Forget Me Not

Never let somebody make you forget who you are.

forgetmenots

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:  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?

 

 

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.

 

 

Juicy Peach

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“They had apples. Honeycrisp. Some other kind, too…I forget what–well, they’re all new apples.”

I smiled. “Thanks.” It was the closest I would get to the market that day. I love choosing my fruit and veggies from the farmers who grew them. The dried mud on a mound of small potatoes, flaking off around the little crate that contained them. The weight of a fat tomato in my hand. The smell of a bundle of herbs. Feeling like a Duchess as I peer at each package, choosing which would serve me best. But I wasn’t feeling my best that day, so he went alone. He delivered, though–Honeycrisp is my favorite. Pink Lady, second.

“I got some peaches, too.”

“Ohhhh.” I tiptoed to the kitchen to peer inside the bag. There they were, three perfect peaches.

I selected my favorite, though they all looked lovely. I turned around and let water run over it, washing the fuzzy skin gently. I gave her a little rub with the dishtowel on the counter, to dry her off. I put the fruit to my nose and inhaled, to my satisfaction it was delightfully fragrant. I bit into the fruit, grabbing  a paper towel to catch the juices. Sweet, wet, divine–the last taste of summer.

“This peach is perfect. Come have a bite.”

He poked his head into the hallway, peering at me standing near the sink. Eyebrows up, “Well, alright.”

I watched him take the four paces to me. His light brown hair in want of a trim. His green tee making his eyes more green than ever. His eyes are magic that way, pulling green, light brown, or hazel–depending on the shirt.

I held the peach up, about breast high. He stood in front of me for a beat and looked at the peach, put both of his hands around my hand, cupping it from beneath and raised the peach to his mouth. He looked me in the eye as he bit into the flesh, I was transfixed. Any words that had begun their journey to my mouth were halted in their tracks as I watched him take another bite, his eyes locked with mine. Juice running down our hands. I forgot the paper towel in my other hand. I forgot that I could look away, if I wanted to.

He released my hand, smiled and chewed, still looking me in the eyes. I felt a chain of electrical tingles run down my spine, then back up again. He made a sound that indicated the peach was, indeed, as perfect as reported. He then turned and walked back into the bedroom to sort books, and fold laundry. I enjoyed watching the back of him as he went. I stared at the space where he stood as I finished the peach in four bites, then made my way to the bedroom as well.

We’re Gonna Be Ok

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I’m a little surprised at my last two blog entries. It seems as though I’m still working through some of that old stuff. Maybe I am to some extent, but mostly it’s all background noise now. I care so much less about most of it than I ever did before. Maybe this is a way of filing it into the boxes it all belongs in.

I’ve gone back to regular journaling and I’m seeing an awesome therapist, so maybe that has contributed to busting a log jam?

I wonder what it is about writing about things that helps me so much? I suppose organizing thoughts is a big plus. I love lists, too. Makes you feel like you have some semblance of control in your life. Also, when I write something down that’s been swimming around in my head for a bit, it kind of lets it have a place to live when I don’t want it hanging out rent-free in my brain anymore. Sort of a detox.

I think that there can be the danger of meditating on the negative in journaling (and blogging). Every time we send something out there, there’s a good chance something is coming back – and I prefer the stuff coming back to be happy. It’s hard to be Miss. Positvity all the time, though.

Is it for validation? Am I writing this so somebody will validate me? Hmmm. Lots to consider. Maybe some validation would be nice. But more than that, I believe I speak out to the people who these topics will resonate with, so they don’t feel alone. Because no matter how good of a person you want to be, stuff bubbles up sometimes. You can’t be sweet and rise above it ALL THE TIME.

When people sleep with your man, or lie to you, or lie to you so they can sleep with your man (I’m beginning to see a theme here) – it can really be difficult to rise above it. To just say, “HEY, whatevs, you go and have fun, catcha on the flip side.” Then go on like it’s no big deal. At the VERY LEAST it’s nice to get an apology, or even some kind of explanation. A little bit of salve for the wounds. I don’t want to go around being pissed all the time, bleeding from my hurts. Who has the energy for that shit? So…what do you do? You decide whether you’re taking the high road, or the low road. Sometimes you actually climb down that stupid little berm FROM the high road TO the low road because you can’t help but run on that low road a bit, then you try hiking back up (don’t slip!) to the high road (don’t get snooty!) and be your better self.

And it isn’t just stuff that people have done to me that gets me to twisting inside and writing stuff down.  I need to work out the wrong stuff I’ve done that has hurt others. Sometimes I don’t even feel like I’m ALLOWED to talk about the bad stuff that I have endured, because I know I’ve fucked up a bunch of times, and there’s nothing I dislike more than a hypocrite (except maybe an MRA or a Westboro Baptist). I wish I could go back and fix all of the things I did that were wrong, but I can’t. (If you feel I owe you an apology – please write to me and we can talk about it!) And it doesn’t take the sting away from what’s been done to me. Maybe it makes me sit in the corner a bit longer with it, and when I come back out to talk about it, I’d better be ready to work on my own bad habits and trespasses. Right side up. Upside down.

Then there’s the bad stuff that happened to me that isn’t as bad as the bad stuff that’s happened to other people, so do I have the right to be hurt or upset? The answer is YES we do – we get to feel our hurts however small they may seem by comparison to others. Your hurts count. You count. But never forget to be grateful. That is so important!

So, now I’ve dusted some stuff up, and when I sit down to write journals and blogs this is the stuff that’s coming out. And I guess that’s fine – I must have needed it. Working it out. Process.

I used to use that old saying with my kids all the time, the one about life giving you lemons. Well, one day I said to my youngest (who was 20 by then), “Well, if life gives you lemons…” and she replied, “Well, life better give you some goddam sugar too, or your lemonade is going to taste like shit!” And so the child is correct. Fortunately I have lots of sugar. Good friends, good health, a generous lover, and great daughters. I’m fond of my sister, too. HI SISSY!

Anyway, if you need to work some stuff out, I definitely recommend journaling. Make your lists. Take stock. Redraw lines. Feel your hurts. Put some Windex. It will be ok. We’re going to be ok, you and me.

The Choice You Make – Sensual Sunday

I don’t know if I would undo it if I could. Your shirts are here. And your toothbrush with the fancy nubby side. I actually folded socks today (not my specialty). They weren’t mine. That’s how you know I care.

When you lift your head and put your feet on the cold hard floor, I swoop in and grab your favorite pillow, hook my arm around it and pull it in tight. I watch your naked back bend forward, the valley of your spine is perfect and I reach out and run a finger down.

You wipe the sleep and look over your shoulder, peeking through a mop of messy hair.

“I wish you didn’t have to go.”

“Me too.”

It doesn’t matter who said which, because we trade off these sentences, depending on what day it is.

I don’t know what force on this earth got to decide what love is or how it manifests, but I know what it is for me. Love is in the Don McLean song that crackles out the same line every morning, “The auctioneer saaaaaaaaid, I’m not through yet…” from your alarm clock. Love is around the edges of your iris, where light brown gives way to hazel. Love is in scrambled eggs and toast next to the window, on a single plate with two forks.

“I like ketchup on mine, do you?”

And now, even after what happened, we’re still here and maybe a little less sorry about it than the two years that followed, because love can also be an opportunity to choose somebody every day. We keep making that choice. I can’t undo it, so I will take solace in this.

 

 

Summer 1981

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I miss waiting for “The Wizard of Oz” to come on once or twice a year. I miss the lead up to the end of the school year and the phenomenon of the summer blockbuster. I miss not understanding about bills and politics. I miss jump-rope and jacks and creeks with smooth stones. I miss that first kiss feeling, when you weren’t even sure how kissing worked. I miss grape soda and skinned knees, tire swings and climbing trees. I miss swimming all day for weeks in a row. I miss the coolness of a desert night, sitting in a concrete pipe with a friend talking about everything, after the rest of the neighborhood had gone to sleep.