Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lost My Ticket to The Soul Train (but I still reached my destination)

Recently I posted this little gem on FaceBook:  So you want to be an artist... a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, doctor, lawyer, or chief--follow your heart, surround yourself with supportive, loving, humorous friends and leap into yourself full-on. I am admittedly, a self-proclaimed obnoxious FaceBooker.  There are reasons for this that I will gladly share with anyone that’s interested, but there’s also the restricted setting, the delete button, the stretch, yawn and scroll up or down move and the “why the hell do I care what she’s having for breakfast or if she broke out in hives?” conversation starter to engage your partner in a romantic tête-à-tête about how lucky you are not to be me. Work it. I suppose I am simply pointing out the reality that we all have the choice to relate, respond and interact according to our own needs and desires. I posted this dime-store, arm-chair inspiration after a long-suffering, stuck-in-a-rut, paralysis, stagnation and dread episodic life-time achievement award stretch of time. Deciding to take a few BIG risks, put myself out there and hope for the best, be the artist that I wish to be, was not easy or cheerily achieved, at least not until very recently.

My full-on leaping into myself and a few frightened individuals nearby is in need of some attention and regulation and toning down occasionally, I’ll get there…  It beats the alternative, unless of course you are the frightened individual nearby and well,  like I just pointed out, choices my friend.  Move over to the left slightly or put the squeeze on me, I’ll eventually cry uncle.  I might give a little fight but I’m not that big or physically adept, you’ll over take me in a moment of hours….I like to imagine I still have a bit of scrappiness to me, depending on your size and stamina it might be mere seconds. 

The launching pad for my full-on leaping seemed to be made up of years of carefully constructed and random acts of despair, with equal counts of hope.  I think in many ways it was this equilibrium that kept things stagnant and ambivalent.  Vulnerability began to seep into my existence until I was not able to act or live authentically or fully. I suppose I was lying in wait of a great big catastrophic act that would throw things off kilter enough to force change.  Fortunately, that came to be, but this is colored with the shiny bright lenses of retrospect and hindsight.  At the time of the catastrophic event, nothing seemed fortunate or even manageable.  Everything seemed instead full of shame and distrust and unbelievable insanity and then cloaked in the fantasy of thinking I could take it, and manage it and wait it out after learning I couldn’t fix it.  

It turns out that shame, and vulnerability and feelings of worthlessness are the very feelings that divide those that achieve whole-hearted lives and those that don’t.   It seems I was on the right track all along.  It doesn’t need to take as long as I took, try not to get stuck for too long.  Brene Brown, research professor at the University of Houston, has been studying vulnerability, shame and whole-hearted living.  She refers to vulnerability as the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change, and I have to agree.  In a conversation she shared on TED talks, The Power of Vulnerability, she shares her findings and offers hope, as she focuses on the value of vulnerability in risk-taking and believing we are enough.  She highlights qualities of those that live whole-hearted lives and the benefits of being vulnerable.  She also discusses the pain and harm caused by shame and feelings of unworthiness that leads to despair.  Feeling worthy and understanding the power of being vulnerable support authentic living.  We can’t try new things, put ourselves out in the world and achieve if we don’t understand that we are worthy enough to be loved and alive even when we are vulnerable.  It is this vulnerability that creates trust in ourselves and empowers us to achieve.  The following excerpt highlights Brown’s findings:

This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there's no guarantee -- and that's really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that's excruciatingly difficult -- to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we're wondering, "Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?" just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, "I'm just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive." And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we're enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, "I'm enough," then we stop screaming and start listening, we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves.

Around three years ago, I embarked on a train ride three hours north and inadvertently to the start of a new life.  What I recall most about this trip was how I suddenly and unexpectedly experienced this overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety.   I was so put off by this fear that I quickly started to attempt to understand how this could be possible.  It was not plausible.  I had traveled alone. I had taken public transportation throughout the entirety of my life in one form or another. I have traveled with others and organized and planned trips abroad for small groups.  It didn’t make any sense that the act of taking a train, Amtrak no less, highly respectable mode of transportation, would unravel me.  I was anxious.  I was fidgeting through my papers, my purse, my laptop.  I’m a travel fidgeter, but this was bigger.  I was in search of something and I was sure I would not find it here.  I was afraid to leave my seat to stretch and afraid to stay seated.  I could not get off this train fast enough.

I realized that more than the train being the impetus for my fear, somehow I had discerned that I had lost myself. I had been on a longer journey that encompassed too many years of minimizing myself while zealously attempting to maximize those around me.   On that train I seemed to finally notice there was very little left that was familiar.  I barely recognized the person I had become and she was somehow at the helm of this trip.   What had come crashing down on me was the realization that I was alone on a train- that I was alone, period.  That I was alone without even myself to rely on and worse, I was not able to rely on anyone else.

The reality that I was not dealing with was that I was heading north on a train bound to the southern tip of my marriage.  I am sure, now, it was probably pulsating in each pore not yet named or implicitly fathomed.   How can it be?  Few of us end a marriage with certitude and confidence. I was taking the train to spend some time to revitalize and recover my marriage.  Instead it was the beginning of me relinquishing, removing myself from it and renouncing the falseness of it. My now former husband had taken his car a few days earlier and this was supposed to be an opportunity to spend a few days alone before driving back together, and so I took the train.  The weekend was gentle and unremarkable as we tenuously moved toward the end of a 20 year relationship without entirely understanding or grasping the yet to be determined finality.   Perhaps it was remarkable in it’s disquieting calm.  Occasionally there were bright moments that felt supportive. There were moments of maybe and occasional glimpses at familiarity.  I could not, however, shake the sense of fear that overtook me on the train. There were no attempts to heal or support or erase the damages long endured.  Most of what was wrong was never even acknowledged directly it was hidden and tightly concealed.  The train ride highlighted for me the depth of vulnerability and a sense of foreboding discomfort that would later force change.   I suppose I knew I was not really getting off that train until I reached a new destination.

While the end of my marriage has been difficult and challenging, to put it mildly, the possibility of remaining in it would have been fatal.  Maybe not in the melodramatic sense of the word but certainly the death of spirit and vitality was already evident.   The vulnerability I felt, in nearly every waking moment and interaction, or perhaps the readiness to recognize the full scope of how it had sedated and paralyzed me is what ultimately saved me. 

I hadn’t realized how much I had stopped being me.  I had stoically carried on. I stayed busy.  I have a tendency toward that busyness thing.  I recently spent my first day of summer vacation tearing up my yard and laying stairs and a pathway through the backyard-because I had a day off and I had better fill it.  I justify that this is “me”.  This busyness is what makes me tick.  Except that I often forget to step back and determine whether I am busy to avoid, or busy to fulfill.  The yard work was to fulfill.  I recently spent a great deal of time uploading pictures from my childhood in a blatant attempt to avoid.  I need to apply to school for the program I have finally and happily determined I want to pursue, after months of avoiding and nearly heading down a path I have no need to be on.  And quite frankly, some of this school pursuit is also an attempt to avoid managing some other areas of my life that need tighter management.  Like paperwork and financial planning for the future, and for the here and now, just little stuff like that.

I had stopped being me, piece by piece, and over time.  I think I held on to some remnants.  I crafted, rather than created.  I mothered.  I did this fully and full-on.  I sometimes did this very well and I often did this with many flaws and misguided attempts.  But I always did this with love. Usually great BIG OVER THE TOP love with maybe sometimes not enough elbow-room for others.  I didn’t realize that giving up big pieces of me would interfere with the authenticity of the relationships I had with my children in spite of my large attempts.  That revealed itself much later.  It turns out it’s hard to prompt and promote and motivate with genuine authenticity while promoting and pretending through a life that is false or superficial.  I also did not realize to the full extent that the tension and strife that I had been feeling, made me incredibly stressed. It turns out stress has a way of landing on children in loud bursts of frustration at the fear of not being able to protect your children from things like, stress and fear.   I gardened and labored and toiled as a way to make something grow with nurturance and love.  My garden thrived.  I could not make my marriage thrive or grow, or survive even.  I laughed fully, less and less, but sometimes smiled widely.  I seldom played, but occasionally with fervor.  I was serious, sad, and so entirely uncertain.  But I was busy! And afraid. And sometimes smiling with fervor.  I was someone else entirely.

I tried to smile through the pain.  I shut down and shut out.  Alone, I questioned and searched and looked within.  I wanted for more and cautiously attempted to initiate, engage or otherwise interest.  I was rejected.  I attempted to minimize the feelings that followed of deserving to be disregarded but they seeped in until I was almost full of unworthiness.  Thankfully I had not given up all of myself.   I knew that this did not match the inner reality of me.  I was worthy of more.  I awoke and slowly rebuilt.  I restored and improved.  I smiled more, and laughed fully.  I made decisions, independently, and did not ask for approval or forgiveness.  I got my groove back, and remembered that I had a great big groovy thing going on.  I recognized my limitations and my strengths and embraced them both equally.  I relied heavily on the kindness and support of a few close friends and I did not buckle under the weight and former shame of asking for, and needing, this help.  This may have been the hardest part of my journey, with the exception of forgiving myself.  And it was the most important part, the life-reviving part.  This sense that we are needed and we need and we are equally worthy of both is what makes us thrive and grow and live fully.  We can’t do it alone.  We aren’t meant to and we aren’t made to.

I am still working on forgiving myself.  For staying.  For going.  For giving up me.  For getting angry.  For not getting angry enough.  For blaming someone else for not caring enough.  For taking on debts and taking on the bulk of responsibilities and then blaming.  For thinking that I was helping my children when so much turned out hurtful and could have been avoided.  For not seeing things as they were, so flamboyantly loudly, full of fervor they were.  I am forgiving myself for not fighting back the untruths and the accusations, and I am forgiving myself for believing it was better to quietly move on.  I can’t change anything that happened, I can only move on with acceptance and purpose.  I forgive.  I hope. I live.

It becomes too easy to blame and begrudge and belittle.  We live in a society that celebrates weakness and ugliness more so than it celebrates strength and honor.  We create monsters so we can excuse our own transgressions.   Or we become the monster someone else created to make them less accountable for their own indiscretions.  At the end of the day, I know who I am.  I know what I have achieved and what I need to do differently next time out.  At the end of each and every day, I know my son is sleeping soundly in a home I have built for him.  I know my older children struggle, and play and work and at the end of the day if they need anything, they can and will call me and we will struggle and work and play through it to the end because we are worthy of this life and the love we have to give and take.  We value.

I am working on some dastardly patterns that I finally see, full on.  There is one in which I throw myself at someone unavailable in an effort to test my worthiness.  I throw myself at someone unavailable so that I may avoid finding out if love and trust truly exist beyond my controlled attempts at convincing myself they do not. This has been tested again and again.  The results of this test: I am worthy, he is still unavailable-it is time to let go and "to love with my whole heart, even though there's no guarantee -- ".  It’s a pattern though, it may need a more comprehensive approach- sandblaster anyone?  Lobotomy? A large brick wielded at the right side of my cerebral cortex with precise aim, that's where my art and creativity function, so be careful.  Hypnosis?  You are sleepy, and hot and worthy, avoid the unmovable.  At the count of three you will stop attempting contact with the unavailable.  And you will only attend to yourself for the time being.  1….2…..3….  I better go check my messages and send five to see if he is available yet… Patterns die hard, and the first step is recognizing them.  The second step is avoiding, denying, minimizing and rearranging.  Relinquishing comes later.  I have a little time yet.  I have a hard time with relinquishing, which explains why I am honestly imagining where it will be tattooed upon my………cerebral cortex ? I’m just not sure if that will have the same impact as the coveted lobotomy.  RELINQUISH How will that look on my bosom, my lower back or upper ass, maybe my calf?  The trouble is I need to have it in full view all the time.  Can they tattoo the inside of my cornea?

I am working on friendships.  I am starting new ones and feeding older ones.  I have not previously done so well here.  I have tried to live alone in privacy to hide or shield or build upon or maybe deny shame and sorrow.  I have left friends for relationships, or relocation, or reasons no longer remembered.  I have been righteous and I have been reverent and at the end of it all I have realized I have missed out.  I have not been a friend fully, because I have not been living fully.  I am ready for friendship.  I have been blessed with the opportunity to reconnect.  I am also recognizing that I have some incredibly worthwhile friends new and old, and I have room for more.  I have the desire and determination to work on them and enjoy them fully, finally.

I am working on being an artist.  I am creating and experimenting. I am exploring my inhibitions and I am pushing some of my limits.  I am exhibiting my work, and I have had success selling a few pieces.  I have achieved much more from the support and encouragement of friends and strangers.  I have not had any of my biggest fears validated.  I have not been questioned or rejected or criticized.  Which does not mean I have attained complete adoration and unbridled levels of worship, but that was never the goal.  I am an artist.  I am working on it and with it and in it.  Most of all, I am thriving in it and loving it, the struggle, the challenge, the tension and finally the trust in myself that shines through and makes it possible.

I am vulnerable and I am worthy, and I am so much more. 

I have to go, I think this is my stop, it’s been a great ride, except for those several bumpy patches of tumult and fear, but they were also important and worthy and life giving. My soul was nourished on this ride and it was strengthened. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stealth and Elegance and A Most Exciting Diversion

I once worked with a student that was just truly hard to connect to.  I worked with her for two years.  Two years of attempting to find a way to relate, reach, or resonate with this one student.  I don’t think I ever truly did, and well, she didn’t really seem to mind or notice.  On an especially good day, she screeched and hissed and slammed a bit of some strange luncheon meat product with such force and venom while claiming that it was soon going to be my brain in a bag if I didn’t stay away.   When I saw it, I was certain it was cat food in a baggie, it was crumbly and pinkish gray. I was surprised to hear it was once bologna.  Really, surprised.  I got stuck on this, because I just couldn’t imagine it.  The bologna I had come in contact with did not have texture that would lead to crumble, if it became a glutenous paste-like substance, I would understand…. In retrospect I think it might have been liverwurst….it did resemble gray matter.  On bad days, well you know, bad days and good days have a way of blurring when engaged in an honest days work.  Most of my days spent with this student seemed pretty much the same; predictably off the charts.

The funny thing is, I have recently connected with her in a manner I never imagined and I have to say, she may have had more self-control than I have been recently exhibiting.  When she had a “boyfriend” (it helps to make a big flourish with those finger quotes as you snap out the word “boyfriend” and add in a tight eye wince), so ok, when she had a “boyfriend” or a crush, or a burning desire in her loin of pork, or rump roastbeef area, or headcheese heart,  as opposed to my bologna brain, she would take to licking the locker of her dearly beloved of the day.   I, or my assistant, would have to have brief endearing heart to hearts to help her to understand that this was just not really socially acceptable and the boys were reporting her to every guidance counselor, administrator, teacher, custodian and bus-driver.  She would just look off all dreamy-eyed and stalker ready, and say in a high pitched howl,  “But I love him! How else will he know he’s MINE?” followed by shrewish cackling.

I’m not sure how I missed this phase in my own life.  Of course I know this isn’t a real phase, or an acceptable aspect of the phase of love-sick teenage development, but I seemed to miss even the more acceptable, somewhat-managed, slightly over the top rendition.  With the acceptance of mooning over Larry Ludwig who had a locker close to mine and was all kinds of Michael Yorkish dreamy, his eyes were a tad bit widespread, the bridge of his nose flattened, and he had long blonde bangs, dreamy… I got as close as blurting something at him 2 days before he moved away my mid junior year of high school.  Something to the effect of, “Oh now that we finally acknowledged that we like each other, you’re moving?  Just Great!”  I might have stomped, or blazed red.  I probably foamed and spit the words out.  I’m sure he thinks of me still and wonders how on earth he let me slip away, he imagines me to be dreamy too….. don’t you think?

I didn’t spend a great deal of time in deep infatuation or love-sick lament.  I didn’t stay up nights trying to figure it all out.  I was a bit more active and in the game when the game presented itself to me.   I didn’t generally seek out love interests or get over the top about any of it and for the most part  I was pretty content with whoever presented himself to me.   I wasn’t particularly picky and I enjoyed the experience in one way or another.  I have had a couple of all out doozies.  

Truth be told, I was happy not to have to figure out any of it, it was all a great big mystery of social interacting that I just couldn’t master or muster the nerve for.    In high school, the list of crushes, interests, or boys pursuing me added up to around about, or under, well they could be counted on my two hands.  And they didn’t all score big, or much, or even have a clue how to score if they wanted to.   Aside from being afraid, I was a bit cynical about the whole concept of love.  Having deeply entrenched Catholic restrictions to adhere to and equally rip away from played a part.  Underestimating the power of “girly girlishness” and not wanting to deal with the big old potential for rejection kept any love-sick boy-crazed potential for being out of bounds, in check.  Maybe I had been celebrating my uniqueness and strength a bit too much. I wanted to be different, special, better than most.  I wanted to feel that way anyway.  Rather ordinary after all, it turns out.   I have landed in some rather unique and unquestionably ill-fated relationships because I failed to follow some of the trials and tribulations of ordinary, regular old dating rituals.    I could have avoided the “different” altogether.

I recall in college when my closest friend made a point of looking out the window of my dorm room checking out hot young men, old men, and any old man in between.  “Oh man, look at his ass! I’d like some of that!” she would whistle and cat-call.  I, exasperated, woman of equality dreams and fantasies, did not like that she was using male-like sexual objectifying towards ….males.  It bothered me.  I also thought it important to “know” someone.   I thought it important for a person to have inner beauty and strong qualities and values.  Intelligence and humor were the qualities that I found, and still find, most attractive.  I would go on and on about how important it was for a person to be thoughtful and deep and interested in learning.   She once had a great time, calling out the window in an exaggerated and rather animated fashion at my expense, “Hey Ginger, what about that one, does he have a good “mind”?  Ooooh  baby, you have a really hot MIND!  Ooooh  sweetness  can you show your intelligence, my roommate wants some of that – oooh, man is that his sense of humor showing, or is it his funny-boner I see?”  I called her an expletive, laughed a little and went off to see my skateboarding boyfriend, who incidentally had a fine sense of humor, a ripped six-pack, and a very sweet, worthy and buff ass with thighs that could scissor hold an amazon, or just me.  He broke my heart, however, with the large breasted amazon and I attempted to focus  even more attention on finding a better-minded individual.  An attribute that is a lot harder to “see” and hold on to than a fine ass it turns out. 

This year, for whatever reason,  (I have a categorized list of specific reasons, alphabetically organized, and numerically sequenced) I was dumbstruck and  have spent the greater part of the past 2 or 3 (or secretly 5 and 3/4) months mooning over some dreamy bit of manliness.  My friends and a few concerned colleagues were getting close to doing an intervention it was getting, that bad.  At times, direct contact created such havoc.   I was a hot mess of blushing, palpitating, stammering delight, or a confident smart ass or a woeful admirer across 3 minutes and back again. I could not help but conjure up and consider my previous student.  When I wasn’t beaming a goofy smile or staring off into space, I was threatening to lick his door, his walls, the side of his face. I was beaming smiles that needed to be cognitively released.  Smiles don’t generally need to be released, but my mouth was getting sore from the wideness of the smiles.   One morning after I stopped for coffee, the smile, the sing-songy leap of my gait and the smell of the freshly coated sugar donuts lead me to walk off without paying.  I was so dreamy and bedazzled by delicious thoughts and imaginings, his arms, his laugh, the twinkle in his eyes, his…..I got to my car and suddenly woke from his spell and laughed my way back into the good graces of the cashier.  That’s when I knew I had it bad.  And I had better get it in check!

That’s also when I knew I had never had this at all.   And I have to say, although the wall-licking moon-struckness appeared to be maybe a tad tilted toward one side, I have actually enjoyed this wacked-out off-the-charts burst of desire and dreaminess.   It has served a purpose.   Maybe a few.  I had the opportunity to learn a few things about myself and my need to let go of a few too many inhibitions.  I think much of this worked out rather nicely and I am looking forward to road testing this new found freedom.   I learned that I am hungry for some big hulking arms.  Salivating for them in fact. I learned that it is important to reign oneself in from time to time, but it is equally important to let go and let it all hang out, y'know, from time to time.  I learned that there are good, decent men out there, something I had not been very willing to explore or believe, maybe ever before.   I learned that I am still not that easy to contend with at times, but I can be a great deal of fun and funny in my occasionally bologna-brained efforts.   Being responsible is incredibly important to me.  Being miserable is not.  I am currently moving toward responsibly thrilled and reasonably excited.   I feel more alive having experienced and enjoyed and survived this most exciting diversion.  

I actually feel hopeful and excited about the possibilities that lie ahead in a way that I had not previously imagined.  I feel, perhaps, next time out, or in, or under……or hmmmmmm.... on top…..I can cope a bit more reasonably and maybe even in a socially acceptable manner with decorum and grace.  I hope.  I wonder.  I will be able to participate and socialize and maybe even flirt a bit without burning into a blaze of heat and hives.  I might be able to wear my funny and sexy and smart out loud, more consistently.   My fine piece of whatever suits your fancy is here for the giving, and I get to choose carefully, or even with carefree abandon who I will give this to.   I am no longer willing to put my life on hold.  Now I just have to figure out how to express to some lucky fella that he is MINE.  I might need a club or some string, a little tape, and a few bamboo finger cuffs, maybe just a sneak-attack ear nibble. I can probably pull that off with stealthy elegance and my highest heeled pumps.  Do I come in from behind or side to side?  Another student recently gave me a wet-willy, I don’t think I want to try that.  It doesn’t do anything for me.  Although I am wondering if it might buy me a nice disability package.

As for Mr. McDreamy?  I can’t imagine how that saliva got all over his car handle or who left him a bologna sandwich.  The bite marks on his ass?  I have no idea what you’re talking about… stealth and elegance and some very happy thoughts.... And much gratitude for delicious imaginings, twinkling eyes, and kindness during more than a few blazes of heat and hives.  And my God, those arms.....OK stealth and elegance, and a little more time for composure.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Self Help: How to Rally the Hopeless and Hopefully Heal

I have spent the greater part of my adult life perusing and purchasing here and there along the way, self-help books.  My collection is not really vast or all encompassing but it is somewhat, OK it is extremely, telling:

·      Adult Children (of a variety of ills and ailments)
·      Shyness
·      Co-Dependency No More
·      Introverts
·      The ADHD Manual-(numerous editions and viewpoints)
·      Prayer Book for Women
·      How to get to Yes
·      Emotional Abuse:  The Silent Victim
·      The Other Side of the Closet
·      Walking on Eggshells
·      Ignore Everybody and 30 other ways to unleash your creativity (or something to that effect)

I have joined a few support groups, but never liked the cult-like group speak or the rigid adherence that only seemed to protect those that were abusing and abusive.  Sure, I wasn’t able to change whether or not someone else sobered up, stopped gambling, got out of bed or not, but did I really need to stifle the pain it was causing me?   Joining a group to help me feel that I was not alone seemed to perpetuate the sense that I should shut up and count my blessings, or look on the bright side.  Trouble is, or was, being “pathologically  hopeful*” I have a real problem with being hopeful, but I haven’t read about how to stop or minimize that trait.   I am so hopeful that I have this tendency toward attempting to rally the misery out of others as I see the silver lining, bright skies, rainbows and moonbeams all around, them, me, us.  I can practically tap dance and sing joy into just about any of the above mentioned areas in need of help and I’m sure I can make a musical out of situations Mel Brooks never dreamed of.  Springtime for Hitler, would pale in comparison. 

The last self-help book was purchased just shy of two years ago and it coincided with the ending of my second marriage.  (Sure I know, I have failed at 2 marriages, but maybe not really.  Maybe I succeeded at life for the time being)  I haven’t joined or attended any more groups.  I haven’t succumbed to suffering or perished in pain.  I have adhered to self-directed reflection and some self re-discovery.  I have been slightly in limbo, however.  In not wanting to be stuck in anger and sadness and regret and a whole lot of flashing neon-lighted hindsight, I haven’t fully confronted the reality that my strength and stamina served me poorly and sustained some serious blows.  I’m working on it, it’s an independent study type project, a work in progress.   Which turns out is also a strength of mine, occasionally.   I am the “A” Numero Uno Project Manager of self-directed works in progress.

Staying clear of blame and bitterness, avoiding anger or certainly attempting to, was gleaned from a gazillion or so self-help journals and manuals.  I didn’t want to get stuck in feelings of loss and regret.  I didn’t want to rally or support or conjure some form of self-imagined hopefulness of another at my own expense.  Actually, I would have truly liked a respectful handshake.  A little bit of, “Y’know, it would be easy to make this horrible and dastardly, but truth is, we gave it a go.  We have shared some good times along with some very troubling times, but let’s go onward with grace and tenderness.”   Good luck.  Cheerio.  Don’t let the screen door hit you in the…..See ya, Bye,  Don’t forget to take out the trash, this once or mow the …!! #@!!…L-A-W-N.  Oooops.  I mean,  Thanks for the memories......I wonder if I may have enjoyed some sense of explosive, bright, loud closure.   I’m not exactly sure what that may have looked like, and the reality is, at this point, I’m just not feeling it anymore.  Today.  Finally.  I think.

The self-help books served a purpose and they did help sometimes.  At least they helped me to realize that I did in fact try to improve my situation(s) or at least gain an understanding of them.  The books helped me to gain a sense of my struggles and they helped me to improve some of my not so mastered coping strategies.  Sometimes. 

Footnote:  In all honesty, aging has been the greatest help and that can’t be packaged or produced or published under “self-help”.   Aging brings an understanding that so little is under our control.  It forces forgiveness and encourages acceptance.  It frees the soul.   And just for the record?  My soul is full of tap-dancing, musical songs of hope and who-gives-a-darn-tooting-itty-bitty-morsel-of-a-hoot-about-whether-or-not I, or someone I once loved drank too much, ate too much, spent too much, was straight, gay or still uncertain, played too hard, gambled away the money, used too many prescription drugs, crashed the car, parked between the lines, danced on tables, screamed too loud, dared to love, spent too much time with the kids, tried too hard, lost a ring, or two, or three, worked too hard, lusted for another, laughed too loud, licked a few walls, or left the cake out in the rain?  For heaven’s sake, LIFE IS SHORT, have a little fun but wear your seatbelt and try not to hurt yourself, or those around you and keep your lawn at least "managed".

*pathologically hopeful- hopeful to the point of delirium may be actual denial of true hopelessness of a situation- a term used by a dear friend

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Exciting Moments of Clarity and Calm

I’m walking with a close friend and discussing, or perseverating about my observations and thoughts regarding my potential for dating or getting a date.  I’m scratching my head and wondering, and suddenly I laugh out loud.  She’s trying very hard to remain neutral, to not encourage, to not reach across and smack me down.  That’s my fine-tuned perception anyway.  When I start laughing out loud, this takes her by surprise.  She has listened and watched and endured my process in dealing with the demise of a marriage that should have ended ions earlier.  Throughout, she listened and tolerated and supported when she long past moved into the preference for the old smack down approach, and hard.  She has watched me tangle myself into a great big knot, and gently guided my attempts to become disentangled and smooth myself out several times over, and remained true.  Exhausted and annoyed, but true.  The sudden laughter is throwing her off.

The laughter comes in a moment of clarity.  I have been having several of these lately.  Moments of clarity and calm.  I was expressing my baffled sense of not being able to gauge whether there was any potential for a certain someone. I suddenly realized why I can’t “see” or feel the validity of a vibe or the potential for any possibility for dating at this moment in time.  I can’t see or feel anything because I am living large right dab on top of it all.  I have been working this party, but hard.  There isn’t enough room to “see” or feel anything with the exception of my own buzzing, whirring, overcharged currents.  This seems to be an extension of my need for control.  Not to control but to have a sense of control in my life.  It turns out it's my misguided attempt at control that needs to be controlled.

I get excited.  Really excited, still.  Like a puppy, excited.  A child on Christmas Eve, or her birthday excited.  I like this feeling a great deal, but only so much.  It can become out of control and all over the place fast.  I don’t like this feeling at all.  Me, out of control, is not a good thing and so, just as quickly I attempt to gain control.  These attempts at gaining control are not so effective either, at least not in a way that ends well.  The ending part works, but not well.

Initially I seem to pounce on a glimmer of attraction like a puppy that has caught a fly under its paw.  It’s there, trapped, but now what?  So occasionally I trap a bugger and then suffocate it and wonder why it’s not playing, or breathing.  Is it breathing?  It’s certainly not playing with me any longer.  I can put out a great deal of energy that is not entirely understood or inviting in a variety of settings and situations.  I have a lot of energy. This energy can be at times attractive, like getting close to a flame or electric current but simultaneously reads as “danger” because it’s hard to determine the source of so much excitement or the expected output.  I then move into the perpetual hedgehog that can’t be hugged, modus operandi.  I bristle up my spikey exterior and hrrumph at the knowledge that no one is coming close.

I next move into containment mode and attempt to not give out any response because I am absolutely certain I will not succeed in the particular encounter.  But a hedgehog in a silk shirt isn’t able to contain much. I’m not sure what’s better, the hedgehog or the puppy?  I seem to be whirring and buzzing and stirring and trying to play possum,  imagining that I am holding it together all cool and calmly.  Of course then I fret and wonder, “What if that was too cool and stand-offish?”  What if it was too buzzy and stirry?  No wonder I can’t maintain over 5 minutes of calm.  Before long I am tangling myself up into a big old knot that smells like desperation.  Now there's an odor that attracts misery without company.  Except it’s not desperation, its self-directed exasperation.  Calm.  Where’s my calm?  I know that I need more moments of calm to allow clarity to work it’s way through. Has anyone seen my calm!!!!?? Anyone???

On my walk, I suddenly realized I was utilizing both strategies full board.  I am over the top excited about this someone (picture me as the puppy with a fly).   I am also fully aware that I won’t be able to catch this fly, or trap it under my big, clumsy paw.  So I attempt containment and control, which at least will inevitably lead to a countdown of explosive passion inspired, yet uninviting frustration of oozing, bursting chaos.  This way at least there gets to be an end point to this duality of being as I attempt to express my out of control sense of excitement and interest.  It would be easier to grow man-sized clumsy paws and I’m certain, equally attractive. I also realized I couldn't sense anything from the source of my excitement, well, because I couldn't see beyond my own crazed fear of all this newly presented excitement.

Meanwhile, another friend attempts to offer help.  He notices that I am all abuzz and happy.  He is happy for me.  He is encouraging and full of well wishes.  I explain that I am not so good in this arena but I am trying to just experience the “happy” and not worry about the inevitable or at least for now, unknown outcome.  This is somewhat true.  It does feel good to experience these feelings regardless of where I undoubtedly and ultimately attempt to force them.  He kaboshes the thought and attempts to express that I should have no worries here.  I continue to explain, my typical approach; my excitement unbound and my need to gain control of myself.   He doesn’t see this side of me.  Lucky for him, and lucky for me as well, to have some sense of control and a place to be myself.  I sum it up this way,  “Y’know the stories you hear about someone dragging someone home and having their way with them?” I explain that although I don’t condone this type of behavior, I can almost understand it.   If it weren’t so frowned upon, I might attempt it.  I will need a club and I might need help dragging someone up to my attic lair, uh, studio.   If I could avoid the initial phase of uncertainty and unbound excitement and move into the dreamy “Morning, Lover….” phase, I might be golden, or at least calmer and stand a chance. I imagine getting a club, momentarily…. It's bad, I know.

I’m making progress.  Some.  I am getting closer to quiet and occasionally, stillness.  OK, maybe I am getting closer to experiencing stillness and quiet for a prolonged time interval of, say, more than 5 minutes.  I did experience a near nirvana feat of 50 minutes a few weeks ago when I was waiting for glue stripper to work it’s magic in between 17 other chores.  That might have been more about exhaustion than relaxing or sunbathing but I was in a rested state and I was relaxed nonetheless.  I’m going to claim it as a relaxed, quiet state of more than 5 minutes.  The fact that I was alone and isolated in a faraway land helped a great deal.  There were few external distractions.  My internal distractions, attentions, reflections and reactions are more often the culprits of my constant buzz and murmur, but I was calm.   (Note to self: isolation and minimalist environmental stimuli helps support a quiet state of relaxed.)

I think it might be coming together, but I’m not going to overthink what happened recently.   Not me, no way.   I went to an art class.  I haven’t gone in some time.  Parental duties, which are first and foremost, in spite of my seemingly teen-age obsession with dating, have limited my schedule for self-directed activities.  I was greeted warmly and happily, I responded in kind.  My energy and attention was focused on my work.  I was calm.  I was happy to be there.  Contained and calm and energized in the moment, me: relaxed.  After some banter and gentle conversation I was asked to meet up afterwards for a drink, casual and calm carry over of conversation.  Not  a "date" but an opportunity to calmly converse.   No club needed, yet....

Maybe calm looks good on me.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Almost Fully Grown

We set out early, my hiking companion and I.  I forewarned him the night previous that he needed to pack before he went to bed-“We are heading out early, this time.  Wake up and get in the car deal, that’s it, no mulling around and wasting time.  So make sure you pack tonight." He promises to.  I understand this to mean:  I will do the packing at 5:00 am when I awake and get the coffee going. I will lovingly (ahem) call up to him to wake up because we are leaving in 10 minutes, and then again 5 minutes later, just his name, but louder, deeper, sharper to penetrate his sleep.

He comes down the stairs of our small cottage the next morning and stares off blankly as he pours milk into his cereal.   He is more alert than I expect at this hour.   I finish preparing bagel and egg sandwiches for the car ride.  This place that we both share a love for serves often as “base camp” for our Adirondack hikes.  We have done these hikes together for the past 4 years.  He has grown up on these hikes and I have relished each one.  The long stretches of solitude filled by occasional and thoughtful questions or observations have provided a depth of conversation that might not have been afforded had we not been on these miles-long journeys.  This has been a gift. He has a great love for nature and outdoors that has been strengthened here.  He is strong and peaceful, able to bend and adapt like the pines and cedars surrounding us on our hikes. Secure and solid of character like the slab rock we traverse.  His temperament, self-assured and steadfast has been nourished here.

We hike together.  We live together, for the time being.  This son and I.  We have only each other most times, friends and distant relatives come and go.  His siblings, my older children have outgrown him and moved on, they are with us in spirit but they no longer fill our lives, or the home we now occupy.   He, the little one, “the baby” has grown tall and confident.  No more be carefuls, watch outs, look after hims.   He is almost full grown.  We hike together with our odd routines.  I pack.  He does not.  He climbs into the car and begins to unpack.  He pulls all but the food and water.  I repack.  He unpacks slowly, holding up each item and making commentary while smirking and shaking his head.  I squeal and growl and scold each item back into the pack.  He starts, “Coffee?”  “Really?”  We aren’t even camping out, when do you plan to stop to make coffee?”  He is right of course, but the coffee is a teeny tiny instant pack that is going to be the lifesaving life-giving tonic that greets my morning in the event that we become lost and stranded and are somehow forced to stay the night.  He will be lucky that I have my coffee in this “what if” event. 

He moves through and finds assorted emergency products.  Of course there are enough band-aids, ace bandages, alcohol wipes and first aid sprays and creams to secure an emergency triage unit of returning soldiers from the Civil War, The War of 1812, or the Revolutionary War.  I have a very rich imagination and some deep rooted Florence Nightingale fantasy it turns out.  I don’t have the knee brace that I will need when my 49 year old knee pops and grinds from the treacherous, high impact, descent but I will stoically bandage 49 wounded soldiers that are in need of care.  The sacrifice will be worth it.  He scoffs at the Benadryl spray,  “This is not going to prevent bug bites or poison ivy, it’s going to help with the itching later, like tomorrow… when we are home and itchy and can’t find it because its not in the medicine cabinet.”  I snatch it from him and slide it back in my pack.  He continues digging. 

He wants to know why I have so much water for a day trip.  He wants to know why I didn’t pack my water filtration system so we can simply find water on the trails and filter as we go.  He has survival fantasies of his own apparently.  There are certain trails and mountains that have potable water only so high up and the thirst will surely kill us or weaken us and lead us to stumble or fall or lapse into a dehydration blindness.  Risks I don’t want to take, so the camel-back filled with water, the 4 bottles and the clamp on water bottle may weigh me down a bit, but they will save our lives and our vision I assure him.

I pack my camera, and my cell phone, and my back-up camera to capture pictures of these risky and treacherous climbs.  I frequently forget to charge the batteries and end up angry at him for not helping to pack the night before.  I tightly snap that he needed to help.  He remains calm.  He has impeccable timing, mostly.  After I grumble and twitch and shove the cameras back into the 60 pound pack he waits and then asks, drawing out his words.  “How           ex-actly            would            me        pack-ing        last       night,     have charged your batteries?  How is that my fault?”  He’s right again but I try to hang it on him anyway.  “OK, I know it wouldn’t charge the batteries, but it’s frustrating.  I know I always forget to charge them and it would be helpful if you could take it on since I have to pack everything.  HRUMPHHHH.”    Realizing that I am just trying to hang it on him I add, “I know it’s not your fault, but I am frustrated with myself for not getting the batteries together so I need to share my frustration at you.”  He just smiles quietly, and then says “Ok, I can help next time.”  He is almost fully grown.

We continue on.  We have been instructed by other more experienced hikers to take a path that doesn’t exactly appear to match our official ADK topo map.  We continue slightly apprehensive, but calmly.  Leaving early has afforded us the time to be relaxed.  We have been on these trails before and on occasion, grudgingly driven out as night threatened to close in.  An hour into the woods we are suddenly confident that we are headed in the right direction and we are making good time.  Suddenly he questions, rhetorically, “Hey, didn’t I say I was never coming on these hikes with you again?”  He says this lightly but he is recalling our last hike.  We are hoping to finish the Great Range today.  He must be remembering the other trips on the range.

Basin 7/10
The Great Range is considered the third hardest climb in the country according to Backpacker Magazine.  We have broken it into three trips.  The last trip included Gothics and Pyramid Peak.  After climbing up to Pyramid Peak, we were temporarily elated, believing we had reached the peak of Gothics.  We became a little wary when we learned otherwise, the view of Gothics was daunting.  Steep, rock with minimal edges and cuts to climb.  When he saw it, he recalled the trip prior to that and said, “No way!”  I pushed.  We had made it this far, we couldn’t possibly back down without reaching the peak.  Pyramid’s view was beautiful but it didn’t meet the Adirondack high peak qualifications, 4000 foot elevation or above and we had lost a year of hiking the previous summer along with numerous other sentimental belongings and comforts.  I was not backing down from the only hike we scheduled.  As I started up the rock slide, I miss-stepped and fell down the side, being stopped by the ripping of my pants and 4 inches of thigh on a jutting branch.  His face drained of all color as he watched me fall.  He was only slightly relieved when I landed optimistically and bright, determined to try again, but cautiously on the opposite side.  My confidence growing with each climb.

Our first wilderness camping journey covered 21 miles, two days and three of the most difficult peaks, Mt. Haystack, Basin and Saddleback. After hiking 16 miles and setting up camp, exhausted, we cooked and ate and fell asleep heavily.  We awoke to dark cloudy skies and two more peaks to traverse.  We moved quickly as drizzle began to gently tease us down.  By the time we got to Basin’s rocky peak the rain was harder and the exposed, slab rock trail sleek. 

Enroute to Mt. Haystack 7/10
A few climbs were difficult and the heavy load I was carrying challenged my balance.  I am not particularly known for my balance, or gross motor skills at large.  There was a moment of unbridled fear when he took his slight frame, and his athletic inclination quickly up a ten foot vertical rock wall and awaited my climb.  I looked.  I stared blankly.  I could not imagine how I was going to move up ten feet with my uncoordinated limbs, 80 pound pack and clumsy disposition.  I shook my head and frightfully murmured, “I don’t know how to get up there,  I don’t think I can do it.”  He was younger then, 14, earnest and still of the mind that I knew all, or at least best.  He reached his hand down to help pull me up.  He was 14, earnest, and about 75 pounds wet and fully clothed, he was not going to be able to hoist me anywhere, and the slightest attempt would have thrown us both off the side of the mountain.  I looked blankly, color drained from my face, knowing, I had just put us in a situation that could end very badly.  Suddenly this drive for adventure and love of nature fell down hard on me.  I felt for the first time in my parenting life, irresponsible.  I knew quickly that I would need to get it together and find the courage and confidence to get my sluggish ass up that wall and fast.  I did, but not without a great big taste of stupid. 

We continued on, and made it over both peaks, quietly, wet, heavy-hearted.  As we came off the worst part of Saddleback, 150 feet of rock scrambles, the rain became torrential.  Trails that we had come up the day before were suddenly, raging rivers as the flash flooded brooks almost swept us down the mountain.  We seemed to enter the set of “Indiana Jones” but it wasn’t fun, as much as furious.  We stopped occasionally trying to get cover in a lean-to now and again, questioning whether we should stop or continue on.  We were cold and stunned.  We moved onward, the rain let up, the packs were heavy and we were in need of getting home and dry and warm.  The final challenge came two hours before we made it to the parking lot.  A small stream sprinkled with stones and pebbles that we easily stepped across the day before was now a raging river over 5ft deep.  I went through, numb, fearful, and defeated, knowing I had no other choice.  My son, agile and aquatic easily got across.  I prompted him forward to the car and the parking lot.  I came behind, slowly step over step, sore and tired.  I knew we survived, but I also knew I put us in danger, a place I had never gone before as a parent.  I had worked tirelessly across two decades, shielding, protecting, worrying and setting up controls and parameters to keep harm away.  I was humbled and beaten down.  Yet he was stronger and closer to grown than when we headed out.  He was barely grown when we entered the woods the day before.
Gothics Bound 10/11

I remember that hike as a trophy, a gold star of physical achievement but mostly, a wake-up call to build and strengthen my ability to ensure safety.   I recall waking the next day ready to go to the lake and swim or kayak.  Relieved that I wasn’t stiff and sore and fully incapable of movement.  He seemed a bit stiffer.  I began to run that summer.   I researched equipment and invested in a lighter pack.  I purchased a few more guidebooks. 

Upper Wolfjaw 5/26/12

We both learned a great deal about the other on that trip and over the past few years. He learned that at some point, parents may be in need of help, that we don’t always have all the answers or make the right choices.  He learned this hard and fully in areas of his life that I have no control and could not protect him from.  He also learned that we make a strong team. We rely on each other as families must, although our family has decreased in size and nature.  I learned a few handy things as well.  How to clear your congested nostrils without a tissue, well maybe not entirely.  I learned that being accountable to your children as much as to yourself is not an option for me, it's a time tested given. I learned how to make an extraordinary meal on a single flame 2 oz stove.  How to cross a raging river and carry an 80 pound pack for 21 miles. I learned how to start to let go.

Armstrong 5/26/12
We put the Great Range to bed this Spring.  We did our climb in impressive time, shaving three hours off the estimated time for seasoned hikers.  We bagged Armstrong, Upper Wolfjaw and Lower Wolfjaw and cursed the endless trail down until we reached a waterfall.  He started towards it slowly, he smiled knowingly, and nodded as I passed him, throwing off my socks and shoes, wading in without worry.  He followed suit and stood at the base and let the falls wash over him.  I felt strong and confident throughout the hike, and although there were a few scary moments when I lost my footing and at least once became momentarily airborne, my thighs remained intact.  My knee barely ached and I left my hiking poles packed.  My hiking companion is almost fully grown, and I have grown stronger and lighter of spirit through the experience.  We have a few more hikes planned for the summer, and fall.  I may smuggle a coffee pack or two, but I will gladly give up the Florence Nightingale fantasy.  I wonder who will pack the batteries?  

Gothics-with thigh bite and my hiking companion 10/11

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Did I Just Fall Off a Turnip Truck, Or Are Women The Root (Vegetable) of All Evil?

Come join me as I bump and jostle through the field of dreams and root vegetables.  Surely I have just fallen off a turnip truck.  I can’t imagine any other way to explain the reality that has befallen womanhood in this 2012th year in the United States of America.  Of course it might also be helpful to point out the fact that I am quite certain when I got onto the turnip truck, I already had a big old bushel full of jaded realism when considering some of the on-going, persistent inequities afforded to us women folk.  Perhaps the truck took a wrong turn and ended up driving through some third world nation and when I fell off, or maybe I was deliberately thrown, the resulting case of TBI that I must be suffering from would explain why I can’t exactly get a grip on the state of affairs related to women and women’s rights or the “War on Women” that is currently being fought or at least launched full force.  

When I look around it appears I am still living in the United States of America, I’m just not sure how it became acceptable to openly attack women in the political arena AND pretend that it is somehow going to help the nation.  Maybe when I show up in the turnip fields or attend my injury recovery therapy sessions someone will tell me how I came to be the victim of the turnip truck injury in a third world nation, the kind that treat women like second class citizens, chattel, or worse.

Not too long ago, before I somehow became involved in the turnip industry, legislation was passed to ensure women interested in getting abortions would need to undergo serious vaginal probing. Of course, it was also made clear that women needing birth control to avoid the need for an abortion would also be made to suffer humiliation or at least restrictive insurance policies and health coverage. It’s a little ironic that the other vaginal probing and poking-about got them into that mess to begin with, but hey, boys will be boys and girls just ought to be poked and prodded by boys.

Well, surely the abortion issue in the United States is enormous, right?  And it should be stopped because, well, because all of those unborn fetuses that might get to be born will help the economy and create jobs and NOT need health insurance.  They won’t need costly educations, they will gladly pay taxes and they will happily buy homes and turn around the economy.  Here’s the latest statistic by the Guttmacher Organization and the US Census bureau, sit down because it is shocking, 1.95% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 have an abortion in the U.S. each year. That does seem daunting and out of control, doesn’t it?   That number certainly warrants the hype and rhetoric that is being granted at this time. How else can all those less than 2% wayward women be stopped from having abortions?  

Oh, wait there is another way to attempt to stop all those abortions.  Suddenly, the issue of sex-selection abortions has been exposed.  The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act was presented to Congress this week.  Naturally, putting together a bill that protects an unborn fetus from discrimination makes sense.  Well, it probably could make sense except for my turnip truck injury.  Let me see if I can get this figured out.   I, woman that I be, am not fully protected with equal rights.  I don’t have equal pay protections, and I don’t have access to the same health care benefits as men, as well as a slew of other, pesky, niggling little discrepancies.  Yet, an unborn fetus should have rights and protections against discrimination.  As a female-gendered fetus, I should have a great deal of rights, but as a full-grown female in all my glory, I don’t need to have the same rights as men.  Maybe because full-grown glorified, and all-in-their-glory females start having big ideas and expectations or at least thoughts and opinions that might just get in the way of all these plans for, about, and against women.  Yeah, as a turnip truck “accuser” this makes a great deal of sense.  I’m not a victim of the truck fall, because as a woman, I can’t really determine if I was victimized, I can only accuse and that way other non-women can decide that my accusations are unfounded and maybe just in my head, all dramatic and hysterical-like.   At least this is the premise of yet another great bit of legislation that is over-turning the definition of rape and sexual abuse, sexual harassment and violence against women.  We should NOT be allowed to consider ourselves “victims” in these cases, only accusers.  We can accuse, but men involved should not have to suffer any fall-out.  Maybe they were just stealing time, or biding time, or lured by women, or some such ludicrous notion.

Interestingly enough, the same political mavericks causing mayhem for women in some far-reaching attempt to preserve some distorted view of manliness are also promoting the need to make debilitating cuts to programs that provide support and care for women and children in poverty, such as WIC and HeadStart.  Again, the headaches and pain from that turnip truck injury have left me reeling and a bit unclear.  Women should NOT be permitted access to birth control, they should NOT have abortions, they should NOT be putting their children into daycare or preschool programs and they should be able to feed and care for their children without any federal funds.  The shared vision to support this thinking is the belief that women should be at home caring for their children. I'm just not clear which bills will be drafted and presented to ensure all the big, brawny men will support and care for the women and children and help strengthen marriage in this great big nation all chock full of manliness and familyness.

OK.  I sort of get it.  I am a woman.  I’m sure my viewpoints don’t really count though.  I am one of those all out wild and crazy non-conformist types.  I work.  I am single.  I have three children that I have supported without federal funding.   It has not been easy.  Perhaps if only I was able to stay home and be provided for and entirely reliant on my husband, that would have somehow made my marriage stronger and I would not currently be a single, working mother.   (But that’s just a tad funny on so many levels, in my experience it would have been easier to get blood from a turnip.)  Surely, the political mavericks that want marriage and family values to be stronger have some sort of program in place that calls for all the manly men to start providing for and being responsible to all of these children that are in danger of being aborted, in danger of living in poverty, in danger of being uneducable, in danger of being raised by demonic single women hell-bent on doing it all alone, and in danger of being a great big burden to a weakened economy.   I am excited and waiting with submissive-like anticipation to find out about these programs for men, from men, about men. 

The most staggering statistic of all that I have come across in my journey has to be 51%.  That is the percentage of women in this nation.  51% should have more of a say in the decision making process.  We should be represented in the political arena as leaders and policy makers.  We should be represented as equal members of society and we should be able to make decisions about our reproductive rights, our health and well-being and the care of our children, should we choose to have them.  We should not allow the current political climate to alienate all women based on a statistic that represents 1.95% of all women ages 15 - 44,  a statistic that is based upon the results of an act that involved one man and one woman- equally, or forcibly.  But that must be my TBI from the turnip truck fall-out getting all uppity and irritating.

In spite of my turnip truck injury, I have come across a few other statistics that don’t warrant much coverage or political bandying about.  While I head out to the turnip truck and fire up that engine, take a look-see, clearly, women are the root-vegetable of all things evil in this nation and around the world:
  • Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
  • Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
  • Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
  • Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
  • Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.
  • Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
  • Based on reports from 10 countries, between 55 percent and 95 percent of women who had been physically abused by their partners had never contacted non-governmental organizations, shelters, or the police for help.
  • The costs of intimate partner violence in the US alone exceed $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.l