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?

 

I GET it …or do I? so dumb about Love?

I snap a photo of the sign WORDS MATTER in front of a home in downtown Ithaca, standing proudly in a blackish lower class yard.

I remember not allowing my two daughters to use the words “kill” or “shut up” in our house – who wants ” I could kill you” ringing in your ears? Or to be told to “shut up”? I wasn’t wise enough in the 1970s-80′s to suggest saying: “I’m so angry at you!” I did ask to hear “Be quiet,” unaware to be able to say “I don’t like feeling your anger.” Or, “I feel unheard.”

It’s now 2016 and I am riding in the back seat of my son-in-laws fancy truck, my 14 year old granddaughter, Riley sits next to me, and her 12 year old sister, Emily is sitting on the other side of Riley. Ben is driving and my daughter Megan is in the passenger seat. We are on our way to Ben’s family annual christmas party.

Both girls have recently received their semester grades – all in the 90s, except one 84 in geometry for Riley, who says, “I don’t care about geometry – I’ll never use it in my life. We should take classes that help us with life. Physics doesn’t matter to me either. Those subjects don’t interest me!”

Ben counters, “But maybe someday they will.”

Riley emphatically responds: “No, if they do, I can take them later.”

Megan pipes in: “Really, I don’t use much of what I learned in high school either.”

“You’ll be able to have an intelligent conversation,” Ben adds.

Finally, I must put my two cents in (is that all its worth?): “Yes, if we are taught healthy relationship skills, like how to identify what you feel, and then not spew anger at one another…

Riley interrupts, “Didi gets it!” as her hand shoots toward me, her grandmother. Megan keeps repeating to Ben, “You’re not listening to me,” as I observe them interrupting and talking over one another.

I feel proud of Riley, who chews her finger nails. She’s an elite soccer player, who is beginning to know best; maybe father no longer knows best?

I think to myself: ‘gets it.’ What does that mean? Then remember how often I hear my oldest daughter, Erin say: “You know what I mean?” So often that I think of it now. It’s common to hear many say that frequently as well.

Over and over people want, and need to be understood. Yet, don’t say it. Why is that? Do you get it? Why not say: Do you understand?

Another thought flutters by: That sucks, that we feel misunderstood.

My psychotherapy clients say they get upset when they fight with their loved ones. Some cry; most get triggered into anger.

They call each other asshole or fuckin’ asshole, or bitch, or worse. Motherfucker. Writing that word makes me squirm like a fly caught in a spider’s web.

Swearing was not allowed in my rigid christian upbringing; I could not even say dam, so we said darn! or shoot instead of you know what:)

One day, I was outside using a chainsaw to cut up some driftwood when the saw slipped and I explecate, “Oh shit!” My elementary school age daughters were within earshot: “Mom! you swore!” I responded with a laughing-smile, “There’s a first time for everything!”

By then, I was heartily on my way out of the religious box, three sides crushed, one side still remaining. Could I lose my only known community of friends? I was a hypocrite by then – dancing and experiencing pre-marital sex – after being divorced twice.

In 1984, Erin is 12 and Megan is 9…a cinematic scene is still brightly lit in my memory: Erin is lying on her top bunk as I tell her, “I no longer believe in christianity.” Immediately, her tears cry out, “But mom you’ll go to hell.”

(Hell no! I say to myself just now.)

I try to reassure Erin: that ‘being born again’ is not the love I feel is real. Even the bible reads in I John 4:18: “Perfect love casts out fear.” That means the fear of hell too! Get it?

Interestingly, while making love it is natural for many to say, “I love you baby.” Why do we say ‘Baby’? I have lost count as to how often I hear that tender endearing affectionate word. Baby. Addressed to the adult-one we love. Where there is no fear.

Maybe you’d rather hear, ‘fuck me baby?’ That swear word, fuck, rankles my heart into a firestorm of disgust, and contempt as the dictionary defines it: “to engage in coitus or copulation, usually considered obscene or vulgar, to express disgust, contempt and feelings of anger.” I have argued and or discussed this idea with Buddhist-identified friends who say that fucking is all in fun – our animal nature. I say: animals do it from the rear.

There is no eye contact.

No meeting of our true souls.

The polar opposite of fucking is making love.  Like how I feel when babies stare into my eyes without fear.

WORDS stick even when we don’t want them to.

 

Like our twentieth century separation of white and black peoples in restaurants, rest rooms or even public schools. Called niggers. Or gender separations, to be called fagots. So humankind cannot openly love whomever one chooses to love?

I do see Americans moving toward the lovelier shades of gray: people of color. Less black and white thinking. EVOLutionarily, I choose to make love with my sexual body – yet it hasn’t always been this way. Like not crying readily until I am in my forties. I didn’t have the guts!

Still, we are assaulted by intense stage lighting:  objectified like skinny runway models.

I want to feel the pure love of ‘oh god’ at orgasm with my lover in my arms, eyes to Is. Get it?

Is primal swearing of shit, sucks, or I’m pissed off, metaphorically trying to get close to our Feelings? The best “F” word going I tell others, who then spontaneously laugh. Recently, I read in a 2012 novel, “back when everything was simple and defined, back when I was blissfully unaware that he was sleeping with other girls.” Of course we know sleeping means sex in this sentence. In this twenty-first century I don’t get why the majority still can’t say or write the word sex instead of sleeping. No italics needed eh?

It’s very common to hear, “that’s weird” when we actually are feeling scared to do something different from the ‘norm,’ like: I can’t send you that guys email address…that’s weird. Or ”I’m stressed” that I won’t meet the deadline. Yes, you’re scared you won’t meet the deadline. I get it. You are ‘Freakin’ out.’ Or it sucks if we fail at some test when we are actually disappointed or sad.

I have made running a major career of my life. I began running in the 70s with the purpose of staying physically fit, to keep my girlish figure after bearing two babies. To stay motivated I’d increase my distances, not so much my pace. I would wear RUNNING FOR THE AVERAGE RUNNER T-shirt  for years; even when I advanced to the monumental 26.2 miles marathon.

I was ‘sane’ enough to only train 35-40 miles per week and looked forward to one day off each week. Still, I forged out the goal to run the most consecutive monthly marathons by a woman. Did I get it? that I needed to feel special? I did run 36 marathons in 36 months during the years 1983-1985;  then the USA woman’s record. All of those marathons brought me to the notorious “WALL” at mile 20. My body said: You must walk. I did. Sometimes I jogged. My mind said: “You’re crazy Diane. Why are you doing this?” Many times the answer came: “for the recognition.” Crossing the finish lines, my arms stretched to the sky, people clapping gave me that ecstatic feeling, like rising toward orgasm, but never climaxing.

It wasn’t until my fourth marriage that I was triggered into huge anger and tears. I knew then, we must drive to the Primal Center in Venice, California. During the year 1996-97, I yelled, screamed, and mostly sobbed as intense feelings became connected to my childhood-emotional pain. After I returned home, for a few years I cried  often at orgasm as I learned to get with the program of my bodies natural way to heal emotional hurts: for cryin’ out loud!

It’s been a scary run to become the CRYBABE (my license plate for maybe 20 years), where even family members felt helpless to see me cry as often as the universe rains. (Presently, most are accepting if not comfortable with my tears for fears:). I’ve felt alone like the only oak tree on a street of pine. (because my heart wishes not to pine?:) Yet, I am learning to own (I accidentally typed won at first) The Greatest Love of All, as George Benson sings.

In October 2016, I received a surprise phone call the week before the SUN writing workshop weekend in Big Sur, California. I had been on a waiting list of 40 people. I jumped on a plane in NewYork, flying to California where on the last day I heard the editor-publisher, Sy Syfransky read his writing: “PAUSE – take a LOOK,” prompting a few tears to crawl down my face. Afterwards, I expressed my appreciation to him, to which he replied: “Thanks for advocating for tears; we all need to do more crying.”

At that moment, my tears turned into an EVOLving waterfall.

 

Addendum:

Crying is the only bodily function that we repress and suppress. Therefore ending up with anxiety and depression. We all know that if we don’t allow our bodies to pee, (piss) poop (shit) or sweat,…we die physically. So putting two and two together, not allowing our tears, we die emotionally and become very angry.

It’s pretty obvious, no shit, that we need to have a GOOD cry, so we can feel better.

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

 

NO PHOTOS….NO PICTURES…that night

 

I’m in bed. Eyes fluttering to wakefulness. My head turns to the wall of photographs stealing my attention. I feel pleased with their spontaneous arrangement; their frames containing only duos looking down on me. My youngest daughter’s right arm lays warmly around my shoulders, her left arm around my clavicle like a necklace…a smile overwhelms my soul like breakers splashing on the ocean floor.

My thoughts picture my wedding photo sitting across the room on the antique chestnut dresser. I’m not looking at it. Still, a tear slithers down my right cheek, then another straddles my left cheek. I see my dad leaning toward me. I quickly kiss his cheek; his large knuckled hand is gently settled on my white satin sleeve. Daylight fills the awkward space between our bodies.

Why do tears return again and again since dad left me in 1977 by way of heart attack? Since the early nineties I’ve cultivated tears like ‘pearls of god’ like poet Rumi speaks of.

There were no photos of my daddy holding me as a child; although there are photos of him holding my one-year-younger baby sister standing in the palm of his hand on his outstretched arm. And a professional photo of my younger brother sitting on my daddy’s lap, his small hand enveloped by dads.

Just weeks before my mother died in 2002, while emptying her apartment,  I did find a photo of daddy holding an infant; my mother says it is me. Yet, why do I doubt it even now? We are outdoors – where? He’s in a suit – why? I could have asked when mom was alive – why didn’t I? I’m a Marriage and Family Therapist for god’s sake – not for my sake?

Before climbing out of my iron wrought painted white double bed where I sleep alone, my unconscious soul tells me to get up and search for the wedding photo of dad walking me down the aisle of the Tabernacle Baptist church. I need to see my arm entwined around his. Now, I’m sobbing like a baby. Really, is this possible?

I do love babies: I can’t help but stop as I walk by, seeing them staring up from Wegman’s shopping carts. Mother’s voice along with others still echo in the distance: “don’t stare, it’s not polite.” I say, Stare on baby! (Pause – take a look!) See through me like a magnifying glass burning a (w)hole in a dried-up leaf.

I have saved photographs in albums since my two daughters were born 4 decades ago – most of them line up on shelves in my apartment’s living room or bedroom, so I was surprised not to find the two wedding albums of my first marriage there. I’ve been married four times. Shocking?

The flame of my flash light leads me up the stairs of the garage where boxes of ‘unnecessary’ things for my apartment rest. I move boxes of self-published books  to the side so I can access boxes of past journals. All of a sudden I feel liquid on my finger, and then see red. Two days previous I had sliced it when prunning a plant I needed to move indoors before fall’s freezing.

God darn it! No, damn it! Am I not supposed to find that photo – why the delay? Am I reopening the wound of missing my dear daddy?

Not until I’ve applied a small band aid do I think: maybe feeling my blood being spilled in search of his touch, as tears flow, is enough? Like blood brothers? sisters? father-daughters?

Returning to the upstairs garage, band aid applied; I move Grammy’s 3′x3′ framed portrait, christmas decorations, ‘dad’s stuff,’ back packs, those wedding albums still ducking out of sight. I’m losing hope. My heart says, press on. Precariously,  my foot on the edge where I could tumble down the stairway, I take in a breath of exhilaration, as small albums of purple and blue flash before me. Opening the box flap reveals the two white book-like albums of my first marriage to Chuck, who left me with two daughters to raise after he came out as gay, after being married to me for six years.

I gather more appreciation for my dad’s presence when Chuck and I return to Ithaca, NY in 1974, so he could attend graduate school for music performance. Chuck sang “Ich Liebe Dich” to me during our wedding ceremony; one of the few times I permitted myself to cry – it’s acceptable at weddings, right?

Back then, I didn’t connect the significance of Chuck choosing a German song with my dad being born and raised in Germany until he was seventeen. Dad sailing to the USA, obtaining US citizenship, choosing to fight against his own country in WWII. It is still hard for me to comprehend such a huge gulf of courage.

Now, my tears take me back to being sixteen, when my mother yells, “He’s not your father!” during one of our frequent fights where I am defending my dad. My memory goes black. I’m in a tidal wave of aloneness. My shock locks away my pain in a safe, until I’m in primal therapy, where I retrieve images  of me running down the stairs; outdoors, swinging on the sturdy steel swing set my daddy constructed for his three children. (Thanks John Lennon for writing the song, Primal Therapy.)

While in graduate school studying to become a Marriage and Family Therapist, I ask more questions of my mother: “Why didn’t someone come and talk to me – comfort me?”

Mom responds, “we left you alone; thinking you’d get over it.” This is where my dad’s courage failed. He went along with my RN mother’s direction too much until they divorced when I was in nursing school, and dad wrote letters to me every week. Letters and cards flaunting feelings like: “That I am very proud of you.”

At some point a letter asks why I wasn’t affectionate or demonstrative anymore with him…did I have any insight as to why? I can’t remember what my response to dad’s letter was. Being a curious daughter with my dad, and a rebellious daughter with my mom; I am quite certain I would have wondered during the required therapy group of my psychiatric rotation. I have a box full of dad’s hand written letters that I cherish like I do my two daughters. Disappointingly, I never found my letters to dad when he died – only a few very loving cards I sent him. It never feels enough.

Returning to my apartment with the box of daddy’s letters in my arms, and the Chuck-wedding albums (glad I never chucked them:), I sit on my living room floor, remove the 5×7 photo from its plastic sleeve, as tears wash my 70 year old face. I rub them into my crow’s feet and smile wrinkles; I tell others: tears are the best moisturizer I know of. Naturally. They laugh. So do I.

For the first time, I “pause – take a look,”  Sy Safransky’s (editor and publisher of The SUN magazine) words that he reads at the Big Sur writing weekend in October 2016. I love that my arm is entwined around dads as he walks me down the aisle. His serious face belies the love I feel from his sensitive special heart. My smile is wrapped in closed-eyes; so like how my heart was back in 1969.

On my way to see clients that same day, I stop at Kinkos, place on the scanner the 5×7 photo of daddy and me on that sad-happy wedding day, and presto it is enlarged to an 8×10. I stare at the photo, amazed that my soul has pulled me along like a toddler; then lifted me into daddy’s arms like how I remember him carrying me down Aurora street when I was five or so, after my butt was accidentally burned with scalding coffee at a work picnic.

The next day, I’m writing my tears down in Wegman’s cafe, swearing I will not be embarrassed or ashamed as I walk to retrieve napkins to wipe my snotty nose; tears have already soaked the hankie I store in my purse.

Another day that week, I’m pausing to look at the wedding photos of daddy: dad holding my 3 year old niece’s hand; talking with my brother and Chuck, the church congregation with us at the altar, daddy giving me away, dad and Chuck’s dad talking, the formal after wedding shot of us with our parents, the reception line with dad next to me for seven photos!, my kiss on his cheek, daddy walking me down the aisle, front and rear view:); where I touch my dad for more than a second or a minute; pleased  that he is next to me. Also, that he stands next to me in the reception line and not my mother. How fine. Through eons of time. In my heart.

As long as I remember you, you will be here.

 

Addendum:

{One more day later, I am placing the two 8×10 photos of daddy and me at my wedding in an old tattered leather album that can only hold two 8×10 photos facing one another, where the etched faces of Clark Gable and Vivian Lee look at me when I bought the album at an antique store. When I remove the photo of daddy and I that already lived for years in a single 8×10 frame on my chestnut dresser; I find to my surprise, a xerox copy of me as a toddler with my trike, attached to two smaller photos of me as an infant being held by my mother and daddy. I had forgotten. I had placed it there. Now no longer covered up. The love of my daddy. Exposed. Held}

 

ONE SIMPLE DAY IS SIMPLY BEAUTIFULL… can I be losing?

 

I’ve been alone; well, living alone since 2004-2005 when I lived with my boyfriend Steve, 22 years my junior. Since then I sustain myself with only one true friendship.

And what does that mean anymore? During four marriages and several lovers, I’ve cultivated 4 long term girlfriend relationships of 20 or more years endurance. Susanne, was first to reject me…a psychiatric RN who learned to share primal feelings with me from 1998-2006, usually weekly. By this time, I shared tears as easily as saying “good morning.” Sometimes, rageful tears erupted from Susanne that slowly dissipated some of her anxiety. We supported each other with the vulnerability only children feel free to expose. Sadly, in 2015, nine years after rejecting me, Susanne committed suicide, despite living just down the road from her supportive daughter, son-in-law and two young grandchildren that she adored.

Tanya, a nurse practitioner, also shared primal feelings of fear and loss with me; until her unhappy marriage trapped her with the tight grip of helplessness. She told me, “I feel more of my unhappiness when I’m in the presence of your happiness.” Freedom. She began avoiding my phone calls. Finally, I  had to show up unannounced in order to reassure her that I would never abandon her. Several times a year, I continue to leave voice mails saying, I love you. Silence is her only response.

Sue, a social worker in private practice abandoned me after sharing many hikes, dances, and vulnerable tears by first saying: I need time for myself. I understood. Yet, the week before her birthday in 2010 she wanted to dig up Forget-Me-Nots from my overabundance to plant in her yard, then never spoke to me for months by avoiding my infrequent phone calls of loving-kindness, so that I finally had to show up in her driveway to ask “why.”

“Do you have to be hit over the head with a sledgehammer?” she asks.

“No, just tell me why the months of silence; communicate with me,” as tears squiggled down my cheeks.

With tears welling in her eyes, “I don’t want to be friends anymore: you’re controlling, narcissistic and manipulative” …I was truly dumb-founded! Since she was on her way to an appointment she didn’t have time to give me examples. We left each other with loving well wishes.

A few days later, I wrote a loving kindness letter asking for examples to which Sue never replied. When I occasionally see Sue on the street I wave a friendly hello, to which she slowly responds in kind.

I do keep in yearly birthday contact by phone call with my childhood friend, Mary, who recently initiated a visit to my home in New York, she living in Michigan. We had not seen one another for three years, yet feel the ease of decades of sharing supported through yearly holiday letters.  Occasional emails remind us of our connection of growing up love, but we choose not to be close.

For the past 5-6 years I have developed a deep friendship with Gayle, a retired social worker who also has shared with me primal feelings rooted in childhood pain, and she was the one to foster our friendship after reading my first book, TEARS ARE TRUTH…waiting to be spoken. There is nothing we are too afraid to share with one another. She tells me, “You’re the only one I can tell everything,” although she has several close friends and a significant other for 8 years. We hike most weeks to waterfalls in the central New York region – echoing the natural flow of our waterfall-tears whenever they appear.

On Halloween 2016, while hiking, I’m telling Gaylee how much I enjoy pulling the wild grape vines off the lilac bushes, where some branches had been smothered to death, literally. Also, how I pulled more wild grape vines off an abandoned hidden garden of Myrtle and Tiger lilies; and even some that had glommed onto a tall maple tree.

I throw my arms up in the air, and as I shout “freedom!” tears smother my cheeks with love; Gaylee’s arms immediately surrounding my shoulders.

“Now I understand!! I give these plants and flowers their life back – like I am the child inside me whose feelings were smothered by an indoctrinated religion forced upon my growing up,” I shout with the boldness of a child’s uninhibited voice, as we continue our walk along the gorge where water flows freely. Amidst the trees. Scudding the leaves.

Later, that same Halloween day, my son-in-law, Kevin, comes to my home to retrieve his house keys. He’s not yet been inside my ‘new’ apartment of two months, which is a 1840s home divided into four apartments. When he reaches my bedroom in the back, his arms fly into the air, along with a yelp, “Oh my god!” his mouth in the shape of a big eclipse, his eyes wide as a full moon. “This is spectacular!”

The large window claims my dream view of a pond centered in an expansive valley of fields and tree-filled hills, fall orange and yellow colors still a delight.

After Kevin glances fervently over my flower pots and garden and an old Jade plant, which was sporting 20 or more new buds that will flower many many dainty white blossoms by Thanksgiving, Kevin says, smilingly, “Flowers dream about being reincarnated into your garden. They know how much they are appreciated and cared for – it brings them long life.”

“Truly a Lifegasm,” he adds wistfully.

I smile broadly as my heart holds my words, “a Lovegasm.”

BREAKING the law to build TRUST

In 2012, I’m driving into Ithaca, NY, aiming to enjoy the annual June festival when flashing lights in my rear view mirror catch my eye. Of course I pull over as I wonder why. The police officer asks me to get out of my jeep Liberty as he tells me there is a warrant out for my arrest. My license plate, CRYBABE alerted the policeman’s computer as he drove up behind me.

In broad daylight I’m cuffed with my hands in front of me, instead of around my back as he says, “You’re obviously not dangerous.” I’m a psychotherapist who refused the Seneca County court judge’s order to release my psychotherapy notes in a child custody case. It’s against my professional ethics, although the child custody lawyer says no one has ever refused her medical records. I had already submitted a report to the court, which was not accepted as sufficient.

That evening, my oldest daughter picks me up from jail after I am finger printed and pay $500 bail by credit card. I tell her, “I’m surprised how calm I felt as I was driven to the border of two counties; transferred twice, still in cuffs. Must be all my tears have given me courage to trust in myself. That I’ll be safe.”

Within a few days, I call the local journalist-reporter of Seneca County who later interviews me, my lawyer, and the child custody lawyer. I’m so pleased that his article is published in the Ithaca Journal and other county newspapers the week of Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, with a photo of his face enlarged above my ‘story.’

I never pay the remaining court-ordered $500 plus fine – no one comes after it. Or me:)

A few months later, following another refusal by me to give up another client’s psychotherapy notes in Tompkins County court – I’m dismissed by an angry judge; the recording of my previous testimony in the court room told to be disregarded. As I walked out into the sunlight, I felt empowered: as if the sun emblazoned my truth – and that of my profession – which is essential to building trust with clients.

Within one year, the new release of medical records permission form was changed to say: “(except psychotherapy notes)”.

 

 

 

 

 

Addendum:  By breaking the law, truer justice EVOLves. I feel proud.

ALMOST where?

ALMOST

     THERE. The one song I remember from the one secular album my mother allowed me to buy, sung by the Lettermen.

I don’t remember the lyrics until I look online. I find more than one song with that title. I know it has to be the one sung in 1964. Yet, the 2009 version describes more so how my life’s journey has evolved.

“I don’t have time for dancin’” is what my mother would say – as religion of the ‘born again’ kind ruled our roost – to the point of dancin’ being outlawed as a worldly temptation. Sexuality being the unspoken one. At 16, I didn’t know what masturbation was although warmth exuded between my legs like a summery mesmerizing campfire.

I married the first time as a virgin.

I married the second time as a hypocrite; dancing during the week; arriving at church on Sundays. (I’d given up Wednesday’s midweek prayer meeting by then.)

I married the third time after living with Alain for a year, no longer religious, yet spiritual.

I married the fourth time after becoming a Marriage and Family therapist in private practice and raising two beautiful daughters. (By this time I’d been sexual with 60-70 men. I’d kept a list of their names, not wanting to slight their significance while developing love of my self.)

“Almost there; we’re almost there

How wonderful, wonderful love will be

For you, for me.”….Love has waited such a long time.

….Our paradise, paradise so rare,

Close your eyes for we’re ALMOST THERE.”

Gloria Shayne, Jack Keller, November 1964

As of 2016, I’ve been single, living alone for 18 years with the exception of living with my then boyfriend for the year 2004-2005; he being 22 years younger than me. I loved his inner boy, his soul; but the anger I could not control, or be around.

Five days before I celebrated my 70th birthday, while attending the International Primal Convention, I met David. In the evening during social time, I placed a sweet potato snack between my lips, gesturing to David to bite off the other half, which he did without hesitation. His blue eyes sparkled. My gray-blue eyes dazzled back. Yet, my imagination could never have compared to what happened next.

He motioned me to come outside, where he took my hand in his, walking us across the grass, stopping under a tree. His broad hands then press my cheeks as he smoothes his lips into mine. Are we really making out?

That same warm sizzling feeling from when I was 16 is back radiating between my legs. How can this be at 70? and he’s a handsome 39! I’m greatfull too that he is not french kissing me – yet is passionate as if we could be in love. But we’ve known each other less than 24 hours.

Again, he takes my hand, leading me farther from the buildings and artificial lights – to lie down in the grass, looking upward to the sparkling stars cradling a near full moon. We talk, we kiss; soon he parts my dress and is sucking on my nipples which tingle my clitoris; joining the heavenly stardom.

How long we carried on like this is an unknown – before I am walked to my room where I self-loved into an exquisite diamond-like orgasm.

The next morning at breakfast, I whisper to David, “I can’t believe how juicy I was last evening even before my dynamo orgasm.” We share more of our lives as love spins in our eyes.

After lunch, I go to my room to write in my journal. Soon, I hear a knock on my door – I’m surprised that it’s David. Lovingly and longingly, he pushes me onto my single bed. He kisses and caresses me as if no fear exists. (I do have a roommate.) Our clothes disappear as if nothing else matters. Yes, I’m a bit concerned about my sagging skin although I am in excellent shape. It’s daytime – there’s no hiding – he says, “You’re a sexy woman.” It took some trying for me to accommodate his large penis….almost there.

 

LEAPS of faith bring truer LOVE

I am contemplating a jump out of an airplane as a triumph of making it to my 70th birthday. Not that I’ve had to battle cancer, although I have survived a fractured skull.

But that palls in comparison to the leap from the ‘born again’ christian fold where I was indoctrinated (brain-heart-washed) since my very birth. That leap happened in 1984; the book authored by Aldous Huxley: his prescription for me? Scary yet hopeful.

When I tell others I have been married four times, either a look of shock and or judgmentalness creases their face. I used to be ashamed, now I am pleased, because the last leap of ‘marital bliss’ sent unimaginable emotional pain to my small brain.

I cried, I sobbed, I wept, I bawled like a baby. Yelled like a banshee while taking a sledgehammer to my husband’s ashtray: my dear daddy’s ashes mixed with my tears…he’d smoked, was a diabetic; he died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of sixty.

In winter 2015, some twenty years later, I accept being evicted from my apartment of 14 years, as I refuse to pay the elevated rent when my water pipes still freeze. I feel lighter in more ways than one; letting go of stuff: table and chairs, sewing machine, dishes, etc. And, my next apartment has more light – but the rotten-egg smelling sulfur water, lack of closets, and a smoker downstairs propels me to sign a year lease for a basement apartment of a friend’s house. I knew it was not enough light; yet I signed the easy offer.

Now that it’s August 2016, I’m finally settled after a third apartment move, where my dream of living with a view of a pond comes true…signing on the very last day before I had to renew my old lease. I’m ecstatic like a baby giggling. Amongst others vying for this apartment, I am chosen at the very time of its viewing! My faith is now in the Design Of the Universe (DOU – sounds like TAO) giving me the LOVE I’ve desperately and rebelliously cried out for years…for ‘cryin’ out loud!!

For all these years, I didn’t know why I’d dreamed of having a pond on my ‘property’ – until the springing of my tears as I spoke out loud of the pond in the fields behind my childhood home. Where I played with tadpoles and the frogs they became. Where I picked thumb-size blackberries with which my mother baked the best blackberry pies! Where my father made a toy paddlewheel in the stream leading to the pond.

My sister and I named it Peaceful Park. Truly peace that “passeth all understanding.”

(My license plate reads CRYBABE for more than 15 years.)

 

hONEy moons for truer love…for everyONE

 

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I don’t remember making love on my first honeymoon. I’m sure we did; how could I forget? being a virgin and a four day graduate of Cornell University’s Nursing School. On our first night, I do remember listening to the tape recording of our ceremony, being moved once again to tears as Chuck sings, “Ich Liebe Dich.” A day later we attempted to surf on the New Jersey shore after submitting to taking on my husband’s last name, Griffeth, but not to the traditional vows, to “obey” him. I’d said, “try to.”

After we created two especially wonderful daughters, my husband left me as an uncloseted gay man – so onto honeymoon number two, eleven years later.

Reid and I honeymooned at Cape Hatteras, NC, writing “I love you” in the ocean-soaked sand. After taking on his last name, Thompson, our honeymoon bed betrothed me with a case of the crabs. Was our budget motel a forewarning of our short-lived marriage of two years? When I said yes to marrying Reid, I was already greatly questioning my growing up “born again” religion. He being a ‘space’ scientist at Cornell University helped push me over the edge to oceanic freedom from my childhood’s religious indoctrination.

After two years together, I told him I needed to “fly”; meaning to be more of MEself…and we parted amicably. A few years later, he was diagnosed with a virulent form of cancer and died at the early age of 44….me attending his memorial.

Four years later, I married Alain, after living together (‘in sin’ ha!) for one year and a subsequent six month separation I initiated due to his addictions which he gave up during that time. Our honeymoon took place in Morocco and France where he was born and raised respectively. Our marriage ceremony was heralded by the sounds of Taughannock Falls similar to the music of the waterfalls of Robert Treman park where my second marriage took place. This time, I insisted on a joined married name: Colbert (my maiden name) – Mauboussin. Maybe by then, I’m almost over the ‘moon’ in love with ME?

Alain returned to smoking and drinking, creating barriers to being more emotionally intimate, which is very important to me. After six months of couple’s therapy he says: “Accept me as I am or leave.” Sadly, a third amicable divorce.

Just a year later, I met my ‘soul mate’, Gregory, through a personal ad…and my life of oceanic emotional pain truly began. Even on our honeymoon in Australia and the Milford Trek in New Zealand, he couldn’t trust me with other men. Despite the lovely nature of the Great Barrier Reef and the spectacular mountains and fjords of New Zealand – my heartfelt-tears became roaring waterfall crying out to be believed; trusted that I didn’t want to be sexual with other men. BEing MEself brought out Gregory’s stinging pain of distrust. The honey was drained out of the full moon shining above us. Yet, the greatest ‘barrier’ to the damned up pain of my childhood had been broken: not being trusted to believe in my own truths….versus the church’s. Finally, I trusted MEself and left, feeling the sweet taste of hONEy-love spreading throughout my heart and soul.

MAKING FRIENDS with a toad…told you so:) lovingly

 

On Father’s day, I drove my best friend Gaylee and myself to my daddy’s grave, where we shared tears of love mixed with my words: “I miss you, I love you incredibly, I hope you hear me – I know you are in my heart always.” (He died in 1977)

I brought a bright brown pottery pot holding three Dianthus (sweet william) flowers splashing pink and purple. I’d planted them several days before; one day I noticed while watering that a bump, the size of a golf ball, had appeared in the soil. I pushed the potting soil down, thinking that a vole or mole or squirrel had dug there searching for a nut or two? The following day the bump appeared again like a flower bulb had erupted, and once again, I packed it downward.

When I set the pot on the side pf daddy’s grave marker, reading, “BEST DAD EVER, LOVE YOU FOREVER,” that same soil lump appeared in the same spot it had before, but this time when I pushed down with my finger, a brown-spotted head appeared to our surprise! Gaylee explodes, “It’s a frog!” Then, it jumped onto the edge of the pot, and I dashed to my car to grab my camera.

Luckily, toad waited the seconds needed for me to snap, snap, snap.

More importantly, we couldn’t leave TOAD at the cemetery when rain was not in the forecast for a week; how would he/she survive? No one to water its home.

Right away, my thoughts went to remembering daddy stopping our car (when I was 10) along side Judd Falls Road to pick up and assist a turtle crossing this busy road.

Gaylee goes to her car to fetch a plastic cup and bag in which she poked some holes for air – in which to carry toad to a wetter-better environment. It just so happened that we were fairly close by a gorge with a waterfall, barely trickling.

(I was surprised how vigorously TOAD jumped to the top of the cup over and over again. Maybe the flowerpot soil was very nutritious as well as cool:)

Since Gaylee is not so steady on her feet – I walked down the hill to the creek, until stopped by a wall, 5-6 feet above a small pool of water maybe 3-4 inches deep. I knew in my heart that that it would be a safe and happy home for our friend as I flung TOAD from the cup, splashing into the shallow water; swimming away.