Friday, October 27, 2017

Traveling Together

When Nicki and I got married, more than a few of our friends voiced concerns about the fact that we would be working together, living together, basically together all of the time.  We were a little worried about that as well.  When you work in a high stress environment like the Emergency Department, as we do, there are bound to be days when you get irritated with even the closest of friends, not to mention your spouse. 

But, after over two years of marriage, and working together almost every night that we worked, we've become professionals at "leaving it at work".  We've become closer, and learned that we can relay on each other in a pinch.  I love working with my wife, because she is an amazing Nurse, and when the chips are down at work and I'm feeling stressed, she's the first one there to help.  I know I can trust her, and she knows I have her back as well.  It's working out, believe it or not.

We recently started travel Nursing.  IF you aren't familiar with that, it's basically taking a 13 week assignment at another hospital somewhere away from home.  You live and work away from home 13 weeks at a time.  Right now, we're in South Dakota working on an Indian Reservation.  Soon, we'll be packing it up here, and heading to southern Arizona for our next 13 weeks.  It's a nomadic, wandering kind of life, and we love it. 

Getting to experience new places, and to see this country one assignment at a time, is a great experience for someone who loves to travel.  Seeing it with someone you love is even better.  It's the best.  Turns out, that when I thought we would be searching for ways to do things separately, we've become the best of friends as well as a married couple.  There's nothing I love more than spending a day off exploring with her, and I have yet to feel the need to hide in order to get some solitude.  It helps that we're comfortable just sitting quietly together some times.  She reads her books, I dabble on the computer or play golf clash on my phone (not very well I might add).  We can be together, without feeling the need to entertain each other in those quiet times between shifts. 

We've learned how to be together.  Where once we thought it was going to be our biggest weakness, now it's one of our greatest strengths. 

Life truly is a journey, and we're making it about the trip now, not the destination.  So to all those doubters out there, the ones who said "I could never be with my husband all the time" or "I could never be with my wife all the time." , I say this.  You can, if you really love being with that person more than anything else, you most certainly can.  It takes a little patience, and you have to know when they need a little quiet space.  But if you are sensitive to them, and you celebrate your time together instead of seeing it as an obstacle, you might just find out that it makes your life even better. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

What a Wonderful Journey this Life Is

Image result for Free images of love

     Looking inward, sometimes you see things you don't really like.  Anger, jealousy, a lack of understanding or willingness to even try and understand.  That's pretty much what I was faced with recently when I took a good long look at myself.  I didn't like it very much.  It made me feel somehow smaller, less evolved really.  I mean, I was spending this amazing amount of time being angry at other people for my own predicament.  I was letting jealousy turn me into someone I hardly recognized.  I spent so much time demanding that my love understand me and my feelings, that I had no time left to try and understand hers.  I didn't really want to understand, I just wanted her to conform to my idea of what a marriage, of what love was.  In the midst of all of that, I almost lost the thing that meant the most to me in the world.  Her.

    You see, our relationship is complicated by the fact that neither of us is perfect.  My wife is smart, sexy, caring, and full of life.  But she's not perfect.  I'm a decent human being myself, but by no means am I perfect.  I had this ridiculous notion that we had to be perfect, and by making that demand on us both - a demand neither of us could live up to, I almost destroyed something amazing and beautiful.

     I think I understand now, finally, what it means to love someone.  To truly love someone.  It's to recognize that the person you fell in love with is a collage of thoughts, emotions, fears, notions, and a past you can never really fully understand, because it wasn't yours to walk through.  I look at my wife now, and realize that her smile, and her laugh, and her intelligence, and her fiery temper, and her mood swings, and her compassion for people and animals, and her deep thoughts and insane sense of humor are all things that drew me to her, made me fall in love with her, made me ask her to marry me, and have filled my life with meaning since that time.  I also realize that her anxiety, and insecurities, her needs and wants and weakness'....those were always there as well.  When I met her, when I fell in love, and when we married.  All a part of the whole. 

     If you truly love someone, you have to learn to not only love a persons strengths and qualities that you show off in the light.  You have to also accept and love their weakness' and imperfections, their darkness.  Because one without the other, is not the person you met, fell in love with, and wanted to build a life with.  It's not about settling, it's about celebrating the person you love as a whole.

     I'm learning to celebrate myself as a whole, and in doing so, I've found new beauty in my wife, and in my life.   We may not be perfect, as a matter of fact I can promise you we are not.  But that's just it, we don't have to be.  I just have to love her the best I can.  That's what I have control over.  My thoughts, my actions, how I treat her, and how I support and encourage her. 

     I give up control of those things that are not mine to control, and find peace and feel love in a whole new way.  What a wonderful journey this life is. 


Sunday, January 08, 2017

Working on Me

Image result for free images of meditation

I've spent most of my life looking at people who meditated, or did anything else I considered to be new age "crazy" like they were just that, a bit crazy.  It never really occurred to me that most of these practices had been going on for centuries, and that the people practicing them certainly seemed happier and less stressed than I was. I didn't have time, and actually considered myself kind of immune to enlightenment to some extent.  I am an ER Nurse.  Unfortunately, that means I am a bit skeptical of everything in existence and more than a little jaded when it comes to the human condition.  I've learned from 25 years of being an ER nurse that if you don't let something touch or soften your heart, you live to work another day.  Twenty five years, that's a lot of wasted time.

If you were to ask the people that are closest to me, the people I work with, none of them would tell you that I am a particularly nervous or stressed person.  I've always managed to stay pretty low key, let things roll off my back, and never get too worked up about anything.  But over the past few years, that's changed for me.  I don't know why, but life's stress' started getting to me.  I found myself suddenly inundated with feelings and emotions, and often I really had no idea what I was even reacting to.  I was just stressed, or angry, or sad, or even scared.  I had no idea what of or what about.  I just was.  It was affecting my personal relationships, and affecting my attitude at work.  I wanted to push people further away because it seemed like the more I insulated myself from other people, the less I had this emotional dance with myself. 

Then, quite accidentally, I ran across some reading on meditation and living in the "now".  Ah oh.  New age Crazy.  But the first few sentences caught my attention and so I kept reading.  After just two attempts at meditation, I realized that it somehow calmed me and made it easier to focus.  Maybe I'm not getting Alzheimer's after all?  (Fingers Crossed)   So, I'm doing more reading.   I'm going to continue learning to meditate and I'm opening myself up to a lot of other things I use to call crazy.  It's going to be a journey, but I can't wait to see what's over the next rise. 

It's kind of exciting to look in the mirror and realize that I had so limited myself in the past, that my future may not be at all what I expected.

Sometimes I Ask Myself

Sometimes I ask myself why
Why do I wait in silence for something that may never come?
Image result for free images of flowersWhy do I believe in something that may not be true?
Why do I yearn for something when that longing leads to pain?
Why do I trust in something when it hasn't earned trust?
Then I remember that waiting helps your learn patience.
That believing in something sometimes takes faith.
That yearning for something makes obtaining it that much sweeter.
And I remember that demanding proof of what can't be proven, kills your soul.


Monday, December 26, 2016

Love Addiction

     Looking back over my blogging life, it occurs to me that I tend to write more when I'm in a low place in my life.  It seems that when I'm happy, I just don't have the stimulus to write anymore.  I hate that, because once upon a time, I wrote when I was crazy happy.  Poetry, short stories, blogging.  I used writing to talk to myself, and I miss it.  I miss talking to me.  You see, it never really mattered to me if someone else even read it.  Sure, it was great to get a comment on a blog post or poem.  I appreciate every one of them and always responded.  But for me, it was self expression and it didn't require comment to be meaningful to me.  (Unless it was an article written for another site of course.)
Then I noticed that I apparently equated being happy, to being in a relationship.  Writing during a break up or when I was alone and then dropping it all when I was happily paired up, for a time.  The pairing never lasted.  Yep, there's a pattern here. 
During a recent very difficult time in my current relationship, I remembered something I had read while researching an article on lesbian bed death.  I have to confess that when I was reading the information, I was basically skimming through it.  I was looking for specific information as it related to decreased sexual intimacy between lesbian couples over time.  I wasn't reading it well enough to realize how it applied to my own life.  Probably because of denial.  I mean, who really wants to admit that they have a problem with relationships and an addiction all at the same time.  One that you've gone your entire life without even recognizing.
So on this one very difficult day, when I was facing the end of my marriage of only a little over a year, I remembered something I had read.  I might never have gone back looking for the information, except for one thing.  This time, I felt different about the relationship ending.  I didn't want to run away to reduce the anxiety I was feeling.  I wanted to figure out why two people who loved each other, could not find a way to communicate what we were feeling and get through the problem we were having.  So the hunt was on. 
It wasn't easy to find the subject again.  I couldn't remember exactly what it was called, except that it was about addiction and love.  Google that and you get a lot of returns on drug and alcohol addiction recover and tough love.  Not was I was looking for.  Then I put love addiction in the search box, and bingo.  There it was.  I even narrowed it down and put "lesbian love addiction" in the search box and much to my surprise, there was a specific book advertised on the subject.  I waited a couple of days before I actually went back and purchased one of the books.  I had a feeling, deep in my gut, that I was going to have to face some demons if I read it.  I was right. 
It really is a shattering experience to open the pages of a book, and read about yourself.  To see yourself so clearly laid out on the pages  that there is no denying it.  That was the experience I had on that day.  I felt exposed, and for the first time in my life I understood why I could never stay attached and engaged to another person.  Why I always found some way to push them away by pulling back so much that their leaving was less anxiety producing than their presence.  How can you be addicted to love?  But you can, and I am.  Apparently, I always have been. 
So here's to those people in my past who I hurt through no fault of their own.  I am so sorry.  I will say this though, for the most part, I have chosen other people with the same addiction.  We hurt each other, and I am sorry for those people too.  I hope you find the help you need to heal, as I am trying to do. 
So, I'm reading, a lot.  Everything I can get my hands on.   Facing the fact that I do not have, nor do I want to have, control over other people and their actions or decisions.  Facing the fact that I am vulnerable, but so is everyone else who lets love in.  Accepting the reality that this is going to be work, but in the end I'm looking forward to meeting the person that is inside me when she learns how to attach and love in a healthy way that allows love to be a long slow burn and not a fire that keeps getting gas thrown on it, then burns out again and again. 

Monday, March 02, 2015

Experiencing Something New - Just when you thought you knew it all!

Very soon, and I mean VERY SOON, I'm going to be having my 50th birthday.  It's so hard for me to believe, because I certainly don't feel fifty years old.  Although, I guess I can't really say that I know what fifty feels like.  I'm guessing it's not unlike forty nine, or forty eight for that matter.  I have, in my life thus far, experienced a lot.  A lot of good things, a lot of bad things, and a lot of days that were just......days.  It's funny how when you get a little older, the "just" days start to feel a bit like a waste of time.  Nothing good to make a memory of, nothing bad to mark the significance of another day passing.  Just a day, that didn't amount to much but time slipping away.  Pretty soon, you start to wish you'd taken better advantage of those days.  I mean, I'd rather be able to look back and say I did SOMETHING, right or wrong.  Made a memory, or a mistake, either one.  Having had a day so mediocre that I don't even remember it at all seems like such a waste.

I tend to look back a lot lately, and I think it's because I have so much in my life right now that I want to learn how to keep so many "just" days from cluttering it up.  I'm experiencing something new, something that has changed the way I feel about those days, and the ones ahead of me.  I've said "I love you" thousands of times over the last 49 years.  Sometimes I thought I meant it, thought I knew what it meant.  Other times, I knew I didn't, but felt obligated to say it.  I took the word for granted, because it's meaning was lost to me.

It's a tough thing to admit that you've been emotionally screwed up almost all your life.  But without a doubt, I have been.  I grew up in a community where "gay" wasn't discussed, in a home where "gay" was most assuredly not acceptable, and in a time where there really wasn't any support available for a kid growing up gay in a straight world.  That's how I looked at myself growing up.  I was an outsider, different, somehow  less than everyone else.  My experience at home told me that being gay was dangerous, and would change my relationship with my family forever.  My experience at school told me that being gay would get you bullied, shunned, and tormented.  My experience in the world at that time told me that being gay was some kind of illness that made you immoral and in some way wicked in the eyes of the world.

So I learned early on, to hide my real feelings.  Growing up like that taught me to bury my feelings, and just follow my friends as they began to explore their heterosexual puberty and adolescence.   I married my high school best guy friend.  Learned how to hide my thoughts and my feelings from him as well.  I learned fast too.  I got very, very good at it.  Later in life, when I was exposed to more gay people and began to realize that I wasn't unique, it was too late.  I had already formed a behavior that just became a part of me.  I assumed that every relationship, even the gay ones, needed restraint and careful manipulation of the seriousness that I allowed to develop.  It was safe to stay casual, and to keep things on a sexual basis, then end it abruptly if someone began to demand entry into other parts of my life.  I never let anyone in, ever.  Not my husband.  Not the women that followed.  It became my primary coping mechanism. Never let anyone in.  I honestly didn't even know how.  Panic would set in at the first sign of emotion, and I was gone!

Now I find myself facing something I simply never expected.  Someone who makes me want to bring that wall that my emotions have always hidden behind down.  But, learned behaviors are hard, especially when they were what you used to protect yourself.  I didn't realize that letting this wall down was going let loose all the pain and fears that were attached to all those repressed wants, needs, feelings, and desires.  That sharing the memories that tormented me when I was young, would be so painful even now.  I guess I really did believe that if I didn't acknowledge them, I would never have to deal with them.

How amazing it is to me, that someone is willing to look past the fact that I am so damaged, so afraid to share.  Someone who looks at me with eyes that tell me that it's okay, that who I am now doesn't forever have to be a cold emotionless little girl who doesn't understand the difference between sex and love.  She brings to the surface a feeling in me that I am so unfamiliar with that it takes my breath away sometimes. I find myself nervous, and shaking when she touches me.  Every fiber in my body is telling me that I'm not safe, I'm exposed, vulnerable.  My heart and my soul, they just keep screaming "More!"

I used to think I had it all figured out, that I knew it all.  I believed that skating through life with many casual relationships was the safest I could ever hope to be. That even a long term relationship had to have limits to trust and sharing.   I may have been right, it might be safer, but it's not living and it certainly isn't loving.  This feeling is more than I ever imagined it could be. It makes me think that while I may have thought I knew it all, I really didn't understand anything.  Certainly not myself.  I have found someone who makes me want to look inside and drag everything out into the open, because I know she will look at me the same way even then.  Where do people like her hide all your life?  How is it even possible for someone to look into your soul and see beauty where even you can't?

I'm not a fool, I know a million things can go wrong, and that letting my guard down means that someone can hurt me.  But what I've learned through experiencing this person, this beautiful person, is that sometimes pain is the price you pay for a chance at something incredible.  I'd rather risk it all for a chance at that, something incredible, than live behind these walls and have "just" days from now on.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Never the Whole

There are parts of me that have known love
Pieces that were held with a selfish sort of need by someone who
saw some value in them.  But never the whole.
My willingness to provide, a favorite piece, has known much love.
My desire to see a smile, and to give comfort, often cared for. 
Even my desire for desire itself, has been favored for a time. 
But never once has the whole of me known love.
How sad it is, to look at the pieces left over, and realize that
they are what is left.  The unloved bits.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Fearing Your Own Mind

Fear of your own Mind
I've spent years trying to keep from facing some memories.  From time to time, something will drag them toward the surface, and a few times I've even thought to myself  "Hey, maybe I can do it this time.".  Thus far, that hasn't been the case.

It's amazing how you build walls to protect yourself.  How you engineer a life that allows you to keep yourself behind them. How desperately you will fight to protect them, even when you want nothing more than to bring them down.

I know that there are hundreds of thousands of people out there who are victims of violence or abuse.  I know I'm not the only one, and that my memories are no more traumatic or terror provoking to me than theirs are to them.  I know that I'm not the only person who wakes up feeling the same fear that I felt at that moment in my life when everything changed.  Fear is such an inadequate word.  I "fear" snakes.  I "fear" stinging insects, or bugs that cling to you.  I "fear" so many little things in life.   It seems such a small word, until it grasps you by the heart while you're still unsure if you are awake or asleep, and starts squeezing.  It seems like such a minuscule word until it creeps into your mind with you fully awake and lets itself run free there.  There it is wanting you not just to remember the way you felt at that moment, but to see it, to hear it, and to taste it.  How is that years later, the taste of blood in your mouth can seem so real?  The feeling of suffocating so palpable?  Why is that none of the wonderful memories of my life are so tangible?  What I wouldn't give to experience my child's birth that way again. But those memories fade.  Some do not.

Intimacy is such a trigger.  The incredible desire to let someone in.  Wanting to be able to give yourself to them.  Giving affection, love, intimacy, sexual pleasure is not the problem.  Being in control wasn't the issue.  But opening up, letting someone else have control, letting them love you and experience you is dangerous.  You're not in control.  Your mind is waiting for you to let go of just enough control, and it will throw out the visions at you with a vengeance.  It knows that you're trying to bring someone in, and that they may try to bring down the walls that it spends so much of it's energy maintaining.  Your mind tries so hard, to keep you alone.

I've been working on trying to get past some of this lately, and what I discovered is that my mind really seems to be my biggest enemy.  It's almost as if it knows that I'm trying to kill something inside of it.  Something it holds dear.  The closer I look at it, the more it stares back at me and says "Go ahead, look in here. Are you so sure that it couldn't be real? I can make it real."   What's so terrible, is I know that it's true.  For an instant, my mind can make it real.  How do you survive fearing your own mind?

Walls.  Lots and lots of walls.