abundance · diversity · loss

Succumbing.

11.5.18.pngI like it here, I whispered.  I didn’t want the neighbors to hear.

The doors to the front and back were open, the windows wide.  We were eating a massive and delectable breakfast he’d cooked after a five-mile run up in the hills near the house.  The cat was sitting on the threshold watching the cul-de-sac outside, kids speeding by on razor scooters, neighborhood folk tossing a tennis ball down the block for their shaggy, golden dogs to fetch.

It was the ultimate moment in suburban living.  And it was dreamy.

Both J and I have lived in cities our entire adult lives, with the kind of diversity, grit, grime, and evocative atmosphere a city will provide.

The population around us now fits almost squarely into monochromatic, heterosexual couples in various stages of raising their offspring.  We both would like a little more color, in several ways.  (J says, humorously, that he doesn’t want to lose his edge; I point out he’s listening to Fugazi while wearing khakis, but, you know!)

But while this homogeneity is not our ideal, with one black woman on line in the grocery store, one full-sleeved woman walking her dog, clearly there are advantages to living where we are now.

Moreover, this weekend, we went into San Francisco twice, once on Friday night for an impromptu sushi and Legion of Honor visit and on Saturday afternoon to visit a lingerie & corset shop and his preferred motorcycle shop.

So, we had our visit to the grit.  We parked next to the homeless man strewing his belongings vociferously on the sidewalk.  The Haight Street Santa-Cruz-esque bros lighting up the air with the scent of weed.  And also to the diverse: the same-sex couple walking with their kid, the fashion-conscious women not in yoga pants, and the wide variety of color that remind us we are only one crayon in the box of 64.

But, we’re bridge and tunnel people now.  We visit the grit and diverse, we aren’t hugged by it every day.  There is a loss in that.

Yet, too, we are not immune to the Siren song of crickets in the evening.

 

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courage · growth · loss

Open Door Policy.

Autumn colours through the doorwayFor years, I’ve been speaking to close friends about “moving to the next room.”  My trepidation about leaving behind those that won’t come with me, my stagnating and returning to the smaller room, my dickering around in the doorway hoping and cajoling those I want to come with me.  My fear that by moving into a new place I would be abandoning others, that I would be alone.

Strangely, I’m beginning to feel a bit of release from the strangle of those fears.  I acknowledge there are people I’d like to DRAG, bloody and screaming, with me—I want them to come through so badly.  Through the door, “into the next room,” which I have discovered opens into a blooming garden.  I want them to see, to see it’s not so scary.  But these are precisely the words that I myself need to hear, and believe.  That it’s not so scary out there.

And that I’m not going to feel lonely.

Because, I don’t.  I feel enlivened, actually.  Curious and slightly unsure of what will happen (strike that! — entirely unsure what will happen!), but it isn’t enough right now to turn me back to the small place.

I’ve been reflecting, too, on my recent break-up.  How when I think I’ve hit the floor of my grief, a trap door opens to slam me one floor lower.  When I consider returning to it, I slam down again onto the hard reality beneath: that I tried so f*cking hard to make it right, to make it fit.  And each time these hopes, these ruminations arise in me, I am hurled again like clay onto a wheel, slammed, remolded, returned.  “No, Molly,” it echoes.  “No.”

Ouch.

I’ve also noticed that in the last week alone, my door for new potential partners is apparently wide the f* open, because it’s letting in all kinds of wow-totally-and-completely-not-right people.  So, clearly the door is open for someone new but I could use some massive refinement of my “Law of Attraction”!

I know that the ultimate doorway here is the one into the next room, out into that garden, where I will be leaving behind the relationship that hurts so much to make right and the people who are incompatible in so very many ways.

Because what I’m coming to understand is that I must close the door behind me.  And this is something I’ve been avoiding for as many years as I’ve talked about said door.  I’ve left the door wide open so that I could come back in to the small place and see if my loved ones want to come with me.  I’ve left it open so that I could grovel and beg and tear the arm off in my pulling of them to come with me.

I’ve not wanted to leave them.  And, importantly, I’ve been afraid that without them I’ll be alone in the new place, or at least (as is on my mind!) like a new middle-schooler arriving to class and wondering who, who among you will be my friend?  Who among you will be my peer?  Or be my friend-guide just that step ahead of me, pulling me along into the new world?

As I stand on the threshold of this new place all nervous and twisty-handed, just beyond the reach of my smaller self, the bigger part of me knows I must first imperatively reach behind and pull closed the door of underbeing.

The unseen makers of the laughter that I hear and the bathing, liquid scent of magnolias in the new world before me will have to be enough of a sticking place to which I affix my courage until I find another hand to hold.

Damnit.  Deep breath.  Here goes. …

 

gratitude · loss · love · relationships

Conclusion.

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The Cousin, of teenage fame and love unquenched, is getting
married.
The Cousin (cousin of my brother’s best friend) and I had a
long-running on-again-across-oceans-again relationship begun when we were teenagers.
I found his photo recently when I was clearing out my “g-d box” of items taken care of by time and fate, and those still remaining in an
unresolved stasis. I didn’t put his photo back in the box, unresolved though I felt it to be — For the last month
or so, it’s sat by my jewelry box, the image of 16-year-old innocence and a complexity masked by his easy grin. I’ve spoken to it, asked it where he was,
if he was happy, what he was doing, if he thought of me, if we were through.
Last we’d truly spoken, I’d confessed that his moving to
California to join me was likely not a solution to the untethered life he was
looking to escape. California didn’t save me, I told him on the phone the night
of our last conversation. I had to do a lot of work for that to happen.
Our previous dreams of running away together, of his coming
to California with me when I initially moved, that painting of the white picket
fence that was more fantasy than reality, the painting of a life I wanted to
fall into with him, but knew was not supported by truth… All this was crushed
when I told him, No, you can’t move here to escape your life.
Years passed. There was one phone call, miraculously
coincidentally when I was home in New Jersey in 2011, clearing out my childhood
home before the house was sold. A fitting time to call, as I packed up a
childhood, and all its experiences. It was where we met, in fact — in my living
room, with my brother, his best friend, and his cousin, visiting from Ohio.
The brevity of that initial visit, a summer of love, to be
sure, meant that there wasn’t a foundation of reality to build upon, a life to support
our connection. And in that house, a few years ago, I packed up the life of the
person who’d fallen so passionately and deeply in love — as well and as messily
as a 19-year-old can do.
Our phone call wasn’t long. It was more a confirmation that we’d
allowed the strains of time and place corrode the thread that connected us.
But, I’ve never felt complete with that ending.
And so, his photo remained in the “to be resolved” pile in
my mental hopper, and for the last month, on my dressing table: his cheeky grin,
dark mess of hair, lips that rival a female porn star’s.
And that’s how I recognized him when I saw his photo put up
on Facebook yesterday by his aunt.
Time had changed him. His hair receded, cut short long ago
for a military life he chose when he couldn’t move here.
But his lips are the same. That pouting lower lip I
clung onto for hours. That framed his eager smile, formed his caressing
words, and confessed his inner demons.
And he looks happy. On a hilltop in Hawaii with another
woman. Someone who is available to make him happy, who can be there on his
journey when I can’t be, since I can’t be.
That’s our conclusion, then. It’s not the final phone
call I make to congratulate, to plant another seed or water a long-dead one. I
am not saint or enlightened enough to not want to love him still, but I am wise
enough to know we can’t – in the present, in reality.
So, I can put it here. I can write my gratitude for his
finding happiness, what I’ve really wanted for him, no matter my personal
desires. I can put here that I am glad to see him alive, well, experiencing
life. That this conclusion is fitting, acceptable, and perhaps a happy one.
But I can also put here this conclusion ends a chapter that has
spanned nearly half my life, has fed me great happiness, and has let me
experience a connection with another human that I thought eluded me – I can put
here that as I turn the page on “us,” I pack up that painting of the white
picket fence with a mournful finality.

career · death · faith · family · finances · hope · loss · love · perseverance · recovery

Tossed.

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On a shelf high in my closet sits a box. This morning, I
took it down, dumped it over on my bed and picked through the pieces of
paper I’d written and thrown in since it was given to me as a one-year
sobriety present.
Someone mentioned recently the idea of dumping out their “God
box” every once in a while, to see what “god” may have already taken care of,
and to see what we’re still holding onto, even as it’s been “surrendered” to the box.
It’s sweet and astonishing to me, all the things that
tortured me so hard, I found them listed on multiple post-its, torn pieces of
paper, even a square of toilet paper.
The ones that I got to separate from “still actively seeking
hope/help” included a lot of men’s/boy’s names that haven’t gotten a rise out
of me for years. I had to wrack my memory at one of them, and then got to see
the number of times others’ names had been tossed in there in the hope for resolution
and divine intervention, and indeed, they’ve become completely old news. Today, those got
tossed to the resolved pile.
In that pile, I also tossed, Food issues and Smoking. Issues
that I haven’t had to box with for years, so much so that I am surprised to
remember them, and to notice they caused me such pain (well, smoking was a
bitch to quit – and I never doubt that one will always lead to more).
The ones that remain in the box, that I am throwing back
in there, are varied.
One reads:
      Jesse Morris will live.
      And he will find recovery.
      And he will be beautiful.
      Amen.
Jesse Morris did not live. But I believe him to still be
beautiful.
I also have the memorial service booklet from Aaron Brown’s
funeral following his heroin overdose.
I have the necklace my father gave me when I was sick with
cancer. A photo of my mom holding my brother, age 2. A photo of the ex whose
innocence we shared.
And the torn shreds of a fortune cookie I didn’t understand
why I’d ripped and torn in there until I pieced it back together: “As long as
your desires are not extravagant, they will be granted.” – I can easily see why I
would bristle at such a fortune!
Finally, what will stay in the box, rethrown in, and
recommitted to allowing them to be “taken care of,” are those issues which have
remained “issues” to this very day.
The best illustration of these being an actual illustration:
Home, Love, Health, Security, Happiness.
(Or at least I think that’s happiness, and not Pirates.)
There are a bevy of papers with some amalgam of these on it. Some verbose pleas to a higher power, others simply a heart drawn on a
post-it.
It is cleansing and reaffirming to dump and sort this box,
this box that over the years I’ve begged over for things to change, hurled words
in there like grenades, or exhausted, dropped them in tear-stained.
There are ones that I don’t know if “resolution” is
possible, like those untimely deaths of beautiful people. And they will stay in the box.
There are ones where I still can’t see what resolution will
look like at all, as with my dad, my career, and “my life,” as I wrote it again and
again. They will stay there, too. 
But, luckily, there must be hope from a sorting such as
this, because the pile of “resolved” issues is nearly half. Those torturous
achings that caused me to toss names and circumstances in that have simply
fallen out of mind, out of importance, into the fate and design of my past…
These ones that make me smile now for the girl who wrote
them, and for the wisdom of time that solved them: They give me hope for the
others. 

acceptance · adulthood · beauty · faith · intimacy · letting go · loss · love · relationships · self-love

Because I’m your Mother, That’s Why.

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The last song on Anticipate Thisthe mix CD I’d made for him, is Dave Matthews’ Say
Goodbye. It includes the refrain, “For tonight let’s be lovers, and tomorrow go
back to being friends.”
The line from Alanis’ Thank You has been repeating in my head: “Thank you, Disillusionment.”
And, finally, if I was “craving cupcakes,” well, a cupcake
isn’t a sustainable meal, is it? It’s never actually intended to be, and so you’ve got to enjoy it while it is there, savor, relish, cherish it, and then you let it
go. Then you move on.
We had a “debrief” conversation last night, during which most of the
above sentiments where shared by us both. Acknowledging the loveliness, the heights, the
calm, the titillation. And yet, that it was what it was. That it was a moment
in time that we’d both signed up for, participated in, and get to let go, get
to allow its sanctity, without marring it with all those Whatifs that spun in (both) our heads.
To allow the sanctity of beauty, to allow it its singularity
is a challenge and a lesson of adulthood. To be disillusioned, to know that
moving isn’t right for either of us, that fantasy can overtake reality and
crumble it. To have had the hard-won experience of knowing that selfishness and
possessiveness can suffocate a beautiful thing, is perhaps not “romance” as we
think of it. But it is, in itself, a mercy.
Relinquishing the ties to future, to “meaning,” to purpose,
we can allow it the simplicity and integrity of its joy.
I wrote a poem once about trapping a moment away in a mason
jar, locking it deep inside for fear that the moment would get marred by time
and eventuality. But the problem was that I forgot what that moment smelled like anyway; in my possessiveness and fear of losing it, I forgot what
made that moment so precious to begin with.
The same is true here. And, smartly, maturely, rightly, and a little wistfully, we both, or at least I, have to allow the experience its
autonomy and “string”lessness.
I called my mom yesterday. I’d spoken to several friends
about my conflictedness, and my sadness in letting the moment go. In knowing,
surely and deeply, that I would have to. This knowledge all the more
painful since it was such a thing of beauty, since it was, for me, a lesson in
intimacy, vulnerability, and ease that I haven’t felt with anyone in my past.
As we spoke, I told my mom it was like tasting ice cream in a shop
for the first time, and having to realize that ice cream is available
elsewhere, all over the place, in fact. That I don’t have to go to this one
place to experience it. That I’d be missing out if I thought this was the only
wellspring of deliciousness.
Part of the beauty of it at all, is that I get to see that
ice cream is in fact available to me.
(Ice cream! Cupcakes! Sheesh, can you tell I don’t really eat this stuff
anymore!?)
But, I did. I got to experience, savor, relish, and cherish,
and I get to decide to believe—DECIDE TO BELIEVE—that I can have similar dishes elsewhere. Somewhere a little less
complicated.
My mom told me that of course it was available to me. That we all deserve to have the kind of love
we want in the world. That we all are worthy of finding it, searching for, letting
the non-fits go, and working toward creating in ourselves a person deserving of the highest order this life offers.
Why? I asked her.
Why? Why is that so? Where is the cosmic contract we’ve all
signed that says that we’ll get that kind of love? Where is the agreement that we
sign as humans that says, Work and open and heal and (for)give, and you shall receive?
Really, honestly, who the fuck says that any of us get any of that?
It was important for me to play my own Devil’s Advocate. I’m the one with all the woo-woo affirmations posted
around my apartment about abundance and light and love and serenity and
security and radiance. I’m the one who’d easily and believingly tell a friend that
things work out. I’m the asshole who believes all this muck.
And for once, I needed someone else to tell me it. I needed
to be the petulant asshole who says, “Yeah, Says You.” I needed to allow my
disillusionment of that kind, too. I needed to allow that it sucks and hurts,
and is disappointing, and hard fucking work, and that we (I) do this with
absolutely no promises whatsoever of any kind of “reward,” or change.
There is no rule that says, Thou Shalt Not Toil Until Death.
There isn’t.
So, I need, sometimes, someone else to tell me. Because,
truly, somewhere (a little out of reach at the moment), I believe that we all
do deserve the precious and gorgeous things in life. I believe that none of us are meant to toil and suffer and be beaten by
life. I truly, somewhere, have a faith that is unalterable. A
place inside me that has never known fear or scarcity or sorrow.
But, despite my friends’ ears and wisdom and empathy, I
simply needed my mom, former Miss Cynic of the Universe, to tell me, Molly, It’s
going to be alright. There is ice cream
elsewhere. There is love, abundant and resplendent. Not that it isn’t without
its own challenges and lessons and compromises, but there is love, and I am
worthy of it. That I “deserve” it.
Despite the “adultness” of letting go and loving detachment
and equanimity and allowing what is… in these moments, in this one, I simply needed
the maternal “all knowing” assurance of that which I actually believe.
Dear Egregiously Gorgeous Moment in Time: Thank you.  

courage · fear · growth · loss · maturity

Tell the Truth, Tell the Truth, Tell the Truth.

This was the inscription in someone’s book I read once,
quoting someone else. I’ll have to look up who. But it occurs to me this
morning.
So, it is true that by vomiting out my thesis and the
actions therein that I have opened up lines to things that I didn’t have access
to before. This morning, I got to see one of them.
A while back, I’d written here about an “individuation meditation” I’d done regarding my mom. It was an exercise
out of that Calling in The One book, and
it was helpful and powerful and sad, but freeing, then.
This morning as I went in to meditation, I thought to go one
place, and instead was drawn to go elsewhere. So, I did. I ended up at Ocean
Beach, basically the end of the continent hemmed in and eroded and maleated by
the wide Pacific Ocean. There stood a large figure. It was my dad.
I’ve written some here about his ability to throw me off
course, with his demands that I live according to his ideas of what is right,
or with his pure denial of facts about his life and our mutual familial past.
Maybe I’ve even glanced at some of the violence that occurred when my brother
and I were young. But I don’t really talk about it. Hence, the title.
The truth is, it wasn’t nearly as bad as what I hear in others’ lives, and I
discount and play down the ability that man had to scare the … nearly scare the
life out of me. He is a large man, at 6’3”, with a larger voice, fiercer eyes,
and my brother and I would tense at the sound of his car pulling into
the driveway, as if getting ready for battle defenses.
There is a story that I’ve been told, that when I was about 7 or
so, in the middle of an altercation, I turned to my dad and said we were too old to be hit anymore. – No seven
year old should ever have to say or feel that. And my brother at 4, then, shouldn’t
either.
These are, granted, my own interpretations. But, my father,
abandoning physical violence, started in simply using his voice to holler. And
his hollering shook the foundation of the house. — Although there are some
poignant moments in my past when he took up that old tool of intimidation again. …
He was not a pleasant man – though you may not know that in public. You
probably sense you don’t want to cross him, but he’s like that Scorpion in that
legend – it’s in his nature to bite.
And then, too, it’s not in his nature to bite. He’s scared.
He never had proper fathering, never knew how, had his own shame about being a
bastard child, and then hated his step-father. He grew up in the army. Learned
how to make beds and keep time and everything in a row and in order.
Children are not on time or in a row or ever in order. This
frightened him. I know that now.
But, in my meditation, the phrase that I repeated several
times, as I sobbed a bit in real life, was, You don’t have the power to kill me
any more.
See, because, last night, I wrote a mini G-d letter, and
asked for some guidance on earning income, what I should do. And the letter
back asked, What do you want to do? I
cannot produce vagueness.
What a novel question: what do I want to do?
And so when I went in this morning in meditation to find
some answers within myself to this question, I found myself face to face with
my dad. My dad who has wanted me to live life to his rules for a very long
time, even though it’s years since I’m out of his house. I still feel the
stamping thumb of a demand for “normalcy” or whatever his idea of the “right”
kind of life is for me.
So, that’s what this morning was about. Of course I haven’t
really been able to consider what it is I
want to do in my life, if I’m continuing to struggle against what
his ideas are for my life. My therapist has tried to
instill this in me over several years – Molly, this is
your life. It hasn’t made sense to me. I haven’t known
what that’s meant. When I’m trying to struggle against the idea that I might be
swatted or, as the fear puts it, killed, of course I don’t have the time or
wherewithall to consider what
I
want to do with my life. First things first, right? Survival.
To move from the stance of survival to the stance of growth
means to move out from under the fear of elimination. It’s a “fancied” fear at this point –
but it makes my heart flutter and tells me to stay hidden and to stay safe.
Which is what I’ve done for a while, and doesn’t fucking work for me.
I invited him to leave. I told him, as the exercise in the
book suggested, that I was sorry I couldn’t be what he wanted me to be, and
that I forgive him for not being what I want him to be. That without his anger,
he’s just a scared old man, and a scared little boy. I have compassion for the
little boy. And I need to learn some right-sizedness around the man. To begin
to step into my own britches is to believe that they belong to me. In the face
of anyone else – good or bad decision, right or wrong, lost or found — this is
my life.
I don’t know how to do that yet, but inviting him to stop
throttling me is a good start.