Naughty Fiction Because I’m Not Handing Out Halloween Candy. 

The fall leaves in shades of decay blew haphazardly around her as she stood wrapped in a bulky sweater that was almost a bathrobe.  The bright sun warmed her skin, but was unable to scorch her flesh like it would have just months before.  She could feel the weight of lust calling for her and it settled low in her belly with a twist and groan she couldn’t control.  The need burned in her veins and she couldn’t wait any longer.  Shoulders squared and settling into her posture of power, she stepped forward into the authority of the task she was born to fulfill.

She walked into the coffee shop and the smell of coffee with the thick sounds of burdened metal, heavy, hissing . . . frothing milk couldn’t mask the immediate attention she felt from every person in the small shop with old faded wood and bright blue Fiestaware decor.  The smell of the shop masked the smells of the rose oil, fresh marjoram and basil that made her smell like she spent all day in the garden.

She saw him before he saw her.  He was sitting alone with a mug of tea in his hands and a day weary slouch that spoke of stress, disappointment and anxieties crashing solidly over and through him.  His phone was face down next to him, like he didn’t want to know who would need him, but was too obligated to his duties to disregard his electronic leash entirely.  She could see he just ran a race and came out the winner, unaware of what he was running for.  There was little value in his accomplishments.

She stood in line to order her coffee.  Walking slowly, to see him watching her, she stood at the island and added cream and sugar.  He was still watching her with sidelong glances so she made her way to his table and stood before him.  He looked up at her, mouth slightly agape, not understanding why she would be right in front of him when there were several empty chairs at lonely tables.

“Do you mind if I join you? There’s something about your face that feels like home and this city feels so . . . “

“Isolating,” he finished.

She ran a hand through her loose auburn curls and said, “yeah, and big.  I feel small and sometimes it helps to be next to a solid person instead of isolated in the glass screen of my phone.”

His eyes and a nod gave her permission and she pulled her chair out, settling in and closer to him than the chair originally sat. They enjoyed the silence and she made a show of blowing on her huge mug of coffee that looked like it could have been a small bowl of soup and sipped carefully while he assessed her.  She could see his energy rebirthed in the power of her gaze.  He was no longer slouching in defeat, but sitting up and thinking of the best way to ask her out.  It wasn’t like business.  In his office, he is an embodiment of control.  He commands it and it’s surrendered easily.  This little kitten just wandered over and he was worried about pushing her.

“I’m Charlie,” he said as he leaned toward her.

“The pleasure is mine, Charles.” It was a confession uttered into her cup and it couldn’t mask her blush.  That delicious color in her cheeks conjured darker images for poor Charlie and She could sense it. He began to smile stupidly, unaware of the sorrow it brought her.

She rested her mug on the table and curled her right leg under her as she began to flip and twist her hair into a messy bun, feeling his gaze appreciate the press and stretch of her blouse against her breasts.  She waited until he was looking at her face, and smiled at him before saying, “I’m Brielle.  How cold is your tea?”

“It’s a bit icy.  You’re perceptive,” he said.  He hadn’t even noticed it had gotten cold on him until just before she stood before him.

“My coffee is too hot, and I really don’t need the caffeine.  Were you busy? I wouldn’t mind hanging out and not sipping this over-roasted brew while we do it.”

He looked at her, realizing he didn’t have to ask her out.  He finally saw that she had chosen him.  He looked at her petite frame and long legs and knew she would follow him to his place.  Without a word, he reached for her hand and paused long enough to feel how small it was in his hand before leading her down the street to his house.

 

Once inside, Brielle slowly removed her sweater and let it fall to the floor.  She could see the look on his face shift from an excited little boy, to anticipatory fear.  She could feel his emotions flooding through him and he was about to lose his nerve.

“So tell me about what you do when you aren’t sitting in coffee shops, smiling at lonely girls,” she asked.  Carefully, she unwound her hair from the bun it was in and set her hair free over her shoulders.

“I’m in finance. Acquisitions,” he shrugged his shoulders and she licked her lips.

“So you play with important things and you take what you want.  Sounds fun.  I can get into that idea,” she said.  She could see his uncertainty shift with the talk of his work and she pressed on. “I bet you’re the one in charge too, aren’t you?  I could see you telling people what to do.  I could see people eager to please you.” Not here, she thought. “Does it ever get old? Do you ever want to give up that control?” And just as quickly, he was lost in her gaze, not knowing he was losing to her power.

In the moment of his hesitation, she stepped toward him in a kiss of exploration that slowly took more than he gave. His balance shifted and he began to sway in her arms. She wrapped herself around him and her right hand slipped up to run curious fingers through his hair, only to grab a fistful, snapping his head back and exposing his neck for a gentle nip of grazing teeth. Her left hand lightly scratched his shirt in a hungry grasp so she could feel the muscles of his chest. She was grateful for the hair she felt because she couldn’t understand the concept of manscaping. She wanted to see his skin and feel the hair all over his body. He was glorious in his response to her.

He stupidly forced her hand to his rising reaction and she stepped back, washing him in the cold of the room without her touching his skin.

“Sorry love, this isn’t your board room.  You get to pay for your naughtiness here. Hands and knees. I want you to show me you know how to be the dog you are.”

He watched her in silent obedience as she kicked off her boots, and slowly unzipped her jeans. She removed her shirt, slowly. . . Button by button, exposing the satin bodysuit she wore underneath.

“Don’t look at me. You don’t have permission. Not until I make you my bitch.”  She rested a bare foot between his shoulder blades and the action was met with his sharp intake of breath. She felt powerful.

“This is so hot. I can’t believe-”

“Shut up, Charles. No one asked and I really don’t care.”

She kneeled behind him and mounted his body like a dominant dog, and thrusted him solidly against herself, holding him by the hips. At his moan of acquiescence, she slapped his butt, grabbing a handful before a second slap and stood up.  She told him to strip to nothing. He obeyed quickly, nervously.

In his nakedness, she pulled him in for a deeper kiss, unleashing the power of a famished succubus, draining him with each kiss, mounting his body and riding him . . . leaving bite marks and kissing bruises into his flesh before leaving him desiccated and frail, but happy.

Happy Halloween.

Advertisements

Saving Space and a Place Called Home

I was on a journey through home yesterday, if that makes sense.  I am an Angeleno.  I was born at Cedars when they first moved from the blue Scientology building near Kaiser and Children’s Hospital in East Hollywood.  I’ve lived here my whole life with all of my addresses in Los Angeles County.  I’ve always just lived here in the shadows of existence I let others define.

I went to bars my friends wanted to go to, or the ones close to home when I was alone, never making space for the opportunities I wanted to create.  I would go to restaurants chosen for me, and I have an amazing knack for finding something on the menu I can enjoy . . . Even if I really hate Island’s or In-N-Out (I know, sacrilege but I’m over it, you should get there too). Those were my ex’s favorite restaurants and we were there most family and date nights.  Sucked to be me. It’s part of being Kid4 for 17 years before becoming Kid4 of 12 plus the siblings that married into our clan making us a sibling force of 16, not including ex spouses (no, mine doesn’t count).  I can go with the flow because I’m not a special snowflake that has to have her way.  This looks like existence and is hardly living.  I’ve taken notice.  I get this and I get to change it. I can own my voice and be heard in a room full of din beyond my creation because I’m more powerful than I’ve even given myself credence to be.

My day started at the Grand Park art walk.  It was all of Grand Park with Dia de los Muertos artwork throughout.  If you’re curious, you can check out my Instagram.  (This will be here later if you get lost in my vapid selfie moments.) The museums, theaters and music centers were free and offering free performances and swaggy junk that will make once functional fabric into landfill fodder.  I then walked to the Artist and Fleas LA meetup where I found Ms. Mary Abolfazli and took home her book which whispered words to me sweetly, only to explode into these words today.  (We’ll get there.)  I drove to the Last Bookstore, then walked to the Bradbury Building, Grand Central Market and then stopped at Howard Griffin Gallery before finishing my day off in Santa Monica on the pier and at a short play.  It was a really great day to be me, but if you haven’t noticed, most days are.

Back to this gem of a book.  Mary’s book asked some questions and it’s only fair to share the pages that spoke the loudest for this post.  I’m certain it will be read and re-read and more will come of it because the best books . . . the honest books . . . offer that gift and keep giving it in renewed messages and new ones that you didn’t notice the first time. What is most incredible, is that she teaches her craft.  She teaches creative writing and you can learn from her by checking out her website.  You can also search “That Kind of Light” and save it in your browser.  Make repeat visits.  Tell her I sent you.

img_1546

What is home? I used to think home was where my heart was.  Home was in the man I chose to bind my future to.  When he left, it wasn’t just the man that was gone, but the future and the goals and plans I created for myself because I was so solidly bound to him.  My life was a space created and saved for him.  He wanted to draw and I was looking for art supplies and keeping the baby occupied to leave him alone.  He wanted to get into paintball and I was home every weekend alone while he played, being passive and aggressive about my abandonment in teasing jabs at his bruises after kissing him goodbye that morning.  He wanted to go deep sea fishing every weekend, coming home with fish and the smells of ocean, rotting sea creatures, oiled burlap and sunblock. I would have to wash his clothes separately to not be tainted by the smell of loneliness.  He got into rap music and would call to say he was too drunk to drive home and I would be home alone, knowing there were strippers at the house with him because that was the culture they cultivated. His music became offensive to me as a wife and I couldn’t be offended as a wife because the fame was his dream, so I said I couldn’t allow our sons to listen to his music as their mother.  He became a Christian rapper but the abandonment was the same.  He was taking on leadership roles in our church and I wanted him to take over more than financial leadership for us at home. I was home alone with our kids, making space for his dreams, not realizing I could have been creating my own.

College wasn’t a dream.  It was my survival.  I needed space that was my own and had nothing to do with anyone but myself.  I needed something sacred and untouched that was mine, and it looked like school.  When my life was released and only mine, I had to redefine what my dreams and goals were and it’s a constantly renewing process.  It looks like eating foods I love and exploring where my curiosity takes me.  It looks like sitting on a pier long after the cloud cover blocks out the moon and all I see is darkness because in this expansive void I am small and everything is bigger than me and because I am breathing and present, I am just as monumental.

Home is no longer a person.  It’s not the home I come to each night.  It used to be home was where I laid my head, but that was because of the men in my life . . . in my home . . . the one I chose and the children we shared. It was the soft sounds of rest and the peace I felt in my home because we were together.  But on days when I am home alone, I’ve discovered home to be the place where I am resting in the authority of my choices.  It’s where I can be content in the feel of my skin and the infinite possibilities of my freedom.  It’s the taste of a good meal and the beauty of a sunset or a fluttering butterfly that catches my eye.  It’s birds in flight and the wonder on a child’s face.  Last night I was walking down the street with a friend and a child passing in the opposite direction reached out to hold my hand and that was home. Home is where I choose to make it and it’s no longer in a person or a vision I can’t see.  It’s not just within me but all around me and bigger than I need to contain.  img_1549

What does it mean to live life if we become syncopated routines of existence?  We do our daily tasks and assign to them the meaning we think they should hold, based on another’s rubric.  At the end of your life, will you be happy with the pretty things  you own or have authority over, knowing you didn’t impact anyone’s life because you failed to impact your own? I don’t want the perfect body if I have to eat food I don’t like.  I don’t want the swanky office if I don’t get to do what makes me happy.  I don’t want the clean house if it means we can’t be playful and carefree in it. Play can become passion if you let it, and to do what doesn’t excite me means I’ve allowed the cost of my existence to dictate my capacity for joy.  Never again. Not while I’m cognizant of my capabilities . . . not while I can imagine the possibilities.

Being burdened by the past of my existence is a choice.  I can see what I’ve done.  I take notice of what I am capable of doing and make the changes necessary.  Those that only see me by my past have no reason to usher me into my future so I have stopped holding them and it’s liberating. img_1550

My gift for today is to remain present.  I get to live in this moment and enjoy the sounds of nature (because I live on a quiet street on a hillside), while getting lost in haunting melodies that I’ve just discovered on Spotify.  I get to make space to be home and alone and see that it’s a place of peace because I am a place of peace.  It follows me and is not confined to a person or the walls around me.  I get to be an expansive presence in my own life.  It’s a gift.  I’m a certified treasure.

Oceans and Waves

img_1497

It’s been a gnarly week.  I left work early on Monday.  Exactly 2 years after my pulmonary embolisms, I was having chest pain that felt like I was eating wheat, but I wasn’t eating wheat.  Part of me knew it was probably tummy troubles, but because of the tight chest and childhood asthma making a comeback lately, I thought the prudent thing would be to check it out.  I hadn’t eaten wheat at all in the last few days.  My chest felt painfully tight for at least 15 minutes straight and puking until there was nothing left didn’t help.  Apologies to whomever had to listen from the stall next to me at work. An ER visit with tests, a blog post and a nap later and I went home to tackle mom duties. Indigestion from stress and I was ready for more.  

Hindsight is always crystal clear.  I had 2 and a half cups of coffee with enough coffee grounds in it to pretend it was tea and I was doing a divination reading.  It’s probably what upset my stomach although I haven’t had any other heartburn symptoms until tonight.  Even then, my wet burps weren’t painful.  It was a demanding week with the boys.  They are consistently themselves, but my ability to handle it was shifting and I was short on reserves.  Today I had three people push my buttons in a way where I reached out to a friend in an effort to not lose my shit.  I smothered my anger in chocolate and headed to the beach after work.

There’s something so healing about the sound of waves crashing and it was a beautiful night to stand over the ocean.  I haven’t actually been in the ocean in years, but I imagined what that used to feel like and the memory shifted my perspective for just long enough.  I should paint the picture.

img_1495

When I got to the beach, the sun had already dipped beneath the horizon and the inky blue of night was splashed across the sky with the pink and gold of a light that can’t be dimmed even after the sun makes way for the moon and stars. The clouds were drifting far above, and I knew the rain that started falling in Burbank would wait for my recharge in Santa Monica.

I walked along the pier and got to the end where anglers were using huge amounts of bait for the small mackerel they were catching.  Lower atmospheric pressure meant the ocean was swelling in anticipation for the storm and the water reached further up the pilings to the pier I stood on.  I stood over the water that crested in small translucent blue green waves.  The water was fairly clear and even at night with the lighted bobbers being used by hopeful anglers, I could see down several feet into the water.  The water rose and fell gently, with hardly a gust of wind.

I took the time to swipe left and right, because online dating is something a friend does and he makes it look not so scary.  We even swiped right on each other so he could see what vibe I’m sending out when a man asks me to visit him in his home but I’ve never met him before, and a second asks me to meet him in his home for a massage an hour and a half after a “hello.”  He couldn’t see anything other than how deep my need for conversation is.  I lightened the mood a bit, but the offers remained the same.

I took my time leaving the pier, meandering from side to side while walking east, appreciating the sound of water, and people, and Pokemon players.  I stopped and stood for a while to admire the waves that were cresting, then crashing into foam and a rushing gallop of waves running along the surface of the ocean.  Here I could see clouds of sand churning and dancing, making clear waters murky. I walked further toward land and as the waves crashed violently, further out, spent waves weren’t consistently able to reach the same places.

I thought of those summers as a child when I would go out far enough into the ocean that I had to tread water because I couldn’t stand.  I remember the feel of water so deep that I could curl my body up into the fetal position and just float on the waves, bobbing buoyantly on the surface.  Or I could hold my breath and go further toward the shore and the waves that were cresting would force my movement.  I could relax my body enough to be tossed into somersaults.  These waves would run toward the shore in shallow rushing foam, pushing me forward toward land.  On the shore, every 7th wave would reach far up the sand, but the other waves couldn’t go as far.

When you first arrive at the shore and you start walking in.  The icy cold of the water first gives you pause at your ankles and again at your thighs.  Your body keeps telling you to stop .  The further you go, the more the waves fight you until you see the big ones coming and you can just dive below them and come up without being pushed away.

It was a moment where I realized I could stick my head up above the water and I could see where I was and what was coming my way in life.  The waves and the force of them is consistent.  That doesn’t change.  What changes is the depth of the water, and the point at which the ground interferes with the cycle of the waves. Where I am shifts with who I choose to be. You fight to stand and move forward and then it gets easier and you see where life will move you.  Your body acclimates to the temperature and the force of nature becomes a balm as the waters wash away concerns of life, giving way to the feel of existence in ways that are foreign and call back to the time in utero when we were warm and safe and held. You dance away and laugh at the waves that try to reach you but you know where you stand and they are always out of reach. 

The farther in the ocean we are, we are carried.  We are pushed and held and oblivious to the distance we’ve slowly moved up north with the will of the ocean. We don’t even see what’s happening because we’re so involved in being carried and guided by the waves – by our circumstance. The ability to stand changes the closer to land I get and the more firmly I plant my feet, the more violently the waves will push me, and crash over me.  The sand will shift away and suck me deeper into the muck and sludge.  But I don’t have to stay where I am and life won’t allow such obstinance.

Tonight I stood above the ocean and figuratively raised my head above the water to see where I was, deciding I’m not in the crash zone anymore. I’m in deep water, but every once in awhile, I find myself in the crash zone, being pushed out far enough to realize the waves that once overpowered me are still unable to reach as far as they once did and I’m diving deep without much effort lately.  Sometimes the waves are bigger than I am, but I haven’t left the beach and that means I’m still trying.  And sometimes that’s enough.  

What’s with my Motivation?

I was blocked last night.  I totally deserved it and it made me laugh.  The moment passed and the reality of what I did hit me at lunch today.  Last night my Tuesday night sitter quit on me.  I was dealing with ex texts in the afternoon. I had a costume to help with and pumpkins to carve and I just wanted to get off of my feet. I was mothering my boys all morning and running late, so I picked up my lunch and my hangry moment pointed out that I cared more about feeding myself then I cared about getting blocked by a man I was kinda into.

He was beautiful and tall and smart.  He was a feminist.  It didn’t make me ignore the parts I didn’t like.  I just felt like I didn’t have to see him enough for those parts to bother me.  We were chatting for about a week and I asked him out only to get a delayed acceptance.  It wasn’t a no, but a not now and it irritated me.

I’m very used to having men eager for my attention and when his busy life meant dinner with me would be on hold (when clearly people eat dinner every day), I had a tantrum.  I’m not the type to yell or fight.  My ex used to joke around with his friends that I am not a black woman because I don’t feed the rage that most women (in general) fight with.  I’m too calculating for that. My initial tantrum was a teasing nudge. The full-blown tantrum was to set my inner psycho free in all the terrifying ways.

Really, he asked for time.  If I were advising a friend, I would say to continue flirting with and dating others (advice given and taken).  I don’t get exclusive unless it’s something we’re mutually committing to, but flirting and giving up my kid free time are two very different levels of amazing to be reached. I would have said to give him space.  Forget to text for a few days.  Make him wait on your response a bit.  Let him see that his response was read but answer it hours or days later, and not immediately.  But I ignored my advice.

It’s not the first time either.

The first time was when my last crush became more work than fun.  He was uncomfortable with my open adoration.  I liked how uncomfortable it made him when I looked into his eyes like I might actually see someone who was worth my time.  It’s rare and I treat that as the gift that it is. If you’re special to me, you’ll know it because so few men are.  The day that I was bored of the push and pull, I remember writing a blog post that was solely focused on the amazing I saw in him, leaving out the bits that I’m not sharing here either.  I did it to push and nudge him and it was too much for him.  I was looking for a reaction and I loved the reaction because I couldn’t continue caring for him.  I mean, I care, I just couldn’t see myself falling in world shattering love with him. I had reached a plateau and it was going downhill.

My standard is high.  He has to be capable of treating me better than I treat me.  He has to be a warrior dragon slayer because I am and he has to be able to handle the tough parts that I hold.  I never saw myself being able to pour my darkness into him because I never imagined he could hold it.  He was beautiful, and smart.  He was creative and driven.  But it wasn’t enough, so I pushed and nudged until he walked away.  I think I was hoping there was enough grit for a reaction from him, but he reserved that for others. It was like he couldn’t trust me with his demons any more than I could trust him with mine. I hear he’s happy with someone else now, and that really does make me happy.  I wish him all the best, and can appreciate that I was amused.  I grew.  He was never the one for me.

The man from last night was never going to be the one either.  I might have considered a few months of frolicking fun, but beyond that . . . I couldn’t see him ever meeting my boys.  It was a lot to ask me to wait on a dinner when I needed that visceral gut reaction that I can’t get through a device.

The way I pushed them away was similar.  I found men that couldn’t accept the amazing I saw in them because they probably couldn’t see it in themselves.  When you can’t see your amazing, someone else’s view will only feel bad and be rejected. I can’t shape their ego that rejects what I see and it becomes bigger and more terrifying than they could dream of. I was offering a kid free night to sit and enjoy company because he must be amazing for that alone, but he has to have so much more for something deeper that I just couldn’t see in either man.  I handed them the ways I was intrigued and amazed and threw out scary words like “I could fall in love,” not actually committed to that idea myself.  And I waited.  And I watched.  And my intensity burned them and they stepped away, both admitting it was “too much.”  I walked away in laughter, probably giving the impression that I was shattered. I enjoyed their rejection and there’s something wrong in that.

The bigger question is why would I do something like that?  Why would I be so attracted to men that were visibly less confident than I am? Why would I push them away with affirmations of their beauty only to enjoy their rejection because I wasn’t transparent enough to say to them that I could see they weren’t reaching the bar I set above them and they probably weren’t interested in it anyway, and we could be friends.  What is it about me that wants to kick their legs out from under them when they aren’t able to meet my expectations.  That is the part that bothers me most.

At the end of the day, I’m taking a hard look at my motives.  I’m seeing the why and the how and I don’t love what I see, but I can love myself despite it.  It’s like wanting to hurt something because it’s cute.  It’s a psychological phenomenon that I play out in the men I am kinda but not entirely into.  It’s my way of balancing their good with my aggression in a way that distances myself and won’t really hurt them.  Okay the guy from last night probably thinks I’m going to stalk him now, and I can’t stop laughing at that, but it wasn’t meant to traumatize him.

I think it’s the parts I see in them that reflect what I used to see in me.  I was insecure as a wife.  I didn’t love myself.  I didn’t look for my reflection in random mirrors.  I didn’t believe I hold all of the amazing that is me.  My oldest had this moment a few years back.  He had just transitioned to a school for autistic children and in the beginning, he was being a bully to the other children that were lower functioning.  He had been bullied by neurotypical kids at his previous school and when he moved, he saw in them what he was teased for and in a repeated cycle, continued the abuse as an abuser empowering the victim within in a way that was broken and hurting others.  I’m hurting others as a temporary salve.  It’s wrong and I need to stop it.

I’m intense.  I’m empathic.  I’m a bit of an old soul.  And I love that about me.  It was incredible to see so many articles I could identify with filtering through my Facebook newsfeed today.  It’s like the universe is pointing at the ways I was dodging a bullet I didn’t even know was coming by reaffirming the ways I am a powerhouse that needs grit in a man that can polish my rough bits.

He needs to be tall and beautiful (because I’m shallow).  He needs to be smart (for when I’m intense). He must be a warrior that can take my dark because I have large doses of dark daily and most men aren’t asked to hold it because I don’t think they’re capable.  That says more than it should about the men I’ve dated or the one I married.

You’re Overthinking it, Love

Me: I hope you aren’t drowning in my dark.  It can be a bit heavy if you aren’t me.

Him: Yes.  Stay in the light.  It’s warm.

Me: I get the impression you can handle it, but don’t let me overburden you.

Him: What does that mean?

Me: You have a strength about you but it’s not a strength that you can put on like a jacket.  It’s who you are and it was born through survival.  It’s easy to lean on you and borrow what you have.

Him: Wow.  You’re not wrong, but how did you get all of that?

Me: We hung out and talked for like 20 minutes in my car.  You were there.

 

I overthink things.  It’s a default setting for me.  For years that skill was put to use in advocating as an autism mom.  My Mom had a few wars to wage and my research superpowers were called to action.  As a student and mom and wife, I was able to do it without sleep and not always remembering to feed myself with a kindergartner on my back, asking me how to spell things. Now it’s about people and interactions and I can’t shut it off.

It’s funny sometimes that I can see what I’m doing and call it out in others, but it’s hard to stop.  A couple of weeks ago I was at La Velvet Margarita Cantina in Hollywood with friends, having fun playing wing woman to the men with me.

I gave one friend advice that got him affection from his girlfriend:

Me: buy a rose. Call her up. Tell her this rose was handed to you by the guy walking around and selling them. It wasn’t until you touched the petals that you missed her because they reminded you of her skin. Then ask if you can drop it off.

Him: you’re good.

Me: yeah . . . When you see her, make the rose an extension of your fingertips along her cheek. She needs to feel what reminded you of her.

For my other friend, I kept offering my friendly “hello” to random women and nudging my friend in their direction.  He’d chat and come back for a debriefing, and I kept telling him, “stop overthinking it, love.”

That same night there was an Andy.  Walking past him, I called out, “You’re beautiful.”  We had a couple of separate moments where the conversation started, and I walked away, but I have fun rejecting men and I was looking for an excuse to let him go.  I wasn’t lying.  He was beautiful, but that is never enough. His rejection came in his passivity.  He let me initiate each interaction and I was okay letting him go because I wasn’t interested enough to accept the mixed signals he was sending.  I watched his body language and the way he had moments of turning out toward me and moments of turning his back to me.  I noticed way too much about what he was doing to appreciate the short conversations we had.  I was over thinking it.

I’m really great at over thinking things.  I’m exceptionally talented at over complicating the simplest things.

Today I’m working on bold authenticity because it’s easier to hide in something false.  I’m working on accepting that life’s events are neutral and I can guide my response by defining my interpretation.  I’m living in intention and outside of expectations.  (This should be a post one day, but don’t hold me to it.) I’m working on being present in the moment, because it’s not a super power right now. I’m working on self love because when old patterns emerge, I can no longer ignore them and beating myself up over them is my default.  I get to see what I’m doing and what my motives are and face them so I’m no longer controlled by them.  And I get to release the need to over think things by addressing them boldly, no matter what that may look like.

 

Pulmonary Embolisms

Two years ago I was just getting used to eliminating wheat from my diet. I was prediabetic and eliminating sugar, but starting to walk more. My car was dead. I was working part time and taking the train to get to work, calling it exercise. The mini storage I worked at was 8 1/2 acres and it was inventory day so I was walking to every space to make sure the locks matched our records. 

That night I woke up with horrible leg cramps. I figured I just needed more potassium and planned for bananas and avocados from the store the next day. I rubbed out the cramps and went to bed without even waking the ex. 

The next morning I had mild chest pain. It wasn’t bad. Every so often it caught my attention and I’d rub that spot without even realizing it. I was also working as a driver for my ex, so I ran to Costco for him to pick up the cookies for resale. I delivered an order. I was going to do a second one when I felt like I should get my annoying little pains checked out. You aren’t supposed to feel your chest. 

I drove to the emergency room and walked myself in. I mentioned chest pain but I probably didn’t look like I felt it. I have a high pain threshold and have had a few natural childbirths, even with back labor. I’m a badass. 

At first the doctor didn’t look at me. He ordered tests and walked away. He’d tell me a result and order more tests, then walk away. After the cat scan he came back and sat next to the bed. He looked me in the eyes and that’s when I knew it was serious. 

I had pulmonary embolisms and they covered my entire left lung with a few clots on my right. I was sent up to the cardiac floor with someone to push my bed and a nurse to make sure I didn’t die on the way up. My birth control pills, or the hormones in them gave me blood clots. 

Getting into my bed seemed to stress everyone out because I moved too quickly. The danger of a blood clot dislodging and finding a home in my brain or heart means I could have had a heart attack or stroke and died within seconds. I wasn’t too worried because at least I wasn’t doing jumping jacks. 

The fear of the situation never really settled in me. I had spent a month hospitalized with the twins two years before and I was used to the hum of machines, the squeak of nursing clogs on linoleum, the nurses that would shift between urgency and calm . . . Smiles and detachment. 

I didn’t realize this was an anniversary (because I’m not that morbid) until Facebook reminded me (because they have no memory filter) and it looked like: 

Conversations with nurses:

Me: I’m sensitive to wheat. 

Nursing assistant: here’s a white roll. It’s not wheat. 


RN: I need to clock out for a break and I’ll be right back for your history. 

Me: you don’t have to cut into your lunch for me. I’ll stay up. 

RN: it’s just a break and we work through those. 

Me: maybe that’s why they forgot to connect me to the heparin IV in the ER. 


Me: can you move the IV? It’s pinching my hand. 

RN: that’s considered invasive. It’s not something I can just do. 

Me: come on, I haven’t started the Coumadin yet. Apparently I’m really great at clotting. 


RN: are you a smoker?

Me: I smoked 2 packs a day about 14 years ago. Actually, I bought 2 packs a day. I usually shared my cancer sticks. Worst investment ever. 



RN: do you have an advance directive?

Me: no, but I’ve thought about it. (I start to explain) 

RN: no! Wait! I can’t discuss it with you. 

Getting blood draws and vitals every couple of hours with bad hospital food is not pleasant. At the same time, I get to have a nice view and lounge with no bra or pants. No pants!!!

After being in the cardiac intensive care unit for a few days and gradually being permitted out of bed, I started walking laps around the unit. I was on blood thinners for a few months. I can never again go on hormonal birth control because the risk is too great that I’ll have blood clots again and any future pregnancy would be on blood thinners and high risk. I won’t say all birth control pills will kill you. I’m just lucky enough to have a body that doesn’t like me to live too wildly because then I wouldn’t have a story to tell. 

Birth control pills and exercise tried to kill me. Because of this experience, I get everything that’s abnormal checked out immediately. It feels like I’m a hypochondriac but when I think of my kids, it’s worth a few hours in an ER where I get to meet doctors (that are never my type) and ask:

“Are you here to save my life? I’ll be your damsel in distress.”

“I hope you don’t rush through every single one of my vital signs.”

“The nurse took my temperature but I’m sure it’s gone up since you came in.”

“Do you do this sort of thing with all of your patients, or am I just a lucky girl.”

“I know it’s the nurse’s job, but I’d be happy to let you stick me.”

SO TOTALLY KIDDING. 

Humor is important in a hospital. You go in healthy and they poke and prod you with long wait times. You go in dying or think you could be dying and that generally sucks too. 

You go often enough and you learn the lingo and know a heparin lock is coming. You prepare to be exposed and touched and pleasantly surprised when exam gloves hold warmth. You ask for heated blankets and nap when you can. You know that your nurses are your lifeline because your doctors won’t really have time to talk. 

You notice patterns in how busy it is. Monday’s are crowded with people that wait all weekend for a doctor’s note unless it’s cold or raining because people prefer staying home, and hot weather brings pregnant ladies kickstarting labor with dehydration. Honestly, I’d rather be boring and healthy. 

This week I will celebrate my life. I’ll take myself out for a really great meal. I’ll buy myself flowers and pick out lingerie. I’ll take a candle lit bubble bath and appreciate the last two years that saw near death, a broken marriage and the opportunity to fall in love with myself again. . . The opportunity to fall in love with someone new. 

Micro Midlife Crisis

When I was younger, my dream was to have enough disposable income to have someone else clean up after me.  That’s as far as I got. When I started college, it was about doing what my parents wanted me to do.  I didn’t want to go.  My mom wanted to send me to Thailand for the summer and I refused.  (It was about a boy and not my smartest move.) I had no idea what I wanted to do.  I was one of those students that kept taking electives, hoping it would point me in a direction.  It pointed me in many directions and nothing was really calling to me.  (In hindsight, taking your core requirements will do the same and keep you from wasting time.) I ended up taking classes on and off for so long that by the time I got my BA, the kids starting in the fall were born the year I graduated high school.  My 20 year reunion is in less than 2 weeks.

When I became a wife and mom, my goal was to be really good at that and put my family ahead of myself. I wanted to support my ex. Unwinding after work was his right, even though I was exhausted with an infant. He wanted to disappear for a weekend of paintball, then it was deep sea fishing and eventually his rap concerts and I stayed home with our kids. It never occurred to me to have a night with the girls. When I finally did get “me time,” it was time spent running household errands alone. (I know how to party.)

I got a call earlier this evening from a friend having a freak out moment that I’m really familiar with.  He was bothered that so much of his identity is tied to his relationship with his kids and the people in his life and he realized he didn’t do anything that was just for himself.  He was so involved in the success of those around him that he forgot to sort out his goals and line up his accomplishments.

My first freakout like that happened in my early 20’s.  I was a mom, wife, sister, daughter, and had no idea who I was anymore.  I lost touch with the girl that loved shooting pool, smoking cigarettes, drinking with friends, beach days, and hiking to Sturtevant Falls from Chantry Flats.  Even when I was doing those things I was unsure of what I loved, and what I was doing because it’s what my friends were doing. I could handle being home alone but not being out alone. 

In early marriage and motherhood, it was so easy for me to get caught up in being who I thought I was supposed to be.  This person took care of the house and did it with a smile.  I looked at motherhood as something that didn’t fit what I grew up with.  My mom went to work, then came home for snuggles.  I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. My Dad stayed home with me or both parents worked alternating graveyard shifts so one of them was always available.

As a new mom, I tried to follow what my ex had as an example growing up because he loved his mom and I wanted to be like her.  It’s hard to fit an ideal that was never yours and that was colored by the fantasies of a little boy that may not have a clear understanding of the realities of motherhood from the perspective of a mother.  Her input (innocent as it was) always made it seem like I was failing.  I just couldn’t do it the way she did.  It nearly broke me.  I sometimes joke that I will do my best to ruin every relationship my kids ever get into by being amazing now, but really, I only hope they find someone to love them like I do.  I hope to never make a woman or man feel like they are lacking because of the ideal of what I view as my daily shortcomings.  Yes, I have boys, but we live with the expectation that gay or straight, I will always love my kids.

When I looked at my life and realized it wasn’t what I wanted my life to look like, I tried to work within what I was capable of to transform my life.  I started small.  I got curious about subjects and would spend hours reading about topics that interested me.  It started with bees and gardening, jewelry making, cross stitch, crochet, scrapbooking, and for a while I started making soap with fat and lye.  Eventually having lye in the house was way too scary because I had small kids.  I still have my soap molds, and have happy thoughts about getting to the “trace” stage and may pick it back up one day.  (You’ll just have to look up soapmaking.)  This helped for a little while.

Eventually, I went back to school. I needed to finish.  When I went back it wasn’t about my parents.  Finishing school became my goal.  I wanted my degree.  I wanted to earn that class ring.  I never got my high school ring because I always expected to go to college. When I decided to go back, I remembered how much I loved being in the classroom.  I loved the discourse and the moments when one person would make a profound observation that would shift my perspective into a new interpretation.  I loved that feeling.  A man that can shift my perspective with a sentence is one of the first things I look for in dating, and why I often spend my kid free weekends alone.  (Reaching the bar I set is a really tall order but he has to be smart.) My education is the one thing that was all mine, and could never be taken from me.

I had another moment of awakening earlier this year.  I wrote about it here. I had been doing things the way I was taught for so long that it became my expectation. When I had the freedom to do it my way, it took a while to realize I could. That realization felt like freedom.

My big midlife crisis happened when my ex had his moment of realizing his life didn’t look the way he wanted it to.  When he left, I was lost.  I could handle the things I was already handling.  I had the bills in my name.  I had been the handy person around the house, or I knew who to call.  I knew how to exist in the ways I needed to.  What I didn’t know was what I wanted my life to look like.  I didn’t know what my life should be now that I was only obligated to my boys and myself.  It was scary because I had to figure out what I like to do in my free time now that shared custody means I have so much of it.  I’m still figuring it out. I was recently asked what I like to do, and I listed my usual field trips, but I’m still searching and I hope I never stop searching.  

I was listening to house music again for the first time in decades on Friday.  It felt like urgency.  I couldn’t stop dancing in my seat and it probably looked like I had to pee.  It probably made me feel like I had to pee.  But it was amazing in the memories it brought up of raves and dance crews (shout out to the Kinky Dolls . . . anyone?), being known and handed drinks when I entered a party . . . Yeah, and then there were some things that don’t need reminiscing.  The music was a reminder of a time I had forgotten in the dark alleys of motherhood martyrdom.  

I spent so long being a wife and mom.  I was a student, then I graduated, and I had decided my kids couldn’t become orphans to the stacks, so my next goal of law school will happen once my nest is empty.  I had fluid ideas of what I wanted to do on our next camping trip or what my next job might eventually look like.  I had to start figuring out where my happy places were.

I started bullet journaling.  I really should get back to it.  You can look up bullet journals online and there are many amazing variations.  It’s about finding one that works for you.  Mine ended up in a three ring binder with different sections for my goals. I had a daily “to do” list. I had a calendar.  I had long term goals and 18 month plans.  I had a list of books to read and movies to see.  I had financial plans and outlined the way I wanted to shape my existence.

The daily to do list was a list that was marked in some way each day.  It wasn’t enough to write a list that got crossed off.  I had a box next to each item and I would mark those boxes as in progress, completed, rescheduled (with a date), and cancelled (with a really good reason for being cancelled). I was accountable to myself to work toward my goals every single day.  Right now I have a cork board with my long term goals listed.  The bullet journal had deadlines. My white board has short term plans for me and the boys.  But the bullet part is what was driving me to do more each day.  To get back into it, I would need time to daydream.  I need to visualize what I want my life to look like.

It won’t be solitary.  I can do solitary, but I’m ready for partnership.  I’m ready to support and be supported.  I won’t fear what was and color the future with it.  I’m sure I’ll find him because I’m open to looking in a way that I wasn’t a couple of months ago.

It will include road trips and local adventures. I’ve never been to San Francisco or Catalina Island.  I want to explore and be a tourist.

It will include my boys, but there will be things that are just about me and maybe friends or a special someone because motherhood doesn’t mean I need to be a martyr. (If I say it enough I’ll believe it and the guilt will fall away.)

It will include mountain sunrises and streams and beaches at sunset.

When my friend called tonight, I was excited.  There is so much power and possibility in realizing that your life doesn’t look the way you want it to.  There is so much potential in that realization because not everyone can see the disconnect.  He arrived at a place where he can slay dragons and rescue princesses.  He gets to be his knight in shining armor with Prince Charming hair and damsel in distress and that is the greatest gift he could give himself. I’m excited to see what his life will look like in the next few weeks.  More than that, I’m excited about the ways I get to start my planning and plotting again.

A midlife crisis isn’t the end.  In my marriage, it was the end that opened up an amazing start. It’s a place to embark on your next phase of amazing.  It might suck in this moment, but this moment tells you where you’ve been and which direction you get to lead in.  You get to lead your life!

Have you ever had a dream you let go of? What’s stopping you from picking it back up?