Thursday, August 31, 2006

strength and courage

I can't help but write about women this morning. This is an old topic, but must need to be revisited because it's omnipresent in my world this week.

I am acquainted, either very closely or distantly to three women who are in the middle of man made drama. This I mean literally. Men make it, they live it. Or perhaps these women make it??? This morning I am not sure.

The names here have been changed to protect the (almost) innocent.

Jody lives with Mitchell. She doesn't like him anymore. He is not happy about this. He threatens her. They have very ugly violent fights. She has two small children. She says she's moving away. He comes too. The cycle continues. She says she tries to tell him, but he won't leave. When he does leave, he steals from her, pawns her stuff, and threatens her. She says she doesn't have the strength to fight. She says she's trying. She is tired of being a victim.

Amy lives with Jason. She has two teenage daughters. Jason is physically and emotionally abusive. He is also an alcoholic. She says she can't take it anymore. But every night she goes back home and puts herself and her kids in the line of fire. She is afraid of him, that he might really hurt her the next time. He threatens to kill her. She gets a new place to live in the country. She can't tell him he can't go along. He goes anyway. It gets so bad she says she's going to leave. Someone offers her a safe place. She goes back to him anyway. She doesn't have the will to fight. She is a victim.

Alison has been living with Paul for five years. They are engaged. The relationship has always been rocky. They have split up numerous times, but each time she goes back for more. He is angry - all the time. He is jealous and critical and constantly harasses her, accusing her of being with other men. He has mental disorders and uses drugs and alcohol on a regular basis which causes him to be even more unstable. He hurts her. This week she sought refuge with a friend, and told Paul he has to leave. He packs his things (again) and leaves. She is afraid to go home. She is afraid he'll come back. She is weak when it comes to Paul. The cycle continues. She says it's different this time. Has she decided she is no longer the victim?

This cycle of abuse is everywhere. Spend some time in a group of women. The majority will tell you that they have "been there." I am one of them. At what point do we become accepting of this behavior? At what point do we begin to value ourselves so little that we live in pain and horror? At what point do we decide that we deserve better? How do we break this cycle?

I have no answers. Though I wish that I did. For me the turning point was a mini-breakdown of sorts. Perhaps on looking in on me, you wouldn't have noticed, as I went about my daily business without missing a beat. But inside I was broken, and I knew I had to save myself. Then I did. I worry that perhaps I will find myself there again for the sake of love, but my current relationship has no signs of dysfunction that I can see. And I like to think if it began to take that turn I would run as fast as I could in the other direction.

I talk to the women I mentioned above. Try to give them encouragement. Tell them life doesn't have to be that way. But they know nothing else. They don't believe me. They are afraid.

This pisses me off. And so today I hold the space for them to be courageous. To step up and say, "I deserve better, and it's out there for me." Someone has to hold it. I hold the space for them to save their children. I hold the space for them to break the cycle. I am here to say for them..."It is NOT okay!"

On the other hand, I know that I had to save myself. I had to dig the courage and strength out from under a boulder of fear and doubt and judgment. And under that boulder I found my voice. And once I found it, it began to scream. The tables turned, and all of a sudden, the power was mine. All I can offer these women is the small shovel of encouragement, then they have to dig...deep. And sometimes, the hole is filled with their own tears, but it continues to grow despite the saltwater. After digging and digging, which seems endless, a tiny voice can be heard. It grows louder and louder until we recognize it as our own. It screams, "I am worthy! I am beautiful! I am smart! I am strong! And I will no longer be your victim!"

I want you to know that I can hear you scream...and I'm listening.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

No more excuses

It's been a long time coming, but it is here. I have spent more than a year crying over red wine and my disheveled life. I have been disgusted, dishonored, disappointed and disinterested. I have been shot down, beat up, blown away and betrayed. I have been possessed, obsessed, misdirected and manipulated. But it's over, and I have no more excuses for not living my life.

So I had this birthday. And while turning 45 can be difficult for some people, it was not for me. I consider it my rebirthday. The very week of my birthday, I was set free from the past and reborn. This may take some getting used to. First of all, I am like a newborn baby, and everyday I make a new discovery. I see things I didn't see, and don't try to wrap them in all of the "things I know." These "things I know" (coincidentally) turned out to be "things I thought" were true. And so I have discarded all previous definitions and I'm making up my own as I go. This (it turns out) serves me much better. These new definitions are born of the soul - my soul. They resonate with me as TRUTH.

The first (and most important): Love, though it requires an occasional compromise, does not require SACRIFICE, nor MARTYRDOM.

The second: Love is a constant buzz. Sometimes there are highs, and sometimes there are lows, but always there is a hum of BLISS.

The third: Love CHALLENGES the soul. Not in petty controlling ways, but in making us look at ourselves through the eyes of another. It asks us to be the best we can be. This doesn't mean changing ourselves, but being our own truth.

The fourth: When one is loved honestly, there is no jealousy or doubt. There is no need to manipulate or play games to reassure oneself that Love IS.

As I'm only a newborn, I am sure that there will be more to see. I am committed to taking each new experience at face value, not applying old definitions, and clarity of thought. And as I become a toddler, and learn to walk, run and eventually climb a mountain, I plan to wear good shoes - shoes that keep me grounded in the basics. Shoes that allow me to dance when I feel like it, slow down when I feel like it, and won't mind being kicked off in front of a cool stream.

So the past is gone, and there is only now. This moment is all that exists, and in this moment I am happy and humming blissfully.

This hum also reminds me that there is work to do - my stories have yet to be told, and I am out of excuses. I must write. It is who I am and what I do (but didn't before my rebirthday). Pages must be filled with words - mine. I must also nuture my soul - meditation, intelligent conversation. And I must nurture my body - sleep, eat better and give up the smokes.

A newborn knows.

Friday, August 11, 2006

friday morning again

It is Friday again, and when I compare my feelings from a week ago to my feelings today, I am reminded of how a few moments or hours can change one's life.

I have again been blessed by the Universe and her love and abundance. She reminded me that I am strong and powerful, and that when we join forces, amazing things happen. And while my mediation went well, what is more notable is my strength, courage and sense of self. I am no longer afraid.

I am overwhelmed tho, by the number of women I meet who have been where I've been, and who continue to feel less than able to stand up and say, "It's not okay." What is it that keeps us in relationships that are less than joyful, painful even? I wonder if it is our optimism and our expectation that love is always beautiful. What is it that causes us to stop believing that little voice inside that protects us from danger? When do we stop trusting our own senses? Our eyes show us anger...we offer an embrace. Our ears hear hurtful words, and we soothe. Our bodies suffer wounds that we explain away. And yet we go back for more.

Today I say listen to that little voice and trust your own senses. It will tell you IT IS NOT OKAY. Pain is a sign that something is amiss. And it is only after you pull yourself out of the fire, that you can heal. Get out of the line of fire.

And's okay - just right even. And for some of us, it is the only way to heal old wounds and gather our strength. It is the only way to remember just who we are. And in that private space, we can be who we are without ramifications, fear, and pain. And while loneliness may raise its face and say hello, it will leave as it came, quietly. And one day you will wake up and it will be gone, and you will have found ways to keep it at bay. Best of all, you will have found yourself again.

Life is good.

Friday, August 04, 2006

friday morning

So I am is the day I've been dreading. Yet somehow, I think it's better that it's finally here. And I will face the monsters.

My first thought about this whole thing is that I don't want to face it alone...but it is of my own making, and I will feel better at the end of it knowing I faced it alone. Through the entire ordeal, I have gained strength and courage. I am no longer cowering in the face of it. I am surrounded by the support of those close to me...and if I close my eyes I can feel this. No physical arm around my shoulder is necessary when good energy envelops me. I am never really alone then.

It's time to prove that I am no longer willing to be taken advantage of, nor taken for granted. This I can do. I have licked my wounds and am ready for the confrontation. (god i hate confrontation.)

I wish I had something insightful to say...something wise and inspiring, but there is only this thought. Git 'er done. (thank you larry.) And the outcome is not nearly as important as the process - that I stay focused, strong and in integrity. And I will look good. Had a manicure and pedicure you know. I can still wear that power suit, and I have lost a few pounds. Looking good always helps.

When I get to feeling lonely, I will think of my view of the stars from the dock last weekend. I will think of the beauty of that single moment, hold it in my heart, and know that I have chosen well. That my decision was the right one. And that my life will continue on a new course of discovery - of the world, and of self. Woohoo! What a ride.

I smile and think of the end of things...and the beginning.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

tick, tick, tick

The days dwindle between now and Friday, when I leave for Houston to face the monsters. I have tried to paint smiles on their faces in my head...but it's not working.

The monsters have names, and each one has called to remind me of all of the things I'm not doing right. They have surfaced just now, telling me I am not good enough, not worthy, not smart enough, not a good sister, not a good mother, not a good person. They even reminded me that I have tiny boobs and that I am not the pretty one.

I think the only way to send them away is to be willing to be not good enough, not worthy, not smart, not a good sister, not a good mother and not a good person. I am willing to accept my tiny boobs, and not to be the pretty one. If I can embrace this...than perhaps I can face them, because then the monsters will be all bark and no bite. They will not be able to make me tremble. My strength may come from the humility this brings.

Embracing our imperfections, now there's a thought. Never was really good at that.

Last night, I had a long conversation with a good friend about my move here. What I realize now is that it gave me an opportunity to find the lost Melissa. No one here "expects" me to be anything other than what I am. I like this. Unfortunately, it will pass. Soon, I will have painted for them a picture of who I am. And when I fall short, and don't "look like" the painting...they will be disappointed. They will say, "who are you?" The cycle will repeat itself.

So, I ask myself, what can I do to prevent this? Should I paint an imperfect picture...where the colors clash and the balance is off? I guess that the key might be to find out who I am, then look in the mirror, and paint from the image I see there. Will the real Melissa please stand up...tiny boobs and all.

I seek...make the journey back to the day I was born, when the world didn't know who I was, and I was just being me. I cried when it felt right, ate when it felt right, got up, went to sleep and laughed when it felt right. So then...feeling the feelings and acting appropriately may be the answer. This I have to relearn - this authenticity. I have to learn that when the monsters call to scare me, I can hang up the phone, because it feels right...I can fight back, throw stones and run into the cave for protection. I can scream in my biggest, scariest voice..."You won't eat me." And when they see me for who I am, they will scratch their heads and just go away. Or maybe we can find a way to live in harmony.