Facing The Monster


Accusers and accused. There are many of these both in the news lately. Whose stories are true? What side do we choose to believe? And why do the stories seem to play out the same way each time?

At least that how it seems to me, but could we change the ending somehow? A woman comes forward to accuse a man of some kind of sexual assault from their past. The man is a high-profile figure so the story hits the news, but we all know that these stories have struck a chord because so many women have had similar experiences in their lives (including me).

Once the man stands accused, he usually claims he didn’t do it–in a very loud voice–until it turns out that we learn he did because other women come forward, or investigation into his past concludes it was true. So why then do these men say they didn’t do it?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, especially with the most recent allegations which are particularly disturbing to me, and I came up with this conclusion.

Many of us hold parts of our past we would rather forget (me included); ones that when we dare look back on them produce feelings of shame and regret. So rather than look at them, we compartmentalize them or even pretend they didn’t happen. We may actually believe they didn’t. Some folks are particularly good at this skill and humans are quite resilient and can learn to adapt to their dirty deeds and go on quite well.

What happens, though, when someone comes along and opens the door to the shame that has been hidden away and it shows its nasty head. The obvious reaction would be to say: no, no–of course I didn’t do that thing! It wasn’t me. That beast has been hiding so long it has become unfamiliar, a part of ourselves we have chosen to forget.

But, as this creature stands before us a while, I feel it should begin to take shape and start to become more visible. Letting it out of the box to stand out in the open and taking a good look at it instead of denying it, can actually help defuse its power. Because ultimately it is a part of us, no matter how bad it was, it was something we did. The first part of letting go is admitting to something.

At this point, if the accused could then face the accuser and simply say: yes, I did it, it was bad and I’m sorry I hurt you–how would that change the story? Would we all feel differently? Could then the accuser introduce forgiveness into the equation? Maybe. Hopefully.

And then maybe the healing could really begin: for everyone.

 

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Poem: Clandestine


Rising again

lips drenched

from former kisses

the taste of dissipating sweet

arising to awareness

And filtering rays

lay like lovers

resting softly nearby

The visits

are now clandestine

quiet furtive touches

felt briefly–barely

and then are lost

Laying still

feeling lingering longing

layered on remembering

will it never leave

as the endless nights

continue on

alone

 

Honey, I’m Home!


Recently I was watching a video (a funny one) that was on one of the late night shows about how there are these Robots with AI that are being used for certain ‘relationships’ I won’t really get into here. I’m not sure if it was real or humor in response to all the out pouring of sexual harassment allegations that have hit the news lately. In any case, it was a moment’s pause where laughing was medicine in an otherwise very un-funny situation.

But the whole idea made me think. Having been a single woman for a very long time, I wondered about the concept of Robot companions–not at all in the way that this particular video mentioned, but maybe more like an R2D2 sort of way. Could this be a possibility for the future? Our own home companions or partners?

I mean, let’s face it: I’ve “been there, done that” and bought every possible T-shirt for trying to date and find the right person for me. Over the course of years I’ve been single (and I’ve actually lost count now of the years), and the stories I could tell about the weirdos I’ve come across on the websites would make hanging out with a machine seem like heaven. Humans are scary and/or boring.

Picture it: instead of pouring through 100’s of  old photos and fake profiles of humans, you could simply pick out which Robot best suits your needs; short, tall; human looking (creepy) or not; male voice, female voice; appendages or just lights. Then, you could have the AI programmed to whatever things you enjoy or are interested in–think of all the data that could go in there. No more dates with someone who is clueless! Ah the dinner discussions!

Honestly, I’m not so interested in much of an emotional attachment anymore, although some of these Robots you see in movies are pretty darn cute, way cuter than some of the people I’ve tried to date! It’s all about communication anyway at my age, or maybe even helping out around the place. So if you read a good book together, you could discuss it. Or maybe go to a movie together. There could be special all terrain Robots built for hiking too.

The possibilities are really endless here. Robots are filling in so many areas of our lives anyway, why not becoming part of our family? Yes, I understand there is a bit of a spooky part of it; the whole bit of them taking over the world, infiltrating our homes and getting smarter than we are (which isn’t a stretch really). Sure, this could certainly happen…

But before they do decide to take over, having a companion that’s smart, reliable, predictable, neat, sympatico and maybe even agreeable would be such a nice change. And maybe having one on your side might just be an advantage when push comes to shove and Robots gain power over us.

Because, if there are bad ones, then there will be good ones, and they will be the ones we shared our homes with and loved.

Up Up Up


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“Sunshine on a cloudy day….”

OK, so maybe it wasn’t so cloudy out, but I’ve been feeling cloudy on the inside. Some cranky things have been happening lately that have put me down in the dumps. And this move, while good, is tough. Me, with my OCD nature just runs things through in my mind, so it can be very noisy in there. It provides my little brain with added stimulus that makes me edgy.

This is why today when I did my walk through of the apartment and met my new neighbor, my mind was somewhat eased. My Mom came too this time and it was the first time she saw the place. She gave it her stamp of approval, which made me happy. And I met my new neighbor who appeared very pleasant, so I’m off to a great start living in this new community. After all…this was the point in the first place. She said: if there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate. Gee, I’m not sure anyone has said that to me since I’ve been here!

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Maybe everything is coming up roses?!

Today I finally also found another position at work that was worth applying for within my own department. This is the break I’ve been waiting for since I got there. It was announced at a staff meeting. I couldn’t believe it. It’s for an anesthesia tech position. This position is much more autonomous than being a secretary, in the rooms setting up for the anesthesia department. I asked some of the anesthesia dept and they said ‘go for it!’ I also asked a couple of the guys that do it during the day, although they are both new doing this job. They thought I could do it no problem.

So I ran to HR during lunch and whipped off an online app. When I got home, I actually read what the job entailed because I never bothered at work! Well, they wanted someone with scrub tech, EMT OR paramedic experience!! So I kind of can’t lose. Unless of course they decide to discriminate based on my age/sex. Don’t laugh, they do it without saying they are doing it.

It’ll be a later shift, but I’m fine with that now that I’m moving close to work. No problem. So fingers crossed. I’m just so glad to be getting away from my very crazy landlady. And now maybe there’s a new prospect at work too.

Things may just be looking up up up…….

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Natural Cycles


This may get a bit down and dirty–and also personal, so if you’re light of heart, read no further.

Recently I had my yearly physical. My doctor is great and does no more than she needs to do. She told me that there are new studies about PAP exams that they don’t need to be done as often as they used to think (once a year). Now the new science is saying more like every five years, if you’ve had clean ones in the past.

This has been the case with me, but there was some other factors so she and I both agreed that maybe it would still be prudent to do this particular exam. Oh joy! The one thing every woman loves, especially one at my advanced age.

Many of you in your late 50’s and through menopause, and all of you who have put your legs in those stirrups, know the drill. It’s not a pleasant experience. It’s not when you’re young, and it’s most definitely not when you’re older. But it particularly shocked me just HOW unpleasant it was for me.

Let’s back up. As many of you following my blog over the last years know, I’ve had my relationships ups and downs. And now, there is no such thing in my life anymore, and hasn’t been for some two years or so. I am single by choice now, and quite happy. It has left my mind, spirit AND body quite happily alone.

So when some strange object began boldly going where no man had gone before (well in a long time anyway), let’s just say, I knew I had reached the stage of crone. My doctor had to speak to me as though I was a child getting their first shot: it’s OK, I’m almost done, I’m sorry….I know it hurts… Why yes, it did indeed.

Needless to say, I was quite shocked and felt almost betrayed by my body–once so lush, open and giving. It made me think.

Most of the men I had dated in the last years had suffered their own ‘issues’ when it came to  sex, performance and their own bodies. They often too felt betrayed, upset and angry. Sometimes this would be turned toward me, often toward themselves, but always the relationships would end because of these debacles.

As much as I tried to embrace and accept these changes in our aging bodies, and try to find someone who could move onto the ‘next stage in life’–it never happened.

It struck me today that our natural cycles should allow us to embrace our metamorphosing selves. This should be a time of celebration and not anger and fear. While I am losing parts of my physical self, I am gaining so many wonderful parts like wisdom and a sense of self I never had before in life.

Such drive seems to overwhelm the men I have met so that they couldn’t move beyond it to the other significant and beautiful qualities that embodied the people they were inside. Instead it was that old sense of performance and need that drove them and hammered each relationship into dust.

I’m sure there are wonderful relationships and marriages where the two have been together for many years that  got them through these changes together. They adapt, accept and blossom together. It must be lovely. I was not that fortunate, but this is how it was meant to be.

So I continue to honor myself and my aging body. I take care of it the best I can and will gently pass through every stage with joy and grace, continuing to be grateful for each day I am here.

Changing The Story


I’ve really been getting into my beginning yoga practice. I started with a book I had, and then I began to buy some DVD’s. These were much more helpful as you could actually see and hear what an expert yoga teacher wanted you to do. Of course going to a class would most likely be the best, but time and money predisposes this option for me. So for now I am content with slowly building my practice this way.

One of the teachers I am enjoying was so amazing that I began to watch her on some YouTube videos. Not only did I watch her doing yoga, but I have been listening to her at some conferences also. There was one in particular that struck me and I’ve been contemplating it ever since. I believe the combination of yoga and having new ‘teachers’ in one’s life, allows an opening for unexpected and maybe buried feelings, thoughts and emotions to bubble to the surface. Maybe we have been working on these things in our subconscious without knowing it and suddenly now there is a light in which they can shine their way into our mindful awareness.

And so this happened to me. Her talk didn’t directly help me come to my epiphany, but it pushed me there I believe. It was partly about how our self talk creates situations especially between us and other people. For instance, we may believe that we are having bad relations with a family member and may be putting blame on that person. Maybe we think that person keeps attacking us or avoids us or doesn’t accept us for who we truly may be. But what my yoga teacher said is that if you delve into your own behavior, you may discover that you may actually be creating the situations with this person that makes them act the way they do.

I certainly realized this about my older daughter. She is always extremely defensive with me. We seemed to constantly get in fights every time we spoke on the phone. Even if I had the best intentions, it always turned out poorly. But when I recalled our last huge fight, I had to admit that I did press a button rather than avoiding an issue. This happens with my mother too. So I wrote my daughter an email to say I was sorry. I’m trying to change that story.

But this all lead me something much deeper. And it all came to me quite suddenly as these things often do. It’s all rather personal and I’m not sure how much I will actually be able to share. It’s quite cathartic to share so I will try. It revolves around my difficulties with my relationships with men and intimacy.

I’ve mentioned in my blog before that I am adopted. In fact, there is a whole section related to this so I won’t go over it. But I will mention again that I wasn’t adopted until I was 18 months old. This I feel is significant. I personally am one who believes that much of our important growth happens in the first two years of life. What we imprint during this time may have some significant impact.

When I was about 50 (I just turned 57), I rushed down to Florida because my adopted mother had a fall. I knew only bits and pieces of ‘my story’ up until this point. I’ve had no contact with my birth family ever. My mother was in a vulnerable position after her accident, I took advantage after I helped her heal, to find out what more I could. And this is where I learned a most crucial part about my life.

I will abbreviate it here, but when she found out about me at 18 months, I was living in a whore house. My birth mother was a prostitute and I was being raised by many of the woman there. Supposedly she wanted out and to leave and start a new life in California and needed the money to move. This was New York City in the 50’s. She was Italian. I also learned that I was the ‘lure’ to get the ‘Johns’ to come into the place. I’m not exactly sure what that meant, but I took it to mean: a cute baby, toddler whatever. Apparently, I was somehow ‘rewarded’ for being nice to the men. So I was taught it was my ‘job’ to be a ‘man pleaser’–even at this tender age.

My mother told me I didn’t appear to be mistreated and seem fairly well-adjusted. There were a few quirky things. I have no pictures of me as a baby or very young. The adoption did go through, but there were some hitches and there is a lot more to story. But those parts are not the point to this story.

On hearing this all at first I wasn’t completely surprised. The way my mother had told the story before, even though it had been disjointed, I could almost guess. But some parts of it made my blood run cold. Suddenly all the parts of my life that had gone wrong or that I had struggled with and continued to be a puzzle to me became crystal clear! Now all the parts fell into place and I got it.

The promiscuity with men that haunted me my whole life while having no real satisfaction from most of it now became so obvious. A very large percentage of these men would tell me that I was special that way, how I knew how to ‘please’, that I gave myself over so fully and honestly and from my heart. Men would call me years and years later to tell me this and I wouldn’t even recall the event. I would have dark places in my brain where these memories should have been.  It’s almost as though I had somehow assimilated a prostitutes ability to disassociate from the act; that somehow I learned this is how sex was suppose to be. And of course, I had learned that it was my ‘job’ to please these men.

I was rarely satisfied during these times, but that never seemed the point. Somewhere deep in the recesses of what my brain and body ‘knew’, it wasn’t suppose to be about me. Sex was about the men, wasn’t it? Always about the men. They would come to this place and visit then go.  There would noises and movements of sex, and they pay and would leave. But the women would stay. The men never stayed. And this is the story that has lived with me, inside of me all these years! Like a flash, this came to me the other day. And so this is how my whole life has played out thus far: no man has ever stayed!

I have lived this story over and over. I’ve played it, created it, shaped it and breathed it. It was in me–a part of me. So much so, that I couldn’t even see it or understand it until now. I’ve put blame on the men. I’ve put the blame on me. I’ve wondered about my sexuality. I’ve wondered if I was just meant to be alone. I’ve been unraveling it for a very long time. And the parts of it have come to me very slowly. They came to me when they could. Maybe I couldn’t have handled them sooner and I know my mother couldn’t give me the information sooner. In the end, I believe it all comes together when you are ready. There is no blame anywhere. It was just the story. But now it’s time to change the story.

No longer do I have to live this story. While it’s true that woman have always stayed longer in my life and they have always been the ones I trust more, it doesn’t mean it has to be like this forever. I realized too, this really wasn’t totally my story, but one that I played in. I didn’t choose this story but it was thrust upon me. It would not have been one I would have picked for me or my child. So I can now say goodbye to it and go down a new path.

I’m grateful for those who cared for me and thank my birth mother for her bravery for trying to make a better life than prostitution. It had to have been hard to give up a child to save yourself, but I understand it. I did something near to it when I got my divorce. And she knew I was safe when my adopted mother came for me. She must have cared for me fairly well while I was with her those 18 months, along with those other women who were part of ‘the oldest profession’. I feel blessed to have been in the company of so many women–it takes a village sometimes.

I wonder where they all are now and if they ever think of that little blonde girl. I thought of my birth mom this July 1st and wondered if she thought about me on my birthday (if she’s still alive). She’d be 78. We are never too old to change our stories so maybe someday she will decide to change hers again and look me up. Until then, once upon a time…….

 

Be Careful What You Wish For


What seems like a million years ago I used to lay in bed next to my husband and dream for the days I would be single. I would imagine the apartment I would get, how I would decorate it, the freedom I would have, how I would feel and how much better off I would be. Endlessly I would contemplate this dream and want to make it so. When I would go for my daily jog I would think about it too. Being unhappy within my marriage, being single seemed the solution to all my troubles.

Tonight, sitting at my dining room table, alone once again, eating my dinner and listening to NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion with my dogs circling my feet–I was struck by how long ago that wish was and how my life has turned out. I got my wish and I am single. While I have had boyfriends on and off for many years, none have ever really stuck and so have remained mostly alone. Alone except for in the earlier years when my daughters lived with me and now occasionally when they come home for a bit. And of course I live in the company of many furry friends.

So was this dream a good thing and did I get what I wanted in the long run? This is what we always end up asking ourselves with so many things we want I suppose. I have a routine in my life it seems that pretty much follows the same pattern all the time. Partly because I’m pretty obsessive compulsive and I like it that way and partly because dogs tend to like it that way too. But I do find this can become boring and mundane. And when you have no-one in your life to share things, it can be especially dull.

Getting out of the marriage was probably for the best. But I suppose I never figured I would continue on this was for so long! There used to be a desperation surrounding the way I felt I needed to be with someone. That certainly has changed for me–especially after all the terrible experiences I’ve had dating and in relationships. I’m not even sure I do want to be in a relationship again. What I do know is that there are certainly moments where the silence echoes pretty loudly and I have a huge sense of being disconnected from the world. Plus I guess there are days I simply miss love. I don’t mean sex because I don’t miss that at all, but just the caring part of being in a good relationship. So there is a huge ambivalence.

So for all the determination to get out and be single I find now, years and years of it are maybe not what I expected or imagined. Like they say: be careful what you wish for! In my mind’s eye I never pictured never-ending nights of dinners alone with only the radio for conversation. Or that as I got older it might have been nice to have someone help shovel my roof when the snow got two feet deep. No, I didn’t think of those things as I dreamed of independence and freedom and what my cute little apartment would look like once I was unencumbered.

I am not unhappy, but I’m not always content either. And still I wonder is this where I should be and is living alone the right thing for me? It surely felt right all those nights I imagined it laying in bed next to the husband I wanted to divorce. But now that it’s reality and has been for so long? Well….I don’t know? Maybe I’ll ask the dogs what they think about it?