Connecting, a Gift

I’m a 44 year old, fairly technologically challenged woman. When I was a kid, phones had cords and some still had rotary dials. Every gas station, mall, and public place had pay phones. Cordless phones were like bricks with foot-long antennas. If we wanted to eat and not lose all our privileges, we followed rules: we came home to check in at certain times, which we knew because we looked at clocks and watches. We used dusk as a way to know when to call it a night, and parents called one another’s parents. Neighbors knew one another’s names. We learned responsibility and interpersonal skills. There was no Internet. No. Internet. There was no World Wide Web until many years after I graduated from college. I didn’t own a computer until around 2000. Before that, I used a typewriter, then a word processor. I didn’t own a smartphone until almost two years ago, and the job I’ve had for the last 13 years doesn’t require me to use much technology. 

Technology is a must now, and it rapidly and exponentially evolves. I had to learn to use it if I wanted to be connected, and I value connectedness. I value people. The beauty of it all is that today, connection is at our fingertips. We can meet people from all over the world in a few keystrokes. And if we come to the table with an open heart and be vulnerably ourselves, we may be lucky enough to make soulful, lifelong connections. 

I didn’t have any idea what I wanted or needed when I began blogging. But what I found were people. Fascinating, compassionate, talented, inspiring, kindred people. I found friends. 

Not long after I began on WordPress three years ago, I met Rita. I found her blog, and her words squeezed my heart. Sometimes they punched me in the gut. Either way, I was compelled to comment. She replied. We had so much in common, and not just life experience. It was like speaking to a long lost sister.

Within a very short period of time it was apparent we’d found kindred spirits. After emailing me and not receiving a reply (I didn’t see it for about a month and a half), she looked for me on Facebook and oddly enough she found me first try. She messaged, and the rest is history. We’ve spoken by text every day for two and half years. We speak regularly by phone. We talk about everything, joys and hardships, and laugh till we cry. 

Over the past several years, even as Rita and I became friends and continued getting to know one another, I’ve been delving deep to find myself. I am finally me (of course this is ongoing and evolving). That may be a ridiculous sentence, but it’s true. I am finally the me I’m meant to be, not the one anyone else thought I should be, the one I thought I should be, based on so many faulty ideas and thinking patterns. I see myself; I am myself. I listen to myself. And because of this, I believe I have more to offer others. Or less, really, lol. No smoke and mirrors. But the most freeing thing I’ve ever experienced outside of being myself with my husband and children, is being myself with friends who accept all of me. And Rita has always so easily accepted and understood me. Even when she hasn’t completely understood, she has listened and empathized with my feelings. She’s seen the strength amidst the chaos, and because of the chaos! I found a soul sister; I am so fortunate. 

This past weekend, because of a few keystrokes two and a half years ago, I was able to look my friend in the eyes and give her the biggest hug. I got to see her eyes when she spoke and watch them light up when she laughed. I saw her hands move with her words and felt the friendship in three dimensions. We talked and walked and talked and ate. There was no awkwardness. I was Kay and she was Rita, whole and simple. She came to Ohio, and was able to see my life first hand and not through still pics and typed letters. It was wonderful. 


What a gift that is, that freedom to be ourselves and trust so fully. I will forever see it as such. I miss her already. But luckily, in a few keystrokes, or the tapping of numbers on a glass screen, we can stay in touch, every day. Until the next time I can see her face and give her the biggest hug! I can’t wait. 

I’ve also been fortunate enough to make several more close friends via blogging, and I get to meet another dear friend in two weeks! It’s going to be an amazing month. 

What powerful, connecting tools we have at our fingertips….and within our fingertips, if we allow it. 

-header image found on Pinterest, image contained in post is mine

Friends and Woes

Last year at about this time, I was in another city not too far from here, spending the weekend with some friends from high school I’ve reconnected with. It began about 5 years ago, when we saw one another at our reunion (the only reason I went was because those two were going to be there), and vowed to stay in touch. We connected via Facebook and messaged back and forth. On a whim, we packed up and met in Nashville for a long weekend, and an annual get together was born.

I’m so glad we did, we had a blast. We talked and caught up, and it felt as if I’d connected with two open, fun-loving women who wanted to share and maintain a friendship.

Over the next few years, others joined in, but the three of us tried to meet up apart from the larger group of seven. There was something more between the three of us. There was an easiness, the kind that passing time didn’t seem to affect.

By last year, I’d realized that while I very much enjoyed their company, the weekends always left me feeling as if I’d gone with hopes (and expectations) that we’d talk and catch up, talk about deep, meaningful things, and not just chill and drink and go out to eat. As much as I love those things, I need the other too. There was every indication that we had the sort of relationship in which that was a realistic expectation. We’d done it before, but it seemed to fade away. Contact faded more and more until it was mostly likes on Facebook. I agonized over whether I should go.

I asked myself…did I still value them? Absolutely. I was just beginning to see the friendship for what it might be – acquaintances with a history. Ones who have fun and can be open and honest and accepting with one another, but still really just acquaintances. And that was okay; I wasn’t ready to give that up. So, I went on the weekend. I tried to go with realistic expectations and I had some fun. I do value each and every one of them very much.

Except on Saturday, there was this odd-feeling exchange. The day before, J and A brought up that we should go to her parent’s cabin this year and plan on a big vacation weekend next year, some place like the Bahamas or a cruise. A few said maybe, and then JK said she wasn’t sure her husband would let her. I said I’d have to check with my hubby too, and the conversation ended….until Saturday, when JK left.

After she left, J and A brought up that they thought it was weird that JK had phrased it that way, that she wasn’t sure her hubby would let her. A couple of the others said it was a little odd, but J and A said it sounded like maybe her hubby was really controlling or something. I chimed in and said maybe that’s just the way it works for them. It works that way for M and I, and I’d have to ask him too. Then J seemed to abruptly change the subject with a giggle, so I left it alone. We had a decent evening and went home the next morning.

But later, I couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened. Sometimes it takes me a while to process my feelings with things like that, when I’m hurt and fear rejection. And in my history, I have a very difficult time telling those I care about that they’ve hurt my feelings or said/done something that I’d like to discuss. Again, that fear of rejection and abandonment, but I’ve been evolving and trying to maintain healthy friendships.

A few days later, I asked J and A if we could talk. I asked if we could do a three way call, but we couldn’t figure it out and decided to group text instead. I carefully brought up that it seemed like they were being judgmental toward Julie, and their judgement of her made me worry they might feel the same about me. All I wanted to do was discuss it. I also didn’t like that they’d spoken about JK while she wasn’t there.

Despite my efforts to try to talk with them openly, that conversation did not go well. J did not love that I confronted her about talking behind JK’s back. A said she was concerned that JK might be in an unhealthy relationship. They both turned it back on me, saying I shouldn’t have to defend how I live if I’m happy, when all I wanted to do was share of myself with them. That hurt.

I attempted to talk it through, but again, J just abruptly left the conversation. A was short and a little abrasive at times, but stayed in the conversation for a few more exchanges and seemed to try to understand my point. I understood hers.

Since then, there hadn’t been any contact at all. Nothing. Not even on the girl’s weekend FB group where plans are made each year. And then, two weeks ago, N asked if we were still planning to go to J’s parent’s cabin. J said she was busy and if someone else wanted to plan, she’d let us know if she could come. A said the same. Two others said they were in. I said life was hectic for the next couple months. It all just felt weird and unresolved. I figured it would, there’d been no contact, no further discussion.

Fearing last year’s exchange was the cause for the evasiveness, I contacted them both again last week by text. I’d had a long time to think about what had transpired.

A didn’t respond at all. J was still very agitated. No matter what I said to try to explain my thinking, to take responsibility for what I perceive as wrongdoings on my part and apologize, to tell her it’s possible I misunderstood their intent, and maybe even responded the way I did because I feared rejection, she wouldn’t hear me. She was angry and defensive, didn’t explain her view, took no responsibility at all, and abruptly left the conversation again. I offered to speak via phone (my preferred method!), but no answer. That was a few days ago.

The thing is, I always think about misunderstandings, I can’t just ignore them. I have this need to understand what went wrong.  I always evaluate them to see what part I played, so I can take responsibility and apologize, understand the other person’s view and feelings if I can, and learn from my mistakes. I certainly don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I don’t mean to, but I know I do sometimes.

I also have a history of taking responsibility for things I shouldn’t, because I don’t want the other person to feel bad. I feel other’s feelings so deeply, that I often allow them to overshadow my own.

My history also consists of instances where I’ve fostered these sort of co-dependent tendencies in some relationships. I’d do things to keep the other person around, seek approval, giving and offering, and hoping they accept that offering of myself and appreciate it. I’d give my all, putting others before myself, protecting their feelings above my own.

These are all things for which I’ve had to be acutely aware, but I feel like I’ve made some positive strides. I’m in a much better place; I know what healthy looks and feels like. I have some healthy friendships with some amazing people (which I constantly analyze, lol). I know that it’s sometimes not possible to mend a misunderstanding and it has nothing to do with me.

And I know it will pass, but it still hurts when it feels like someone who was a friend doesn’t care enough to try to work through a misunderstanding. It always will.

Transparent

She’s courageously imperfect

Rising to meet the challenge

Alive in her willingness

To be free, as herself

Finally able to see

With clarity

Living and loving

With her whole heart

Embracing her vulnerability

Regardless of risk

Her true nature to give and

To love freely and openly

Both self and others

Yet there are days

When weighted tears

Streak mirrored glass

And her tired heart hurts

When the looking glass

Seems transparent

And she’s trapped on the inside

While others peer in

Full Circle

When I ventured into the world of online blogging, I was seeking something. I wasn’t even sure what it was that I was seeking. Having begun a personal journey of accepting and acknowledging things about myself, becoming more open and vulnerable with M, as well as beginning to fully embrace my sexuality, I was bursting with enthusiasm and needed an outlet. Connection of some kind. Celebration, understanding, and further exploration.

When I was looking for pictures one day, I stumbled upon Tumblr. Thousands of pics and gifs scrolled by, some of which were very beautiful and intriguing, but I was most intrigued by the community of open people. People who also embraced sexuality, people who spoke openly and shared of themselves. The openness was inspiring. And scary. I’d never connected with anyone via the internet. Hell, Facebook was the only social media I’d  ever even attempted, and I had no friends really. No close ones.

Stumbling upon the writings of several truly gifted and wise women, I was enthralled – oh, God, how I could relate! I found women who struck such a chord with me and it was such an amazing feeling. At a point in my marriage and with my own personal journey, when I felt so free, yet so unsure, even the connection of reading about other’s journeys made me feel not so alone, not so unsure. In fact, it felt wonderful to find a place where I felt I belonged, and it felt as if that connection to others was helping to light my/our way. Not that I wanted to follow in footsteps, just that reading the words of others made me think, long and hard, to look inward and to further encourage conversations with M. And that process was invaluable. So much so that I also opened a blog on WordPress, where I also fell in love with the community. I read every day and related and reflected, almost obsessively so.

I also wrote, a lot. Writing for me was a diary, a way to sort and express all the overwhelming feelings that jumbled around in my head and my heart as I put one foot in front of the other. The amount of sorting and understanding and evolving I needed to do left me feeling as if I was busting at the seams. The process of writing helped me to express myself with M, it sparked more and more writing, and the connections and comments and conversations with others about the topics helped that process to continue. I felt validated, even not so crazy amidst the rapid-feeling changes, and certainly less alone in my process. I began to feel understood in ways I never had, just as I began to better understand myself.

As I searched and read and commented, I met a handful of amazing women with whom I’ve become very goods friends. The best of friends, to me at least, virtual or not. Women with whom I can truly be myself, women I realize I’ve waited my whole life to find.

Somewhere along the way, as I began to know myself, writing for my blogs began to evolve, to change in purpose and feel. I began to question my motives, to feel as though I might be writing some things in order to seek approval, to fit in, or to feed my ego to an extent. I mean, don’t we all? Blogging is a form of emotional masturbation, no matter how you slice it. It then began to feel as if it was an obligation or responsibility, as if I’d lose my place in the community if I didn’t produce something frequently…..but also I began to miss the pats on the back or encouraging words when I went for too long without producing. I felt as if I was disappointing someone…..whether it be the followers or myself. I felt as if I was failing at meeting some set of expectations I’d set for myself, unrealistic and unhealthy ones. Maybe even that if I didn’t write, I wasn’t properly sorting and evolving. I knew, without a doubt, it was time to reevaluate why I was blogging. I knew it would evolve, and it had.

For some time, I’ve felt a discontent, trying to figure out if I should stay, and if so, why? For what purpose?

As I’ve sought the answers to those questions, I’ve realized that my sorting and sharing in the blog world isn’t important to me for the same reasons as it was at the start. I’m not so unsure anymore. I have a confidence and security in my relationship that keeps me grounded and I’m finding that I really prefer to share my thoughts with M (a process which only brings us closer and deeper as one) and I don’t always feel the the need to stop and write it down, to miss out on opportunities to enjoy the now with my family. I enjoy speaking to my friends, too.

At this point, I just don’t need to write so often in order to sort – I think and talk and sort that way, and if I feel like writing and have the time, I do. I trust myself more now. I trust M. I don’t need the blog to feel validated any longer. While I still have moments and times when I feel like a basket case, I’m confident I’ll get through it, every time. That we will. I trust. And while I do sometimes feel lonely in the absence of my friends whom I love so much, I no longer feel alone.

What began a couple years ago as a virtual diary in which to utilize to know more about myself, has taken many twists and turns, but it’s come full circle. At this point in my life, in this virtual world, I seek to to continually grow and further understand myself, and to celebrate this life, my sexuality, and this amazing relationship I have with M. I enjoy sharing that with others and reading about others who seek similar things. I still very much enjoy reading the words of others – I read to feel a kindred spirit, to admire another’s way of thinking, to challenge my capacity to be human and to learn, or to feel awe in another’s capacity to love and to live. But I don’t write to seek approval or to fulfill any sense of obligation or responsibility. I don’t read to fit in or to feel as if my path or my choices in this life are the right ones. I do it because it feels good and that’s a good enough reason for me.

Writing for this blog has become a lovely, welcome addition in my life. A healthy one. Reading has become something that touches my heart and warms my soul. And for these things  I’m very grateful.

So, I’ll be around. It will likely continue to be less frequent and more sporadic, but I’m here.

She Knows It

This evening, we were all hanging out in the living room after dinner and chores. M was playing a video game with our youngest daughter (that I’m too uncoordinated to play) while I sat down on the floor in front of him to read. I opened WP, began to scroll through, and as I read, M periodically reached down to stroke my hair and tangle his fingers in my curls.

Pure bliss. Simple and infinitely blissful. Just an ordinary evening, all of us, content and hanging out.

Then my phone dinged. It was a text from a friend with which I’ve rekindled a long standing friendship, one with whom I’ve even shared my blog. She’s cool peeps. We’d been trying to schedule a dinner date.

After a few texts we’d figured next Friday was the first evening she was free, but I always check with M first and I’d realized he and I had just spoken about the possibility of having our own dinner dates on the Fridays E wanted to stay for open gym at gymnastics. So I asked him if he’d planned on it being a dinner date night. I told him I did not want to miss out on that time with him.

Before M could answer, E came over, sat on my lap, and said, “Mom, you have the rest of your lives.”

We just smiled. I smiled and hugged her big. M said, “You should go have dinner with your friend.”

I know E is right. I never doubted it.

The thing is, SHE knows it.

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.

Who Knows

About three weeks ago, I spent a weekend away with some high school friends. I was anxious about it, more so than any other year and it wasn’t until this week that I had any real insight as to why. This vulnerability I feel is not just with M, but with the entire world. I am this genuine self, the one that authentically offers what I have inside and not prefabricated reactions and defenses designed to make myself or others feel comfortable and safe. I knew when I went on this weekend, that’s what I’d have to offer these women. Not that I’ve never been a genuine or authentic person, it’s more that I just don’t have those defenses and armor to protect myself from hurt like I used to. And I feel so deeply. I get hurt very easily and I was afraid of not being accepted, afraid of being hurt.

On one of the days with my friends, we were sitting around talking about going on a much bigger trip in a couple of years and JV said she wasn’t sure her husband would let her. When she left, JM said she didn’t agree with the way she’d said that, that it was crazy she even felt like he might not ‘let her’, which sparked more comments from some of the others, especially A, all along those lines. I politely spoke up. I told them JV seemed happy, which she does, and if she’s happy why wouldn’t we be happy for her? I added that it’s that way at my house too, that I ask for permission, too, for many things. JM purposefully changed the subject and ended the conversation. She didn’t want to talk about it any longer. There was no antimosity, but it was awkward. It made me think, long and hard. I was hurt, even though the conversation hadn’t been directed at me.

A few days later, after I’d processed it more deeply, I chatted with JM and A, the two with whom I’m closest, because they were the two who initiated that conversation. Not only was I unhappy that it felt as if they were judging JV, but they’d done so behind her back. JM had ended the conversation, and if they felt that way about JV and her relationship, it seemed they’d think the same about me and mine. I needed to tell them it bothered me, that it hurt they had judged her and seemed so unaccepting. As I discussed it with them, I also described in general terms the power exchange between M and I. While they don’t need to know all the details of my relationship, I don’t feel the need to hide or be ashamed. Either they’ll accept me for who I am, or I suppose they won’t. In the end, they both said they accept anyone’s way of living, but they don’t agree with the way JV or I live. They defended their talking behind JV’s back, saying they were concerned for her. Then, A said I shouldn’t feel the need to defend myself, although I was merely offering information about myself in order for them to understand me. I wasn’t seeking approval, only acceptance and respect from the women who are my friends. I don’t feel that’s an unrealistic expectation to have, at all.

It was left at that, but again, it made me think so much about how I live so vulnerably, how it’s not possible to prepare for these types of situations, not just ones that involve sharing about my relationship, but ones that involve being hurt by others. This hurt stuck around. It shook me and effected me so deeply. It made me feel very isolated.

 In the past, I’d have smiled and allowed that hurt to internally fester, but I’d never have voiced my view or my hurt. I’d avoid confrontation at all costs and either keep hanging out and getting hurt or quietly walk away making excuses. I’d have recovered quickly on the outside and found a way to stuff it away or release it in misdirected anger. Now, I feel it all, right way, and I’m learning how to handle that without those old defenses and old tricks. I’m happy I reacted genuinely and offered my voice. I’m happy that, after I truly processed what had happened and my feelings surrounding the situation, I talked to them about it, even though it was difficult and uncomfortable.

I’m not exactly sure where it all stands. I don’t know how I feel about continuing to go on the weekends. The ‘face that shit head on’ part of me says to go, be this genuine self, and whatever happens, happens. There’s another part of me that says it’s not worth the time and money taken away from my family to go and be with people who talk or judge behind one another’s backs. That’s not the kind of person I am.

Who knows.

Some Days

Some days, I really FEEL the miles. The never-ending stretch of each and every one, the seemingly insurmountable distance between us. It’s the best feeling to have people in my life who get me and accept me as I am. I’ve had good friends in my life, ones whom I’ve loved with all of me. But there’s something with these friends I’ve shared, that I’ve never shared with anyone before. They know me at my core. All the things I’d longed to share for all those years. And when they speak to me, I feel them, too. I share their sorrows, their joys and triumphs, their fears and dreams. I feel them all so deeply in my heart.

And some days, when we talk, I just want (NEED!) to hear their voices. I need to see (FEEL!) their eyes when we speak, feel the air around us vibrate as we laugh, the warmth of understanding between us when we cry.

Some days, I just need to hug my friends.