grief doesn’t merely sit.

it resides,

it burrows,

nests,

settles in,

envelopes.

 

heavy,

weighted,

ever-present,

suffocating my

lightness of being

that it has replaced.

 

once a raw

shocking stranger,

now,

a reluctantly

accepted

companion.

 

always present.

constant.

a part of,

yet no longer,

all of

my being.

 

They rest inside me, deeply, persistent in their demands for release.

Monsters of thoughts and emotions that are dark with the density they possess.

The weight of them suffocating me lately.

The days fly by in a flurry of avoidance and boundaries of sanity.

The evening hours tick grossly by – second by second with the heaviness of it all.

The monsters – the thoughts – the emotions – form into words, and then sentences in my mind.

Filling volumes of expression that careen around inside of me.

They exhaust me so deeply there that I have nothing left with which to give them voice.

So they continue their dance inside of me.

Ever faster and more frantic they dance to their drums.

Boundaried only by the confines of my weariness.

By my inability to let them find footing and leap outward in the words that they demand be written.

They draw in all the energy I have, consuming it entirely.

All the energy that it would take for me to set them free.

So they stay where they are.

Thunderous in the silence they create.

It resonates
Strikes a chord or rings a bell
Whatever the saying that catches what IT does.
Yes I say to myself. Yes. That’s it.
A tumble of words fly around in my brain. Whole sentences sometimes.
A vastness in a second.
I grab something. Anything. To capture it before it’s gone
Lessons of I’ll write that idea down later learned in the blankness of the forgotten that is left when I don’t.
Notes that are one word only. Images of entirety held in time by a syllable or two.  Volumes of works reduced to minuscule expressions of saved for later.
For me to return to and breathe life into when I have time. Or thoughts. Or. Or.
Scraps of papers litter my spaces with quickly scribbled sentences and paragraphs even. The chaotic running screaming needing to escape torrent of me falling out and onto the paper. To be made sense of later. To be given order and expanded and made more. Later.
Not now.
My phone full of notes that I have types feverishly in an attempt to not lose what has broken the surface and deserves to be rescued and made safe from the void of later if it isn’t somehow made real. Now.
So much tucked away and treasured and held tight for someday. One day. Eventually. Soon. Maybe. Definitely. Tomorrow. But not now.
Later.
For now I’ll just jot this down so I don’t forget.

When I was 12 I discovered and devoured the book The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury. I was mesmerized. Enchanted. Captured by the concept.  A man covered in tattoos that told stories. I saw in that the beauty of a body being a canvas and it was something that stuck with me.

Just a little leap for me to be drawn to the idea of the stories that any body can and will tell over the course of a lifetime. It took me years to acquire my own first tattoo and since then it has been a collection of not only tattoos but other ways of marking and recording.

Scars, whether by actions purposeful or accidental, tell a story. The tattoos and other permanent marks we make on ourselves , such as scarifications and branding, have their own way of telling stories. The very method that we choose to make the marks that we do speaks volumes. Whether by a tattoo artists tools, blades, cautery tools or any other of the many ways to leave a mark, the how can sometimes be just as significant and telling as the what.

They record emotions, experiences or events. They honour transformative times and happenings in our lives. Even the signs of aging mark our bodies and tell what we have experienced. Laugh or frown lines carved deeply into a face can tell you much about a person’s demeanour before you even speak to them.

I can look at my own body and see the travels it has carried me on displayed in the marks it bears. The marks on the skin of my body from carrying and nursing my children. The myriad of little scars from my clumsy manner of making my way through my world. The scars from moles removed. There are the scars on my body that tell the story of loss and grief that is felt. Those tell a story of strength  – not weakness.  The scars from the hooks in my flesh tell their own story of strength and surrender and seeking.

Our bodies are our canvases and our vessels in life. They carry the stories of our histories in a way that is visible and loud. Loud in a way that isn’t heard but is seen and felt. Loud not with sounds but with impact. We each write our own stories by the lives we live in our bodies and how it shows. Beautifully and loudly. Scarred and marked and perfectly etched with what has made us who we are. Yet still only barely a glimpse at the invisible expanse that is inside.

There is a movie that I saw a few years ago called “Sliding Doors”. The premise of the movie is that we sometimes have, in our lives, a singular moment that can alter our path. In the case of the movie, the main character is trying to make it past a set of sliding doors. In that one moment, her entire path alters. The movie splits basically and in one scenario, she makes it past the doors and in the other, she gets stopped on the other side. That one second makes all the difference to how the next hour, the next day and the next path unfolds for her.

Fascinating.

 

I have been having a lot of thoughts lately on this concept. The fact that a single event or choice that a person makes can have such a profound impact on the direction of a life. It’s a thought that I find both powerful and paralyzing. On the one hand, I believe that very rarely does one single choice have that much of an impact but it does happen. On the other hand, I have been in, and seen, those moments that are exactly that. Transformational.

 

Whether or not I have a muffin or yogurt for breakfast probably won’t matter much in the long run. Or it could be the catalyst for a conversation in the break room that lights a fire in my mind for a new direction. Or not.

Whether I choose to take a course that intrigues me could set me on a path that affects me 5 years down the road. Or not.

I could pick up a book that grabs my attention but that is not something I would normally read and it could trigger a domino effect of thought to action to change. Or it could bore me and do nothing.

I could decide to stop procrastinating and actually try to make happen the passions that I keep saying I will indulge and it could fuel in me a change for the better. Or it could do nothing.

 

The most amazing thing about sliding door moments is that most often, we have no idea of the importance of those moments when they are happening. Sometimes we have the ability to look back and pinpoint, but usually not even that is on our radar.

 

In that movie, that character has no idea that the moment that alters her life is anything other than every other second in that day – seemingly insignificant. I’m starting to see that life is like that.

 

A tapestry of seconds, moments, choices…

They are defining, significant, profound, irrelevant, meaningless and futile all at once…and we almost never know which they are in any given moment.

Trying to make sense of the swirling, spiralling mind that is mine right now. The near constant feeling of things being not right as I search for what will make it all ok.

 

I am fighting to both hold on and to let go at the same time and it isn’t working. Holding on , how do I keep it all together when every day the yearning to just fall apart becomes stronger? Not just a yearning but a need it feels like. Knowing at my deepest level that what I need is to fall apart, to not hold it all together anymore. To just once admit – to myself more than anyone else – that I am not ok and that I am not in control. That I haven’t been for just over four years. Knowing that to let go is the only way that I am going to come back from this edge. The edge that I’m barely balanced on right now. All the time though fighting to not give in to what feels like failure if I do let go. My sense of self so entwined with being strong and independent that to let that veneer crack is unspeakable to me. The rare times that it is released, it is almost immediately sealed back up again. A moment of surrender slammed closed with “I’m ok, I’ll be ok” through the tears as I take deep breaths and tell myself silently to pull my shit together. The fear of knowing that even when I have leaned on someone else for those moments, nothing is actually fixed for long anyways. The well of feelings that hurt and scream inside of me just fills back up again. Happening without exception every time, until my mind yells at me “See, there’s no point in letting it out! Shore up the barricade better this time and bury it more deeply this time.” The pain laughing at my stupidity at thinking that it could be healed.

 

How do I stop the feelings that whisper inside of me? The feelings that get so dark and so huge sometimes that their shadows block out all of the light. The feelings that are heavy and weigh me down with self-doubt and fear, insecurities and hesitation. Feelings that have stolen the lightness of being that I so desperately miss in my life. How do I unshackle them and lift them off so that I can dance and play and explore and live? How do I leave those behind and find the “me” that I know is still there. She’s still there, I know she is, too tired and too weak to fight is how she feels right now, but still there.
I don’t have answers tonight. I can’t see them through the shadows. The fear that the darkness has taken what I need to find scares me. The fear that I won’t find me again, in those shadows, is what screams inside my head. My biggest fear right now though is that the few people in my life that can see past my shadows and are holding my hand to guide me, give up and walk away. I know that they won’t and that I can trust that, but the fear is there, and on nights like this, it plays in the shadows loudly.

My local gym that I attend is undergoing some renovations in the change rooms this week. The “Women’s Plus” change room is off limits, so those of us who use that are now moved to the standard Women’s change room. Not a huge difference and really not that big of an issue except for a couple of things that we have in the “Plus” that there isn’t in the standard. Most notably, the small room in that area that is for stretching and light resistance exercise etc. A room only accessible in the “Plus” change room and one of the draws for women who like to have a separate space for abs and stretching essentially. Having worked for many years in the fitness industry, I have heard many times from women who want to work out in a female only space for a myriad of reasons.

So the conversation I wander into today goes something like what I’ve heard for a lot of years… “I hate having to workout and stretch in front of guys. I’m really missing a safe space to do that in…It’s uncomfortable to have to get into certain positions and to feel objectified and ogled by someone who’s looking at you that way… that’s why I love the women’s only area – there’s no one who is interested in me sexually or thinking thoughts like that!”

I’m smiling to myself and thinking how often I’ve heard some variation of this conversation. I completely see the validity in their statements by the way. Absolutely. I have felt uncomfortable in gyms myself – and I’m someone who is very comfortable in gyms usually. I’ve had encounters of feeling creeped on by someone looking a little too long or a little too closely. I’ve actually confronted someone who was staring. I get it. But to insinuate and believe that a women’s only area means that no one is going to look or have “those thoughts”, wrong.

Here’s a shocking fact… gay and bisexual women use women’s change rooms too. Yup. And you know what? When the woman you are naked next to, in your “safe space”, is gay, you probably have no idea. Why is that? Quite simply, we don’t all “look” gay  – whatever that means. Which is where we come back to that conversation this afternoon that I wandered into.

I usually don’t invite myself into other people’s conversations but when the one woman said to the other that she was a little uncomfortable changing when she saw a lesbian in the room, I couldn’t take it anymore. I excused myself for interrupting and asked her how she could tell when a lesbian was around. She told me, easy, they have “a look”… you know, not like “us” and she made a sweeping gesture with her hand over her friend and herself and to include me. For the first time ever, I told a complete stranger, who had no business knowing, what my sexual orientation is. Why? To make a point that she had – very wrongly – made an assumption of me based solely on my appearance. I don’t look gay according to her narrowly defined guidelines of what that looks like, so I must not be. She was knocked for a loop and apologized if she offended me and I could hear the beeping as she tried to back out of what she had said. I asked her if she was sexually attracted to, and interested in sleeping with every man that she saw, because after all, that’s the same logic she’s applying here to men and gay women. Of course not, she said. Her friend laughed and pointed out that she never thought of it that way. A few smiles exchanged and I was ready to not have this conversation anymore so on my merry way I went, shaking my head and thinking to myself that it feels like nothing ever changes sometimes.

My sexuality and how it’s expressed has been on my mind a fair bit recently. Discussions with people close to me have brought up a lot of reflection and musing over how I find myself where I am at this point in my life. Along with this has been the hard part of trying to explain to those close to me how I can be something other than what they thought they knew me as. Fair enough. As my partner pointed out to me, I’ve had years to come out to myself, it takes some adjusting for others who didn’t live inside my head all those years.

I came out late in life. It took years for me to figure it out on a personal scale so that’s no surprise. I came into puberty in the mid 1980’s in middle class Canada. An environment that wasn’t exactly open-minded and diverse by any stretch of the imagination. The only gay exposure that I had was through media and culture and that was very linear and bordered by clearly defined “rules”. Gay men were flamboyant and effeminate. Lesbians were androgynous or butch ( a term that I now know but back then just thought them “manly”) and very vocal about hating men for the most part. There were very few examples of gay persons that didn’t fit those stereotypes that I saw. Bisexual wasn’t even a blip in my realm of possibilities. It existed but it was never an option that I was aware of. You were either straight or gay or lesbian.

I knew that there was something “wrong” with me early. My first consensual sexual experience was with another little girl and that interest never wavered for me as I grew. By the time I was in my mid-teens I was confused by my sexual arousal for the same-sex. I began to think of myself as a broken straight girl. I was indifferent to boys as far as sexual attraction was concerned. I was drawn to and sought out images in pornography of women. I chalked it up to the fact that a woman’s body is beautiful and I was just simply able to appreciate that. Nothing gay about that, right? Nope, not at all. After all, I wasn’t like the lesbians that I saw and was exposed to. I didn’t hate men, I just was ambivalent about them. I liked being “pretty” and looking feminine from time to time. I tended to be more tomboy and one of the guys but was never androgynous or butch. I wore makeup and loved dressing up to go out. Not very lesbian as far as I could tell. I wanted children and a family and you did that by marrying a man and having that life. There wasn’t any other option to achieve that on my radar.  

So why was it that it was playboy and the like that I turned to for sexual stimulation? Why did I discreetly look at other girls and wonder how it would feel to touch them or have sex with them? I knew I wasn’t gay because I didn’t look or act like the lesbians I saw. So, broken straight girl it was. Keep my deviant thoughts to myself and find a man and get married and just accept that I was somehow wired wrong. Something inside of me was off kilter when it came to what turned me on. Simple.

So, I got married, had babies and life was busy and full and not quite right in a lot of ways. The wife of a friend of my husband’s was always where my eyes would wander when we were together as couples. Nude beaches and camping and I found myself drawn to catching glimpses of her rather than her husband or mine. It came clear to me that the odd feelings I had tried to ignore were not gone. Still though, I was even more confused by this point in my life. By now, I had even more reasons why I couldn’t be gay. I was married to a man. Lesbians didn’t marry men. They certainly didn’t have sex with a man and have children with that man. So, I must just be a straight woman who maybe has some sort of weird yearning for a fling with a woman.

A divorce brought to me the opportunity to explore options in my sexuality that I hadn’t had before. For the first time I started dating and being sexually active with women. I discovered that bisexual term that was elusive to me and figured that that had to be what I was. I had been married to a man so I couldn’t be an actual lesbian – even though at that point I couldn’t have cared less if I was ever with a man again. When a man did seriously pursue me though I went on a date, then another, and another and soon it was a relationship. Living in a suburban, conservative area I thought long and hard about how I wanted my life to be. I had three small kids and had just watched a fellow parent at school be swiftly ostracized after leaving his spouse for a male partner. Who was I kidding, I had had my fun and it was time to settle down and raise my kids in a strong and solid home. With a husband. Because that’s what you do when you’re a woman.

I had, in my brief foray into being socially involved with the gay community, been made brutally aware that I didn’t fit there either. I wasn’t gay enough. I had been married to a man. I identified as bisexual and the “real lesbians” didn’t want to date or have sex with me (with the exception of one). Other bisexual or “curious” women were who I had had experience with and they mostly had male primary partners as the “real” partners. So, back to a man I went.

Fast forward a few years and another divorce and some maturity that came with those years and we come to now. Better late than never. Happily now able to say that I know who I am and that that is a woman who is gay. The freedom and relief that comes with that is indescribable really. No, there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m not the broken straight girl I thought I was. I was just unable to see that “lesbian” doesn’t have to look a certain way. Femme, butch, neither, both, something in the middle… we all look how we look. It’s corny, but it’s what’s inside that makes you what you are, not what the packaging is.

 

An early morning reading of a blog that I follow has had me on a train of thought today. Granted, it’s a train that’s been picking up speed since I decided to move recently. A new place which is actually an old place to be exact. I am moving back into a building I left just over a year ago. A building that I loved, and that I hated leaving at the time but I had to , due to circumstances. Now I ‘ll be moving back into the building, into a suite above my old suite, a little bigger and with more windows and better light  – a good move! A move that has me excited for a place that feels good.

So my blog perusing this morning got me thinking more deeply on something that I’ve been rattling around in my head for some time now. Roots, grounding, personality in environment…home. What does it all mean to me and what do I want and need?

We’ve all been in homes that are, very simply, an extension of the people who live there. Homes that you walk into and think “yeah, this is his/her/their place!”. That feeling is what I have always wanted – and never seemed to be able to find. I’ve been in homes of people who are partners yet radically different from each other in likes and tastes and styles and their home is what they are – a mix and combination of them, beautifully, and often oddly, intertwined. I walk into my partner’s apartment and it is “her”. Items on the wall, things strewn here and there, pictures and books and all the little things that reflect her in her surroundings. I spend time at my colleagues house and from the moment you enter, it’s “him”. The leather chairs, the bookshelves, the dining room table…it all feels and is his energy.

So I look around my place now again with eyes and a soul that doesn’t see “me” in where I make my home. Cold to me and impersonal. I don’t feel “me” here. It’s a space that I don’t feel good in – and it’s not the physical suite itself even.The very few items that make me smile and that I love in my space are rare. The eclectic wine glasses that strike a chord with me, the bright, mismatched tiles that I bought because I fell in love with them but have no purpose in mind yet, the fruit bowl that sticks out like a sore thumb because of it’s bright colours that match nothing else in my kitchen, the unfinished and ugly trunk that serves as my coffee table..all items that have snuck into my life the last few years that have that “feel” of me and home for me. The vast majority of what I call home, devoid of “me”.

I can’t fix the inside by changing the outside, again (thank you, my L for that reminder). Moving to a new place because this one doesn’t feel like home won’t ever fix the problem. I need to work on filling the space I am in with my energy and what I love and what makes me smile. That way, wherever I am, it’s home. So it’s time to shop and find and fill my home with things that bring a smile to my lips and that make me feel good when I am there and surrounded by them. Stupid bead curtains and all!

FullSizeRender (17)

 

  • a revision of an earlier expression of mine

 

I am

 

she tears at me from my depths

searing me

the rawness of her scares me at times

her force expansive and full

all at once a part of me and yet all of me

she gnaws and clamors,

seeking, hunting for a way out,

demanding release,

freedom.

never to escape.

never to be gone.

her savageness is my self.

her primal ferocity is mine – is me.

she hungers for indulgence,

her restlessness simmers

her right to be acknowledged met,

welcomed…

born by pain, blood, rage, howls and screams,

born by softness, solitude, silence and love.

her screams no longer silent.

my eyes shine with Her light ,set free to luminesce

my heart beats, as it always has, with our strength, now  feeling it

embracing it,

in the purest sense, knowing it.

aware of coming home to my self.

her and I, one now, we weep and rage and laugh and are

expressed and celebrated

found, brought forth, joined and embraced

 

I am

she is

we are

complete in our fractured pieces

perfect in our imperfection

beautiful in our brokenness

I am her as she is me

we are

 

I am