Friday, June 28, 2013

Empowerment Toolbox

I may not have stated a trillion times in this blog how music has the power to get inside of me and rearrange feelings, pushing the unneeded ones back into the dark and pulling the uplifting and empowering ones to the front for me when I choose to listen.

But I've thought it almost that much. And I think I've mentioned it in posts more than only a couple times.

I'm currently using music to quell the negative spoken-word tapes playing in my brain so that I can get back to my place of peace and happiness. I'm doing what is necessary to sweep ashes out the door. My heart is like the Terminator. I keep rising up from the fire of romance, walk out, and just slog forward. At a slightly forward, very determined angle.

"I'll be back."

Some of the songs are familiar go-tos, some are new kick-ass discoveries that help me tap into the feeling and vibration of freedom.

When I talked to some girlfriends this week about feeling FREE after going through a breakup, I realized that when the right guy is in my life I will feel free WITH him, not without him.  The ones in my life in the past few years have just...haven't been right and I haven't felt right with them, and of course my first action is to look into myself (see my "Circle of Love" post...from a scant few days ago...nay, perchance only one week. That, my dears, is what we call "irony". Unless you're in the Law of Attraction camp, then it's "manifestation") and see what my part is in the problem. Sometimes what I have done is...nothing at all. It's just time to end. And then I get to try to find the lesson in that relationship and learn from it.

Dear Schoolmaster: When do I get to graduate. I've had enough lessons to get a PhD. in this crap. I want my degree NOW! I've LEARNED I've LEARNED I've LEARNED. Stomps feet, pouts.

Shaking head.


Something else that's different: I have stepped up to volunteer for some events I previously didn't even ever give a first thought about. And I have an appointment to talk to someone at a local hospital I used to volunteer at as a candystriper in high school to see if I can join their adult volunteer program. Apparently I've learned to prefer being busy to laying on my couch crying for months on end. 


I've been praying, and of course, writing also helps me sort things out. Writing, talking to friends, letting them know where I'm at, asking them how they are feeling, allowing them to view the roller-coaster post-breakup ride of depression, anger, denial, bargaining, depression/anger, hope, anger, tears, anger, anger, sadness, anger, tears, aaaaand hope. Not necessarily in that order. Being transparent enough and vulnerable enough to allow friends to hold me up and move me forward until I can be that Terminator on my own...that's a gift of grace that I am grateful for.

Oh. And chocolate. Not in droves. Just mini-bites. I. Love. Chocolate. It's my best friend sometimes.

Then, there's always the gym. Right? There's nothing better than feeling empowered by music and GRRRRRing with pumped up muscles and racing endorphins after a good workout. (Especially after eating MINIBITES of chocolate.)

Healing is healing but for me it needs to be fully balanced. If I'm healing emotionally I can't hide out staying busy and ignore feelings. Gotta ride out the heartache (which happens faster these days, I've noticed) by doing all the things I've talked about. All healing must be multi-level: physical, emotional, spiritual.

And I think it's time to laugh so hard I cry. Gotta find some funny flicks or pictures. (I'm telling you...I usually laugh that hard looking at the stupid animal pictures on Pinterest. Going to Pinland....NOW...)

Thank you, world, strange and unknown reader, friend...anyone who reads this message in a bottle...I'm putting it out there for the world to see. Happy is here, it's just being hugged by sadness for the moment.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Adrift Again

She had lain in his arms, snuggled deep into his chest and smelled him. She smiled, just small, to herself, curving her lips in secret.

"I feel safe in your arms. Will you keep me safe?'

"Yes, I will."

He caressed her hair and kissed her forehead. No one had ever done that before. Ever.

"Will you protect me?"

"Yes, I will."

She breathed and smiled again.

But he didn't. He didn't lie. He just didn't realize he was the only one he could not protect her from.

Maybe she should have clarified that part.

But now she cut the rope and set the small boat adrift. Back to where she had been. She pivoted her whole body with a practiced swing of her legs up and over, from bow to stern, and didn't look again. She just stared at the openness in front of her, numbed.

She had drifted this way before and was afraid but not as much as last time. She thought that was maybe a good start. Tomorrow she would look at this new drift as an adventure. Today she just wanted to sleep.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Circle of Love

It's inevitable. It always comes back to relationships for me. This obsession. 


I can tinker around with other impersonal topics, but relationships are the center of my being and it always comes back to them.

There is a song by Kelly Clarkson called "You Found Me" that is on my "most played" playlist. It's a romance staple. It's been swirling in my head all day.

You found me
When no one else was lookin'
How did you know just where I would be?
Yeah, you broke through
All of my confusion
The ups and the downs
And you still didn't leave
I guess that you saw what nobody could see

You found me

Had a girlfriend coffee-shop meetup tonight. The men we're in love with, see, kind of pissed us off this week and we had to decompress over Venti decaf Americanos. But instead of "Lamenting Effing Men in General...GRR", the conversation turned to our fathers. With completely different circumstances, we have the same issue: we have spent our lives trying to find a man to fill the void dad left when we were little. And (oh by the way) what in the hell has happened to our generation that so many of us are so fucked up? Was there something in the water in the 60s? 

I'm not really blaming my parents for me having a lousy relationship track record.

(Ummmm...well, ok, sort of. ACK!)

I know it's my job to process and take responsibility for my own growth. Sadly, I am not alone in this; I have too many friends who have been through the goddamned wringer with (ex) spouses (and parents) and here we are, all of us, in our 40s, trying to get a grip on where we're at and what the hell happened and scramble to prepare ourselves for an uncertain future.

Welcome to Cafe de la Midlife Crisis, would you like a table for one, or will you finally be joined by anyone at all?

As my friend and I talked, I commented, "We both test the men in our lives. We want them to prove to us that we are worthy of being loved."

There's an Adele song for that concept. #oneandonly

We get needy and bitchy and demanding and teary by turns because we want someone to say, "do what you want, I'm not abandoning you," and then actually follow through instead of whistling dixie. 

There's a Shakespeare play for that concept. #tamingoftheshrew 

We want to get to a place where our physical defects that terrify us and make us vulnerable, the emotional defects that, well, terrify us and make us vulnerable...all those things will be considered, noted and protected by someone who not only thinks we're worthy of him, but who's worthy of us. 

Even though we don't actually think we're worthy. Because somewhere in our little girl past we came to believe that.  It's very backwards. I get that. Crystal clear. It's psycho is what it is. 

It's what we do. Because we just want that one partner to be, finally, the one who causes us to breathe again. 

Does anyone know what to do if that person is ALSO effed up emotionally? No? Rats. (I'm thinking it might have something to do with loving them as we ask to be loved, protect their fears, and forgive them THEIR foibles. Just a thought.)

So how does someone like me stop sabotaging relationships? Why do I insist on installing buttons and then push them and push them and push them defiantly, like a 5 year old with hot, stinging tears, DARING you to not turn your back on me! And every time a "new him" says, "Forget it!!!", the facade of lonely triumph crutches me up, and I say, "See? I told you. Not. Worthy," while trumpeting the strong, independent woman processional. And on the other other hand feeling a wee bit like a little girl in big girl clothes (and ideas and ideals), trying to prove to the world I am ok. 

There's a lot of proving going on...oh, and some women sure are complicated.

(Oh, and the reason I do it is because someday when it no longer works, when "he" is still standing there waiting for me to chill out (erg), maybe that's my cue to finally give in and allow love to dance to victory.)

Do I even know how to have a healthy relationship? I often berate myself as too clingy, or too bitchy, or too difficult...I sabotage myself long before I start in on him. I try to be cool and end up confused. I don't have a whole lotta trust. I just wait for the shoe to drop. Again. And GOD forbid I believe his I love yous. Even though I secretly, really-really want to find that switch locked away deep inside that I can flip to the "It's True" position.

I so, so, sooooo don't want to be that sad, lonely old woman, with princess fantasies masking the reality of smeared lips, too-rouged cheeks and dyed hair that cannot hide age the deep wrinkles expose to the world. 

And yet, I could be an old, alone (or not) woman, defiant still, wearing purple hats and painting canvases and cussing at passers-by, chortling all the while in my Chuck Taylors. I guess it all just depends on what perspective I choose to live.

My dad left my mom, (us) a long time ago. But he came back. Quickly. Within a year. They worked it out. And they have, in their own way, lived a life of devotion to each other. They need each other. They are meant for each other. It has never been easy for them, but it has endured. What did I miss in my observations growing up? What did I take for granted? What part of their equation did I not understand? My friends who have been married for soooo long and still love one's stranger and more alien to me each year marking my divorce. Yet secretly (well, not anymore), when I say "I'll never get married again," there's that girlish hope...that I actually will someday. And this time it will last. Because he'll find me in my confusion and the ups and downs and still not leave.

(And she awoke the next morning, with an emotional hangover and wondered what she had done. And then thought...crap. Am I pms-ing?) It could be. Almost-45 hormones make life uncertain. Ugh.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

It the Hat Fits...

It dawned on me recently that my car is a great tool in my family's life. If cars wore hats, mine would have the standard issue headgear: The Get Kids to School Cap, the Get Me to Work Helmet, the Get Laundry to the Laundromat Do-rag, a Roadtrip! Tam, a DJ Gotta Dance in Our Seats to the Music Beanie...even an Ecosystem for Stale Fries and Metallic Juice Pouches Paper Hat Like Busboys Wore in the Old Days Hat.

But most noticeably of late, my car has been wearing a Lecture Hall Bishop Andrewes Cap (a mortarboard hat, basically)
This is NOT Bishop Andrewes. But it is a cap much like his. I assume.
I may be almost-old, but I don't actually remember back THAT far.
This is Lancelot Andrewes. He was a Bishop.
According to Wikipedia (from which I STOLE this pic! For shame):
"[Bishop Andrewes] has an academic cap named after him, known as the Bishop Andrewes cap, which is like a mortarboard but made of velvet, floppy and has a tump or tuff instead of a tassel. This was in fact the ancient version of the mortarboard before the top square was stiffened and the tump replaced by a tassel and button. This cap is still used by Cambridge DDs and at certain institutions as part of their academic dress.."
Now you know all you need to know about those damned hats. MOVING ON...

I have two school-age daughters. I have them in my car in the mornings and at night after work. It is the one place where, traffic not-withstanding, there are no interruptions or homework to finish, no dinner to cook...nothing to do but talk.

Hahahahahaaaa....a captive audience. 

The conversations begin simply enough. I ask how their day was, what was their favorite part. Did anything fun happen? Did they learn something new? Inevitably some comment they make in response sparks some need to impart great truths from my Vault of Experience that resonates with my Mom's Gotta Lecture gland.

It all hit me square between the eyes when Christopher Dorner was the subject of a heated manhunt in Southern California this past February. 

Somehow the subject of his capture (I use the term loosely) had been brought up when they got in the car. The kids faced me at the height of my passion about the news of Dorner being cornered in the local mountains. Earlier in the day I had fully supported shooting that bastard on sight, then immediately recanted my angry outburst. Later in my car, I reiterated my opinion (sans shooting the bastard bit) including a rant that every citizen has a right to trial, and even though there might be irrefutable evidence that someone IS guilty—even by their own speech or writing—until a jury of peers finds through evidence that a person is guilty, they are to be presumed innocent. I even cited the Skokie vs. Neo Nazis in the 70s (at the moment I cannot for the life of me recall how I managed to unfurl THAT bit of high-school history into the subject of apprehending a cop-killer). On and on I went, making sure my kids understood that as Americans they have inalienable rights set up by our Constitution. That even though our system seems to totally suck at this time and corruption and greed is everywhere, I still believe in our Constitutional Rights! Even getting to my parent's house 20 minutes later wasn't going to stop me (much as it has not stopped me here). I simply entered their home and recapitulated my viewpoint including spit, arm/hand gestures, and vigorous head nodding and/or shaking. I stood up and sat down alternately, depending on how loud my current point was getting.

Just kidding. I don't remember spitting. And, truth be told, that was a REALLY extreme example. Um...moving on...

And so it is that in my car, on the way to or from home (or other destinations), we have discussed bullies at school, seeing past people's appearances and (sometimes odd) behaviors, spirituality, God, prayer, the value of good education, history, government, sex, drug and alcohol use and abuse, the power of making good choices, the despair of making bad choices, how NOT to behave in lines at grocery stores ( was my own bad behavior I used as an example), oh it goes on and on. Except for Math. Math scares me almost as much as politicians.

Although I can almost feel my kid's eyes roll in their heads, they actually do listen. I get them to chime in, when  I remember children most engage in what their parents are saying when they are actually involved in what is being said. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes my passion takes over. Because I was teased in school...I was the weird one. I made bad choices growing up. And I found serenity and comfort in prayer and God...

And so, with my little imported, four-door podium on wheels I have found a place where I can take a few moments to have conversations about subjects I have had much experience with, some I simply have opinion about, but all are discussed with hope that my children won't make my mistakes. I can lecture, I can prepare them (and myself), and I can act in ways that back my talk (actions are ultimately louder than words, right?) BUT I also have to realize that they will grow up making their own mistakes AND good choices and someday they will have their own cars in which they will find freedom and a LOT of time to think from Point A to Point B. 

I hope sometimes—occasionally—when they are alone and thinking through a problem, maybe in their car they will remember a passionate oration (or even a simple word) that will help give them clarity. Maybe they will carry on the tradition of Car Lecturing. And hopefully laugh a little when they realize, "Holy shnikeys, I'm just like my mother!!!"

Awwww....passing the Mommy Car Hat's going to be wonderful.