Matilda and Me

Matilda and Me

This morning Matilda jumped up into my lap with so much enthusiasm that I couldn’t help but smile, which was a big deal because this week has been emotionally challenging for me. Yesterday sadness reached so far inside me that I didn’t know how I would be able to see light again in a way that the darkness would be gone. Matilda snuggled next to me yesterday the way she only seems to do when I’m sick or sad. She snuggles with me more like a human would her body stretched long against my side and her head on my arm like we are two really close friends. Her instincts have surprised me as I’ve been getting to know her.

This morning as we were interacting in a way that I could feel us bonding more closely I realized that I hadn’t been this way with her in a bit, maybe a week or more, and I also noticed that I was holding back, questioning myself, do I want to allow this to happen? It’s scary.

A few weeks ago was the first time I noticed this intimate bond that was building between us and I let it happen, finding a great amount of comfort in it. Then one weekend my kid’s dad took them up to Canada. The morning they were getting ready to leave I had gotten up early and was riding my bicycle to meet a runners group for a run when Ben texted me to tell me he was going to bring Matilda to Canada  unless I didn’t want him to. I knew she was probably at the door with them excited to be included on the ride so how could I say no? I got back on my bike and rode and cried. I hadn’t expected her to be gone too.

Then I texted back. Maybe it’s not such a good idea. Ben said OK. And then I texted back again OK maybe let her go. I sent texts like that until one of my son’s finally called me and told me Matilda was really excited to go and he promised he would take really good care of her. She is a really small dog and gets nervous in unknown environments where she can easily be kicked. When she came to us we were told that she had probably received  a broken rib in one of the environments she had lived in. She’s been through a lot and her nervousness is one of the reasons why I think we bond so much. I feel like I get it and the better I get to know her the more I understand what she is trying to say.

As Ben and I are transitioning into being divorced and how we split up time with our kids it’s been challenging emotionally for me to be separate from my kids, even though I am still with them a lot. It carries such a deep sadness with it that I can’t really talk about it.

This thing with Matilda how she is a dog and I feel afraid to get too close to her again teaches me a lot about what I’m going through. The way she comes back to me with so much enthusiasm heals my heart just a little and I don’t know maybe she will teach me how to trust that process again.

Stranger Things Have Happened #fiction

art is magic Stephen King

One side of her sunglasses had been broken away. The deep blue rims lay jagged just past the right side of her nose almost directly pointing to her brown eye. Blonde straight bangs parted on the right side of her forehead and fell in silky chunks around her face. Her light skin jumped in contrast to her full red lips. I was inches from her but she was on the other side of a window and didn’t seem to see me.

I reached in my pocket and pulled out a paper that I had stuck in there earlier that day. I had picked it up off of the counter at the bakery where I get coffee because it had a yellow design that I wanted to remember. “Is this garbage?” I asked the barista. She paused her hand on its way to the credit card machine and looked at me with a blank face and then continued on with the transaction. So I put the paper in my pocket.

The girl behind the window continued to stare past me. I pulled my gaze from her and ran my finger over the shiny paper copying the motion of the design. When I looked back up a thin stream of blood had trickled out of her nose and was half way in-between her nose and lips. She blinked her eyes. The blood flowed into the creases of her lips.

I turned the paper over. Half of an advertisement for sunglasses stretched to its edges.

 

The flower hung from her mouth like a lazy cigarette. #fiction

bridge

Love Seattle

This is what writing is to me. I felt extra stressed this morning and writing what I saw in my mind soothed me.

The flower hung from her mouth like a lazy cigarette. A floppy hat hid one of her eyes and her other eye bright blue and focused bore into me so fiercely my neck twitched back and forth as it fought to keep my head facing forward. She held her hand out in front of her distracting my attention from her face. I stared at her lips. Was she going to speak?

Unformed foggy words stuck in my throat. I wondered if I could touch her hand. It seemed as if it would be cold. Her lips parted and for the first time I noticed the tiny diamond ring pierced into one side of her nose. The flower’s stem stuck to her lips. Her lips opened further forming an O sending the flower plummeting to the ground. My heart pounded with fear. I tried to discover its source. A deep knot twisted in my chest. She moved her hand closer to me. A tiny cord in my mind snapped as heat worked up the back of my neck. How dare she move so close to me? I let out a breath and relaxed my shoulders. She placed her hand on the back of mine.

Her long nails glistened with red paint. One thin ring circled into a heart sat snug on her right index finger. She slipped her fingers around the back of my hand and pulled my hand in such a way that my body turned so that we both faced the same direction. She pointed towards a mountain at the other end of the lake. Snow still covered its tip. She squeezed my hand and then let it go.

The waters’ waves rolled over the lake with heaving ripples of motion crashing softly up against the rocks a few feet from where I stood. The edges of the waves licked the rocks. Grey and light blue rocks formed a jagged pattern that resembled a messy patchwork quilt. I knelt down and fumbled through a small pile of them until I found a rock that looked like a crystal. I held it out into the waves washing away tiny flecks of mud.

A Plan to Deal With the Long List of Shit Todo

goofy profile pic

When my kids were really little there was so much to do that I had to accept the fact that everything wouldn’t get done especially since I was often “seeing blue”, as one lady had coined it, from lack of sleep. However, I would try anyway.

There is this analogy that I heard in church a lot about a jar full of marbles and sand. It taught that the marbles are those things that “need” to get done like paying the bills, cleaning the kitchen, making doctor appointments, changing poopy diapers, cleaning up vomit, ect… and the sand represented the fun stuff like naps, trips to the bookstore, a chat with a friend, or lying face down in the sun in the backyard while drool collected in a puddle under my chin.

The teacher would demonstrate this lesson by first putting the sand in the jar and then attempting to put the marbles on top of the sand. The problem was that with this approach the marbles wouldn’t fit in the jar so the teacher would then demonstrate that if you put the marbles in first and then the sand you would be able to fit it all in because the sand would then fall down in between the spaces that the marbles left behind.

I tried this approach of getting all of my todos done before I played.  It never worked. There would come a point where I just couldn’t function and then it would take a mack truck full of sand to restore the basic ability of changing a poopy diaper on a tiny wiggly body without bursting into tears or possibly growling.

I learned that I had to put sand in the jar before that desperate moment came. I had to plan a trip to the bookstore or a date or something ,which was sort of a pain in the ass because there was so much to do, but once the break happened it was heaven and it kept me functional.

That is sort of how life is now but with social activity. I try to push forward and just get things done but then something in me happens where I just get really weird from lack of adult interaction or really tired. It’s more challenging now that I don’t have a built in best friend that I cuddle up to every night. I have to actually leave the house to not cuddle as I’m not there yet but to connect with friends. Not that Ben isn’t my friend and we still live in the same house but it’s just a different friendship now. We support each other in other ways, mostly as parents.

We are also, I believe, going through transitions as parents as we move from one bread winner and homemaker to hopefully balancing those responsibilities out more evenly. That takes time.

I don’t have to change poopy diapers right now but I do have a lot to do like finish my portfolio, get a job, catch up on doctor appointments for my kids, find dentists, an orthodontist, eye doctors, school meetings, kids homework, teach the kids laundry, do laundry, get my room finally organized, bills, taxes, divorce paper work, should probably go get my tubes tied before I start doing stuff that could put a baby in there, ect… There is so much to do that sometimes I fall into that mode of just pushing through and doing stuff until it’s all done but the list is too long and there is too much stress right now that that just isn’t possible. When I do this I end up with the mack truck full of sand scenario again. So I am proud of myself that I’ve been making time for social activity before I absolutely need it. I am starting to feel better.

Maybe as I put this social thing as a priority without feeling guilty over it I will be able to get more done and not be so exhausted.

Starting Down the Road of Divorce

Fall Leaves

When Ben and I were first going through our split up I would often experience a wave of painful loneliness. I don’t know if it’s because I have been so busy, in denial, or because I have been spending a little time with friends but as of late I haven’t felt it that much until tonight. Maybe I need to sleep or maybe reality is biting me in the bum as we start down the road of making our separation a legal divorce. A process that feels violent towards a person that I still care about but a process that’s necessary.

Leaving Shame Behind in Place of Power

roller derby

My first roller derby bout 4.5 years ago. I skated for one year and now I’m trying it again.

I wasn’t really planning on skating at the fresh meat bout, which is a name for a game in roller derby where new skaters are given a chance to play.The floors were really slick. My wheels were all over the place. It had been a hard week.  I was exhausted. But once I saw people on the floor skating it was too hard not to try.

The first time out on the track I elbowed a girl right in the jaw. Really hard. My body had been like Raggedy Ann flopping all over the place. It really hurt her and she didn’t hide the fact that it was a bad hit. I felt horrible and decided that I wouldn’t skate. I couldn’t.  I felt like I didn’t have enough skill yet and my wheels were wrong for the surface we were skating on. I refused to hurt anyone like that again.

My coach kept saying. It happens. Stuff like this is going to happen and that I would do just fine. Still the shame flooded all through me. There was nothing I could do to fix what I had done. I tried. I sat next to her. I offered to get her ice, water, anything. I felt like I was the last person she wanted around. Feelings of guilt intensified weighing down my arms, pushing down my body until I felt like I weighed 300 pounds. Then snap. In stepped anger. Anger at the shameful thoughts that were making me feel small and heavy. I breathed in the guilt, the noise, the air, and all of the movement. Let it swirl around me.

Something changed. I felt powerful.  I don’t need to keep punishing myself. I can do this. Peace opened my eyes. The bout started, fear wrapped around my chest, fogged up my head. I thought maybe I can do the same thing here, take in all of the fear and let it be there without fighting it. When I did that I was able to skate in front of all of those people while I made mistakes, fell hard, learned, and made friends. I also had just enough skill to get by and was able to skate with the person that I had hurt and I was finally able to jam again after all of these years, which was so much fun. After the bout she was honest with me. Her jaw still hurt but it would be OK.

Maybe I can do that with life right now. I get frozen by fear and shame all of the time. Those feelings make me feel small and powerless. I’m afraid I will hurt someone or that I will get hurt. Often I can’t fix it when people are upset.

I think both men and women are powerful and both can be held back in certain ways. There have been times when I’ve finally gone against everything that I thought I “should” do and followed what I felt was right, feeling guilt and fear all along but doing it any way. Twice I’ve heard from other women as I spoke of these things that they could see/feel my personal power. I’ve seen other women come into this same power. It can be wonderful and inspiring to see but it also can be intimidating. When I see a woman finally realizing her own power and when she could be a threat to me, I feel scared. I wonder as a society the things that we set in place to keep women from coming into their full power because we are afraid.

One of the things I noticed during this last episode of PMS of mine is that when I was feeling angry about very real things in my life I  would often hear a voice that said your anger is insignificant right now. You are just being crazy. I almost slipped back into a place where I often go right before my period which is a deep place of darkness and shame but this time I refused instead I told that voice to be quiet and I experienced the anger and spoke up about it. A funny thing happened. I didn’t feel like I might not want to live.

How many times have I crawled back into the box of shame and felt my power bleed away? I refuse to do it any more.

Learning to Date at 41

Butterfly and flower filtered

Recently I’ve been on a few dates from an online dating site. The people have all been a lot of fun to talk to and get to know a little. It’s definitely an interesting way to get to know Seattle and myself.  Dating is very new to me, especially online dating. Sixteen years out of my 41 years of life I’ve been married and then 99.99% of the people I’ve been in any sort of relationship with have been friends before I ever went out with them. I feel pretty clueless.

The date I went on the other night surprised me. When I  walked into the bar and saw him my first impression was that he was much different than I had expected, in a good way. I could see how he would be fun and that I would probably be attracted to him eventually.

I’ve learned recently that I’m not attracted to anyone that I meet at first. I need to get to know them a little and that takes time. This actually has had me worried but that’s probably a whole other blog post.

My date and I talked in the bar for a while, which was fun, and then we left in search of some music. At one point he gave me his arm and I took it. We headed towards a place where a Latin band would be playing. Dozens of memories from when I served a Spanish speaking Mormon mission in Los Angeles flooded my head.

By this point on the date I had drank one and half ciders. At this level of tipsiness I have trouble keeping my mouth from talking. It just keeps going and going spilling out all of the contents of my brain.

I told him about a Taco Bell in Los Angeles that I had eaten at where bulletproof glass reached from counter to ceiling creating a barrier between the employees and the customers. You spoke into a microphone in the glass to place your order, paid through a revolving door, and received your food through another revolving door. There is something eerie about this set up. The workers are protected over there on that side of the glass but I am over here out in the open eating my taco.

I told him about the time I drove my companion and I, sort of by accident, down an alley way right into a drug bust. An under cover cop whistled at me pretty much saying “What the hell? Move your ass out of here!” I drove the car in reverse out of the alley way and that is when I noticed the armory truck parked out back and the helicopter flying over head.

After about an hour or two my companion and I drove by the front of the house. Yellow tape lined the yard. Three or so blue body bags filled with bodies littered the yard. More were being pulled out of the house. An ice-cream truck parked kitty-corner across the street sold ice cream to the spectators lined up on the sidewalk.

I told him about the blue trailer park. The trailers were the size of my living room, if that, and housed several people to one trailer. One lady lived in a trailer in the back with her five kids. You couldn’t even stand up in the trailer but it did have two rooms to it I think.

Several of the kids who lived in the trailer park would gather around us as we read Book of Mormon stories. I felt scared for their future. I knew exactly what they would have to encounter once they grew up a little. Once we taught a drug dealer who couldn’t leave the trailer park without being severely beaten by a gang he was in trouble with. One night he called us. My companion, who was from Ecuador, answered the phone and since her Spanish is perfect she understood well the dirty things that he was saying to her. It freaked us out that night.

I told my date about the time I saw two dead bodies covered in white sheets whose covered heads leaned up against a brown apartment complex. How seeing that created a haunting and sad feeling in me.

He seemed to like me talking and when I apologized he told me he enjoyed it. I tried really hard to listen to him too, which can be challenging at times like that because my mind feels like a race car with my thoughts being some super-charged high-octane gasoline forcing the car to zoom around corners, fly over hills and under bridges, at head-spinning eyeball-popping speeds. It’s curiosity about the person in front of me that saves me in moments like this.

The thoughts and memories kept spilling out of my mouth until we were surrounded by music.

Since there would be dancing I decided that it would be OK to have a shot of fireball. One shot and a lot of water. We danced and it was fun. He held my hand and that was OK. He touched me a little more and that was OK too. It’s nice to get that sort of touch because I haven’t had it for so long.

Then at one point his hand slid up the back of my sweater and onto my skin and his fingers slipped under the band of my pants. I felt like crying. I’m not sure why maybe because it didn’t seem like he was going to stop and I was going to have to tell him to. And this is where I can see I obviously have an issue to deal with. I told him that that was too fast for me. He didn’t do it again. He was nice and fun and I will probably go out with him again.

After that though I wanted to be by myself. I wanted to dance by myself and it took every thing I had to keep paying attention to him. When he left to the bathroom I danced fully to the music and loved it. There is something about turning completely over to music that connects my body, mind, and emotions with what is outside of me and that is incredibly satisfying and soothing. I find that sexual arousal can do the same thing that music does.

When he came back the band was playing a song in Spanish that said hear me, listen to what I have to say. The lyrics memorized me. I repeated them back to him. I was excited that I could understand.

It clicked. I need someone who can hear what my body is saying and understand it. I need us to hear each other. That is where I have found safety and satisfaction before and I don’t want anything other than that.

In an effort to try and understand I ask myself does it take some people just as much effort to slow down and listen to subtle body cues when their  hormones are running fast as it does me to pause and listen to what someone has to say when my thoughts are racing?