Stay With Me

Stay with me.

You have told me you will,

from that first night.

Those first, tentative hours of learning.

“I’m not going anywhere” you whispered.

Did you know I heard it as an oath?

A covenant I cling to like a raft in the white waters of my life?

 

Stay with me,

Not an easy undertaking, to be sure.

I am a riptide.

All those who have come before have gone,

swimming to the safety of the shore,

frightened by the darkness and passion of my soul,

the sunlight so often unable to penetrate the inky blackness.

Stay with me.

When my demons are circling,

too numerous and malevolent to be named,

forcing me to banish you for crimes that are not your own.

Be the one who is brave enough to stay.

Take up your sword and fight with me

until the pale, watery light of morning breaks through.

 

Stay with me.

Let your presence be an avowal of permanence.

Let your light be my constant guide

and together, you and I just might do the unthinkable.

But you have to be ready,

you have to be sure.

Stay with me.

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.


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.

It’s Time

I have always been a pacifist by nature. I don’t believe in fighting hatred with hatred, I don’t believe in guns, or war. I do, however, believe that we have a military, young men and women who risk their lives to defend our country, my country, and that we as citizens should be thankful, and respectful of what they do. All of them. No matter who they are. Even if they happen to be gay.

It has always seemed rather sad to me, that we ask people to risk their lives to fight for our freedom, while denying them the most basic of freedoms, the freedom to be who they are. I never understood how the leaders of our country failed to see the hypocrisy in that. Yesterday, Colin Powell actually agreed with me.
“Attitudes and circumstances have changed,” Powell said. “It’s been a whole generation” since the legislation was adopted, and there is increased “acceptance of gays and lesbians in society,” he said. “Society is always reflected in the military. It’s where we get our soldiers from.”

I have known people who have been discharged from the military for being lesbians. Personally, I really don’t understand why a gay person would choose to serve in a military that clearly doesn’t want them to be there. That is the beauty of choice, and I respect their choice to serve. I don’t respect the fact that, since the inception of DADT 17 years ago, 13,500 men and women have been discharged. 13,500 careers ruined, livelihoods lost, because of sexual orientation. That, in my eyes, is not acceptable.

I am fully aware that once DADT is repealed, all hell is going to break loose. Sadly, even in 2010, homophobia can be deadly. I fear for the safety of the brave men and women who will proudly announce to the world who they are. Words cannot express my pride in them all. I am hopeful, that with the repeal we will pave the way for the next step, when, at long last, all men and women have the right to marry the person that they love, and live with dignity and respect. Because it’s right. Because it’s time.

Hope

This post is inspired by Blog Nosh magazine’s Loads of Hope campaign.

So, this Christmas will be very, very different. I keep trying to tell myself that “different” does not have to be synonymous with “bad”, but it is difficult. The different Christmases have been bad in my experience. The year my son Daniel died was “different” and an air of sadness and despair hung about us, so close and thick we could taste it. The year my father left home was “different” and his absence was ever present, despite the addition of my first child. So while I fight daily to muster Christmas spirit in myself, and my children, the difference is there, making itself known, intruding into our happy thoughts, putting a damper on otherwise happy shopping trips.

This Christmas will be my first in 17 years as a single mother. My oldest daughter, now involved in her own life in Florida will be unable to be with us, my mother and sister will not be here. That is a LOT of different. With everything in me, I want this to be the best Christmas ever for my children, one they will look back on and remember fondly when they are adults, facing their own years of trials and adjustments. I want them to remember that this was the Christmas where there was no fighting, no strained silences. I want this to be remembered as the year there was no reason to monitor what they say, to monitor their tone of voice. I want this to be the Christmas of laughter, of joy, of hope.

Next Christmas will be different as well. to be sure. Next Christmas we will have the familiarity of new traditions, hesitantly formed this year, in a fumbling, tentative dance of trial and error. Next year will be easier. This year, as I look at my childrens’ unsure, anxious faces, I am filled with hope. Hope for our future, hope for their happiness, hope for this magical time of year, differences and all.