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A Handful

handful

It was disheartening hearing so many times that I’m too much of this, too  much of that; or not enough of this , not enough of that. Too opinionated, too independent, too much energy, too talkative, too assertive, too many ideas, too sexual etc. Not submissive enough, not obedient enough, not quiet enough, not respectful enough, and whole bunch of other not enough. I’m so grateful that is the past. Goodbye.

Today I have a Daddy who tells me while laughing and with a smile that I am a handful and that’s why she’s got two hands. She loves that I have a mind and use it. She welcomes my ideas and suggestions. She says I have ”a great memory… maybe too good” at times. I’m encouraged to share my wants and desires. And my Daddy loves to hold me, hold my hand, pet my hair, and show me affection. I know I’m a handful, but she never makes me feel like that’s a bad thing and for that I’m truly grateful. Some times Daddy gets tired and she needs rest. So, I tuck her in and take care of her. We take care of each other. I love her.

 

F.E.A.R.

fearmeanings

One day in September I did a banking errand for my mom and inside the teller’s area I saw this acronym, F.E.A.R. written on a dry erase board. I’ve seen it or heard before someplace, yet each time I visited the bank I would find myself looking at the board and stare at it. I’d wait in line and quietly reflect. I’m definitely not a Forget Everything And  Run kind of girl. I’ve thought about times in my life where I had to pick myself up, dust myself off, and just move forward, one step, then another, and another. Over those two months I spent caring for my mom in Florida through to today my mind kept going back to those words on the board. Maybe it was premonition. Maybe, that message was preparing me for these past few months and also the months and years that are ahead of us. I have been feeling fear in a number of areas of my life recently.  I have this strange feeling this message came to me at just the right time and that it’s so important for me to Face Everything And Rise right now.

I finally came out to all of my family in the past year. My children and my ex-husband already knew about me being queer and kinky. This was new information for my mother, step-dad, sister, brothers, and in-laws. Some clearly prefer to just not speak about the matter, while others have been very accepting, warm, and loving. I remember telling my mom first. I sat with her at the dining room table, just her and I alone. I was nervous, but it went well. I am fortunate that I’ve always had a close relationship with my mom. I’ve always believed I could tell her anything and that she would still love me. Even then, it was still scary. I guess it’s because I thought it would confuse her, possibly scare her, anger her, disappoint or hurt her. Yet, I knew I had to find the courage to spit the words out and that it would somehow be okay. I didn’t want to live another day longer hiding who I am. And somehow I found the words and it was all okay. I love my mother with all my heart. Face Everything And Rise.

holding-handsMy girlfriend is amazing. She spoils me with affection and truly she inspires me to be better and do better. Of course I think my Daddy is the best and deserves all kinds of goodness and kindness. Everyday I want to bring joy and happiness into her life. There has been more than a few times when I have had to call a BFF to walk me off the ledge, because the truth is sometimes I think she deserves better than me. She’s very organized, completely got this adulting thing down one hundred percent, and just has it all so together. Meanwhile, I’m going through life flying by the seat of my pants, usually making it up as I go along, and so often very sure that I am quite a hot mess. Maybe a fun, sexy, lovable hot mess, but a hot mess all the same. So sometimes I feel insecure or fearful, because I am opening my heart to love again. Yet, I’m a risk taker, so I just leap. And as surprising as it is to me, my hot butch Daddy feels similar fears too. And then there are other fears. External fears of how our progressive little bubble of NYC may change in the coming years. I will not stop holding her hand, kissing her, or hide my love. Love is love. So each day, week, month, and hopefully over the years, together we will overcome our fears. Face Everything And Rise.

fear-quotesSome days I still become emotional and cry when I think about this year’s Presidential election. Like many other women, the loss hurt, but even more it’s left a shadow of fear. I fear for my young adult daughters. I fear for my gay and trans friends. I fear for immigrants and people of color. I fear for all marginalized groups. That’s a lot of fear and I have to lift myself up, dust myself off, and move forward. One step, then another, and another. Now is not the time to lose heart. Now is the time for strong women to support each other and build each other up. I’ll be in NYC volunteering for Lesbian Sex Mafia. I’ll be in Washington, DC on January 21, 2017 at the Women’s March on Washington. I’ll do what I can to hold space. I know who I am. I’m the kind of girl who will Face Everything And Rise.

Hiking

It feels like I’ve been hiking my whole life, yet very little of that has happened in the tradition place most people imagine when they hear that word. Last weekend my girlfriend, my lover, my hot butch leather Daddy went hiking in the woods, the traditional way. And I was in the city lamenting that I was not able to take in the changing color of autumn leaves by her side. The following day I had an epiphany about hiking and stopped my lamentations and replaced it with gratitude.

broadwaycamelwebI have lived my life in the concrete jungles of the world. The modern cities of our world, sometimes grimy, unpleasant,  and challenging. There is a lot of hiking that happens in these cities and thankfully not all of it is tough and hard, but some of it is brilliant, vibrant, and inspiring. On Sunday Daddy and I were in the city exploring, on a mission to find body jewelry that met both our satisfaction.  Walking north on Broadway we came across an exhibit with displays spaced out over many blocks. I stop at the first one not knowing there would be more and like a tourist or an unabashed New Yorker I rush up and ask her to take a picture. As we kept moving up Broadway I would find a new figure, color, design, pattern to fall in love with more than the previous one. As we walk along I  say to my Daddy, “This is why I love this city. Every day is an opportunity for a new adventure.” I may miss the colors of the autumn leaves changing, but the city gave me her own vibrant, unique changing of colors as we hiked along her concrete paths.

This morning I am reminded of other hikes, the type most don’t think about and the kind most people usually don’t share stories about. The hikes where one must lift them self up, find the strength to move one step forward, face everything and rise. I think of times we cross paths with others  and then we show who we are… will you hoist another up? Will you share your water, give them your shoulder to lean on, or carry them the distance when they struggle?  These are the long hard hikes, where perseverance, determination, and loyalty are born. These are the hikes where character forms. Who are you and who will you become?

Country Music

Life is good
I met me a girl
She got a beautiful heart
Her eyes are blue
by Billy Currington, “It Don’t Hurt like It Used To
I could pretend I am not acutely aware that its Domestic Violence Awareness month, but I stopped pretending and I stopped living in fear a long time ago.  I heard this song on the radio and thought about what a long way I have come in the past two years. I’ve done a lot of mending and you know what? I’m so happy these days. What I love about country music is that it tells a story. Right now these four sentences are my story…
Life is good
I met me a girl
She got a beautiful heart
Her eyes are blue

The Lotus

lotusAirial wrote that, “The lotus flowers live in ponds. At night the flowers close and sink into the muddy waters, only to emerge perfect and pure when the sun rises.”

She challenged me to write about a moment in life when things got dark and to reflect on when the light returned. There have been a few times in my life when life was dark, but like the lotus flower, so far I have always emerged from the darkness and resurfaced into the beauty of light.

Some of my darkest times are related to loss of loved ones. I am not good at forming shallow connections. I gravitate toward deep bonds. I do not love half heartedly, I offer the best parts of myself to my loved ones, and wear my heart on my sleeve. My open heartedness and vulnerability are at the core of my inner beauty. Being and loving this way comes with risks. Its who I am and I don’t want to be any other way. I am risk taker.

Some love dies a natural death while other loves die or whither of neglect, lies, and betrayals. One time the harm was so great I nearly drowned from the pain. Nearly, did not resurface like the lotus. How I get through dark times has been with love, care, and nurturing from the kindest of friends. I’ve learned over and over that I cannot be an island. As an introvert it is all too easy to allow oneself to become and island. Me & my books & movies! This last time though, the lesson stuck. When I look back on it now I think of Dickens and remembering that suffering is never a waste if we learn from it. I learned a lot that I wish I hadn’t needed to learn, but learn I did and although I was bent and broken – I hope – into a better shape.

“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape. ” Charles Dickens

This was a writing assignment to earn a Lotus Pin for NYC Littles Scouts, Troop 212

 

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Purple RibbonI knew 16 days ago we began National Domestic Violence Awareness month. I have experienced physical and emotional abuse in my past. I read some things today that compelled me to speak out on the topic. There were some folks using the term gaslighting incorrectly and others were throwing shadow on claims of gaslighting as possibly being a matter of, “…I got confused, and emotional, and now I feel bad.”

I came across this journal entry in FetLife about 1 ½ years ago. I had never heard of the term “gaslighting” before I read that journal entry. The term is best known from a 1944 classic movie starring Ingrid Bergman, titled Gaslight. This past September it was being shown at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) Cinema and I went to go see it.

What is gaslighting? A psychological definition of gaslighting is “an increasing frequency of systematically withholding factual information from, and/or providing false information to, the victim – having the gradual effect of making them anxious, confused, and less able to trust their own memory and perception.”

So yes, we are dealing with perceptions.

I was in a very destructive relationship in my past were I was physically and emotionally abused. The physical was easy for me to forgive, the emotional has been far from easy. Fairly early on, after I left my abuser, I realized I could not get past this problem. I had to work through it and that I needed professional help to do that. Some of the emotional abuse definitely fell under the term gaslighting. It can still be traumatic for me to relive those experiences. I was subjected to behavior that resulted in psychological trauma, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s an invisible scar I wear.

I want people to pause before they speak and automatically disregard someone, who speaks up about emotional abuse, because that is what gaslighting is, emotional abuse. I want to ask you to pause and listen to people who have the courage to ask for help. Please don’t turn your back and write them off as people who want to avoid being responsible for their own actions. Please I beg you to resist the urge to tell yourself, it’s discontent/sour grapes, because their relationship ended. I implore you to consider that it might have taken that person the last bit of strength they had to hold that hand out and ask for help. I beg you to realize that if you don’t error on the side of caution when that person reaches their hand out and grab that hand, you may lose that person forever. Emotional abuse can be that destructive. Grab that hand, pull them up, keep them safe, and find them help. Question later.

It took me a long time to find the courage to speak to one person I thought I could trust to talk to. Even then I made her swear to not say anything to anyone and amazingly she didn’t; she held all my dark secrets. She is a much better friend that I am. Even after I talked to that one person it took me another 6 months before I finally left. I’m a rare statistic, once I left I never went back to my abuser. Don’t think it didn’t cross my mind to try to ask to come back. It did. I want to say I was lucky, but it’s not that at all. It’s that I did the work and continue to do the work to heal with a professional(s).

Do some people misuse this term? Yes. Do you really want to take the risk of turning your back on the many that don’t? No one deserves to be abused. I didn’t deserve what happened to me and I did not want it. Do I have accountability? Yes. I stayed. No one forced me to stay. I have to live with that. The abuse I suffered nearly killed me. I don’t say that lightly. There is a lot of shame in admitting that out loud, but choose to let go of pride and instead say my truth out loud, because… If you are suffering abuse I want you to know I have known the shame & fear you live under. There are women and men all over who understand the shoes you walk in.

And look at me today…

I am not broken.

I am not a victim.

I am not a survivor.

I am a beautiful strong leather woman.

I am here in the today, the now, and embracing life.