feel healthier.  I feel like I can see things more accurately.. all of the ways I contributed to things good and bad, and the ways he did too.  Neither one of us is a blameless victim of anything and neither one of us were evil.  We were both such fallible human beings.  Have you had a break-up?  Relate to this at all?

broken mirror couple

I have been thinking about the people that resonate with us.  My ex used to hate this, that I talk about people resonating.  I can’t help it. It interests me.  I wonder what the effect was on us of loving each other.  What did I leave there, after the healing, after the end, after all of our years, what’s he holding?  For a while I couldn’t see him accurately.  It hurt too much and I was angry.  I know it was like that for him too. I could not imagine he knew me so little.  It was crazy. But I was making him the angel and the demon in my mind when really he’s just a man. Continue reading