All posts by Dianea Kohl

Go for BROKE

 

Although I have climbed up and down the financial ladder, I have never been truly poor or rich until my fourth marriage to Gregory: being stunned by my husband’s verbal abuse and distrust early on. Rage and sobbing permeated my corralled heart. I, being IN love with Gregory broke me. Sometimes I could not sleep; so angry and fearful that he wouldn’t trust me; being innocent of his claims that I was lying about having affairs.

Being a Marriage and Family Therapist; I have been in therapy (as any effective therapist needs to be), where I spoke dripping tears during two previous marriages, skimming the surface of my grief: missing my father since his dying of a sudden heart attack in 1977.

Eventually, during one fight with Gregory, my tears sprayed forth like a fire hydrant letting loose: suddenly I could see me fighting with my mother! She forced religion down my throat but my heart refused and began to fight at the age of ten. My spirit rebelled!

I had no consciousness, or awareness of the depth of my childhood pain before Gregory and I “fell” in love.

Finally, I gave him my caring ultimatum: we both go to the Primal Center in Venice, California for therapy as I was hoping to become a primal therapist like John Lennon sings of, and to save our marriage. Gregory had begun therapy in Ithaca, NY and was on medication which helped minimally in that he became able to work after two years of unemployment. It did not stop his distrust of me.

While in California, we’d spent my $10,000 savings on therapy. We worked enough to cover living expenses: he as a private duty LPN and myself as a private duty RN. I worked 2 days a week relieving the full-time day RN until she took a week off for a nose job, as she had a dream of becoming an actress. I was hoping to save enough money to move back home to NY and build up my private practice again as we were broke, beginning to depend on credit cards to live frugally and also pay for Gregory’s desire to continue therapy in California, which he had begun months after I had.

One day I came to work to hear that the full-time RN had died on the doctor’s office operating table, due to some heart problem. So, I began working seven days a week. Her broken heart helped me save $5000 my last month in California so I didn’t have to drive the Uhaul back home, broke.

ODD ONE OUT…can be emancipating

 

While growing up, my mother called me, “Frances the Talking Mule”. I felt criticized, dismissed, unloved. Yet, as a grown up that phrase feels empowering. I speak my truth like a mule.

I see myself as a wallflower in high school – my sister being the pretty one who attracted boyfriends, overlooking me, one year older.

At 16, mother’s anger yells, “He’s not your father!!” shocked to learn I didn’t own the same father as my sister and brother. Yet, I’d always felt very loved by my ‘adopted’ dad and not by my bio-mother – both raising me. I am a child of rape.

My brother and sister both married once. I am divorced four times. Three amicable divorces. The fourth being a lifesaver.  Gregory’s verbal abuse of me taught me to cry, deep time. Openly raging like a crow’s call.

Eventually, my license plate exposes my vanity: CRYBABE.

As far as I know, I am the only family member with a master’s degree. My maternal grandfather, Bernard, earned a Phd. in chemistry from Geneva University in Switzerland, emigrating to the USA to work for his uncle Murry in the copper mining business, who with his six brothers became the millionaire Guggenheim family, creator of the famous Guggenheim museum in New York City.

Maybe grandpa Bernard Guggenheim is the ODD One Out as he disowned his Swiss-Jewish family and became a farmer in the small village of Willseyville, NY. My mother, Ellen Guggenheim never learned why her father left the Guggenheim mining business.

It wasn’t until 2017 that the connection became clear. My cousin, Clare, an avid Ancestry.com hobbiest, used 2 obituary articles my sister recently found in an old album mom owned which I promptly sent to him. I am the family of origin roots investigator, years ago finding mom’s letter of 1980 to Werner Guggenheim, who was not able to establish a proven relationship with the billionaire Guggenheims.

Why do I want to find out why grandpa disowned his Guggenheim family? It’s not about money – like it wasn’t for grandpa Bernard, who died owning a small farm, being married to grammy Alice, who only had an eighth grade education. ODD again.

My dad was way ahead of his time, being an equal parent in the 1950s, being more emotionally available than my mother, being one of the first volunteers for Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service in the 1970s. Without a college education, daddy rose from being a lab technician at Cornell University to becoming a Research Associate in space sciences, analyzing moon dust from the first landing on the moon. Definitely, on ODD one out!

And the one I think of daily because he loved me more than anyone. He died of a sudden heart attack in 1977. Since being heartbroken during my fourth marriage – I am learning to be with my childhood tears, buried by society’s shame. I cry many times a week remembering to appreciate daddy who loved me, yet sadly we feared to say those three precious words to each other face-to-face. Only in cards and letters. In the cards (at that time) as someone has said.

In September of 2017, my European vacation ended in Poland, where an argentine tango acquaintance, Alek, hosted me for a week. ( I met him in 2016 where we danced weekly at Cornell’s physical science building for the three months of his brief internship here). He and his parents and brother and sister heard my family of origin story, laced with tears. His mother’s eyes became misty as she says, “I feel like we really know you.”

While at Alek’s brother’s flat,  Chris played videos of music he loves, then asked for my favorites. When he played So She Dances, a waltz tune sung by Josh Grogan, I danced for Chris and Alek, two men I hardly knew, in Chris’ living room. Surprising myself.

UPSTAIRS…where heaven is?

My family is tired of hearing or reading my story, the truth be told. Will I ever be tired of telling my truth after hearing it hurled at me in anger, “He’s not your father!!” by my mother? Upstairs in my bedroom.

Or, the truth be told, that I am a child of rape so my mother could not love me due to her feelings of guilt and shame; her strict religious beliefs of forgiveness could never wash away.

And, the truth be told, that mother tried to abort me at 5 months along, the doctor refusing.

To put me up for adoption was the next option in Tarrytown, NY, where my ‘dad’ would refuse; as he had signed my birth certificate; and signed up with his heart, forever.

Or, that my ‘dad’ would love me as purely as my sister and brother, born after me, his biologically, while I am not, the truth be told.

And, taken to bible church three times a week, where my ten year old inner voice whispered…the truth is not here. Could I be homeless?

Where is heaven? Where is hell? Could I hear my own truth to be told?

Or, it was not until 1984, when I was 38; I could say to my 12 year old daughter, Erin, “I don’t believe in christianity anymore.” She then crying, “But mom you’ll go to hell.” Is that downstairs, in the cellar?

And, I would cry in church, not understanding why – until memories stored in bell jars, empty and encased in cobwebs of a verbally abusive fourth marriage – my tears careened with the force of Victoria Falls.

Tears being the natural moisturizer I regularly rub into my cheeks and wrinkles of time….smoothing my angry lines into a makeup called forever happiness. Yes, the truth hurts – and as Rumi, 13th century poet wrote: my tears are “pearls of god.”

Where I can find more possibly and probably pure love.

Not upstairs.

Not downstairs.

In each loving teardrop.

WHAT REALLY MATTERS…we all know yes?

One August evening 2017, I was sad to hear a nine year old girl yell out “Don’t cry” twice to another girl who had just sung on Americas Got Talent, and was receiving a standing ovation.

The judges were accepting of tears; yet I still hear all too often, “stop crying,” or “don’t cry,” or “sorry,” for being ashamed of crying.

For way too many years I hid my tears, until I became a Marriage and Family Therapist and later became brokenhearted by  my fourth husband’s distrust of me – accusing me of having affairs and lying about it. I cried. I sobbed. I yelled and stomped my feet like a toddler. Eventually, I became connected to my grief of my mother’s distrust in me to have my own opinions, beliefs and feelings. I became a human thunderstorm, (en)lightning cracking my heart open enough to trust myself, especially my feelings, the best F word going.

Usually, I cry several times a week, (it’s our bodies natural way to let go of physical and emotional pain) and was recently triggered by re-reading my 12 year old granddaughter’s hand-created birthday card for my 70th, where she lists 10 wonderful qualities and ends with the “best thing you are is my grandma.”

Why all these tears?

Another day this same month of August  2017, I signed up to rent a kayak for an hour or two. Will, a 22 year old, very handsome man took my money as I signed the release form saying Puddledockers was not responsible for my safety. Next to my signature was a line for my age. As I write 70, I say, “I have to say it out loud in order to begin to believe…while being greatfull for my excellent health without medications.”

Will inquires as to what is my secret. Crying is my smiling answer. Will responds, “That makes sense because it decreases your  stress.”

“Stress is really fear of something: not enough money, won’t pass a test, or ultimately I won’t be liked, or loved as I need.”

Will asks: “What’s the best moment of your life?”

“You ask great questions!” I take a breath before I answer with my first thought: “the birth of my first child.” I am surprised how interested he is in my life.

When I return from an hour of strenuous kayaking out to the lighthouse and back on Cayuga Lake, Will continues our conversation, “I can’t remember the last time I cried – how can it happen?” I suggest he go to a sad movie, or play a sad song and to be aware (pay good attention) not to suppress your sadness. Then, we laugh together.

Later, in this same August, I am watching a 20/20 documentary of the trial of 18 year old Michele Carter, convicted  of killing her boyfriend, Conrad Roy, with her words. I am still astounded how readily humans wish to blame instead of understand. Michele had tried to encourage Conrad to get help for 2 years. Then, she gave up, and went along with Conrad’s continued wish to commit suicide. Conrad’s mother had taken Conrad to a psychiatric unit prior to Michele’s involvement, mostly by text, as Conrad and Michele had only seen one another three times in their over two year relationship. During the documentary, no one asks why Conrad or Michele didn’t go to their parents for help. Or why Conrad felt so poorly about himself. (Both were from middle class families and attractive. Michele was known to have an eating disorder.)

What really matters is that we pay good attention to children’s feelings; become aware of the essential need to teach healthy loving relationship skills in our high schools, which I have been advocating for over 25 years, and is still not offered as an elective.

What makes a person feel successful; what brings happiness into our lives? I asked Ithaca high school students this past spring. “Education, money, communication” are what I hear first, until I push for the deeper happiness… LOVE they say.

Always, I cry for more love.

 

“There is sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They are more eloquent than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving

DATING ME?

 

I have dated enough to be married four times…yet I dislike ‘dating’ myself. To tell you how old I am.

Yet, I often ask others to guess my age; I need to say my age out loud in order to convince ‘me’ that I have been alive for seven decades. Really?

Since 1970, I am engaged in a love affair with the National Parks, when my first husband and I drove our second hand VW bug cross country for six weeks while being pregnant with our first daughter. I wonder if she, Erin, could see (tears) the cascading waterfalls of Yosemite, or the towering Sequoias, or the black bear running through our campground.

For a month of the summer of 1986, I drove Erin and Megan, then 15 and 12, cross country in my boyfriend’s Dodge van sporting rusted-rimmed doors and 150,00 miles; trusting it to endure our camping-hiking National Park adventure. Surprisingly, without provocation, tears trailed down my cheeks when seeing a 360 degree scenic view appear after hiking 6 miles of switchbacks on Mount Rainier, many-colored wildflowers lining our trail.

It wasn’t until the early 1990s that I realize why I spilled those tears – when I connected that I hadn’t seen the beauty within me. Until then, I hadn’t felt the deep hurt uprooted by my fourth husband’s distrust in me, (saying I’m lying about having affairs when I wasn’t even interested in such), while revisiting several National Parks with him.

This summer, 2017, I am in the Grand Teton National Park for the fifth time, hiking new trails, alone, and for the first time hearing unforgettable music at the Grand Teton Music Festival: cello and piano playing Rachmaninoff’s Sonata in G minor, and my heart strings.

But it is in Capitol Reef National Park where I feel the spirit of my dear daddy in a most miraculous way, tears washing my face like Hidden Falls, sobbing for maybe 20 minutes, remembering we were married on those reefs in a past lifetime, as Native Americans.

In The Middle of LOVE

 

I relate to: “I didn’t talk to anyone,” written in the middle of the story, “Skinning the Rabbit,” (SUN July 2017); after my mother yelled, “He’s not your father!” during one of our fights where I defend my dad. I am sixteen.

Several paragraphs later, I read, “I didn’t call out or cry. I didn’t mind the pain. Not that much…and I was free.” I pen in “NO” in the magazine’s margin. I was not free!

Normally, I would go on reading, but I paused. While pondering, tears sprinkle my cheeks as I connect to daddy and I never talking about, or resolving the pain of that day when the 16 year secret was hurled at me with anger. Regrettably, I stopped being affectionate with hugs although Dad has always been the love of my life.

As an adult, in graduate school to become a Marriage and Family Therapist, I asked my mother why she and dad hadn’t talked to me, (my sister told me she heard mom tell dad not to). Like the author wrote of her mother saying: “He’ll get over it,” (the bawling); I heard my mother say, “Leave her alone, she’ll get over it.” I couldn’t read further as tears flooded my eyes.

 

I’m reminded of the satisfaction I felt (and still do), last autumn while tearing wild grape vines off the lilac bushes and honeysuckle that were being strangled to death. In August 2016 I moved to an 1840s home divided into four apartments where the wild grape vines also covered the open area next to the lilacs. Underneath I discover a large bed of rich green ground cover, myrtle, its periwinkle flowers appearing, in the middle of which is a group of cut off tiger lilies.

I was filled with delight as this spring revealed tall orange Tiger lilies circling many dots of blue because I had tore way the life of the wild grape vines…and the sentence, “You need to stop being so sensitive.”

On a 2017 June day, while watering my newly planted pink and white petunias, yellow and purple pansies and violas, white daises and red dianthus (sweet will-I-am), and bright yellow, orange and pink zinnias, I notice a garden snake coiled in the sun. When I moved my sprinkling can, it slithered away as I say, ” I’m sorry, it’s okay, I won’t hurt you,” and within seconds she was back coiled in the sun’s sensitivity of my heart.

WINTER…loving all seasons of my life

 

Sliding down our backyard hill was ‘cool’ for my sister, brother and I, as was skating on Beebe Lake, property of Cornell University, the latter no longer allowed.

Again, fun was to be had with my two daughters when Cayuga Lake would freeze at its shallow end. I even enjoyed running a 5K with my then husband one new years eve as snowflakes latched onto my eyelashes.

Still, as an adult, I complained for some years about the barrenness of trees without leaves. After a few years of grieving (my fourth marriage and my mother not loving me), I learned to admire and yes love the symmetries (trees) shaped by bare branches, as I gradually accepted my tears without shame. To flow like the rain.

After owning two homes, I chose to rent a renovated chicken coop, next to the farmhouse where the landlord lived. I loved opening my eyes each morning to an expansive valley view, without having to lift my head from my pillow. I lived across the road from Robert Treman State Park, where I ran past many waterfalls either frozen or flowing past spring Trillium. I cross-country skied up and down the farm fields, sometimes wondering if my water pipes would ever stop freezing. My bane of winter.

Over the fourteen years I lived on Gray Road; (how apropos) I badgered my usually helpful landlord, to insulate, even calling for a free energy audit provided by the local utility company.

By year twelve, he had insulated a bit – yet, in year thirteen, I was up until 4am trying to unfreeze pipes with a friend’s hair dryer, while my landlord vacationed in Florida.

When the rent was raised again in 2014, I rebelled. I would not pay more when the water froze once again. When an eviction notice was handed to me, I was surprised and resisted at first. Within 24 hours I’d realized it was time to leave. March first, amidst snowflakes, my family helped me move my “lightened” load.

After two more apartment moves within the next two years, I am now living in my dreamed-of-apartment, situated in an 1840′s built home, where I view a pond within an expansive valley, wide open to my love of light and the four seasons. No curtains over my large windows. It wasn’t until I moved in, that one day I asked myself why I had always wished for a pond on my property…I remembered where I played as a child in the back fields of our childhood home: the pond where I gathered tadpoles and thumb-sized blackcaps for pies my mother would make- my favorite! Peaceful Park, my sister and I named it: where daddy crafted a waterwheel spun by the pond’s stream. Where I felt freest to be me.

Throughout the four seasons.

Even now being in the winter years of my life, I can not imagine being a snowbird.*

 

give me one more year

of winter’s quiet embrace

summer’s smiling face

spring’s generous lace

fall’s colorful grace…………………………………………………….poem by Gayle Gray and me

 

*Snowbird: Live up north in the spring and summer, live in the south in fall and winter.

 

 

 

BAD HABITS?…good habit is my daddy’s love…he’d be 100 today!

“Life is a bowl of Perrys,” I often sing to others: melting a bowl of Death By Chocolate ice cream in my mouth most evenings. My favorite bowl is painted blue and green; the curved word LOVE dressing its side. A gift from my stepdaughter, Sara, who chooses to estrange herself. (But that’s another story)

It could be 15 years now that walnuts and almonds are chopped on top, trying to assuage my guilty pleasure.

Recently, I have been betraying the Perry’s brand: eyeing Turkey Hills “all natural” chocolate chocolate chip along side mint chocolate chip. Chopped walnuts and almonds mixed in until soft (my mother told me not to stir hard ice cream until it is soft – a bad habit?) healthier ice cream… on Turkey Hill Road in Ithaca.  (Yes, this is a real road here!)

Despite me being a ‘health nut’, my youngest daughter, Megan chides me for drinking diet Dr. Pepper, believing the Aspartame is a chaser of cancer. “It’s my only vice – give me a break,” I sassily retort. Besides it says “doctor” on the label. I imbibe a small soda 3-4 times a week at Pizza Aroma where I dine for lunch. Surprisingly, they serve gourmet slices such as salad pizza, or black beans with avocado and basil, all fresh veggies.

I use to be a protestant nun or so it seems – my habit of going to church three times a week required by my parents….my mother being the strict born again christian who shocked me one day, saying: “If I had a rifle, I’d shoot Kevin!” Kevin impregnated his girlfriend, my oldest daughter, while out of wedlock, which is the bad (Bad as in Michael Jackson’s Thriller?) habit? But then, I was gifted a delightful granddaughter, Denali,  who I am very close to, like I am my dad.

Maybe my four marriages is a bad habit?

Or maybe those who judge? before hearing that my first husband came out as gay after fathering our two special daughters; my second dying of cancer; my third not wishing to be emotionally close; and my fourth breaking my heart wide open…leading me to be able to cry in public without feeling embarrassed. I don’t say “I’m sorry”, like is the habit of most I see on TV whenever tears appear during an interview, or on The Voice or Dancing with the Stars, 20/20, 60 Minutes. Where LOVE in-habits.

BEing a MISCHIEF maker can be LOVing

My sister and I still recall how mad we were when our mother allowed our younger brother into our bedroom where he nail polished paper onto our mirror and ruined our lipstick. Of course he didn’t know better; his mischief hurt us, and yes, our belongings.

My sister still brings up how I’d chase her around her twin bed, my fingers positioned over her head like claws, scaring her into screams. “That was mean!” she exclaims. Yes, but does anyone ask why?

For many years, I have called family members (and still do), usually my daughter Megan, on April Fools day, and claim I broke my arm, or some other believable fib. (She’s onto me now.) Once, on arriving at an IPA board meeting, I enthusiastically blurt out, “I’m engaged!” and everyone claps until I say you know what! I’ve straight-faced my landlord saying, “I can’t pay the rent for another week:)

Now, I am remembering how I told my elementary school teacher to look out the window to see a cardinal. She looks. I laugh! I relish the surprise, like chopped onions on a NY City curbed-hotdog! Why do I delight in this? it’s not my natural bent to be humorous – but I try; I think it goes deeper. Maybe it’s one way I have control over something.

 I had so little, actually none with my mother. She even picked out my clothes in junior high school. I disliked a gray straight skirt I had to wear, along with an undershirt until I was 15, when I hid my shopping trip to Rothschild’s to buy a bra. My mother being a very religious woman, she made sure we didn’t go to movies, the theater, or swim on Sundays. (of course smoking and drinking were forbidden – a plus). She’d use the bible to believe that blacks were inferior. I challenged. I fought.

After becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist, I continued to ask why like a two-year-old. Why never grows old!

It is one of my many idiosyncrasies:

I make sure each piece of silverware gets used, although I live alone.

Each evening, I lift a tablespoon from the bottom of the pile, with which to eat my ice cream.

In the morning, I reach to the back row of mugs for one to fill with orange juice; so each one doesn’t feel excluded. You get it, yes? They each get good attention.

When the carton of orange juice is empty; I crush it down to be recycled, then fold it and allow the last drops to fall into my mug, amazed that there is a remaining stream to be saved. Juicy – like I still am at 70, when I self-love, touching myself, still not dried up.

I drive to the Laundromat every two weeks (how many pairs of underpants I have available) , where I peer into the three large garbage cans, spying on BOUNCE fabric softener sheets. I bounce back from my embarrassment as I retrieve and place them into the dryers. Reuse. I think I hear my daddy’s sweet voice: “Waste not, want not.”

Some people are surprised to learn that I am friends with my four ex-husbands and that I have not soured on marriage – who knows, I may marry again. On a March Sunday afternoon, 2017, I walk into The Range, a classy bar, to hear a live jazz band and to dance. I was hoping a friend who dances would be there. Bill had come with another woman-friend, but was glad to see me and dance with me. While we were talking at the break, we share our two basic healing modalities, he grabs my hand and holds it for a minute or more? I am stunned yet did not pull back…I go with the flow. Then, he says, “Maybe we could get married and heal each other.” WOW! My upturned lips are still aglow. I wish I was more attracted to this 13 years younger man…still I am deeply flattered as we laugh together.

 

Although I have lived alone since 2005, I have been lucky enough to have a few lovers. In 2016, I am surprised by a thirty-nine year old beauty of a man spontaneously kissing me under the stars; us lying in the grass as he sucks my excited nipples. That’s as far as we go that evening. The next morning at the IPA convention breakfast, I whisper in his ear, “I’m so juicy.”

After lunch, I am writing in my journal when I hear a knock on my shared bedroom door. Before I could swallow my surprise, he was undressing me and himself, primeing our nakedness, despite my flushes of embarrassment: crêpey folds of leg skin, wrinkles about my face, as I venture to accommodate his large penis. With some position-changing, we make it happen. Unity. Incredulous that my roommate did not walk in!

 

During 2016 I became aware of my food sharing idiosyncrasy: while in Shenandoah National Park I realize the idiocy of finishing my ice cream dessert although I love ice cream. I was stuffed like the proverbial thanksgiving turkey so I introduced myself to a young couple eating nearby. I learned they were on their honeymoon. Subsequently, they fed each other my loving-to-share-dessert.

Another male stranger at an Orchard Pass dance offered a bite of his mocha chip ice cream cone when I looked longingly. I did not hesitate to partake.

At Mount Mitchell, I asked a mom with two boys where they got their chocolate chip cookie (another favorite if with walnuts). She offered the last half of her son’s cookie as he did not want the rest. I munched away.

 

At the Americana Winery, I offered a slice of my pizza to another stranger-man.

At the Grassroots Festival, a woman I didn’t know was going to ditch the rest of her Indian spinach dish and offers it to me – YUM! No fear of germs when ‘love’ is shared.

Can you imagine wiping my arse; folding the toilet paper inward four or five times? “Waste not; want not.”

I find it funny that I have added to my collection of hair elastic bands by picking up lost ones found in parking lots, like I do pennies. Surprisingly, when hiking at a nature preserve in March 2017, I found a red one lying in the mowed down corn field path leading to my favorite local waterfalls. My smile is about as round as the elastic band. Surprised that all of the bands are still elasticized! If not in use, they hang out on the handle of my four-wheel-drive.

I have forgotten what year I began sleeping with my two Gund stuffed polar bears: one being the daddy and the other a child-cub. Maybe I bought the large one in the 1980s when I was not in a romantic relationship. When I read in bed, they hold my head, up.

 

 

HEART of the MATTER

My two teenage daughters and I are sitting in the Elmira High School Auditorium hearing their dad (my first husband who came out as gay when they were one and four) sing The Impossible Dream in the performance of Man Of La Mancha, when tears not only stream down my cheeks, but turn into sobbing that others could hear like a distant waterfall. I think to my self for the first time: it is the first year for me not to be ashamed of crying in public. And to hear, as I left the play, “You look stunning!” from a male stranger. I’m stunned because I must have had reddened eyes.

About seven years later, I am returning from a weekend at Omega Institute where many personal growth workshops are offered. It was the first year I was living with my fourth husband, Gregory, who had agreed not to smoke in the house, including the garage and decks.

When I saw an ashtray full of cigarette butts on the deck adjoining our bedroom, I lost my mind. My heart was so broken that I yelled at Gregory and then flew down the stairs to the garage where I found an ax which I took to the ashtray, smashing it to bits with rage that soon splintered into tears. Sobbing as I said: “You promised, and you know my daddy died of a heart attack because of these damn cigarettes; how could you?!” The first year I allowed myself to feel rage. Gregory held me until my tears subsided into love.

 

WHY is it that I cannot walk by babies being wheeled in grocery carts? I must stop. As if caught in traffic by their eyes, open like full moons, staring into mine.

They are strangers with a heart bow-tie that tethers us to one another. “Eyes are the windows to the souls,” echoes from long ago in a commonly heard refrain. Its origin may be a variant of a French proverb, ‘eyes are the mirror of the soul’ or more likely, “The eyes…are called the windows of the heart by which love enters into the score.” – Stefano Guazzo, 1584.  Our language of love, or lack thereof, then centers from the heart:

“Her condolences were heartfelt.”

“His story is heartwarming.”

“Your mother is coldhearted.”

“I am wholeheartedly in favor of hiring that construction crew.”

“Have a heart, would you!”

“My last husband really broke my heart.”

“My dad died suddenly of a heart attack. I’m heartbroken.”

“Richard Gere is my heartthrob.”

“I am writing a letter to my sweetheart.”

Watching an ABC documentary in January 2017 about the Menendez twins was heart-stopping for me. I couldn’t believe they are serving life in prison. Their first trial came back with a hung jury…a mistrial. When tried again some years later, the judge would not allow admission of their heartbreaking testimony: these boys were not only molested, but raped by their rich Hollywood father for years.

Yes, Eric and Lyle murdered their parents out of fear and hatred…their hearts being stopped prematurely. Their innocence being vanquished!

 

Growing up, I memorized hundreds of bible verses; my mother charmed my sister and I like a cobra with the reward of a free week of, yes, bible memory association camp where girls and boys were not allowed to swim together. This 1960s rote rehearsal of verses exemplifies the dying of my feeling heart…a separation like the remote from the TV housing only one channel. Eventually, I wrote. Wrote. Wrote.

I was angry, fighting frequently with my mother about whether the bible was true: how could the Africans or Asians who don’t know about christianity go to hell?

How could blacks be inferior?

Why couldn’t I trust my ten-year-old constant voice within saying: this religion is not true to my heart? That small quiet unrelenting voice kept pulling at my heart strings until 1984, when at 38 years old my heart jumped ahead of my mind. Then, I could follow my feelings; feel trusting of my heart and not what my mind had been indoctrinated to think – to believe.1984 was the first year of beginning to feel free to be Me.

In recent years, I have wondered at the words we choose to describe.

The brain-mind is used for thinking. The heart is used for feeling.

“You are out of your mind” – to think blacks are equal to whites. My mother’s echoing.

“I’ve lost my mind,” when I forget your birthday.

“Mind your manners – keep your elbows off the table.”

“You better mind me, if you know what’s good for you!”

He was the mastermind of the ponzi scheme.

One of my favorite movies is A Beautiful Mind; where a math genius is a schizophrenic mind, freed into sanity by the tender love of his wife’s heart.

So, why LOVE is portrayed by the heart? Red blood pumped with life giving oxygen into all our organs, eventually to the mind, so we can contemplate what LOVE is? Perhaps laugh heartily?

Bless her/his heart! is common staccato southerner’s speech; musical lyrics moving us to feel? unlike black and white piano keys unable to be played?

In our present society, 2017, we are still apologizing for crying:’ SORRY’ is what  I hear often on TV, or radio when tears appear. How sad that it took me, a psychotherapist in my forties, to be able to heartily accept – my true heart’s desire to cry – then laugh heartily!

Finally, to the point where my anger dissolved in childhood-connected tears.

Eventually, I became aware of the words of our language creating messages – like the word EVOLution. First I saw the first four letters of EVOLution spelling LOVE backwards; maybe two to three years later (around 2000), a sentence was seen in the reflection of the mirror: NO-IT-U-LOVE! Out loud that is. My heart leapt for joy, as did my arms and legs, with that discovery. No more heartache.

Very soon thereafter, like reading the next chapter of a book – I became caught up in the many words within my HEARTS desire to know a deeper and deeper awAREness of what true love can be. First came: HE, SHE

then EAR, HEAR

next TEARS, saying HERT

so I could STARE into who we really ARE.

Becoming a STAR shining up our EARTH

to be able to SHARE Love. Love being the greatest piece of ART ever created by EVOLution.  Isn’t home where the heart is?