Monthly Archives: September 2014

The curse of true love


Imagine you are a piece of Velcro, the sticky side, not the soft side.
Now imagine there is a cotton ball stuck to you. Got the image?
This cotton ball is your current relationship. When your current relationship ends….that is to say you break up, they die etc. it is like someone violently pulls this cotton ball away from your Velcro. Where does the cotton ball go? I don’t know. It ceases to exist. It falls into the emotional landfill with other discarded things, lost keys, bad poetry, Myspace pages. But it defies the laws of physics, and is gone.
So what you’re left with is a bunch of stringy pieces of pure cotton all tangled in your Velcro exterior. These are the left behinds of the relationship, the raw emotions. The memory of the awesome first date you had right alongside the way they never like bacon. It is with this image in mind that you begin the process of grief.
For awhile you pretend the cotton ball will come back, it will be different, better now that it has been stretched out. You pretend the cotton ball is still there, inexplicably invisible. You try to find the cotton ball and smash yourself back on it. In the case of the break up, this is typically when regrettable texts are sent. You make promises, maybe even beg. You definitely consider begging. You plead. You pray. This runs it’s course and/or you receive a restraining order.
Next you get super angry at everything around you. Stupid, tiny interferences that you could normally laugh off are huge, life destroying, catastrophes. For example, you discover a tiny honey bee in the kitchen and annihilate it with so much Raid flying insect spray that you probably should replace the butcher block below the death scene. Auto correct makes you capable of murder. You drop things a lot and curse at the air and at strangers in traffic. Take a minute and look over. Those strangers are often sad pieces of Velcro too, little dangling pieces of raw cotton in various stages of release as well. But God forbid you see a Velcro with its cotton ball securely attached. F-them. They must be miserable, or they made a bargain with the devil. Or they are fake. You stop believing in legitimate attachment.
Since none of that is working, you might try to shove a new cotton ball on to fill in the empty space that was once interlocked with your plastic tendrils. But alas, you’re all fuzzy and spent and there’s no way for anything to lock in, no real space for new cotton balls. They awkwardly fall off. And quite frankly, these are not the most absorbent cotton balls in the bag-if you get my drift.
So you sob. Remember the horrific, unattractive seal barking cry? It’s happening now. There’s nothing more to do. You’ll have to give up. You are certain you’ll never love again. Ever. You Throw yourself on the bed, lay on the kitchen floor. Wonder If anyone has died of crying. Wallow away the last of your days in a slobbery, wet mess.
One day, you’re so exhausted from the doubting and the bargaining, the yelling at random passers by, the noisy embarrassing crying and the intense desire to become one with the ceramic tile in your kitchen that you just have to stop for a moment. Be Still. Maybe notice what the pulling away has left behind. See the mess, maybe for the first time.
It’s about this time I’m reminded of the children’s song, ” going on a bear hunt”. In the song/chant as “you” are going on a bear hunt you encounter various obstacles, a river, a tree, a monsoon, a gaggle of turtles ( have I mentioned I don’t remember details well?) anyway you have to figure out how to pass by these obstacles to go forward to kill that bear. (Side note…some children’s songs seem to contain an alarming amount of violence to be songs for CHILDREN). Any way- with the river ” can’t go above it, can’t go under it, gotta go through it”. Gotta go through it.
You can’t rip it off, you can’t replace it, you can’t beat up inanimate objects, or spray an entire bottle of Raid to kill it, it’s just gonna hurt until it doesn’t.

Days go by and I think of this, As I free fall, topsy-turvy into the grief abyss. I can go through all the stages, the bargaining, the sadness the anger and arrive neatly at acceptance by sundown only to discover, its not done. The sun rises and or that stupid Christine Aguilara song comes on the radio and it’s back to the beginning, or the middle beginning or someplace not at the end. But as a veteran of the heart break war, I know ill get to the next end. I will get there by sitting down and pulling those raw pieces of cotton out, one by one. And its going to take some time, after all I’m made of Velcro and a freaking cotton ball was ripped away from me.
There are no shortcuts… Gotta go through it.


The grand facade

The grand facade

Love makes you crazy. Literally. Seriously, google it. I read an article a long time ago,and when you first fall in love ( er, lust maybe), your brain releases cortisol, or cortisone, or methadone. I can’t really remember. I’m terrible with details. But I know when I read this article it really resonated with me, because even my sanity is just this side of crazy.
Think about it: how many times in a relationship, especially a new relationship, have you texted the object of your affection 150 times, or written all the lyrics to a song that you are banking on being your song in sharpie, on your chest, or bought a time share or stock in “ask Jeeves”? It happens. You lose your mind.
Maybe the reason you lose your mind is that in no universe does to make any sense to try to share lives with another person (let alone a living space). How do you remain authentic to yourself while compromising about the use of the remote? Love is what replaced the caveman knocking a woman out and dragging her back to the cave. (And yes, I acknowledge cave women also clunk cavemen over the head too). That’s why you’re in that daze of insanity otherwise you’d just run off and hide in the bushes. Babies would never get made, or raised, and we’d all die out.
The alternative to the elimination of humanity is a temporary loss of sanity, and for some people a permanent trip to delusion. Awesome. I’m not trying to be negative, I’m just railing against the loss of control of logical emotions. I’m not on an unlimited text plan, I need to keep my wits about me. And don’t even get me started about the role of alcohol. When starting a relationship that you’d like to continue don’t drink, or talk about your feelings, or talk. I recommend periodically grunting at each other for the first six to nine weeks. If your potential mate is still around, move on to shaking hands, sober. Don’t share phone numbers, or addresses or last names.

For a little context, I’m 42. And I was married for over a decade. I have three beautiful daughters. And if you haven’t read my “about” page, I’m a survivor of suicide. So life has lovingly thrown me a couple of curve balls. I’d like to believe that after this terrifying loss of control over my future I would be granted the luxury of responsible dating as an adult. That I’d keep my wits about me. It hasn’t. I have a teenage daughter, in another year I’ll have two. I shouldn’t be doing the same stuff they are. It feels wrong. Dating as a grown up makes no sense. I should have learned a few tricks over the years. Like how to avoid drunk texting. But so far all I’ve learned is maybe I’m under qualified to re-enter the dating world.
Honestly I’m not entirely against love, or similar emotions. Love is actually beautiful, mutual attraction, partnering, all fabulous in the right circumstances. And as much as I blow up about the insanity of sharing my life with another person, I desire it as much as anything. I probably could go for a solid night’s sleep more, but only slightly.
But falling in love feels overly-complicated. Remember that scene from “Say Anything”? You know the one, where he holds the giant boom box over his head playing “In your eyes”. Two things make this the most romantic scene from a movie… 1. She likes him back and 2. He’s not middle aged. If I’m standing in your front yard with a boom box (aside from the anachronism) I’m probably on crack. Or maybe I’m in love.. But at my age, either is terrifying.
The catch at my age is, I know putting myself out there results in a temporary loss of sanity. And unlike when I was dating the first time around, there is an internet, and texting and caller ID. There’s a huge risk of documented failure. It seems like this is the only way though, now that clubbing someone over the head is out. Fortunately, just like that really powerful thunderstorm, the insanity can’t last for long. Those intense, crazy emotions will burn themselves out and I will have either have discovered my matching awkward puzzle piece or the next person I’m going to have to block on Facebook. I’ll probably get pretty bored hiding over here in the bushes soon anyway.

I should have said….

I should have said….

There is an improv game called “Ding” or “should’ve said” in which you get to change the last thing that you said. The game works because you don’t really get to plan your new response, but you get a sort of second chance to make the scene more interesting. Sometimes the unplanned idea in your head that comes from some deep part of you is exactly what the scene needs to move along.
What I wish it were in real life is an opportunity to go back into the past and fix what I’ve effed up. Perhaps like this: “ding”, no I do not wish to drink a fifth beer, I’d like to head home and get a reasonable amount of sleep tonight. Or “ding”, actually I will finish my reading now instead of playing a mindless video game for two hours. Or “ding”, I love you.
Regret is perhaps the most useless of all the emotions, because you can’t unpickle a cucumber. You’re just left with the pain of your mistakes to perhaps do better next time, if there ever is a next time. Regret feels like I’ve eaten angry bees. It’s a swirling mess of emotions that twist around in my stomach. Regret makes me cry, that deep sobbing cry that is accompanied by seal like moans. And snotty sniveling. That’s the worst and the least attractive crying of all the unattractive crying.
One time recently i was crying just like this, seal barking, snotty unattractive crying. One of my three cats was sitting next to me, probably because she assumed I was dying and she hoped to get me to the cat food one last time before I killed over. But she suddenly squeezed underneath my legs, and before I could finish thinking ” oh my god, this cat really cares about my sadness” she vomited all over the carpet, right at my feet. Regret doesn’t care that you’re broken, it will vomit right in front of you and insist that you clean it up before it makes a stain on the carpet. It’s like teaching a toddler about the hot stove by letting her touch the hot stove. Yeah, she learned that stoves are hot and probably won’t ever touch one again, but wasn’t there some less awful way to learn?
The worst regret is knowing at the point when you could have just said or done the right thing you let fear, or stupidity speak for you. Then it’s not even hindsight that screwed you, it’s you. Or in this case me. I knew I did not need that fifth beer, or to play that game and hell-I knew I should have said I love you. But I had the beer and the hangover and I’ll have to stay up half the night to finish the assignment, meaning I’ll be exhausted the next day and I’ve already established that the likelihood of the cat vomiting is exactly equal to how tired and stressed out I am. And the missed I love you? All the unattractive, blubbery crying in the world isn’t going to fix that. The toothpaste is out of the tube, it doesn’t go back in, even if you smear it all over the top…it’s just a mess.
That’s probably one of the reasons I perform improv, because “ding” is real in that world. I get a second chance to advance a scene, it make it better, to say what I should’ve said.

Hard habit to break.

Hard habit to break.

I absolutely have no time to write this post. I am actively avoiding doing what can only be described as a mountain of school work, but I’m distracted and hoping if I attend to the distraction I can then focus on the relationship between the social movements of indigenous women and the Christian Right.
Recently I have been consumed with the idea of “alone”. I’ve been a single mom for almost three years now, pushing from day to day with periodic (and much appreciated) help from friends, family and paid babysitters. I’m fortunate to have the resources I do. Very fortunate. Which is part of the reason I feel like I should be really able to be a single mom “alone”. I have great girls. Really great girls. They are smart and intuitive and frequently independent. Their needs are not extraordinary. Mainly they need love, attention and the occasional advice about clothing options. The issues we have are basically like any other family of four: you can’t eat half-baked doughnuts, dogs will roll in something that smells like death and when he gets out of the bathtub he will panic and break the toilet seat, when using surgical gloves filled with water as fake boobs be prepared that they may break, feeding the cats four days worth of food in one day results in cat vomit, if you forget your gymnastics outfit you may have to wear something too big or too small that was purchased at goodwill, you can’t do four hours of reading in thirty minutes, you’re never going to get ahead of the acorns falling off the tree, things do not put themselves away or clean themselves up, you know the noise you are making annoys your sister and she will push your face to make you stop, leftover hair dye expands in the bottle and will erupt into a gooey mess out of the trash can and onto the bathroom floor, if you put mail in various places bills will remain unpaid, shoes go in the shoe bin-not under the coach- the dog will find and destroy them, This all happened, last week.
Mostly, all of this is manageable. Mainly because between cat vomit and screaming arguments about salmonella their are moments of intense compassion. I am thankful everyday that I frequently use humor to cope and my daughters do too. There’s much to be thankful for, I can readily acknowledge that. So many families in so many places struggle with much tougher issues, poverty, lack of safety, domestic violence. My struggles are small in comparison, which is another reason I think I should be able to do this.
However, precisely because we do not worry about our safety, or food I get to focus on the emptiness of “alone”. I wish I had Someone to reflect with at the end of the day, To commiserate with, to laugh with, to cry with. I’ve heard that single parents and their kids are very close. We are, my fourteen year old is often my sounding board. She shouldn’t be, but she is sometimes. Because a lot of days there is no one else, and it’s like a volcano. I can tell her or I can curse in traffic ( most of the time I do both).
The reality is dating is hard when you are a grown-up with a job, school and three kids. There’s barely time to focus on me let alone to focus on nurturing a relationship with someone outside of the household. And I’ve pushed people away, people who could have helped, but it feels so complicated, and why can’t i do it alone? I’ve got money and great kids. I should be able to do this alone.
And yet…