Bitch, moan and shutup

I am beginning to experience a deeper acceptance of my body as I am getting older. I am seeing a new improved model… for aging.

What changed?

I don’t know, but I feel more relaxed about how aging is changing my physical appearance.

 

Just so you know: It was a lot different before this shift. I was despairing about my body and the last third of this life. I felt this thickening in my middle that didn’t seem to have to do with how much I exercised or what I ate. My breasts had gotten larger, my belly seemed fuller. I didn’t like how I looked. I felt poochy and saggy.  The hair on my head was thinning, growing in odd places on my face.  My eyesight was getting worse. (There is an advantage in that. You don’t see all these wrinkles and the growing crone hairs.) But, that’s just some of the fun stuff. My handwriting has suffered. I have a benign tremor in my hands, and I am beginning to get arthritis in my thumbs. I have a mild case of tinnitus, and warts and growths in places that  seem unlikely, but there they are.

 

I couldn’t see how to shift my perspective of being over the hill. I felt under the hill. I started to be overly conscious of everything (food-wise) that I put in my body. I skipped meals (not a good idea.)  All of this for vanity, or to imagine myself the way I thought I should look, instead of how I was in the moment.

I reminded myself of the good health and longevity genes I got from my family of origin. But I was grieving no longer being an attractive woman to the outside world. I was buying into the American model of youthful, hot looks. I wasn’t in the running or even the walking. I have cute older woman, lukewarm looks. Maybe I could be a poster adult for AARP magazine. Maybe.

 

Vanity plus aging equals suffering. My husband, a Buddhist practitioner, reminds me that all of our life is change. I can accept some changes better than others. But my “looks” cut close to the core.

 

Let me be honest. I have a history of being critical of how I look.

So, it is not a brand new thing to not be satisfied with my looks/image. But the aging thing adds another twist.

Here is me, inside, feeling about 20 and me on the outside, sagging and coming closer to seventy.

 

It is funny to be called ma’am. In the beginning, you think it’s cute. But when you realize that the person calling you that is serious, it’s different.

I am too young to be called ma’am.

 

We went down to Mexico in October. A lot of American retirees live in San Miguel de Allende. I saw old people– vital, alive, older people.

Then I realized, I am one of them. I am older. Not ancient. Not old old. Maybe cronish-ness has eras like Early Jurassic, Late Jurassic, Late Cretaceous etc.

Maybe they could be called:

  • 3.00+ Eyeglassic
  • Early Canuthreadtheneedlesic period
  • Late Nocoffeeorpeeallnightic
  • Don’tbendoverorunevergetupic

 

 

Six months ago I called up my best friend on Skype. I wanted to talk on Skype because I had complained about my looks. She wanted to see what I was referring to.  We got on-line. I took off my clothes. I pointed to all the areas of unloved flesh, the sagging, handful of flabbiness in my tummy and breasts. She kept saying, “You look great, you’re beautiful. You are fine.”  I showed everything to her that felt undesirable, unacceptable, unloved. Everything I didn’t want to expose to anyone.

Then she took off her top. Ten years ago she had had a double mastectomy. She opted to not to do reconstruction. Her body is slender to begin with. She doesn’t have a spare inch of flab. And she has no breasts. You can see the delicacy of her body, the gracefulness, the vulnerability. She pointed to all the unloveable parts in her eyes. I saw her. It was my friend’s body, the body that I love and adore. I saw the wounds of her operation, and I saw the beauty that she is.

God forbid that Homeland Security should be spying in at that moment. How could they understand that we need to be seen, for our scars, imperfections, limitations real and imagined? We need to be witnessed. In that cyber connection we were exposing our bodies, souls, and fear about our lack of beauty, attractiveness, imagined lovability.

 

I realized very recently that there is a history of Fat Phobia in our family. My sister in-law pointed out the critical bias that my brother and I have about overweight people.

It’s true. I fear gaining weight.

I work at staying in shape.

I am in the same clothes size for the last fifteen or so years… with a few pounds up and a few under.

However, I deeply believe that I could be thinner. And then, I would be happy and beautiful and loved and accept myself totally even with my aging. What a myth.

 

And, I do notice little changes now and then, that show that something in my habit of mind has begun to shift.  I began to go sleeveless to the yoga class, unafraid of the wrinkles and dimples. I purged my closet and got rid of anything that didn’t fit well, or that I didn’t feel right in. I bought a skirt to show my legs.

I started to feel my body, admire my strength and flexibility, joy of free movement, feeling  deep gratitude for my health. To catch myself out of the corner of my eye, liking how I look. I balance on one foot while brushing my teeth. I talk to myself, coach myself.

Maybe it was that Skype call. Maybe it was the act of exposing the thinking that limits my view. Maybe it is also realizing that although there may be a lot more life left in this go round, that the inevitable end is closer. Like they say, “The opera ain’t over until the fat lady sings.” Let’s include “until the beautiful, aging woman sings.”

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The Ending of a Friendship

My girlfriend doesn’t want to be friends anymore.   Despite the loss I feel, ending this relationship is a relief.

My friend is a complex woman. She is intelligent, bright, attractive, creative, multi-talented, soulful. I have found her advice and support valuable.  Her creative life has inspired me and delighted me.

And she is particular. Very particular. Princess and the pea particular. She is an introvert who weighs and measures the time she spends outside of her work. She won’t try something unless she is sure she will receive the greatest reward for the time she puts into it.  Even if you travel  to see her,  she is still brutally honest about what she wants to do and when she wants to do it . She might be in the mood. She might be tired and need to take a nap. She might not feel like going out right then. She is being true to herself in the moment.

If you love her, you accept that.

I thought I did. I know I tried to.

The quality of her insight and her limited calendar had made my friend more attractive and important to me.

Maybe she is more authentic than many,  and honest enough to say what she thinks. Or maybe she is manipulative. I don’t know what the truth is.  But I do know I spent time, waiting and wanting her to be available. I told myself that she was worth it.

In the last few years, this on-again off-again availability became frustrating.  Her unpredictability and my desire for her time conflicted.  I felt resentful that she didn’t venture out to visit me.  I spent more time talking to her husband than I did to her.  That ended up being a problem, too.

When my husband griped about her specialness, I saw a new viewpoint.  I noticed that I was not okay with her unavailability.  I pulled back.

Still, I still considered her a good and worthy friend. I still sought her support, and missed her if too much time went by.  I should have known that something was wrong, but I didn’t.  In my world we (I) just had to work harder to understand each other (her). Or just live with it the way it was.

Then, her father died.

I didn’t show up the way she wanted me to.  She was disappointed and angry. And punishing. In response to her feelings, and for my sense of honesty and authenticity,  I soul-searched. I noticed my emotional sloppiness. I questioned myself. I know I was guilty of some lapses of awareness. I agonized about losing her as a friend. I was abjectly disappointed in myself. How could I have not been less than 100% truthful? I compared myself to her and came up short.

I wanted things to heal between us.  I tried to make amends.  Even though there were wounds, I felt that we were “getting real” with one another, “working things out.” In reality,  it was the beginning of the end of the friendship.

Her point of view had some truth in it. But I magnified that truth until there was no truth… there  was only the unforgivable fact that I was a “bad “ person. I had been unconscious. I was filled with self-loathing and shame. I lost sight of myself and went deep into the hole with no cheese.

As long as I focussed on my inadequacies, ( imagined through her eyes,) I was in a hell-realm of my own making. I was bad, bad to the bone, and deserved to be punished. If I could have had eagles eating out my liver, it would not have been enough. Once the mechanics of unconscious self-flagellation went into play there was no longer a witness to say what was fair or not.  I crawled around on my belly and took my medicine like a woman.

Over time, we seemed to make-up.

And more important,  I was done punishing myself. Regardless of what I did, my actions were forgivable.  I made a mistake.  That’s all.

Not in the eyes of my friend. Things were damaged. She said she couldn’t trust me any longer.

I couldn’t change what she thought. I had no control over whether she would accept my humanness, my inadequacies, or want to move forward.

But I did have choice about how I treat myself. Right now my well-being is more important than my friend’s opinion of me. I have to live with myself.

It is possible to forgive my errors without having to pay penance for several lifetimes. Enough is enough.

I made a mistake thinking my friend as a different person than she is– that she was my champion. A bad choice, because that is not her job. It’s my responsibility to keep my positive opinion of myself, not to expect it or need it from her. If you get strokes it’s nice, but don’t get addicted to them.

It’s important to abandon the illusion that there is a perfect way to be, where no one will ever get pissed off at you; that you will never again make an unconscious and messy mistake. Or that everyone will love you all the time. Forget about it.

At the end of this difficult time I got a great reward: rediscovering, remembering this vital connection to myself.

So here’s what I learned:

It  isn’t about whether you are right or wrong, although it feels that way.

Apologize for your-less-than-perfect-ass.  Forgive her less-than-perfect ass.

Move to the center of your chest…that tender, soft, gooey place.

Say ‘thank you’, say ‘I love you’ to yourself.  Thank her for having been your friend. Send her love. Say goodbye.

And move on.

Dear Cynthia,

Dear Cynthia,

I am writing this to you–knowing you can’t read it, knowing I can’t reach you by phone or e-mail (not that you ever used email!).  I am writing this because I am thinking of you now—and have been thinking of you through weeks of rewriting this letter– trying to say the right words about our long years of friendship, knowing I will never see you again in bodily form.

I miss you. I missed you the moment I knew you were gone. I felt a sweet pang, with sharp tears. Just like that. Then I thought: you don’t have to struggle to breathe any more. You don’t have to cover your ass. Nothing. It’s all free for you, and I felt so happy.

When we last talked, ten days before you died, you said that you wanted to be remembered as having “passed away,” not “passed, for God’s sake!” People who said “passed” instead of “passed away’” were offensive to you.  And remember, you said: “ I don’t want that song, ‘Amazing Grace’ either.  Feh!”

Remember? We laughed!  “Feh” and “oy”, “whatever ”, “yeah, right” and “ugchh.”(spoken with a  long, dry, guttural throat chhh sound.)  Our communication is sounds and gestures– exchanging looks and rolling the eyes–multi-dimensional.

And you aren’t Jewish.  Okay, okay, you did convert. That gives you some kvetching rights.

We met in our twenties during the sixties. There’s a whole story in that one sentence. You knew me, my essence, and my neuroses before I was fully grown-up. You are a placeholder of my history.

 We were hippies. We lived together in a funky commune–kids, cats, and six ”grown-ups”. You were a different kind of hippie; you had a straight job. You were older by five years. You had two kids.

 We loved the psychodrama encounter groups held at the Forest Street commune down the street: Monday, Thursday, Friday nights and marathon weekends, led by Vic Lovell, the edgy psychologist.  Psychodrama was all about exploring emotions, repressions, aggressions, depressions. We “worked” on our issues by acting them out in the fishbowl. This was the most amazing thing I had ever experienced! I was from New York. You didn’t talk about feelings. You said, “Get outta here.”

You and I were a part of the Psychodrama Workshop, where we learned how to “act.” We “actors” would step into the circle and play the role of  parents, girlfriends, bosses, whoever the protagonist had a “situation” with. But really, what the hell were we doing? Experimental psychology? Guerilla theatre? Did any of us, including Vic, our fearless leader, have a clue?

I remember our meetings, sitting around the circle, smoking cigarettes, discussing someone’s ego, or id, or asshole.  In that day the heaviest trip that you would lay on someone was: “You’re copping out, man!”   And you and I, we were the “in” crowd–“the actors.” Of course, we never copped out!

I left the psychodrama practice before you did. The work didn’t fit me anymore, but it was hard to leave this group. You were my chosen tribe–my first homies away from home.

By that time, you married Ed and no longer lived in the commune. You had two more kids, boys– and our lives went in separate directions. While you were raising your boys and girls and I was going through something else. I went to college and other things.

Nonetheless we connected.

I remember a time you were smoking a cigarette in your VW, stopped at a light on the corner of University and Ramona.  I was on the street corner with my boyfriend Bob.  I saw you, impulsively jumped in your car, and we drove away. That’s the way it was with us. Big spaces of time with no connection, but our relationship was gold.

Do remember when you organized that psychodrama reunion?   You got me, Fred, Nick, Richard, and others to come for a salute of our past and to the continuance of Vic’s work. We all went out afterwards. You were still connected to Vic and the practice. I couldn’t understand it.

We lived near each other in the late eighties. I would see you in the morning at the liquor store on the corner, buying cigarettes. You had just gotten off your night shift working at the hospital. We said ‘hi,’ but there was very little connection in our lives.

Then, something changed.

Grace died. Grace, the red-headed loud-mouth, with her eagle-eyed squint, the mater suprema of the psychodrama tribe, died. We reconnected on the boat in Monterey dispersing Grace’s ashes. Remember? You said “It’s no accident that we were meeting again. We need to reconnect this friendship.”

I don’t know if you knew, but I was hesitant to get involved again. I was so busy. I had a business, a husband, and a young child.  I was drumming–taking classes all over the Bay Area, studying Hebrew at Stanford. I had a band, was writing a newsletter, and had a cable TV show. I had huge amounts of energy and excitement and involvement in all of my life, and didn’t know if I wanted to invest in someone else.   But you lived right down the block.  It was good to have a girlfriend to hang with, especially one that knew me.

I began to drop in and visit you. If your car was parked in front of the house I’d blast by for coffee and a cigarette in the back yard. We began sharing our current lives. Your husband, Larry, and my husband, Glenn, your kids from different marriages, and my son. Tantra classes with our spouses. My mother, who you adored.

Later, I fell in love with Terrance, and solving that problem–(Terrance wasn’t my husband yet, and Glenn still was) strengthened our bond. I lived in two worlds: in one I was ecstatically in love; in the other I was abjectly miserable, guilty, ashamed. But I was not willing to stop seeing my lover.  You knew about this struggle. You read it in me. You shared it with me. And you covered for me. You had nothing against Glenn. You just wanted to see me happy.

Remember when you got bossy? In fairness, I welcomed it–originally. I needed your advice. You were my big sister, my mother. Over time I depended on you too much. But I was dishonest with you. I didn’t tell you,”Stop being like my mother!” Instead, I crept away from our relationship. I put on my cloak of invisibility. Looked like someone was there, but it wasn’t me.

When you decided to get a facelift I wasn’t honest enough to tell you that I didn’t want you to change your precious face. I thought your desire was vain and silly and unjustifiably expensive. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy for your skin to heal after years of smoking.  I didn’t tell you that. I acted it out. I didn’t show up post surgery. And that broke an unwritten law in your world. You fired me as your friend.

I didn’t want to be excommunicated. I called you and wrote letters. I begged for forgiveness and you resisted. You were so stubborn that you were admirable–in a stupid way. For six or seven years you wouldn’t communicate with me. I called your kids and asked about you, hoping that would encourage you to call. You didn’t.

Then, your heart attack. Your daughter, Wendy, called. I hate hospitals but I came immediately. You,  intubated and unconscious. I came and went with the family, and I was there when you came out of your coma more than a week later. Do remember that?

In the beginning, you couldn’t speak. When you did, you told me to fuck myself. Then you thanked me for being there for your kids.

We had a good laugh.

Thank god, you stopped smoking.

As your heart healed, we’d talk on the phone or see one another again. Our friendship was in the eternal now.

Last year I noticed that you’d been wearing a wig. I asked Wendy about it. Wendy said, “Ask Mom.” I asked. You wouldn’t tell me. But, of course, I knew the answer. Wendy confirmed that you had been diagnosed with cancer– two kinds; brain and lung. I tried to talk with you about it, remember?  I said, “I think I know what the wig is about ,” and you said, “Well, don’t tell me.” End of subject. The elephant was standing in the middle of the living room with wig on its head and we couldn’t talk about it.

Finally, in our last conversation, over the phone, you opened up: you felt shame that people would judge your cancer because of all those years of smoking.  Do you remember what I told you? I said, “We do what we do to survive, even if we are killing ourselves by doing it.”

By the end I could hear you panting for breath. You didn’t let it stop you. You kept talking until everything was ironed out between us; everything was complete. You said that you wished you could see my face one more time and I would love to have granted that wish, but I was in Sequim, and you were in the Bay Area, and before I could make the time, you were gone.

So I miss you, my very dear friend.

I selfishly miss you as someone who knows me so well– who holds history with me–knew my mother, my son, my brothers, my teachers, my marriages, as well as our story. I am grateful for your kids and for all the gifts that you gave me– the support, the conditional and unconditional love. I want to ask you if I could have done or given anything more to make a difference in your life.

Sadly, the choice is taken from me once again. I can’t see you or call you. All I can do is write.

Luck? Gratitude.

 Because my habit of mind is looking at what is missing in my life, or what’s wrong, or what could be wrong, I sometimes don’t see what a great life I am actually having. Isn’t that odd?

So I’ve removed my head from my butt for just a few minutes to share (and maybe crow about) some of the highlights of this amazing life that I live.

  • One: I have awesome jobs!

Job 1: I teach drumming and rhythm to people who feel called to it.They might not know they are called, but if you show up for one of my classes, you’ve been called.

I am especially good at working with:

Beginners: I deeply enjoy teaching the BASICS of drumming–how to make sounds, explore rhythms, having fun making music. Learning the origins of rhythms in the oral tradition. Creating a village through playing together.

Explorers: Folks who want to explore rhythm as a means to mindfulness, health and vitality.  Get your strength and focus on with drumming!

Musicians: Anyone who wants to deepen their understanding and knowledge of rhythm, timing, and expression. This is the real deal. Learning about time and space is NOT for sissies. Rhythm can kick your ass

 If I am just in my own quiet bubble, not comparing myself to anyone else, or my approach to other system of learning, I feel good about my teaching and its contribution to the world. I  have had quite a few students progress and become teachers in their own right, and I count that as an indicator of “success.”I see that people feel happy when they are drumming. They smile and their body language expresses relaxation and joy. Drumming is magical, transformative AND fun! And I get to teach it!

I also guide people in TaKeTiNa, a different kind of rhythmic work. TaKeTiNa is a musical rhythmic process which engages people through their whole bodies–with stepping, clapping and singing. This modality connects to rhythmic intelligence by grounding it in the body–before playing an instrument. TaKeTiNa boggles the minds, delights the senses and cannot be explained easily– since it is not a linear process. I enjoy the evolution that people go through as they let go into a deeper sense of knowing.

Job 2: I read Tarot cards. I started to learn the Tarot in 1973, when I started exploring  spirituality and the occult. I am largely self-taught.  I settled in with the Crowley deck, and I read cards for the Spring and Summer Renaissance Faire  in Northern and Southern California from 1974 to 1977. There were also long periods of time where I didn’t want anything to do with the psychic world: it took too much energy for me to read. It was difficult for to confront the pain some people brought with them. They come looking for solutions. What if I can’t help?

Last year I began to read again “professionally”, at a metaphysical bookstore in Port Townsend, Washington, not far from where I live.  The world of the Tarot is a mystery for me, always fresh and new. I don’t know if I am “right “ according to Crowley or not, but my clients seem satisfied.  I intend the readings to be for the highest good for each individual.

Job 3: I marry people.  I do about two ceremonies a year and what I earn doesn’t even dent my cell phone bill! I love the process. I have developed a list of questions that I have the prospective bride and groom answer separately and independently. No, this is not the newlywed game; it’s the Zorina-is-going-to-get-you-to-think-about-being-married game. Each partner is asked to reflect on what they value in the other and also to identify the“ touchy spots” between them. When we read the answers together, there is opportunity to  discuss whatever is unclear. Then I write the ceremony for that couple based on their their answers,using their own words as often as I can, so the ceremony reflects their sentiments, their voice. What a great opportunity to be with people during an important step in their evolution.

  • Two: I have awesome people in my life.

I have family.

I am married to an interesting man who I love and feel deeply connected to. We are on a journey of relationship together that is mysterious and ever-unfolding.  Terrance is a meditation practitioner and lover of all things consciousness-related, primarily with a Buddhist slant. He is also a therapist.  Great chemistry between us. He is my supporter, and true partner. He spoils me and cooks for me, and reminds me to stay in the moment. He is an artist in many ways. He’s a great dancer. I sleep better when we are together. He remodels our houses and he built our studio. He is my life companion and we are evolving our co-creative abilities.We’re two very different people and there are sometime impasses. He would like me to go on more retreats, and I would like him to be more social or to like watching trivial movies. And there we are. The longer we have been together, the deeper the curiosity of our “other”-ness becomes. Respect, intimacy, love and affection, and learning and humor are mainstays.

I have kids.

I gave birth to a wonderful son with my first husband, Glenn. Terrance ( husband number two)   has brought a step-son, daughter-in-law and grandson into our lives . I am amazed at the close relationship that we share (or at least I feel that way). We are friends as well as family.  I  absolutely love Thanksgiving, because it is when we get to hang out. I realize the treasure of feeling close to our children.I also appreciate the evolution of these relationships as they changes from parent-children to equals and family.

I have two wonderful brothers.

Both of them are introverts, which means I sometimes don’t understand them, but I definitely love and appreciate them. Because of family dynamics and a wonderfully (note: sarcasm)  controlling mother, we spent many years away from each other, developing own lives and families.More recently, Queen Judith the Great and Dominant passed on, and contact seems easier. even though they are both older than I am, we’ve agreed that I’m the big sisters, and  am training them to be little brothers  It is important for our education and continued growth to shift the balance from time to time, and for them to to realize that there are other ways of looking at the dynamics of our relationship.

My middle little brother and I hang out in Florida, where he lives. I remember when we were kids we were reading these Peanuts comic strips. One of the “themes” was Linus imagining himself as a simple yet rich country doctor with a red sports car. That is my middle brother. Mark is a very successful doctor and surgeon who created a thriving practice. He is in partial retirement now. He occasionally assists in surgeries and her raises bees. I love hanging out in the South, eating oysters, walking his four (or sometimes five) dogs, and giving him foot rubs.

Mike, my oldest little brother, and I meet three times a week on-line to write together–if we both remember. He is my first mentor in this life. He turned me on to everything: from Odetta to Joan Baez, how to play guitar, e.e. cummings and jazz. He is very, very bright. Unnecessarily, and without invitation, I used to compare myself to him and always came up short. In our maturity, I see the gifts and talents that I bring to his life.  I appreciate the time that we share, building a new relationship .

Then there are my brothers’ kids, too! Yeah!  and their kids!

I am lucky to have surrogate “children”. These are people who pick me to be part of their family.I have a “spirit” child, who I have known since she was four. One woman calls me her ‘soul‘ mother. I have been connected to her since she was fourteen.  “Nems” – the third woman is a dear, dear friend. I am so fortunate to be chosen to be close to these women. There are others too–soul sons.  When we are together our relationship is beyond the category of “friend”. We have adopted each other.

I have friends.I am  a social being, an extrovert’s extrovert, although as I get older, I need more time to retreat into my own world. However, by any introvert’s standards, I am way out there! I will admit that I am super, super lucky. I  have a few friends that go back as far as high school, but I have even more friends that are part of my first family of choice. No matter how much time and distance there is between us, there is an ageless quality of interaction. My first tribe (outside of my family of origin) was in California:  my psychodrama family. We were part of a group of psychodramatic “actors” lead by Vic Lovell, exploring alternate ways of working on dreams, relationships, problems. We led groups or participated in groups and marathons every week. We lived together in communes, explored the counter culture in every way there was to explore it: sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Also meditation, the occult, bodywork, and alternative healing.

Most of us ended up thriving as professionals: therapists, writers, restaurateurs, computer scientists, deadheads with jobs, entrepreneurs, rolfers, nurses. A few suffered collateral damage and passed on. There is this sense of connection that lasts to this day. Each and every one of them is dear to me. I have a history that cheers me and awes me. We had so much fun, and it was so crazy! I can imagine why Burning Man is so great for so many people… but I feel like I had my Burning Man every day for years. Doesn’t mean that I won’t go to Burning Man someday, but boy oh boy, the sixties was a wild ride.

And I have continued to develop my network of connections, expanding relationships with those I have worked with, taught, and have encountered as like-minded individuals . Sometimes I am better at spending time developing community than one -to-one, but it is because of my tunnel-y visioned propensity. But even given that, mine is a rich, rich  life!

I have had powerful teachers. Give credit where it is due. Starting with my brother Mike, Vic Lovell, Jim Price, Baba Olatunji, Ma Boukaka, Fritz Smith,  Reinhard Flatischler- I have had a series of remarkable teachers and guides. Despite the tough times– the difficulties of learning and the differing of agendas, the wanting and desire to be recognized and accredited by my mentors–I feel enormous gratitude for all that I have learned. With some, there’s unfinished business. With others, our time together on this earthly plane is over. I say it now even if I am no longer being mentored by you: thank you. I am glad our paths crossed.

  •  THREE:I have health.

Despite my tendency to be a drama queen, and the internal crises that I occasionally suffer, I am grateful and fortunate to have a healthy body. I am strong from drumming, walking, yoga, and when not lazy, swimming. I have the embodied ability to dance, sing, express myself in a thousand joyous ways.  Thanks to my genes, my jeans fit year after year. One lucky duck! People say that wealth is not as important as health. As one ‘ages?’ ‘matures?’, you really begin to get it. Things sometimes ache for no apparent reason. There are visits to eye doctors, dentists and the like which are necessary evils. Colonoscopy, pap smears, or mammograms, anyone? Good health is an amazing gift.

In summation:

You might see that I have designed an interesting life for myself. I would even say without fear of jinxing myself that it is rich — filled with interactions that  encourage expansion, growth and positive change . From time to time I lose focus on the map, or forget the friends or family that give meaning to the shape of my days.

But when I do, I just need to open my eyes, look up and out, and remember.

So count your own gifts, the parts of your own lives that flow in the background because they operate so well. Appreciate all the the people that contribute to making your life work, feel supported. Notice the invisible support that life gives you each and every day, the breath that you inhale and exhale. Remember that your life is a journey, not a destination. Nothing is cut and dried. And it ain’t over till the Fat Lady sings.

Friendship and faux pas

I hurt a friend’s feelings the other day.I was surprised, given the wonderful, enlightened, I-am-conscious-and aware-being that I imagine myself to be, that I could hurt someone so callously and unthinkingly as I did. But I did. I did it by not telling the truth. And they busted me on it.I value closeness. You would know that if you know me, or if you read my personal blog.  I value deep sharing. I value truth-telling. And yet, in every relationship–even when am deeply connected–I reach a point where I exit being fully in a relationship and enter judgement about the relationship. And if it goes on long enough, the relationship becomes stale and inauthentic.While I am in judgement I tell myself that the other person will not able to hear what I have to say.  I censor myself, and think of dozens of reasons why it is inappropriate to bring up what I am thinking. If any of those reasons are true, they are only partly true. Underneath them, I think I am a little chicken.

The split that prompted this blog post was preceded by dozens of small moments when I never conveyed my discomfort or dislike of what was happening between us. Little signals for me to speak up, say difficult things. At the moment that I exit relationship and enter judgment, my feelings have reached full boil. That’s when I split. I go to a more superficial level of communication and stay there wearing a mask on that says “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”–or to the girl behind the mask.

I am right in one sense to not dump my shit on someone else and not have a full-scale rant when I am at my most angry or distressed.  But there are times when this plan goes awry: I fester.

I think I enjoy this program called festering– going into the soupy morass of emotionality that is been part of my psyche since I was old enough to realize that I was feeling. Inside this soup are sharp, pointy sticks, handy tools I can use to poke myself or others in the heart and head. I remember every embarrassing, inappropriate thing ever done or said, every faux pas, every unjust action, every negative remark, every cruel action.

There are also stones in that soup.  Some stones sit on my thinking function and keep me from looking at the facts ma’am, just the facts. Some stones sit on my heart and deaden my feeling of connection, remove me from the humanness that connects us both. Some stones are meant for throwing and some for hiding behind.

Each situation that warrants my exit strategy fits into an ugly rationale bordered with sticks and stones. If I let the heat of the moment cool off and do not move forward to re-engage, these emotions can freeze in place. The icy feeling lets me feel righteous. So righteous, that I remain RIGHT and the other is WRONG. Yay!

Looks good, right? I mean it looks good if being right is more important than being real. Little Zorina, age 2-6, might be right to feel that way. She might not be able to handle complex feelings, or have the language skills to be able to hold up her end of a conversation about what wasn’t right in her emotional world. But, I am not Little Zorina anymore, even though parts of me now are as sensitive as me then.

Festering is a lazy habit.  Lazy and self-indulgent, self-protective and safe. A misguided sense of rightness, bolstered by the sound of repeated pre-recorded self-talk and unaffected by the accompanying smell of old garbage.

When my friend busted me for not showing up in our relationship, I had to look the festering mechanism in the eye and see how much I rely on it.

Years ago I read this: “Would you rather be right or happy? “ What’s the big deal? Of course I would rather be right! I shared this insight with a friend who cracked. “You are so funny!”, she said.  “What?” I asked. “What’s so funny? “

Yes, dear readers, that is the tip of the filtering iceberg.

I would rather be right than anything.  Rather right than happy is only part of the equation. I’d rather be right than logical; or rather be right than pretty; or rather be right than–what else ?? What is the purpose of my rathering to be right?

Being right protects me. It might even make me invulnerable. I can duck behind rightness and lob icy snowballs of brilliant, emotional congruence at you. Aren’t you lucky that I am so right?

Until something happens like my friend busting me. Then I see the paper walls, houses of cards I’ve built. The jig is up! It’s an illusion!

So, what can I do? Apologizing is an option. Oh, it is an appropriate response, but doesn’t cover the reality of what needs to be done. Neither does sackcloth and ashes.

Instead, I have to sit and witness myself.  And damn– it’s uncomfortable. It’s a balancing act–I must neither defend nor blame anyone or anything. Just sit still. Nothing happens, yet it can be excruciating to see that I don’t always know how to do this thing call relationship; to see the good things I bring to the table; to see the large elephants that I walk around; to see the areas that I don’t know how to navigate through.

How do you know that my relationships can hold up to scrutiny?
How do I know when to speak and when to shut up?
How do I know that the other can hear what I say?

I don’t . That’s just a messy stuff that is part of life.

But if I don’t try to bring all of myself to the table with the people who matter, relationship won’t happen. I have to keep reminding myself “Those that matter won’t mind; and those that mind don’t matter.”  It give me solace as I hold myself in the moment.