Forget Me Not

Never let somebody make you forget who you are.

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It’s raining in Maryland. Has been for days. It sets a tone.

I’ve been working on “Red Hunter” which is book three in my Red August series. It’s been flowing, but it’s been emotionally exhausting. When I started out writing fairy tales a few years ago, I was going to write short sexy erotic fairy tales. Instead, I’m mired in examining relationships, the way love works, who you’re “supposed” to have sex with, and why people manipulate others. About manipulation, spoiler:Β  it’s usually to get something they want, even if they don’t consciously realize they are doing it.

One of the things I’ve noticed about the people in my past who have manipulated me is that they all gaslighted me. It really knocks you off of your center when it happens, and usually you don’t see it coming. You think things are going well. You’re getting all this positive feedback and reciprocal joy, and then one day, BAM, you’re being accused of the very things that person was doing. Oh, and nothing is EVER their fault.

I think aside from the rain and the writing, the show The Handmaid’s Tale is making some of these old scars ache. Seeing all of those women climb over each other, use each other, and all of society controlling their most basic rights, it’s jarring. They’ve done a good and terrifying job of it. Feels a little too close to reality right now.

One thing that I do to help me get past this sense of foolishness for believing a person when they say they like me, or trusting somebody who was not trustworthy, is trying to REMEMBER WHO I AM. How can another person MAKE YOU FORGET WHO YOU ARE? I can’t really answer that. But you see it all the time. And these measures are temporary because there is always the chance that something will trigger all those old traumas and make you live them for a little while. At least, in time, the duration is shorter and the pain less severe.

Probably everybody but sociopaths go through this. Even gaslighters have their reasons for gaslighting. The important thing is to NOT forget yourself. Remember who you are. Also, there is always room for growth in all of these things. Even if that means putting up a wall and being less trusting–that’s still learning!

The other thing I noticed about being on the receiving end of gaslighting, is that people who CARE that they’ve upset, or hurt others will make the gaslighting even more effective on them. You question everything you ever did or said with that person and read and re-read your texts and emails and try and find the blame in yourself, because that’s who you are. YOU GIVE A SHIT. They don’t. They have to remain blameless or it unravels all the good stories they tell themselves about who they are. If you see something that you could have said or done differently, remember that. If you know better, do better. We all make mistakes.

On the one hand, I’m not sure writing this story is always good for me. Mostly, it is. It’s not much different than making soul-searching art. But . . . it’s just supposed to be a version of Red Riding Hood. It’s supposed to be a modern day fairy tale. Fairy tales are fun! Right? It’s grown into much more than that for me. It’s a way to examine societal standards. Love language. Age differences vs. maturity differences. Who we are told is “right” for us, and what the shape of a family should be.

I want to approach these topics with intelligence, maybe a little purple prose (it is a paranormal romance after all), and with a lot of heart where the hurt was.

I’m 5400 words in. Let’s see where this ship takes us, shall we?

 

 

Summer Days When You Loved Me

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While waiting at the fast food restaurant drive through there was a young couple in the car behind me and this came to mind:

There were summer days, the car windows down and the smell of that old ’71 Bonneville–aging flecks of fabric and a thousand layers of Armor All, dancing around in the wind. A bored Saturday at a fast food restaurant and then the mall to look at and touch things we wouldn’t be able to afford for another ten years. Back in the car a hair band ballad swayed us and we would both smile. You said you loved me then. You took it back later. Much later. But sun-drenched summer days don’t lie and no matter what followed, in those moments you were a liar or you loved me.

Sweet Desire

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ELO starts singing “Living Thing” and they get to the part about, “… yoooOOO-OO-OOu, and your sweet desiii-III-iiire …” and it made me think of him. I sent a quick love note:

“yooOOOooOOu and your sweet desiiiiIIIIiiire” always makes me think of you thinking of me

you make me feel like my desire is something beautiful

******

I can’t count how many times I have been shamed for my desire. Worse crime–I have a body that society doesn’t deem worthy of desire (from either side of the equation).

I was what my parents called a “willful child” and I tend to eventually question the stones I carry, and sometimes throw them right back. Other times I just carry that shit around without even understanding why. Why does it matter if somebody else thinks my desire is too much of a tsunami of want and emotion? I think it all boils down to that thing I always say: we all want to feel like we matter. Or at least not want to feel like what we’re doing is bad or wrong somehow.

It feels really good to hear a fun little pop song and find meaning in it. Though we shouldn’t let others determine our worth, it sure is validating to remember my desire is worth something to somebody. To know that somebody thinks it’s beautiful and I am worthy of it.

❀

 

 

She Wanders a Little

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I told my therapist about my inward energy. “I’m in a downward cycle,” I said. “That’s what I call it.” She already knew. I’m normally big and outwards. I was more pensive, and my responses measured.

“Not like when I was younger. Not downward like that.” Or something like that. And what I mean is, I don’t rock in a dark bathroom hurting myself anymore, like I did when I was in my twenties and didn’t understand what all of these …. feelings? … were. Continue reading

Gratitude Practice

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My week, and subsequently my weekend, was a bit of a roller-coaster ride. Anybody who has ever tried to run their own business, or who has to submit themselves to regular public scrutiny can probably relate pretty well to the way things went for me last week.

I had a few confidence shudders. A few squealing belts under my hood that wanted attention. Fortunately I have a pretty great support system. The mechanics of my life stepped in and told me what the trouble was, I listened to their expert advice, even if I didn’t want to pay what it cost in self-reflection. In the end, I chose the path of GET THE FUCK ON WITH IT.

After the tears and the fears started to wane enough to see a clear route, I stopped to reflect on gratitude. I see a therapist and she has me do this thing, which as it turns out is a pretty good thing – at least for me. That thing is writing down acknowledgments and gratitude. The acknowledgements are for the things I have done that day. Little pats on my back to myself, even for small things. Because face it, when you’re in a depression, or stressed and feel a bit like you’re failing – even small feats of organization, house-cleaning, or work can feel like mountains. And when you do big things you can sort of pat yourself on the back for, it helps lay a solid foundation for the direction you are headed. So–ALL GOOD STUFF!

The gratitude portion is just anything I am grateful for. It reminds me that no matter what I might be stressed about, or hurting from, or worried about, there is always something to be grateful for. Sometimes, on days that are rough, all I can manage is things like “easy access to telephones and email.” Among other little things that are actually quite important, like having enough food to eat and a roof over my head. Sometimes these things show up even on days that are a bonanza of good news, just because I remember a time when having those things was much harder.

Anyway, what I did was–instead of meditating on what didn’t go right–I meditated on what DID go right, or at least the parts of my day that were good. So here is what I posted on Facebook.

Good things that happened today – aka practicing gratitude:

-Will made me breakfast in bed. Then went out and got me pads and chocolate.
– Will and I got a little dressed up and looked pretty fly. Wore my new pendant Bridget made.
– Went to Baltimore, saw our friend Barry, had some of his spiced apple cider with caramel schnapps, got my fortune read, got some valuable feedback, enjoyed the Halloween decorations.
– Jade got to see two shows today thanks to Audrey. It makes my heart so happy when my friends are good to my babies
– The sky was amazing the whole way home from Baltimore.
– Stopped at Trader Joe’s and got some tasty food. An attractive woman with curly hair came up to me and flirted with me. She really digs my hair, and called me a silver fox and meowed at me. Lol
– We got home and my Hillary swag was here and I tried on my new shirt and it fit great and looks cute and Will complimented me several times. Kissed me and told me I’m cute.
– Amber sent me some sweet texts.
– Got a wonderful video from our granddaughter – who loves her little Halloween card we sent her.
– Will made me a Nasty Woman (see recipe further down my wall) – but used the cute highball glasses my sister gave me instead of a tumbler – which elevated the Nasty Womanness of the cocktail.

That’s a lot to be thankful for.

Love Letters – Epistles of Love and Longing in a Modern Age – 2

I am going to try and make the Love Letters thing on Fridays. I am going to write up a Sensual Sunday today, it will drop on Sunday, so come back and check it out!

It’s hard to figure out how much to share of something as personal as love letters. Things are out of context a bit. There is little clue as to how things between the texts and emails transpired, other than what is written.

One thing people might not realize is that I was married when I met Will. I embarked on a relationship with him two days after meeting him, with the knowledge and consent of my husband. Love is complicated, folks. Anyway, I will begin, as they say, at the beginning. Will emailed me and I emailed him back. Are these love letters? Maybe not. Not yet, anyway. But they are flirt letters. The beginning of a wonderful, and terrible, overwhelmingly beautiful and hurtful decade in my life. These letters are the cornerstone of a foundation he and I built together and holds us up today.

These are slightly abridged versions of the conversations, but mostly they are a copy and paste. Other than that, this is how it began. With words.

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**********************************

From: William Hardy
Sent: Monday, July 15, 2002 2:43 PM
To: goddess@
Subject: Thanks for your address – I’m trying it out

Greetings, fair lady.

It was a real pleasure meeting you Saturday night. I’m looking forward to
seeing you again – before too long, I hope. Yes I thought about you quite a
bit that night. That was the most delicious kiss I’ve had in a looong time.

I’ve been to your site but couldn’t look at *all* of it because [redacted]. From what
I’ve seen (not much yet) I’m really struck by how strong your color sense
is. I wonder who some of your favorite artists are? Well, if you need a
model sometime, I’d be happy to work with you. I used to be good at
charcoal – I haven’t done any sketches since school, but I always enjoyed
working with live subjects. I’m hoping to get back into it, now that I have
all this “free time.” That, and learn to play violin, and write the great
American novel.

What, you don’t believe me?

More to come. Ciao fer now.

-Bill

P.S. Contact info:

[redacted]

********************************

TO: William Hardy
From: Heather Bartlett

Mon 7/15/2002 4:04 PM

Sub: Hi yourself πŸ˜‰

William,

It was a pleasure making your acquaintance as well…glad I could help you out with [redacted]. You must have been awful tired for moving day.

I kept thinking that you reminded me of an actor that I’d seen in movies, but I particularly remembered him from Veronica’s Closet, so after poking around on a Veronica’s Closet Website I figured out that you, with the beard, remind me of Ron Silver, I’m sure you know who he is. What particularly struck me was your smile…I think that was what sealed it, he has a great smile and a great aura, like you.

Some parts of the night are very dreamlike, because I’d been drinking in spurts, shots of bourbon and stuff, but other parts are clear. I was never totally fall-down smashed though. I did get to swim in the pool sometime after midnight, and I think I shocked the hell out of two of the twenty-something frat fellas because I decided to go topless…[redacted]

Thanks for the offer to pose, I’m always looking for subjects, usually I photograph, because I can’t force the art. I get tense when I think about live models because I worry that the artistic ability won’t be there at that moment, and I’ll be wasting the model’s time (I don’t like inconveniencing folks) I can’t force it for some reason, so I keep photos for when the urge strikes me and I use them for inspiration. I have female friends offer to pose for me, so they can help me get used to working with live models, but schedules haven’t allowed that yet. I suppose I’d be less concerned about it if I’d gone to college art classes and gotten used to using live models. Usually I just REMEMBER a moment…and THAT inspires me, curves, shadow, a person’s aura, a feeling. I am particularly inspired by intimacy. I have creative ups and downs. I’m in a creative UP right now. It makes me more flirtatious, more energetic and gives me the ability to see beauty in so many things, it’s overwhelming sometimes.

I wished you would start up charcoal again, I’d love to pose for you if you ever got back into it. πŸ™‚

My favorite artists are Klimt, VanGough, Matisse,
Amy Brown (fairies), and Heinz Guth http://www.gutart.rit.se/framehome/frame.html there are LOTS more but those are the first ones that come to my mind. Actually I have more flooding in, but you get the idea.

Tell me about the play you’re working on, and where it’s at and stuff. I remember that it was an original…what theatre do you do work at? I have a production meeting tonight for “All My Sons”, Sweetie and I are doing costumes and props…when Sweetie, John , Julianna and I work on a show they call us the “Dream Team”…heh. Isn’t that funny?

I also belong to a Shakespeare Club called Chamberlain’s Men, http://www.chamberlainsmen.org and we JUST finished Hamlet, I *think* we’re studying “Taming of the Shrew” next. One of MY all time favorites.

Anyhoo, I’ve babbled on a while…I’ll send future emails to your “Super Secret Personal Account”, I giggled when I saw that. You’re too funny. πŸ™‚

I’ll see you sometime soon.

Hugs,

Heather