Feeling

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Teary

My visit to Portland. I never thought I would return – a twofold fear of the BIG one and the notion of visiting a city I would no longer know. A city that is no longer mine.

But I did it, without a moment’s hesitation. For Solveig, my daughter from another mother and her sweet kids. The family not born but built with infinite love.

And I kept crying. At the Eastern Oregon wrinkle of rivers, I cried. At Mount Hood towering beautifully over the forest, as it has for eons, beacon of the eastern skyline, I cried. Just about everywhere. Walking, eating, driving – snaking up and up the magical 20th-21st southeast to northeast ribbon, crawling past Alameda, Elliot Smith singing along. And me lamenting my latent appreciation. Better late than never.

Why the tears? Why so many? I never experienced such overwhelm when returning to Arvada, home of my youth. I realized that is precisely it. Portland is the birthplace of my adulthood, our FIRST house. Place where I learned to plant, to love plunging my hands in soil to witness the miracle of shoots turning to leaves, to plants, to boisterous blossoms. Even trees!

It is the place where my sense of self turned from liquid to solid, or at least the appearance of it, a slow moving slab of glittering glass.

Where I decided on friends, realizing I am worth kindness, not snark, open hands and hearts, worth goodness and the very best in people. Honesty and accountability. LOVE.

Where my politics and lofty dreams rooted, deep and sequoia strong. Be NICE. Don’t be a doormat. And as I wandered, I suppose my unconscious remembered before I did, saw the places where the first seeds were planted. Odd corners and unpaved roads of one great and glorious city.

And so the tears and sobs. Heaps and tons.

And hugs, conversation, blessed quiet, with the dearest people of my past and present, almost like I never left, but with it hanging in the air. The sweetest start of a soft storm, soaking me through, puddle jumping, LAUGHING, to myself and Portland, a city that remains very much mine.

 

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New Day

Like a lot of people today, I was talking with a friend about the death of Carrie Fisher. We reminisced that Star Wars was, for each of us, the first time we’d ever seen a movie in a theater. I was six years old. The whole family dressed up for the occasion, and my Dad drove us ALL the way to the Continental theater, a whopping twenty miles from our home in Arvada, to see it. I remember my tiny person feeling even tinier in the huge theater, all those people all around us, every seat filled, the boom of the soundtrack reverberating in my belly, and my brother clasping his hands over his ears to keep it at bay. And the feeling, seeing the huge letters on a giant screen during the opening crawl, and the whole movie, really, that something important and magical was happening, but I didn’t understand quite what it was at the time.

I am experiencing that same feeling now, one of anticipation and wonder. Though, much to the dismay of some, I’m sure, it’s not about Rogue One. Though, on a metaphorical level, it does involve light sabering the crap out of demons, personal and otherwise. When I am finished with this task, my wild hope is that the change will be the stuff of magic, and I will be largely free from these heavy burdens. As I wrote here, I vowed to disallow abusive people into my home or heart. It has been months, and it remains easier said than done. It is arduous, painful work, alienating, too. There are many forces against me in this. They are my family. They are my friends. What are you doing? How could you? Sea sickness is imminent for gosh sakes, Colleen. Quit rocking the fucking boat!

But I have already started and cannot stop, if only for my own delicate soul. I refuse to have my heart trampled, yet again, by my own idiot compassion*. I deserve better than that, truly, finally. The greatest challenge lies in the fact that the people I am excluding are people who (save one) have shown me great kindness and generosity. They’ve given me wonderful gifts, care, opportunities, a bed in their home. But they have also belittled me, the hubster, our marriage, our way of life, blamed me for their problems, tried to shame me into doing their bidding. And thusly it gets tricky. How much is okay? Do I give a second, third, fourth chance? Where do I draw the line?

Here. Right here. Now. This is why:

When I go with the status quo, and allow the abuse (however small) to continue, people still like me. Still speak to me. Still think I am good and generous and kind. But I suffer.  Words reverberate, a rain of fist blows, one after another after another. I sometimes want to die.

When I rock the boat, the abuse stops, and is replaced by an eerie quiet. The silence of anger and rejection, that I could be so unkind, ungrateful. I am left, the tiny girl of my childhood, watching Star Wars in a theater alone. But wait! The hubster is there, always, because I treat him the way I want to be treated, kindly, lovingly, with dashes of silliness and great care. Now that the theater is empty, we gallop around, light sabers and blasters, the FORCE with us. We laugh. Darth Vader frightens us and we hold hands. This is better. This is good, right, and true.

Good golly, yes. Keep rocking the boat!

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*From Pema Chodron – Idiot compassion refers to something we all do a lot of and call it compassion. In some ways, it’s whats called enabling.

When you get clear on this kind of thing, setting good boundaries and so forth, you know that if someone is violent, for instance, and is being violent towards you —to use that as the example— it’s not the compassionate thing to keep allowing that to happen, allowing someone to keep being able to feed their violence and their aggression. So of course, they’re going to freak out and be extremely upset. And it will be quite difficult for you to go through the process of actually leaving the situation. But that’s the compassionate thing to do.

It’s the compassionate thing to do for yourself, because you’re part of that dynamic, and before you always stayed. So now you’re going to do something frightening, groundless, and quite different. But it’s the compassionate thing to do for yourself, rather than stay in a demeaning, destructive, abusive relationship.

And it’s the most compassionate thing you can do for them, too. They will certainly not thank you for it, and they will certainly not be glad. They’ll go through a lot. But if there’s any chance for them to wake up or start to work on their side of the problem, their abusive behavior or whatever it might be, that’s the only chance, is for you to actually draw the line and get out of there.

We all know a lot of stories of people who had to hit that kind of bottom, where the people that they loved stopped giving them the wrong kind of compassion and just walked out. Then sometimes that wakes a person up and they start to do what they need to do.

Another great (and relatively short!) read on idiot compassion can be found here.

 

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Bed

My third start on this post, words seemingly impossible to come by. Our bed, my comfort in this strange limbo. We are tired. Tired of being tethered to the house. Tired of waiting in spaces only temporarily organized while magic and building occurs. Tired of tradesmen filing in and out every day but Sunday. So very much work, and I feel like a big baby for complaining. Wah, wah, wah…

This life of mine is privileged. We have the money to choose where we live. We have the money to buy a house. We have the money to make it fit a vision in my mind.

We have friends. We are loved and shown kindness. We have everything, really. It is not enough, but soon enough it will be. Cheers to that!

In the morning, we walk in the thin cold air, marveling and giggling, at blue sky and wondrous sunshine, overflowing from every possible angle, inside, outside. No, we didn’t forget to turn off a light. Even our our basement is aglow in afternoon. This is our life now, the smell and feel of childhood with the wisdom and appreciation of age. Mountains, hills straw yellow and sun bleached, life at 6200 feet. We are here but were elsewhere for so long, or maybe just a moment, it sometimes seems.

Last night, I remembered our Portland house. The kitchen cabinets that we painted the color of water, the window that was half sun and half shade of the patio. How I watched the birds at the bath: hawks, robins, scrub jays, finches & sparrows, bush tits & chickadees. Paris stretched and yawning. Milo catching flies. Our first November, the yard downright boggy and my shoes nearly sucked into the squelch of muck. Sixteen years in that sweet house, every shade of grey and green, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

And this mess of boxes, wreck of a house and yard, washing dishes on our knees in the shower, I wouldn’t trade for anything either. We are home again.

Moody Melancholia. The name of my current alter ego. It explains a lot.

The death of my Grandma remains a delicate open wound, visible to the naked eye of passersby.

And yesterday, our little schmoo Milo, after not eating for more than a day but producing a copious amount of foul vomit, breathing rough and ragged, and barely able to walk, laid and cuddled with me on the sofa to a Gilmore Girls marathon. I was awfully torn, telling him that if he needed to leave his little earthly body, he could, and that I would love him always. But in my heart and between my sobs, I selfishly prayed for him to stay, which he did, but who knows for how long. He is sixteen-and-a-half, O L D. The thing is, I do not want to lose both of my kitties and my Grandma in four months time. I do NOT.

My Grandma, whose body was cremated today. My God, the finality of that. She is really and truly gone. And here I am in Pittsburgh, this city that fits like shoes in dire need of breaking in. They look lovely, and I do not regret the purchase, but they hurt to wear for too long. The problem is that I already left the house. Dolled up and miles from home, I must keep going. Plodding awkwardly forward, hoping the blisters don’t tear and bleed, I sulk a little, sometimes a lot, truth be told, before falling down the stairs and making the biggest raspberry known to man on my backside. Actually, not metaphorically. The hubster bearing witness, helpless and horrified.

Jeepers.

I am a hot mess.

Please send love and hot-cocoa thoughts while I search for a silver lining.

 

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