Friday, February 26, 2010

Little Women

Yesterday I drove home from work and couldn’t pull into my driveway for all the other cars. I went into the house and found Martha in the living room.

“What’s going on? Who’s here?”

“Jess’s boyfriend cheated on her.”

“Is she okay?”

“I don’t know, all the girls are in Peachie’s bedroom”

I knocked lightly on Peachie’s door and stuck my head in. There was Jess, Gianna, Carli, Liz and Peachie, all friends since they were 3 years old and went to pre-school together. There were wads of tissues all over the floor along with candy wrappers and everyone was on their cell phone. “You girls need anything?” Peachie gave me the sign that they had it covered.

I went back to the living room and to chat with Martha. Periodically someone came out of the room - “do you have more tissues?”, “a phonebook?”, “a hammer?” “ A hammer?” I asked. “Yep, she wants to smash the locket John gave her.”

At one point two of them came out and said they were going out to pick up more ice cream. More?

Later Peachie came out.

“What happened?”, I asked.

“Jess found out that not only did John cheat on her, but it has been going on for at least 8 months with three different girls!”

“Oh, boy. How is she doing”?

“Not good. We are going to drive her over to John’s so she can return his stuff”.

“You’re ALL going?”

“Yep. You f#ck with one of us you f#ck with us all.”

“Okay then. Be safe”


As they all left the house I was thinking about all the things these girls have been through together. All of each other’s birthday from little cake and ice cream parties to their Sweet 16s with buffets and DJs. Elementary school valentine angst and the drama of their first Middle School dance. The death of one girl’s parent and the unemployment of another. They have been there for each other through their athletic triumphs and failures, homework help, crushes, menstrual mishaps and clothing emergencies. When Peachie went to her boyfriend’s military ball last month they were all here. Four hours of hair and makeup help. And now, the inevitable heartaches.

There is something about female friendship. I am happy to see my daughters forming long lasting, healthy bonds. It makes me feel confident that even when I cannot be with them, they'll always have someone who's got their back.

I am reminded of this poem a friend sent me on a greeting card:

There’s nothing like my
women friends
launching straight into matters
of the
heart and soul
the moment
we’re alone.

We use
tears,
laughter
and wisdom
to cross entire
universes in moments,
always arriving back to where we
started - but never arriving home
completely the same.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Updates

- I went to another therapy session yesterday, something I was dreading, but it was okay. The therapist made it seem like our bar adventure was a huge success, although it did not feel that way to me. (I am still obsessing over whether those two women made it home safely.) Therapist very clearly laid out how I could probably take the edge off some of the triggers I still deal with, but the fact remains that unless I am ready to let go of the pain, I will never conquer this. (thank you Doxy for that reference - I am now using the visualization “making my way to the reeds” - although right now it feels more like ‘lost in the reeds’ or ‘sinking in the swamp’.) And she has laid out the next couple of sessions for talking about guilt. Oh boy, that sounds like fun. Can’t wait.

- But the big news is that my secretary has returned to work. Yay! She had been out for almost 3 months so she tired out quickly and I brought her home early, but I actually had huge spans of time when my phone did not ring. Heaven. The best thing is how much her accident has changed our relationship. She hugs me every time I pick her up and when I bring her home. For twenty years we never touched, she was probably afraid that queer is contagious. And now we have become close, touchy feely friends. I can’t tell you how much that makes me smile.

- I don’t know if I mentioned it here but I have given up sugary snacks for Lent. I’m not really into the religious aspects of that but I thought it would be a good time for some much needed discipline - sugar being very much out of control in my life. And that is going good. Except that I now find myself putting 5 packets of Splenda in my tea.

- Beanie has now heard from all the colleges she applied to and was accepted at all. Which would be great except that she is so decisionally impaired. Secretly I have my favorite but am not saying a word. And I am muzzling Martha from putting any pressure on about her continuing to play basketball. I really want this to be her own decision based on whatever criteria she feels is important - which I think right now is the ratio of hot guys on campus.

- It is that weird period in-between sports seasons so the girls are home for dinner every night. I am enjoying them.

- And now, just when everyone is beginning to anticipate spring, we are about to get hit with three snow storms in a row.

- Life is strange lately, but it is good.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Passing the Bar

Friday night was my big date with my therapist into the land of bars. I had had a difficult week and was not looking forward to yet another emotional challenge. Anxiety building.

We went to a local club which was recommended to me by friends. For better or worse, my whole image of a lesbian bar came from watching the L Word. This place was small with lots of mirrors trying to make it look bigger. Bar, pool table, darts. But fortunately we were early and I was able to find a comfortable spot - my back towards a wall, close to the door. (Yeah, no issues there)

The place quickly began filling with women, a wide range of style and age. I was enjoying the people watching and was fairly calm. A waitress had delivered our first drinks but then therapist asked if I thought I could manage going up to the bar to get some more. And I did. Folks were polite and let me up to the bar. A moment of claustrophobia but I was quickly moving away.

But then this large, inked, pierced woman turned quickly and wound up spilling half her beer down the front of me. I looked at her in a flashing moment of fear, thinking she was going to hit me just for being in her way. But instead she was very sweet, apologized profusely and began vigorously trying to wipe the beer off my chest - an action I think I enjoyed a little more than I should have.

I now reeked of beer but I was still doing surprising okay. Therapist and I sat and chatted. I was not quite comfortable but not really uncomfortable either. I think recently divorced therapist was enjoying being in the company of women. As was I.

And then I noticed two women making out, obviously very into each other. And at first I was smiling to myself thinking “ain’t love grand?” and then the next moment I was holding onto the table, anxiety quickly rising. I tried every grounding technique therapist had taught me. I told myself to breathe deeply. I close my eyes and visualized my calming place. I talked to myself trying to convince myself that these women were in a very safe place to show affection. But I knew I was losing the battle. So we left.

Therapist drove me home, talking me back to a better place. And we talked about how the night had mostly been a success, especially navigating though the smell of alcohol, although I suspect being in a room with women made it much easier.

When we arrived at my house, she turned and said to me “You are holding onto to so much pain.” Yeah, I suppose. And then she asked “Will you ever be able to forgive yourself or do you continue living this hell because you think you deserve it?”

I know that that is really the heart of the issue. I am holding onto to this because I can’t forgive myself for what happened to her. I see it in my head. I feel it in my heart. Everyday. The guilt is both a weight and a comfort.

I am wondering if this is a demon I want to get past, or one that I need.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Yesterday we got our first real snowfall of the year. Every storm that clobbered the mid-atlantic states, missed us. Even the weathermen were becoming apologetic. “Sorry, looks like another storm is going to miss us.” But we finally, finally have some snow. Yay.

I, being of scandinavian descent, have always taken saunas. I have always had access to either a gym or nearby facility that had one. And when I moved into a house, I installed my own in the basement. I love taking a sauna. Quiet, peaceful, alone time.

Last night I was thinking that I had never done the traditional - take a sauna and then go roll in the snow - and I should probably try that now that we had this beautiful fresh snowfall. So I went out in the dark, barefoot, dropped my towel, and laid down in the snow naked, to make a snow angel

Oh my f#cking God. I could not intake a breath of air, although I was gasping for it. I think my blood instantly froze and my heart stopped. Why would anyone think it was a good idea to go instantly from 200 degrees to 10 degrees?

As soon as I was able to suck some air back into my lungs, I ran back to the house, shivering, to the heat of the sauna to defrost. I could hear my kids laughing hysterically upstairs. I was thinking that the high Swedish suicide rate is probably not suicide at all. Just a bunch of crazy people who went from a sauna to the snow and never lived to tell the tale.

This morning I looked out to where my beautiful snow angel was suppose to be. It looked more like some animal had had a death struggle there. Not quite the way I had envisioned.

Oh well, scratch another thing off my bucket list.

As a side note - someone apparently nominated my blog for a Lezzy Award from LesbianLifeStyle. I thank whoever nominated me. It is extremely flattering. But I tend to like the small group of readers I currently have, and the occasional newcomer is always welcome. I have no desire to actively attract more readers. In fact I really enjoy the intimate level of this blog particularly as I am now using it to document a difficult and personal journey. But again, thank you. It is very heartwarming to be thought of.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shopping/Therapy

Yesterday I went shopping with Peachie for her junior prom dress. And then went on to therapy. Equally trying experiences. Kidding. Actually both went really well. Peachie found her dress after only two stores in three hours of trying on about 40 dresses. And then we went out to lunch. Really nice to spend some time one on one with her.

I then went into my session feeling happy and strong and stated I was ready do to something - anything - constructive that would move me forward. We talked about what I would like to tackle first. Something not too traumatic. Something on the periphery on my comfort zone. And so I decided I would like to go to a bar. I am not sure if this will expose me to the alcohol on someone’s breathe issue, or just my own social awkwardness. But I do know that, for whatever reason, I always decline invitations for anything that has a bar. And I would like to get past that.

Shrink: When shall we go?

Me: we?

Shrink: Yes. I wouldn’t let you go without some support. Is that okay?

Me: I guess.. Are we going to a gay bar or a straight bar?

Shrink: Which would you prefer?

Me: I don’t know, maybe a gay bar, it would feel safer.

Shrink: You seem unsure . . .

Me: It seems strange to think of you and me at a gay bar.

Shrink: Are you worried about your emotional reaction to alcohol or that more women will try to pick me up than you?

Me: *laughing* Maybe both.



I have not been in a bar in many, many years.

Am I too old for this shit?

What do people to in a bar?

What should I wear?

Is my anxiety showing?

Speaking of clothes, here is the dress the Peachie bought, although it looks much more elegant on Peachie's petite body. I was hoping she would get something in a spring color but she loves black and white. And she particularly loved that the front was cut out so that her shoes would show. She is all about the shoes.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Heart Day


To all my blogging friends, thank you for helping to keep my heart full.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

I heart you all.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Therapy # 4 & 5 - Split personality

Two more therapy sessions under my belt and I find myself being pulled further and further apart rather than being put back together. I suppose it is part of the process, yet I am very uncomfortable feeling this vulnerable and fragile and emotionally unstable.

I am coming to realize that there are two separate and very distinct parts of my personality. One side is the person who is always in control. Professional. Intellectual. The one who can examine any problem, list the pros and cons, do a cost benefit analysis, and prepare and execute the most reasonable solution.

The other is one very frightened person who has recognized that there is one huge monster lurking behind a very thin veneer, and is absolutely terrified of letting it loose.

The shrink and I have been talking about triggers and the difference between eliminating them by facing them head on, or managing them by adapting my behavior to go around them. Up to this point, I have been adapting. In fact, I have become a master at avoidance and management. Most people would look at my life and think I have got it all, and the reality is that I do have it all - in a very, very small space that is now my world.

My intellectual side understands this and wants to conquer it. Slay the monster, scale the walls, see Paris. Really now hard can it be? My therapist talks about how the triggers are only reminders of a past ordeal, not a present event. That I need to be able to recognize the past as past and that I am safe now in the present. That I’m fearing a past memory, not a present day reality. And I totally get that. Intellectual me says, of course, I understand that. Makes perfect sense. The past can no longer hurt me. I leave the office feeling confident I am going to defeat this demon because, in reality, the demon is in the past.

And then, particularly at night, terrified little me takes over. “What are you fucking nuts? Those memories are more powerful than your wimpy intellect. You are going to be swallowed whole by things you have yet to understand. Do you really want to re-live those terrors? Do you have any guarantee that you won’t crumble into the simpering, wimpering, worthless person you were that day? Do you really want to risk what shred of mental health you have left?”

The reality is this - I am becoming more and more aware of the demons I have hidden away. Like something you sense because you’ve seen it from the corner of your eye, you know its there even though you haven’t looked directly at it. I now know how large and dangerous a thing (to me) I have locked in that secure place. The more therapy I do, the more I feel it scratching at the door. And some days am ready to do battle. And some days I just want to curl up in bed pull the covers over my head, and hope it will all go away. I am tired and fragile and weepy all the time. I hate feeling like this. I like to be in control and I know I am losing it.

I find that I am now battling myself rather than the demons. I don’t know if I am strong enough to do this. I don’t know if I can find any peace if I don’t.

I keep thinking about that quote “I may be through with the past, but the past is not through with me.”

I wish I could see my future.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

How to Chose a Religion


Well, this is helpful.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Meme - The First Time

I was going to write something about my therapy session yesterday but I think I need to wait for the emotions to be a little less raw and to let things settle. And so instead of doing all the other things I should be doing, I completed this meme. Feel free to pick it up. I love reading other people's memes.


1. When was your first kiss?
I kissed a boy in second grade while at summer camp. His name was Scott. Funny that I would remember that.

2. When did you first start buying holiday or birthday gifts for other people and stop thinking about what people would buy for you?
Probably around 9th grade when I bought gifts for my boyfriend.

3. When was the first time you thought of yourself not as a kid/teen, but as an adult?
When I paid my first college tuition bill.

4. What do you remember about the first time you drove a car?
I don’t remember the first time I drove a car, but I remember the day I first got my driver’s license. My sister had just bought her very first car on that same day and she let me drive it to school myself. No one would ever be as cool in my eyes as my sister was that day.

5. Tell me about your first pet.
We never had “real” pets like cats or dogs. I was allowed to have a turtle who escaped and was never found. I always suspected my brother had used him as a science experiment.

6. What was your first job?
I worked as a cashier in a grocery store.

7. Who was the first teacher to make a positive impact on your life?
I don’t remember a “first” teacher but the teacher who made the biggest impact was a college planning professor, the department head, whose entire final exam consisted of one question - what is the name of the janitor in the department? He later explained that we have to understand and respect all the parts, or we have learned nothing at all. A life lesson that has stuck with me.

8. If you’ve lived in more than one house or apartment as an adult, tell me about your first one.
My first apartment after college was in a poverty stricken housing project. Very basic. Less than basic. No frills. No security. Paper thin walls. Worn through linoleum floors. Bugs. A couple hundred units exactly alike. Best neighbors I have ever had.

9. What was it like the first time you got drunk (assuming you remember).
Spent the night with my head in the toilet. Puking. All night. Never did that again.


10. Did you marry your first love?
No, but I really would have liked to.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect

Twenty plus years ago when I first came to my present job, I inherited a secretary. After a year or so she left to pursue some personal dreams and I was left to hire a replacement. I had interviewed a couple of candidates when a co-worker came to me and said she knew a woman who was recently divorced, had no skills, but really needed a job. Thiswoman indicated a desire to learn and I hired her. We have been together ever since.

My secretary is a born again Christian. A seriously religious lady with extremely conservative views. She does not approve of my queer relationship although she was come to know and like my family. I am sure the carpet is worn out next to her bed where she probably spends hours on her knees praying for my redemption.

She is also not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Over the years I learned to do most of the work myself because it was just easier than explaining it or always having to double check and correct things. But that is okay. She really needed the job and I don’t mind doing a little extra work to help someone in need. (my Christianity apparently being more important than being a bureaucrat)

For twenty years we have had a nice, cordial but professional-only relationship, respecting each others personal boundaries and limitations. And then on December 5th, while she was playing in the snow with her grandson, she fell and broke her ankle and foot. She is still out of work and will be until probably the end of March. She is not allowed to put any pressure at all on the foot so she is totally immobile and dependent on the help of others. She is very frustrated.

In these last two months, we have forged a new relationship. That will happen, I suppose, when you do someone’s laundry and have to help them to the bathroom. Things change. I borrowed a wheelchair and took her grocery shopping the other day. I pushed her, she pushed the cart. We were like little kids - popping wheelies and taking out displays with our lack of coordination. Laughing hysterically all the way. Did we ever laugh together before? I spent Christmas Eve with her and she shared with me all the crap her ex-husband had put her through. Stuff I never knew. So much pain. I held her hand while she cried. I shared with her the whole story of my church threatening and finally rejecting me. I thought she might side with the church but she was appalled at what they did. She held my hand. (Her Christianity apparently being more powerful than judgement) It was one of the best Christmas Eves I ever experienced.

For twenty years I always had this not-so-humble view that I was doing almost all the work in our department. I never realized how much she did until I really had to answer every phone call and handle every single request for information. I am absolutely buried by the things I never knew happened in the background. I will never not appreciate her again.

A butterfly flaps its wings and it causes a hurricane half a world away.

A woman breaks her foot and it causes the most unlikely, unexpected and wondrous of friendships.

Awesome.

Have butterflies created any good things in your life lately?