Tag Archives: letting go

The post that had me stuck



This is the post that has me stuck.  This is the reason I haven’t posted in so long.  I’ve been working on this post for weeks.  I keep writing and editing, and I still can’t find the right words.  I’m angry.  I’m annoyed.  Although I can’t exactly put my finger on what’s bothering me so much. Remember the electronic memory game Simon from the 1970’s?  All of my buttons have been pushed, and I’m lit up red, green, blue and yellow.  This post isn’t perfect, but I need to let go so I can move forward.

* * *

Just when I was starting to get comfortable.  Just when I was starting to feel safe and accepted.  Just when I was starting to think I’m like everyone else.

I mean, same-sex marriage is now legal in Pennsylvania.  W and I took the plunge and got married in October.  Just like straight couples do.

I feel welcome in our small town.  I am warmly greeted at the veterinarian’s office, at the checkout line in the grocery store, at Kohl’s, at the local pizza place and ice cream shop.  Me, a girl, with too-short hair and too-long sideburns.

I never notice anyone giving me the cold shoulder.  No one ever shrieks or flees when I walk into a place of business, even when I’m having a bad hair day.  Just kidding! A butch never has a bad hair day.

It’s been years since anyone has shouted “faggot” or “dyke” in my direction from the safety of their moving cars.

I had been lulled into a sense safety and comfort much like a baby in one of those automated swings.  Silly, butch.

(Not real picture.)

(Not real picture.)

And then someone questioned the value of something I had written because of two reasons: I am a woman and a lesbian.  I will call this person Angel of the Bottomless Pit (not real name).

For a few seconds I felt smaller than usual, and my words felt lighter than usual.  And then I got mad.

It was a sneak attack.  I never saw it coming.

Now, I’m on a mission to get my book published.

I often think of the C.S. Lewis quote : “We read to know we are not alone.”

There is tremendous power in seeing your reflection in the pages of someone else’s book.

I remember tearing up feeling all emotional but not really crying reading Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon’s book Gender Failure earlier this year.  I never knew people wrote books for people like me.

I have committed to making a big push to find an agent or a publishing house to pick up my memoir. (If you know of anyone who might be interested, please let me know.)  If I don’t get any takers, I’ll self-publish in 2015.

I am now certain of the value of my story.

Of course, it is a story about being gay, being lesbian, being butch.  But there’s more.

If you have ever felt different, you will see yourself in the pages of my book.  If you have ever pretended to be someone you weren’t, you will see yourself in my book.  If you have ever thought there was something wrong with you but didn’t know what, you will see yourself in my book.  It is a book for outsiders, loners, those who march to the beat of their own drums.  And to the beat of Melissa Etheridge because M.E. rocks.

It is a book for anyone who has struggled with identity, shame, fear.  It is a book about finding oneself and shining brighter than you ever thought possible.  Bright as a gold button caught in the rays of the afternoon sun.

At it’s core, it’s a tale about being human.

I thought everyone would be able to relate to that.

My tattoo told me to do it

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about life these days.  Forty-six years old, and I still haven’t figured it out.

This is frustrating, because I’m smart and usually a quick learner.

I feel like I’ve read all the manuals and have all of the information.  I just haven’t been able to put it into play.  Yet.  (That’s me trying my best to be optimistic.)

tattooRecently, I’ve been staring at one of my tattoos.  I got this tattoo — my second one — when I was 40 years old.  The Chinese symbols for love and fear sit on the inside of my left arm.

Chinese symbol tattoos are great because you can tell people that they mean pretty much anything.  Example: I told my mom and dad that my tattoo meant “most esteemed parents.”

When I was in my twenties, I read Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love, and it changed my life.  Basically, Williamson said everything in life can be distilled into two things: love and fear.  We either choose love or we choose fear.  It’s as simple as that.

I guess it’s the choose part that I wrestle with.  Always choosing love would mean letting go.  And that’s been my life-long struggle.  Letting go of control, pride, arrogance, being right, grudges, stubbornness.  Did I mention control?

I wonder what it would feel like to just let go of it all.

imagesCAA34T2GIt seems scary and crazy … like jumping out of a plane without a parachute.  But maybe it would be freeing.  And maybe I wouldn’t need a parachute if I wasn’t so loaded down with everything that I cling to so rigidly and tightly.  Maybe I could actually soar on my own without the self-imposed burdens that I carry around like a three-piece set of old-fashioned luggage filled with the ghosts and dead bodies  of my past.

* * *

We went to W’s family reunion today.  It was the first one without her grandmother, the beloved family matriarch.

After the reunion, we drove out to the cemetery to leave flowers and pay our respects.  W cried on my shoulder.

When I asked her why she was crying, she told me that her grandmother was so important to so many people.

It’s true.  She was a guiding light to so many.

She certainly wasn’t a saint.  She was a human being with her own flaws and frailties.  But she always radiated immense love.  I never heard her raise her voice or speak negatively about anyone.  She practiced kindness and compassion, patience and understanding.

I was always struck by how peaceful she seemed and knew deep in my heart that she had figured out this thing called life.

She never needed any tattoos to remind her how to act or how to live.

But maybe my tattoo is the reminder that I need.  A reminder to always choose love.

Letting go and sounding like Darth Vader

Still working on that letting go thing.  I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s going to be a big DIY project like a complete kitchen makeover instead of just a weekend paint-the-powder-room chore.

I’ve decided that, yes, letting go must be accompanied by something.  A noise, a gesture, a word, something.

It’s that whole tree-in-the-forest thing.  If I let go silently and without fanfare, did I really just let go of anything?

So now every time that I let go of something I’ve decided to let air escape from between my lips.  Small, short puffs.

So far, I’ve been practicing letting go of little everyday things.

Like when my son tells me that writing is not a creative endeavor.  Pfffff.

Someone forgets to put away the milk.  Pffff.

Or, I leave the house and one of the kids eats a bowl of cereal as an after-school snack (along with a granola bar, a chocolate chip muffin, two bags of microwave popcorn and a can of ravioli) in violation of my one-bowl-a-day cereal rule.  Pfffff.

As you can probably tell, I’m still letting go of that one.  Pffff.  Pffff.

The whole exhaling thing is kind of weird for me.  This may sound strange, but I’m not a big fan of breathing.

Show off

Show off

I think deep, cleansing breaths are overrated.  I’ve always preferred shallow breaths.  In and out, in and out, in and out.  It’s all that’s really needed to maintain and exist.  No need to get all dramatic and showy and flashy with deep breathing.

When I was giving birth to my son, the nurse suggested that I use some of the breathing techniques that I had learned in childbirth class.

“Ah, yeah, no,” I responded.

I just held my breath and gritted my teeth through the contractions and the pain.  The epidural helped.  A lot.

Around 11:00 p.m., the doctor came in and said the baby would be making his appearance the following day.  I disagreed and declared that he would be born within the hour.  So, running on pure will and determination and stubbornness, I pushed him out at 11:50.  Deep breathing not needed.

I do feel like the small, quick breaths that I’m associating with letting go are helping.  I imagine myself getting rid of the bad stuff — the thoughts, the negativity, the energy — before it has a chance to root.

Most days I sound like Darth Vader.

Darth Vader

But most days I feel cleaner and lighter.

Now if I could just tackle letting go of the bigger stuff.  I hate to say it, but I think maybe some deep breaths might be required.

Pre-holiday update on Murray the kitten and letting go

With the holidays fast approaching, my posts have been infrequent at best.  So, I thought I would offer a brief update on the latest in my flannel-filled world.  C’mon, you know you’re dying to know what’s been going on with Murray the kitten and that letting go thing.

  • I called my best friend the other day and told her once again how I wanted to fill all of my holes with cats.  She laughed hysterically.  “That’s quite a picture,” she said.  “When I say holes, I mean heart-wrenching emptiness and aloneness,” I replied.  My friends are assholes.
  • I have not found Murray the Christmas kitten.  Yet.  Truth be told, I haven’t been looking very hard.  I’m a big believer in that whole if-it’s-meant-to-be line of thinking.  I know that when the right kitten needs a home, she’ll find us.  I don’t want to just go and pick out the first available kitten that I see.  Oh, yeah, I guess that one will do.  I did that with my first girlfriend and that ended horribly.
  • W told me that it would be totally ok if I got a kitten.  Which I appreciate immensely.  I know she would be ok with me getting pretty much anything — like a boa constrictor or a Russian orphan girl — if she thought it would make me happy.
  • I’ve been thinking that maybe we should foster kittens instead of just adopting a single cat.  I imagine fostering to be like a constant conveyor belt of cute cuddly kittens.  They’re so fluffy!

Yeah, a conveyor belt of kittens. That’s what I need to make me whole.

  • I went to therapy last week and pretty much all my therapist said was “I hear you.”  That’s all that you’ve got?  I hear you?  It was pathetic.  I mean, how screwed up are you when there’s nothing left for a licensed professional to do other than listen?  No advice?  No how could you have handled that differently?  No what’s the story you’re telling yourself?  No how does that make you feel?  It was like having a therapy session with Mr. Potato Head if he was only wearing his ears.
I hear you!

I hear you with my giant pink ears!

  • I’ve been working on the whole letting go thing.  I find that some things are much easier to let go of than others.  I feel like I need a letting go mantra.  Yeah, that’s what’s holding me back.  A kick-ass mantra.  Letting go, letting go, letting go … I’m letting go.  That’s what I’ve been using so far.
  • A gourmet cupcake shop just opened up down the street from us.  I frequented the shop twice last week to buy cupcakes for two celebrations.  I became agitated (read: obsessed and stalkerish) after I learned that the shop sells a cupcake that takes a shot at my collegiate alma mater.  Turns out cupcake shop owner attended a rival school.  I told W that I want to open up a competing cupcake shop in the empty storefront next door.  I have crafted a diabolical plan of vengeance in which I run the new cupcake store owner out of town  and insult her university using animal eyeballs purchased over the Internet.  W tells me that I’m ruining the new cupcake shop for her.
Patent pending

Patent pending

Oprah said I should let go of the past

I turned on the TV yesterday while I was folding laundry and found an old Oprah episode.

Oprah told the audience that she was going to share one of her favorite definitions of forgiveness.

My ears perked up because forgiveness is something that I’ve struggled with for years.

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been different,” Oprah said.

For some reason, the concept really resonated with me.

When W and I crawled into bed last night, I repeated the quote.

“Wow, that’s really good,” she said.

I asked her if she thought that people — real people and not characters in books or movies — could read something or hear something and totally change their lives.

“Absolutely,” she said.

W is a glass half full kind of person.

Me?  When my wine glass is half full, I’m flagging the waiter for another glass.

My therapist and I were discussing the concept of letting go last week.

I had brought the topic up.  Instead of picking my battles and setting boundaries, what if I just let go of everything?  Poof.  Released it into the air.

She chuckled a bit.  I knew she was suppressing a huge guffaw, but it’s really rude for a therapist to laugh at a client.

“Ok,” she said, drawing out the one-syllable word.  That’s her tell for what-kind-of-crazy-shit-are-you-going-to-tell-me-now?  But again, it’s really rude to call a client crazy during a session.

“What would that look like?” she asked.  I saw her ears perk up, curious as hell about my plan for letting go of my anal retentively tied baggage.

For the record, I hold onto everything like a three-year-old in a thunderstorm clutching a beloved teddy bear.

“I don’t know,” I said.  “It was just a thought.  I have no idea what that might look like.”

So, that’s where we ended things.

Me: I should figure out a way to let go of stuff.

Therapist: Good luck with that.

Again, that type of blase attitude that is typically frowned upon in the therapy setting.

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been different.”

What would me letting go look like?  It would look like me giving up the hope that my past could have been different.

I spend so much time thinking about how things could have been if I would have gone to a city college with a more diverse student body, if a gay couple would have lived on the street that I lived on as a kid, if I would have grown up in The L Word age, if my mother would have let me take those damn drum lessons in fourth grade. …

The interesting thing is that the more time I spend attempting to revise my past, the angrier I get.  And, nothing ever changes.  Wishing it so doesn’t make it so.

My therapist says that I’m unable to forgive despite my many sincere attempts because I’m still angry.

Maybe the key is that I need to let go of the past.

Maybe writing about it will help.