December 10th

Oh, December 10th,
Why must you stalk me like a bitter ex-lover?
I don’t want to remember you, to think of you,
To imagine how things could have been different
To reminisce and fantasize hurts too much
But here you are again,
Ringing the doorbell of my heart
Don’t you understand?
I have a new life now; I am happy.
We had our time. Let go.
But, still you cling and make me
Go back to when we were together,
Our phone calls, when
My brother’s car crash was fatal
And my mother’s diagnosis was cancer
Oh, December 10,
Why must you stalk me
Year after year?

Here’s Why Some Women Don’t Say Anything for Years.

 

“Denial: refusal to face unpleasant facts. PSYCHOLOGY a state of refusal or inability to recognize and deal with a serious personal problem.” ~ Encarta

There seems to be a commonly held belief that if someone is bothered or hurt, they’ll say so—to the person.

The flip side of that is when people—women, in particular—speak up about how they feel, they’re assertions are dismissed or disbelieved.

Or, women can be branded as b*tches or drama queens.

Add in our societal pressure to be rugged individuals, rise to the top, and “never let them see you sweat” (or cry).

Now, can we consider the multitude of simultaneous mental, emotional, psychological, career and family pressures a woman juggles after facing sexual harassment or assault as the answer to, “Well, if it really happened, why didn’t she say anything?”

Listen, saying something or going to the police may be the right thing, but that doesn’t make it the easy thing.

When I was 24-years old, my boss raped me.

As I wrote the previous sentence, I was tempted to write I was raped by my boss because we passively language around this subject.

Let me rephrase: My boss violently raped me.

I was just 24-years old. I was ambitious. Twenty-four hours before, I would’ve called him my friend. Twenty-four hours after, I still did.

That’s the power of denial. Some things we don’t want to tell ourselves.

Back then, no one would’ve called me weak or timid. Loud-mouthed and feisty would’ve been more likely.

So, who did I tell when my boss raped me? No one.

Not my live-in boyfriend who later became my husband. Not my co-workers. Not my friends. Not my rapist’s wife. Not my brother, sister or parents.

Not even myself.

It wasn’t some repressed memory that unearthed itself during the #metoo campaign.

I was raped. I dealt with it by denying the horrific event.

Denial is complicated. Denial is the bridge on which rapists and victims sometimes meet.

I may be wrong, but I doubt most perpetrators tell themselves, “Ha! I raped her and got away with it!” or, “You can just grab her by the…”

Oh, wait. I guess some do.

Some men rationalize and try to normalize their animalistic behavior.

Yet, you have trouble believing the victims?

Men like Cosby, Weinstein and Trump walk convincingly through the world. They first convince themselves they’ve done nothing wrong.

After my boss/friend (frenemy wasn’t a term yet) raped me, he said, “You know you wanted it. You’ve been coming on to me since we first met.”

No. And no. And even if I had, I would not have wanted to be raped.

But, I didn’t respond when he said that.

He raped me of my words. He raped me of our friendship.

The following morning, I vowed he wouldn’t rape me of my career.

That was 29 years ago. I wasn’t an actress and he wasn’t famous.

I could’ve gotten another job, but I had my heart set on that company.

I didn’t think about how I could destroy his life and career. I did think about what the truth might do to his wife and sons.

You can call me weak.

I used my bravado to stand up and move forward—because I didn’t know what else to do.

Standing on the outside, things look clearer.

I didn’t want to be raped. I pretended I wasn’t because I think dealing with it at the time would’ve broken me.

It took a decade of denial and a skilled therapist to help me face the reality.

Denial is a protection mechanism. It’s not a conscious decision. It’s an instinct, the way the human brain is wired and often deals with trauma.

I wonder if it’s that instinct which allows perpetrators to face themselves in the mirror.

For, if a man (or woman) truly acknowledged and understood the pain he inflicted, his heart would taste the bitter, vulgar shame we victims try to spit out or be released from.

Sexual harassment, abuse, violation, and rape are shameful acts. For years, this has been true for victims.

Hallelujah to the men who are now being called upon to account for their heinous actions and stand in their own dark shadows: accountable, ashamed, and regretful.

They are the only ones who know the true measure their sincerity, but I salute whatever any truth which arises from their divine souls.

Can we see that sexual harassment, violence, and violation are societal issues (in addition to criminal in many cases)?

I’m not talking about appeasement for perpetrators or disregard of victims, but I’m suggesting we applaud sincere steps to heal, on both sides.

Yes, let’s condemn the guilty.

But, could we also consider the same system that keeps a woman from telling is the one that lets men tell themselves their actions are anything but selfish and pain-inflicting?

Let’s face what we, as a society have created and passively condoned—because we’ve all been in some sort of denial.

Before I was raped, I used to joke, “If I was ever raped, they’d easily find the guy; He’d be the one missing a d*ck,” implying that I had a little Lorena Bobbitt in me.

I never imagined when I was actually raped, I’d keep quiet for over a decade.

So, unless you’ve had personal experience in this arena, I encourage you not to presume you know how you’d react.

Or that because someone didn’t sing in the streets about life-changing grief inflicted on her body and soul, it’s any less real or debilitating.

If you don’t know, don’t assume.

If you don’t know, thank God.

If you don’t know, listen.

The correct response is we listen.

 

 

What I Learned from Buying a Homeless Man Breakfast. #bloglikecrazy

What I Learned from Buying a Homeless Man Breakfast. #bloglikecrazy

“But we progressives have done our share of offending, in ways we sometimes don’t even realize are insulting.” ~ Van Jones, Beyond the Messy Truth

My sister had a work conference in Denver. I drove out from our home in Ohio with my dog Phoenix to meet her.

During the days, I wrote and took breaks to take my dog the four blocks to the patch of grass called a dog park.

On these walks, I saw an abundance of homeless people. Normally, when a privileged gal like me crosses paths with homeless souls, it’s a brief encounter.

Often, I’m going to a concert or play. I see sad eyes, a sign, or a request for help. I often give. I often don’t. I move on, back to my car and my comfortable home.

In this case, it was back to our Marriott Hotel room. My schedule and mind were open. I was on vacation!

I felt both guilty for making my dog stay on the 11th floor of a hotel and kind of giddy to see her riding elevators and indulging in city smells.

I felt safe with Phoenix’s 90-pound Black Lab body beside me. If alone, I might not have ventured out at all. Typically, I’m confident, but I wanted to be invisible to any danger, which I sensed in the city air.

Witnessing so many homeless people several times each day weighed on my heart. I felt helpless, but what could I do?

On day two, at a breakfast spot that allowed me to order at the door and wait outside with my dog, I doubled my order and asked for two bags.

I set out on a mission to give a hungry person the same delicious breakfast I indulged in. I asked God to lead me.

What about that guy across the street? I thought. Oh, poor guy. He doesn’t even have any shoes. Oh, wait, he’s got one shoe on.

Something happened to my body as I watched the man spread his toes and inject a needle between them. Heroine? I felt drenched in sadness. Some things are best left on TV.

Well, he’s not a candidate for the food. I felt defeated and walked back toward my hotel, still searching. There were some guys in a group who said hello as Phoenix and I walked through them.

As I neared the Marriott, I saw a man digging in the trash. As I approached, he moved on.

From behind his back, I hollered, “Hey, guy!”

He turned, as if he was in trouble. I said, “Are you hungry?”

“Yes,” he said.

“Here, I got you breakfast,” I said, handing him the bag.

He grinned the most beautiful smile a toothless man could.

Happiness. Relief. Gratitude. His. It all hit me like light from God.

Hours later, as I was leaving the hotel lobby, I grabbed a second cup of coffee. Off my dog and I went so she could practice crapping on a city sidewalk.

It wasn’t long before I saw another man digging in the trash. I tapped him on the shoulder. He turned with a defensive look of anger and shame.

“Do you want a cup of coffee?” I asked, as I held the cup out to him.

Relief. Humility. Grace. He nodded and took it. I moved on.

A few yards away, another man stopped me and said, “I saw what you did. That was really nice of you.”

“It’s the least I could do,” I said.

I didn’t expect to be noticed, but neither did the guy digging in the trash.

Shouldn’t we notice each other? We look away, not because we don’t care, but because it feels overwhelming.

Yes, I did something nice.

To give to someone in need, scrounging for the basics you and I take for granted, is a tremendous high.

Because I slowed down and looked, one simple act entered my mind and was easily delivered.

Sadness seeped into my soul as I tried to imagine being homeless and hungry.

I’ve actually never been hungry—not like that. Not where I’d abandon my pride and dig for something to eat with people watching. That’s hunger.

I’ve rarely gone hours on any morning without a cup of hot delicious coffee. It’s a little thing, my morning routine.

How lucky am I?

On my last morning there, the table in the lobby was loaded with pastries. As Phoenix and I headed for the dog patch, which happened to be where a group of homeless folks hung out, I loaded up what I could carry, stuffing coffee cups with croissants and Danishes to feed my new addiction.

I saw a few young men huddled in a group. I thought they were homeless, but I was afraid to go up to them directly and I didn’t want to be insulting.

So, I set the cups of croissants and coffees next to a light post, tried to make eye contact with one of the guys, pointed to the cups and then at him to convey my message.

I turned and headed back to my easy life.

I tried not to turn to look back to see if they’d gone for it and for the brief second I did I saw no movement. Eyes forward, I told myself.

Even if that guy didn’t grab it, whoever was meant to find it would.

No, it wasn’t as fun as the face-to-face light show, but I felt good.

I felt good, doing something little. Of course, the problem is bigger than me, breakfast, or a cup of coffee.

I was on vacation. I’d get in my car, travel on, and head home to my comfortable life with a soft bed and warm coffee to greet my mornings.

But, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that toothless smile.

 

How Grief Helps Us Grow. #bloglikecrazy

“Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed.” ~ Wikipedia

Grief is a truth teller when we like to believe the lies.

Grief slays us from our easy chair and smiles at our idea of control.

I thought her evil, pointing out my deficiencies, even stealing joy and freedom.

Grief speaks the loudest at funerals, but that’s not the only place her voice is heard.

She whispers throughout our lives and we resist her presence repeatedly.

She says: He’s got another woman (when he does). Your mom has cancer and will likely die. (Sometimes grief sounds like a doctor.) Your parents are divorcing. You hate this job. You’re going to lose the house. The doctors had to cut off his foot. He’s unresponsive.

We think grief is the b*tch, but she’s more like my new stepmom when I was a teenager: introducing rules which felt restrictive, but showed me what it meant to be a family.

Grief is strong and no doubt she can be harsh, but she’s loving.

She’s like the junior high school teacher who made my brother read in front of the class. Except Bill couldn’t read; so he slapped her.

That teacher revealed a truth my brother had been denying.

That’s the kind of teacher grief is—willing to be hated, even abused, in order to remove the mask.

A friend of mine told me he was sexually abused, by more than one person, starting at age five. He told me he doesn’t feel sad or angry. He says it didn’t affect him. In fact, he’s fine.

I recognize that mask. It’s the I’m okay mask.

I wore it for almost a decade after I was raped. I not only denied the pain, but avoided it entirely (actually how denial works).

I thought I was brave. I thought I was strong. I thought I was fine.

Actually, I didn’t think much about that night at all.

It wasn’t a #metoo campaign that made me face my pain.

A qualified therapist knew it takes more than just listening to a client like me paint pretty pictures so she feels better.

This therapist encouraged me to take off my I’m fine mask, look at the truth, and allow the tears to break where my trust had been violated.

She helped me face what I hadn’t known how to. And to move past it.

It’s not only the experiences we want to avoid; it’s the grief.

Grief says, “Yes, you were raped.”

What a b*tch. What a truth teller.

It takes courage to face our pain. That’s why so many women don’t come forward until years later, if at all. It’s easier to deny.

Our ego convinces us to be “strong” and in doing so, we often end up lying to ourselves through minimizing.

I have friends whose fathers left them or never showed up when they were kids. For years I’ve watched them dismiss the impact of an event like that.

Then, as adults when they get conscious and courageous, they can cry in the arms of grief. It’s the beginning of releasing that mask they all but glued on their beautiful faces.

When they finally take off the mask and let the grief in, the light comes. too.

When we face people’s (including our own) imperfections, manipulations, and violations, at first we’re hit with grief. But then, we’re set free.

We’re no longer captive to the actions of others. That’s why society applauds so many women and men coming out of the shadows and saying #metoo.

We’re witnessing their individual healing and society’s collective awakening.

We minimize our pain not because we’re strong or brave, but because on some level, we believe the grief could devour us.

She won’t. She waits like a patient parent or teacher. She helps us remove our I’m fine mask and the illusion of being in control.

Grief invites us to lay our hurt and humanity at her feet.

She holds us in our raw pain.

Then, like my stepmother and my brother’s teacher, grief helps us grow into more conscious and compassionate human beings.

 

Purple Dreams #bloglikecrazy

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” ~ Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Come on, wrap me in purple.
As I find my passion again.
Color my nails.
And pick a purple purse.
Remind me I’m not just living,
But, baby, I’m alive!
Purple like when my momma knew me.
And I was a stunner.
Purple like dancing in Vegas.
And a hit of oxygen.
Come on, wrap me in purple.
Purple prayers and purple people.
Purple dreams coming true.
Royal purple me.

How I Lost and Found my Faith. #bloglikecrazy

 

“I’m pretty sure that it is only by experiencing that ocean of sadness in a naked and immediate way that we come to be healed—which is to say, that we come to experience life with a real sense of presence and spaciousness and peace.” ~ Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies

I don’t know how it happened, but I lost my faith.

There was a time I believed so deeply in the Universe’s ability to line things up for me—because I had the evidence.

After losing my job, marriage, home, husband, and dogs, I found myself at home with my sister at a time when she needed me and I was available.

I was graced with the opportunity to dive into my writing dream.

And, the cream in my coffee was the Universe, God, and all the angels created space and time for my beloved and I to find each other and open our hearts in a way neither of us ever had, to know sacred love.

I felt like every heartache, break-up, divorce, and disaster led me toward fulfillment. And, it was only the beginning.

You know those chapters in life when everything feels right, you love living in your own skin, and magic moments become commonplace?

Well, if not, that’s on its way to you—because everyone gets at least one chapter like that.

Sometimes we don’t even know it’s been delivered until it’s taken away.

Not me. Not this time. I knew. So did my beloved.

We were old enough to have experienced plenty of so-almost-right relationships.

Our crazy, sexy, cool tasted like pure nutrients after junk food.

We’d also been burned by death’s flame devouring our loved ones and made individual vows to suck the marrow out of life.

So, we did. We loved deep, honest, expansive, surprising, and as undeniable as the three-day storm that shut down I-40 after Kevin’s last Christmas.

We didn’t know when we drove into that storm headed from his place in St. Louis to my parents’ home in Santa Fe, NM that the rain wouldn’t stop and we’d be forced to return to his home.   

We were stuck in each other’s arm with an open agenda. Big bummer. Not! I’ll forever cherish those three days of rain.

Like the time I spent with him the following February. Kevin asked me to stay two weeks instead of the one I planned. I did.

Then, he said, “Come on, Icey, one more day!”

He always asked me to stay. That last time, I did.

Surely, God and the Universe lined up these gifts of added time for us, like the way we came together after decades of never considering anything more than friendship.

People say things like that and sometimes we think, really?

Yes, really. I had zero attraction to the man, like he just wasn’t for me.

Until he was. Our magnified intimacy and connection intensified my faith.

Part of me believes it all went the way it was meant to.

How could something so right be wrong—even though it ended in his unexpected death in his sleep on a random night before he intended to visit?

Yet, in the rightness and grace of it all, my faith in the Universe, or God’s ability to align my life, fractured.

I started striving to survive grief’s pain. Then, when it began to subside, I set goals for accomplishment the way a lonely girl seeks a man.

I came more from sickness and sadness than faith. And that’s ok.

My faith doesn’t have a brand or a label. It doesn’t fit into a box and barely belongs to any church.

However, my faith—somehow reignited today—is as big as the God I believe in. And as mysterious.

Today—days after Thanksgiving, in Ohio—I sit warmed by sunshine on my deck, my dog at my feet, a pen in my hand, and paper receiving my words.

I feel the magic moving in me again.

I feel aligned, although I don’t know exactly what for.

Just as I had no idea the Fire (my nickname for Kevin, my beloved) would melt this Ice (what he called me since the 80s, as in Vanilla Ice’s Ice, Ice Baby). Or that the Fire would go out.

I simply remember this feeling of faith—as clear as the day I laid back in his friend Big Daddy’s boat on Lake St. Louis, soaked up the sun, smiled at a man who was not yet mine and said, “I’m so happy right now. I love this moment.” It was days before our first kiss.

What a ride!

Thank you, God. For all you’ve given, for how you’ve reawakened and realigned me after the darkness threatened to seduce me.

I’m here. I stand—well, actually sit, in sunshine, in late November, in faith.

 

 

 

How to be Soft like Sunshine, Strong like Storm. #bloglikecrazy

“Hanging around for an endless repetition of the same cycle is not loving, but merely dysfunctional.” ~ Marianne Williamson, Enchanted Love

I’m the kind of woman who’d rather face morning with tears than flatness.

I spent decades defining my emotions as positive or negative. Guess which ones I determined to align with?

When the “bad” ones vied for my attention, I changed my state.

It worked. I presented powerful to the world—and myself.

How can a woman (or a man) be whole if afraid to feel feelings?

I was afraid because in my youth anger awakened uncontrolled rage. (Never mind that I had reason.) Better not do that anymore. Check.

Sadness ignited suicidal tendencies. (Often, when women turn anger inward, it invites suicide; for men, it’s homicide.) Wow. You’re freaking people out. Stop it. I did.

I got my feelings under control. I “mastered” my emotions.

But, those slaves had a propensity to rise up at inconvenient times.

What if I worked with them? What if I befriended my feelings? What—all of them?!

Yes, now I even invite them. I allow them in my life. I listen to what they’re trying to tell me. I give them space and voice.

I find they don’t like to be pushed down, set aside, denied or renamed.

Feelings offer truth, insight, and opportunity for new understanding.

This is the more challenging path, like learning the material rather than just acing the test.

The way medical students studying diseases wonder if they have them, at first, one may worry honoring feelings defines her.

It’s in our language: She’s sad. He’s an angry person.

Enough with that.

I choose to feel my feelings. Is that so radical?

Sometimes, we feel sad or mad or blissed out.

These are our feelings—gifts certainly as valuable as thoughts—which (mine, at least) have been wrong a few thousand times.

I’m coming full circle, in one sense childlike, in the way children skin their knees, cry, and then rise to play again.

But, I’m more. I’m alive with my full feminine essence.

This is my FU you to a patriarchal society that deems it necessary to deny me of my emotions because they scare you. (She’s a hysterical woman!)

This is my hello to my dancing soul.

I was told, and maybe you were, too:
Let it go.
Don’t cry.
Laugh it off.
Be professional.
Don’t be so sensitive.

And, my favorite: “I’ve got it handled,” as in, “Don’t you worry your pretty little head.” Ha! I do not need to be handled!

If you want to care for me, consider me in all my femininity.

Fierce as a blazing fire.
Wild as the wind.
Soft as sunshine.

We reclaim our feminine nature.

Does that scare you? Maybe it should.

Or, maybe you’re so deep in denial, telling yourself the things you’ve been telling us, you refuse to feel fear even in the face of Mother Nature’s wrath.

Do you think femininity is weak?

The jokes, baby, you keep telling them. The lies, honey, you keep believing.

Not me. Not anymore. I’m out.

Out like the feminine force of nature.

You didn’t listen. You tried to shut us down and deny our feelings.

Patriarchal bullsh*t is being blown up. Where will you stand? Choose.

In the hurricane. In the political sh*t storm. In truth like a tornado.

You might just have to frack off because my sisters and I are speaking truth, crying tears, and dancing joy—real joy, not some plastic crap you tried to sell us.

We are the mothers in Mother Nature.

We’re as soft goddesses and as seductive as the sun.

We’re the giggling girls.

We’re the children and the women saying NO. And being heard.

We’re women welcoming our feelings and our experiences.

You won’t always see us smiling to suit you.

We will never line up to salute a lie.

We’re gathering like bees on flowers. We can produce sweet honey or we can sting.

We feel our feelings—full, feminine, fierce, radiant, juicy, messy, ours.

We invite you to join us.

Welcome to everything but denial.