A year of saying yes starts today.

It was 25 years ago today that my life changed forever (happy birthday today to my oldest!) and it’s as good a day as any for me to start another step on my path. Seems kind of fitting somehow actually.

A concept that was introduced to me by my partner and something that has taken hold in my musings.

To say yes instead of no or maybe. Not something as sweeping as saying yes to everything that comes my way; I’m wanting a shake up in how I live but I’m not completely off my rocker, thank you very much.

Essentially how I see it is simple. To make a conscious decision to not stay stuck in patterns of behaviour that have become unhealthy and limiting to myself. The only way to change is to change. It really is that simple.

It’s not saying yes to every option I am presented with or with every opportunity that comes my way. What my year of yes will be is taking the chances that I would normally knee jerk into a “no”. It’s not letting my fears or reservations make my decisions for me like I have been. It’s being conscious of choosing to nudge myself outside of the comfortable areas that I have come to hibernate so well within these past few years. It’s not automatically shutting down an opportunity that excites me because I’m nervous or uncertain. It’s feeling all that and deciding to do it anyways. It’s trying something when I’m not sure if I’ll succeed or not. It’s seeing risks and taking them.

It’s more than saying yes to invitations, it’s also saying yes to what I ask of myself. It’s not limiting myself and my growth anymore due to fears or insecurities. It’s believing in myself again and my potential and letting myself rise to the bar that has no set height except for where I set it…. and I’m tired of keeping it set as low as I have. It’s telling myself to shut up when I say I can’t or shouldn’t. It’s saying yes, you can and you should, and you will.
Is it scary? Yes. Look, I said it… that wasn’t too bad 🙂

Thinking over connecting a lot lately. With grieving and depression the last few years it’s something that has been lost, to some degree, in my life. It’s something that, when I reflect on the last year or so, it has started to creep back in, almost unnoticed to me.

We all impact each others lives, mostly in non-physical ways. We use expressions like “that touches my heart” or “I see you” when what is happening has nothing at all to do with physical connection but rather, it is different. Everyone can see me or hear me or touch me with the senses that we associate with those words. So very few persons though actually see me or hear me or touch me though in the ways that I have walled off and closed off these past few years. Connecting. Whether it has been for a few moments or seconds or for longer, I have started to connect again. A little reach out or a tentative reach back to a hand or a shoulder offered. A dance of me wanting to connect but wanting to push away and run at the same time.

There have been little connections here and there though, and I’ve started to see that lately. So small that to the other persons involved, they may be inconsequential and not even remembered. Yet they are, to me. Part of me seeing and celebrating the simple fact that I can still connect – and I am – is recognizing it. This musing is my way of honouring that I need to bring awareness to the little things that are actually massive things when living with grief and trying to slog out depression (which I am still trying to deny is even a fact for me 😉 ).

I meet someone and spend time with them and have a great evening talking and laughing and I walk away feeling lighter and with a smile on my face. I tell them I had a great evening. What I don’t say is how much that means to me.

My partner and I spend a few days in a strange city and we are welcomed and made
to feel like family almost by a couple of people that I barely know but who are
friends of hers already. We leave, hugging and telling them how appreciative we
are and I tell them how happy I am to have met them. I cry later thinking how
long it’s been since I’ve felt so open and comfortable with people. But I never
tell them that.

That is repeated in another city a couple of days later. Time spent in the private
spaces or persons lives and spaces. A card game leaving us crying with laughter. Easy and fun and simple…and good. More left unsaid but definitely felt.

We go out to a friend’s home for dinner with them and their children. We are invited in
and welcomed and fed and brought into the folds of their lives for a couple of
hours. It is open and genuine and beautiful and … good. We leave and hug and I
feel like there aren’t words to say how good it feels.

A crazy and amazing few days in the desert and little connections abound.

A shared moment laughing over an identical dress with someone who shares my introverted
stress and need to hide.

A quiet few minutes with a person I’ve seen around for years but barely know as she draws a design for me in a hotel room.

Sitting under a tree in the heat and just enjoying company with a friend.

Ridiculous sexy parodies of burlesque in a room that feels like a sauna shared with a friend.

Summer hours in sunshine and dust around campfires and lakes. Sharing camp stove lighters and laughing over outdoor cooking foibles.

Tears or giggles or both. Shared and felt.

Seeing and feeling friendships glimmer into being as walls start to be lowered. Sharing space and energies, however brief. They all have an impact and leaves ripples in their wake.

Experiences that show me that even the small steps are still progress.

Being able to give words to this awareness and to reach out and say thank you to the people in my life who are part of my life… this is the best small step so far.

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.

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.

I need

to say yes, instead of no, or another time, or maybe

to play, with laughter and giddiness and passion

to dance, to sway and bump and grind or stomp. dance.

to hurt. to feel the rawness and scream into it and dare it to try to hurt me even more.

to conquer and feel my own power.

to fly and soar and feel the freedom that I have.

to cry. and scream and rage and claw my way out.

to laugh. until it hurts. until my sides burn with stitches from it all and until I have tears in my eyes

to run. as fast and as hard as I can. without holding myself back or pacing myself

to feel. all of it. everything. even the feelings that I can’t name.

to not be afraid

to be afraid and do it all anyways

to love and not give a fuck if I’m risking being hurt

to reach and connect and touch people. because it terrifies me.

to remember my love for that. to feel that again.

to allow myself to be touched and seen. because it terrifies me.

to bleed. literally and figuratively. to feel that essence.

to consume

to be consumed

to know myself

to not hide from myself

to allow my shell to be pierced. to be exposed.

to love

to say yes to all of this.

to own all of this

to share and not give a fuck who thinks what

 

most of all

I need to admit that I need.

Seeking

  1. to go in search or quest of: to seek the truth.
    2. to try to find or discover by searching or questioning: to seek the solution to a problem.
    3. to try to obtain.
    4. to try or attempt.
    5. to go to: to seek a place to rest.
    6. to ask for; request:to seek advice.

 

Trying to even come up with a word for how I’m feeling the past while was hard. Seeking seems to fit though.

I find myself feeling lost in a sense. Roles and actions that used to be a part of how I identified “me” are no more. They have changed and with that change has come a sense of being adrift. A sense of feeling unknown in a way but at the same time, acutely aware that the core of me is very much clear and there. A dichotomy that leaves me feeling propelled and paralyzed.

Instead of lamenting what has been lost or what has changed, I am trying to look simply at what is now and what I want for the future. Looking back can only do so much for guidance moving forward and the truth is that what’s past is past; what’s gone is gone. Done, now what?

I came across a show the other day that had this thought in it: Our “issues” are gifts. While that is hard for me to swallow on a few “issues”, I get the sentiment and actually do embrace it. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without the experiences I have had to get to this point. Things I have lived through and and with (and still do) have shaped the facets of who I am. Definitively, without a question, they are what made me, me. So where does that leave me in my seeking and what exactly is it I am seeking?

Simply, freedom. Release. The ability to move forward and to express what is deeply and authentically, me. I’m the only one who can give myself that and I am, slowly, recognizing that. It is sad and exciting to realize that the only thing standing between myself and how I want to live and things I want to do and achieve is me. What stops me from doing all of those things that I say “I know, I know” when my partner points out actions? It’s me. Just like it is for all of us.

We vent and express and talk about changes we want to make or things we want to do and if we are lucky enough to have someone who listens – and offers ideas or directions – we sit and nod and say yes, I know, I will, I should, I am going to…. We even say it to ourselves when it’s just our own voice that tells us what we already know we have to do. So why don’t we? Why don’t I? There’s the question; and only I know the answer. Just like it is for all of us. Only I can find what I’m seeking. Only I can make happen what I want. That thought is what has propelled and paralyzed me for so long it feels like. Not anymore though.

Life has a way of flitting by. Each day is so filled and busy and so just “life” that it goes by almost without notice. There has come an awareness lately for me that is raw and hard to live with. The awareness that time is not on my side. The years have slid by so fast and I have found myself grieving a life that I wanted to live that I haven’t. Experiences that have always been “some day”. The freedom to live true to who I am finally realized but it feels so late and like so much of my life has been lived small and that so much has been unrealized. The weight of what I haven’t accomplished or expressed or tried or experienced is so much more of a burden to bear than what I have – and that’s not the way I want it to be. So the time to change that is now. Now, because I am done being paralyzed. I’m done being held in place by the sheer feeling of being suffocated by regret and fear of “what if”. Propelled, not paralyzed is how it needs to be.

 

I wondered today, as I weighed and measured myself, what it would be like to be free of all this. To just be done with the impact that all those numbers have on me. What would it be like to just look at my body and not measure its value or worth or how I feel about it based on anything other than how it simply IS. What would happen if I saw the little extra here and there and just shrugged and went about my day and felt fabulous and sexy and desirable and strong and all those other feelings that get snagged in the daily net of “not good enough”?

I have days when I feel great… then I weigh myself and all of a sudden I don’t feel like I did a few minutes before. Yet my ingrained sense of self-image is so tied to achieving what always is a work in progress that I am addicted to tracking and critiquing myself. Sure, part of it is that I do feel, physically, so much better when I’m a few pounds down. I feel stronger and lighter and more in shape and that translates to me feeling less inhibited and less insecure. A large part of this all though is the unknown of how do I measure my self-worth and my self image outside of the constraints of scales and measuring tapes and waist sizes? That’s something that I’ve never been exposed to. I see people who do this; I see their freedom and I envy that. I strive towards that. I feel bound by my inhibitions and self judgement of physical self – to the point where I hate the limitations it has had, and continues to have, on my activities and my life.

There have been times, when I am so IN and OF my body that I cease to BE my body. Experiences that are deeply and profoundly physical but are so emotional and intense that my body is nothing so inconsequential as a physical thing, but rather, it becomes what it actually is… a vessel for Me. Times when the phrase “coming back to earth” is perfect for capturing how it feels. My body, at those times, is simply and beautifully, nothing more than something that holds my Self. It gives me movement and expression physically for the wonderfulness that is all inside. Those times have been rare but oh so memorable.

I hold onto to those memories with a strong grasp knowing that if I can get there once or twice, then I can do it again. To dance, to love, to move, fly, swing and swim and everything in between. Freely, openly, abundantly even. Yes. It’s there, I’ve seen it and felt it and will again.

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.

I’m used to covering up. I do it every day for work in one specific way. The scars on my arms are always covered at work. Always. Outside of work, I couldn’t care less if they are seen. They are simply part of who I am. I have left behind the shame and the self-consciousness that I carried for so long about them. They are, along with the rest of the markings that my body carries, the telling of my story on my skin. Yet I also know the judgement that people make about them. So, for workdays, they are kept covered. It is a constant annoyance to me that I have to base my clothing choices, at work,  on what can be worn so that I won’t show a part of myself that could be an issue in people’s perception of my capability and even my stability. But that’s the way it is and I have learned to accept that.

 

In the same manner, I take out the visible jewellry of my septum piercing on Sunday nights and replace it with a retainer. Invisible when I work so that the facial piercing is, like my scars, hidden away and not seen – so as to not cause judgement or perceptions that aren’t accurate.

 

This past Tuesday morning though, such a harder hit of covering up. Returning to work Tuesday morning after a weekend with my chosen family and tribe. The ferry ride, the drive, the feeling of being alone again settling in. After a long weekend of feeling so wrapped in people who understand and accept, it’s hard to hold onto that as I dive back into the need to cover up again. Walking into my house and immediately my mind goes to changing my clothes to be able to be presentable for work. Considering not only covering the scars on my arms but also choosing a shirt that covers the marks of the piercings in my chest and the slight bruising from the hooks placed there. Easy enough to find clothing but it’s the  feeling of also having to cover up so much more than the physical this time that is hitting me deeply.

 

Not sure how to cover up and slip the mask on as I always do. Feeling it is harder this time than it has been. Feeling the cover up not just physical but on an emotional and base level that is leaving me feeling a bit sad. I am who and how I am, and I am blessed and grateful that I have so many in my life that see me and honour that.

The place, there, where I am simply exposed and unguarded, accepted.

The place, here, where I must delicately place a filter and keep some parts of me hidden discreetly.
There is an edge that is walked, between here and there and tonight it feels sharp.

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.