Sunday, July 31, 2011

good vibrations

The house fancification continues. I've been doing a lot in the guest room, and hosting a lot of guests. They keep talking about the calm, good energy in the room. This little fella hung out on the outside screen of one of the room's windows all day. Maybe it's true.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

words we need to say

It's fascinating to me that our soul can hold things in - specific phrases - that can be triggered by benign events and then spoken retroactively to release old emotions.

I've been having a lovely Saturday, and was driving on the highway around downtown Nashville heading to Nate's. To make his exit, I needed to get over the to the far right lane. I drove for 700 feet with my right blinker on as car after car passed, and barely made the exit. I was surprised to feel tears going down my face as I curved around it, and couldn't stop thinking "Why don't you see me?"

Friday, July 29, 2011

rabbit hole

"Not going to group tonight?"

"Too much God talk for me."

"Some people find that comforting."

"Yeah, well, it pisses me off."

This is a good movie. Making me think about grief. Mainly, that there's no right way to do it, nor is there One way to do it. It's the story of a couple who lost their 4 year old son in a car accident 8 months prior, and each character in the movie is dealing with it in their own ways.

It's making me think about how grief and suffering are very challenging to do in a socially appropriate way. I just watched two consecutive scenes where the dad accidentally starts to open up about losing his son to the people looking to buy their house, and the woman of the couple makes a face as they're leaving the room as if to say "Whoa, that was too much information." Then Nicole Kidman ends up slapping a woman in the middle of a grocery store who says "You're not a mom, are you? I didn't think so." When her sister tries to explain to the woman that Nicole just lost her son in a car accident, the woman says "I don't care."

I don't care. Ooh how that hurts. When you're going through an intense emotional time, it's really hard to maintain social appropriateness. Really, really hard. Your heart is bleeding, and blood is messy. And people who are out of touch with themselves impound the wounds of the people struggling (and obviously occasionally failing) to stay within the social boundaries. Do you know how much it hurts someone in pain to hear things like "Wow, he needs to talk to a therapist"? It's embarassing.

Social appropriateness wouldn't be a problem if everyone could manage to not be so bunged up - if we could learn how to be safe places for ourselves and then everyone around us. Everyone needs to learn how to listen, not just therapist personalities. Everyone needs to fight as hard as they can to become a loving, giving person.

I received a lot of this kind of rejection during the divorce. I continue to receive a lot of this by being an open person. That's why everybody calls it brave to open yourself up - because there are so many people out there in the world who have shut themselves down and attack openness when they see it.

Too bad. We don't get better, and the world doesn't get better, if we don't feel things, and if we don't have patience and lack of judgment for those who are suffering - including ourselves.

safe places

When I was a child, I saw a picture of the white-plastered homes in Greece overlooking the Mediterranean in a National Geographic. I was completely enraptured. I was so inspired I painted a watercolor of it.

Fast forward 20 years. In therapy I'm asked to visualize a safe place. I immediately think of a white village, by water, on a hill, full of brightly colored flowers in pots, full of grandmas and grandpas, beautiful strong mothers, kids, all calling to and laughing with each other. I'm at the top overlooking all of it. At one point, Nate came up behind me and put his arms around me. I'm wearing a beautiful dress, and it's sunset or sunrise - not sure. It's the most soothing, beautiful place in the world.

When my friend Sarah and I decided to go to Europe for our 30ths, she wanted Spain, and I said okay. She suggested a whitewashed village by the Mediterranean, and I said, Oh yes.

So I found myself in the actual manifestation of my safe place in May. I didn't know it would be in Spain and not Greece. There were the flowers in the pots, and even at night there were kids running everywhere safely - well-tended, not-street-tough kids, kids that looked like Spanish versions of my kids. I had been in the village 15 minutes, wandering and a little lost, when I stopped an elderly couple walking leisurely down the tiny streets. The man walked me four blocks to help me find what I was looking for, then welcomed me by kissing me on both cheeks.

(Sarah and I also found a mermaid cove, where there were a bunch of topless women swimming and jumping off cliffs. But I digress.)

I didn't know what to paint my house for a long time. I just couldn't land on a color that felt right to me. I've been going crazy this week refreshing everything, though, whitewashing the walls one chunk at a time with a trim brush to get that authentic human touch. Sewing curtains and printing out & framing photos of the trip and my loved ones, turning my home into my safe place.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

in defense of fairy tales


I've said it before, but, I love them. They are our modern mythology. Disney princesses are to us what Hera, Aphrodite, and Artemis were to the Greeks - though it's true the former could use a lesson in bad-assness and sensuality from the latter.* (Artemis was always my favorite as a child - the elusive huntress moving by moonlight through woods. Artemas was the last name of a Greek Orthodox priest who welcomed me after another Orthodox priest excommunicated me when I was 22, and I loved him for that name in addition to everything else.)

I'm creating a TV/sleeping area upstairs for the girls, and fairy tales seem to be the emerging theme. Not exlusively Disney, but definitely Brothers Grimm. Ella, Eden, and I watched Snow White there for their first time a few days ago. I laughed out loud when, while watching the animals cleaning scene, Ella burst out in delight, "This is my FAVORITE MOVIE!" Ah, my orderly girl. She is her grandmothers' granddaughter and not her mother's daughter.

What's so fascinating about fairy tales to me - and what ultimately makes them helpful - is that they actually don't cover up all of life's nastiness the way you subconsciously assume after walking past a Target aisle full of pink, purple, and the holy trinity of Disney women. They are dark. Deceipt, betrayal, things not being what they seem. You've got wicked jealous stepmothers trying to kill you. You've got a mob coming for your father who they've accused of being insane. You've got a toxin-breathing dragon that spurts green blood and has the human form of Female Satan (yes, Sleeping Beauty freaked the hell out of me when I was little, despite it being my favorite).

Nate sent me this last year, after one of my grown up freak-outs. I think he wanted to reassure me with a visual (which is how I am best reassured) that he is willing to fight through the brambles of life and my past and my protectors. Fairy tales are real life.



*and it's true that they are not inerrant and can have clunker ideas of their day thrown in, like any creation grounded in a particular moment of history does. Like this gem from Snow White: "...and away to his castle we'll go, to be married forever I know." We get our own castles now. Chikachickaaaaaa.

so many blue butterflies!

Selective attention is kicking in, in full force. They are whirling around me everywhere. Yesterday I was welcomed to my friend's house by her sweet, beautiful daughter wearing a tank top with a magnificent blue butterfly across the front spotted with crystal beads. Her mom said she had just changed outfits for the arrival of me and my daughters.

About a week ago, I was in my friend Beth's foyer. I picked up a flyer she had from France about Paris, and opened it to an ad with a rich blond woman holding shopping bags in the midst of a ton of blue butterflies. I actually reacted because it triggered my Midwestern anti-wealth, anti-shopping, and anti-being-too-fancy instincts. The prostitution of my blue butterfly by Madison Avenue! Noooo!!!

Then I ended up making a bunch of unexpected money in the days between then and now. So much that every day, I've been able to go Walgreens or Michaels and grab all those backlogged wish-list household items (bathroom air freshener! lavender hand soap!) that I normally hold off on because of penny pinching. And if it keeps up, I might go to the mall and get myself a pretty mermaidy shrug I've had my eye on for months, to make my inner rich blond lady happy.

I took the kids to Target this morning because they have been a part of helping make the money, and got them toys. I felt abundant satisfaction at the sight of tension rods and allergen pillow protectors in my cart. (I can finally sew and hang curtains in my living room!) I turned around opposite the toy aisle, saw this, and smiled. So reassuring to have universe kindness bestowed on shopping, when it is something I have so many fears and restrictions around.

Monday, July 25, 2011

kids say

Yes. Oh yes. Who doesn't love great kids quotes? I have to document some here for friends and family.

Today, Ella and Eden. Ella: "Nonee is going to be your mom, even when you are both in heaven!" Eden: "and even when you are in FLORIDA!"

Gid and Ril. I was explaining puberty to them, how in about 4 years they're going to start thinking about naked girls all the time, and not to be too worried about it when it starts. Ril said, "Right now, at night, I think about cars and KFC. When I am thirteen, I'm going to be thinking about girls driving cars and eating KFC."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

these make me happy


















No agenda. I just think pictures that capture honest emotion in microexpressions and body language like these are something else. Something that could rock your whole perspective if you just looked without anger or fear or reaction for a full few minutes. (Do this in spite of those mind spirals: "If the Bible is the proof that Jesus is true, and the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, then accepting homosexuality means denying the truth of Christ." I neither think nor feel that it has to be this way, and if there's one thing my story has given me, it is confidence in asserting that what I think can not override what I'm feeling. And I am feeling so much love and empathy for these heroines. I guess that gives me an agenda.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

just happy

The kids are home. It was a happy, peaceful day. I had "I love being a mom" feelings most of the afternoon and evening. We are really healing ever more rapidly these days, I feel like...

And here's a quote I read tonight, that feels very good after the emotional storms I've been feeling the last two weeks (especially last night after watching Warrior's Way). "Forgiveness arises from our Essential nature and comes from a deeper understanding of the truth of our situation. It entails recognizing what is happening in ourselves and others at a deeper level than we have previously seen. It requires that we fully experience the depth of our resentment, hatred, and vindictiveness and our desire for revenge - without acting out these impulses."

I'm good at the 'seeing the good in the other' part. I'm not a hater by nature. I'm so empathic I forget what I'm feeling because I enter into the other person's reality so much, or at least imagine that I am. So getting angry is the hardest part for me. I don't like hurting people, even people who have hurt me. I know that they feel pain themselves, on at least some subconscious level, when they are hurting me. "Love covers over a multitude of evils" and that really is what feels most satisfying in the end.

But you have to feel the evil part, too, to heal, and before/as you are covering things with love. You have to have violent dreams and stumble across helpful, violent movies. It's just how the psyche processes and moves forward.

Friday, July 22, 2011

cathartic


I just watched this movie, and to anyone recovering from abuse, I highly recommend it. It will be triggering, but you will feel justice. It's violent as all hell, and that's partly why it's great. I WILL FUCKING WRITE ABOUT THESE THINGS. I was in love with the main male character, an assassin who uses his power to protect the wounded. He is my animus, and I will slice the heads off of so many people's--especially women's--inner demons. I promise.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

WRITING IS TOO HARD

Ugh. I've been playing around with "writing the book." Holy resistance attack!! Writing a blog is fun because you don't have to pull everything together. It's like chatting with a girlfriend, "Here's what's happening, here's what I'm thinking about, ooh check out this good quote."

A book is, A B O O K. It has to be organized and synthesized. You have to have your voice right. Elizabeth Gilbert chucked her whole first draft of her second book, and I totally get how she could write a complete work in a voice she doesn't like. Getting to the real, core self is a challenge! Again, not on here, for some reason, but when I'm staring at a blank Word document, yes.

What is my thesis? What is my main point? What angle? A memoir? I could go part theological/spirituality. There's probably no way around that, what with all the fundamentalist poison I want to help everyone detox from. My heart is in that. Yeah. I guess that's my center - something to help other post-fundamentalists, so they know they aren't alone in what they're thinking and feeling. That's what everybody responded to most in my NYT article and comments on here.

It's toooo haaarrrddd. Wahhhh. Whiiiinnneee. I need an editor. I need reflection, coaching, "More of this! Yes! Here's some structure for you! Use that, that's good." etc.

I don't want to be the opposite & yet same of what I was before. I don't want to be the new poster-child for "Don't do what I did." People will do what they want to do, and I can't control that. I don't like apologetics all that much. If speaking the truth will piss someone off, okay, but I don't like combat for the sake of combat. I'm not trying to start a new tribe, I don't want to be claimed. I want to help with emotions, clarity, story-weaving, hope, light. That's it.
"Beyond its social dimension, shame also has a devastating personal complexity. When a person is sexually abused, they often feel great shame at what happened to them. The strategy of such violence is to make the victim feel guilty and even responsible for what has happened. Sometimes this personal shame makes the victim silent and passive; consequently, the crime never becomes public. In some instances the threat of social shame further strengthens the decision to stay silent.

Part of the essential work in healing such wounds is to help the person to see their own innocence and goodness and thus unmask the absolutely unwarranted violence of such intrusion and attack. When a person starts to see this, they often begin to awaken the force of anger within them in relation to what has happened to them. The fire of anger can be magnificent in burning off the false garments of shame." John O'Donohue

There is so much I want to say, including cursing all those who silence the anger of people who need to get angry...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

ahh what a day.

The kids are in Pennsylvania having a lovely time, and instead of using this free week to travel somewhere (which is always my first instinct), I stayed home. What a good decision. I have not been bored one minute. I have slept a lot. I have gotten what I needed to get done, done, and not pushed myself beyond that. And I'm finding these other little things are getting done because I've made so much space - like the mechanical pencils the boys use for homework have lead in them once again, and I brought the bottle I found in my grandma's backyard as a kid in from under the porch settee where it has been hiding for weeks. I've known it was there, it was just one of those thousand "I'll do it later" actions to take.

I really like being with myself. That is the treasure in the field I sold everything for - sold my safety, my hiding, my running from unpleasant feelings and truths. Sold my fear, my loneliness, my uncomfortability for. This afternoon I leisurely read more about my Enneagram type while jotting journal notes. It was affirming. I've done a lot of the work of growth they suggest. Now I can just rest and enjoy the fruits.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Motherhood, Cinderella, & HP7

I know sometimes I just get on here and bitch, and it's not phenomenal writing, and it's nothing I would publish, it's just catharsis. But that's what you get for reading the rough-draftness and, yes, self-centered nature of a blog. I feel things strongly, all feelings, which sometimes makes for good interesting stories, and sometimes makes for me ranting all over the screen.

I HATE DOING ERRANDS. I hate running all over Nashville with a million mini-deadlines. I hate the traffic and the old people driving so slow (im so meaaaan) and the out-the-parking-lot, doubled ChickFilA drive-thru line (H E L L O people - park the car, walk inside! You will get your food 15 minutes faster! NOBODY THINKS OUTSIDE THE LINES. We are such herd animals!) I hate the tedious mundanity of so much of adult life and household management. It's like purgatory on earth. It sucks the magic and meaning right out of you.

I was late to my daughters' ballet performance, and I walked in to them dancing to the Disney Cinderella soundtrack right where Cinderella is bitching, too.

"Oh, that clock!
Old killjoy.
I hear you.
'Come on, get up,' you say,
'Time to start another day.'
Even he orders me around.
Well, there's one thing.
They can't order me to stop dreaming."

Yesterday was more tedious mundanity and insanity down to the minute Nate arrived to whisk me away for midnight Harry Potter. I knew our friends would be dressed in some awesome costumes --(and they were:
)--and I did not want to go feeling so sweaty and gross, in the same dress I'd been wearing for two days. So with ten minutes to spare, I showered without washing my hair, threw on some lipstick, and put on a dark red tank top and gold fingerless gloves I knitted last year to at least show some Gryffindor team spirit.

I will fight to retain my imagination. I WILL. They can't order me to stop dreaming.

Harry Potter made me weep. I think I cried and had chills during half the movie. It was the opposite of the tedious mundanity - it was REAL, it was struggle and triumph and pain and love. It was the reflection of everything that is best about mothering, from Lily's love of Harry to Mrs. Weasley's Moment, and that felt good after all the intensity.

It was helpful to watch at the end of my NYT week, too. We all end up Harry at different points in our lives, and this was one of mine. It's heavy to be at the center. Power and attention and battles ensue. I was mostly crying watching the love between all the characters, though - how none of them could do it without any of the others, how so many of them were trustworthy and on the side of goodness. The visual of everyone's powers going up over Hogwarts to create a strong shield of love did my heart deep good. I know what that feels like.

beyond the borders


During one of the darkest days of my darkest year, I watched the newest BBC version of Jane Eyre, and it was nearly a religious experience. Chronicling the story from coldness to warmth, full of romance, full of natural beauty. I felt alive like I hardly ever felt during those months.

More than a year ago, I watched it again, and was struck by a moment when Jane looks at her reflection in the glass top of a frame/case enclosing a blue butterfly. Her face and the butterfly coalesce; it's a beautiful moment, perfect visual storytelling without words.

A few days later I was wandering around a bookstore with Nate, feeling listless and frustrated for no reason. All the old scripts were playing (I've had to fight them throughout our dating so far, not surprising when they were going for 8 years): you have to get married. you have to give up again. you have to give give give and not follow dreams outside of your relationship. he's going to suck the life out of you, he's going to shut you down and off. This, of course, is pure baloney-poop, and has NOTHING to do with what Nate is actually like or expects from me. But my lies can project themselves outwards onto anyone around me so easily.

I looked down and saw a $5.99 journal for sale with a big blue butterfly on the cover, so big its wings went beyond the borders. My heart leapt in the middle of the listlessness. I remembered Jane's face from two days earlier.

I turned a corner, riding that wave of energy, and somehow zeroed in on a book, "Find Your Strongest Life." Also felt the energy, interest, pulling me towards it. That's the Marcus Buckingham book I ended up quoting a lot on here.

But I digress. That was the night I felt like blue butterflies began to mean Yes, you matter! for me, and my brain noted to self "start selective attentioning on these."

Fast forward to arriving in Spain 2 months ago with my friend Sarah, walking into a home on a mountainside overlooking one of the most beautiful views on earth, where we were being hosted by kind strangers, for free. I'm taking photos of the view: the Mediterranean, a castle, a whitewashed village, flowers everywhere, the Sierra Nevadas (seriously, all in one picture. Get thee to Salobrena!). I was feeling exhilerated and drunk on the beauty and rightness of everything, being in Europe and free and turning 30 alongside one of my best old friends also turning 30.

I turned around from that view and just started to laugh when I saw the patio door to our room.


I had forgotten about the symbol, for a year, until that moment. And I don't know why it's blue, because that's never been one of my favorite colors.

The artist we were staying with in Salobrena had some watercolors for sale, and Sarah bought, yep, a blue butterfly for me for my birthday. I've seen more since then. One was tattooed on the wrist of one of my fellow classmates at the Second City improv workshop I just took. They showed up on picture frames my kids made at the family camp we were at. I went ahead and created one for myself at the craft shop there, out of those plastic colored circles that melt onto a shape (above).

I was just reading through my blog posts from around this time last year, about a magic spot Nate took me to next to a mountain stream in Asheville. He picked me flowers and then we walked into a whirling dervish of 5 blue-black butterflies. I missed the special meaning at the time. I just texted him about it, and he sent back a picture I had forgotten he took.



(He pointed out that it's drinking from a blooming thistle, the national flower of Scotland. Nate's full name is Nathan Robertson Crandell, from the Robertson clan. Every so often, the universe nudges me and goes, "You can trust him. He is good. He's not going to hurt you." That's obvious to anyone who knows him, but my breart is still catching up, needs repetitive positivity in the deep places.)

I do think there is something to symbols. Not as a tool for divining right choices, but as a way of reflecting heart happenings. Carl Jung was big on them, and if a more thoughtful, rational, intelligent man existed, I dare you to name him.

You will have your own. Keep your eyes and the eyes of your heart out for them. They will reflect how worthy of love you are. In the meantime, feel free to look for blue butterflies, too. (Come to think of it, there's one on the cover of Martha Beck's book Steering by Starlight - start there!)

One meaning: "Metamorphosis, transmutation. The blue butterfly is a wish-granter."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

W E I R D

Yesterday I offhandedly wrote >>Jesus only makes sense to me if he's a slice of divinity saying "Now I get it" on the cross.>> I remember thinking "slice of divinity? unusual word choice."

Check out this Carl Jung quote I just stumbled upon: "Like every other being, I am a splinter of the infinite deity." (from Memories, Dreams, and Reflections)

I've been pondering this notion of Christ and each of us as One, in the last month or so. This is a cool quote to add to the internal stewing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

why am I scared?

So silly. There has been 100x times love versus attacks from this experience. All of your words are so meaningful to me. I remember feeling so unseen all those years, like "I am doing a big thing here! I wish somebody could see what is going on, because I am working so hard!"* Now, so much kindness is pouring in. I feel like I'm staring at a mirrorball with a hundred little reflections of love and goodness and strength. Time to dance!

I got a massage from an incredible friend on Monday (Nashville people, go here). During it she said, "I feel like you need to hear the words, 'You don't deserve this,'" and I started crying. I always think I could do better, could have done better, it's my fault for having gotten involved in such wacky religiousness in the first place, I should have known not to marry that person... It's not fun to be in the New York Times for having been a fundie; it's like being on the other side of the glass while people are pointing and staring at a freak show.

After the massage Linda said "You have an open wound, treat yourself as such for the next day or two. Be gentle with yourself. Don't give anything to anyone beyond your kids. Let yourself be needy." That image was very helpful. Funny how heart wounds can affect our energy levels as much as physical ones. I've done a lot of healing in the last two years, but life continues to draw things out, and it's never over - which at least means we get to never stop treating ourselves to good things like showers, and conversations with peaceful friends like Dan, and fresh summer dresses. (Or drinking & Indiana Jones, which is what Nate knew I needed Monday night.) I can face life's shit if it means I get to constantly clean it off with the plethora of good things available.

*I just want you all to know: I know you have silent struggles and battles, too. Like I've said before, everybody is a Christ in their story, getting persecuted in various ways by all sorts of nuanced suffering. And that's why Jesus only makes sense to me if he's a slice of divinity saying "Now I get it" on the cross. None of this "You're shitty sinners, and I'm awesome, and you'd better be & say sorry, look what I'm doing for you."

Monday, July 11, 2011

I promised...

my boyfriend and my mom that I would take a media fast, and I made the blog private because I am sensitive to haters when it comes to the topic of my kids (although I think people with blogger accounts can still access it??), but here is what I would like to leave you with for awhile. Back to the regularly scheduled programming:


N O R M A L P E R S O N . Cleaning my bathroom. It's 100 friggin degrees here in Nashville. I dare you to judge this.

Thanks for the warm well-wishes, hairpin ladies. I got that female brain tidbit from the book "The Female Brain" by a Harvard doctor who is most definitely some form of feminist, and the "promiscuity" tidbit from psychological attachment literature (and I put "promiscuity" in quotes because I think it's a judgmental word and was trying to get my Christian readers to learn more empathy). And I'm extremely nice because I'm from Wisconsin. It is the death of us. That article made me want to give you a warm rush of love right back, don't be embarrassed, I receive your awesomeness!!

Gabriel the ex-Orthodox - oh gosh, which narcissist priest are you referring to?? I had bad dealings with at least three... ;-) Don't worry, I know. I need to post more of John O'Donohue's great quotes about cults.....

okay folks

I am a real person. Here's what I'm learning about the internet: it feels extremely private and safe to each one of us, because we're just sitting here alone in our house with our computer. We can't be faulted for feeling that way - you or me.

I can read what you are saying as much as you can read what I'm saying. That's you, metafilterers.

I'm sorry I was too emotional on here. This is a very confusing experience. I don't know what the right thing to do is. Nobody else seems to know, either.

Know what I mostly felt when I saw the NYT article? Like I'm ugly, and have bad posture, and need to lose weight, and wouldn't feel any of those things if I wouldn't still be processing all of this stuff.

I am not promoting a book, my former husband was. That article was not a fun experience. This is a sad story and I wish it hadn't happened. I should have said no to the interview, but I thought it might help someone. And it's exciting when the New York Times calls you, no matter who you are. You'd feel the same way.

deleted, deleted, deleted.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

forward-thinking


Was browsing old blog posts and came across this from two years ago:

>>Two years from now, things will look a lot different. I might be remarried. No matter what, I will be far more alive and engaging than I am now, because I doubt I will still be taking anti-depressants, and I will have spent 3 years laughing to compensate for the 8 years of largely not. I won't be dealing with any more diapers. I will have 4 self-sufficient, delightful human beings on my hands, ages 4, 5, 8, 9. They will be cleaner. They will be eating better food. They will each have a tight relationship with me. They will be doing homework regularly, they will be independent and strong and self-disciplined. I have all faith in the resurrectional return of all good things, *in time*.<<

1. I am not remarried, and we have no plans of this happening anytime soon. It feels so gloriously wonderful to be free of those pressures. I need the freedom of not being married for a long stinking time. This is a key element of my healing.

2. I *am* more alive and engaging; I traveled to Spain and took a comedy workshop at Second City in Chicago, and I don't feel major social anxiety anymore.

3. I have spent a lot of time laughing, especially because of my 1-2/3 years with Nate.

4. I am no longer taking anti-depressants, but I do take prescription vitamin D, and plan to for the rest of my life (once a week pill, I have incredibly wonderful dreams for the two nights after I take it, because my body converts it straight into seratonin).

5. EDEN IS INDEED POTTY TRAINED!

6. My four delightful human beings are maybe a little cleaner, eating better food a little bit at a time, and our one on one relationships are definitely improving, although I need even more time, energy, and resources for that still.

* * *

I totally believe in that whole "as you think, so shall it be" stuff - mostly because it gives your soul/brain a vision of what to start working towards. This isn't hocus pocus, I did all of this myself (and with friends, and probably, yeah, God).

Two years from now: I will have a 6, 7, 10, and 11 year old. It will be more of the same awesomeness we are entering into, golden years of childhood hilarity and communication. I bet I will have written and published a book, and I might go around speaking about it. I will continue to travel. I hope to be doing better financially than I am now, both in terms of income that I generate and how I am able to use it. I will be just finishing up my bachelor's degree, probably. I hope to have acted in a Nashville play by that point, maybe even some Shakespeare. Maybe I'll be engaged. Or maybe I'll never be married again. (Still kinda a great freeing thought, which I know Oprah would understand if I ever got to have a conversation with her.) I will feel like the rich, full years of 30 through 32 will have more than made up for the struggles between 20 & 30.

Ooh, I'm excited!!!! Onward, my dears!!!

Betty Ford, my new hero


I was just crying to Nate about how alone and weird I sometimes feel. (Even though I realize I was not alone while crying, which helped. He is a loving, gentle presence.) I have been processing the New York Times thing all weekend, feeling raw and exposed and yet not regretting it.

Then I came across this: "Betty Ford said things that first ladies just don't say, even today. And 1970s America loved her for it."

>>According to Mrs. Ford, her young adult children probably had smoked marijuana — and if she were their age, she'd try it, too. She told "60 Minutes" she wouldn't be surprised to learn that her youngest, 18-year-old Susan, was in a sexual relationship (an embarrassed Susan issued a denial).

She mused that living together before marriage might be wise, thought women should be drafted into the military if men were, and spoke up unapologetically for abortion rights, taking a position contrary to the president's. "Having babies is a blessing, not a duty," Mrs. Ford said.

...At one point, feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated, she suffered an emotional breakdown that led to weekly visits with a psychiatrist. "He said I had to start thinking I was valuable, not just as a wife and mother, but as myself."

Former President George H.W. Bush said in a statement on Friday: "No one confronted life's struggles with more fortitude or honesty, and as a result, we all learned from the challenges she faced."

Candor worked for Betty Ford, again and again. She would build an enduring legacy by opening up the toughest times of her life as public example."<<

She was born on my daughter Eden's birthday. Her full maiden name was Elizabeth Bloomer. She loved to dance and was "a free spirit." She was married once before she met & married Gerald Ford (who she started dating before her divorce was final). And she had four kids! She died the day my own story was going to press. I hope to have a good conversation with her someday.

Friday, July 8, 2011

commentary

I do think there is unhealthy repression in a lot of Christian (and secular) homes/culture, although in my family my parents, and mom in particular, did a really good job fighting that (we got to run around naked, her and my dad definitely portrayed sex as healthy and good, I was never shamed for anything). But it mostly leads to (and stems from) shame and confusion, not to rape.

Premarital sex - I think the True Love Waits rhetoric is partly misguided and partly a good idea for protecting teenage girls from experiencing sex that will border on abusive, even if the teenage boy isn't intending it to be. I just don't think young men have the physiology to be empathetic lovers until they're a little older, and this can end up scarring young women. Sexuality gets more equal as people age. Virginity is a good thing and not something to feel embarassed about, no matter how old you are - but not being one is also not something to feel embarassed about. There is media pressure for women to be hyper-sexual and that doesn't take female brain chemistry into account; we are wired for monogamy and sexual safety, unless we've been abused, which is usually what causes the "promiscuity" that women get shamed & judged for. (Every neuroses is a manifestation of internal suffering.)

Getting married so you can have sex, which the Christian rhetoric sometimes leads to, is extremely foolish and dangerous, legally and financially and emotionally. Bottom line, it's nobody's business what is going on between two full grown adults (and there shouldn't be loads of shame and guilt attached), what "lines" they are nearing or have crossed, *unless* there is abuse happening, in which case there should be close friends who sexuality is safe to speak of with. Unfortunately, this will rarely be found in connection with conservative faith. I also believe it's possible and admirable for two people to marry as virgins. Is this grey enough? Ha!

Virginity is not Being Perfect. It does not make you better than anyone else. It does not mean your marriage is going to run more smoothly than someone else's, or that your bond is going to be stronger because you saved your psyche to imprint on your One And Only. I don't like the rhetoric Christians adopt around the upheld ideals. It's constructed from anxiety and a need to prove God and the Bible as absolutely true. (I can conceive of God and the Bible as true in a deeper, archetypal way that isn't dependent on the traditional stances being backed by scientific or psychological evidence. But that's something else.)

I'd much rather have my kids date and sexually experiment as adults before/while finding their eventual spouse than go through what I did. Young marriage is not the smartest trend in our day and age (although many can make it). I'm going to encourage my kids not to marry until they're 24/25 or older, which has good statistical backing. If they choose my cultural tastes (which they are free not to, and won't scare the hell out of me if they don't), that will probably mean they'll do something sexually before then (which will be none of my business and I won't ask about), because they will most likely fall in love before then, and will have healthy biological systems that will make them want to act on the love. This is not the end of the world, although hopefully they can manage to do it without getting pregnant or getting a disease.

That's the main health that I *do* see in traditional sexual ethics - protection against abuse, pregnancy before a relationship is ready for it, and sexual disease. Monogamous sexuality is going to protect you the best from extra suffering, and all the world religions had this in mind when developing their guidelines. But a surprise baby or an STD does not make you Satan! And a surprise baby can be incorporated into your life without rushing into marriage, which is another not so great idea Christians tend to deal with things with.

It's all about guidelines instead of rules. And when the guidelines aren't met - when, say, a few different couples at my church accidentally got pregnant before being married, which happened this last year - there needs to be a safe place where there is no shame about it. I'm proud that it wasn't a big deal at my church (these couples did marry quickly as a result, which made me nervous because of my experience, but they were all in their 30s and have lived a lot of life already). I'm happy those couples didn't feel like they had to go get abortions because everybody might find out, which can happen at rule-based, hard-ass churches.

Love happens. Sexuality is connected, and that's a good thing. Don't hate yourself for anything, all will be well in the end, it's hard being human. At the same time, be smart and don't screw around with nature, because you are just as likely to get a disease or "fall pregnant" as the next person. And if you want to save yourself for marriage, that's admirable and attainable! But God is not going to reward you for it. Do it for the peace of mind, emptiness of womb, and health of your privates.

That's my take. The end. :-)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

no evangelizing allowed

I'm gonna deletecha from the comments, folks. Every time. I consider evangelizing spam of the soul. It's about you and your rhetoric, it's not about love. It's about what you are telling yourself inside your own head to keep things together, and that's usually not what hurting people need. I understand it because I *was* it, thoroughly.

Why do people freak out so much about anger? Especially about anger towards God? If God is God, couldn't he probably handle it? Wouldn't he probably understand where it's coming from, and want you to get it out, the way I want my kids to feel free to be angry with me or in my presence if they need to be? Peace without emotions is not peace, it's brainwashing. Truly. Again, I know this because I lived it.

nowhere to go

I don't know why, but I'm realize how very much my associations are strung together and deeply lodged in my breart (I just accidentally wrote that, it's my brain-heart).

I feel backed into a corner about God. When it comes down to it, I blame the rhetoric attached to him/it for staying way too long in something that was killing me. Bottom line, that's what it is. I picked up from Christianity that I need to be committed, pure, holy, intentional; that marriage is an Ultimate; that suffering purifies you. This is all a bunch of hooey, perhaps even shit. If God doesn't love us and want us to be happy, why the hell should we have anything to do with him? And I can't trust the people who preach that he does, indeed, love us and want us to be happy, because those were the ones that strapped me with all the freaking rules and expectations in the first place. Even in subtle ways, ways they would not acknowledge if I confronted them with it.

I gave 500% when I should have stopped at 200%. Your kids are worth you giving 200% to try to salvage/restore/heal something that they need in order to thrive ideally, but past that point, you're so dead that they end up being hurt more. The Christians were the ones that told me to keep going, though. The ones that questioned me, doubted me, judged me. Even the ones I loved. I know I can't expect superhuman unbrokenness from anyone, but stop talking about love and God if you can't actually live up to your words. You are doing incredible damage.

(Why do I just want to write "fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck" about 100 times here??)