“I’m not an addict. (Maybe that’s a lie.)”

So, what do you do when you wake up in the middle of the night, worrying about where you’ll be sleeping in a month, concerned that you don’t make enough money to move out on your own, plagued with conflicting thoughts about your marriage and what to do about it, reeling from family opinions telling you you’re not mature enough, berating yourself for not doing more than you are even though you’ve pretty much packed your schedule tighter than a duck’s ass, still mourning the loss of people you love and thought would be in your life forever, head swimming from the sermon your minister gave today about how fragmented we’ve become, wondering if you’ll ever find a place where you felt like you fit in as much as you did when you first found Rocky Horror or started a burlesque troupe, missing the Northeast yet feeling a slow, spreading love for the South, questioning your ever-evolving ideas about polyamory vs. monogamy vs. open relationships vs. dear-god-please-just-hold-me? Wait…you don’t eat half a bag of Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips? But…

It’s not a habit, it’s cool; I feel alive.
If you don’t have it you’re on the other side.
I’m not an addict. (Maybe that’s a lie.)

It’s over now, I’m cold, alone.
I’m just a person on my own.
-“Not An Addict” by K’s Choice

Yeah. I’m totally an addict. A sugar addict. I fought the label for years. Justified it. Hid it. Beat myself up over it. Lied about it. Spent money I didn’t have to get a “fix”. However, comparatively speaking, it is cheaper (in the short run) than antidepressants.

Sometimes, I don’t even realize I’m addicted because there used to be such a steady stream of sugar into my system that I didn’t pay much attention to it. That’s just the way it was. Grab a doughnut (or two, if you order the special at Dunkin’…plus coffee, light and sweet) for breakfast (because eating something is better than eating nothing, right? Justification much? Anyway.). Have a soda with lunch. Pile on the salad dressing. Eat some cookies as a snack. Dip (and dip and dip and dippity dip) the chicken in BBQ sauce for dinner. Nom upon a cupcake for dessert. Enjoy girly “adult beverages” while late night TV-bonding with your sister. There was a time this was a pretty accurate snapshot of my daily sugar intake.

Currently, I don’t do nearly as much of these things on a daily basis. I’ve weaned myself off soda and sweet tea, and rarely do coffee drinks anymore. I try to steer away from doughnuts for breakfast even though my niece is a terrible, horrible person for telling me about the local place that makes them just like Krispy Kreme. I have an “adult beverage” 1-2 nights per week. I tend to enjoy my salads with far less dressing these days, and most times will do the “dip the fork in the dressing then spear pieces of veggies” rather than slather.

Modifications are good. That and the 4-5 paid hours of exercise a week I get these days have helped save me from ballooning to an even unhealthier weight. But let’s face it. I’m already at an unhealthy weight. Sure, some of the things I’ve told people over the years are perfectly true. When I was younger, I was in tap, jazz, ballet, gymnastics, musical theatre, and modern dance. Not to mention the fact that I rode my bike or roller skated everywhere and if I wasn’t doing that, I could usually be found at the park running around or in my or a friend’s pool. I was hella active and as such, I’m much more limber and strong than I look. I still dance and love to teach water aerobics and can kick ass when taking an aqua zumba class. On the rare occasion that someone wants to know my weight (and I tell them), they are generally surprised. They knew, of course, that I am overweight. They just didn’t think it was that much. Someone once told me that I carried myself so well that no one would ever know I had self esteem issues about my body, nor what I really weighed.

It’s great to know glamour spells still work sometimes.

Underneath it? Fairly toned, fairly strong (and getting stronger every time I work out), fairly obese, fairly addicted to sugar to even me out. Fairly scared to show my naked body to anyone. In the past, people I thought were supposed to love me and accept me said some fairly hurtful things about my body. That’s hard to get past. Even as I know there are people who’ve expressed appreciation for my body, ranging from my husband to the date I had who wanted to know my thoughts on going to a nude beach (My answer: not favorable, thanks. I mean, I don’t have a problem with other people being nude, I just don’t have enough self confidence in my own body to do it. Also? I hate beaches in general. Now skinny dipping in a pool with the right people…I might could get my head around that some day. But I digress.)

As I’ve said above, I’ve tried to gradually decrease my sugar intake, especially as I’ve been doing more research and reading lately (including starting to read the book called Deep Nutrition: Why Our Genes Need Traditional Food by Catharine Shanaham, M.D. and Luke Shanahan that a dear friend bought me a few months ago) about sugar and healthier diets.

Speaking of, how’s this for mind-blowing? As a woman, I’m supposed to only have up to 25g of sugar a day. That’s 6 teaspoons. The bag of chocolate chips I’m all-too-quickly making my bitch? 220g of sugar per bag. If I’ve eaten half of it (Fine. More than half by now. Shut the fuck up.), that’s at least 110g of sugar just for that one snack. FOUR TIMES the amount I should have. And that’s not counting the mostly healthy fruit smoothie I had (because natural sugars count, too), the salad dressing I had on my chef’s salad for dinner, or the cherry lemonade I had with lunch.

Seriously, my name is Genevieve and I’m a sugar addict.

One of my favorite authors said in her book Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie Is Not the Answer:

“To whom the fat rolls…I’m tired of books where a self-loathing heroine is teased to the point where she starves herself skinny in hopes of a fabulous new life. And I hate the message that women can’t possibly be happy until we all fit into our skinny jeans. I don’t find these stories uplifting; they make me want to hug these women and take them out for fizzy champagne drinks and cheesecake and explain to them that until they figure out their insides, their outsides don’t matter. Unfortunately, being overweight isn’t simply a societal issue that can be fixed with a dose healthy of positive self-esteem. It’s a health matter, and here on the eve of my fortieth year, I’ve learned I have to make changes so I don’t, you know, die. Because what good is finally being able to afford a pedicure if I lose a foot to adult onset diabetes?” -Jen Lancaster (last sentence emphasis is mine.)

I closer to 40 than 30 these days, and while I can barely afford to keep myself afloat without living on my own so I definitely can’t afford a pedicure (although I never thought I’d like them as much as it turns out I do!), I still need to worry about losing limbs to adult onset diabetus. (Which, btw, I used to think was just a comical way of saying it but living in the South I’ve learned that people really pronounce it that way.)

Because really…I’m addicted. I get shakey when I haven’t had sugar in a few hours. I physically and emotionally relax when I eat chocolately goodness. Within the first bite. It doesn’t matter how much I love vegetables and fruit if I eat more sugar than I do fruits and veggies. If I eschew an apple in favor of a brownie sandwich at Taco Bell. If I almost finish an entire fucking bag of chocolate chips in a 12 hour period.

Thankfully, I know what I need to do. I’ve done it before. Quite simply, stop. Cease eating processed sugar in the obvious snack/drink/dessert forms. Then start cutting out the hidden sugars like sauces/dressings/prepared foods/white starches and carbs. It’s going to be hard. Especially living where I do. I love my sister’s house, but there are at least 4 different kinds of white bread in the house at all times, not to mention the adult beverages, ready supply of chocolate, clearance baked goods, pasta, and impressive array of delicious sauces. Yes, I recognize these things as the excuses they are. No one is force feeding me any of these things. However, it is a slightly easier to begin a new dietary regime when the people around you do as well to limit temptation. But again, that doesn’t make the poor choices I’ve been making anyone’s fault but my own. There was part of me that was waiting until I moved out to really attack my addiction head on. I had dreams of leafy greens and bowls of fruit, nary a processed granule of sugar anywhere in the vicinity of my enlightened abode. Which basically boils down to buying into the “Arrival Syndrome” of “I’ll be able to do this once all the conditions are right. I’ll be happier and healthier when things are exactly as I want them, some time in the nebulous future.” Bullshit. If I’m going to make it happen, I need to just fucking make it happen. I’ve got to learn how to handle myself when it seems like everyone in a ten foot radius of me is mainlining sugar. How to make healthier choices regularly, instinctively and not just after a binge. How to put on my healthy girl panties and stop letting “well, my family made pasta for dinner so I just have to eat that” be an excuse and cook my own damn food if I need to. (And suck it up and deal with the fact that yes, I’m creating more dishes for myself. Bright side: whooo, more standing and movement is better than sitting on my ass!)

So it’s going to come down to picking a day and just doing it. Like I said, I’ve done it before. On October 1st, 2010 I threw myself into paleo. Gave up sugar (except for a once a week “treat”) and cut wheat from my diet. I did it successfully for many months and lost a little bit of weight. Not nearly as much as I thought I would’ve, though. I have to keep in mind that I’m also fighting with my thyroid and PCOS. But those can’t be used as excuses for why I can’t get healthier. They need to be further incentives.

I know it’s coming soon. It has to. Because there are things I want to do that I can’t right now: jump into the arms of someone I love and wrap my legs around his/her waist, be fucked up against a wall, shop in “normal” stores where clothes are less expensive, and be a good role model for the kids I still distantly hope to have one day. Also, at some point, I will be able to afford (or be treated to) pedicures regularly, and goddamnit, I want to have both my feet so I can get both of ’em painted up pretty.

Okay. Fine. Saying it’s coming soon isn’t changing anything. Saying I have to isn’t doing it. So. September 15th, 2013. That is the day. I will change my life, my eating habits, and make consistently healthier choices. It’s about fucking time to, once again, Go For It, Genevieve.

“Can the child within my heart rise above?”

Landslide by Fleetwood Mac

It was pointed out to me that everyone I’ve expressed interest in or who has expressed interest in me, relationship/dating-wise, lives about 1,000 miles away.  A very astute observation.  The same person also pointed out that I’m where I need to be.  Another astute observation.  However, the latter was actually made before the former, so I’m not sure if that denotes a subtle shift in opinion regarding where he thinks I belong or not.

Yes, the people I actively have feelings for all live 1,000 or so miles away from me.  Which is probably for the best.  Because right now?  Not a good time for me to be a in a relationship.  I feel too weak, too damaged, to scared, and honestly too ambivalent (on some days) to be a good partner.  My baggage is poorly packed, my heart is making a bloody mess on my sleeve, and I’m not at home in myself anymore.  Not a good partner in any shape or form.

My minister, when I first went to see him a few times before I had a therapist, asked me what in me makes me think I deserve to be treated the way I have been.  He recommended that I read Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood by Wayne Muller.  To be frank, while I did plan to give it a look over, I really thought I had healed from the shitty childhood I had and wasn’t expecting much beyond blaming and shaming poor parenting, and really, I’m just done with that.  I’d had the requisite years of therapy, some stellar and some sucktastic.  I am (mostly) able to write about painful things in my past without breaking down.  Talking about horrendous episodes had gotten much easier.  I was fine.  I AM fine.

FINE.

Then I started reading the book.

You know what really sucks?  When you’re not as fine as you really want to believe you are.  Not nearly as fine as you think you should be after all this damn time.  That some scars may’ve stopped hurting but that’s not because they’ve healed but because they’re kind of numb.

It also really sucks when you read a book that exposes the coping mechanisms you’ve gotten so good at they almost felt like they were just normal, healthy parts of living, all the empty spots that you’ve tried to fill in various ways unsuccessfully, and those myriad ways you feel inept, unwelcome, and unworthy:

“When we doubt our own belonging, we grow desperate, and we learn to grab almost anything – a job, a sexual partner, a lifestyle – and make that our place of belonging. In our desperation we lose both our serenity and our sensitivity to the needs of others. If I need your company to feel that I belong, then I am more concerned with how I impress you than I am with your particular needs and desires. You become merely a vehicle for my belonging, an agent to my comfort, no longer [someone] with your own hopes and dreams. As I approach you, it is not you that I touch, it is my own desperation.”

And it’s simply amazing how painful things that happened long ago can translate into adult lives:

“When we are convinced how little is a available for us, we feel confused about how much is enough.  How much can we ask for, what can we hope for?  When we resign ourselves to a life where love and joy will never come in abundance, we reduce the depth and breadth of what is possible for us,  making our lives small and sparse.  ‘Ask and you shall receive’ rings hollow in the heart that has grown to expect less and less.  There will never be enough for us; why bother asking at all?”

These passages both hit me like a hot pink brick truck.  I’m too desperate, hungry, and raw to be a good partner.  I’ll either wind up giving everything (or simply more than I should) away again, trying frantically to phoenix my way through it, and be left wondering why I’ve been reduced to a smoldering pile of ashes, or I’ll go in selfishly, aggressively trying to get everything I hadn’t gotten in the past, ruthlessly making demands, and being disappointed at the inevitable shortfall and fallout.  I have things I need to sort out, one of which is not being afraid to ask for what I want.  Yet also finding a balance between my desires and those of a partner.  There’s so much that goes into maintaining a relationship that right now, the thought of doing it again exhausts me.  Of course, I just have to think about a hug, a look, a tone of voice, a gentle surprise, a touch and I’m reminded of why it’s all worth it…once I get my head and heart back on straight.

 

“The legacy stops here.”

Turn-on-the-light-Dumbledore

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
-Albus Dumbledore

A few years back, I saw this on a bumper sticker:

“Barn’s burnt down; now I can see the moon.”
– by Japanese poet, Mizuta Masahide.

It became embedded in me, a reminder of the mentality and attitude to have when things go bad.  Because they will. Go bad. But they will also go good. One of my favorite folk singers, Susan Piper, wrote a song called “Wait Till Tomorrow Comes” (from before she eschewed all her albums made before she was Born Again). The chorus goes:

When the sun comes out it feels just like we’ve never known the rain.
And when the rain beats down it feels just like we’ll never laugh again.
But we always laugh again.
Wait till tomorrow comes.”

Life is an epic roller coaster; up, down, twist, turn.  You don’t know whether to scream for joy or fear, and many times, it’s both.  Sometimes you feel like you’re going to throw up, but damn…the rush is amazing.  Granted, I’ve only ever been on one roller coaster in my life.  But it was enough to inform me of that I’m making a right proper analogy.

And so.

I move forward.  To what, I’m not sure yet.  I should probably pick up that book (The Art of Uncertainty: How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It by Dennis Merritt Jones)  my uncle recommended soon.  Problem is, I’m in the middle of about seven books right now.

And writing.  Applying to freelance gigs of all stripes.  Figuring things out little by little and trying like hell to trust in the process and not panic because everything’s not The Way It Should Be.  Because really, what the hell “should” it be?  When I was little, I wanted stable parents.  Kids should have that, right? Well, yes.  Doesn’t mean it always happens.  Didn’t with me.  But there were positive things.  And I learned many lessons from the not-so-positive (and sometimes downright terrifying) things I wen through.  Another book I have to get through regarding that is one my minister recommended called Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantage of a Painful Childhood by Wayne Muller.

When I got older, even though I lived in the North, there was a certain push to be religious.  Or at least say you were.  Figuring out where I fall in the spirituality continuum is an ongoing process.  One of my favorite books on this subject (this is turning much more book-centric than I originally intended…case in point of thing not going the way they “should”) is called Laws of Spirit: A Tale of Transformation by Dan Millman.  I first had to read Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior for a college acting class and was turned onto his work from there.  In fact, going back now to refresh my memory of Way of the Peaceful Warrior, the Amazon.com review hits it pretty much on the head (bold emphasis is mine):

During his junior year at the University of California, Dan Millman first stumbled upon his mentor (nicknamed Socrates) at an all-night gas station. At the time, Millman hoped to become a world-champion gymnast. “To survive the lessons ahead, you’re going to need far more energy than ever before,” Socrates warned him that night. “You must cleanse your body of tension, free your mind of stagnant knowledge, and open your heart to the energy of true emotion.” From there, the unpredictable Socrates proceeded to teach Millman the “way of the peaceful warrior.” At first Socrates shattered every preconceived notion that Millman had about academics, athletics, and achievement. But eventually Millman stopped resisting the lessons, and began to try on a whole new ideology–one that valued being conscious over being smart, and strength in spirit over strength in body. Although the character of the cigarette-smoking Socrates seems like a fictional, modern-day Merlin, Millman asserts that he is based on an actual person. Certain male readers especially appreciate the coming-of-age theme, the haunting love story with the elusive woman Joy, and the challenging of Western beliefs about masculine power and success. –Gail Hudson

No wonder I love his work so much.  And the book description of Laws of Spirit (from Amazon.com, again):

The Laws of Spirit opens with the story of Dan Millman’s encounter with a sage in the wooded hills near his home. Through stories, tests, and experiences in the wild, the sage challenges Millman to examine 12 core principles that underlie human existence: balance, choice, process, presence, compassion, faith, expectation, integrity, action, cycles, surrender, and unity. The book shows how these keys — at the heart of every religion, culture, and moral system — can lead to a deeper sense of meaning, connection, and harmony with the world. It also shows readers how these principles can transform relationships, careers, finance, and health. Quotations and reminders from across the centuries inform and inspire readers as they accompany Millman on his journey.

This one book has been like a personal spiritual bible for at least the last 15 years or so.  It’s a simple story, but incredibly complex in it’s message.  And so I pick my way forward on a spiritual path that draws from Paganism, Christianity, Discordianism, Buddhism, and others.  It’s not rigidly outlined, and it’s constantly tested, but it fits me better than any one religion ever has.  Luckily, I found a place of worship that accepts this Frankenspirituality in a local Unitarian Universalist church.

Then there are the romantic relationships and all that I thought would, could, should happen.  Currently, I’m in the process of stripping down and examining everything I thought I wanted, needed, believed, held dear about relationships.  I’m also looking really closely at my boundaries, desires, and abilities.  There are no easy answers.  Likewise, there are no “correct” answers.  Everyone has different settings, things they want in a partner, ways they deal with difficulties, goals to achieve together, etc.  That poly triad wants children while that monogamous couple does not.  Mazel tov for both sets.  Neither is wrong.  As Melissa Etheridge sings (and as was once a sign I painted in a big ol’ octagon on my bedroom door):

Mothers, tell your children.  Be quick; you must be strong.
Life if full of wonder; love is never wrong.
Remember how they taught you.  How much of it was fear.
Refuse to hand it down.  The legacy stops here.

Now, onward to find that light switch…

Don’t you sometimes wish your heart was a heart of stone?

Beneath the white fire of the moon
Love’s wings are broken all too soon.
We never learn.
Hurt together, hurt alone.
Don’t you sometimes wish your heart was a heart of stone?

“Heart of Stone” -Cher

Sometimes, yes. Most times, no. It’s been really fucking hard, lately. I know the problem isn’t love itself. The problem comes with what people do do with it, in the name of it, despite it.

Right now, all I can do is focus on setting my life back on a better path. I don’t know yet what all’s going to be on that path, but learning to surrender to that unknown is part of the endeavor. On Thursday, I told my husband I needed some time to myself and I came up with a week and a half. He said it seemed awfully specific and asked what was going on.

Nothing’s “going on”.

Everything’s going on.

I need to figure out my place in it all. A few people have told me to take some time to myself. Days, weeks, months. The time lines vary from person to person. My therapist was the one who simply suggested that perhaps some time (unspecific) without interacting with my husband might help my head and heart from spinning. So I can figure out what I need, want, feel. I chose a week and a half because I needed more time than a weekend, more than a week. Sometimes it’s hard not to talk to him, sometimes it’s easier. I have much to think through, and life keeps going on.

My sister and I went for a belated birthday present spa morning yesterday. There was this scalp massage with coconut oil and a facial. It was nice to be pampered. My neck is still in knots, as I tend to hold a lot of tension there, but my head, hair, and face looked and felt splendid. We finished it up with a trip to the bakery for a small treat and then out to lunch. After a nap, my brother-in-law proved once again how awesome he is and breathed new life into an old computer of his for me, so I have a computer in my room now! Joy and rapture! After getting that set up, the family and I went out for Mexican dinner wherein me and margarita got very well acquainted. Four times. My head protested when I walked from the truck to my room afterward, but I was still able to continue and carry on a conversation with a dear friend. Bringing him through some finer details of the last few months and years of my life that he wasn’t aware of. Sharing perspective. It was good and helpful to articulate some of it. Some of it hurt like hell. Made me feel like a goddamned fool.

I fight that feeling a lot lately. My aunt telling me not to waste time doesn’t help. Feeling pressured to make a decision doesn’t help. What helps is being gentle with myself, which is what my friend advised me from the beginning of this whole painful chapter of life. So I’m working on that. Reading. Writing. Reaching out to people as I’m able to. It’s yielded fairly good results, so far. I had an amazing conversation with a choir friend about life and relationships and stupid pink hazes that women get into relationships in. A student in one of my water fitness classes gave me info for a writing contest and some neat sites for odd jobs and freelancing stuff. My choir director has proven himself fan-friggin-tastic over and over, but the best thing yet was how he handled the way I completely fucked up my part in the trio at the Spring MusicFest.

Cause, man. I fucked it up. But part of the problem was that we weren’t given our starting pitches, which my choir director apologized for later. But from that bad beginning, I just couldn’t get it on track and wound up singing the tenor part, an octave higher. Not the worst thing ever, but it wasn’t the melody, which is what I was supposed to have. I felt like such an incompetent idiot afterward, and emailed my choir director that afternoon to apologize. It was my sister’s birthday, and she was kind enough to come to the concert, but afterward, I didn’t want to sulk through her day. Mentally, I was kicking the hell out of myself while also trying to keep perspective. Even professional singers fuck up, right? I finally let it go after much feeling, yet again, like a fool. A day or so later, my choir director sends a note to the choir praising us for the job we did. But he didn’t ignore mistakes. Here’s part of what he said:

Our performance Sunday was extraordinary. No, it wasn’t perfect. That’s not the goal. Music done right touches people. We created that connection on a very high level. The buzz we created was electric. Karen told me she went out to lunch after our performance and ran into a woman who regularly attends COR. Her enthusiasm and pride were effervescent. That church pride is important. We know we worked hard to reach this level and we earned that personal pride, but to be recognized as an asset worthy of our community pride is something that has meaning for me. Great job.

I’m so glad to be be part of this choir. 🙂

There’s a lot I’m grateful for, being here. The lake, the choir, the church, my family and friends (both the ones who’re here and the ones back in Jersey who love and support me), the Y, my therapist, books, this computer I’m typing on, opportunities to grow.

Now I just need to steer myself forward, continually. I’ve begun writing lists of things I need and want to do. Like sun salutations in the morning. Sleeping more regularly, which will come when I feel less stressed. Exercising more, which I’m doing pretty well at so far. Eating better, which I’m also doing better at. I have my occasional unwise choices, but who doesn’t? The thing to focus on is making better choices more consistently and not beating myself up when I make a poor choice. Developing a deeper connection to my spirituality. Streamlining and simplifying my life. Putting out positive energy through thought, action, and speech. Writing on a daily basis. There are some writing competitions that I feel I should enter, so I’m working on that. Getting a job or many regular freelance jobs so I can get out my sister’s by October.

Heal. That’s a big one.

Because my heart, no matter how much I wish it were sometimes, is not made of stone. And it’s wings have been mangled. It’s bruised and sad and sometimes hopeless that it will ever heal and be happy again. I try to reassure it, but then Amanda Palmer’s song “Astronaut” comes whirling into my head:

Is it enough to have some love?
Small enough to slip inside the cracks.
The pieces don’t fit together so good
with all the breaking and all the gluing back.

Even so, someone said or I read recently that the cracks in a broken heart are what allows the light to shine through. I wish I could remember where or who that came from, but at least the sentiment has stuck with me. Which means right now, I’m taking some time to be gentle with myself. I’m going to play some music, light a few candles in my soul, and create a beautiful new mosaic from the pieces of my heart.

What’s love got to do with it?

Everything.  But also nothing.  Depends on what “it” is.  Marriage? Friends? Enemies? Children? Religion? Death? Torture? Redemption? Divorce? Disease? Life?

Love is infused in all of these things, these relationships, these events. But the duality of the darker side of human nature, of love, has been driving me crazy.  I’m inclined to say “lately,” but looking at my entire life and not just what’s freshest in recent memory, it’s been a struggle since my first memories as a child.

I’m reading a book series that a dear friend recommended: the Kushiel Legacy.  At first, it seemed a little more daunting and high fantasy than I usually read. But once I got into it, the world enveloped me and I found myself saying things like Blessed Elua! in my head instead of OMG.  It’s possible it even once came out of my mouth.  The heroine of the novel, Phèdre, is…utterly fantastic.  But it is her relationships to her Gods and the people in her life I find the most fulfillment and truth with.  Deep, core truth that speaks to my heart.  That speaks eloquently, and still yet not definitively, about love.

Currently, I’m a third of the way through Kushiel’s Avatar (third book in the series)  and it’s dealing very specifically with love in all it’s many forms.  Far more than many people can even fathom.  Of course there’s religion and the love of Gods, but there’s so much more.  There’s the love Gods feel for mortals.  There’s the fact that love can extend to more than one God.  That different people have different pantheons and we can all find peace together and honor each other’s customs and beliefs.  Of course there’s romantic love, like Phèdre has for her consort Joscelin.  But within that relationship, there is so much else.  Love is tested and tempered through the years.  And it is acknowledged that she doesn’t just love Joscelin.  That there are other people who have touched her life in romantic, non-romantic, and BDSM types of ways. There are people who’ve deceived her, abused her, sought to break her and yet, for most, she admits that there is a form of love involved.

In the book, Blessed Elua’s precept is “Love as thou wilt.”  It conveys choice, it speaks of allowing your heart to love what it loves.  Poet Mary Oliver says something similar in the beginning of her poem “Wild Geese”:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

The true nature of love is…elusive.  Or perhaps it’s just too all-encompassing that it is difficult to understand. I sure as fuck don’t fully understand it.  Maybe I never will.  But I think it’s human to keep trying.  So I do.

Sometimes, when talking about love, clichéd notions pop up and it makes me angry. During a conversation I had last night, someone said to me, “if he really loved you, he wouldn’t have cheated on you.  He wouldn’t’ve even considered it.  There wouldn’t be another person for him. Ever.”  She went on to add that any therapist would back her up.  Clearly, she hasn’t spoken to my current therapist.

I caught myself clenching my jaw, pushing down feelings of surly disagreement.  Because here’s a big part of the problem.  I don’t doubt my husband loved and loves me.  That’s not the problem.  It goes deeper than that.  I believe that that people who love can do stupid, hurtful, cruel, deceptive, even abusive things to the people they love.  My mother once said to me that my alcoholic father loves me as much as he’s able.  It’s true.  He’s a flawed, demon-chased, depressed man who grew up under the threat of knives and belts, terror and poverty the language his own alcoholic father spoke fluently.  His mother, rather the woman who raised him as a mother, did so with as much love and creativity as she could manage with a 8 other children and not enough money.  My own mother, despite her own life difficulties and questionable methods of dealing with them, loves me as best and as broadly as possible.

And just as I don’t doubt that my husband loves me, I also have come to the place where I don’t doubt that my ex-husband and ex-wife love me.  In some difficult, intricate way that’s probably similar to the way I love them.  But with that love has also come the realization and acceptance (hence the “ex”) that just because we love each other does not mean we should be married.

The bible says that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  And it does.  But…nowhere in there does it advise on how to act when your fall-down-drunk father insists on driving his truck home and allows his friends and girlfriend to put ten year old you in the vehicle with him to “make sure he gets home okay.”  What do we do, in this current day, when a family member is a pedophile, a friend is mentally abusive, a husband cheats?  Yes, love will endure it.  But that doesn’t mean anyone should stay in that situation if they are able to get out.  Once children grow enough to get themselves help, to get out of bad situations, they…we…I will carry that terrible double-edged sword called love around for the rest of our lives.

However, here’s the thing.  It fucks up our vision when falling in love.  It can cloud our judgment with our own children.  It’s something to be ever-mindful of.  On one side is the ephemeral, giddy high of falling in love and on the other is the daily truth of actual love.  It does exist, endure, believe, bear, hope…even while fucked up shit happens all around.  Even while the floor drops out, disease takes hold, infidelity is committed, a loved one abandons you.

Getting to that point where of understanding that love can exist and endure prolific pain has been rough. Contemplating the other side of this realization is even rougher.  It means figuring out what I can endure, believe, hope for.  The future of my marriage, or any relationship I have, relies first on the boundaries I make.

I was eventually able to explain to the person that I don’t buy into the whole “if he really loved you…there wouldn’t be another person” bullshit.  I’ve vacillated back and forth between whether I’m better suited to monogamy or polyamory.  After I first found out about the infidelity, I felt strongly that the answer to all this strife was a nice, monogamous relationship.  He agreed that that’s what he wanted, too. Just strip love down to it’s simplest form and things would be better. I’m beginning to see that was, personally, a fear-based reaction.  People in monogamous relationships cheat.  The fault lies not in the relationship type.

Judging by history, judging by how I feel and continue to feel about people in my life, I keep coming back to the fact hat polyamory makes the most sense to me.  In it, there is no “if he really loved you….there would be no one else.”  That becomes invalid.  So once I started saying this, her response was, “then why were you so upset when you found out?  Why did you pack up and leave? If he can go out and have whatever relationships he wants and it’s okay?”

NO.

This is another thing that’s always pissed me off: people don’t understand the difference between polyamory and cheating.  They think that cheating can’t exist in polyamory.  It flat out can and does.  Whenever a lover goes outside of the agreed rules, it is cheating.  You can have a rule that there’s no sex with anyone else unless you’re all in the room together.  If your partner then goes and has sex with someone else when you’re not there, that’s cheating. It’s violating the rules of the agreement you’ve made together.  It’s defiling trust.  Can trust be cultivated again? For some people, yes. Because love can endure all things.  That doesn’t mean cultivating trust again is the right thing to do for the people involved, though.  Sometimes, the soil just isn’t rich enough to cultivate trust again.  Figuring that out, assessing the soil and it’s possibilities is something love has much less to do with it than I previously thought.

Learning to “go for it” again…whatever “it” maybe be.

And here I thought things were difficult in the beginning of April.

Life is just full of surprises.

Being cheated on wasn’t on my to-do list. Somehow it made it on there anyway.  And now I try to figure out how to move forward. It’s not an easy process.  However, I thankfully have amazing friends and family, as well as a very supportive church community, a good part time job at the Y, and a new therapist who seems to be a good fit for me.

I’m looking hard for a full time job so I can get my own place. I’m singing, I’m writing, I’m reading, I’m reexamining the things I want in my life and the direction I want to go in.  There are plenty of times I feel like I’m floundering or going to be eaten by the darkness.

It saddened me that I didn’t write in here much this year. I’m not sure why that was; I tried to write when things were good and bad, but somewhere, I stopped.  All I can say is that I’m back again. I’m back to the mentality that I should “go for it”…I just have to figure out what “it” is now.  There are some ideas percolating.  Possibly going to school for writing.  I’ve thought about teaching. Then there are what feel like more off-the-wall ideas. I’ll talk about them soon…as soon as I can really wrap my head around them.

One of the scariest parts of all this was when it felt so bleak that I couldn’t see beyond the pain of all the things I’d lost. When talking with a church friend the other day, she made the astute observation that what I seemedto be mourning was more of a dream and not the tangible reality.  She wasalso the same person who took one look at me in church one day and said, “oh, honey…your hopes won’t always be dashed.” I fought not to cry because I was in a bad place and couldn’t quite believe her.  Though I have been trying.

I’ve also been working hard to build a better inner base of strength and fortitude so I’m not depending on others to imbue me with a sense of happiness, security, and stability. It really needs to come from within.  Eventually.

 

 

Going for feeling better…

I’m not doing well.

Going for it, I went full throttle into marriage and while it’s a thing crossed off my bucket list (yay!) and it’s love (Yay!), it’s also been a very difficult transition (boo!)

My housing situation isn’t very stable or tenable and I’ve left my family in MS, as well as new friends and chosen family in my church and at the YMCA.  The loss of family, especially my sister and two great-nieces, has hit me very hard.  Harder than I thought it would.  And not being able to do my water exercises regularly and not having my classes of encouraging and outrageous ladies to boost each other along has been incredibly rough.  I’ve hit a wall of depression that’s proving very difficult to get out of.