Tidal Wave

Behind her clenched eyelids,
With arched back and tilted head
In labored gasps and moans,
She’s immersed, being lead,
The blackness is no longer black
And the sheets no longer thread

She is transformed into fluid,
A rippling depth of dark and light,
Please stop and please more
Seemingly at odds, but not quite,
He the maestro of the current
In their duality, they ignite

Skillfully she’s driven
To her edge and back again,
As the moon pulls the tide
And the tide pulls the sand,
Where want turns to need
And need begs with fisted hands

Until his words open the dam
And the warmth of flesh over her floods,
In the surge of their tide
And swell of their love,
His control and her surrender
Equilibrium, they’re whole

Simple Saturday

Just thinking this morning……listening to Any Other Day, Norah’s soulful voice mingled with some Wyclef funk….a reminder that there’s always another way, another day….sorting and tackling ways to put into practice what I KNOW I need, what we need, and readying for another talk with M…..followed by a little folk thumping in Awake My Soul with Mumford and Sons, in awe – ‘In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die, And where you invest your love, you invest your life’ – I KNOW this to be true, I feel the anchor of such love in my life.

I’m gonna go invest.

Continual Conundrum

I’ve had this conundrum in my head for as long as I’ve been with M, more so after the girls were born, and even more so since we began living this way – I feel as though I have to be available to them every waking moment. I can’t rest until all my stuff is done as well as all the picking up from all of them. I feel selfish and guilty taking time for myself, as if doing so denies someone else of something they’d rather be doing or as if it adds to M’s plate. The thing is…it’s me doing it, not M. He doesn’t mind. But when I weigh it in my head, what I’d like to do or even mentally need to do to recharge, against being in the same room with him or doing something for one of my girls, they always win. Always.

That’s what I’ve been grappling with for at least the last 14 years, some of the time managing it better than others. For many years, I expected M to read my mind, to see that I was overwhelmed and jump in to help, instead of asking for what I needed. There were even times I pushed him away because he didn’t live up to those unrealistic expectations, or because I was too depleted to have anything to offer him.

Over the years, there were times I’d ask for delineated chores and time to exercise, so that I could better manage my time. There were times that worked well in practice, but eventually I’d end up feeling guilty and just get up really early so as not to cut into anyone else’s time. Or, I’d just let it all slip away and keep going at 100 mph, stuffing away the hurt and pain from the stress, internally building regret and hurt and all sorts of ugly feelings and negative self talk.

In the last couple of years, I’ve struggled with it more than ever, over and over again. I have such an honor and deep appreciation for all M does for me and for our family, more than ever before. And I feel his stress or exhaustion, I feel when his body hurts, even if he doesn’t express it, and that makes it doubly difficult to ask for time for me – I don’t want to add to his plate. As we’ve grown, we’ve brainstormed numerous ways to try to provide time for the things we both need and it never seems to work. I end up making sure everyone else gets there’s, but not me. There’s been a lack of follow through from the both of us.

Now, I’ve hit a wall, my body is telling me so. My immune system has repeatedly told me so, and I recently had a serious anxiety attack that took me to urgent care and scared us both. I’d never had one before and it was a wake-up call.

My job is noisy, long, and demanding and on top of that I’ve felt like I’ve outgrown it for the past several years. It no longer fits, but I can’t leave right now. We have two daughters, both of whom have their own set of demands, and I feel like I’m ‘on’ every hour of the day. I ignore my body’s cues, put my wellness below other things on my priority list, and I get to a point where I get internally overwhelmed easily. I cycle to a place where I’m mentally and physically exhausted, below empty, all reserves depleted.

What I’ve learned is I am such that my physiological and psychological make-up requires quiet, contemplative time. My senses get overloaded and I need a time to have only the input of my choosing, without the pull of responsibility. That may be in the form of exercise, writing or reading, or even talking to a friend. But I NEED it – not tons of time, just some time set aside, but I very rarely get it. I also need time alone with M, time when he and I can set aside all our hats and just be us. This is something we do well, and I’m so grateful. It’s been my saving grace. It fills my well enough to get through each day, but there comes a time when even that isn’t enough, or it isn’t possible due to his work schedule, and there I go, back to that place of being overwhelmed and stuck, feeling terrible about myself and not knowing how to proceed.

Last night, M and I talked again. We discussed all the things we’ve tried that haven’t worked and why, all the flawed thinking and poor choices, all the possible unrealistic expectations and what may be realistic for the both of us, things we can try with which we can actually follow through. We talked about ways this dynamic can help to alleviate stress and work to our advantage. I’m hopeful – we may not always get it right the first time or the tenth time, but we seem to always get there sooner or later through trial and error, with continual communication.

I See You, Always…

Although I may not always have shown or voiced my appreciation, I have always seen and been in awe of what an incredible father you are to our girls. Over the last 14 years, I’ve watched them grow and flourish into beautiful people, with you as the man who loves and supports them, unconditionally. They see, too.

I’ve seen….

The tears in your eyes and wonder on your face as each child was placed in my arms.

Your gentle hands and cradled arms that soothed our babies to sleep. (Sometimes you, too).

When you changed poopy diapers and rocked in the middle of the night and laid each in my arms to breastfeed, all with willingness and love.

The awe and sheer happiness in your eyes at first words, first steps, and a million other ‘firsts’.

Your willingness to jump right in and do the hairdo’s, buy the feminine products, and help them shop for clothes and girly things.

When you outstretched your arms and tucked their heads safely to your chest, kissing the boo-boo’s away. When you do the same when their hearts hurt, too.

The whole-face smiles and cheers of pride and love as they danced across the stage, flipped in the air, and made magical music.

Your never-ending support in each and every one of their interests and your active participation in them all. Even the nail painting and hair do’s, tea parties and dress up, oobleck and flubber.

When you listen with an open mind, always with their best interest and well-being at heart, always trying to see the big picture, allowing them each to grow into who they are.

The way you are always silly, smiling and dancing and joking and laughing with them. Every single day.

Your patience with homework and projects, even when there’s last minute store runs and building intricate things and messy experiments.

When you are firm and consistent, but always fair in your decisions.

The way you show them in your actions to never give up and that anything is possible with hard work and determination.

Your fearless expression of emotion – they get to experience the whole range with you.

When you wholeheartedly trust and support as well as lead in our efforts to work as a cohesive parenting team.

The way you get nervous when they challenge themselves, because you want so badly for them to feel the joy of success.

Your endless compassion for everyone you meet, a true example for them of how to open your heart to the world.

When you mindlessly hold their hands, swinging arms between the two of you, just happy to be.

The way they lean into you, snuggled up and wrapped into your comfort. The way they look up and smile back at you, in awe of their Daddy.

Your never-ending ability to be there in times of need, someone they can always count on, no matter the circumstance.

The way they LOVE you with everything they are, even when they get upset, say mean things, argue till they’re blue in the faces, and stomp away mad. In fact, I think those times make them love you more.

I love you, too. The father you are to them inspires me to be the best mother I can be, even on the toughest of days. Happy Father’s Day, My Love.

I Want…

I want a life on fire, one that smolders and flares, rockets to the sky and slowly burns. I want a life fully lived!  I don’t want to lay my head on my pillow ever again and see my life as a collage of empty smiles, missed connections, or woulda, shoulda, coulda’s. I want to eat ice cream for breakfast and throw peanut shells on the floor and put gravy on everyfuckingthing. I want to lean my head out the car window, feel the cool breeze against my skin and watch the smile in my eyes in the side mirror as the air puffs up my cheeks. I want to run in the rain and paddle in the wind and ride bikes down the hill with no hands. I want to wear red converses with my dresses and say fuck when I want and repaint the cabinets as many times as I feel like it. I  want stay up to watch the sun rise and be exhausted on clean gray sheets and sleep in way too long. I want to play cards with cold beer and listen to old favorites and sing the words way too loudly while playing air guitar. I want ass smacks in the grocery store and ‘you better stop that’ eyes at parties and biting my lip so he knows what I mean. I want to watch movies that punch me in the gut and read books that make me want to rip them up and listen to songs that must have been written for me. I want to laugh until I cry and cry until I laugh. I want to love with every ounce of my being and give all that I have. And I want to do it all with him. I want my everyday to make him belly laugh, happy that I belong to him.

Who She Is

Breathing deeply
Anticipating
Body quivers
Alive, waiting
Ten, then twenty
Forceful and quick
Caressing welts
Between thighs slick
Thirty and forty
Clutter receding
Wanting more
Core is pleading
Fifty, then sixty
Drifting inward
Layers stripped
Only He is heard
Seventy and eighty
Sinking further
Soul is bare
Ready for merger
Ninety, pause
Warmth radiating
Relaxed and calm
Contemplating
Finally, one-hundred
Challenging bliss
Sinking into
Who she is

Triple Double

I know, what the fuck is a triple double, right??

It’s when you thought you were going to get double digits on your ass (39 + 4 with a cane to be exact, the number of points LeBron James scored + 3  for the triple double and 1 for something else I can’t remember), but you ended up with triple (100), that’s what. All because of a basketball game and a term you just can’t (or don’t care to) understand in the heat of things. And maybe one offhanded comment about how it would have been okay if he’d scored more points.

Let’s just hope I don’t get the triple digits two days in a row. Would that be a Double Triple? Is that a thing? (Really, I don’t care).

Perfectly Imperfect

In Messiness I explained how I need to help and serve others – I need to feel needed and valued in a relationship and I often look for reassurances, it’s not something I assume. I have an immense fear of failing or disappointing others, of not being enough. I’m sensitive, and my feelings are easily hurt if I begin to feel rejection, betrayal, or possible abandonment.

The problem is, until the last few years or so, I didn’t even realize what I needed in relationships. I casted my net and gave of myself and tried to find connectedness. I’d be myself and help and give and try so hard to fulfill other’s needs, to be the person they needed me to be and gave little value to my own wants or needs. I always put their wants and needs above my own. I’d develop hopes and expectations that they’d give me some indication that I was valued, too, but rarely let myself need others or tell them what I needed. And those expectations I had most often let me down. I wanted something in return that was often unrealistic. Assumptions also played a part – assumptions about why the person behaved this way or thought that way in the relationship – and in my mind that most often meant I felt as if I wasn’t valued, that I was rejected in some way. I was too shy to ask about it or to stick up for myself. I rarely told anyone my feelings were hurt. I didn’t protect myself in those ways – I was willing to risk my feelings, but not willing to risk hurting anyone else’s. I let myself get hurt over and over. I guarded myself from needing others, because I don’t think I ever believed or trusted anyone would ever stay. In my experience, they never did. No one would ever continue to value and love me deeply, that requires time and effort, and especially not if I hurt their feelings, because that would be way too much.

That fear of rejection and abandonment and betrayal has been at the core of my relationship issues my entire life. Feeling worth and self love, those are at the very center, even in my relationship with M. I didn’t love me. I didn’t acknowledge or value my own feelings and needs. How was anyone ever supposed to value me and what I had to offer if I didn’t value myself?

Being this vulnerable with M has allowed me to sort and strip away so much of that stuff – layers of destructive ways of thinking and doing. It’s allowed me to process and feel all of it, to keep what works, let go of what doesn’t, and create new ways when needed. It’s an ongoing process, but I’m more grounded and I can more easily see destructive patterns when they arise. I can more easily see when something is triggering those feelings of rejection or betrayal or abandonment, to give value to my feelings, try to protect myself in healthy ways and allow M to help to protect me….and even to explain to him if something he’s done has triggered those feelings and how to avoid it in the future, no matter how much it hurts in the moment, in any circumstance. To me, that’s HUGE. To be able to understand those core needs, communicate them and go forward is an amazing feeling.

We aren’t perfect. He and I are both going to screw up, make poor choices, challenge one another (yeah, I do that sometimes), and fall backward every down and then. This recent experience I wrote about in He Listens regarding follow through and walking away helped me to understand so much about myself and about M. He made a mistake, as he’s going to do, then tried to give me space, because that’s what I used to imply I wanted if he was the one who hurt me. Now, that wasn’t at all true, it was a test (how terrible is that?), and now it couldn’t be further from the truth. I never want him to walk away. No, I need him to never walk away. It triggers those feelings of rejection and abandonment, making me feel unworthy of his love and care. But….we needed that situation to recognize those things. That discussion led to more discussions, more baring of our souls to one another. It prompted us to review our rules, to discuss our parameters more deeply, define our expectations more clearly, detail our need for structure in ways that work for us, to better establish accountability and follow through in much more tangible ways. I even wrote to him in my own terms my contract to him, my commitment, my definition of my surrender to him.

So, do I dislike the mistakes? Yes. But I’m grateful that we’ve built a way for us to accept one another’s imperfections, to always communicate, to be our true selves and always be open and honest…because we know and trust that the other is speaking truthfully from the heart, with no ulterior motive other than to express and continue to build. We have the freedom to speak, even if it hurts our feelings, even if we stumble, because the framework of authenticity and respect and honor is solid. It’s a never-ending cycle of living, unlearning, learning, and experiencing. It’s not always easy, but it’s the most fulfilled we’ve ever been.

Three of Me

As I’m sitting here on the couch, sipping the coffee M had to drive me to go get because we (I let it) ran out, I hear my oldest daughter’s telling, disappointed sigh from the kitchen, followed by my youngest daughter’s mini tantrum about her rainbow loom project not working out. M looks at me, predicts the sigh from L in the kitchen, reminds me not to engage her, tells E to stop catastrophizing and gives her advice, smiles and goes back to reading his news.

That amazing man sitting in that chair over there has three of me. Three. Of. Me. And he handles it all happily, with patience and insight and wholehearted love. Not without mistakes, but with every ounce of effort and love in his spirit. And I love every fucking ounce.

He Listens

Summoning every ounce of courage she has, she reminds him he’s forgotten. Trying so hard to hide the disappointment, the rejected feeling bubbling up inside, and attempting, unsuccessfully, to control the tears that threaten to trip her release valve, she speaks. Hugging her briefly after offering a few short words, ones which felt unsure and confusing, his face registering disappointment, he turns to leave the room.

Frozen. She’s completely frozen, standing in the middle of the bathroom floor, bare and exposed. It’s not because her body is unclothed, it’s because her mind is in a free fall, plummeting like a broken elevator screeching down the shaft with no emergency halt. There’s no air. Someone has squeezed it all out of her lungs in tight fists and won’t let go. She’s still, because she knows as soon as she moves, she’s going to the feel the crumble. But her knees can no longer bear her weight. The salty wetness is already streaking down her cheeks and over her lips, her chest is struggling to heave, her sobs are beginning to echo against the beige walls. The tiny room feels so vast and she needs to fold into her smallness. Yet, she cannot allow herself to crumble, to give in to the need and the hurt.

Stepping into the bath, she lowers herself into its warm embrace, but it’s of no comfort. In fact, it’s radiance is just a reminder of the embrace she truly needs. The one which just turned away from her and left the room. Rising from the depth of her, her cries take her breath away, her voice a slow, guttural song of pain and hurt, pulling at the chord of core pain and hurt in her which has existed for as long as she can remember.

Why?, her mind is repeating, Why? Why would you leave? Why am I not enough? Or am I just too much? Why, oh why, would you walk away when I need you so much, right now? How could you do that? It must be me. But this me needs you. I need you. Please, don’t walk away. Please come back. Please. Don’t you know how much I need you? How could you not know? I need you.

I need you to never walk away.

Pulling herself from the bath, she slips on her robe, still slightly wet, and walks down the stairs to him. Lying her head in his lap, arms locked around him, she let’s go and she crumbles as he pets her hair. She needs and she hurts. When she’s exhausted herself, she kneels facing him, and she offers him her bare, true self. The one who needs him, desperately, the one who must tell him how much it hurts when he forgets to follow through, the one who needs him to never walk away. He deserves her truth.

And he listens.