Viva

I am sitting on the lanai of a beautiful one bedroom suite in a five-star resort in Loreto, Mexico where I’ve been for six days. As I sit typing on my computer drinking my tea and looking out at the Sea of Cortez, surrounded by the desert hills of Baja California Sur, guests and employees walk by on their way to work or breakfast bidding me a buenos dias. It’s easy to make friends on vacation, and my friend and traveling companion Michelle have certainly done that this week.  This is the first trip of any sort that I’ve taken since Cher and I divorced, and I am here only because Michelle, who was invited her to teach yoga,  graciously invited me as her guest.

When I return home to Portland, I jump back into, what has become a busy and crazy life. My life has never been boring. My life has never been without a lot of adventure and even though I hate to admit it, drama. It’s not drama I create in order to keep things interesting–believe me–there are parts of me that wish I could just be one of those people who vibrate on a low level and stay close to the ground, allowing crisis and energy fly over my head. My daughter Kennedy is like that. She just goes with the flow and even when things around her are falling apart, she just ducks down and lets in whoosh over the top of her head, then she’ll look up to see if the coast is clear before returning to whatever is happening. I’m not like that. I’ve always had to be a person to stand up and participate–to lead or direct or just deal with putting out fires, sometimes starting them when it gets cold, sometimes just helping out or solving, structuring, or sealing.

Sometimes I think it’s too much–that I’m too much. My friend Sophia told me once, “It’s not that you’re too much Kathryn; you just have more bubbles in your champagne than most people–your cork pops a little louder.” Perhaps she’s right. Perhaps I’ll mellow with age? So far, that hasn’t been the case.

I’m in what I thought was going to be my last term of grad school, and there have been times I have paused a moment and wondered how it was possible that things have been going so well. I have an amazing community of friends, a supportive and brilliant cohort, a boyfriend who rocks my world, my family, health, and currently enough money to survive for a little while without having to completely stress out every month. Life couldn’t be better, but life without a little struggle is, I suppose boring and predictable.

I won’t be graduating this spring because my adviser doesn’t feel that my thesis is quite ready for defense. I wasn’t completely surprised at this and if I am to be perfectly honest, there is a part of me that is relieved. Yes, it means that I will need to make a few difficult decisions about the course of my life for the next nine months to a year, and yes, it certainly derails me just a bit, and yet, it is not entirely convenient in any way, but I’ve been around long enough and grown and learned to the point that I know, with every fiber of my being, that this is the right thing to happen.

So, something didn’t go as planned. What ever really does? So, I will need to be creative and face some difficult decisions–what’s new? So I don’t get my own way–anyone who always gets his or her way is a spoiled brat and I’m only a little bit of a spoiled brat, so I will just need to suck it up and deal.

Here’s what I still have: an amazing community of friends, a supportive and brilliant cohort, a boyfriend who rocks my world, my family, health, enough money to (currently) survive for a little while without having to completely stress out every month, and a lot of bubbles in my champagne. So far, I think I’m still winning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

Next month will mark nine years that I’ve been blogging here. An entire lifetime it seems, maybe two! I started writing this to help me process the transition of my divorce from my husband of ten years because I realized I wanted to be with women. There are so many things I wished I knew then; there are so many different directions I think I would have gone if I had been armed with different information, not that any of it was bad, but like so many things in my life, I often have to figure things out in my own way and in my own time.

What I didn’t know in 2005?

I didn’t know that there is a huge population of people who are similar to me. People who are open minded and interested in exploring life on a different level than the status quo. I didn’t know that a woman could be in a committed relationship with a man, but still explore relationships with women, (not that my husband at the time would have been interested in that, but it would have been nice to know.) I didn’t know that there are many, many women who are so secure in their sexuality, that they don’t have to identify it or attach a label to it: they do what they want, with whom, whenever they like. I myself fell into the dichotomous ideas of sexual and gender identity–and had to climb my way out of it.

I didn’t really think that I could be bisexual. I really thought that once I realized how awesome it was to be with women, that I wouldn’t want to be with men. I don’t want to be with ALL men, that’s for sure, but there are definite exceptions to that rule, obviously. My sweet former boyfriend opened my eyes to just how amazing sex with the right guy can be. For that, I am very, very grateful. Now I have no constraints: I’ve not eliminated 50% of the population from my repertoire.

Monogamy doesn’t need to be a thing. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. I think a lot of the world’s problems could be eliminated if we stopped focusing on monogamy and instead focused on loving one another in whatever forms that looks like.

I’m never going to stay the same. I’m always growing and changing and I like being around other people who are doing the same, and there is a LOT out there to explore. Once one decides to cast away the idea of living in a box, a whole world opens up. That’s a good thing.

Education is the best way to enlightenment. I hope I never stop learning.

My passions change and grow as I do. There’s nothing wrong with that.

I have a lot to learn and let go of. Still. I am afraid of being abandoned. I’m insecure about a lot of things. I want someone to love me for who I am, and love all of me, not just the parts that are convenient and appealing at the moment, and I’ll have that someday, but I won’t have that until I’ve loved those parts of me too.

I can survive two divorces and a break-up and not completely lose my shit.

Good people and opportunities seem to find me. I’m lucky.

I’m an optimist by nature and I am going to go on record and say that I think 2014 will be a banner year. I’m going to finish my graduate degree, I’m going to start teaching, and I’m going to publish a thesis. I also plan on having a lot of fun, and maybe, possibly decide to put myself out there and fall in love again. Sometime. When it’s right. When the right person comes along. In the meantime, I’ve moved out of the purgatory of my grieving and put it behind me. Cher and I are in a good place. She’s happy and I’m so very happy that she is. Our ties have all been severed and what remains is a deep love and admiration for one another, and a gratitude on both of our parts for the love and the memories we shared together for seven years. Next week would mark out 8th year together. We’re going to go to dinner and celebrate our non-anniversary and just be: I’m looking forward to it. I never could have seen this a year ago, and I’m glad I had faith and believed all of the well-intentioned people who told me, “It will get better.” Half of the time I wanted to punch them in the face and scream, “It won’t ever get better; I will always be suffering,” but they were right. It got better. My friend Teresa told me then, “I wish I could transport you forward in time one year and you could see that you can be happy again.” I always held on to that and other wonderful things that people told me. Those words were my lifeline at times.

And now here I stand, ready to make changes to move my life not just forward to get through, but to move it forward with force and vigor. Move it forward with: happiness, love, honesty, success, and most of all, purpose and intentionality.

Ready. Go.

One Year

In many ways I’ve been dreading and looking forward to this week for a long time. I have tremendous ambivalence. I’ve forced myself through hanging on. I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of friends and naughty fun to keep my mind and hands occupied so as not to bury myself in my bed and pretend the outside world doesn’t exist. I made myself to bring out some of the holiday decorations and hang lights in the windows of our apartment, but every time I think about getting the tree and decorating it, I get a feeling in my stomach like someone punched me. I know I need to do it. I just don’t know how I will. Just push I guess.

I put together a Facebook invite for a Christmas Eve Open House but I’ve yet to invite anyone. I just don’t know if I can do it. Cher and I hosted so many of those parties–she always hated having them; I always loved it. Last year we didn’t have our party and I thought that this year I would try to do it myself, even if it’s in my tiny apartment. I think I’m running out of time to make that happen and maybe this year, I just shouldn’t. Maybe this year just needs to be what it is and I shouldn’t try to force myself to have a good time. I’m still grieving. I’m better, but I’m still in the process.

“Invite pain in, sit it down and kick the shit out of it,” is what a friend told me the other day. She also reminded me that people do shitty things because of their own broken parts and I can’t blame myself for that. She’s right. I believe all of my friends are right about everything, but I’ve never been good at executing someone else’s plan, only slowly implementing theirs into mine. I’m doing that.

I’ll be at a party on December 21st. The day. The one-year day. I’m going to celebrate my new life and my new relationships at that party. I’m going to wear a beautiful red silky dress and shiny red heels and lipstick. I’m going to put my hair up and sprinkle glitter in it. I’m going to drink champagne and count all of the blessings in my life and when those dark hours come, the ones that I remember so clearly and so painfully, I’m going to rejoice in the fact that I survived and got to the other side. No tears. Only happiness and gratitude. And my time of grief will be finished.

For those of you who won’t be with me on Saturday, I will silently toast to you and thank you for your loving care through this year. I survived because I am surrounded by people who have loved me through. I survived because I know that the love Cher and I had together was special and real and wasn’t for nothing. I survived because I know I will love someone again and that my life is good just as it is right now. I survived because I somehow found the strength inside of me to keep moving forward, even if it was just stumbling a little bit at a time, I still moved forward and all of that darkness and pain is behind me now. I never have to relive those days. I survived. And I will put myself out there again someday and I may get hurt again, but if and when that happens, I know I’ll survive again, because that’s just what I will have to do.

I’m grateful for the lessons I learned this year. I’m grateful for you, and you, and you. And even you pain. You’re a good teacher.

Vulnerable

“Vulnerability is the most accurate measure of courage.” Brené Brown.

I’ve never been one to really speak, write, or live with regrets. There are a few emotions I don’t really do: one of them is anger and the other regret. I’m sure my children would laugh if they read that I don’t do anger–but what they see as anger is really frustration wrapped in a foil that looks like anger. Anger is something else; it is what stays with a person for longer than a fleeting moment; it is something that changes who you are inside and alters your outlook on the world or even the future. I don’t have any room in my life for it, and when it comes up for me, I am usually very good at recognizing it for its temporality and putting it in the proper perspective. Anger is nothing more than fear manifested outward, and I’ve had to deal with enough fear that we’re good friends–I don’t want or need to share my friend, for the fear is there to sit with me and help me grow.

“If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not learning,” is something a professor once told me and it’s a phrase I remind myself and others as often as the opportunity presents itself. We can’t achieve growth without learning and we can’t learn if everything always stays the same. There is nothing that is linear or outlined in a way that allows us complete comfort, and it shouldn’t be that way. As an aside, this is something I feel we as parents of this current generation are doing to fail them; we try to make their lives as comfortable as possible, that when they are faced with real discomfort, they don’t know how to deal with it. Discomfort builds character and designs how one will make decisions in the future. It’s as necessary as the food we eat and the air we breathe. To combat discomfort we find a way to numb it, to eliminate it, or to prevent it, but we sell ourselves short. We try to find reasons to justify our discomfort, often in ways that assign blame to others–that’s where the anger often comes in. We feel angry when we feel wronged; when we feel wronged, we feel uncomfortable and because we live much of our lives trying to avoid those feelings, we don’t know how to allow that kind of vulnerability.

Brené Brown says that people who live wholehearted lives have three things in common: Courage, Compassion, and Connection. She explains that the etymology of the word “courage” means “to tell your story with your whole heart,” and that definition made me feel good all over. I have always tried to tell my story with my whole heart, but I’ve never really felt courageous. Sometimes people would say, “Oh, you’re so brave to do such and such,” and really I would think, “I’m not really brave, I’m just stupid.” Because that’s what people do (especially women,) we can’t just accept that there may be something fabulous about us, instead we just give into negative talk that reminds us we aren’t worthwhile people. Ms. Brown also says that wholehearted people embrace their vulnerability, because they know that vulnerability makes them beautiful and is the birthplace for creativity, innovation, and love. (http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html)

Vulnerability is seen in many areas and ways in our lives. I don’t profess to be any kind of expert, but I certainly have had my share of feeling vulnerable, especially lately. I’ve written before that I don’t want to be bitter about any of the hurts that I’ve experienced in my life, especially the most recent ones that I’ve not yet healed from, and each time I feel hurt, I am challenged. I am challenged to listen to the voice of love and not the voice of fear and to embrace the uncertainty. I’m getting better at it. It would be easier for me to close myself off to love and instead find a way to project that hurt outward in anger and blame. It’s not fair; I didn’t deserve it; I don’t understand why. Life isn’t fair; we all get what we deserve, even if what it is is unpleasant and painful; we don’t always get the answers we need or want. This is life. This I’ve learned. This I know.

I believe in the goodness of others; I believe in good intent and hope and especially love. Love is never a bad thing. To love another person without having any idea how it could turn out isn’t silly and shouldn’t be avoided–it should be welcomed and embraced. We never know when we will be altered by an experience that touches us deeply, whether that’s a friendship, the ending of a friendship, a death, a birth, a moment in time shared with another human, through sex, through discourse, through nothingness. All of those are gifts, given to us by others and by the universe in her infinite wisdom. Even pain and hurt that we wish to push aside or place in a box to bury deep inside of us never to see the light of day…

Hurt and vulnerability are the greatest gifts of all, because they are uncomfortable. And without discomfort, we aren’t learning; we aren’t growing; we aren’t becoming the truth of ourselves. We aren’t becoming wholehearted.

I want to be wholehearted. I want to be a person in the world that others enjoy being around and can depend on. I want my light to shine always, and I could never do that if I chose bitterness and anger over compassion and love. I don’t know how to make it be that way all the time, I wish I did. I don’t like feeling uncomfortable and uncertain; I don’t like feeling sad and hurt. I only want to love and be loved, just like everyone else and it doesn’t seem like it should be something that difficult to attain. But I suppose nothing really worth having should come that easily; sometimes even love takes a lot more patience, kindness, and effort than we think it should. Some situations, some people are worth the extra effort; some aren’t; sometimes we don’t know the difference until we try.

I’m going to keep trying.

images

First Fall

Oregon settled into Autumn much like she settled into Summer, with the intention on making everyone around her very happy. The earth is preparing for change; parts of her are dying, like the leaves that float to the ground and cover the sidewalks surrounding my apartment; this place I don’t own; this place I don’t share with Cher. Our home is sold and I patiently await closing, so I can gently place one more connection into its grave. Coyotes live near the Tualatin River behind me, and they snatch little unprotected and unaware cats and dogs, dismantling their bodies and leaving parts behind to rot. Ginger sniffs the yellow and orange ground; can she smell their death? Does it linger in the thick, moist air carrying with it a healthy dose of fear? She pays no mind to the squirrels and blue jays who hop around as we walk; they scurry to gather food before it’s gone, making popping noises in the trees where they hide for the upcoming winter; they don’t mind Ginger either.

I don’t recall a fall quite as lovely as this, except for nineteen years ago when Mikayla was born. I sat in Good Samaritan Hospital and watched the colors blanket the affluent homes dotted over Portland’s West Hills; if I had been allowed to go outside, I would have smelled the crispness in the air mixed with the sweet smell of decay, and I couldn’t have imagined the meanderings my life would take. Part of me died that fall; I became a mother and whomever I was before that moment ceased to exist; she faded away just like the clear blue northwest sky that will soon be covered in grey, hiding our majestic Mt. Hood behind the wet clouds only revealing her white pointed breast as a pleasant surprise. Nineteen sets of seasons passed, and now my child is an adult college student making her own life and mine is beginning again too. Seasons redefine, reset, and rejoice in their newness: winter is for hibernation, spring is for new life, summer is for growth and fall is for death and preparation for resurrection. The Autumn Solstice marked the first day of the last season I must survive in my recovery. Four seasons mark completion, and on the Winter Solstice, it will be one year since Cher left. I’ve traveled through these months with my eyes unwrapped and fixed on finishing this task. God created the earth in seven days; the Hebrews wandered in the desert for forty; my heart will heal in 365. Four seasons finish the cycle for me to become someone new.

Yesterday I saw a turkey. She sat on the metal fence that separates my apartment complex from the old RV park next door. I heard her rustle in the leaves and assumed she was one of the tame squirrels that sit and watch me when I walk by. I looked to see her sitting there, then she jumped off and clucked, or gobbled, or made some kind of bird noise before flitting off into the field. Native American’s viewed turkeys as symbols of abundance and fertility. The turkey displays anxiety when he or she senses a change in the weather and many Native America tribes watched for this behavior as a sign of what was to come. The Sioux used four turkey feathers in certain rituals to represent the four winds. Four Winds: Four Seasons. Benjamin Franklin lamented to his daughter that he wished the turkey would have been chosen as the national bird instead of the Bald Eagle. The eagle is mostly a scavenger and Franklin didn’t see this as an honest way to obtain food; turkeys are omnivores and the eat plants and small insects. Turkeys are considered brave and courageous. They are also symbols of pride, abundance, generosity, awareness, virility, fertility, and sacrifice.

“When the turkey visits us it is a sign that we must be mindful of the blessings bestowed upon us each day. Further, it is a message to express our strength and brilliance – it’s time to show our own plumage and reveal true selves” (Animal Symbolism).

Autumn blessings are all around me right now. Everything that could go right in my life is, and I am harvesting what I planted long ago during that very dark and sad spring. While I reap, I am mindful of what is around me and the endings that must continue to occur before there are new beginnings and continue to prepare for the next cycle of life. I’m changed and still changing, but who I will become has yet to be determined. It’s all part of the process. Rebirth follows dying, and the last parts of the old me are dying alongside the life around me. I connect to what perishes and take it in like the air I breathe, filling my lungs with understanding: life stops, and soon it will all start again.

 

Dates

Dates on a calendar.

The dates that are meaningful–dates that represent something important that one wants to remember ever more, or tries to forget and can’t. It’s just a place that points to a memory, either happy or sad that brings a person to a specific time and setting allowing ones mind to wander down a path that can quickly lead to a rainy, lonely darkness.

Remember: pain always waits for you and sometimes when a date on the calendar rolls around and the environment is just right (you have your period, the weather just changed, the barometric pressure dropped, and a moment of nostalgia bubbles up while making macaroni and cheese from scratch;) this perfect combination of ingredients mixes and melds together and spirals into a pool of cyclical sadness on the living room floor. Clutching your glass on wine in one hand and your iPhone in the other–the disequilibrium of it all is overwhelming and confusing, and altering.

My sweet boyfriend and I noted that we had been dating for three months. Three happy months. Three months that light came back into my life and I experienced a loving joy that I hadn’t in a long time. Three months of discovering one another, of lustful adventures into unknown and unimagined erotic territories that leave me breathless and in awe. Three months of becoming friends and companions. Three months of learning, growing, and evolving to a new place of beginning. Three months of playing and having fun. I’m grateful for each of those days and I look forward to many more.

The next day would have been my seven-year-eight-month anniversary with Cher, and as we celebrated every month–the day held significance. I hadn’t allowed myself to really think about it the two months previous–better to just put it out of my head, I thought. This month, the pain that waited decided to make an appearance and I fell into a place I hadn’t seen in awhile. It’s not a place I like to visit and would rather avoid, but sometimes you just get stuck and no matter how hard you would like to leave, you can’t.

I thought about how sad I was to lose her and how much I love and miss her every day. I thought about the situation I’m in with my girls and how difficult it’s all been–how much our lives have been changed and how uncertain our futures are. I remembered how wonderful it used to be to have my family together and to know what to expect each day and imagine what the future would look like and know that no matter what it brought, we would be together. I thought about how much we loved each other–how we went to sleep every night, right up to the very last night we spent together, wrapped in each others arms, my forehead tucked into the side of her neck–my leg wrapped around her–my arm across her breasts. I thought about how I always knew how much she loved me. I thought about how hurt I’ve been and how unfair it all was and then the sadness consumed me.

The tears turned on and didn’t stop.

I’ve not yet figured out how I am able to hold so much happiness in my heart for my sweet boyfriend while still feeling so much sadness and loss for Cher. They are mutually exclusive I guess, but at the same time they aren’t. I wouldn’t be able to know or recognize the love I feel for David if I hadn’t already known love for Cher. I wouldn’t be able to open myself up to being loved again, if I didn’t already know how wonderful it is to feel that way. I wouldn’t be able to trust him if I hadn’t given myself time to understand the betrayal I felt from her. My love and relationship with Cher prepared me to love someone else, even though that certainly wasn’t what I thought I wanted or needed at the time. I didn’t want that, but, if I’ve learned anything over the last nine months–life doesn’t always hand you what you think you want–sometimes life gives you what you don’t want in order to get you to what you need.

I’ve come to understand a lot about myself and those around me this past week alone.

One: I don’t know everything and I can’t be expected to solve every issue and problem that comes my way on my own. It’s okay to allow others to give me ideas and maybe, someone may have a better one than I do; this was surprisingly a new concept for me and I’m grateful my boyfriend is smart enough to point it out to me, (thanks David.)

Two: I loved Cher just how she was, including the parts of her that were broken and damaged. Who she was hurt and left me, so if I purely loved her for who she was, then I need to love that part of her too. I did and I do and I’m glad that I had someone in my life come along to point that out to me, (thanks Kristy.)

Three: If I just allow my heart to love, the rest will work itself out. It’s okay to be sad and it’s okay to feel joy too; this is truth and I’m glad someone knows me well enough to remind me, (thanks Cher.)

Situations and people appear and are not always what we think we want, but very often, exactly what we need. This I will remember next month, and the month after that until one day that date on the calendar will simply represent what once was and not what could have been. And the other date, the one before that marks a first date and the months of joy that have followed, will be my new normal, my new celebration, and a point where my life started down a new path, with new expectations and new blessings to count. That date I will circle with a heart.

But, you’re a lesbian…

Yes, I have a boyfriend. I didn’t sell out or betray my people. I wasn’t looking for it or even thought I would consider the possibility, and as cliche as it is: it just kind of happened.

I don’t know how to explain it except to say that I’ve always felt the same way about the possibility of having a relationship with a man: he would have to be a man that I truly loved being around; he would have to think that I’m amazing; we would have to have an intense connection in EVERY way; we would be great friends and spend time together, alone, and with our families; we would have to be non-monogamous and he would have to be okay with me having intimate relationships with women. I never thought it would happen and figured it was a pretty tall order, but I guess the universe thought I deserved to have something good thrown my way after having my heart dragged through misery and pain, and I’m not going to refuse a gift as awesome as this one.

Oh, I realize it’s too soon for me to be in a relationship with anyone. I should wait a prerequisite seven months to date, (one month for every year Cher and I were together,) or four full seasons since our break-up in order to experience each season alone and without her, or half of the length of our marriage–which would be three and a half years. Well, I waited six months instead of seven and two seasons instead of four and that three and a half years crap is bullshit. I don’t want to be alone for three and a half years because someone thinks that’s what’s better for me. Fuck that.

As I’ve mentioned before–affairs of the heart have always been a lesson in futility for me and even though I haven’t had the longevity of some people’s relationships, I’ve had some pretty intense and fully-lived relationships and I don’t know which is better or if there even is a way to quantify that. We have relationships and sometimes they last a short time and sometimes they last a long time: there is no failure–just experience. I wouldn’t trade the seven years I had with Cher for anything in the world; I loved her and was loved by her and I was happy–very happy. I will always hurt from that loss and there is nothing that will ever make that better; no one will ever replace her in my heart, for she occupied a space that will forever be hers. I still burst in to tears just thinking about her; I still miss her desperately, and I will always wonder if there had been a way and if only . . .

But, that kind of thinking doesn’t really matter because what we had was destroyed and is over and I had to move forward, and I feel very, very blessed that someone came into my life, unexpectedly, but welcome. He’s a kind man and he treats me like a lady. We have fun together, we are intellectually matched, we share similar outlooks and insights, but more than anything–we realize that we are people in our 40′s with families and lives and a whole hell of a lot of baggage and we’re okay with that and willing to give it, at least a shot.

I had a meeting with a former professor today, and he wasn’t aware of my breakup with Cher. “But, you talked about her all the time…you were so happy…I’m shocked.” I told him what happened and it’s funny now, to tell the story. It seems like it isn’t even real, like something like that couldn’t actually happen to anyone, but yet it did. Finally, part-way through I just said, “You know what? It doesn’t even matter–it’s over, we’re divorced, I’m on the other side of most of it and I have a new life now. Also, I’m dating a very nice man…”

“But, you’re a lesbian…”

Which is better than, “Well, what ARE you now??

What AM I now? Oh geez. I don’t know. I’m just me; I’m just Kathryn, the lady who used to be hetero and then was a lezzie and now is having sex with men and ladies and liking them both a lot, but also in a loving relationship with a man. I guess if I need to give myself an identity I choose pansexual–hopefully that’s satisfactory to everyone…

Sexuality is fluid kids; we’ve been through this.

Fourth

I’ve lived several lifetimes. My “forevers” didn’t last forever. “I do” meant something until it didn’t. Every day people walk down an aisle or visit a courthouse and look lovingly into someone’s eyes and make a promise or two. But nothing stays the same. It changes or dies.

Life is change. Death and taxes. No time like the present. Tomorrow is another day.

A new day brings new life and new adventure, but there are scars and those scars keep the pain buried.

Pain always waits for you. It lies in wait like a spiritual teacher deciding the right time to spring to life and show you just one more lesson, just one more nuance, just one more way of thinking or seeing a circumstance or an action in a different light with a different meaning–a different lifetime.

Not everyone has the chance to live several lifetimes, because they’re afraid or simple or just because they’ve maybe learned the lesson the first time instead of the second or third. Third time’s a charm or three strikes you’re out. What about the fourth?

Bring forth. March forth. Call forth. Set forth. Go forth. Journey forth.

Fourth.

Holmes & Rahe

According to the Holmes & Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale, I am a 249. This means that I have a 50% higher chance than a regular person to becoming ill due to stress. The scale measures life events like, oh, divorce and moving. I get the added bonuses of selling a house and a major change in financial situation and having a child leave home. Of course Doctors Homes and Rahe developed their scale in 1967, and life today is very different than it was then. A slightly updated version was created in 2001 to include: Period of Homelessness and Suicide of a Family Member. The latter is because of the increase in suicides over the years. But I wonder, what stresses are leading to the increased suicide rate? We already know that queer and questioning youth are at a much higher risk of suicide and that bullying has increased because of the many mediums available to do so. We live in a society with the science and technology to live longer, but also live in a society with stresses that make us sick. It seems to be a bit counter-intuitive.

We moved. Last weekend, the girls and I moved out of the home that we shared as a family for over seven years into a smallish apartment in the next town over. I needed to move somewhere different, and even though I didn’t get my wish of where I wanted to live, at least we are moved and somewhat settled. It was stressful, just as Holmes & Rahe would have us believe–I think it was way more stressful than where they would categorize it, but I’m not going to argue with them. I think that under the circumstances, I held it together pretty well. I had one major meltdown, but my sister-in-law talked me through it and I was on my way. I feel blessed to have my family and friends around to help me through. I realize I’ve been taking more than giving lately, and I appreciate that they are still around, loving and supporting me. I just keep taking one step at a time, and sometimes I burst into tears and sometimes I feel like pouring myself a drink at 10:00 in the morning, but shit has to get done and there isn’t anyone else to do it but me.

Our new place is less than half of the space we had and I don’t think I ever realized just how large our house was until I tried to fit everything into a much smaller space. I’ve had to become quite creative with where to put my furniture and all of the stuff we have. I’ve taken countless carloads to the Goodwill, filled an entire dumpster with trash plus one carload to the dump, and my garage is filled with items for a garage sale, and still….I have too much stuff. We all do. I keep trying to remind myself that the rest of the world lives in much smaller spaces and in far, far, worse conditions (our living conditions are palatial comparatively…) I went from having ten kitchen drawers to two tiny ones, my kitchen and dining room are the size of the master bathroom in my old house, two of my girls are sharing a room (much to one of their dismay,) and I keep running into things because everything is so close together–everywhere. I no longer have an extra refrigerator/freezer or an ice maker or even filtered water. Still, I’m trying to see the positive aspects and be happy that I don’t have a lot to take care of anymore and grateful that we have a place to live, food to eat and for christsakes, at least I have clean water–most of the world doesn’t.

Onward. That’s all one can and should do.

While unpacking, I was going through my purses to put them away and found this written on a note card:

“Love is always building up. It puts some line of beauty on every life it touches. It gives new hope to discouraged ones, new strength to those who are weak, new joys to those who are sorrowing. It makes life seem more worthwhile to everyone whose eyes it looks.” Author Unknown

I read that quote at my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding two years ago, but I was struck at how much it meant to me right now. And then I thought about something else I just read from a blog post, 10 Mistakes Unhappy People Make: #2, Using Failed Relationships as an Excuse:

“Life doesn’t always introduce you to the people you WANT to meet. Sometimes life puts you in touch with the people you NEED to meet – to help you, to hurt you, to leave you, to love you, and to gradually strengthen you into the person you were meant to become.”

What a true story. That, mixed with the quote on love and I felt like the universe was once again letting me know that everything, will in fact, be okay for all of us. I WILL become the person I was meant to. One way or another, but I’m keeping my eye on doing it through love, happiness, friendship, learning, and artistic expression.

Love builds us back up and life puts us in touch with the people we need to meet. That pretty much describes what’s been happening to me since December, but it has often been difficult to see through all of my pain. I shed so much of myself that I was a deep dark hole that couldn’t be filled, my body withered away, my soul ached and my heart broke. Sometimes it’s hard to even transport myself back there emotionally because it still hurts to much to think about…so I try not to. I try to keep looking forward and remembering; I’m always remembering and reminding myself that none of this was done purposely TO me; it’s just the way it is sometimes and I’m not so special to be immune to heartache and pain. Without it, I can’t know happiness in its fullest. Maybe that’s a cop out–kind of like religious people saying that life events are just “God’s will…” Which is bullshit. God or no God, life just happens and sometimes it’s super messy and gross. Sometimes it’s amazingly sweet. Sometimes it’s a little of both. Sometimes it’s a little of both all at the same time and sometimes it’s all completely overwhelming and scary. I like to call that a Hyperbole of Emotion Wrapped in a State of Cognitive Dissonance. Yep. That describes me most of the time.

Why a Hyperbole of Emotion Wrapped in a State of Cognitive Dissonance? Well, because life brought me the two above/aforementioned references: love and a person. Life introduced me to a person that I needed to meet, however that works out, but I needed to meet him* because when I did, I started to see things differently–not for good or for bad, not really even clearer or with a deeper understanding, but from a perspective I hadn’t entertained. I never thought that I could ever love anyone the way that I loved Cher. I never thought anyone could ever love me the way that she loved me, and I was right on both points. No one ever will, and that’s okay. What I had with Cher was amazing and wonderful on so many levels; I will always, always, believe that the love we shared was incredibly special and something that most people don’t ever experience in their lifetime. I think I thought that because I would never be able to recreate it, that meant I would never love in that way again. What I realize now is that I won’t ever love in that way again, and that’s a good thing. I won’t have the same love–I’ll have a different love with a different person.

I was forced to grow out of my love with Cher and leave it behind, but leave it behind because that’s where it needs to stay–behind me. I can’t bring it with me because it can’t dwell where I do now–it’s a part of my past and a part of who I was and who I became, but it can’t define me anymore as it did for so long. That is not to say that I don’t feel loss; I definitely do and I will for a long time. I don’t know that anyone ever completely gets over losing someone who meant so much…I can’t even imagine that there will ever come a day that I won’t feel sad over what happened–hence the Cognitive Dissonance–holding two opposing ideas at the same time. I am still grieving and sad over the loss of my relationship, and at the same time I am happy and giddy over a new relationship that brings me such comfort and joy–and Hyperbole of Emotion…

I know. It’s too soon. I need to wait a year. It’s a rebound, whatever. It is what it is and what it’s going to be. Right now I’m just focusing on having fun and loving every moment as best I can, and it’s very difficult to find fault in that. A new relationship with any person in one’s life is a new opportunity for discovery and growth. And I’m all about discovery and growth–no matter what form its packaged.

 

*Yes, him. No, that doesn’t mean I’m straight again. We’ll get to that…

Dissolution of Marriage or Domestic Partnership

My column in PQ Monthly came out today and I wrote a little bit about marriage and divorce equality. It seems to be good timing and apropos to the fact that it would seem that my now ex-wife feels very resentful about the legal obligations that we had for one another while we were together and how those carried over to our divorce. It’s amazing to me how many people who are fighting for marriage equality don’t stop to think about the legal and moral obligations that marriage holds. Sure, it’s nice to be able to reap the benefits, until you’re the one who has to pay the consequences and then all of a sudden, those rules shouldn’t apply.

Making a commitment, legally, financially, morally, and ethically to another person binds you together as a couple, meaning you share everything you have, including property and income, and yes, even the person who doesn’t actually earn the money is entitled to that property and income. That’s why the laws governing marriage and domestic partnership are in place, in order to combat the golden rule of “Whoever has the gold, rules.”

I can’t help but think and feel that Cher thought she would be able to walk away from our relationship without any responsibility towards me financially. We made an agreement and I kept my end of it throughout. It really wasn’t my fault that she didn’t and no matter how she tries to paint it, four people lost in this relationship transaction: the girls and me, not her. I was and still am in a very vulnerable position, and for not the laws of the State of Oregon protecting me, I would have been in dire straits. Because obviously in a break-up situation like ours–where one person only thought of herself and her own needs–the injured party doesn’t stand a chance of any kind of fair justice. She destroyed my life, yet wanted me to walk away with nothing, because to her, everything we had was hers because it came from her money. Luckily the law doesn’t look at it that way, and neither does any other reasonable, non-selfish person.

Link to the article: http://www.pqmonthly.com/latebian-life-dissolution-of-marriage-or-domestic-partnership/15736