Friday, November 21, 2014

Love You, Mean It

We were standing in the middle of a ski shop. The ex was browsing through the aisles when the clerk came to me. "So, you ski?" he asked.

"Ah, no." I am accident prone and gravitationally challenged and have shit lungs, I thought. I don't ski.

"You board, then," he said.

My ex and I had been talking to this clerk before and it was very clear that we were there for ski stuff for the ex. I was just an accessory, a plus one. The person who held things when the ex passed them to me.

"No," I said. "I don't snow board either."

This irritated the clerk. "Well what do you DO all winter?" he asked, condescendingly, as though I barely qualified as human because I didn't strap anything to my feet and careen down steep mountainsides.

"I read, actually. A lot."

"You READ." He sniffed. "Whatever."

"Yeah," my ex said, finally coming over and standing next to the clerk. They smirked at each other. "I don't get it either."


*****

For the record, a nearly perfect evening in my world involves warm socks, a comfy chair, a glass of wine, and a book.

A completely perfect evening involves all of those things while cuddled up to someone else. Said someone would also be reading.

Please note that in that relationship I had no perfect evenings.

*****

Someone recently asked me if I had forgiven the ex and I realized that I forgave him a long time ago. It took me longer to forgive myself for tolerating a relationship that was so diminishing, where it was okay to mock me and the things that I am passionate about. However, the realization that yes, I forgive him and yes, I finally also forgive me made me think about the nature of love, and what it should look like.

It should look like support and appreciation. It shouldn't look like disdain. It shouldn't be all "let's explore everything you love and say everything I love is stupid."

It should be meeting someone where they are and loving them in that exact spot on the map of their life. It should not be looking at her as though she is a wax figure that you can mold into your idea of perfection.

If you love someone, then you give AND you take. You go to the ski store and then to a book store. You spend a day at the resort and some time in the lodge. It's not one or the other. It's both.

*****

I get it now.  When someone tells you they love you, they need to mean they love you -- the things you are AND the things you're not. The things you've been and the things you'll become. Your hopes, your fears, your successes, your defeats -- they need to love all of those things.

*****

I got lucky, by the way. I met someone who tells me that he loves me, and when he does? He means it.

And now? I have many perfect evenings.

I hope that, however you frame a perfect evening, whatever that would look like for you? You have them as well.

*****

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Spider Convention

Dear Spiders,

You may recall that when I moved into this apartment (to be referred to as "home"), I was on a mission to be a kinder, gentler human being, one who was more willing to appreciate all of the earth's creatures, even the ones that I considered to be madly frightening and in possession of FAR too many legs (to be referred to as "you"). While I have had no love or affection for you, I have many friends who really love spiders. Sincce I consider these to be (otherwise) sensible people, I reconsidered my stance on you and your presence in my home. 

Thus, the Treaty.

You remember the Treaty, right? It involved you, my home, and, well, me. 

Please allow me to refresh your memory regarding the Treaty.

You were allowed to be present in my home -- though you did definitely run the risk of gentle relocation to a friendlier space -- as long as you did not attempt to establish any kind of residency in what I call "The Forbidden Zones." The Forbidden Zones were VERY SPECIFICALLY stated as the following:

My  bed
My  person
The shower

Oh Spiders. We had a good thing going. But then you got adventurous and greedy and, frankly, bold and ridiculous. 

The first time you violated the shower portion of the Forbidden Zones I chalked it up to some sort of rogue agent who needed to be (ahem) squashed in his efforts to void the Treaty. That little guy was BRAZEN, I'll give him that. It was very sneaky to drop down from the shower head when defenseless, blind without her glasses Yellie was rinsing her hair , unable to tell if that was a GIANT HAIRY SPIDER INTERLOPER or, say, a tangle of said hair.  

He blew his cover by MOVING.

Actions were swift, immediate, and punishing but then the Treaty held.

At least, it held until today. Today, when I was once again rinsing my hair and discovered one of you. It wasn't enough that you were in the shower. OH NO, SPIDERS. Instead, you dropped down (again, I suspect from the showerhead area) and landed on my hand.

That's TWO Treaty violations at a single time (and, to be honest, a little impressive in its audacity) and I will simply not stand for this level of disrespect.

The Treaty is now dissolved. THAT'S RIGHT, SPIDERS. All of the zones in the home are now declared spider free. Even as I type, the cat is stalking one of you and, in all probability will not only eat you but will barf you up later for me to clean, allowing me to get rid of you twice. HAHAHAHAHA! 

I tried, you know. I made every effort to get along. THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, SPIDERS.

It's ON.

Sincerely,

Yellie

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Unplugged

Eight years ago this month, I pulled the plug on my marriage by finally summoning the courage to move out. It was difficult for me to admit that it was a) past over and b) more abusive to stay by the minute, but eventually, I had to do it. You can only put a doily on the elephant in the room for so long before you're forced to admit that it is, in fact, an elephant and not an end table. 

So. I moved out of the house I loved and into an apartment that I most definitely did not love. Not even a little. I tried to tell myself (and Beansie) that I loved it, that it was great, but between the job I didn't love, the apartment that I didn't love, and the soon to be ex husband who, frankly, scared me, I was a miserable, sobbing, depressed wreck.

It happens.

When my folks were all, "Move to North Carolina and come live with us!" I fought it. I don't know why now, except that -- possibly -- when every day is a fight? You just get used to fighting. "No," I said. "I don't want to," I said.

The Flinkster told me to go. I still fought. "No," I said.

And then one day ... Tired, defeated, anxious ... I called my mom in North Carolina. "Okay," I said. "Okay."

The Flinkster refers to it as "when you put yourself in time out."

When I think about that time, I call it "when I unplugged."

*****

The first week I spent in North Carolina, I slept. Really slept. For the first time in months. With the air conditioning on and Beansie curled up on a pillow beside me, I slept.

The second week, I realized that I could breathe without feeling like someone was standing on my chest. I found myself crying, but it was with relief -- for the realization that I was still alive, that I was still here. I played cribbage with my mom. I drank coffee with my dad. I practiced simple things: breathing in. Breathing out. Tossing things for Bean to chase.

I did that for three years.

***** 

I rarely left the house, except for business trips and shopping excursions with my mom. It was sort of monastic. It was a very quiet life.

It was healing. It let me heal.

*****

I was thinking about this today, because The Fella did something unbelievably thoughtful and got us tickets so we can go home to North Carolina for Christmas. Make no mistake... North Carolina became home in spite of everything (the heat! The politics! The poisonous spiders!). I can't wait. I haven't been in ages, and am excited for my parents to meet my Fella, and to sit on the steps and drink coffee, and to stand in the office Bean and I used to spend our days (and sometimes nights) in and just think.

I am also excited because I want to make sure I thank my parents in person for giving me a place to go and unplug. If they had not urged me -- repeatedly -- to go to them, I wouldn't be where I am now. I might have made it through, but not like I did. I wouldn't have enough trust or love left in me for The Fella. I wouldn't have made it through losing Bean.

When I was on the phone with my mom earlier this evening, she said something about buying a birthday present for me.

I need to make sure that she and my dad both know that I appreciate what they gave me eight years ago, and that I'm thankful every day that they let me unplug then so that I can be plugged in now.

There's not much that's worth more than that.

Monday, October 27, 2014

On Beauty (Inevitable Renee Zellweger Post)

So, Renee Zellweger.
 
I have to confess that I saw the now-infamous photos of her "new face" and said something snarky, like, "WHAT WAS SHE THINKING" and then thought it was sad that she had to mess with what I thought was a perfectly lovely (and frankly quite adorable face) and then was all "bad surgery, too bad she felt like she had to do that, look at me being judgey mcjudgerson."

But then I started thinking about it -- and also? Feeling bad about my reaction.

Here's why.

1) If Renee Zellweger DID have surgery? That's her business. It's not mine. If she felt like she needed to have work done to feel beautiful and relevant? That's her duck, and I hope that -- if she did have work done -- that the result is that she feels amazing. She deserves that -- in fact, I think that we all do.

2) Also positing that perhaps Ms Zellweger had surgery? She had to look in the mirror and (hopefully after thinking "Hells YES! I look FAAAABULOUS!") know that she looks different, and that she'd have to take this face out and about -- and she had to know that people were going to talk about her.

Folks, I don't know that I would leave the house if that was the case. That's a lot of extra -- more than usual -- baggage for a person (even a famous one) with which to cope.

So kudos to Renee Zellweger for ROCKING that red carpet. Girlfriend is BRAVE.

3) If she did NOT have surgery? Then she's just doing that weird aging thing that WE ALL DO. It happens. It's a thing. People start looking different. Go figure. Maybe we're just not used to seeing celebrities age because they do so often have procedures and surgeries and that's why we're all confused and flabbergasted when someone starts to look different because they're letting all the years and love and learning show in their face.

And that? Is kind of also a shame. I'm all for "do what you gotta to feel pretty for you" but I'm also thinking "find the beauty that lives there and love it" -- I don't think we take enough time for that.

4) When I look at those photos? Renee Zellweger looks happy.

Happy is awesome. Happy is beautiful. Happy trumps "did she or didn't see" and "who's business is it anyway."

Happy? Is where it allllll should start and end.

And snarking on someone's happy? Is one of the un-loveliest things I have ever caught myself doing.

It won't happen again.

Monday, October 6, 2014

It's a Lifestyle Change, Part Four: Weighty

"You look great. Are you losing weight?"

"You know? I don't know."

*****

As I mentioned, I am changing the way I look at food, exercise, etc. 

As I did not mention, I threw out my scale for the last time. 

There were multiple reasons for this. The primary reason was that my scale was broken. Broken-ish. The battery was dead, so I would stand on it and nothing would happen. No scrolling of numbers followed by immediate judgement and possible self loathing. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

It was useless to me. There's no point in having a scale in your bathroom if it can't help you to determine your value as a human being.

So I tossed it. 

*****

I thought about replacing it. Without a scale, how would I know how to feel about myself? How would I know if I was pretty or worthy or valuable without a number in the digital readout?

*****

And then I thought, why am I being such an asshole to myself?

*****

Look. This isn't my first ride on this particular merry-go-round. I've tossed scales before -- and then bought new ones because my bathroom scale is like the most horrible security blanket ever. It's an INsecurity blanket -- it's what I rely on to make sure all of the worst things that I think about myself are true and, perversely?

I feel like I need it.

The problem with body dysmorphia, though -- and I know this as well -- is that the number on the scale will NEVER be small enough. There is no readout that would ever make me feel worthy or wonderful or beautiful.

And if that's the case?

Maybe I need to let it go. Even if it's scary. Even if I don't know what to do without it.

*****

I don't know if I'm losing weight or how much weight or what. I do know this: I feel good. I feel happy and pretty. I smile a lot more.

That's a lifestyle change I can embrace.
 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mush

I have asthma. People with severe, chronic asthma are probably nodding sympathetically right now; people who love people with severe, chronic asthma are probably wincing right now, and people who are lucky enough not to be a member of this particular tribe are thinking, well, you have an inhaler, right?

Yes.

But.

Severe, chronic asthma generally equals really shitty immune system. Which also means "gets catastrophically ill at the drop of a hat" and also "will be absolutely fine one moment and blue from a lack of oxygen the next."

I would love it if the above was an exaggeration. It's not.

Not even a little.

Just ask my poor mom, who once spent the night of my birthday sitting up with me because she was literally afraid that I was going to die. I'd been fine that morning. By ten that evening? My lips, hands, and feet were blue as I tried to remember how breathing worked and how to do it. 

It sucks. It sucks a lot. But that's life. That's MY life. 

Or so I thought.

I got sick over the weekend, and The Fella? Made working with me, making certain I was okay, and looking after me his priority. He took time off to make sure I would have help if things went south quickly. He stayed with me and checked in and made sure that I had what I needed when I needed it. 

My lungs might not have been working the way I want them to, but my heart?

Melted.

I have asthma. It's a thing. But for the first time in my adult life? I have someone who gets it and wants to make sure that I'm okay -- and who will go out of his way to make sure that happens. 

My brain doesn't know what to do with this, of course.

But my heart?

Mush.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Guesswork (TRIGGER WARNING: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE)

I don't know if I'll post this, but I want to write it.

I hate it -- I HATE it -- when we as a society look at a victim of abuse and question her. When we make it her fault that she has been or is being abused because she doesn't leave. When we heap additional abuse upon her by making her the reason for the abuse -- after all, if she'd leave, she wouldn't be getting hurt, so it's her fault.

If you've never been in an abusive relationship, then I guess that it might be easy to judge. If you've never had someone who claims to love you tell you, again and again, that you're worthless and useless and that no one else will ever love you, so you need to make sure that you do what they say because otherwise you'll be alone and a failure, if you've never had someone who has promised to cherish you punishing you for real slights and imagined ones, if you've never had someone who claimed to adore you cutting you off from your friends and family until you have nowhere to turn and no one to go to? I guess that then, it's easy to look at a video of a woman who is having the shit kicked out of her and blame her.

I guess.

I guess it might also be easy to ignore the amount of shame that you would feel if you were being abused; you're a modern woman, and finding yourself in a relationship that is literally painful and frightening would be completely embarrassing if you even had anyone left to talk to -- which you might not, since you're not allowed to see the people who actually do love and support you. But I guess it would be easy not to think about that if you haven't been there.

And I guess that it would be simple to ignore the fact that the person who is hurting you might be stronger or, in some cases, trained to hurt people far bigger and stronger than you are and who might keep weapons around to remind you that, if you fight back? You could end up much worse off.

I guess it's easy to forget that leaving can be more dangerous than staying. 

I guess it's easy to forget that no one wants to be abused.

I guess it's easy to forget that the victim of abuse is ABUSED and so deserves for society to ask why abusers hurt their partners and not why victims of abuse deserve to be abused -- because no one deserves to be abused, ever. Period.

But I guess it's easy to forget that.