I just can’t talk to you right now 

I’ve been dodging texts. I’ve been scrolling through Facebook quickly. I’ve been avoiding certain friends and even some family. Because I can’t take one more thing. 

I’m struggling to explain it. It feels like a form of PTSD. And not just because I’m a whiny bleeding heart liberal. It’s because my hope is broken, and it feels like a gaping open wound. 

Smug, mocking words from gloating friends who don’t understand this pain is like salt in the wound. They aren’t trying to hurt me, I understand that, but what hurts is that they don’t see it. They don’t feel it. That they aren’t empathetic to what seems so obvious a problem to me. 

I’m going to try to make this connection. I don’t know how to articulate it very well though so please bear with me. 

Over the last 2 years I’ve been treated pretty roughly, pretty indelicately, and disrespectfully, by men. 

I’ve dated. I’ve been on dating sites. There was even a very short period where I was a little self-destructive or just less cautious, I let down my guard, and some bad things happened. I learned my lesson, but at what cost? 

I have met some very lovely, friendly men – but I have also met many, many who don’t care two shits about me, my life, my sons, or my story. 

“Show me your tits, babe!” 

“We’ll go out sometime – why don’t I just come over tonight so we can get to know each other?” 

“What’s your favorite position?” 

“Wanna see my big cock? I can’t wait to see your pretty little mouth on it.”

“Don’t worry, I like big girls.” 

That last one from the worst of them. A predator who doesn’t see himself that way. 

I even had one guy, who provides Christian-based therapy to families by the way, yell at me, try to manipulate me by telling me I was throwing my life away, losing a fantastic opportunity, making a horrible life-altering decision (and thus I’m a stupid, terrible person) because I wouldn’t let him come to my house at 9 pm at night, with my sons at home, on a school night, during the very first conversation I had with him ever. He was personally affronted that I wouldn’t bend to his will. Men feeling like they can bully women, whether subtly or less so, is pervasive & it’s utter bullshit. I said no. I SAID NO. Why do you think that doesn’t apply to you? 

I have been used & abused. I have been insulted. I have been made to feel that there are no good, loving men out there – or at least none who could possibly care for me. 

There was one man early on in this second single life – I was so careful at first, but he was so loving, patient, and kind. He nursed my aching heart following my divorce with such care. When I finally allowed myself to fully trust him, to love him … well, he walked away. With no explanation. Ouch. 

So here I stand at the beginning of 2017. We are inaugurating a new President in less than 2 weeks. A man who, from my point of view, hates women except for what they can do for him visually or sexually. A man who has condoned reprehensible behavior and disrespect towards women. A man who, when I see him, I see the face of every man who has ever said, “hey baby, want to come sit on this? I got something for you and it’s really good. You’ll love it. You’ll be screaming for more.” 

He’s a host of other things too, of course. He’s not *just* a sexual predator. 

He’s not a real conservative; I’m sorry to all you hardcore conservatives who got saddled with this guy. I wish more of you had the balls to vote differently. He’s only in it for himself. He’s not a real patriot. He condones racism, xenophobia, and, this is the kicker for all you real conservatives, he’s dismissive of cultural & ethical mores that are inherent to our American history – including our reverence for the constitution. All you 2nd amendment diehards can’t fly that flag anymore when the president you elected is planning legislation that blatantly violates other amendments. 

He’s going to ban Muslims – well, I work with a bunch of Muslims and they are the kindest, most loving souls. Some were born in America. Muslim is their religion. This is their home. 

Every gay friend I have feels like their lives are a little more in jeopardy. 

The farmers from my hometown who voted for him so heartily because he’ll bring more water to the valley, they think – but should we calculate what the new tax burden will be for middle-class farmers? And building that Great Wall on the border to Mexico & deporting the illegals will be a double whammy to those farmers. Higher taxes to build the wall & they’ll lose a lot of their field workers. Poof! But maybe you’ll have water. I hope you have people there to harvest that crop. 

It’s like a never-ending series of blows. All of these things hurt. Grab them by the pussy. The media are idiots. Sore losers, he says. It’s not just because he won, you see, it’s not losing the battle itself, but it’s the fear of what he will do! He’s a bully on a big playground with thin skin and a penchant for beautiful women, and in his life he’s publicly enjoyed nearly all of the 7 deadly sins. Literally in public. He flaunted his skeletons and you judgemental, sanctimonious sheep all blindly normalized every one! Or passively turned a blind eye. 

And he hates women, and don’t we have it hard enough? Haven’t I experienced enough without all these imbeciles feeling like they are validated in their creepy, predatory behavior now? 

So though I mourn for all my minority friends who feel imperiled right now, I have to say this fear everyday is for myself as much as them. Will rapes go up? Maybe but how will we know since most aren’t reported and even fewer prosecuted? Our society doesn’t trust women. 

I am in fear that I will hear someone I like or love, praise him. That someone I trust will think he will do good in our world. I don’t want to lose respect for my family & friends any more than I already have. This election is tied to my heart, my physical well-being, in a way I can’t explain or even fully understand. I am scared. All the normalization of him as our next president is bothering me so much I can’t stand to think of it. 

My hope is broken. So I avoid certain friends who maybe want to good-naturedly tease me, but they don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know the pain they have caused simply allowing such a man to be elected. I feel personally offended, outraged, and resentful of every single person who voted for him. I feel abused, again. I feel like every vote for him was a vote against protecting women from sexual assault, from independence, from equality. 

So when I say to you, “please, not one word about the election, please!” It’s because I want to still like you. I want to still trust you. I want to still think that you have my back. There’s a reason I’m making this request. Please respect it. 

Xoxo,

Stef

A Haiku for You

I have a cold. A stupid, mind-numbing, frustratingly incapacitating cold. I had some fun things planned this weekend. But in lieu of on-the-go, I stayed in and probably worked a little too hard Saturday, but convalesced like a champ most of today (Sunday), by watching White Christmas and football. My team lost, but Bing Crosby still got the girl. Thank heaven.  

I need love & light on the regular these days. I’m not going to talk about the f!&ing election, but suffice to say that,for the next four years, love & light, hope & prayers, and warriors for all that is good and righteous, will be working overtime to keep our asses, our sanity, our morality & our constitution intact! Dammit! I feel a rant coming on so I’m preemptively going to veer back into the left lane & floor it ……

I’ve been doing that a lot in the last 12 days. Come to the edge of the pain, skirt the side and then veer off before it’s able to suck me in. The grief is real, but it’s not my grief. I’m so scared of all the fear; fear does terrible things.

…… veering left again, hitting the gas ……

I took the boys their dad’s tonight. I felt too sick to drive but my ex is not kind to me. (Side note: he hasn’t been in a very, very long time; will he ever recognize his culpability, do you think?) So I knew I’d have to suck it up and drive the 20 minutes to his house & back, regardless of my health. A friend called, concerned, said I needed a hug, and please don’t drive. A friend who has never loved me but who feels more compassion for me and his dogs and other soldiers and his mom than he feels for most anybody else in the world. 

Side thought: Why is it, do you think, that I collect wounded men? My mother hen complex pushing out invisible tractor beams? Look HERE! A sucker for heartsick, hurt men HERE! I try to do what I can, because I try to love big, and sometimes I fall hard and I am then discarded, but sometimes, and more often, I’m able to recognize what is not for me and walk away. I don’t search for it. Honestly. I want kindness, compassion & understanding, and they usually have those things, but equally I want independence, responsibility, & ambition. I want it altogether, in one package, and then I want that person to also think I’m the f!&king bee’s knees. 

Because sometimes I don’t know how to accept flattery, or help, or friendship without embarrassment, distrust and various protestations. I am learning. Keep trying. 

Where was I? 

Oh yeah, I took the boys to their dad’s with a mix of relief & regret. Always both. Tonight more relief because I’m sick and it’s hard to be mom & patient concurrently. (Mom, I’m sorry you don’t feel well! Please get better! What’s for dinner?) I came home to my quiet home and watched a little of my comfort tv – shows so predictable they are soothing in their routine – and then I soaked in a bath with so many thoughts swirling around my head I got cold and pruny. 

The net result, and the subject of this post (yes, I’m finally getting to it) is that I’m more able to process the world and all her quirky machinations when I allow my brain to unabashedly skinny-dip into the pool of creativity. I so commonly stick to pragmatics: that which can be researched, substantiated & proven is logical …… but logic never moved hearts. Logic doesn’t allow for emotional influences that are so important to human functionality. Therefore in order to function optimally I must allow creativity to flourish. 

I’ve held my poetry for ransom. I’ve shut down my craft table. I built a wall around the comfort of pragmatics and I’ve stayed there. But over that wall I could see glimpses of fireworks & rainbows, a glow of light that changes colors and is enchanting me nearer. 

I soaked in the bath tonight and I rebuilt a bridge. A small one. A footbridge. I started with a few haikus, and they are for you – because my love language is acts of service:

********************
1

Troubles carried far

Pinballing across vast oceans 

Of thought in my mind

2

And when shall thou be

Mine; tis but a slip to know

But through wretched time 

3

Suffer not, want none

Though times are treacherous 

Compassion speaks most

****************
I actually wrote six, but I went deep and intimate with the other three and I think this is brave enough tonight. 

Let us sleep now. I pray for compassion, unfettered love, and creativity in abundance for you. Let it flow; we need it now more than ever. 

Xoxo,

Stef

P.S. If my two readers actually get through this rambling journal entry of a post then please raise your hand for a gold star. 🙂 

Happy

img_0387

The human mind is fascinatingly complicated and fantastically infuriating. 

Several weeks ago I really felt like I was sitting in a dark well. I felt bereft; there was no joy. I thought for the very first time that maybe this is depression. 

I talked to a friend about it and he advised speaking to a therapist. I made an appt for 4 weeks out, and proceeded to live life in the interim. 

I went to London on business, and saw great coworkers/friends there; when I came back I hung out in Fall, my favorite season, with my two favorite young men, and I decorated for Halloween. 

When the appointment came I was nervous. I told him some of my history; I told him what I’ve been feeling and why I thought I was there. We only got through a fraction. I left feeling unsatisfied, and a chunk poorer. 

The last couple weeks since then have been busy. Work, kids, Halloween, visitors, dinners, homework, laundry, dishes, rinse, repeat. 

Today a good friend reached out and said she loves me and misses me. I miss her too. I miss how well she knows me, and vice versa. We are the kinds of friends that interprets every word and feeling for the truth, and sees through the lies we tell ourselves.

Then I saw some new friends who care, who are getting to know me, and who have welcomed me, and I felt valued.

Finally, I spent the evening in the company of a male friend and, though he’s more friend than anything else, I’ve developed a comfort level with him that is wonderfully satisfying. 

Tonight after he left, as I sat here alone in my quiet house, I realized I was simply smiling. I felt happy in a very uncomplicated, basic way. 

Without knowing it, my mind has been working through all my baggage, unconsciously climbing me out of that well. Isn’t that amazing?

I feel heartfelt joy at this moment.

I don’t have everything I want, or thought I wanted … but I think that’s okay. I think I will be okay. 

Xoxo,

Stef

Some days you’re the bug

I’m 40. I’m divorced. I’m a mother of two fantastic sons. I have a good job. I’m learning how to date. Those are the basics.

I once didn’t know if my life would ever grow beyond my small circle, the family and friends who care and stuck with me. It’s a small group, most who don’t live near me. Some of the people I love and miss the most aren’t in my life anymore. But that’s okay, I’m learning. Because my life is GROWING. And those people who once loved me and were my everyday don’t have to be a part of my future. At least not an active part. I’m trying to let that go.

So today I offer you two perspectives. A bad night and a wonderful night, and I’m so happy to have experienced both.

A Bad Night

Repose for a dream
Of sunlight and daffodils
Not a nightmare of loss, death,
and aching despair
Sleep there, where it died,
Driven by silence, it kills
Sleep there, the bed that you made,
It’s yours to bear

Gnashing against the sheet
Soaking wet, tears trickle in waves
She wants substance, she said
But you had it
You ignorant, feckless fool
You simpering, selfish
Worthless girl
Flagrant flaunting of your worth
Ego run amuck
Destined to fuck it up

File it away for a later day
Give it to God, they say

Give it to God
Give it to God
Give it to God
Give it to God
Give it to God
Give it to God

__________________
Give me my sin again

It’s sprung from despair
At my urgent breath
Tingly, crackling air
You; accept no less

The penultimate moment
Panting, arrive in the knick
Filling the air, happy hint
Dive in, sweet caress, a lick

Sweetness, a divine embrace
Coming home, my familiar place
Leave me not, your loving face
Within your hand I’m forever laced

Pull me tighter, oh sweet love
My head tucked up in your neck
Chuck my face up, reach above
Tenderness in your soft peck

It’s the sun after a gloomy dark
The crash of a wave upon the shore
Genius start of an artist’s first mark
Your lips, metal too, I demand more

Let us walk, take my hand
Wind down this hall, hands blended
To bed, to sin, within my den
Oh give me my sin again

My lover’s embrace is merely the start
It takes faith, love, and a willing heart

_______________

I wish you all the love your heart can hold. Even in loss there is love, and stripping down to the soul of exactly what you need to carry with you.

xoxo,

Stef

#bebrave


Searched for words of bravery tonight and these resonated. 

I did one of the two brave things I need to do just a few minutes ago and I’m hoping to accomplish the second soon. 

Don’t underestimate your ability to both handle shit and kick ass. It can be done no matter how weak you sometimes feel. 

So many XOXOs,

Stef 

Feel it (Alive) 

A poem:

Lifted up the gun and fired the shot
Hit wild, ricocheted (in my head)
Turning, swirling, stomach in knots
Reaching blind, pulling, fall out of bed

Adam Duritiz is lonely; I know
The difference between lonely
And just being alone, not low
Feel it always, up & down, so me

Fallen on the floor, hard wood
Because that’s what you do
Feel it, the pain hurts, so rude
Are these nightmares true?

Crawl to the window, low moans
pull up, feel it, with all my might
Feel it, soak the rain in my bones
Realise, know it, I’m alive all right

Xoxo,
Stef

A Violation

Processing pain is a weird business.

Sometimes you rationalize pain & hurt until it seems like nothing; trivial, locked away by a facade. De-escalate it, minimize it. We women all do it, don’t we?

Everything is good. Everything is fine.

Then a casual conversation, a mention, and it gets in, chipping away at the facade.
Distance provides clarity.

– – – – – – –
A Violation

A fate worse than death, they say
Death is the absence of pain
Unless you can rationalize it away
Say you chose with a stranger lain
I went to a climbing gym that day
Met a man & his sweet son
It was easy, fun, a time for play
No foreshadowing of to come
Come watch the game, he said
My son will be asleep, no worries
First date, no talk of bed
Easy peasy, lemon squeezy

Hope, she had,
Arrived, snacks in hand
Bottle of wine to share
No worries, no care

strong arms
pulled me down
kissing kissing
hands whoa
naked
what how
no stop
ow
tears
shaking
I have to go

What just happened
to me?
Did I want that?
No, no, no
But he’s a nice guy
Right? Right.
I think so
I thought so
I’ll go out with him again
Because then it’s something
Something more
not just this
I must be wrong
Did I give the wrong signals?
I shouldn’t have kissed him
Or come to his house
How could I be so stupid?
He probably didn’t hear me
When I said no
I don’t want to
Right?

– – – – – – –

We hide it, the things that happen to us. We make it like it didn’t happen. Or like it’s okay. We minimize what it does to us, our psyches, our emotional health and our ability to trust.

Rape culture is pervasive. It happens every day. It happens to people you love.

Ladies, I care about you. Don’t accept that shit and I won’t either. You are more valuable than you give yourself credit for – make him earn the magic that is you.

Xoxo,
Stef

I have cobwebs on my ceiling

Warning: expressive, explicit language. 

Sometimes I sit in my living room and look up at the cobwebs on my 20 foot ceilings and I think, man, I should clean that. I must be a terrible housekeeper. That must mean I sort of universally suck, right? Then I remember I don’t have a telescoping ladder and I feel even further defeated. How the fuck am I supposed to clean the ceiling now?

I recently fell in love with “Say Yes to the Dress (Atlanta).” Mostly it makes me laugh & smile, but sometimes … when the love is so real, so heartfelt … it makes me cry.

Sometimes the loneliness is palpable. And when the kids are gone, and some lady on tv is glowing with love, I think, man, is this it for me? Is this my life now? Alone, with dirty ceilings and no mechanism to make them better.

The boys have been with their dad all weekend. I miss their voices when they’re gone. I did have a lovely weekend, though, and I even had a date(ish thing) recently, but … then I get to Sunday night.

My house is quiet. My phone isn’t making the sounds I desire to hear. The walls are closing in. The cobwebs mock me. The full to bursting gutters, the hole in the wall, the loose faucet .… they haunt me. And I think, what am I doing? I can’t do this. I can’t manage this on my own. Then I remember that I AM actually alone, and likely will be for the rest of my life.

So this is what’s going through my head, and then it gets worse.

Because I’m short & chubby, with terrible legs and I snore, and my big boobs point down rather than out, and I’m stubborn and a control-freak and I always feel like I have to be right, and I have to do right, and live right, because if I screw up then I’m a fuck up and a failure.

So that’s what I am, right?

Because look at those damned cobwebs and my short, fat legs and how the fuck can I be good at anything if I can’t keep my ceiling clean? Nobody is going to love me. In fact, the man I thought could love me decided, nah, not going to do it. And why would he? I can’t even figure out how to clean the ceiling in my own house.

So it’s Sunday night and I’m folding laundry. I’m watching a miserably sappy movie about love, faith, and doing the right thing. I’m sad. And my phone is stubbornly fucking quiet and I think, you pathetic moron, what does it even fucking matter because your time has come and gone. Get used to this, fat ass. Fold your damn laundry and just focus on being a mom because you don’t deserve shit.

Then I turn on a recorded episode of “Say Yes to the Dress (Atlanta).” Lori & Monte are packing up to go to a bride’s home. That’s unusual. Then we get the story. The bride recently lost her 8 year old son to cancer. Her mother & family conspired to put together a wedding & surprise the bride with a dress. The family is still so deep in their grief. For their son, and grandson. The bride doesn’t feel like she has the right to be happy with her son gone.

Well don’t I feel like a jackass?  Sitting over here being a crybaby because of a hole in the wall (that can be fixed) or some full gutters (that can be emptied) or the fact that I feel universally unloveable (which ebbs & flows). But what is that in comparison? That’s nothing to her pain.

I have two amazing sons. I have a good, challenging job. I have a home, cobwebs & all, that keeps us warm & dry. I have my family & a few friends I love dearly. I wouldn’t trade what I have for all the clean ceilings in the world.

Sometimes life hands us these little reminders so that we will shut the hell up and stop brooding over what we can’t control. Just a little kick in the ass.

Know better; do better. (And buy a telescoping ladder).

Xoxo,

Stef