Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Just Blow Your Nose in the Pool

Every Monday evening is swim class for Auburn Aries. As we know from my post last week, she struggled with the first class. Yesterday morning as we were hussling around the house trying to get out the door to start our week, we passed each other in the hallway:

AP: "So, tonight at swim class..."

AA: (with an "I was so ridiculous" tone in her voice) "I know, I know... Tonight at swim class I won't have to sit on the side of the pool crying for 10 minutes before I can get in."

AP: "That wasn't what I was going to say, but I'm proud of you for saying that..."

I breathed a sigh of relief and amazement as I stopped and watched her walk into the livingroom. It was good to know the bigness of the lessons had diminished; and it was remarkable that she had processed the events of last week and drawn her own conclusion. She didn't need to be afraid. I didn't finish my conversation with her - I found myself preoccupied with the thought that I do, indeed, try to do too much for her. The pride she exuded by making that statement made her having to experience the fear seem worth it, and she had gotten there on her own.

In this particular swim curriculum, they have specific skills they are taught and must demonstrate before moving up to the next level. There are levels one through ten. Level ten gets you an invitation to join the swim team.

She didn't hesitate to get into the pool last night. She was cautious but not paralyzed by fear of the unknown. She had to perform 10 consecutive relaxed bobs, i.e., take a breath, go under the water exhaling, come up for more air, back under the water and so on. She worked with the instructor and had beautiful form. She was very fluid. It was obvious that she has extremely high expectations of herself. She performed each one to perfection...all five of them...

She started over again practicing...to five. Again...to five. Again...to five. Crap. I could feel her frustration beginning to build and I couldn't even see her face. I lowered my book (the one I pretend to read so she won't know I'm watching). I felt my heart melt onto the floor. 'Come on baby, you can do it...' I couldn't have sent her stronger vibes if I had wrapped them in a box with a bow and handed them to her.

She turned and looked at me with alligator tears in her eyes. "I can't do it." I mouthed to her "You can do it." "No I can't." Then she asked me to come to her. Believe it or not, my kid actually wanted me to bring her a Kleenex...in the pool. Now, please understand that I'm no proponent of doing the nose thing in the pool. In fact, the thought of it happening naturally when you swim makes me gag and I have no gag reflex! But bringing her a Kleenex. Good Christ...could she be a bigger girlie girl!!!! This was a talk we hadn't had. These are the things in life you don't realize you have to explain to your child.

"Now, honey, when you swim, your nose gets snotty. It's normal... Usually you don't notice it because your exhaling through your nose when you swim. BUT, in the event you start crying in the pool like a big sissy find it's bothering you just...." You get my point.

I approached her reluctantly and as coincidence would have it, had a Kleenex in my pocket. I knelt down and sheepishly handed it to her. We conversed about the "I can't" mentality versus "I can." I pointed out to her the we are of the Auburns and we can do anything. I made up some excuse about getting in trouble if I interrupted lessons and headed back to the bleachers. I'm quickly realizing those damn bleachers are not my friend.

I picked up my book and wiped the sweat of irritation from my forehead, trying desperately not to cry from pure frustration myself. I don't want her to be afraid. I thought any child of mine would be fearless and conquering. I don't recall being afraid of so many things as a child. I'm certain I was fearless and conquering! (I have no parents alive to ask so you're stuck with my interpretation of when I grew up). I opened my book on Celtic magick and promised myself I would actually read it.

The next time I looked up, the instructor was knelt down at the side of the pool counting. There was my little girl. Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten. "Congratulations Auburn Aries, you passed!" Before the instructor could reach out to high-five the new Level Two Swimmer, she turned to me beaming with smiles, wiping away water from her drenched little face screaming, "Mommy, I did it, I did it!!!" My eyes swelled with tears. "Good job, Baby!" She held up her fingers in a peace-sign... "I'm in Level 2."

How is it possible that as a parent you can go from wanting to freaking tear out your hair in patches to trying to swallow past the lump in your throat when your child succeeds? Parenting is the hardest job in the world. It's also the most rewarding.

All of the swimmers gather after their lessons and cheer for the kids who advance. AAries got a gold sticker to put on her Certificate proving she had graduated to the next level. I had to laugh though when Auburn Aries told me later how she "was the only one in her class to move up." And how she was so disappointed when she couldn't get past five then "like magic" she did all ten.

One thing I do know... next Monday...things won't be any different, I'll still want to tear my hair out in patches and probably still cry every time she succeeds. I guess we'll just stumble through it together.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Put a Little Love in Your Hole

Over the course of the last few months, I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out the "why's." I have experienced that ache you get in your stomach and your heart when you end a relationship. That feeling sucks. I find existing with that type of melancholy ache isn't so bad if it's because it "didn't work out." That healing process is much different than the "why did this person do this" type of discomfort.

There are those (thank you Therapist) who have said my "partner picker" is broken. I somehow always seem to fall for the wrong person. What I have found to be true is that I never knew they were the wrong person because in some cases they ended up being fibbers (to put it politely). Being lied to is the most disturbing feeling I have ever experienced. There doesn't seem to be enough processing that makes it go away. A lie is a lie and once spoken always exists inside of you wrapped in betrayal - known to those who spoke it and felt by those who've loved them.

If you were to ask people close to me, they will tell you I am honest to a fault. Most people who know me know not to ask the question unless they want to hear the answer. It's not mean honesty. It's just honesty. It's honesty they know they can trust. I like being this way. I love that it's part of my make-up.

Being this way, however, has its downside. For instance, when someone you care about is dishonest with you, it can be devastating and it's hard to dismiss. I have loved women who have promised the world; who have said things to me that I trusted and believed in and whose love I never questioned partially due to the fact that they touched my heart in some way no one else had. I mean, people wouldn't just *SAY* those things... would they?

Au Contraire Mon Frere

I give my heart so freely; a trait I wish I could modify. That, unfortunately, takes practice which means giving your heart a little less or more protectively each time. How many times will I have to practice this until I get good at it? Seems like high stakes if you ask me.

I have often taken full responsibility for relationship failings. Even if just to myself. I am an adult woman; I made a mistake, a bad choice; I believed someone when what they were telling me was a load of shit. Unfortunately, I didn't know it was a load of shit until after the fact. And in some cases people were very, very hurt by my actions or my part therein, which cannot be undone. I have to live with that and do. It is a bell that cannot be unrung.

In another situation, I gave my heart too freely once again. Everything felt right. She told me all of the right things. She meant it -- or at least I believed she did. It was a polyamorous relationship which is complex in and of itself. We carried on a relationship behind The Other One's (TOO) back (why did I ignore this red flag?). She said I fulfilled a need in her that TOO didn't. She said I was "the one." That she had never felt what true love was like until I came along. That I was the lady in her life and I knew my place by her side which pleased her. We spoke of our wedding day. We talked about the day TOO would be out and on her own, partnered and in love and what it would be like when "the kids" came by for dinner. We discussed where we'd live, what the house would be like, where we would retire. I called her Love and she called me Momma. She said as Daddy she's "got me." I was safe with her. She held my heart in her hands.

Fast forward to TOO leaving and me hearing from my Love the words "What? Did you think we were just going to be a happy twosome?" Ouch. After a couple more months of disappointment and heartache and realizing she was having an emotional affair with yet another woman while still living with me (and denying it vehemently - red flag, quick look the other way AuburnPisces), I packed her a bag and asked her to leave. As scary as it was, I stood up for myself, no longer a door mat.

In the past three months, I have discovered that most of what she said to me was bullshit. I know this because I am hearing from reliable sources that she's now saying the same identical things to the next woman. Almost verbatim. You hear something once, you dismiss it. You hear the same thing over and over by people you trust, you have no reason not to believe it. It must have been a lonely three weeks for her before she moved on...whatever.

Therein lie the why's. Why would she tell me those things? Why would she string my heart along like that? Why did she treat me so wonderfully for so long and then everything changed? Why is she still lying when she has no reason to? Why does she think I am so naive that I don't see right through her? She still calls me every day, several times a day. She acts as though we're still best friends just as we were before we became involved. I still want answers I am never going to get. During each phone call, I wait for her to say something...anything to set things right. I suspect I'll be waiting a long, long time. Everytime I try to forgive and/or move on, my memories choke on the lies and I feel stuck.

Then this weekend I went to The Handsome Prince's play. I joined Hot Toddy, The Math Whiz, The Executive and The Rugby Guy. Afterward we went to CC Slaughters and talked and laughed and drank. Our friend Brown Eyes joined us. I was surrounded by wonderful people who ARE honest and who DO care. Whenever I spend time with the Yum Yum Brotherhood, KP, Ms Karma, Brown Eyes or Oak Point Man, I am embraced with their love.

On Sunday, I spent time with Hot Toddy in the Un-Toaster Oven, i.e., The Vortex during 36 degree weather. Wrapped in blankets and drinking Margaritas and Vodka Cranberries, respectively, we talked for hours. Joined by The Handsome Prince, I sat looking at these two men who mean so much to me. I value their friendship (and The Math Whiz) so much. I left their house realizing that asking myself the "why's" was pointless. Especially when you consider how blessed I am to have all of these special people in my life who are equal when it comes to being decent and honest and loving.

I felt the hole inside of me starting to heal when I switched the focus from what was (or what wasn't, in this case) to what is, deciding only to surround myself with those I can trust with my heart. Oddly enough, right now, most of those people are gay men or straight men or women like Ms Karma, KP or Oak Point Man. I will take this time to heal my heart and fix my "partner picker" and pray to the Goddesses that the next time I find love, it will be true and honest just like the love I receive from my friends who truly care about me.

That closed door will stayed closed and I will no longer look back.

As a side note, I have to credit Hot Toddy for the title of this blog (attention whore that he is, I couldn't miss giving him credit - especially since it made me laugh until I cried).

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Coastal Anecdotes

Last week I took Auburn Aries to the coast. Her Dad can be such an ass, "What am I supposed to do with her on Thanksgiving? Why do I have to have her?" In light of the fact that she heard him say these things (no wonder she has self-esteem issues), I decided to take her away and let her be a kid. It would be an adventure.

We headed to the coast and stayed in a rental house in a small, sleepy coastal town devoid of malls and shopping centers. Our goal was to just hang together. We were going to walk the beach, cook fun dinners, eat ice cream, gather sand dollars, play games, read books and watch movies. It would be perfect.

And it was.

There were some things Auburn Aries said, however, that were too rich not to share.

Anecdote #1:
Tuesday morning as soon as we awoke, AAries wanted to go for a walk on the beach. We bundled up and headed out. We were on the beach that morning around three hours and talked about a multitude of things.

AAries: "I don't think it's fair we don't get to live here."

APisces: "I don't think so either. I love it here."

AA: "We need to sell our house and move to the beach. We could ask the lady (she's referring to the vacation rental agent) where there's one for sale and tell her we'll need a couple of weeks to get our stuff and then move there."

AP: "What will I do for money when we live here?"

AA: "You could work at a grocery store. I hear those people make a lot of money. (insert an "are you kidding me" look from Mom) No, I'm serious. Like an outlet store or something. We'll be fine. I promise."

Anecdote #2:
A little later in our walk...

AP: (somewhat muttering under my breath) "Mom needs to figure out her budget when we get home."

AA: "What's that?"

AP: "It's where I write down how much everything costs and see how much money is left."

AA: (insert exasperated tone) "Well, yell my name when you have $100 left. I'll be layin' on my bed doin' nothin'."

Anecdote #3:
While sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast and watching the ocean, Auburn Aries pushes my cup of Chai closer to me. I glanced down and saw what looked like a fuzz on the back of her finger.

AP: "Auburn Aries, there's a fuzz on the back of your finger."

AA: She glances down and smugly says, "No there's not. There's Elmer's Glue and some chocolate, but no fuzz."

Anecdote #4:
While at dinner on our last night...

AP: "How much ice cream is left in your little carton? A little less than half?"

AA: "A little more than less."

In as much as I am sure many of you may not have children, I will try to lay off the Auburn Aries stories for a bit. I have yet to get into the groove of blogging everyday and Auburn Aries has been center stage lately.

Perhaps tomorrow I will write about how damn cute The Handsome Prince is in drag. His play "Pageant" was great. I don't know when I've laughed so much.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Watching from the Bleachers

On Monday night, Auburn Aries started swim lessons. It was the direct result of her being stuck in the shallow end of a pool while her other friends were jumping off the diving board and splashing around in the deep end. When I picked her up that day, I could see in her eyes her heart was breaking. I had been talking about getting her swim lessons for months. We got busy with all things unimportant and time slipped by.

Auburn Aries is in the throes of a self-esteem issue. Tough stuff for a seven year old. Hot Toddy wrote about my little girls' dilemma and all the Toaster Oven family was very supportive. Reading the comments everyone left that day, helped me find peace.

While meeting with the psychic lady (PL) over the weekend, I showed her (once again) a picture of Auburn Aries. Again she reminded me that AAries is strong-willed, determined, funny. Once again she reminded me that because of her stubborn nature and strong mind, I had to practice tough love with her or I was going to have a problem on my hands somewhere down the road. Boundaries. That's what I need...good, strong, non-negotiable boundaries. Why did I think being a parent was going to be just as easy as raising and training the best dog on the planet? How is it possible I had forgotten the reason the dog was so well-behaved is because he couldn't talk back?! No talking back...mental note to self...kids develop a mind of their own. Crap.

In addition to these already-shared words, PL also confirmed AAries has a self-esteem issue. Let me back up for a quick moment and tell you about Auburn Aries... She is seven and a half years old and she's over 4'7" tall. Her hair is very red. Not fire-fuzz orange, but a rich red with tons of natural highlights. Her Dad is scandanavian and she looks just like him. She's fair-skinned and has just a small, light dusting of freckles across her nose. Her eyes are green. She is, to me, the most beautiful little girl in the world. I tell her often how lucky I am that her spirit was put into her body and given to me. I tell her that I am the luckiest Mom EVER. She is very smart, very funny, loves to horse around, she's creative, artistic, she has a big heart and surprises me daily with what comes out of her mouth. I have never been more in love with anyone in my life, like I am with my little girl.

You can imagine the sound of my heart hitting the floor when PL confirmed that which I had already suspected. PL told me that AAries doesn't like being taller than everyone in her class (as was I in school); that AAries doesn't like her red hair (I was the only red-head in my elementary school in San Diego, so I know her pain) - yet AAries can't go anywhere that she isn't approached by strangers and told how beautiful her hair is or how they would love to have her color hair. PL told me that AAries doesn't like the extra weight that's hanging off her body (she's a bit chubby right now). She said that AAries has abandonment issues stemming from the divorce (lovely, divorced parents and a gay Mom - no baggage there). She told me to get her a child psychologist to help her with these things. That type of help needed to come from someone other than me.

I am guilty of loving too much when it comes to Auburn Aries. We are together constantly, laugh at the drop of a hat and feed off each other just for the giggle. We are content in each others' presence.

Monday night at swim class I saw for myself that I need to let go a little. As much as it makes my heart hurt, I have to let her do more for herself. As she stood, apprehensive to remove her towel from around her body, I had to remind her she was beautiful and that no two people look just a like and that I was built just like her when I was a kid and she didn't need to worry. Off came the towel. I watched as the new students headed for the shallow end of the pool to begin their lesson. I watched as my daughter sat on the side of the pool, frozen, afraid to jump into the water. The flood of emotion was hard to distinguish. Angry because she was being a "sissy." Guilty because I don't get her out more, if even to lessen the fear of adventure. Sad because I know she wanted in the water more than anything.

At one point she reached out with both arms with "pick me up Mommie" tears in her eyes. I sat there on the bleachers poolside, crushed. "No" I mouthed to her. "You can do it." I begged the Goddesses to help her. To give her strength to find her way. Finally, the owner of the Swim America program got into the water and helped her. Instantly, she was okay. Before I knew it she was yelling "Mom, look at me!" "Good job, Baby!" I responded with tears in my eyes. I was so proud of her.

As parents we don't ever mean to disable our children by loving them too much. We only want the best for them. Sometimes giving them the best means giving them what's hardest for you to give which often times means not *everything*. She apologized to me for being afraid to get into the water and for being afraid. I reminded her she didn't need to say she was sorry to me. The important thing was that she finally got into the pool and it didn't matter how long it took. What I meant to say and couldn't was, "It's not your fault, Little One. Everything will be okay."

I think I'll just sit here on the bleachers for a while and let her find her way. I'll always be here ready to catch her if she falls.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Stop Cutting Off Your Fingers!!

My friend, Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven, laughs at my intuitive powers. Because of my ability to "feel" him, he often jokes with me by sending me a chat saying he's in his cube cutting off a finger and asks me if I can feel it. I am able to tell when he feels lost, distracted, hurt, happy, and yes...drunk. And no, I'm not like Elliot in ET who takes on intoxication as ET guzzles down a six pack. In this particular example, it's more about his state of mind.

With Hot Toddy it's been quite an awakening. I knew him long before he knew me as his humorous reputation preceded him. He thought I sat at home with my cats and lived an existence of solitude. I have no cats and only choose solitude when I want or need it. We launched an immediate friendship. He accepted me and my lifestyle and I understood him early on in ways he didn't even know I did.

On Saturday I met with my psychic. I know as psychics go there are many who are full of crap. This one, however, is the real deal. It's the second time I've met with her. I told her nothing of my family yet she was able to describe my Mother's laugh (she died last year). She was able to describe in accurate detail the way my brother stood when he joined us in our session (he died eight years ago). There were many things over the course of our session that once again confirmed I wasn't making a mistake by meeting with her.

My goal for the session was to dig further into my spiritual path. As an active Pagan, my spirituality seems to have been kicked up several notches. My psychic was able to confirm a few things I suspected about myself all along. She helped confirm I am not only on the right path but that I need to forge ahead and try to find an outlet for my "gift." What? Working in IT isn't conducive to enhancing my intuition?

She warned me about my inability to stop taking on other peoples' emotion. She warned me that I was going to have to learn to "pull the plug" on those whose energy I need to stay away from or it could be detrimental to my own health. I shared with her the constant feed I get from Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven. I explained that it didn't matter the time of day, it was there and I couldn't turn it off. Nor did I want to. His is an energy that helps me grow.

It was at this point I took out a picture of Todd. Again, having not told her anything about him she was able to describe him as artistic; that he had a big heart; that he is all about love; that he has a great sense of humor (there is more but I'd have to go the tape she gave me of our session). She said she could see Todd writing, being published. Writing a screenplay that would be very successful. She said she couldn't see him as famous actor but that she could see him as a very successful character actor...the kind whose face you know but whose name escapes you. I told her he was, indeed, an actor and confirmed that her assessment of him was correct.

As she studied the photo further, she began to giggle under her breath and shake her head. "You two have been related in two past lives. That's why you can feel him the way you do." Apparently we have a soul cord that has existed for a long time. In one life he was my younger brother and in the other he was my father. I was pleasantly surprised. There was much more to my session and much more about Toddy that I have shared with him that will remain between us (well, us and The Handsome Prince and Ms Karma). Things from which we may learn and grow as human beings while existing in this spiral.

I guess the one question that I neglected to ask was whether or not all that Maker's Mark could, in fact, ever get to me! "No, Officer, I haven't been drinking... Todd is.. No, he's not here. He's at CC Slaughter's. He was my brother...and then he was my Dad. I am serious. I can feel him...it's like a spiritual cord. I don't even like whiskey."

Monday, November 08, 2004

Melancholy Metaphors

I stood at the back steps of our building today and had a smoke. I stood, leaning against the blue pipe handrail, with the sunlight delicately kissing my face, my skin. I stood, eyes shut for a brief moment and tried to breathe. As I opened my eyes, I noticed all of the yellow leaves lying on the ground. They were everywhere. There must have been a million of them layering the ground and the foliage surrounding the trees. As I stood overwhelmed by natures beauty, another leaf detached itself from it's source of life and fell silently to the ground. The only thought that made its way through my melancholy state of mind today was that the leaf fell, much like my heart falls to the ground each time the thought of her crosses my mind. Before the leaf landed, a dozen more fell all at different intervals - each one searching for a new place - not knowing what to expect.

As I looked upon the covered ground, I realized that everyone of those million or so leaves represented each time my heart has broken since she left. I couldn't help but wonder when this pain and uncertainty will end. I felt my eyes swell with tears and as I turned to walk away, one more leaf fell before me to serve as a reminder that I'm not there yet.