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What WEIGHT can you lose? with LOVE for self?

 

Since Antoine returned to his home in France six days ago (7/18/18), my heart has been weighted down with tears. I couldn’t have predicted how many thousands of droplets I’d cry, or SOBs (Shortnesses Of Breath?)

Unconsciously, our love began the first day of spring 2018, so unpredictably. Our ages are so widespread.

When I was in my late thirties, I began running marathons, eventually setting the goal of 36 marathons in 36 months, to achieve the women’s American record of consecutive marathons. Why, for goodness sake would I do something so crazy?

I’d ask myself that while jog-walking the last six miles of every 26.2 mile marathon. What my mind replied was: “You love the recognition.” From that ‘high’ of crowds applauding as I cross the finish line. The certificate in my hand. The red, white and blue ribbon around my neck with medal dangling.

Because I didn’t run for speed, only to finish, I rarely became injured. Yet, one injury forced me to take a six week break from training 30-40 miles per week. I substituted three days per week of swimming which did not deter my weight gain of ten pounds. I was disappointed; a bit appalled! My diet hadn’t changed. My defenses hadn’t either: my refusal to cry.

It wasn’t until my fourth marriage that I broke open to tears deeply buried. A waterfall experience. So unawares. After all, I had to be ‘strong’ as a single mom of two daughters. (They visited their dad every third weekend and two weeks in the summer.)

Ever since primal crying my weight has stayed the same 125 pounds.

Now, nearly 20 years later, I am waiting for What’sApp notifications from Antoine, six hours ahead of EST. For reassurance – to remove the weight off my heart of loss: of living together; of sleeping together; of making love.

 

Are we BEING BUSY too much?

 

My busi-ness is Psychotherapy of the Heart for over thirty years now; working on slowing down, to become more awARE of how to LOVE.

Dancing has become one of my loves, something I was not allowed to do growing up because I was busy attending the Bethel Grove Bible church 3-4 times a week: morning and evening services on Sunday, Wednesday night prayer meetings, and youth group some Saturdays.

My mother was a strict ‘born again’ christian who thought she could control her children (and husband) with rules that would keep us away from “worldly temptations.”

Dancing was one of them.

As some might say, “I was born to dance” or “It’s in my blood.” So, I danced jitterbug in fifth and sixth grades with Danny. But in seventh grade, dancing close to Fay Grover was tempting and my mind became very busy with guiltiness. I had to quit dancing.

In my twenties, I was becoming a ‘liberal’ christian as well as a hypocrite – learning to dance the hustle, which decades later is still a favorite. Having two young daughters didn’t deter my desire to dance at Nite Court, The North Forty, and Talk of the Town, all in Ithaca, NY. Mario became my hustle partner and lover. During my second and third marriages, my dancing took a detour to running 36 marathons in 36 months, a national record for women (in the 80s.) During which time I was in graduate school at Syracuse University, becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist.

I graduated from ‘church Sunday school’ in 1984 (left religion behind) and received my Masters degree in 1985. In 1986, I drove my daughters across our country for a month of camping and hiking in many National Parks – another love affair of mine.

By 1993, I was married a fourth time to soul mate Gregory. I was triggered into my childhood pain, a well deeper than I could be aware of, even being a psychotherapist. I shut down my private practice for the year 1996-7 in order to heal – to grieve – ending MY marriage and becoming more ME. By the 2000s, I’m living in a rented renovated chicken coop, when during one of my weekly primal sessions, where I witness my friend’s feelings for nearly an hour, and then she mine, that I focused on the guilt I was still busy carrying around about dancing 4-5 evenings per week.

Being raised in a church community where the focus is on serving/helping others; how could I not help but feel guilty about dancing precious-service-hours away?

While my eyes are closed, I see images of myself dancing as a prima ballerina in Paris. (To the Nutcracker Suite I learn later.) My ankle breaks and my career ends. I begin sobbing. Then, I shout “I AM a DANCER!”

My body is shakes with sobs that free me of my guilt.

 

 

Addendum: I am still dancing four nights a week – without guilt and with Joy – watching World of Dance weekly with Glee.

 

 

MOVING ON to a younger frenchman

 

MOVING ON

 

When I tell people I’ve been married four times, it’s common to hear: “Will you get married again?” I say, “I would if I fell in love again – but I am very particular.”

Some people say, “Don’t you have a bad taste in your mouth for marriage?” “No, I’ve evolved through them,” I reply. I’ve raged. I continue to cry. Now, love myself more and that’s no lie.

Since 2005, I’ve lived “by myself” while experiencing a couple 4-5 month long boyfriend-relationships. I’ve learned to enjoy my aloneness.

Until Antoine, a French graduate student at Cornell, cornered me at the dart board in Ithaca’s bar, The Range. I was there to dance, but a brief try at darts landed a bull’s eye at Antoine: “Do you want to dance?”

“I’ve  never danced before, but I’ll try,” he says with glancing eyes.

Surprise took over. He caught onto the East Coast Swing steps (jitterbug) easily. I don’t think I’ve ever met a man who presents with shy shoulders, yet is willing to try something so out of his comfort zone. Although he is decades younger than me, that doesn’t occur to me when I suggest he come to Lot 10 Wednesdays, where I can show him more dance steps, as a live band plays.

When I arrive at Lot 10, Antoine, 6′ 3″, dark wavy hair  and big brown eyes is slumped on the couch, a small smile arising. He likes learning new moves as we share more about ourselves. When I learn he likes to hike, I offer to show him waterfalls not so well known neighboring “Ithaca is Gorges.” The next weekend we are sitting next to three cascading waterfalls, where I learn that he has never kissed a girl, although he tried once and was rebuffed.

“What if I kissed you?” I say gingerly.

“I don’t know.”

I lean into his space and kiss him on the lips as if it is the most natural thing to do.

He makes it clear that he wishes for a relationship where you can go deeper: free to say anything. Surprise again. He’s not afraid of my tears; despite he has not cried since he left France, his family a few months earlier. He tells me he feels lost and is afraid not to know what is the “right thing” for him to do for his life.

Eventually, we’re hungry (for what?:) and spontaneously decide to find dinner at the Glenwood Pines. I’m amazed this 25 year old likes spending time with me…he’s so handsome, so smart, so my type…well almost.

He learns salsa with me.

We hike to more distant waterfalls as we become more intimate.

We track down burgundy and white Trillium fields.

We kiss romantically in the mist of Taughannock Falls.

We dance ballroom and after meeting the first day of spring 2018, are making love for his first time, on May 11th. One plus one.

Another surprise. He takes his time: long kissing, touching before entering me. Our relationship has evolved to a naturally grand openness, knowing we are making love.

I am a little embarrassed to expose my older less-elastic-skinned body as naked; although due to daily yoga I can boast a more flexible body than his:).

Another surprise. My two daughters and three granddaughters accept our relationships in all its beautiful uniqueness. My age does not matter to him. Yes, his family and mine are a bit cautious.

One more surprise. being beyond men-o-pause – I am juicy! We make love daily and wake up together. I can’t quit my amazement of how we are moving on to being more IN love. Despite knowing we will be heartbroken when we leave each other.

 

Are WOMEN and MEN REALLY that DIFFERENT?

 

Just the other day tears sprinkled my eyelids while hearing the song, Inseparable; my heart leaping with my mind thinking: me and daddy. I am his adopted daughter, from the day I was born. His name signed, sealed and delivered on my birth certificate.

As crazy as it sounds, he was more of a mother to me than my biological mother who also raised me with physical care. My dad bathed us, bottle-fed us, read bedtime stories to us, shined our shoes, played and gardened with us, Sunday hiked with us, made our swing set, club house, and  doll beds. Best of all, put us on his lap to drive our car up the driveway. Us being his three children. While I was in college, he wrote thoughtful weekly letters to me.

Dad is the nurturer…what a man is not supposed to be in the1950s and 60s. My mother was the organizer. Even respected John Gray, author of Men are From Mars, Women Are from Venus, (1992) portrays men and women far apart in the way we are as male and female. Not so in this 21st century.

As crazy as it sounds, I have regressed into some of my past lives during therapy sessions, crying as I image myself as daddy’s wife, or lover, or black son of my black father. Inseparable.

So, as I danced ballroom, latin, and argentine tango this past weekend at a hotel hidden in the natural beauty of the Catskill mountains; I find myself drawn to a man, there with his wife, occasionally dancing with her. Our eyes meet as I approach him and he meets me on the dance floor. Then, a wisp of a thought of daddy. Marty is very rhythmic and a creative leader.

Later, as crazy as it sounds, I wait to see if he’ll dance with his wife, then walk to his table and his wife looks up at me, “yes, you have my permission to dance with my husband.” I respond with a startled look, “I have to ask permission?” We laugh that nervous laughter which knows that is passé.

After our 4th, 5th, or 6th dance, alternating with other leaders, I ask Marty, “How long have you been married?”

“66 years,” he responds. After a joined smile, “Then you must be 86?”

“85.”

“Well you’re in great shape and I hope I will be as vibrant when I reach your age.”

I ask him how old he thinks I am and to please be honest! He hems and haws, then says 50. Higher, 60. Higher, 65. I tell him I am 71 and like to say how old I am so I can get used to it, be proud of it, as I feel as if I am in my 30s. I’m surprised to hear his reply:

laughing, “I could run away with you!”

 

PREJUDICE of small things?

 

“Hey, I like your license plate!” I hear yelled across Wegman’s (voted best grocery store in NYS) parking lot. I turn to see a man I do not know waving and we both must be focused on our next appointment, because I didn’t take the time to inquire as to why he likes it. Nor did he walk toward me to tell me.

I wish I had taken the time like I do most mornings, stopping at Wegmans for a hot bagel just out of the oven. If none are warm, Tam, or other employees offer to warm one up for me. I used to buy a dozen bagels at the Ithaca Bakery, slice them into halves and  freeze them at home until about two years ago when I became aware of the sweet smell of yeasty sesame bagels floating out of Wegman’s huge oven.

I also buy two chocolate chip cookies with walnuts freshly made; one for a morning snack, the other for an evening snack. Smacking my lips now as they remind me of my mother’s chocolate chip cookies, with walnuts of course, that I love(d).

Recently, I’d driven home after my Wegman’s-morning-routine-pickup, unusual as it’s usually my office that I head to where my psychotherapy clients await me. After two to three hours of online history course reading, I walk to my car and see it sagging to its right side. “WOW!” I say out loud.

The two right side tires are completely flat, How can that be? I’d just been to Wegmans and back. Luckily, (Design Of the Universe) the DOU has the young man from the upstairs apartment outside brushing snow off his car and offers me a ride to work.

The next day, as I ride  in the tow truck with my 2006 Atlantic blue pearl Jeep Liberty strapped on its back; the driver says it’s not so unusual for some kids to puncture tires in parking lots, just for fun. The “Good-Year” man who replaces my tires, all 4 needing to be replaced in three months when my inspection is due in May anyway – essentially validates what the tow truck driver said about kids.

I think to meself: (typed it that way, so left it:) how sad that kids need to act out their hurts; that adults are biased in their conclusions.

Maybe they are right. And why my license plate reads, CRYBABE.

TAKING YOUR TIME to learn about making love

 

     ”Hurry up!” I say all too often when my daughters are growing up.

Also, sadly, I am a virgin when I marry at 22. I can’t remember my first intercourse or orgasm – am I too fast or too slow? It’s confusing until I tell you that my conservative religious upbringing covered up what masturbation was or is.

I had to be a hypocrite for years in order to find my way to making love, physically or spiritually. I would go to church on Sundays, then go home for non-marital sex with boyfriends; feeling guilty, praying I wouldn’t get pregnant while peeing the next morning. That was guilt talkin’ in my head because I expected the IUD in my uterus would keep me safe. I am a nurse after all.

It wasn’t until 1984 when I am 38, that I am able to break the bonds of fear: to leave my church ‘family’; my rebellious spirit fighting to be free – yes, cliché – to be me!

Of course this is a life long process. Now, in my golden years, after being married and divorced four times, experiencing close to 90 lovers (so far); I still struggle to tell myself that I can take my time with a lover. I do say to them, “I want to enjoy the waves of pleasure before I climax.” Yet, I don’t want my partner to have to work too hard: I don’t wish to become a burden; I don’t want him to leave me.

Even when I self-love I tell myself I don’t have to have an orgasm, yet I want one.

Recently, a 30-something black graduate student from Ghana, whom I meet a few times salsa dancing, says, “Let’s go!” after we discuss being ‘friends with benefits’.

While making love, intercourse in action, my antique white iron bed frame supporting the usual box springs and mattress (without the usual hold-in border), lets go of the head corner so that we slide toward the floor. I am laughing so hard; I can’t stop for minutes as my partner appears dumbfounded.

I explode: “Oh god,” that was the best climax ever!

THREATS of the uncommon kind?

Just now, I was crying while speaking to my granddaughter on the phone, whose 25th birthday we’d recently celebrated. I was the first to hold her because my daughter delivered by emergency C-section due to Denali’s breech presentation. Ever since, I’ve sensed she is the reincarnation of my daddy’s spirit. I hope that doesn’t threaten my credibility to my readers.

My mother has told me she’s disappointed in me. I ruined her attempt to brain-heart-wash me into her ‘born again’ christian religion. But it wasn’t until 1984, when I was 38, that I became courageous enough to bear the rejection of my friends, my church community. Only two of them remain distant friends.

For the past 2 years I’ve endured rejection by my brother because I write an annual holiday-new years letter about important experiences of the year and share feelings of love for my family.

Two years ago, I’d planned to stay with my brother in DC, where the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium hosts approximately 3,000 therapist types, attending workshops to improve our therapeutic capabilities. When I didn’t comply with his wishes to not write about my visit to my nephew Joshua, imprisoned in Florida – he emailed, “You’re uninvited.”

Now, I feel threatened wondering if my sister will abandon me when she reads this essay in the SUN. (I’m smiling because I have submitted over 300 readers writes essays and none have been published.) I have visited Joshua with her at least four times.

I choose to throw away that fear, as I do of crying while telling Denali of my insensitivity to my daddy, when he wrote to me while attending nursing school, thoughtful and detailed weekly letters. Once, dad wrote of his sadness to have missed me saying goodbye (tears) after my weekend visit. I hadn’t taken the time to say goodbye.

So, when Denali didn’t come to my home this week to see my huge Jade in full bloom, a rarity to see its dainty white flowers – after asking three times – I felt unimportant to her like my daddy must have felt.

 

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.