SoCS: All or Nothing

socs-2016-badgeThis post is written as part of the Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS) writing prompt by Linda G. Hill.  For complete instructions please visit her page

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS May 20/17

Join the fun, and see what we all have to say, and add your own truth!

All or Nothing

There’s an old jazz song that gets sung at open mic night fairly often, called “All Of Me” by Billie Holliday. The chorus is:

“All of me
Why not take all of me
Can’t you see
I’m no good without you”

The singer laments, take my lips, take my arms, you took the part that was my heart, why not take all of me?

All, or nothing….Take all of me, or none of me. Which is how a relationship should be. You take the whole person. You can’t just take the parts that you like. A lover once told me there were many things he loved about me, but he hated my temper. Now, I can have a temper. It’s slow to rise, but when it does it’s like an explosion. The dust settles pretty quickly, though, and it’s over. I can’t hold a grudge. The point is though, that as a lover, I need all of me to be taken. The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. All. Or take nothing, and let me go.

To be completely accepted by someone is rare. I can think of friendships I have with so many people whom I like, except for “blah blah blah”. However, I guess I accept those things, because we are still friends, even though some things make me crazy. Their good qualities always outweigh the ones that bug me. Friendship means a lot to me, so I take all of them.

In love….I also take all of my partner. Until I can’t. I’ll try and try. But I won’t, any longer, keep trying when the behavior I can’t accept begins to hurt me. All of them, or nothing. And they need to take all of me, or nothing. When you can work out the parts that bug you, between the two of you, it’s possible to find a way to take all of someone, even if you don’t quite find yourself on the same page.

All or nothing. It’s a boundary too. It says if you can’t take all of me, then you get none of me. And if I can’t take all of you, then I don’t want any of you. Compromising on that can only lead to heartache. At least in romantic, committed love. In a friendship, it’s easier. If my friend is behaving in ways I can barely tolerate, I can take a few days and stay away from them. The unacceptable behavior then fades, as I remember how important their friendship is to me. But love, romantic love, I believe has to be all or nothing, or it will never last.

Unconditional love is different than romantic love. It says, I love all people and want the best for everyone. Like the Buddhist Metta prayer, May all people be happy. May all people be free from suffering. Unconditional love. I can feel that even for people who have hurt me to the core. They say that if you believe in unconditional love, which for me is who I strive to be, that you don’t get to pick and choose who you love. If you do, it’s not unconditional. All, or nothing. Everyone, or no one.

Romantic love requires that all or nothing love in a very intimate, personal way. Unconditional love of everyone, requires it in a very broad way. One is reaching inside ourselves. One is extending as far out as possible. All or nothing. A thought-provoking writing prompt.

Rumination: What Is Love?

I’m up long before dawn this morning. I slept like a rock, for about 7 hours, and did nothing yesterday but sleep and write and read and watch TV, because I hadn’t been feeling well, and hadn’t slept well. So, I’m not surprised that I was wide awake at 4:15 this morning, and unable to get back to sleep.

I lay in bed for awhile, just thinking. Thinking about how much I think about, write about, obsess about love. Being in love. Loving unconditionally. How when I really love someone, I always love them, but how that love can change, and transform over time. How sometimes it has been toxic for me, driving me to my knees. And sometimes it has lifted me, higher than I’ve ever been.

But what is it? I can honestly say, I don’t know. I have loved when it hurt me, and loved when it lifted me and why both? I used to say it was a choice to love someone. When I was married, I said that. I was committed. I tried for so long to make that work. I hated breaking that commitment. But I did, and now? I don’t think that if love was a choice, that I was really in love with him. We were together at 18, until we were 56. At 18 I was in love, as much as an 18 year old could be. I think he was too. Over so many years, I know his control issues, and abuse, changed that, but I was committed, and so I kept telling myself we still loved each other, and kept trying to make it work. But did I love him? Well, maybe. Was I IN love with him. No. I was committed to him and our family. Until I realized that the commitment only went one way, and his commitment was only to controlling the rest of us. Thinking abusing us was the way to do that. I told him, after we split up, the only control you ever had over me was how much you loved me. And you didn’t.

With S, I was in love. Crazy, undeniably, continuously in love. And it kept me going back, wanting to see if this time he could love me. Just me. He could not. I finally gave up on it, I finally realized that whatever it was he wanted, in his free-thinking Aquarian way, it was not what I wanted for the rest of my life. The trust was broken, again and again and again, and I just had to stop kidding myself that I’d ever be able to trust. I’ve read that Aquarians are independent enough to think it’s fine if they are unfaithful, as long as they tell their partner about their indescretions. Which I believe is true for him. It’s who he is, I don’t hold it against him. He’s entitled to live how he wants to. It’s just not what I want for the rest of my years on this earth. I don’t share, can’t share, the man I love. I still miss him sometimes, his sense of humor, his quirkiness. And sometimes, his ability to help me to see things differently. But trust…..I can’t get past that, and never will.

D, the man I’ve been seeing for awhile now. I have not allowed myself to say I’m in love with him. We have not said it to each other, yet I feel that he loves me. I like him a lot. I only hope I can love him. I am wary, I think, not because of him, but because of the pain I experienced the last time I gave my heart fully to someone. D is so not like anyone else I’ve been with. He’s had his trials, his challenges, and still…he’s thoughtful and kind, considerate and loving. Yesterday, when I didn’t feel well, he apologized for not taking care of me well enough. I almost didn’t know how to react to that kind of thought from a man. It was not his fault, yet he took it on, because he wanted to think he could have helped me avoid it. He has done absolutely nothing but build my trust. We are compatible in many ways, and he seems willing to try to learn from me, and to teach me about himself. I think there are possibilities for the future. I feel safe with him, among many other things.

Looking at these 3 men….and trying to answer the question “What is love?” and “What makes me feel it?”…..I still have no answers. I looked to Rumi this morning, for answers to those questions. Rumi talks a lot about how love feels, but in my very cursory study of his work, not too often about what it is. I did find this quote:

“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.”

Which is deep enough to send me on a long meditation. LOL. This is a Rumi quote that describes, to me, what it feels like to be in love:

“I want to see you.

Know your voice.

Recognize you when you
first come ’round the corner.

Sense your scent when I come
into a room you’ve just left.

Know the lift of your heel,
the glide of your foot.

Become familiar with the way
you purse your lips
then let them part,
just the slightest bit,
when I lean in to your space
and kiss you.

I want to know the joy
of how you whisper
“more”

I don’t know what love is, and may never know. I know when I feel it though. I know when it’s bud is growing and I know when it’s bud is dying. I hope I’ll know when it’s a love that can last, that can grow like the giant sequoia, and scrape the clouds. Only time will tell.

Love and light.

On Not Having to Explain Myself

The other day, when I was at my sisters, she said, again, lol, how she didn’t realize how much it would mean to her to have me so close by. I think for me, it’s been different than for her. I KNEW how much it would mean to me, hell, I wouldn’t have moved here if she wasn’t here. I only knew her and my one friend from childhood. When you move a great distance, you think about those things.

My sis has lived here with her husband, in the winter for 8 years. She has a base here, close friendships. My appearance in her life was one more of them. But we both have realized how awesome it is to have each other. To have someone in your life on a regular basis who lived through your childhood together, who knew how you grew up, experienced all that you experienced. To have someone in your life regularly to whom you don’t have to explain who you are. It’s amazing really.

This morning, I was making my coffee, and thought about how all three of us, my older and younger sisters, and me, drink our coffee the same way. Cream only, and not too much of it. (Although my younger sister, now mostly vegan probably gave up the cream.) I thought about my little sister’s visit in about 10 days. Thought about how cool it will be to go out to lunch with both my sisters, just the 3 of us.

Of course, then I always think about how blessed we were to grow up in the Norman Rockwell life we did. Two parents who loved each other, in a small town in Iowa, in a 100 year old house 3 blocks from the Mississippi River. Days spent on that river together, where at least my older sis and I learned to water-ski, behind our 16′ boat. Minor league baseball games with my dad.

Mostly, and I’ve written about this many times, never ever going to bed wondering if our parents loved us. My God, what a gift that is to give your children. The people I know who did not have that foundation, that gift, of unconditional love have striven for it their whole lives, don’t believe it exists, and have built incredible walls and acted out in harmful ways to ease the pain of a child who doesn’t believe they are worthy of love.

I’m trying to finish up the stuff I need to get done with the house before my little sis comes here. I look at the diamond shaped window in my front door, and the round stained glass flower that this sister made for me which fits exactly in the center of it.

I feel so much peace lately. So much more than I’ve felt in years. My sisters and I hanging out together. The spark of a relationship that has the possibility of becoming something very special, without all the pain and drama and ugliness of my marriage and last relationship. A cute little house in a place where 60 is cold weather. And not having to go to work. Good, close friends. One of them who is almost like my sisters, who has known me forever, and to whom I never have to explain myself. It’s coincidental that the other day L was telling me a story from his youth, and said, oh yes, when I get together with my old friends, it’s still one of the stories we talk about.  Then he asked me, “do you have any friends that you’ve been friends with forever, like that?”  I told him “Oh yeah, in fact last weekend I had 3 girls staying with me and we’ve all been best friends since we were 13.”  He remarked how nice it is to have people in your life who knew you forever, that you never have to explain who you are to, who just know you.  It’s frigging amazing, really.

I have said so many times in the last couple of years, that I believe my purpose on this earth is to learn lessons and evolve my soul. I still believe that. The last couple of years though, I’ve added a caveat to that which is, that my lessons become easy lessons. I’ve had enough of the hard ones. I think I really have. Right now, it seems easy. I mean, the hardest thing that’s happened in a long time is having to set up a new cell phone, LOL. It feels like the Universe has listened, as if the intentions I set are manifesting.

Love and light to everyone.

Singing the Song for 2017

It’s New Year’s Eve. Time to reflect, to look forward, to enjoy the moment.

Reflecting….. Last year was a year of huge change for me. Never before have I had so many big changes in my life. Losing my mother. Retiring from a lifetime of work. Moving to Florida, to a completely different way of life. Moving my son away from me to Colorado. Ending a love affair that stopped bringing me pleasure a long time ago, and only brought me pain. And even so, it was a struggle to let go. But let go I finally have, completely.

All these changes were good. Every one of them. Even though I miss my son so much. I know he’s doing well, and happy, and making his own way. Thank God for cell phones, we talk every day. There are new people in my life, new friends, the budding of new relationships that bring a smile to my face.

I don’t deal with winter any more. That is such a blessing to me. I so hated being cold from the middle of October until the middle of April. Dressing in 4 or 5 layers, and still being cold. I hated dealing with snow, and the last few years we had mega amounts of snow up there, with only a few exceptional years. I hated driving in it, keeping the driveway clear and the walk ways, and being housebound.

Now…..when it gets cold here, it’s in the 50’s. And so far, for not more than 2 days, til the temperature creeps back up to the 70’s or 80’s. I can walk every day along the beach. I can see the ocean every day. The water here on the Gulf coast is warm, and calm, and soothing. Usually I am dressed in one layer, and more often than not, it’s shorts, or skorts (the skirts with shorts under them).

To be able to spend time with my sister on a regular basis is such a blessing. We are becoming so close. It has eased the pain of losing our mother last year. We joke all the time about how we channel her for each other. She and I have not lived close to one another since we moved out of the house around age 20. I’m going back there today, invited to her neighbor’s New Year’s Eve party which promises to be a blast, and it’s right across the street!. No driving with the drunks….

The future is looking bright. There is a possibility of a budding relationship. It is moving slowly, at a speed which, while sometimes frustrating for me, is a good thing really. I’m sitting back and let the universe drive the train. It’s fun to feel that way again, and actually have it reciprocated.

Financially I feel secure. Avalon, my home, my place of new beginnings, is coming along. All the big work is now completed. There are some jobs like tree-trimming, putting up a shed, landscaping that need to be done, but they will be done over the next few months.

Mostly, I have given up worry over things I cannot control. I have come to believe that the Universe has a grand design, which we cannot possibly understand in human terms, and that all will work out for the highest good of all. It’s not so much Pollyanna, it’s just that I agree with Marianne Williamson that the universe is self-organizing and self-correcting. It has been the way it’s worked for me, over and over again. I know that many people won’t agree with me, in fact, maybe most. It’s just the way it is from the perspective of my life. Not asking anyone else to believe it.

This year, I think I will try to do more giving back. There are a few things I’ve discovered here which I can get involved with that might make a difference in someone else’s life. I mean, I have such a happy life here. So free of drama and pain, so full of joy. I want to spread that around as much as I can.

Life is for living, for singing a joyful song. I’ve always known that, even though I’ve had a hard time singing so often. Through an abusive marriage, a failed love affair, a long period of terrible financial insecurity, I still always believed I could one day sing the song again.

I’m singing it now. It’s in my head, lol, I still don’t sing in front of people. But those close to me can hear the song. I guess this is why I trust that the universe is on it, organizing and correcting for the higher benefit of all. Because it’s taken me from terrible darkness, to the sunlight of Florida.

Love and light, everyone. Have a Happy New Year!

Not Foolish, nor Destined to Repeat the Past :-)

The sun was almost up when I awoke this morning. Daybreak had broken, the eastern sky was alight. I slept the sleep of the dead last night. I didn’t go anywhere, both of my friends who were going to go to the artwalk with me were sick. One with a cold, the other with a migraine. As it turned out I fell asleep on my couch from 5 to 6, and then stayed up late because I wasn’t tired.

I was in quite a mood last night, and yesterday, with those poems I wrote, Foolishness and Destined. Today my waking mind was in a far more indifferent place. It is always therapeutic lean in to that discomfort when it shows up, to write those feelings out, and send them out to the universe.

This morning I’m out on my deck, sipping my coffee under the canopy of the banyan tree in my nightgown, feeling quite content. I am still seeking a love that can last, but have no regrets over the past, nor really any attachment to it. Just moving forward, and expect what will come will come when it’s supposed to, if it’s supposed to. In the meantime I have friends and family here that I love and who love me, and a wonderful life. There is no reason to feel bitterness or angst.

And who knows? I had a short text with C last night. He’s always up, it seems. In a good place. It’s a refreshing change for me. I hope I hear from him again soon.

I always say that the people I loved I will always love. But really, some of those people are out of my life for a reason, and the reason is that they were in it to teach me, part of the lesson my soul needed to learn. They’ve taught me and we’ve both moved on to our own next lessons. Today, I am grateful for the lessons, and for the fact that I have such a wonderful starting point for my next adventure. Love always? Yes, I suppose so. But maybe not desire, not hope that things will be different. Oprah defined forgiveness as giving up hope that the past will ever change. I think that’s where I am. Glean from it what we can, and go on.

Like my horoscope said, I am an Aries and I like to move forward. I can backslide like anyone else, but not for long. I don’t like that place. I hate covering the same real estate twice. A relationship that takes me over and over the same ground without ever moving forward is not compatible with me.

Feeling so much more myself today. I’m going to go down to the water, take a long walk. Go to the grocery store and get the stuff I need for Christmas food. I’m making baked stuffed shrimp for Christmas Eve at my sisters. And for Christmas night, my traditional raspberry angel food cake with Raspberry Amaretto Sauce. And whatever my sister and I decide we want for Christmas Day. We’re invited to a friends in her neigborhood for Christmas night, which will be fun. It will remind me how I always went to my bff’s in CT on Christmas night. I was often the only non-blood family there, but that huge family always treated me like one of their own.

I have been really blessed, haven’t I?

Love and light, all.

Just Wondering

This morning for some reason, when I was making my coffee, I wondered if my ex ever thinks about the times he would rage, and break dishes, and throw food all over the floor, and walk away from it, leaving me crying, scared and having to clean up. I wonder if he remembers ever, when he broke our whole set of 12 Norman Rockwell plates, which we’d purchased at $40 each from Franklin Mint. I wonder if he thinks about what he put me through ever. Or if he just pretends it never happened. I wonder if he ever regrets making us drive hours to and from my son’s hockey games, the whole time verbally assaulting my son.

I’d like to think he does, and regrets all the things he did to me and my son. But, I don’t think so. Most people would feel so bad, once they realized how out of control they had become, and how much they’d hurt people that loved them, that they’d have to make at least an effort to apologize. He’s never apologized to me, except once. He had started a fight with me the day before I was scheduled to have labor induced for my son. Big fight, almost physical, yelling, stomping. I went to my sister-in-laws house for the night and she came with me to the hospital, not him. He finally showed up at the hospital after I’d been in labor all day because his sister shamed him into it. After my son was born by c-section in the middle of the night, he apologized. It was the only time in our 40 years together.

Even S repeatedly apologized for what he did to me. Of course, it didn’t change him, so the apology was only sincere in the moment. But at least there was a moment when he could see what he’d done. And of course, then he went on to spew lies about me to his girlfriend,and tell her intimate things about us, which was very painful for me. Having to listen to the lies come out of her mouth and having him back them up was heartbreaking. But he knew it was wrong. He knew he was doing it to make her secure.

I have forgiven them both for all of it. Their own behavior is something they have to live with. My heart, my psyche has healed from it all. It was all a good lesson for me. One drawback to growing up in a loving family is that you are unaware that there are people out there who would do those things. The reason they do them is because of a flaw they perceive in themselves, not in you. But a loving family of origin also gives you a base of love to fall back on, a way to find your own worth again, and allows you to move forward. I was blessed beyond words to have that.

It’s coincidental, (if you believe in coincidences) that when I came out on the deck this morning in the still dark, and opened my email, the first one I clicked on, by mistake (I actually wanted to open the email above this one), was an email from the Daily Om. It was a lesson from the book A Course In Miracles about forgiveness, and how it is really our only function.

I’m an Aries, and one of my traits is I cannot hold a grudge. For me to be angry for a week over something is really stretching it. Luckily, I am also aggressive and persistent, and know what’s good for me and what’s not. Although with both the men I’ve loved, I accepted the bad behavior for far too long, and kept them in my life far too long. Even if it was just on the periphery. I can still say I love them both, which is important for me, not to hate those I loved intensely. I feel sorry for my ex, because even if he doesn’t face it consciously, he lives a life that demonstrates the effects his behavior had on him, being broke and all alone, and having no relationship with his son. S—I don’t know what effect his behavior has had on him because we don’t talk.  He’s disappeared. But I feel for him anyway, because the games he plays over and over keep away the people who love him.

It’s been a weird morning, thinking about this stuff. Funny what bubbles up. Maybe it’s because I had a date last night with a man who doesn’t seem to be a game player, or manipulative, or controlling. But I can’t say for sure yet, I’ll have to get to know him better to know that. But I think maybe it’s the contrast between him and my old loves that brought this stuff around this morning.

Anyway, it promises to be an extraordinary day today. It was 63 when I came out on the deck before the sunrise. It’s going to get up in the 80’s. People are saying it’s unusual to be so warm in December. I’m more than happy about it. I might be able to wear shorts to the artwalk tonight.

Love and light, everyone.

Uncomplicated Love

“Think of someone you love who is uncomplicated to love,” the meditation guide instructed. I thought, of course, of my son. And as thoughts are liable to do, immediately after my son, I thought of my mother. And then of my father. And then of my two sisters.

All of them, uncomplicated to love, and to be loved by.

I have never known different with my family. Even when we had our disagreements, our rough patches, I never doubted that we loved each other, and that if pressed, we would be there for each other. Ever.

How friggin’ blessed I am, is something I’ve come to know as an adult. Really not until I was well past the half-way mark of my life did I realize the depth of that blessing.

I remember back when I just assumed all families were like mine. It seemed incongruous that my best friend’s father (at age 12) could put belt marks on her legs, but he did. She didn’t make a big deal of it, so no one else did. I can’t imagine what it was like, to be a 12 year old, going through puberty, and have your father take a belt to you. I remember my own father, at times in his frustration with my misbehavior as a child, raising his hand. That, the raised hand, was enough to make me know I better stop what I was doing, or saying. He never brought it down on me. I think it would have killed him to hit me.

I was SO naive.

I have known and loved men who were beaten by their fathers, whose mothers stood by and watched, thus enabling the brutality of a child. I think I made it my quest to prove to them that they were lovable, that they were in reality, as deserving of unconditional love as much as anyone. I wanted to convince them that it is possible for someone to love them purely, with no conditions. I cannot imagine a more painful thing to live with than the belief that you innately do not deserve love and belonging. Would it not instill false shame, to think you weren’t worthy of your parents love? And shame is such a destructive emotion.

I was unable to achieve this. It took me a long time to actively give up the quest. And that in itself, is not a good basis for a relationship anyway. There is no common ground. But, I love them, still. And wish they could see themselves the way I saw them. I wish they knew that all the love they think they missed is inside them now, given to them as a divine right. No one can take it from anyone else.

My childhood friend, has somehow managed to retrieve a relationship with her siblings now. They are very close. She has held onto the friendships of her youth. She’s coming to see me, and our other friend who lives in Daytona across the state, in January. This group of girls is like my family. They reconnected with me after about 40 years, and we picked up where we left off.

I think though, that it is part of my soul’s journey to love others the way that I’ve been loved. Am loved. It’s always the underlying emotion, the baseline. If I’ve loved you, I will always love you. If I never see you again, I will always love you, always wish the best for you, always feel the pain I know you feel and always send out whatever I can to assuage it. I may not like your behavior, I may choose to withdraw from it, but the love I felt, only came through me. I did not create it, I just channeled it. And will continue to do so, actively or passively.

So this was my post-meditation blog. Kind of a deep, heavy meditation, and it seems I’ve been doing a lot of reflection and introspection around this broader subject lately. I hope I’m not boring….not bringing the kiss of death on myself, lol.

Love and light, all.