Monday, October 25, 2010

Detox Tea, Unknown Release, and Being a Better Person for No Apparent Reason at All

it's been windy most of the early afternoon. rainy most of last night, although just enough to send a few drops every other second maddeningly down the rain gutter from the top of the second floor to the base of the house, just outside the bedroom.

haven't been sleeping well lately. been drinking detox tea this past week and i believe it's working. slowly, but surely. i listened to a detox meditation track a couple of days ago while i focused on a single word: release. it worked.

i bawled uncontrollably for nearly twenty minutes. other than the tears and gut wrenching cries, i have no idea what i released. i was grateful to be at home alone. grateful to have a puppy to lick my tears when it was all over. and grateful that i didn't feel sad or weepy for a single second after the meditation was over.

detox. i almost don't know what i'm detoxing from. i know i have things to release, i can feel it in my bones. i just don't know what i need to release. i'm fine with not knowing. it's kind of like tossing a box in the garage after not opening it for two or twelve years.

i can sense i'm in the middle of a great shift. i'll look back on this period in my life and know that this was when things started to change for me. again. funny thing is, i thought things could only change for the better when everything was falling apart. it's almost odd that nothing is falling apart, and still i'm in deep need of release, in this deep bend into a shift.

i'm tired of spending time on things that don't matter. i'm tired of making up reasons to do things, as if they do matter. i'm tired of idolizing a minimalist life. i'm tired of walking along pretending i'm getting accustomed to all the changes in my life over the last few years. i'm accustomed. and it's time for more change, more growth.

in a space of clarity around what's important to me: family, friends-that-are-like-family, animals-that-are-family, my health, laughter, being myself, and growth, i see spaces of comfort, spaces of resistance, spaces of longing, and room for exploration.

this is no mid-life crisis. i am not leaving anyone, i'm not dissatisfied with my life or relationship, and i'm not in need of a brand new shiny car to prove to myself that i'm not getting any older.

i just want to be a better person today than i was yesterday. and a better person tomorrow than i am today.

it's not that i'm not good enough or that i'm trying to be perfect. i guess it's more that gravity is what it is, and i feel pulled. i am not a moth pulled toward a flame, drawn to my own demise by forces i don't understand. i am a person pulled toward the universe, drawn to my expansion by my own intuition.

i don't need to fall apart to understand that. at least, not today.

Friday, October 8, 2010

a mother's love reflected

it's amazing to me how fuzzy everything gets when i try to look back on the past. memory no longer has a bright eye but a faded smile, or is it a grimace, a wince, a sober silence locked away while i swallow the key and peer beyond a ship over a foggy ocean?

i'm writing stories of my childhood in working on my next book. stories of my mother's desperate tries to be a good parent, of my desperate tries to be a good daughter, and stories of failing miserably, both her and i. but we were only human, what else could we expect?

i look back and see a mother who was trying so hard to be liked, to be loved, and by people who didn't know how to like or love anything or anyone that wasn't money in the bank, a sly, stiff drink, or another man who knew how to handle his power. she wanted to be loved by people who tried to love, but were just no good at it, so i think they stopped trying, only my mother never seemed to notice. this is the problem with always seeing the good in people.

we hold these truths to be self-evident, but we shield our eyes from the light of that truth and look away when it's too hard to bear. so many times i see a mother who could have changed everything, and refused to try until it was too late, and that last attempt did, in fact, change everything.

but i can't imagine a life that was changed by an action that never happened, a life that never was. i used to dream of a place where my mother was still alive, where she cared more about me than she did about being loved by people who would never love her, where she cared more about herself than being wrong. but i know this place does not exist, and so i stay in the world i've created, here in the now, the present, the life of love and truth and what's real, and right here in front of me.

love never dies. only people do. i love my mother even more fiercely now than i ever have before. in part because i love my self more fiercely now than i ever have before. i recognize that her actions did not reflect her love for me, only her lack of love for her self. i don't pity her, i learn from her, and i love her. as i always have, as i always will.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

And So We All Grow

the days go by slower and slower,
and still they seem to be gone in a swallow.
the sun rises, the sun sets,
the tides ebb, the tides flow,
the moon waxes, the moon wanes.
the same cycles over and over again,
and yet,
we are never the same person,
over and over again.

we say we haven't changed,
but we always are,
we always do.
we say we want things to remin the same.
we say we want stability.
what we want is change because what we want
is growth.

but remember when we were growing up
and our bones hurt
because they were growing
and changing?
that's the way of life.
it's not meant to feel good all the time,
it's meant to be lived.

we go through life standing up and sitting down
and building up and tearing down
and sitting still and standing tall
and raising fists and raising masks.
we are who we are each day and on and on,
and that person is never again
the same as we are right now.
we are like the glass of wine that is different with each sip,
as each moment the air changes the flavor of the grape.
the layers are exfoliated by oxygen and movement,
and oh so are we.

something is wrong when we want things to stay the same,
when the status quo is enough,
when it's all we strive for.
something is right when we're in search of something more,
something greater,
something different.

we are not unhappy with who we are or where we are,
we are simply curious beings, and want to know what else is out there.
we want to know how things work,
understand the meaning of the unknowns of the world.
this does not make us pessimists or unfaithful,
this makes us the curious children we were born as,
and maybe some of us
just forgot how to be curious.

maybe it felt good to know something
and so we got stuck in knowing
and being inside the box of understanding
what was happening.
and so we got comfortable and set up camp
and forgot it was camp,
and stayed forever.

we are living in our mud walls,
thinking they are concrete.
the walls of our minds are not concrete,
they are matter.
they are fluid.
they are ever changing and curious.
they are always seeking more.
they are always hungry for what's next.

and we are not dissatisfied when we are curious about what else is out there,
we are in fact so satisfied,
that we can't help but want more of that satisfaction
of finding out
what else will work
in our lives.

i believe this with every fiber of my being.

so this is the way of the world.
the river flowing, up and down and in and out.
the river dries up, the river overflows.
the river beholds an ancient truth of allowing what is to be, and seeing what else is up around the bend.
the river is all knowing and wise.
and it is fed by its mother,
the ocean,
and it feeds its mother,
the ocean.
and it all comes from the same place,
the wonderful vast universe of water and evaporation
and clouds and rain,
the cycle that began it all that we know almost nothing about,
it would seem.

and so we wonder,
what is next
and because we don't know,
we have fear
because we have forgotten what it's like to be
we have been taught to fear the unknown,
rather than embrace it.
we associate the unknown with dark alleys
and scary men with no boundaries.
we associate the unknown with lies and bitterness
and fake smiles to take something from us.
it's not that we ought to believe everything we hear,
or walk down every dark alley.
it's that we ought to trust ourselves,
our gut,
our intuition,
and still
move forward.

maybe it means choosing a different walkway or person to work with,
but it can't mean choosing the same old familiar things
day in and day out
simply because it's what we know.

when we set out to strand ourselves on an island of the unknown,
bring with us those things, those people that are familiar to us,
that give us comfort.
and so we still grow,
we still change,
and we grow
with those familiar people,
with those comforts of home,
and so they grow, too.

and so we all grow.

Monday, August 23, 2010

what's hers is hers

my girl's grandmother passed away this week. mum. i only met her a few times. she's the kind of woman you instantly fall in love with. proper in her manners, sweet in her demeanor, and fierce in her love and respect for her granddaughter.

the last time we saw mum was over skype. she was in aww at how the picture on the screen was really us all the way over here in california. she got to "meet" jackson and share a space of love and smiles over the mysterious waves of the internet. for that, i will always be grateful to skype.

it kills me to see my girl's heart so broken. i don't know what to do for her, i don't know what to say. i can go through my own pain, but how do i just sit here and let her go through hers?

i'm trying not to let my grief overshadow hers. this is her loss, and even though i feel an ounce of it, too, i have to remind myself of my role in her grief: support; love; kisses; space; shoulder; tissue giver; ear; head rest; and more love.

i can't speak to what she's going through because i know we all process grief differently. i can only marvel at how she's actually processing it. it's so different from my own family's way of getting through death. they cover it up with "being strong" and "sucking it up" and "moving on".

erin said, "i'm gonna call my mom now," after spending a few tears on my shoulder. a few years ago i might have been jealous that she has a mother to call. today i was grateful. grateful that she has a mother to call, grateful that i just adore that mother, and grateful that their relationship is one where they can process through their grief together. it's a special bond, and i'm grateful to be a witness to it all.

true strength shows up in feeling the pain and moving through it. true strength shows up in breaking down and letting it all out whenever that wave hits you. true strength is moving through it, whatever it may be, and not figuring out how to maneuver around it.

i'm eternally grateful for this gift of being able to see erin's true strength shine. and a little piece of me hopes i never have to see it again.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

750 words write mind

this morning i did a little word-association exercise via

as i read through the 750 words, some combinations made sense while others seemed to come out of nowhere. i tried not to repeat any words, but even after reading through the list a couple of times, i began to see words melding together and my thoughts drifted to other words i could have used instead. the mind of a writer, indeed.

tired. weary. gray. hot. slummy. wild. heart. brilliant. being. ornery. flagrant. foul. chicken. bugawck. lenient. principal. order. way. stuff. turkey. thanks. many. lots. parking. beach. sand. ocean. waves. baseball. sports. announcers. costas. rica. quote. letter. blog. paragraph. seo. daily. new. keyword. adword. google. adhere. blunt. brief. point. boxers. hanes. shirts. bacon. wrapped. present. christmas. mom. dad. cancer. life. death. grandma. grandpa. old. new. baby. twins. boys. born. living. still. calm. peace. tranquil. serenity. movie. lines. ropes. carpet. red. pop. corn. blue. chips. stock. market. store. ralph. grocer. butcher. play. kids. playground. swings. summer. swimming. pool. lifeguard. station. hut. ramp. on. off. freeway. lion. cage. roar. anger. freeing. liberation. 2010. y2k. bozos. earthquake. water. shutoff. valve. gas. fire. burn. ash. smoke. cigarette. stink. lungs. rot. decay. cay. timoty. island. trees. palm. coconut. frond. pineapple. hawaii. vacation. surfing. honolulu. relax. chill. solitude. massage. warm. cozy. cove. rocks. salt. fish. shark. dolphin. anew. seek. ice. fall. pick. battles. wars. wage. economy. down. south. north. pole. arctic. bears. polar. iceberg. warming. global. earth. planet. green. cycle. bike. walk. carbon. footprint. reduce. around. high. crack. home. less. restrict. aware. awake. arrest. police. car. truck. suv. trip. drive. road. asphalt. concrete. jungle. monkey. chimp. words. sign. language. shift. thinking. believe. animal. nature. instinct. intuition. gut. wrench. plumber. pipes. clogged. twist. snake. swamp. aligator. crocodile. chocodile. junk. eat. ack. hack. vomit. sick. heal. meditate. mind. brain. activity. stagnant. bliss. achieve. excel. blow. corporate. exact. enough. never. much. always. depth. need. skill. cohesive. communicate. swear. passive. agressive. type. keyboard. click. tap. nudge. push. pull. ebb. flow. speed. meth. capital. washington. dc. comics. books. cartoons. daffy. duck. bugs. bunny. wabbit. elmer. glue. hold. together. smile. laugh. one. all. we. us. our. common. ground. electric. youth. elder. generation. x. y. chromosome. genetics. healthy. disease. decide. choice. pregnant. not. early. late. embryo. life. rights. taken. away. afar. women. man. stick. stone. break. bone. fix. necessary. no. leave. now. alone. free. bird. fly. plane. superman. superhero. out. crowd. afraid. allure. magazine. pages. rip. shred. tear. up. aloof. sacred. feminine. genuine. real. authentic. you. yourself. have. pink. nose. edge. inside. outside. fear. claw. scratch. door. foot. wedge. butt. pant. leg. naked. truth. elephant. room. lie. white. slave. driver. daisy. miss. pushing. under. six. feet. grave. digger. shallow. rain. feel. drink. one. more. grace. gone. camera. canyon. left. sunset. rise. occasion. falter. help. hand. finger. nail. head. own. responsible. child. latchkey. pots. pans. cook. self. alcoholic. mother. cows. moo. hill. pout. shit. lip. steal. thief. heart. whisker. thick. poke. through. me. jog. mile. eight. seven. countdown. celebrate. party. 1999. over. under. gamble. lose. nothing. back. shirt. shoes. flip. flop. waver. waiver. clause. contract. deal. card. cookie. crumble. behave. consequence. yawn. teeth. growl. bark. carve. name. love. knife. sword. daggar. cuts. deep. seated. set. broken. doctor. nurse. soccer. bask. glory. raise. arms. glee. sing. pop. culture. cult. classic. shining. jack. dull. boy. donor. marrow. plates. blood. family. ties. thicker. bleed. red. rant. rave. reviews. moral. judgment. ethic. vote. judge. save. constitution. civil. case. hook. sinker. comedy. show. tell. ask. don't. realize. blinders. horse. ass. tail. swat. flat. tummy. saggy. boob. tv. program. remote. control. authority. fought. law. won. johhny. cougar. melons. camp. tent. stake. mallet. mullet. lame. hair. trim. lesbian. landscape. brow. furrow. gag. spoon. shoplift. pootie. jerry. tom. couch. crazy. misfit. mishap. weave. web. charlotte. genius. bar. draught. beer. lite. miller. case. pillow. fight. cat. dog. jax. clean. floor. termite. gross. expensive. homeowner. overrated. adulthood. middle. school. junior. senior. college. exam. pass. fail. learn. succeed. grow. align. forage. plunder. blunder. mistake. con. pro. football. american. rugby. hairpiece. trying. false. sense. security. guard. shot. heard. round. gimme. putt. tee. fairway. chunk. shank. alley. dark. lit. bounce. baller. sorbet. champaign. mimosa. sunday. morning. ease. bed. enjoy. sleep. flail. try. cling. blanket. belong. curse. goat. bambino. little. tiny. teeny. weenie. button. penis. nah. fold. over. comb. iron. towel. toss. salad. dressing. showers. benches. hurdles. marks. slim. chance. go. 200. dollars. cash. cool. dirty. money. rich. wealth. health. self. esteem. colleague. boss. blink. tipping. jeans. tennis. billie. holiday. paid. month. year. sail. around. bay. idea. lab. science. major. english. minor. math. journal. accountant. log. irs. tax. honor. values. pilot. force. army. navy. marine. biology. bigger. aware. mindful. action. authentic. reality. dreamy. mac. book. author. wannabe. gogo. stage. cheer. friends. core. abundant. everything. willful. disaster. wonders. plight. mankind. neanderthal. study. discovery. national. international. worldly. trotter. basketball. dribble. wipe. moist. cake. chocolate. vanilla. creamery. cheese. house. indeed. ownership. wood. fence. glass. ceiling. feminist. movement. classy. broads. understand. seek. knowledge. accept.

751: want.
752: more.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Year Ago on DRW: Lather, Rinse, Repeat

August 11, 2009:
I just finished the book. My emotions are all over the place. I cried this morning because Erin walked past me as she got ready for work. Which is what she does every morning, but this morning I wanted her to stop. To stop and look at me. Notice that tears were welling in my eyes. Notice that my emotions were too raw for her to get ready for work. I walked around the house. I fed the cats. I sat on the bed. And when she walked in to get dressed, I could barely get the words out, "I'm feeling a little emotional today." I cried in her arms and didn't know exactly why I was crying. Guess I didn't need to know.

This morning I printed a copy of the book and handed it to a friend to give me some feedback. I'm headed to Kinkos as soon as I'm finished with this blog and printing off six more copies. One for Texas, One for Orange County, two for Long Beach, one for Studio City, and one for Venice Beach. Some are giving me technical feedback of, "take this out, put that there, add more here," and some are giving me real life feedback of, "this really spoke to me, wish there was more on that."

My emotions seem to be bred from fear. Fear that it's all crap. Fear that I just spent three years putting my soul on paper and it's not going to amount to anything. Fear that I'll get ripped to shreds in the feedback that I've gone and asked for. I realize the fears are unfounded, even irrational. The important thing is that I'm processing through it. Feeling the fear, addressing the fear, and moving forward anyway. It's the only way to let the fear go. It will come up again, I'm sure of it. No life is sans fear. And when it does, lather, rinse, repeat.
The book has since taken on another series of rewrites and is hoping to be edited again soon. This is the kind of book I can't rush, and still I know it's dying to be ready by all of your eyes.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Through the Summer Breeze

the summer breeze has been an influence on my morning, and i can almost feel the crisp chill blowing through the hairs on my arm, neck, and the back of my ears.

for the last 56 days straight i've written my morning pages over at i love this process of brain drain and starting my day by sifting through the dust and mulch to see which is which. (i also kind of love all the charts and graphs and eye candy that come along with finishing my daily words).

usually i kick up the dust and get clear on what i'm going to work on for the day or work through an issue or what's going on throughout the week or weekend, or what i'm going to have for breakfast. today, though ... today ... today i fell in love. and i want to share some of it with you.

that up there is one of my favorite pieces of eye candy, the capturing of the most frequent words of each entry. what's captured above are the words of this morning's writing.

i won't share all the words with you, but will share some that seemed to come from the depths of my soulful wisdom—you know, the one our ego seems to block like a linebacker.

the summer breeze is cool and light. it refreshes the air and the mind and the body and the soul. the ocean air is cool and damp.
the fog lifts as the sun rises and sheds light on the day, the city, the street, the house. our house is filled with light and love and summer and breeze and ocean and air.
our beach is sandy and warm, that slight breeze kicking up the grains of sand that refuse to stay put. the grains of sand are wanderers among the earth of vagabonds. no grain willing stay put for too long, it has been through too much not to take its story to the next place willing to listen, to learn, to love to honor, to cherish, to feel, to flee, to be, free.
our lives are filled with these ocean breezes and this summer air. the fog rolls in, the fog rolls out. wise words and my kind soul permeate the soft skin made supple by the moisture in the air from living by the sea. if the air is cold, my heart is warm. if the air is warm, my heart follows suit.
we do not believe in "one or the other", we believe in coexisting in a life where anything, everything is possible. my brain is the genius it set out to be all those years ago when formulating a plan to be here, to love, to cherish, to honor, to bring forth the light in my being i've always known was here. and so i am, and so it is.
this is the life i have chosen for myself, but not as a human, as the tiny microorganism that lived and has lived for centuries and milleniums. this is the way of life and we all are much more than we can conceive of with our own two eyes and ears and arms and legs. our minds are supple just like our skin, although we see so much less with our minds than we dor our soul.
our mind blocks the soul from speaking, but not from seeing. the soul is patient and will wait its turn because the soul is not the ego and the ego has no place in the soul.
the ego knows this and takes its rightful place in our minds and begins to settle in for the long haul with the intent of protecting us. but the ego has a two-year old's mind and offers tantrums and punching as a way of resolving conflict and communicating fears. this is the way of the ego and it is what it is.
we all see things differently and the love in the air is more powerful than the ego in the mind. it's a matter of letting that love in, which the soul is kindly obliging.
the summer breeze brings us back around and the ocean air will lay its fog and lift its fog in its own good time. we all will lay our fog and lift our fog in our own good time. our ego will try to tell us otherwise, and sometimes our minds will believe, but the soul knows best.
we don't always listen to the soul because we're not always listening. but today i am. today i listen.
today, we—my soul and i—are one. we travel the ocean air and fly in the summer breeze. we compliment each other and say how nice our hair looks. we notice the sparkle in each other's eyes. we share the glitter of sea foam as a dolphin pushes up for a breath of fresh air and a playful jump. we sit in awe of each other and revel in our marvelousness. we take care of each other and nurture one another with kindness. with indulgent prosperity. with deep and loving compassion. we understand that our imperfections are just the opposite, and made for reasons that—at least, i—cannot comprehend.
but the soul has infinite wisdom and understands that i will learn in my own good time. i will understand and grow in my own good time, just like every redwood does. we grow in groves, not in solitude, but because we have others around us and are meant to thrive in a world where we see each other for our greatness and not for our weakness.
redwoods see greatness in other redwoods, and strive to grow taller, not to outshine, outlive, out-do the others, but so the other redwoods will do the same.
we grow and thrive because of our community and sharing and willingness to help others grow. we will rise to the top of our beings and continue to grow and thrive. and it's not so we will be taller, bigger, badder, better than anyone else, but so that others may see us grow, and do the same—have the courage to grow where once there was blind courage and no growth—see the inner wisdom that's been kept hidden in the depths of the soul, only to come out and play when the soul knew it was time.
we all have our time, we all have our wisdom, and our time is now and our wisdom is here.
this is what i have to say on this beautiful sunday morning.
turns out i did share almost all of it. i hardly recognize the words as my own, but that's how the universe works. through us all. and through the summer breeze.

Monday, July 26, 2010

words, dying to come out will not be kept at bay

words, dying to come out will not be kept at bay.
shared with you they hold water like salt,
kept from you they hold water like cracked dams
killing the dense population of my mind.


core burns hard within
singes paper mind
healing happens outside me


stumbles alone quietly
through the night dream air
i own reality


among brilliant cats drinking
everglades from gators
harp indigenous jowls kept.

labor mars naivete
offers prayers quick
resolves sore time, used venom

willful xenons yearning zeal.


the great thing about poetry is that it means something different to everyone. we see the words on the page, the screen differently. we share the experiences in our mind with what we see in front of us and we say, oh that makes sense, or i don't get it, or i just can't think about this right now. we hide under the covers, we blow them off, we creep tentatively into the daylight, wondering how we'll be affected, afflicted, inflicted, infected, reflected, rejected. we make up words, signs, wisdom in our heads so when something goes wrong we say, see i told you so, even if just to our inner child who tried to dream one last time.

and in the end, you're still the same you, and i'm still the same me, and time moves on as ever it does, as ever it will.

we will survive. it's all we know how to do.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Courage [Revisited]

I posted over at Authentic Realities today on the courage my father showed in sharing my mother's death with me, so I thought I'd re-share with you a related post.

Courage, from Sept 2008:

From 7 Days:

My father was the epitome of courage, although I didn't realize it until after he died. There was one single moment in my life where everything changed.


My father pulled into the driveway of the placement home I lived in when I was sixteen and said six words.


"It’s your mother. She’s dead, Dian."

And thus began my new life.

When my father got sick two years ago, my first emotion was relief; many more would follow. Since my mother's death I’d spent the better part of fourteen years wondering when my father was going to take his turn. I did not dread his death, but felt relief in moving forward. Forward without the anticipation, the anxiety of wondering how my father was going to leave my life.

My mother left unexpectedly, abruptly; my father gave me time to adjust. Time to say good-bye. Time to say all the things I would need to say in order to bury him without regrets; in order to be buried without regrets.

I wondered for years who would break the news of my father's death to me. It never occurred to me that he would be the one. It never occurred to me that I would walk him through it. It never occurred to me that I would watch his last breath heave into his chest and be slowly released. It never occurred to me that I would feel the last beat of his heart with my own hand on his chest. It never occurred to me that I would cherish that moment; just as I’d learned to cherish those six words my father had spoken all those years ago.

My father was not a man of wealth in large bank accounts, but a man of wealth in the courage he held quietly in his heart. My father loved me, of this I am sure. Not because he told me, but because he showed me. His soul spoke six words to me as I held my hand on my father’s chest.

It’s your father. I’m dead, Dian.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

heaven and earth

This post comes from a prompt by Julie Jordan Scott in her amazing Wild Wednesday Writing Camp this morning.

today i will tell about heaven and earth like this…

ooh baby do you know what that’s worth,
ooh heaven is a place on earth.

when i was young this was just a pop song by a girl i had a crush on
today, i live those words,
live that life
that knowing

my heaven is being curled up in her arms.
my earth is being tangled in around on with her being.

my heaven is watching him dance and play when he cannot see me.
my earth is throwing a ball back and forth for hours.

my heaven is them.
my earth is me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

i am

when i find myself in playful soul respite and relief, i write…

playfully, reality, rawly, really.
i write my truth.
i write my soul.
i allow my self to come out and play.
i cease from hiding and move into being.

i can relax and enjoy the writing without feeling like
i have to
need to
got to
get it

i can let the words roll off the tips of my fingers and live on the page just as they like.
just as they are.
just as i am.

i am free.
i am alive.
i am.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Truth Speaks

my truth says…

my truth says,
you are not alone.
my truth says,
you are big enough,
you are just right.

my truth says,
you are powerful beyond words.
my truth says,
you are powerful with your words.
my truth says,
you are powerful when you
speak your words.

my truth says,
you are perfect.
my truth says,
you are brilliant.
my truth says,
you are already
you are already

my truth says,
you are brave.
my truth says,
your courage is beautiful.
my truth says,
your tears wash away
what no longer is;
the feeling is bliss.

my truth says,
you are all that you need to be;
you are growing.
my truth says,
just be you.
my truth says,
you are worth it.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Year Ago on DRW: June 6, 2009

Since readership has grown a little bit over the last year (hey new followers, hey!!) I thought I'd post something from this day last year. Here's a bit of "Learning Me" from June 6, 2009:

This morning I'm enjoying a bit of quiet time, while Erin and Jackson are sprawled on the bed sleeping the morning away, Killer is curled up on the futon enjoying her alone time, and Sly is curled up next to me on the couch (finally finished cleaning himself).

The past couple of months have been a blur. Between Balance and Process coach training; life coaching and being life coached; reading Anatomy of the Spirit, The Drama of the Gifted Child, and The Mastery of Love (and then Bringing Down the House just for a break from myself); attending marriage equality rallies in Long Beach and Fresno; putting down bricks over the dirt in the back yard to keep Jackson from digging (since he killed all the grass within 1 month of our arrival); continuing work on the book; putting a 2000 piece puzzle of Neuschwanstein together; softball and BBQ's, both local and on the road; and taking Jackson on his daily dog park trip so as to get him too tired to eat the furniture (or stacks of $20's we apparently keep lying around), I haven't made much time for blogging.

I hesitate to exclaim, "ALL THAT IS ABOUT TO CHANGE!!" because I'm in a place where I'm really trying to honor myself. I've once again run myself into a place where I'm unwilling to commit to anything more that what I already have on my plate. A friend of mine, whom I haven't seen in quite a while (and now lives right around the corner) invited me to a BBQ and I just couldn't commit. Part of it was that I have prior commitments that prevent me from accepting any further invitations, but that line of reasoning was only valid after I found out it was an evening BBQ. While I thought it was during the day, I simply couldn't commit to anything further than, "...well maybe I'll stop by for a few mintues..." and even that made my skin cringe at the guilt of now she's hoping to see me and I really should just stop by for a minute, it's right around the corner!

But the thing is, maybe I really don't have a few minutes to stop by. Maybe in order to honor myself I just need to take the day as it comes and do only what I have time for, only what I don't have to rush around for. With all that I've already committed myself to, I've left little time for recuperation, for relaxation, rejuvenation (I feel like the Cajun Man on SNL). I've been focusing so much on growth that I haven't given myself the chance to let it all sink in.

I've often referred to personal growth and learning as a sponge. If I'm the sponge and water is learning, then it takes a little bit for the water to stop flowing over the top of the sponge and for the sponge to really begin to absorb the water. But then when the sponge is full, the water continues to pour right through and the learning is missed. I have to turn the water off, allow myself to absorb what's already been passed through me to learn, and then let that sit for a while in order to really take it in. So to tell you where I am today, I've turned the water off and I'm letting myself sit for a while. In this space I'm finding time to appreciate the things I've learned.

Living a balanced life isn't something you achieve, it's something you constantly work towards-it's about making conscious choices about what I'm willing to say yes to and what I'm willing to say no to in each moment of decision. It's about knowing that I have the right to make decisions based on what's important to me right here and right now. And about realizing that I am not locked into anything that I do not choose to be locked into. I am human and things change. I must be flexible in coming to understand what is important to me, and then firm when honoring those values. And then I must be flexible again if the values I've held onto for years and years are no longer working for me. And I must be firm in my commitment to honor myself in addressing and evaluating my values and then flexible again in how best to proceed in honoring those values.

I've also learned the value of introspection, reflection, and being honest about what comes of both of these exercises. I've learned that the past is the past and while it's best to leave the past back there where it belongs, the only way to do so is to process the feelings--to really FEEL it all before moving forward. Otherwise I'm carrying around the baggage of the past. An example of this learning in my own life:

I once thought that I was over my mom's death. Until I realized that whenever someone close to me would bring up their mom I would victimize myself in that I didn't have a mom and how hard it was for me on Mother's Day or her birthday or a random Tuesday because you can call your mom just because you feel like it and I can't. I realized that I had processed my mom's death, but I never processed the anger I felt around it. And so I carried that anger along with me where ever I went. I carried my anger with me to lunches and meetings and relationships and road trips and intimate dinners for two and large parties and into the shower and the bath and on walks and hikes and bike rides and to the grocery store. The anger didn't show up in everything I did nor everyone I talked to, so I thought it was manageable. Until I went through some coaching last month.
Not only did I acknowledge the fact that I was angry with my mom for leaving, for being a bad mother, for teaching me the wrong way to love so had to figure it out on my own, but I also gave myself permission to feel that anger. To really let it out and sob and scream and be ANGRY! I found that expressing this anger didn't take away my love for her, but it let me move past myself so that I could see and be at peace with the wonderful mother I had. While she was terrible at some things, she always did her best to be the best mother she knew how to be. I am who I am largely because of my relationship with my mother, in all its flawed brilliance. And because I felt the anger, because I let it pass through me, because I was willing to feel it and let it go, leave it in the past, I can now move forward a lighter person, without the weight of this bag of anger I carried around for so many years.

I think I must stop with the learning for this morning, simply to honor my space of taking a break. I must let this learning sink in, I must sit in my silence with it to fully understand and then I'll be ready to move forward. More learning to come, although I can't promise expedience for right now...

Friday, June 4, 2010

I Wonder

i wonder…

i wonder what needs to be said. i wonder what needs to be heard. i wonder what fears lie beneath.

i wonder.

i wonder.

i wonder where i will go next. i wonder where my writing will take me. i wonder what questions are dying to be asked. i wonder what’s dying to come out.

i wonder what i know but don’t say. i wonder what i say but don’t know.

i wonder what’s next. i wonder what a-ha is lurking in the underground. i wonder what’s been left unsaid. i wonder what’s been silent. i wonder what silence will be heard.

i wonder what piece of me is dying inside. i wonder what piece of me is thriving. i wonder what piece of me is feeding off the fear that has hold of my heart.

i wonder when my heart will let go. i wonder when my heart has had enough. i wonder when my soul will step in.

i wonder when my writing will be my soul. i wonder what writing is my soul. i wonder what writing is at the center of my heart, the center of my soul.

i wonder what’s deep. i wonder what’s raw. i wonder what’s inside.

what do you wonder?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Loving Unconditionally

From 7 Days.

His eyes seemed grayer than the day before, and the stubble on his cheeks and chin had grown quite a bit. A sticky white residue from the tube in his throat being taped to his face for stability was left on his lips and stubble. The nurses and I wiped him down several times, but his face remained greasy from lack of a real bath or shower in more than four days. The flesh on his cheeks was rubbery and plastic. It felt as though it might stretch across the room just as it hung from his bones. I was having to work harder to recognize my father. My father, the man who always bailed me out. The man who always went to work. The man who showed up every time he said he would. The man who always believed in me. The man I could always count on to be there, wherever “there” was. He was always “there”. He took me in when my mother turned me out. He found BILY* and taught me how to communicate. He had all the goods on me, and he loved me anyway. As I stared at this man who had been a part of my last thirty years, I wondered: Who would be there to love me unconditionally as he always did?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Place I'm Meant To Go [Updated with Video]

I wrote this yesterday in one of the camp fires over at Julie Jordan Scott's Writing Intensive Camp.

the place i’m meant to go with my writing and my words is….

deep. raw. inside. what i think people won’t love me for. what i think people will judge me for. what i think people will hate me for.

the place i fear the most. that fear guides me into the fears of others and calls out to come and play, what would stay underground and unheard for years.

where i have feared to go. where others have feared to go. where others have no idea.

the place no one else can get to. the place only i can see. the place only my intuition can shed light on. the place we all need to go.

the place i need to be. if i focus on nothing else, i ought to be focused on what’s dying to come out.

the place i’m meant to go in my writing is the heart. the soul. the center.

[Updated with video below, also as seen on Authentic Realities 6.1.10]

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

the brilliant peaceful gift

the day he left was a brilliant day. it was finally over. all the waiting. all the fuss. all the pain. there was no more what if. only what is.

of course i was left to sort through what is. what was. and figure out the difference between what was and what is.

the rain. the hospital. the tears. the cancer. the kleenex. the food in the cupboard. the clothes in the closet. the money in the bank. the memories in my mind.

what's real? what's fabricated? what's only my perception?

my perception is my reality.

one foot in front of the other. moving. shifting. changing. growing.

without having to wonder when it was finally going to happen, i could focus on what was next. but then, just what the hell was next?

the funeral.

but let me stay in this moment of brilliance for one more moment. one more moment of relief. one more moment of surrender. one more moment of knowing. one more moment of peace. one more moment of this gift my father has given to me in letting go of this world and giving it to me to do with as i choose.

the funeral can wait one more goddamn minute while i sit here in this peace.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Just To See Him Smile

I'm "supposed" to be doing something else right now. But I guess if that were really true, I'd be over *there* doing it, instead of *right here* doing this. And this is much more important. For now.

I'm a DIY kinda girl. Part of that comes from not wanting to ask people questions when I was a kid for fear of getting in trouble, and part of it is going with my father to job after job after job, and not only watching him build decks and fences and furniture, and repair plumbing and electrical and mechanical stuff. He was a carpenter, a plumber, an electrician, a jack-of-all-trades handyman.

My father wasn't much of a technical guy, though. When it came to computers, he relied on me to help him. My father was comfortable with tools in his hand, and I with a computer at my fingertips. I felt like it was a great payback system for all the handy stuff he showed me how to do for myself over the years. It gave me a great sense of pride to be able to teach my father how to do something because I'd learned so much from him over the years.

In the last stage of my father's cancer, he couldn't get up and move much. He was tired all the time from the blockage in his liver and the medication and the cancer. His mind couldn't stay focused on any single thing for too long, but he could stay focused on Freecell.

So I bought him a laptop. Just so he could play Freecell in his lap and not have to get up to it.

The laptop had a huge 17 "screen. He felt like the cards were coming right at him. His birthday had just passed in October, and December/Christmas wasn't quite there, but when it comes to doing something just to see someone smile, there doesn't have to be a special day to do it.

As I'm sitting here going through page after page of the book and looking back at those last 7 days with my dad, I'm drawn to think about not the 7 days, but all the days that led up to the last ones. I still have that ginormous laptop, and I'm pretty sure the only thing it does anymore is play Freecell.

When my father passed away in the January following this for-no-good-reason-other-than-I-love-you-and-want-to-see-you-smile gift to my father, I wondered if I'd wasted the $1,000 I'd spent on it, as I had nearly no use for it.

I can replace that $1,000. What I can't replace is the joy my father took in being able to play Freecell right in his lap. And as long as I remember him, I don't really have to.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tommorrow's Sun

Day breaks and clouds part slowly as the rising sun fills the sky with light from the heavens. Most days, I feel good. Most days, I feel like the parting clouds disappear at just the right time, the rays of sunlight are just the right brightness and temperature to keep me moving fluidly throughout my day. But not today.

Today the dark clouds loiter and take me over. Today the dark clouds soak me into their gloomy existence. Today the dark clouds become me.

I don’t fight the clouds, I let the wispy molecules surround me and hold me to the ground. The wind pushes us around, the sky holds us down, the sun is nowhere in sight.

Today the clouds rule the earth, and I doubt the sun is anywhere behind them. Until she peeks out briefly, as if to taunt me.

I lay in bed and close my eyes again, unwilling to brave the darkness beyond my closed eyelids. Tomorrow’s sun will just have to do.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Birds of My Mother

On Sunday afternoon Erin & I were winding down from a fun-filled weekend. Erin took out the recycling from the kitchen to the bin by our garages while I futzed around in the kitchen with some cheese and crackers. When she returned to the house, she said Baby...there's a bird on the driveway not moving at all. It might be dead.

I didn't really do much thinking, I just walked to the door and asked her to show me where. She pointed the bird out, and I opened the front door to go check it out. I bent down and saw the bird was still alive. I reached my hand out slowly and the bird did not flinch away from me. I felt in my bones that I needed to help this bird.

I called the local animal hospital and they told me to bring the bird in. I grabbed a couple of towels and a paper Gap bag, and went outside. As I approached the bird this time, he began to breathe heavily, look frantically around himself and chirp, presumably for help. Trying not to scare him, I reached with the towel and tried to pick him up. He turned away and began to flutter his wings. He left poop behind on the pavement where he'd just been still. His wings would not work, but he still fluttered them and continued to hop away from me. Just before he reached the fence between our driveway and the neighbor's enclosed grassy area, I scooped him up into the towel and lightly wrapped it around him. I promised him I wouldn't hurt him and that I'd take him to a safe place.

And so I did.

In thinking about the events of the afternoon, it took me maybe 30 minutes to check on the bird, make the call, scoop him up, and drop him off at the animal hospital. When I got home we went about the rest of our evening as if it never happened. And the following morning I couldn't shake the feeling that something divine had happened with that bird.

When I stood at our front door and looked at the bird sitting in the driveway, I felt an immediate connection to him. I also felt an immediate connection to my mother. I didn't hear her voice, but I felt her spirit in every cell in my body. For a split second, I wondered if I should take the bird in and try to rehabilitate it. Until I realized that wasn't me at all, but my mother.

She would have nursed that bird back to health on her own. That's just what she did. And that's just why we had 4 rescued dogs and 8 rescued cats and 3 rescued birds when I was growing up. These weren't animals that she went to the pound or a shelter to save, these were animals she happened upon and couldn't help but take care of them.

Through this experience I get to see how my mom and I are both different and the same. My mom tried to save everything and everyone who crossed her path. Sometimes this was a godsend. And sometimes it was a futile attempt at saving people and things that didn't want to be "saved".

My mother bred me a strong inclination to help others. I have a rescued dog of my own, which we got from a shelter, and 2 rescued cats birthed from a cat I found in the parking lot after a softball game one night 11 years ago. But I've learned that I can't help everyone or everything.

My mother would have taken in that bird and known exactly what to do to get it healthy. That's who she was. Me, I know nothing of how to get an injured bird healthy. I feel like I honored my mother in saving that bird, and honored myself by taking him to a place that could actually help him. This gives me peace.

I don't know why it's important for me to share this story, maybe I just want to share the connection I felt to my mom in order to make it more real. I just know that my "decision" to help happened so fast that I missed the connection to my mother to begin with.

Which is why I'm glad I went back for reflection.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Visit

Disclaimer: This post reveals content of a graphic and traumatic nature, and may be difficult for someone with abuse in his/her background to read.

I remember my father telling me about The Visit years after it happened. He said The Visit always made him uncomfortable, but he didn't really understand why until he found out why it should have made him uncomfortable. I only vaguely remembered it when he first recounted it to me, but it stuck out firmly in my father's mind more than 15 years later.

The Visit:

Steven showed up at my father's door on a Saturday I was with my father for the weekend. Steven wanted to take me out bathing suit shopping for an upcoming trip. In the back of my father's mind, he thought that was odd. Steven said he promised me he'd take me since my mother didn’t have time. My father asked me if I wanted to go and I shook my head, "No." Steven left quietly, and nothing more was said about it. That’s how everything went in my family.

Until after my mother died. Apparently a lot of things didn't seem strange until after my mother died.

The Incident:

My grandparents took The Family to Hawaii for 3 weeks during the summer between my 7th and 8th grade years. "The Family" included my grandparents; my uncle, his wife, and his son; and my mom, Steven, and me. Except, my mom was pregnant with my little brother, so she didn't go. My grandparents treated Steven and I as a family and roomed us together when we got to Maui. We'd all stayed in a 3-bedroom villa on both the previous islands, but when we got to Maui, the resort we stayed in didn't have a 3-bedroom villa. So Steven and I got our own room.

I was thirteen years old.

At the time, the events leading up to "The Incident" only seemed a little uncomfortable. Steven had made a daily habit of making sexual comments to me, so I didn't find it out of the ordinary for him to do so while on vacation. He was in constant reverie about how "tight" my body was, or how "firm" my breasts were, and often said he could see me in Playboy Magazine in a couple of years. The first time he put his hands on my breasts, it was uncomfortable, but he made it seem almost like an accident. We were passing each other on the staircase at the house, and his arm swung wide. That's when he commented on the firmness. Steven seemed to know where to draw the line, though, and never made comments about doing anything to me, he simply shared his observations. This became normal. And continued while we were on vacation, as long as he was outside earshot of the rest of The Family.

I was thirteen.

Honestly, I don't remember how many nights we were on Maui. I only know that the day after "The Incident" Steven did not continue on with the rest of The Family, but booked a flight home to go be with my mom.

I was thirteen.

I remember thinking that the sky was beautiful as we drove back to the hotel. We'd spent the day doing things people do in Hawaii. When we got back to the hotel, Steven and I did laundry and found a gecko on the wall in the laundry room. I thought it was gross, and Steven laughed at me for being such a girl. As I pulled the clothes out of the washer and flung them into the dryer, he told me to slow down and shake each article out before putting it in the dryer. This would help it dry faster. For a long time after "The Incident" I refused to shake my clothes out before I put them into the dryer.

I was thirteen.

When the clothes were dry, we pulled them from the dryer and took them back to our room. We folded them. I was used to folding his clothes, as I was the designated laundry folder of the house. He, on the other hand, was not accustomed to folding my clothes. He took specific note of how small and cute my underwear were.

I was thirteen.

He took his pants off and put my underwear on. He danced around the room and laughed at how small the front was, and how his balls barely fit into them. I remember laughing, too.

I was thirteen.

I took a shower to wash the day off. After I got out of the shower, he asked if I wanted a back rub. This was not an out of the ordinary idea. Usually it was me giving him the back rub after he got home from his construction job. He'd shower and then lay naked on the bed face down with a towel over his ass. I don't remember how that got started, but I remember that happening almost every day once it did start. I remember wondering if he pushed his penis between his legs on purpose just so I could see it or if it was just more comfortable that way. Of course, I never asked.

I was thirteen.

I took my robe off and put a towel around my waist. I laid face down on the bed, my back exposed. He climbed on top of my back legs and began massaging my back. For a moment, it felt good. His hands stayed on my back for most of the massage. Until they moved lower. He began massaging my legs. He might have even asked me if it was okay.

I was thirteen.

His hands massaged the back of my legs. Started with the calves and then to the back of the knees, and then to the back of the thighs. And then to the base of my butt. He massaged the inside of my thighs, closer to my knees. Then he began to work his way up. My heart pounded. I did not want him to touch me. But he was on top of me and his hands all over me. I did not want him to touch me, but I could not speak. I pretended to fall asleep. I thought if I was asleep he would stop. I was wrong. His hands moved further up the inside of my thighs and his thumbs touched the opening of my vagina. His thumbs went inside my vagina. I don't know how long I stayed still, hoping he would stop and just go away. When I could finally not stay still any longer, I jumped as if being jolted awake by a noise. When I did, his hands jerked back. He stopped.

I was thirteen.

He might have asked me a question. I might have answered it. He got into the shower. He got out of the shower. I prayed he wouldn't ask me to massage him. He put clothes on and said he was going out for a walk. I don't remember the rest of the evening. When we packed up in the morning, he said nothing to me. When we arrived at the airport to head to our final island of the trip, he announced to my grandfather that he wouldn't go on with us, but he needed to get home to my mom. The Family told me nothing else.

I was thirteen years old.

Two years later I told my mother about The Incident. She asked Steven about it and he denied The Incident. My mother and the rest of the family assumed I’d lied in order to get attention.

Nine months after I told my mother about The Incident, four shots rang out, and my mother was dead. After her death, The Family finally believed what I’d told my mother about Steven. And my father reflected upon The Visit.

The Visit was a month or so prior to The Incident. After my father learned of The Incident, he felt guilty. I don’t know when my father was told, but it wasn’t me who told him. I first learned he knew in a therapy session shortly after my mother's death. He felt that he should have known better. He thought he should have protected me. He believed he was a horrible father for letting someone violate his daughter like that. He thought he should have seen the signs and known what was wrong. I have no doubt that his guilt about The Incident is part of what killed my father.

I know the doctors told us all it was cancer. But I saw the look in my father's eyes as he told me he was so sorry for not protecting me. I believe that look—his guilt—invited the cancer in to take over his life. I tried to explain to my father that The Incident was no one's fault but Steven's, to no avail. It took me years of time and therapy and healing to know in my heart that it wasn't even my fault.

My father preferred to bear the burden of blame, believing it was his burden to bear.

If you suspect physical or sexual abuse, talk to your child. Seek immediate professional help at your local police department, Department of Children's Services office, or check out Child Help online.

Monday, March 15, 2010

not always what you think

today i reworked something i'd written a while back. i seem to be doing a lot of that lately. reworking pieces that didn't see the light of day from months or years past because i didn't know what the point was back then, anyway. but today i do. today it makes sense.

it's rare that i think about my mom on the last day i saw her. i prefer to think about all the days before that day because i've worked through most of the pain of that last day and the days to follow. but for the story, today i needed to go back to that day.

here's a little bit of what i remember from way back when...

Come to think of it, it was 7 days from the last time I saw my mom until I found out she was dead. And 7 days from that time until I saw her in the mortuary. I held her hand—no, that’s a lie. You can’t say that you held someone’s hand when they’re dead and they don’t know you’re holding it, can you? When they’re not holding your hand back?

I entered the room. Was anyone with me? Must have been because I remember asking for some time alone with her. My grandmother was skeptical about leaving me alone with her. So was my father, but he might have known better than to attempt persuading me not to. They left the room and a silence I’d never heard before filled the room. My mother was in the room, but there was no laughter. There were no jokes. There were no rules or restrictions. She wasn’t ever going to ground me again or tell me to get off the phone again or tell me anything, ever again.

I went to a funeral with my mom when I was thirteen. This was nothing like that. I thought I was sad when Brandy Fernandez died. But if that was sadness, it felt nothing like this. I’d heard before that when you lose someone you love it feels like your heart is being ripped out. I didn’t believe them until I felt the tearing of my flesh beneath my skin. It was slow and subtle at first, and then like chains and pulleys had been wrapped around it to be pulled out of my chest. I was afraid to look for fear of seeing blood drip from my wounded soul.

Someone—who was it? My father? My therapist? A stranger walking down the street?—suggested I write a letter to my mom and tell her all the things I wished I could have before she died. To share my soul with her on paper, then read it aloud to her; to her spirit. I pulled myself together as best I could and did what I was told. I began reading. One word and then another. I began to sob. I kept reading. Through sobs, I focused on the words on the page and getting them out. And while I read I missed her. I missed my mom. I wanted to hold her hand again. I wanted to feel the warm touch of my mother’s hand just one more time. Without thinking about what I was doing, I reached my hand into her casket and put my hand on hers. This is where I wonder if I held her hand.

It wasn’t supposed to feel like that.

I remember walking in the room now; an image that’s stuck in my mind all these years. Nothing looked liked her except her lips and her hands. I never noticed how much our hands looked alike until that day. But they no longer felt alike.

I couldn’t believe what I felt against my skin. Just like the silence I’d never knew existed, I felt a coldness no living person can ever truly understand. For all of my sixteen years, my mom had the warmest hands I’d ever felt.
They comforted me while having thorns pulled from my shins after running through rose bushes. Dried tears of sorrow and incomprehension with just a hug when she knew words held no meaning. Those hands cared for me more than I ever realized I would miss. And to touch them with no warmth, only ice seeping through her pores, stunned me.

I struggled to breathe for a moment and stumbled away from the casket. I dropped to my knees and sobbed. Loudly. I could think of nothing but the hole in my chest that I could feel but not see.

As I sat beside myself in grief I heard a door creak open. I looked towards the entrance to the room and have a vague recollection of shooing away whoever had checked in on me. I was embarrassed at being unable to hold myself together. I quickly stood up, wiped tears and snot from my cheeks and chin, and then continued the letter from where I’d left off before I’d distracted myself with my mother’s hands.

After finishing the letter, I folded it back up, and tucked it under those cold hands, leaving it to be cremated with her.

Looking back, I wish I’d kept a copy of that letter. At the time I’d been angry that my last moments with my mother had been disturbed, but I said nothing. Instead, I felt cheated and kept it to myself. The last mother-and-daughter moment I would ever have was cut short and there was nothing I could do to get it back.
there are so many parallels between my mother's and father's deaths. and still, they were nothing alike.

Friday, February 26, 2010

grateful for what i have and where i am

a post from the archives, as i'm in a similar place of rewriting and reworking 7 Days:

february 29, 2008

i started reworking my book about my dad this month and the progress has been pretty good. it’s hard to know what’s the right thing to write, what i should leave in, what should be left out and sometimes even knowing what i’m comfortable writing.

i’m going back and forth between my dad’s childhood and the way he was raised and the effect it had on him as an adult and then as a parent. and then it forces me to talk about how all of that affected how i was raised, how i chose to receive the parenting i got from him and how i raised myself in his absence during the week.

my dad was a weekend dad from the time my parents got divorced until i was fourteen. that’s when my mom decided i was too hard to handle and that my dad needed to take the reigns as the non-fun parent with all the rules. it was quite a change from what i’d been used to from my dad as a parent.

i was excited to move in with my dad because i’d always had fun when escaping to his house for the weekend. only it wasn’t weekend dad's anymore. he noticed things like what time i got home from school and whether or not i’d done homework. it was like he was talking to my mom...learning tricks of the trade or something.

with my dad’s new-found interest in my life outside of tagging along with him to friday through sunday softball, i found it hard to like him as much as i had before i moved in. he wanted to know where i’d been, who i’d been with, what i’d been doing, and why i got back so late. the prying into my personal life was invasive, at best.

even though i was no longer living with my mom—and more importantly, her boyfriend—the issues that had been created while i did live there still lingered. since my dad didn’t get home from work until after 6pm on most nights, i had to go to my mom’s after school. only, my mom didn’t get home until after 5pm, which meant i shared empty space with steven from the time i got there until my mom came home.

after the hawaii incident, he didn’t touch me at all. he still looked at me like i belonged on in a section of playboy without words, and he still made inappropriate comments from time to time. but i could live with that, as long as he didn’t touch me anymore. only, my dad didn’t know about any of that yet.

at fourteen, i felt like an adult. i’d had my own key to the house out of necessity of letting myself in since i’d been in first grade. i’d been stealing my dad’s truck at least once a week and taught myself to drive a stick in doing so since i was thirteen. i’d had sex by then, and while i understand much more about it all now, i really thought i had a handle on the world and people and knew how things should work.

i’d had the example of an alcoholic single mom who divorced a man she loved but didn’t want to be married to; who divorced another man who decided that he wanted to be with another woman; and who refused to marry a man who probably cheated on her numerous times (and what of his thoughts and actions with me?) but she couldn’t bear the thought of another failed relationship. so she stayed, portraying misery as the foundation of any relationship worth having.

i’d been drunk on numerous occasions and smoked more pot between the ages of twelve and fourteen than i ever have after. i’d tried lsd, coke, and speed but only stuck to speed (due to the ease of acquiring it, even when i did have to pay for it). i’d been arrested five times before i turned fifteen.

i was sure i was all grown up.

and in all of this, i was still fourteen. i was still three years away from getting my driver’s license. i was still four years shy of being able to vote. seven years short of legally being able to drink. only two years away from losing my mom (as it turned out) and becoming more adult than i ever could have imagined. at fourteen, even with all my experience, i was still a child; still in need of parenting. only my dad just didn’t know how.

his father left his mother for another woman when my dad was a teenager. his step dad beat him with a stick that my dad had to go find himself in the yard. the navy showed my dad how to smoke pot (or at least, his fellow seamen did), so even though he earned a free education on the GI Bill, it almost went to waste because he smoked pot and played softball more than he went to class. luckily he was somewhat of a genius and ended up with a degree in history, which he never had the confidence to use.

as told by my dad, he muddled through his twenties, thirties, and even forties unsure of what he wanted to do with his life. he was a good man though, aside from all his faults and absentee parenting he received as a child. he found a way at some point to salvage something of fatherhood and began to take care of me. i didn’t realize he was doing it at the time--i thought he was just trying to piss me off. turns out he knew a little more than me.

turns out we’re not always the bad part of what our parents taught us. my dad never beat me. my dad only loved me. i was able to escape alcoholism because of my awareness of my mom and grandfather never fully getting a handle on it. my dad was extremely patient with me as i began to reveal the details of the (my) “relationship” with my mom’s boyfriend. in the end, i think he internalized too much of the blame and may have been part of what caused his death. i’m not saying guilt causes cancer, but the toxins that it does create certainly don’t maintain a pure environment for the body—guilt certainly doesn’t provide energy for the immune system to fight off even a cold, let alone the cancer that overtook his body for death in just fourteen months time.

my parents spent most of their lives trying to escape their respective childhoods (and maybe their adulthoods, as well). my mom and her abusive father. my dad and his abusive step-father. the drugs and bad relationships. the always trying to please everyone but themselves. they spent their whole lives trying to escape instead of trying to let go.

and still, here i am. in all this realization of lives and loss and regret and remorse and letting go of things i never knew i was holding onto, i still have so much more to learn, so much more to let go of. like the idea that my parents were perfect, just because they’re dead. they were parents and they were human. and if not for how they raised me, i would not be who i am today. and so, all i can do is be grateful. i wish it were as easy as it sounds.