This is supposed to be amusing…
Much more succinct than my version…
This is a post about my past, much of it written long ago. Not to dwell on it, but to expunge it from my head. I am not in this place mentally anymore. I’m actively choosing a reset and finding happiness.
Because the thunderstorm was about to commence, she decided to bring inside the two plastic oval feeders that jutted off the balcony. Instead of placing them on the floor, she put them on the stove. She was drinking, of course, a ritual that started as soon as she came home from work. A routine might have given her sanity, but it erased her ability to live a normal life. Many mornings, she woke up very early and started drinking. “It’s just beer,” she’d say, drinking all day and night.
Much later, I got tired and wanted to lay down. She was in her energetic yet lethargic music mode, cycling through a good yet repetitive list of music from her past. She often spent hours blasting music at high volume. While I loved and enjoyed much of the music, she irritatedly refused to let me pick music almost all the time. She would withdraw into herself as I sat there next to her immobile and waiting for her to engage me. Much less give me affection or attention. She often danced to highly sexualized dances while she listened to music that way. If I tried to touch her or respond appropriately, she would push me away and say, “beep beep.” Later I deliberately practiced asking. The answer was no every time I tried.
At some point, I felt her lay down next to me. As she stumbled up out of the bed, I opened my eyes and for some reason had a little trouble breathing. Light filtered through from wall plugins and light in the bedroom or kitchen. I couldn’t clear my eyes because everything looked cloudy. As she entered the kitchen I heard a strange piercing scream. I literally jumped from the bed, coughing a little. I ran into the kitchen to see her standing in front of the stove. Thick smoke and flames for shooting up from its surface. She grabbed the burning and molten plastic bird feeders as both the feeders and the contents burned. She flung the contents into the sink, onto the floor, and around her. Although I couldn’t understand what was going on, I knew she might be burning herself as she grabbed the molten plastic feeders. I intervened as best as I could and tried to determine if she was burned or injured.
The apartment was filled with thick smoke but luckily the fire had not progressed. The burners were ruined from melted plastic and it smelled pungent from the burning plastic and birdseed.
I looked into the sink. She was so confused that she had confused the round bird feeder with a skillet and had cracked an egg or two into it to cook the egg. And then lay down next to me as the feeder began to burn.
She began to wail and cry in frustration and anger. I tried to calm her but she was wild with confused embarrassment. She laid on the floor half-naked, her robe barely covering her. She screamed and cried in bursts. I was scared for both of us and I wasn’t sure how far down the mental rabbit hole she might go. I have pictures of the mess and it evokes a lot of mixed feelings.
I spent an hour cleaning even as I tried to calm her down and console her.
I finally got her to lay down. The next morning, I changed out her burners with mine. And then went about the long process of cleaning.
Because she stayed in bed really late, hours past her normal waking time, a friend of hers had reached out to me asking if she was okay. I did the best I could to explain away everything and say that she was okay. I chose my words carefully. One of the things that had always stuck between us was that she insisted that our relationship be kept secret from her male friend. It was a huge red flag and I tried communicating repeatedly about it. It’s not her fault – it’s mine. Had I to do it over again, I would have said, “No” at the outset. Despite what she says in her narrative, I carefully navigated the line to let her friend know she was okay but had experienced a brutal night.
I don’t know how to characterize her mental state when she got up. But you can imagine… I had hoped it would be ‘the’ event to get her to stop drinking.
That was also the day she decided to do multiple hits of psychedelic mushrooms.
I was still confused and upset, and also nervous because of what had happened the night before.
Though she had promised me she would have no one else around when she did drugs, the allegedly concerned friend came over without invitation, another thing that she told him he couldn’t do. They proceeded to sit on the floor and cuddle and kiss while I was in the room, repeatedly telling each other how much they loved each other and what their friendship meant. She was deep into her mushroom hallucinations. It did not look like friendly cuddling though. At one point he lay on top of her as she lay on the floor. I had to tell her twice to close her robe because she was exposed.
As a result of the hours of laying on the floor, she had bruises all over her body.
Not only had I survived a near-miss with possible death due to the fire, but I had to witness what I consider to be a nervous breakdown exacerbated by alcohol and mushrooms. Adding insult to injury, I had to witness her being very inappropriate with a so-called friend. She and that friend had previous interactions, as well as interactions with his ex-wife. And although she had friendzoned him, it was obvious that he always wanted her and loved her. You can imagine that internal conflict inside me. Because the intimacy between her and I had come to a standstill, the hurt was amplified. I’d communicated my longing and needs multiple times, each time rebuffed. To see her behave that way with someone who obviously wanted her was beyond indescribable. She definitely did not cuddle with me like that, or tell me she loved me in that way. I tried to interact with her, but she pushed me away and made several hurtful comments ridiculing me. The friend also provided her with a mushroom supply.
Coming out of that confusing night and drug-filled day, the same friend reached out to me. I know that he already knew that she and I were together. Anyone would. Only she believed he didn’t really know. She on the other hand had insisted for months that our relationship be kept a secret from him. No matter how I explained the pain that caused me, she violently insisted. I asked her more than once to just tell him and sort the consequences. This confused me too because she too had been in a previous relationship where the other person was ashamed of her and demanded that she be kept a secret from his life. That evening, because the friend was hinting, I told him that of course, I had been with her all night.
The next day and for days later, even though I had been there for her and cleaned up the incredible mess, she was most focused on the fact that I had allegedly ruptured her demand that I do not say anything about our relationship to her friend. The friend’s possible reaction dwarfed being in a relationship with me.
She couldn’t understand that I had not planned it or the incredible circumstance she had put me under the night of the fire or the entire day with the mushrooms.
Much later, too late, I decided I could not tolerate her secrecy anymore and told her I’d had enough. All the months of me being communicative and honest and open with her had not worked. I should have said no to it all from the very beginning because all the red flags and warning signs were there. Secrecy is always a problem. And that kind of friendship with someone who wants you in that way was always an ongoing problem. It too was exacerbated by the fact that they were drinking buddies and his presence made it impossible for me to be around her when she wasn’t drinking. And it robbed me of conversations that we should have had together. It’s not her fault. It’s mine. I ignored my instincts and boundaries because I loved her and feared losing her and the loneliness that would ensue. I did have multiple conversations with her, trying to explain the hurt that she was causing by refusing to see it from my point of view. It’s okay to have friends, but not ones who spend their fantasy life imagining being with the person you love.
When she stopped drinking entirely, I think she understood the gravity of that night and what she put me through the next day.
I will never forget it.
Part of any relationship is the negotiation of boundaries between both people. I have learned the hard way. It is perfectly okay to have friends, but it is equally true that there has to be a discussion and acknowledgment when it’s not working. And to me the principal ingredient is secrecy. If the interactions are transparent and nothing is kept from the other, it’s healthy. I experienced something before myself that was similar. For 90% of the time, it was just friendly. If the relationship is working and there is physical intimacy between you and your partner those sorts of things almost never cause a major rift. But when one person is not being listened to and not getting what they need out of the relationship, the danger increases tenfold. Not getting the attention you want inevitably leads you to look for it elsewhere.
After the birdseed night, she wouldn’t let me be around him, and she continued to have him over and drink with him. I wasn’t allowed or invited. Anything above board and open would be okay, but to be excluded knowing how I felt was a red flag that I should not have ignored. Whether she sees it that way or not, she was more concerned about his feelings than mine.
My therapist had me write down a bunch of my stories and to see how they looked written out. Had they happened to another person, obviously I would have said that I was being disrespected and to get away until she changed her behavior.
People who knew me asked me why I was dormant some days, with both my blog and social media. I wrote three dozen entries, not with the intent of disparagement. Rather, to get my thoughts on paper and look at them like a third person. It’s a story of constantly asking for attention and affection. And yes, intimacy. Drinking was the third person between us. Her friend was the fourth.
The good thing that came out of it is that I flat out told her I was done explaining sharing my life with anyone I wanted to. And then I wasn’t going to explain or defend her insistence on secrecy.
Having a secret relationship is not privacy. Telling the other person he or she can’t talk to people about the ‘us’ should have been a deal-breaker for me early on. Factoring in that I couldn’t even be around him, much less have our relationship known to him, or discussed after he already knew, seems toxic to me now. She had stopped interacting on social media with me, too, and never publicly acknowledged me. Due to covid and her tendency to be a hermit, drink, and follow a hellacious sleep routine, we did not go out once as a couple.
That night she sat on the couch next to me and texted a previous interest nude pictures of herself, ones I had never seen, that about killed me. She angrily defended it until she stopped drinking. The person receiving the texts is one I had warned her about, and a person who everybody believed that the two of them had an affair. He is married. She also behaved inappropriately with him at work, something that really bewildered me, given how she angrily pretended she barely knew me under the same circumstances. She would die of shock if she knew that everybody knew that she had behaved that way with him. She drunkenly insisted that it didn’t mean anything and that it wasn’t sexual, even though they were beautiful nude pictures of her when she was younger and the language they were using was extremely graphic. She said they were pictures of her before so they couldn’t possibly be sexual. I had the same visceral reaction, in part because she was not being intimate with me for several weeks at that time. It is difficult to reconcile being physically starved while watching the person you want to be with be flirtatious most verbally and physically with other people, much less sexting while you are sitting right next to her and being ignored.
That she had shared stories of being with people she worked with reminded me that words and actions must align. Secrecy should have been my biggest red flag.
I asked her to let me see all those pictures four times. She said she would but never did. When she was angry with me, she insisted that she was going to text me all of them. She didn’t.
She also told me that there was a website out there that a few people had access to, pictures of her when she was younger and very sexual. I never got to see that either, even as other men out in the world had access to them. I can’t believe I tolerated that or that she thought such a repository of pictures and excluding me would be anything other than deeply hurtful. I’m not complaining that the pictures existed. I’m complaining that I wasn’t allowed to see them.
There is no shame in me admitting that her sexuality was explosive from the very beginning. It’s true that it was always while she was drinking. But I had never experienced anything like that. She told me crazy stories of her sexual past. She opened me up to new things. I of course did not begrudge her the past. My arrogance shielded me from realizing that I was just another person in the pattern, one with feelings who was about to learn what it feels like to be slowly starved of those things. And she did starve me. Both for what I call routine affection and physical intimacy. It was a terrible affliction to be in the best shape of my life and to want someone like that and be unable to express it.
I insisted she stopped drinking. And I also asked for more intimacy. She stopped drinking but couldn’t provide the hugs, the kind words, or her hands on me. I hated to give up asking. As it turns out I never got to be with her once when she wasn’t drinking. So I don’t know if her wild sexuality is really a part of her or a residual symptom of something else. I do know that she reeled me in with that wild sexuality. And then turned it off. She wouldn’t hear any compromises, no matter how serious or heartfelt they were on my part. I have a feeling she’s done this before. No one wants a relationship without physicality.
People become more uninhibited when they drink, but just like hypnosis, they don’t do or say things they don’t want to. They just become uninhibited about doing so.
Weeks after she stopped drinking, I found her friend has indeed come over and brought alcohol. She had some. It’s hard to believe that anyone who cared about her would expose her to drinking again. It’s not that he is a bad person – it’s his right to behave as he sees fit. He wasn’t the problem, not in the relationship sense. But to an extent he needs her to be the person she was before, for a variety of reasons. She maintains contact with people who bring discord and needless stress to her life, one that she needs to leave behind to be happy and satisfied.
When I wrote on social media about HSV2, she was not happy. I didn’t name or her or point fingers. I did it because I don’t like secrecy.
My part of the story is mine to tell, even if I do so without naming people or hurting them needlessly.
I tried to show her the normal attention of someone who appreciates her and life. Most of my efforts were treated as intrusions while she drank.
Our biggest problem other than her drinking was that she could not see that I was not exaggerating my need for love and affection. I was made to feel crazy and “extra” for wanting it. I wanted her to be happy and to have a normal relationship. She’s getting older. The old patterns won’t serve her anymore. I couldn’t continue having a life bereft of what most people would consider basic affection and intimacy.
I know this is a rambling, weird post. I’m tired of it mocking me in my draft file.
Despite some of my missteps, I’m still not a fan of secrecy. It leads to all sorts of behavior, much of it counterproductive. I learned the hard way! Which seems to be the way I learn everything. I’m using the word “learn” very loosely here.
When I talked about anxiety and taking Lexapro, this social media platform restricted my account a few months ago. Given the content I see, I’m still perplexed by this.
I can only imagine what this post might trigger. It’s personal and honest. And maybe a little irreverent. I have a sense of humor about it, just as I do with everything else.
About 50-80% of adults have oral herpes (HSV), a virus that we usually know as cold sores. Another 16% have been diagnosed with HSV2, the kind that typically hits below the belt. Many more have it, as they are either asymptomatic or the symptoms aren’t apparent. There is no cure. Over time, most people tend to have fewer symptoms. Women in particular often have it without any visible signs given their anatomy.
I have HSV2. I recently used Everlywell at-home testing to confirm it again. It doesn’t usually have any serious medical complications. There are exceptions for some people.
Most of the people who have it don’t talk about it. That’s a problem for a lot of reasons. The principal consequence is that so many people don’t tell their potential partners. Additionally, most people don’t get tested for STDs, or even have their yearly blood tests for the spectrum of other possible diseases or illnesses. Testing for STDs is essential for sexually active adults. So many people have one without being aware. No one likes to imagine that a partner might be infected; either the potential partner knows or doesn’t. It’s on you to be proactive, no matter how phenomenal someone looks standing next to the fireplace while wearing a come-hither look in the dim light from the Bed, Bath, And Beyond candles on the mantle.
If you are wondering, you can get herpes of any kind even when you’re with someone who has no symptoms. Even if you are careful and use protection. Using contraception as an example, none is 100% effective. As I’ve personally learned, being ugly isn’t a guarantee, either. Someone will look at you with fire in their eyes. It’s one of the most complicated parts of being a human being. We superficially talk about it, of course, but few people are direct about how important this side of private life is. It’s possible to have a fulfilling life without sexual expression, but it’s one I couldn’t imagine. I can listen to only so much NPR.
If you have an STD, it is the least you can do to have an uncomfortable conversation with your partner before engaging in the horizontal mambo. Such discussions will likely be awkward. All important ones are. It’s possible to avoid transmission to a long-term partner. But it is equally valid to remember that nothing you do is 100% safe. Your libido will lead to a satisfying sex life if you’re lucky. Any potential partner worth having will be glad you took the time to allow them to make an informed choice. Giving someone an STD is the best example to prove why “it’s better to give than to receive” is problematic.
Suppose you want to test without the embarrassment of going to the doctor? In that case, you can use a service such as Everlywell to test yourself for all manner of medical conditions affordably, STDs included. It’s better to know the truth than to risk someone else’s health.
I know what you’re thinking. No matter how attractive someone is, they likely have something for you to worry about, not the least of which is bad credit and a penchant for being best friends with their exes. Hopefully, an STD won’t be an additional worry. If you haven’t had comprehensive blood testing and an STD test in a while, you owe it to yourself to do it.
You can get back to Chad or Suzanne afterward. Or Chad and Suzanne if that’s your thing. No judgment here.
PS Yes, I will say anything on social media.
It is wrong to try to change someone. Except…
The exception is when you care for them, and you can see that the arc they are on ends in self-destruction or living a lesser life. By way of admission, I have ignored advice that was spot on in my life. My favorite cousin gave me the best advice of my life at one point. Because of my arrogance, I thought I could somehow overcome the looming consequences of my ignorance. Of course, I was wrong. If I had suffered from addiction, I probably would have still ignored the advice. People often ask me how I avoided the tendency to addiction. My answer is a combination of sheer luck and avoidance. It’s what helped me finally understand my parents a little more and stop being judgmental to the extreme I once did about my sister. They were completely wrong for their choices but were also equally trapped. Once I recognized the congruency to my own life, it managed to humble me slightly.
I had an ongoing battle with my brother Mike with his addiction. It ruined his life and ultimately ended it years ahead of what might have been. Even if he had survived, he was not himself or living the life at his fingertips. It cost him a truncated career and the loving embrace of people around him. It contaminated my relationship with him, and I didn’t realize how bad it was until the demon he suffered from became inconquerable. His death had more of an effect on me than I thought. More vanity of my part to believe otherwise.
I’m sure each of you has a friend or family member who equally suffers. Those who suffer often possess fantastic intelligence and artfully or brutally hide their secrets. It’s why I wrote the Bystanders Prayer a few months ago. Those in the grips of these issues don’t see the life that could be. That’s how addiction works. Or choices we don’t want to face. It doesn’t have to be an addiction; any unhealthy pattern of behavior will suffice. I have a few of my own, so I’m not casting stones without getting a few bounced off my own face.
Those who are capable enough or lucky enough to achieve escape velocity from their past decisions are among the most fortunate people in the world.
Those who escape find that other people were waiting for them to be someone else, the person they could be absent from the internal turmoil, often self-imposed.
It means they have access to a full life. A life full of people and friends. The world is meant to be experienced fully. If you have a friend or family member who needs to hear the screaming gong of change, ring it with a hammer of sufficient size. Doing nothing will undoubtedly end the way you think it will. Hammering the gong might cause a lot of temporary pain, and it might even cost you your relationship with those you care for. They’ll be gone one day anyway if that is their choice.
Only the spoon knows what stirs in the pot – as with any situation. Because of the private nature of most struggles, a lot of what is hidden fails to see the light of day. Personally, I couldn’t begin to explain the craziness I’ve witnessed in life or faithfully explain my irrational reaction to it. No matter what happens, I’m supposed to be in control of my response. That definitely hasn’t been true.
Emotion clouds cognition.
I have asked people to change. Whether it’s to stop drinking, being angry, or even accepting affection reciprocally. I’ve had both failure and success.
I want everyone to have a clear mind and the opportunity to be happy or satisfied.
If they are in my life, I’ve realized that there is a weird undefinable line between boundaries and asking someone to change.
Boundaries require you to hold fast to your expectations no matter what happens. That is tough, especially when you need love and attention.
When I was younger, I had to detach from some of my family because I couldn’t keep my sanity otherwise. Literally. They wouldn’t change. With the exception of my sister, everyone who suffered addiction in my immediate family met their demise still suffering with it. That’s a terrible track record.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve also found myself seeing that not everyone experiences love and togetherness the same way. Asking for someone to mirror me might be too much for some. Is it wrong for me to ask? No. There is no obligation to conform to my idea of a good life.
Me asking someone to give me what I want or need isn’t a demand to change. It reflects me communicating that I’m not getting what I want. That’s how it is supposed to work. It flames out quite often, too, though, because people are complicated and come with a suitcase rack of luggage that has nothing to do with you. People praise communication as if it is the cure. It’s not. It’s necessary, though, no matter the consequences. All you can do is speak your truth and surrender to the idea that other people will respond however their life makes them.
I can’t imagine a life without enthusiasm and without someone who wants one hand on their shoulder – and hopefully one wrapped around their back, too. It’s something that many don’t openly discuss. Most of us want a warm heart to greet us and hands that magnetize us. Don’t we seem to wander through a mile of weeds to get there?
Because I’ve gone to therapy, I know all the jargon for my attachment style. It’s helped me recognize some of the stupid sh!t I do as stupid sh!t. It’s not translated well into rational behavior, though.
But I did see the folly of chasing what I wanted. When you’re running and chasing, you don’t see the scenery. As you come to a stop, you look around and wonder how you got there. The fight in you evaporates.
If you’re not getting what you want out of life, at some point you have to decide to face the certainty of more of the same or the possibility of something different. That uncertainty comprises a lot of our lives and keeps us running in place. There will be pain on either side of your choice.
Choose your hard, right?
By surrendering and chasing no more? The thing I wanted?
It rang my doorbell. Metaphorically, of course.
And I answered.
There are no guarantees. Only instinct and experience. Optimism is a rare commodity that must be actively replenished. I’m capable. As I quoted last week, the person in the selfie you take is most often your own worst enemy. What are the things or people that make you most likely to be happy? What is holding you back from reaching toward that life?
I’ll need another hammer or two alongside my head to keep me on course. I feel like I have a cousin who is already searching Amazon to buy the perfect hammer.
Meanwhile, I have to answer the door.
I definitely hear the doorbell calling me. There’s a smile and hands on the other side.
My “Ask” project both failed and succeeded. The truth of it is that you can’t control another person’s response – only your own. I wrote that it’s never wrong to ask; the bigger sin is to have an ‘ask’ and remain silent.
“Silence is the gravedigger for enthusiasm, love, humor, and happiness.” – X
Ask for what you want or desire.
If you don’t, it is a certainty you’ll never get it.
Ask of life and ask of people.
The answer, though bitter or not what you sought…
It’s at least the truth.
Everything starts from there
PS I do mourn the failure.
I woke up at 11:30, safe and happy. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I think multiple things kept me awake, one of which was the unusual trip I took to LR to see my sister Carolyn. Her house was built in 1939 and updated before she bought it. It’s a beautiful house, one she’s made comfortable and homey. Like many people, I think she doesn’t see it for what it is. It’s truly something to be proud of, like her life. Although I don’t have a clue how she juggles knowing so many people. She could run for state senate based on the number of friends and acquaintances she keeps up with. Though she will kill me for saying so, she’s fiercely single. But she needs a lot of hugs, preferably from someone really cute and financially capable. Don’t tell her I said so, though.
The Target Rule For Women: If you love Target, you can never be truly happy with a man who hates it.
I got out of bed instead of laying there. My cat Güino did his part, nuzzling me and demanding more treats. So I made him a concoction of juice from cat food paste. He doesn’t eat the actual meaty part. He likes to just lap up the mess I make by compressing extra water into the paste. I’d mock him but I eat some weird things too. We all do. Last week, I made the mistake of making sardine juice. Güino loved it. One afternoon as I sat in the office chair, I turned to watch him hurl a stream of sardine juice across my newly-washed comforter. I could see a look of satisfied amusement on his face as he finished. I’m sure of it. The smell reminded me of a late-night bowling alley after hot-dog and free beer hour. Bed Bath & Beyond does NOT make any candles scented this way.
The Reg Flag Maintenance Rule For Women: if your man spends more than five minutes on his hair, he’s going to be ridiculously high maintenance about all the things that matter to you or annoy you, too.
I still do a few hundred pushups a day, without going crazy like I once did. My cousin was right; doing them made my life more manageable and better. Over the last few months, a couple of people have been energized by my advice to start doing them, too, especially when they realize that they can spend a couple of minutes a few times a day exercising and avoid the hassle of driving or being at the gym – if they choose. When I got my hair cut the last time, a younger barber was fascinated and I sold him on trying them for six weeks. One of the things I explained to him was that he could start with “female” pushups if he needed to. (I also convinced him that he could do ten pushups at a time, multiple times a day. Before long, he’d be doing sets of 25-50, if he wished to, and even between clients.) Male pushups do work more of the lower body, but if upper body fatigue is reached by doing the allegedly easier “female” pushups, they are extremely effective to build upper body strength. It’s a myth that they aren’t great for your physical well-being, much like the mistaken belief that walking isn’t an amazing way to stay in shape. So many people think we have to run, do a lot of cardio, or stress our bodies needlessly to be in shape. “Female” pushups and walking aren’t as flashy as their counterparts but they do result in transformational physical effects if you make them a habit. Any small applied change to behavior becomes a habit. The Law of Increments prevails.
“To a dog, all food is dog food.” To which I’d add, in the same way, if a person won’t remove their personal filter from what they see in life, circumstances will never change. “All is yellow to a jaundiced eye,” though not my quote, is apt.
Profile Picture Rule: if the person doesn’t have a visible and updated profile picture, swipe away if you’re looking for a reliable partner to date. It is the minimum level of honesty and telegraphs their ability to be open. Argue all you want; those people have infinite time and access to both phone and their accounts.
One of the pitfalls of social media is that people don’t use it to expound on the spectrum of their experiences. You see a thirsty photo or one of a big moment and conclude it’s an honest representation of their life. You know from experience it’s probably not. I continue to learn it’s definitely not. It’s both a comfort and a curse, as perverse as that might sound reading it.
I went out on the landing around 1 a.m. Güino accompanied me, of course. My solar lanterns had charged well yesterday for the first day of spring but only one still held a dim charge. I heard a strident voice clearly. The person was upset and ranting. I made a cup of strong coffee and knocked on the apartment door. The voice went silent. To my surprise, the door opened. “Here’s a good cup of coffee. Do you need to talk and have someone listen?” The person was astonished and said, “Thanks for the coffee. I’m sorry you could hear me. I didn’t know.” I waited a couple of seconds before saying, “I’m sorry y’all are struggling. It can be better if you want it to.” The person nodded. “Reset it if you can,” I said. “I hope your night goes better.” There’s no moral here. But I do hope they read the inscription on the cup I designed and had made: “Choose your hard.” It’s hard to change but it’s equally hard to continue navigating waters that always capsize your boat. I hope I get the coffee cup back. It’s one of my favorites.
Yesterday, I was delighted to discover that my internet provider had decided to put the previous tenant’s $500 delinquent bill on MY account. You can imagine the creative phone call(s) and comments I made. It seemed to be a disservice to not respond with humor and sarcasm. The person who lived in my apartment before me not only trashed the apartment but succeeded in ruining her credit. The mistake to my bill was supposedly fixed but I do wonder at the imperfect process that allowed it to happen in the first place. To say something positive along with my negative, I was shocked and delighted to see that I somehow qualified for a $30 monthly credit on my internet bill. I had zero expectations I would be able to.
During my trip to central Arkansas, I got a ding to my windshield as I exited Conway. When I got in my car yesterday afternoon, the ding had spread to a 4″ crack. I was going to epoxy it today; now I’ll have to hope a window service can drill it out enough to repair without needing a new windshield. I guess that’s what I get for making cracks all the time; it was inevitable that one appear in my window. I get dings all the time driving through central Arkansas. I should probably refrain from driving through so many ditches. That’s where all the interesting stuff is, though.
The two and a half hours of sleep I managed before midnight will have to suffice for this day. I shouldn’t complain. So many people suffer worse. I’ve been lucky and I can’t forget it. That is the worst kind of entitlement, that of failing to see blessings.
“If it is important enough to you, you will find a way. If it is not, you will find an excuse.” Not my quote but resoundingly true.
It’s going to rain hard later today, which is great. I cleaned more of the parking lot and landings yesterday – by hand, no less, wrenching up detritus and trash that the landlords failed to clean from last fall. A couple of weeks ago, I cleaned up 23 bags of leaves and trash. The rain will do its magic and cleanse the remaining residue. If it isn’t chilly, I’m going to stand out in the rain like a lunatic this afternoon and get drenched. My hope is that it will do its metaphorical work on me, too, taking away the residue of self-doubt and discomfort in my life.
Words of unexpected encouragement from a while back:
“You’re not too much. You’ve just dealt with others who don’t have the capacity for you. Somewhere, that ‘extra’ that you give is exactly what will fill someone with happiness. Really, you’re going to reduce yourself? How’s that for a slap in the face, X?”
I decided to post it because recently, I explained the 10% Rule to someone who was unfamiliar with it.
We focus our attention on perceived defects about ourselves. But what if instead of trying to change those things, we embraced them and actively sought out people who think those alleged defects are enhancements?
Instead of fighting our nature, find someone who looks at us with a little bit of fire and awe? No hair? Big nose? Odd hands? Love handles? Weird feet? So what. The world is an awfully big place filled with a variety of people.
All of us would be so much happier if we could swing for the fences for someone who appreciates us with our defects.
“Defects become invisible where enthusiasm resides.” – X
Its counterpart is this: “Faults are thick where love is thin.”
A sense of humor is the number one key for me. Followed by wit and a quick smile. That wit and quick smile telegraph so much about a person to the world. Things are going to happen – but such an outlook glides past the obstacles without getting stuck. Because I’m a comforter, I want comfort when I’m stressed – and I want to freely give the same. It’s impossible to be myself when someone else isn’t reciprocal during the tough times.
The other thing? Enthusiasm for my presence and the ability to express it with their hands and heart.
I know, the lightning of hypocrisy may very well strike me. That’s okay. I’m mortal in the worst way. I fought a losing battle with wanting attention until I realized I didn’t want to fight for it anymore. It was the worst kind of agony trying to put it into practice.
When I was 20, gray hair set in. About that time, I adopted a short, almost military-style haircut. For convenience. My hair is one of the least important things about me. Now that some of my hair is permanently gone, I don’t chase getting it back or hiding the salt and pepper. Far from it. It’s like me new scar running up my abdomen. I own it and as perverse as it sounds, I’m glad in some ways that it happened.
Now that I lost weight, my sternum is odd. It was one of the first things that emerged from beneath my fat. I used to lie in bed and touch it, both surprised and tickled. As the rest of my body caught up, it tickles me that my sternum has that ‘jut’ in it. Below it, I have a weird connection from the surgery that obscures my stomach muscles. I’ll never get rid of it without surgery. But I would never want to. I don’t care if the whole world sees it.
For some, I am too much, too needy, too something.
The 10% rule continues to tell me that I need only one person to find me to not be “too much.”
The optimistic part of me hopes that justice has already been served to you on a hot plate.
One of your cases probably already unfolded this morning. I of course hope that the victim in that case is soberly acknowledging that some measure of appropriate response finally transpired.
The realistic part of me, the one who has read and heard so many stories about you, dampens my expectations.
Relying on the criminal justice system to protect people is at best foolish. It is an eternal after ~the~fact endeavor.
I know that karma does not really reach out and grasp the people who legitimately deserve a harsh measure.
I would hope that you would finally yield to the universe’s demand that you be held accountable.
To the women you made victim through no fault of their own, I offer my apology. Were the decision mine, liberal though I might be, legal proceedings would be the least of your worries.
I am hoping Justice prevailed. If not, there is no point in honoring our collective agreement to do no harm.
“Make all the right choices. Eat all the right food. And you will still be dead one day. This is a rigged game, indeed, this gift of life.” – X
Have you ever thought that another way to describe a bath is “butt soup?”
For the first time in MANY years, I am getting a refund for both Federal and State taxes. While I can’t finance a yacht with the refund, it is a pleasant change of pace! Also, I did my taxes exceedingly fast; in previous years, it was a very tedious process, usually involving a lot of typing, swearing, and frustration – and that was just addressing the envelopes. Though I meticulously followed the software and triple-checked it, the IRS said my refund had to be adjusted. Whether it’s worth arguing over depends on whether my hold on sanity is firm the day I receive the letter to challenge their adjustment.
“The chickens came home to roost. Or so they thought… the smell of fried chicken soon permeated the air.” -X
Last week, very early in the morning, as I rounded the corner of the apartments near the trail by the hospital, I found three bags stuffed with personal items. Though there was no one there along the fringe of the building, I surmised that someone had slept between the minimal hedging and the brick wall. I saw someone there the following day, and I left them in peace. When I passed by again, they were gone, but the bags were still there. I left a gift for them next to their bags. I’ve not seen the bags since. I wonder about them each day.
I keep learning that being clear and honest still likely results in a mess. It doesn’t matter what your motivation is or how concisely and openly you share; the odds still dictate that things will likely spin away from you. Likely, there’s nothing you can do about it. So much of the outcome depends on the other mercurial person. Not stating your truth will just as likely cause you to bubble over unexpectedly when the pressure to speak overwhelms you. As hard as it is, between the two options, it’s always better to just state your truth when you feel like you need to. It won’t feel like the best option, though. Most of us are hard-wired to put off what plagues us until it seeps or explodes out. It’s important to remember that the feelings you bury are still alive under all the layers.
Wine ice cubes are fantastic. Not only do they go well in actual wine, but they also can be used as needed when you want wine to cook with. Don’t “at me,” either, saying that ice cubes in wine are uncouth. There are no actual rules regarding taste, cooking, or eating. The sooner we abandon that nonsense, the better off we’ll all be. And happier eating macaroni over the sink – or a bowl of cereal for supper. One wine ice cube is much better than a cheap grape popsicle, too. In my opinion. Adult note: if you drink enough wine, your appetite will likely go away. And your ability to cook coherently definitely will.
“Wisdom teaches us to be patient with the ridiculous setbacks we’re all going to encounter. It also somehow still fails to prepare us for being surprised by how people will act.” – X
Not everyone is wired the same way sexually. That’s to be expected. But if you’re a sexual person and not being intimate, consequences to your quality of life or well-being always follow. It doesn’t mean that sex is an overwhelming or inflexible motivator; it just means that human behavior will succumb to the urge toward intimacy. People need to stop being ashamed of their essential needs and how they practice and define them. Sex is the big mystery that permeates our lives in multiple ways – yet most of us have a completely mistaken idea of how other people live sexually, much less how to be happy with our sexual selves.
My therapist told me that in one of my first sessions, I said this: “Isn’t it odd how most of our need to look presentable isn’t really so we’ll feel good about ourselves. It’s because we are leaning into the idea of spectator attractiveness. We want to look good to other people. Because if not, generally speaking, we’d all dress comfortably and not think much about hair, makeup, shoes, or how we are perceived. Absent the expectation of attractiveness and left to our own devices, we might be a lot less preoccupied with appearance and happier as a result.” I could be wrong, but it seems to be true generally.
You can drive around the roundabout 17 times if you need to. Likewise, you can fail as many times as you need to or have to until you finally make the turnoff. It’s where you end up that matters, anyway. It would be nice to avoid a convoluted, circuitous path of errors, but life tends not to work that way.
“You’re not afraid of being alone in the dark. You are afraid that you might not be alone in the dark.” This isn’t my quote. It does demonstrate how our fears and thoughts overtake us.
Male secret #34: most men do not care if a woman’s legs are smoothly shaved. Or if their nails are painted, their blouse, shoes, pants match, etc. The enthusiasm of presence derails all those concerns. I’m not sure you should trust a middle-aged man named X or not – but this is true.
Rule of Presence: each of us will jump to hold the door for another person, but we will move heaven and earth to stop someone from passing us on the road.
I’ve put up three ‘fake’ streets signs in the last couple of months. All of them are still posted. PS If you want to do it quickly, have the sign made prior to showing up, with the bolt already through it. Since most street posts have multiple bolt holes, push the bolt through and twirl the nut on it quickly. Also, did you know you can order a custom street sign easily? If you’re bored, google it. It’s no accident that 75 mph is a great sign to add in Johnson. (I didn’t do that one due to public safety concerns. And the lack of a sense of humor with traffic enforcement there, now that I think about it.)
Another one I stole from the internet: “Each and every selfie is a picture of perhaps your own worst enemy.”
It’s been about six months since my surgery. It’s been the longest ten years of my life. I’m still thankful to be here. But I can’t escape the idea that I’d be a lot happier with a check for one million dollars in my wallet. I might not ever cash it.
Well, I wrote a country song, if you can believe it. The song is just banjo, piano, and guitar; the guitar is loosely tuned to mimic a banjo’s jangly feel. It’s an imagined moment, making it more tangible than a memory. One of these days, I will sing it, though your ears might protest.
Try This On For Sighs
I turned on the radio, hearing lyrics nostalgic and free
Conway, George, and Charlie telling us simple stories
invoking us to live by life’s happy and simple decree
family to give us community
friends to give us companionship
and one to share our vulnerable soul
come here and try this on for sighs
you don’t need money, cars, or clothes
discard the disguise and guarded pose
let your heart and body murmur its song
find the enthusiastic arms where you belong
I walked by the closet, you standing like a dare
facing the mirror, nimble bare feet on the floor
black dress draped against your body, shoulders bare
the memory of your departed mom flooding your candid eyes
I could picture both of you silhouetted there, and still
your shared beauty an ongoing and persistent surprise
your chin and neck trembled with the painful past
you turned and smiled willfully in my direction
knowing I witnessed the overlap of time, recast
you tossed the garment aside, your eyes locked and wide
“Come here, and try this on for sighs,” you whispered
as the invisible music played, our bodies erased the divide
come here and try this on for sighs
you don’t need money, cars, or clothes
discard the disguise and guarded pose
let your heart and body murmur its song
find the enthusiastic arms where you belong
In the small space of a closet, time slowed, then stopped
as we laughed, elbows bumping as we twirled
in that closet, the entire volume of the world
….as we sang…
come here and try this on for sighs
you don’t need money, cars, or clothes
discard the disguise and guarded pose
let your heart and body murmur its song
find the enthusiastic arms where you belong
I haven’t finished the melody, but I wrote this song, something I haven’t done in a long time. When I finished, I realized that it could be both spiritual plea or a personal promise. For those whose lives are filled with God, let that be your premise. For those who love, may this be your optimism and purposeful promise of anticipation of another day. And for those souls who have both? Stand together and watch the sunrise, if you can.
Or the sunset. And be renewed. – X
I shall never know if you’re listening
only that I’m whispering the words
That my life not be made easier
only fuller and always in anticipation
I don’t want to know the obstacles
nor the slap of who will precede me
only that I’ll have one more variable day
before the shadows grow feet and approach me
I make this unrequested promise to you
let me arise and see the sunrise, anew
just one more time, one more snapshot
another measure of loving enduring optimism
and if you do, I vow to sing
not for me, but for you
I shall never know if you’re listening
only that I’m whispering the words
P.S. The picture is two superimposed pictures of a man celebrating both sunrise and sunset. Because the sun never sets upon the Earth, only upon our eyes. So much of us is limited to our narrow perspective, and we grow to trust only the things we can touch – instead of the things we can feel and experience.