Cosmicness

I first realized I am gay when I was 18 years old. Up until that point, I had always had “best friends” who I would become completely obsessed with, and wanted to spend all of my time with. I would become insanely jealous if my “best friend” wanted to spend time with anyone else, and eventually I would suffocate her until our friendship ended. This scenario repeated itself several times throughout high school, and somehow I never thought it meant anything. I assumed that everyone went through the same thing with their “best friends”.

Until this time, I didn’t really know many gay people. I knew one, actually. He was a good friend, but he was a boy, and although I knew what the term lesbian meant, I certainly had never met any women who admitted to being gay. This was the 1980s, and times were much different. Being “out” could mean being disowned, institutionalized, or even killed.

After high school, I took my first full time job in a nursing home. I enjoyed my job, and the people I worked with. One girl in particular. Her name was “B” and from the first day I met her, I wanted her to be my “best friend”. She was amazing. She was funny, and smart, and really good at her job. I remember thinking how obvious it was that for her, this wasn’t just a job, she really genuinely cared for the elderly residents we cared for.

She was also brutally honest, and shortly after I met her, she told me that she is gay. I remember being really curious about her life, and relationships, and having a thousand questions that I was far too shy to ask. I wanted to be around her all the time, and I was, until one day she told me that she had gotten her girlfriend a job with us and she would be starting to work with us the next night.

As upsetting as it was to be pushed to the sidelines, I will never forget watching her with “M” her girlfriend. She was so thoughtful, so attentive, making sure to think ahead, to meet every need “M” may have, before she even had them. As jealous as I was, I remember thinking I wanted someone to care about me as much as B cared for M.

Despite my jealousy, I really liked M. She was a really nice girl, and soon we were all hanging out together outside of work. Honestly, I probably would have even if I didn’t like M, I wanted to be around B enough that it wouldn’t have mattered. We started going together to a local gay bar that was known not to card people. I remember the first time I went there, I wanted to feel awkward. I wanted to feel out of place, like I didn’t belong. I wanted to feel uncomfortable seeing people of the same sex kissing, but I didn’t. It felt normal. It felt right.

One night at the bar, B and M had a fight. I don’t remember what they were fighting about, I don’t even remember if it was a big fight. I do remember that B went to the bathroom, and I followed her. In the bathroom, I sat on the sink while B paced back and forth, fuming over her argument. She stopped in front of me, and looked at me with the most adorable smile I have ever seen, and said “I’m going to kiss you.” I think I said ok? I don’t know. All I know is she kissed me, and when she did, a light bulb went off for me. I knew why I didn’t feel the way my friends did about boys, although I had had a couple of boyfriends in high school. Kissing them made me nervous and uncomfortable. Kissing B made me incredibly happy.

There was one more kiss, shortly after that, at B’s house, and then she eventually told M that she had kissed me. The fallout was devastating to me, I literally had no friends at work anymore, and I eventually quit my job.

What came next is another story, or many other stories, for another time. For now, let’s fast forward 30 years. I have been married for 20 years to a man, divorced, given birth to six beautiful children, and buried one. I have been engaged to a woman who left me for her ex shortly before we were supposed to get married, and the downward spiral my life took after that led me to move from my home in Maryland back to New Jersey. I thought my life was over. I found a job that I really love, I have my youngest son with me, and I told myself that at my age, that is enough. I was over dating, and over love.

A co worker talked me into reactivating my POF account, and I did, not really knowing why. One night I received a message, which isn’t unusual, when you are on POF you get lots of messages, but this one stood out for some reason enough to make me want to respond. We messaged for 20 minutes or so, and then said goodbye. Hours later, my heart literally skipped a beat. It was B. I don’t know exactly how I knew, but I knew. I think it was the smile. I didn’t know how to begin to tell her, so when after a week of texting she asked me to meet her at a local bar, I was determined I was never going to tell her who I am. However, alcohol acts like a truth serum sometimes, and after a beer, I I told her. Thankfully, she took the news well, and talked for hours about the “cosmicness” of the whole thing. She told me she had a picture of me, from the bar back then. She sent it to me when she went home that night.

That night was six weeks ago. Since then I have literally spent every free moment with B. The amount of things we have in common is amazing. Her kind and caring heart astounds me every day, and her ability to calm me, even in the middle of a full blown panic attack is something I have never known before.

I don’t know where this will go, or how long it will last, but today I am happy. Happier than I have been in years, and so incredibly grateful. I am grateful for the events in my life that led me here, I am grateful to B, for being quite honestly, the wold’s greatest girlfriend, and I am grateful to fate, or as I now prefer to call it, cosmicness.

Betty and Jenn 198720170531_144430

Strong

A woman is like a tea bag.  It’s only when she’s in hot water that you realize how strong she is.  ~Attributed to both Eleanor Roosevelt and Carl Sandburg

In one of the highest compliments ever paid to me, my mother once told me I am the strongest person she knows.  I have never forgotten it, and never will.  I have repeated this to myself thousands and thousands of times, as a matter of survival.  I can withstand anything, I am strong.

This compliment has been repeated to me by other people, in different forms, but with the same central meaning.  My friends tell me with admiration how strong I am to have endured things I have endured in silence for years.  In a rare moment of honesty, my ex husband admitted to me that I am stronger than he ever was, something I have always known and he now denies ever having said.  I have always looked at strength as a positive character trait in anyone, but most especially in women, the supposed “weaker sex”.  These days, I’m not so sure I do.

What I have found is that the more strength you display, the stronger you allow yourself to be known to be, the more strength is required of you.  With every obstacle overcome, every challenge faced head on, the faster they seem to be thrown.  Still, to be considered a woman of strength, we face them all, and rise to yet another challenge, and reconstruct badly damaged and bruised egos and souls.  We may be strong, but to say that we are not permanently changed by each and every blow, physical or emotional, would be a lie of the darkest kind.

In the past year I have found myself wishing often that I wasn’t  strong.  I wish sometimes that I could retreat into alcoholism, or drug addiction, or mental illness and not have to keep going every day.  That is not the way I am made, and honestly, most of the time I am grateful that I’m not.  Still, at my lowest points, I sometimes fantasize about how easy it would be to have an excuse to give up, even if it was only for a while.  I hear about people staying in bed for a year after the death of a child, or having a mental breakdown that incapacitated them after years of physical and mental abuse is heaped upon them, and I don’t blame them.  I get it, I really do.  I just wonder sometimes about the human mind.  Why some people keep going, while others get the time to recharge.

I’m getting divorced.  Tomorrow morning, I will be in a lawyer’s office, dissecting the last 18 years of my life, and hopefully be given the tools to start rebuilding.  Starting over at 42 sucks.  It does.  I hate dealing with the process of disentangling my life from my ex.  I hate the vulnerability of doing all of this alone.  I hate all of it, and I know that it is going to get really messy from here on out.  everyone tells me I’m strong though.  I guess we are about to find out if they are right.


I believe

I believe:
– We each are responsible for our own happiness, and that no one can make someone else happy.
– I was born to be a mother.
– We can learn a lot of valuable lessons from hard or painful situations.
– The most important things in life can not be bought, and have nothing to do with money.
– There is good in everyone.
– True beauty is found on the inside, not the outside of a person.
– I am a lot stronger than most people give me credit for.
– It is vitally important to laugh every day.
– That sometimes smart people make stupid choices.
– Mistakes are a part of living.
– When we know better, we do better.
– Starbucks coffee, when combined with best friends, has healing properties.
– Love never makes people sad.
– Tears are not a sign of weakness, but they do make you stronger.
– Some of the most unexpected events can bring life’s biggest blessings.
– Age is nothing but a number.
– Wisdom comes with maturity.
– If you don’t take control of your life, you are a spectator, not a participant, in life.

Nine years ago

Exactly 9 years ago today, a little baby boy was born. This was no ordinary little boy though, this baby was sent with a very important purpose. He was born into a family that had experienced heartache and loss, and had come to heal the family.

He was a tiny little guy, but had a huge spirit from the very first minute of life, and that spirit has grown along with him every day for the last 9 years. Today his family is complete, and he is the light of everyone’s eye. Without exception, everyone in the family lights up when he walks into a room.

He is sensitive beyond his years, this little man child. He has an understanding of human emotions that surpasses my own, and true compassion for all. He has a truly generous nature, rushing to share even brand new birthday toys with his brother and sisters. He is a natural comedian, his stories, though often a bit long, never fail to leave everyone in laughter.

This special child has been the most incredible gift any family could ever hope to receive, and I am proud and honored to call him my son. Happy birthday, Bug. You are loved more than you will ever know.

An Ordinary Day

In the midst of my ordinary, same as usual day, I had a HUGE revelation. I can’t identify the exact moment of this revelation. Was it while I was playing with Baby G? Was it while talking to Mr. Wrong about ordinary, every day things? Maybe it was while Mr. Wrong and I waved goodbye to Bug on his school bus from our front porch, or when Mr. Wrong and I hung laundry outside on our clothes line, surrounded by the sound of our children playing. It could have been at any of those moments, or a thousand other moments in this ordinary day. At some point, I realized I am happy.

Happy and I don’t have a very good relationship, I should point that out. I have gone to ridiculous, life changing lengths to find happy, and ended up in a depression so deep I am still amazed that I survived it. The problem was, I think, that I wasn’t clear about what happy IS. I thought I was supposed to have adrenaline coursing through my veins, heart beating fast, my mind fuzzy all day every day. Writing it now, it doesn’t even sound appealing, let alone realistic. Sadly, I haven’t been happy in a long time, not really, and that is what I thought I was supposed to feel.

Another major problem happy and I have is that usually when I do get it, I worry myself right out of it. Every. Single. Time. I thrive in times of catastrophe and chaos, and when I have times of the peace and tranquility that I want so badly, I am waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop. My glass becomes half empty. I look for the bad in every situation, and if I don’t find any I CREATE bad. I’m not sure why I do these things, why I try to sabotage myself at every turn, but I do it well, of that I am sure. Hopefully, now that I am aware of doing it, I can stop.

My outlook on life is changing, slowly but steadily. I look for the good in situations, and people. I make a conscientious effort not to judge a book by it’s cover, and take time to get to know what is inside. I have removed toxic people from my life, and replaced them with positive, uplifting people who validate me and encourage healthy life choices. I make every effort not to hurt anyone, including myself.

I know myself well, and it is completely possible that I will be here tomorrow with a list of complaints about what is wrong in my life. Today, however, today I am happy. It was a really awesome ordinary day.

The Things I Carry With Me

Ten years ago, I carried a two year old little girl. She was loving, adorable, and instantly loved by everyone who saw her. Her two older sisters and one older brother were with me constantly, not carried, but attached none the less, with sticky hands and firm, sturdy arms. I carried a diaper bag, too. It held spare clothes, cheerios, boo-boo tape (band-aids) and blankies.

Today, that two year old is a beautiful, blonde, older than her years twelve year old. She has compassion, and a strong sense of right and wrong. Her oldest sister is now far away from us, living her own life, and missed terribly by all of us. Her other sister is now a mom with a diaper bag of her own, and her older brother has somehow changed from my beautiful little boy into a handsome, quiet teenager. They have been joined by another brother, now eight years old. My diaper bag has been replaced by one of many hand bags, depending on my mood, and the cheerios have been replaced by mints and gum, but they are still carried mainly for them, just like the cheerios.

Ten years ago, my son died. I carried the grief of his passing clearly, the pain raw and exposed, probably to the point of making other people uncomfortable around me. His name was spoken in whispers around me, kindness showed to me by caring people afraid to open the wound that had not yet begun to heal. I remember thinking at the time that it never would heal.

I was right. That kind of wound never does heal fully. After experiencing pain that deep, that all consuming, you are left forever with a void. The void can not be filled, not with more children, sex, alcohol or drugs. The pain, however, does lessen. One day you wake up, and you realize that you can breathe, that life has been going on all around you, and people are depending on you, looking to you to help them with their grief and pain. It is always with me, and always will be. The pain has changed me, and carrying it has made me stronger, I think, and so appreciative of my children it’s hard to let them grow up sometimes.

Ten years ago, I carried an engagement ring and a wedding ring on my left ring finger. They were symbols to the world, and to myself, that I belonged to someone. I wore them proudly, and in really bad times in my marriage, would look at them and tell myself they meant that I was okay, that I was loved. Ten years ago, I carried with me a deep, all encompassing need to be loved no matter what. I truly believed that if I was loved, if I was “in love”, nothing else mattered, I was complete, a whole person. I could overlook anything, as long as I was “in love”.

Today, my left ring finger is empty. My rings were taken off, and my marriage is over. They were replaced, briefly, wrongly by other rings, on two separate occasions. Not wedding rings, but symbols none the less. I was “in love”, someone loved me, so therefore, I was okay. I no longer carry that need. Today, I feel that the word love is so highly overused, and so misused, that I don’t believe in being “in love” anymore. It is a big realization for me to come to, that I don’t believe in love. Of course, I love my children, but the other love, the intoxicating, you complete me, you had me at hello, love? No, I honestly don’t believe in it anymore. That is kind of sad, I think, but it’s okay for now, I’m good with that.

Ten years ago, I carried a secret. I hid this secret from everyone, guarding it with everything in me. I hid it, most especially, from myself. I thought about it sometimes, during long, sleepless nights. I would quickly force myself to think of something, anything else. To reveal the secret to myself, to open it up, lay it out and examine it, would mean questioning everything in my entire life. It would mean questioning my motherhood, my marriage, my role as a daughter, a sister, a friend. Doing that would require a strength almost super human, I thought, although I knew that many, many people had. I applauded them silently, in some hidden corner of my heart even envied them, but I knew, no matter what, I could never be like them.

Today, that secret is still with me. It isn’t as guarded or protected anymore, shared with trusted, loyal friends and, finally, myself. The amazing thing is, I didn’t die! No one has turned their back on me, no one has stopped talking to me, no one has told me I am no longer welcome in their life. I am humbled and saddened that I didn’t give these amazing people the credit that they deserved from the beginning. Because of their openness, their acceptance, their love, I have been able to slowly, timidly, but with growing confidence, open my circle and share my secret with more and more people. People like me, people like you, people willing to turn a light on dark places, and prove, once and for all, that their is nothing so scary in the darkness. I lack the words to express my gratitude to them all.

My load was pretty heavy ten years ago, and I am so grateful that is is so much lighter today. There were a lot of bad things, a lot of painful, scary places that I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to go through. I wouldn’t change any of it though, looking back. All of the things I carried then have brought me to the place that I am now. While far, far, from perfect, I am in a pretty good place today, and for the first time in my life, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Beginnings

So I think Ive been looking at things entirely the wrong way lately. For months I have been sad and depressed, thinking about all of the endings that have been occurring at an alarming pace lately. I have listed and mourned all of my losses, bitterly regretted each one, and lived every day with an emptiness in my very being that comes with loss. However, if I know nothing else about myself, I know for sure that I am a survivor, and be assured, I have survived far worse than this. So in my disgustingly optimistic way, I have realized that there is a flip side to all of this, a mirror image, if you will. I feel that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the beginnings that are occurring.

1. My roommates are here. All the time. They aren’t always here at the same time, but they are always here some of the time. The thing is this, they are here for me, no matter what. They are dysfunctional, they are loud, they can be obnoxious. They listen, they support, they care. They are my family, and I love them more than I could ever say or express.

2. For the first time in 4 decades, I am on my own. I pay my own bills, I make my own decisions. I live my life on my own terms, and make my own mistakes as I go. Its scary as hell, but I love it, and it feels right.

3. I am finally figuring out who my I am, really. In the words of Oprah, my authentic self. Living authentically is hard and takes real courage, but I would really like to think that I have courage. I really believe that the outcome will be worth it.

4. Probably most importantly, I have discovered who my real friends are. People who will tell you that you are wrong, and then let you find out for yourself. People that support you in your wrong-ness. People that cheer your right-ness. These are the people everyone needs in their life, and my gratitude is deep and eternal.

So for all the miserable, depressing blogs to come, I can now look back and see, for all of the endings, I am blessed beyond what I deserve.