Salix's Shiny Things

A magpie blog.

Love and others. March 7, 2016

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I’ve been thinking about exes a lot lately.  This time, the issues are coming up not my own ex, but rather the ex of my significant other.  And how significant that other was and still is to him even now.

Recently, we’ve had a few issues come up that were set in motion by his ex years ago, but because they don’t talk, the problem got larger and is much more difficult to untangle now.  Not impossible by any means, but much hairier and scarier than it would have been had it been dealt with a little bit more appropriately years ago.

And there’s a lot of blame from her side, although technically, it was her actions that started the problems in the first place.  But she still was angry and blamed him, freaked out about the whole thing and wanted him to pay a good deal of money to fix it.

My s.o. was upset, but not angry, and he was willing to pay someone to help her fix it, although he wasn’t really obligated to do so.  Why?  Because he cares about her, and he wants her to be happy.  Even though there was a great deal of pain and resentment and rejection, he still cares and wants to help her.

I’ve never been jealous of his caring for her. Granted, I’m not prone to jealousy in general, but even so, I really have never felt like his caring for her in any way diminished his love for me.  In fact, now I even feel safer with him, because I understand a little more the depth of his heart after being with him for a year and a half.

I have come to understand more of what family means to him.  And his ex, even though she rejected him, will always be a part of his family.  And with family, love multiplies when membership increases.  With a generous heart, love has no boundaries.  That’s why I feel even safer with him now than before.  He chose me and mine to be a part of his family, and that’s a forever thing.

And even though there have been times when he has upset me, when I have felt sad and tiny and unlovable, he’s still there for me.

When I look in his eyes, I only ever see love there.

 

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Brains. February 26, 2016

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Brains.  Amazing miracles of grey tissue capable of producing all of our thoughts, ideas, imaginings, loves, hopes, fears, sorrows.  Brains are crazy amazing.

And yet, they can be the biggest jerks.

I have mostly, throughout my life, been able to love my brain enough to respect its needs,  or at least many of its needs.

It needs fuel from food.  It needs rest.  It needs to grow in a relatively safe environment (as free as possible from harm from chemicals or physical trauma).  It needs to play.  It needs to work.  It needs to just hang out sometimes.

In general, I do like my brain. But I also recognize that it can be a real jerk to me when its internal chemical mechanisms are a bit off, and its emotional environment isn’t healthy.  It can start insulting me, like a melodramatic teenager biting the hand that feeds it.

But I still continue to take relatively good care of it, even when it’s being a melodramatic jerky teenager.

For whatever reason, I was gifted with some internal mechanism that allows me to stay free from the kinds of chemical agents that so many turn to to make their brains do something different.

I was never that interested in alcohol, although I do appreciate a good single malt scotch from time to time.  No interest whatsoever in smoking, anything, because the thought of sucking stinky-ass smoke right into my lungs just squicks me out.  And all the other stuff?  I mean with needles and sucking up powder into your nostrils?  Also so gross I can’t even.

But I also like my brain and I like the control I have with it.  I don’t want to lose that control.  Ok, if I’m really going to be honest here, there was that one time I was drunk enough to actually have a bit of a hangover the next day, but… well, that was that.  Been there, done that, wasn’t that interesting, don’t plan on doing it again because there’s no reason to, really.

So I have a difficult time relating to people to seek out chemical brain amendments on a regular basis.  And I especially find it difficult to understand people who do so much so regularly that it affects their families, their relationships with others, their employment – in other words, their ability to be a full human being in this world.

On the surface, I kind of get it.  It’s like a temporary reprieve, or it can be a fun social lubricant. But so much, so often that it starts impairing you ability to function?  I just can’t understand that very well.  But I see it all the time.  I see the need to escape, to run, to leave, to make the thoughts stop for awhile, or shut up, or slow down.  I see that in people.

I see people who have lived with addictions for so many years that their thought processes are clogged up, like the arteries of someone about to have a heart attack.  Their thoughts just go in endless circles, impervious to any kind of knowledge, information, wisdom, or logic that you try to throw to them, like a life preserver to a drowning man caught in a whirlpool.  And it’s so sad, because you know what the problem is, you can see the problem so clearly from the stable shores of health and sobriety, but they’re caught out there in that horrible swirling sea…

So I am grateful for my own health, my own blessed, beautiful health.  Some days are harder than others, some days my thoughts become dark and distorted and horrible, but I am so, so grateful that I have been able to get through those times.

 

 

Would you have loved me back then? January 6, 2016

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From time to time, I play this mental game where I try to imagine if my boyfriend or girlfriend could have fallen in love at an earlier stage in our lives.  Like high school or college.  This is probably a pretty normal mental game to play when you’re in a relationship, but for my past two, the conclusions I came to were not positive.  For my last relationship before my current one, the conclusion was that she would have been “too cool” to hang out with me in high school or college.  Sure, I could be dark and moody and depressive, but I was also full of passion for discovery and exploration and travel.  I was a nerd, and fully conscious of that fact, and took great joy and pleasure in it, which I still do to this day.  She was… not.  Smart, but cool.  So while we probably would have moved in similar academic circles, she probably would have found me to be too silly.

Of course, I never mentioned this to her. To do so would have opened me to her dismissiveness or ridicule.

Last night, I had the tables switched up on me.  C mentioned that he had been thinking about when he was a young man, super active and strong and “buffed out”, as he put it.  But at that time, he also had some major self confidence issues, and he had wondered if he could have attracted me back then.  Then, he said, it dawned on him:  at that point, I would have only been about 10 years old!  AAAAACH!  And we had a good laugh at our age difference.

So he’d been thinking if he’d had been a good enough partner for me way back when.  Would I have been attracted to him?  My heart melted.  I had seen pictures of him in his 20’s and 30’s, and he was very handsome, and very strong.  Would he have been attracted to me, if I had been in my 20’s or 30’s as well, of course, not my actual age at that time? Apparently yes! How amazing is that?

But that he thought to tell me that he was thinking about it?  That’s what is truly wonderful about him, and his emotional bravery – that willingness to be vulnerable, that ability to live in hope – is what I love best in him, and what inspires me to become the best person I can be – for him, for me, for us.

 

Little victories – coping with social anxiety July 2, 2015

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Pic Credit

One issue that I’ve always had, to a greater or lesser extent, is phone fear.

Yesterday I had to make a business call.  I wimped out the day before and tried to email the customer service agent, but I never received a reply.  So I had to call.

And wouldn’t you know it, it was fine.  The agent was very nice and very helpful, and had an amazing low voice like Octavia Butler, which endeared her to me.

And I’ve also been answering my phone more consistently, even when it’s a number I don’t recognize.  I’m so used to screening phone calls, or answering necessary ones with huge feelings of fear or shame.  But now – I just answered an 800 number call, and it was for the person who owned the phone number before I got it.  I answered with confidence and strength in my voice.  It felt really good.  It was just a tiny exercise of my agency, but it was good to have that positive reinforcement.  I can use my agency, and it will be ok, and I won’t be yelled at or shamed or ridiculed, and if I am, Fuck Them.  I’ve got other places to be, and people that love me.

My sweet man has been incredibly helpful in my journey towards coping successfully with my social anxiety.  Most of the help, though, has been unintentional on his part.  Yes, the intentional support he gives me is critical – the kind words, the positive affirmations, the hugs and gratitude he expresses when I get out past my comfort zone and achieve something – all of those things are absolutely crucial, and I am very grateful for his work in supporting me in those ways.

But what’s even more important is just being able to hang out with him and observe him interacting with others.  Making mistakes, being too excited, making an off-color joke.  But also seeing him getting  it right – being kind, respectful, funny, smart, knowledgeable.  Realizing that a momentary conversational mistake/miscalculation/weirdness doesn’t have to derail the whole interaction.  Realizing that communicating sincerely and graciously is possible even when you do or say awkward things.  I’m learning so much from his model.  I’m becoming more and more comfortable in this world of other people as I realize that almost everyone I’m likely to interact with out there is like me in some critical ways:  they just want to get through the day with as little stress as possible, and want smooth, warm, and kind interactions as much as I do.

This is a seemingly little victory, this being able to talk on the phone without experiencing crippling fear,  but it’s an important one: a good, healthy step in the right direction.

 

My lovely… June 25, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 11:13 am
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Today, I’m very ok with my body.  I even, dare I say it, enjoy looking at it.

This is a very, very rare thing.   I’m one of those people who has enormous resistance towards positive body feelings.  Yeah, loving my body?  ummm, no.  Not so much.  Most days, I try to aim for peaceful coexistence of my brain and my body.  A nice grey neutral non-feeling.  It’s just there.

I’m much more ok with feeling good about what my body can do.  Dancing, walking, kicking, stretching, typing, drawing, hiking, and these days, even having sexy times.

Last summer, I found happiness through connecting my thoughts about my body to my body’s abilities.  I dreamt that I had woken up in Jackie Chan’s body, and it was strong and beautiful.

And I started really exercising.  And I noticed how strong my arms were getting, and how the muscles were becoming more defined under my skin.  And how strong my legs and back were getting, and how flexible, as I worked on stretching out so I could kick higher and stronger.

But I didn’t entirely like the body I was in.

And the main reason:  my breasts.

I’ve mostly hated them since they grew on me as a young teenager.  They were just so… much.  Too much.  Fleshy, floppy, in the way, hard to cover so they didn’t show.

I really, really wanted a nice, neutral, fairly androgynous body.  I didn’t really want to be seen as a “girl”, most of the time.  Because I wanted to do things, adventurous things, involving traveling to far flung places, where my gender could well get me into serious trouble.  Like rape.

I didn’t really want to be a boy, because I was mostly ok with being female.  I liked my uterus and its ability to grow a new life, for example.  I liked my graceful smallness, my compact strength.  Being male seemed to me to be messy and crude.  And who on earth would really want their genitals flapping around on the outside of their bodies where they could be so easily wounded anyway?

I just mainly wanted to go unnoticed.  Boyishly invisible.

But my breasts, they did not cooperate with that vision.

I’ve been dreaming of having them surgically reduced since I grew them.

I’ve had a very difficult time dealing with them since I had a kid.  You see, when he was born, they went and grew even more, much to my frustration.

But that was ok, because they were finally really useful.  I was breastfeeding, and the damn things were finally being used for their rightful purpose.

So I was ok with them, until he weaned.  When it sank in that my breasts were no longer useful, I broke apart.  I cried.  I was depressed for a long time.  I tried talking about it to my then husband, but he didn’t get it.

So I was left with this much larger, puffier, boobier body than I’d ever had before, and I truly hated it.  It didn’t help that my then husband almost never touched me – in affection, or to rub my horribly aching back, or for any reason, really.  It didn’t help that he never complimented me either.  Never looked me straight in the eye and told me that I was pretty or beautiful and how much he loved me.

And I didn’t really know how much I needed to hear those kinds of words until I met my current guy.

He tells me.  He shows me.  He looks me straight in the eye and tells me how much he loves me, and that I’m beautiful, and how much I mean to him.

And it matters.  It matters a whole heck of a lot.  Knowing that I am loved, I know that I am lovable, and lovely.  And it becomes so much easier to love myself.  Just catching a glimpse of who I am through his eyes helps me know that I am worthy.  And that my body is worthy, too.  All of it.  The whole package that is me is worthy of being loved -not just my brain, not just my lady parts, but the Whole of me is worthy of love, respect and caring.

Even my breasts are worthy of being loved – it is possible for me to love those silly floppy things too, and not just for their bygone ability to feed a tiny human, but I can love them for simply being a wonderful part of a wonderful person.

I looked at them today in the mirror.  Really looked.  Stretched my arms up over my head and looked up and down the length of me.  And I was happy with what I saw.  I looked good to myself.  Good.  What a simple, delightful feeling!  Good is a good thing.

I put on a clingy t-shirt with a low scooped neck.

And I looked down at my cleavage and thought – nice.  Lovely.  Warm and round and heavy with life.  They are good.

Not just sexy, although that’s a part of it that I’m coming to understand more and more, and be ok with more and more.  (I’m still working through what it means to be “sexy”. That’s a whole other can of worms…)

But lovely.  Lovely things, capable of delighting and comforting.

Happy beautiful morning to me!  Happy beautiful morning to all sentient beings!

May we happy and free from suffering.

 

Roses, and other extraordinary ordinary things. April 2, 2015

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I really like roses.  I even like them for Valentine’s, which, I know, is sooo pedestrian of me.  So… unoriginal.

My boyfriend got me the requisite bunch of roses for Valentine’s day this year.  I think that it’s the first time that I’ve ever actually had roses for Valentine’s day from a significant other, just for me, at 39 years of age.

My last partner hated roses.  Hated them.  Actually, I take that back.  Her word was “loathed”.  And when we’d pass a bunch of roses growing in a garden, she’d take that as an opportunity to tell me exactly how much she absolutely loathed them.

Why?  Because of the mean Rose in The Little Prince.

Fine.  It’s fine to dislike roses.  It’s fine to like other flowers better because they’re less popular on Valentine’s day.

But my enjoyment of roses was not really allowed to coexist next to her loathing of them.

My boyfriend didn’t have time to get me any until the last minute, and then he came up with an elaborate “plan” with my son to sneak out of the house to get me roses and a treat that was not chocolate because I’m allergic to dairy.

He gave me red roses and figs, and my son was delighted to get to be sneaky and go with him to the store to get me those for our first Valentine’s day.

I’m reminded of this because now the roses in our yard are starting to bloom.  I picked a yellow one this morning to put in a vase on the table.

He did the “boring”, “normal”, “pedestrian” thing that guys are supposed to do for Valentine’s day, and I loved it.

And it was beautiful.  The roses were beautiful.  Yes, they’re overplayed, they decorate everything in February, those old red roses.

But they’re still beautiful.  And simple.  And kind.

Simple and kind – that’s the beauty of love, isn’t it?

 

More about hatred: Racism and White Privilege edition. (warning: explicit language is used.) November 4, 2014

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Last night my sweetie told me some disturbing things.  Things that had happened to him, personally.  Hateful acts and words and objects thrown at him because he isn’t white.

And how much he wants to go see his daughter graduate, but how much he can’t tolerate that kind of behavior from anyone anymore, and is worried that such bullshit will happen again if he goes to the southern state where his daughter is graduating.

I’ve been harassed verbally, I’ve had my but pinched and slapped by random guys just walking down the street.  But I’ve never been threatened with death, never had an object aimed at me and thrown from a speeding vehicle at lethal speed.  Been called “Bitch” and worse names for my gender, but never the “N” word.  Because I am white.

I was really upset by what he told me.  Really sickened by the cowardice and hatefulness of those threatened him.  But also I was upset by his trepidation, letting his fear of acts that probably won’t actually occur make him even think about missing one of his daughter’s most important life events.  And I was immediately upset with myself for thinking that.

I felt bright hatred for the fucking assholes who tried to off him from their car.  And all the fucking bastards that ever called him the “N” word.  I wanted to hurt them, make them pay.

But just momentarily.

I want to protect him, but how?  with my as-yet-nonexistent martial arts skills?  with a gun?  with superpowers that take their words, their weapons, transform them into thoughts of understanding and empathy, and bounce them back, right into their brains, transforming them into good, kind, non-racist people?

Then I thought about how he may never be able to come home with me, to my home state.  Which is another Bible-Belt Southern state, 90% white.

And I cried.

I went to the bathroom so he wouldn’t see me crying.  I didn’t want him to see how upset I was, how torn up I was.  I wanted to show him how I’m strong and supportive.  But I also knew that I was crying because I was being selfish.  I have dreamed about him coming home with me, seeing the place where I grew up, exploring its hills, valleys, trees, streams.  The first dream I ever had with him in it involved us driving down a one-lane road, surrounded by huge, shady, lush, green trees.  I cherish that dream.  We were both so happy in it, having the time of our lives.

I needed to sort out my feelings before I talked to him, but I didn’t accomplish that last night, much to my shame.

I just kept feeling selfish, somehow.  And I didn’t want my feelings, my anger, my sadness, to take over his narrative, his experience.  I’m familiar with how the privileged person’s righteous anger can overwhelm and distract from the non-privileged person’s sharing their experiences.  My ex did that quite frequently.  As if her liberal white anger needed the spotlight.

So I kept quiet.  I listened as best as I could, but didn’t press for details, and didn’t tell him what I was feeling.

When he fell asleep, I cried a little more, ashamed that I couldn’t figure out a way to talk to him about it, and angry at the world, angry at the stupidity of humans.

So I write about it here.  Seeking catharsis.  Wanting to understand my white privilege better.  Hoping to be able to be a good partner to him, a good listener, but unsure of how to help.  How do I mitigate the suffering of my beloved?  How can I help transform the world to remove the hate that causes so much suffering?