Forgiveness

for·give: [fer-giv]  verb (used with object)

1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.

2. to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).

3. to grant pardon to (a person).

4. to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one’s enemies.

5. to cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interest owed on a loan.

 

verb (used without object)

6. to pardon an offense or an offender.

Origins: The root of “forgive” is the Latin word “perdonare,” meaning “to give completely, without reservation.” (That “perdonare” is also the source of our English “pardon.”) When the Latin “perdonare” was adopted into the Germanic ancestor of English, it was translated piece-by-piece, making the result what linguists call a “calque” (from the French “calquer,” to trace or copy) a literal transliteration. “Per” was replaced by “for,” a prefix that in this case means “thoroughly,” and “donare” with “giefan” (“to give”). The result, “forgiefan,” appeared in Old English meaning “to give up, allow” as well as “to give in marriage.” In modern English, “forgive” has also taken on the meanings of “to pardon for an offense,” “renounce anger at” (“I forgive you for feeding bean tacos to my dog “) and “to abandon a claim on” (as in “forgive a debt”).

arabic Rumi poem

TRANSLATION:

Forgive me, that I cannot sleep; forgive

The thirsty ones that they have no water.

Forgive: if you never know forgiveness,

You’ll never know the blessings that God gives.

– Rumi

I’m not a very forgiving person.

It’s funny for me to type that, because there is a huge part of me that thinks I am extremely forgiving. I think of myself as a person always willing to be the bigger person, to pardon for an offense as described above. But as I step back and look at myself as objectively as I can, and as I look at some of my actions in the past with people I’ve cared for I have to be honest…I’m not. Not really and truly. I am definitely understanding, but not really forgiving.

FORGIVENESS DOVE

As I try to face this particular thing about myself, my justifications quickly come to my defense. I think of how patient I am with people – or how patient I think I am. I think about how much time I spend trying to understand other people’s perspectives and points of view and motivations for whatever they say or do.  I think of how much I have often tolerated out of a sense of fairness, loyalty or devotion to someone or something, without complaint or consideration. How can I say I don’t forgive in light of all that? And while all of these things are true, these things are exactly why forgiveness is so hard for me – I feel that after having extended myself to such lengths with a person, if they still can’t get it right, they don’t deserve my forgiveness. I turn my back on them and everything to do with them, totally and completely. To make matters worse, I typically do this by writing a very stinging “fuck you” letter or email.

Why does this make matters worse? It makes matters worse because evidently I write extremely memorable, harsh, “fuck you” letters. My “fuck you” letters strike the heart and draw blood like a sharp blade. Don’t believe that old adage that says words can never hurt you; I got words that can top any damage sticks and stones could ever do. It only stands to reason I have this gift, because I am a writer. But because I am a writer, and I’m surrounded by other writers, I don’t think of my gift as a particularly unusual or lethal one. So when I unleash it, to me its just average, run of the mill stuff. Not so much to others. Everyone I have ever known who I’ve written a fuck you letter/email to has kept that letter for years after I wrote it. Even after I reconciled with the person they were still able to pull out that letter, show it to me, and tell me in great detail how much it hurt them literally years after the letter/email was sent. In the cases where I didn’t reconcile with the person, I often found that other mutual friends/acquaintances we had would often tell me about the “fuck you” letter/email I’d written; the person I’d written it to had told them about it or even showed it to them in many cases. I even had one friend claim they went into therapy a week after receiving one of my “fuck you” letters. It is always amazing to me to see the power of my words – even when I factored in that this was a person I was close to, so of course my words would naturally hurt more than someone else’s words. But I have had this happen with casual acquaintances as well. In fact once a snarky response I made to a co-worker via email that was particularly acerbic and sarcastic got me free lunch for a week from several of my other co-workers who didn’t like the colleague I had responded to. As this happened to me over and over, as I am finding people remember my harsh commentary in particular with a great deal of emphasis, I have tried to be mindful of the power my words possess – unfortunately without much success.

in other news

I was reminded of all this when talking to one of my best friends. He was asking me how I had been doing since my most recent breakup, and I hold him I was doing okay all things considered. He was never in favor of me ending the relationship; he felt I had acted much too hastily in dealing with the young man and told me to leave some space in my heart for him in case an opportunity to reconcile presented itself at some point in the future.  He asked me if I was open to reconciliation and I said “well he’d have to approach me with a serious apology and some serious plans for us, but I’d hear him out, sure.” He then asked if I would approach him if I wanted to reconcile. I said, “well I’ve tried. When we first argued and broke up I tried calling, emailing, texting. He didn’t respond. At all. He hasn’t responded. At all.” My friend suggested that perhaps my ex was still just very angry and upset, and he asked if I would consider re-approaching the situation down the road. I said, “truthfully, I don’t think so. I already feel so rejected by him. He’s never been very forgiving. To him it’s a sign of weakness; it means you’ve let someone get away with something. I don’t know if I could bear that. I don’t think I would have the nerve.” And then my friend said, “well Tula, you may have to forgive him of not being open to you initially. You know how harsh you can be when ending something; some of the things you say really cut deep.”

not as great as I thought

I really couldn’t refute that, because he knows firsthand about that harshness. While he is one of my best friends, and has been for a few years now, we only reconciled in the last year or so.  Yes, he is my rock and I talk to him at least 3-4 times a week, but at one time he and I went years without speaking because of something I was angry with him about. I don’t even remember what it was now. But at the time it was serious to me, and I remember sending him a “fuck you” email. While I don’t remember what I said, whatever it was kept him far away from me for a very long time – and he was one of my closest friends. It took him over 2 years to very tentatively reach out to me, and even then I rebuffed him very harshly. It took me going through a huge emotional downward spiral to bring us back together. I was in a horribly dark, awful place at the time, feeling like I was drowning but knowing I did not want to drown. So I began reaching out for anyone and everyone who could save me, who could help me save myself. So one evening, tears flooding my eyes, I sent him an email saying “I know I’ve been awful to you. But I need you. I need your help. I’m drowning. If you ever cared for me, please reach back.” He called me within the hour, and he let me cry in his ear for hours that night (and for many days afterwards), while he was at work, driving home from work, driving to work, running errands, or whatever he was doing. He was so forgiving in fact he didn’t even insist that we address our issues before he would help me. He immediately let me rant about the breakup, and we didn’t discuss our issues until several phone calls later. Even when we did, he was nothing but kind to me, and he said “Tula, I know you’re a good person. If anyone is a good person, you are. But even good people fuck up.”

FORGIVE BALL JOINTED DOLLS

That was the first time I fully realized I wasn’t really a forgiving person. I am not sure if I could do what he did; I don’t know if I could just freely and openly reach out to a drowning friend who I was in the midst of not speaking to, especially if we didn’t resolve the issues between us first. But he saw I needed a friend and he rushed right in, no questions asked, no judgments, requiring nothing of me. That is a real friend. Sometimes I’ll listen to him talking about this or that and wonder why he’s still around. But one good thing that came out of it was I really got to hear from someone about my verbal harshness when I’m feeling pushed, and he let me know how awful it is, which has led me to really, REALLY look at why I’m so unforgiving. I think about all the relationships I have ended because at some point the other person did something I simply could not/would not forgive them for. When I made those decisions, I felt that person had not lived up to the standard I had set for our relationship – a standard I always felt I had upheld, no matter what challenges faced the relationship. I especially thought about the relationships I thought had the potential to be become marriage at some point.

wedding bands

One thing I know about marriage (thanks to my parent’s example) is that part of maintaining reasonably successful marriage depends on both partners’ willingness to forgive each other of all things. ALL THINGS. Of course, part of that success also rests on each partner being committed to NOT DOING unforgivable things – but if it happens, no let me rephrase, when it happens, when something you would typically consider unforgivable occurs, can you forgive and move on? That kind of forgiveness is what must happen, often over and over again, in successful long-term marriages. If you aren’t capable of that, you aren’t going to be capable of successful marriage. I’m not in any way condoning accepting abuse at all. But what I am saying is that if you’re really trying to be with someone for the long haul, chances are you’re going to have to be A LOT more forgiving than you are right now, NO MATTER how forgiving you are right now – at least once (if you’re lucky) you’re gonna have to get past something that in a pre-marriage lifetime you would have considered unthinkable. It may be a big thing, or a small thing, but it will be something that will challenge your boundaries. The people closest to you are the ones that can hurt you the most because of their proximity to you. It’s the difference between being shot at point-blank range and being shot from a distance, and you have to figure out how to recover.

PREDICTORS OF FORGIVENESS

As I started thinking about my unforgiving nature, one thing I considered was that in my dealings with people, I tend to not mention things as soon as they start to bother me. I overlook a lot of “small” things, things that I don’t necessarily feel require discussion, even though they may be bothering me. This is the “patience” that I mentioned earlier, the unwillingness to make an issue of every single thing. I’m a firm believer in picking one’s battles, yes. Unfortunately, a lot of times I don’t pick any battles at all. That’s not good either. As a result, those little things can pile up and fester, and once the breaking point is reached, all of these little issues come together to create a big issue that has so much weight and force, it just causes the relationship to cave in under the weight of it all. If I had perhaps sought to address some of the smaller things when they were small and manageable instead of sweeping them under the rug, they might not have had the opportunity to become big and powerful. My easy-going nature could perhaps lead someone to believe that nothing bothers me, which is untrue. Lots of things bother me. But if I don’t let that other person know what bothers me, how can they possibly address it? And if I’d really “let it go” when it was a small thing, how did it manage to stick around to become something bigger by joining forces with other “small things”? There is a great deal to be said for nipping certain things in the bud, and that is a lesson that I am just starting to really appreciate. I’m discovering being so laid-back isn’t always a good thing, and finding the balance between bud-nipping and nitpicking is crucial for me.

I consider the idea that I may use an unwillingness to forgive as a defense mechanism. Is it something I do so I don’t have to deal with challenges to the way I see things? Do I feel that I am a weak person because at times I have considered forgiving people of things I considered abhorrent offenses, and rather than feel I’d been taken advantage of, I dismissed them from my life? Have I just been unwilling to accept that there could be someone in my life that I would take shit off of just to have them there? But truth be told, if you don’t forgive at least one person every time you are put in a position to take shit off them, you’re always going to find reasons to let people go, and then you’ll always end up alone eventually. So how do you determine which person’s shit you should put up with for a lifetime? How difficult is it to admit that there is one person whom you love so much, even if you disagree, argue, fight, ultimately it will not matter because you will always forgive them and move on? And more importantly…they will always forgive you? That leads me to my next question for myself – am I able to let others forgive me, truly forgive me without continuing to beat myself up about it?

getting defensive

I sometimes wonder if my inability to forgive others is because I cannot forgive myself for the many things I feel I’ve done wrong. I am an extremely harsh critic of everything, but most especially myself. Being a harsh critic is good in many aspects of my life – as an editor it’s a good thing, and as I try to advise my artistic friends regarding their creative endeavors, it’s a good thing definitely. But I’m learning being endlessly hard on myself isn’t good for me at times, even if I do chose to call it “honesty” or “being realistic”. I am always examining everything I’m saying or doing, wondering if it was my best effort. It’s the Virgo in me – the constant analysis of things in the endless pursuit of some semblance of perfection. And my harsh critique extends even to how I view my life. I sometimes feel like such a failure in my life – I feel like I was capable of so much more, and while I know my life isn’t over yet, I feel like so much time has passed, I wonder if a change is ever really going to come…a real change in my life, changes that would allow me to make my loved ones comfortable, that would allow me to finally, at least for one shining moment, feel like I had truly succeeded in something I desperately wanted to be successful at in a big, significant, shining way.

In my family, I was always the smart one. The talented one. The gifted one. The intelligent one. Not  just intelligent mind you – like a super genius or something. I was always the one with so much promise, so much potential.  I was my family’s “Neo”, like in “The Matrix”. I was “The One”. I was the one who was going to save the family – I never was quite sure from who, whom, or what – but whatever it was, I was going to be the one to do it. When I was younger I would always try to figure out what I was supposed to be saving everyone from, and I would even wonder why they couldn’t at least help me save them from…whatever, but I never asked those questions. Was it the forces of darkness and evil? Was it crime? What was my family in the clutches of, and why was I the only one who could save them? And why would they wait until I was born to decide they had to be saved? I mean – the people in my family had been around years before I was born; why hadn’t anyone done this before me? Or at least tried? To this day I don’t like superheroes in comics in part for this very reason – I was groomed to be one and failed. Miserably.

failed superhero

You know what the “F” is for…”failure”.

I was always led to believe that my saving the family had a lot to do with money, and that somehow my combination of smarts, skill and talent had to earn financial security not only for my immediate family, but my extended family as well. It would also lead to the other kinds of freedom that money can buy – freedom to do what you want, pursue all kinds of wishes and dreams and so on. So with me leading the way, I would release them from the matrix of their financial burdens. I would do great things with my life, become extremely accomplished, a beacon of bright shining success that everyone could use to navigate their way to shore. From the time I was small I remember the whispers among my family about how I was “The One”…and although I didn’t totally understand and it didn’t make much sense to me, I could sense the urgency behind their whispers, and that urgency alone caused me to embrace the superhero task. They needed me to be “The One”. I was meant to be “The One”. I was Neo. Neo Caesar.

THE ONE

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I was not successful at saving the family. I did not transform all my skills, gifts and talents into anything particularly remarkable by my standards. To me, I had everything I needed to make my life wonderful and glorious and great. But I didn’t. I plodded along, mediocre at best in all the things that mattered. No amazing jobs, no wonderful husband, no beautiful home or beautiful cars. No acclaim for any particular thing I’ve done. Yeah, by some people standards I’ve done okay, but not by mine. My family has struggled in many ways, especially financially because of choices I’ve made, or did not make. As a result, my life is as ordinary as everyone else’s, and it didn’t have to be to me. I was The One, and I turned out to be The Less Than One, The Zero, even the Less Than Zero. This is the biggest thing for which I will not forgive myself.

less than zero

As I think about forgiveness all the way around, I mentally make a list of improvements I need to make to be better at this. I need to let myself off the hook first of all. I am not this huge failure that I make myself out to be. I’m really not. I forgive myself for not being what I imagined myself to be, what I imagined that I was supposed to become. And I work towards accepting that it’s okay to let others forgive me, and even in that I must be okay in the time frame it takes them to forgive me – forgiveness does not work on my schedule, or how/when I think it should. I must continue to truly take to heart what my friend said to me – “Good people fuck up.” I cannot continue to remove people from my life for everything they do wrong, real or imagined. I must truly determine the value of my loved ones. Are they really disposable to me? Every single time something goes wrong, I just toss them out like smelly garbage? I must more carefully consider who is necessary in my life, because for those I consider necessary, I must be willing to be forgiving. If you truly think everyone is disposable under the right set of conditions, you will dispose of everyone. That will certainly leave a very tiny circle of people in my life, and rightfully so, because forgiveness is hard. Even as we do it, we find ourselves fighting our hurts, our insecurities, our unwillingness to bend. We fight our need to feel validated, we fight our feeling that forgiveness means our hurt behind whatever the situation is does not matter. We fight the idea that forgiveness clears space in our head, space full of hurt and pain that could be used much more effectively. We can’t be sure if we want or need the space, so we cling to the devil we know because we fear the potential devil we don’t know. We feel we’re letting the other person off the hook for their wrongdoing in a situation; that they are getting off scot-free without punishment. We fight forgiveness for all these things, completely understandable human things, but things that ultimately weigh our spirits down. Things that make our spirits bloated, obese, unable to fly and move about freely. And my spirits certainly need to lose a few pounds so – I think I need to consider who I need to forgive – even if they never know I did it.

Maybe that “F” on my chest is for “forgiveness” – or better yet, “freedom”.

“All I can say is that my life is pretty plain,
I like watchin’ the puddles gather rain
And all I can do is just pour some tea for two
And speak my point of view but it’s not sane…”

No Rain – Blind Melon

Until next time,

Tula

Advertisements

The Cemetery

Yesterday I conducted the last rites/funeral for my most recent breakup. This ritual differs from breakup to breakup – I do different things each time to make the loss official and to help process my grief and hurt. This time, I removed his belongings from my bedroom. He had a couple of drawers in my bureau where he kept his things. I had also made space for him on my desk to do his paperwork, and a few of his things were hanging in my closet. Initially I hadn’t had the heart to remove those things from my bedroom – I think I was hoping against hope that he’d call and we’d somehow put things back together. But he hasn’t called, hasn’t returned my calls, and my coming to terms with the way he has dismissed me continues. (It’s funny – that’s something he and my ex before him have in common, and something my most recent ex used to make fun of my former ex about. My most recent ex thought it was very silly that my former ex wouldn’t speak to me; he thought it was crazy and even said as much. But now he’s doing the same thing.)  Part of accepting his absence from my life meant removing these things from my bedroom; I had to get rid of his things I was looking at everyday, reminding me of how I’d lost him for good. So I packed up the two drawers of his belongings, took his custom-made suit and carefully packed it into the box it came in, and gathered up the stack of papers he left on my desk. I put these things into boxes and took them down to the basement, where the rest of his belongings were stored. I left them there. I briefly thought back to my younger days when I might have taken a blowtorch to his stuff. But I’m not that chick anymore, and I haven’t been for years. As I put his things in the basement I briefly wondered if he’d even come back to retrieve his things – truthfully at this point he has no reason to come back to Baltimore, and everything he has stored in my basement can be replaced. I also wonder what it will be like for me if he does return to claim his things. Will I cry when I see him? Will I be angry? Will he try to reconcile with me? Will I even want to see him – will I just direct him to come pick his stuff up while I’m not there? But that’s a long time down the road I reminded myself as I put the boxes away with a sigh, looking at the huge pile of boxes and bags and steamer trunks full of kitchen supplies and clothes and military paperwork and such. It looked like a huge tombstone to me – a big headstone marking the death of what we had, or what I thought we had. His stuff is stored right next to my washer and dryer, so I still see it occasionally. In a way it makes me mad, because he still has a presence in a way in my personal space because his stuff is in my house, but he has nothing with him to painfully remind him of me – no drawers of my clothes, no closet of my belongings. He has nothing to prick his memory where I am concerned, whereas I am faced with pieces of him every time I wash clothes. He has nothing of me; nothing to remind him of anything about me or us. He has erased me from his memory. But its okay; it is a reminder not to allow this to happen again with him. Now my memories of him are transported to a place in my mind that I call “The Cemetery”.

JONATHAN TOMBSTONE

“The Cemetery” is the place in my head where I keep the key memories of my exes, and where I put those  memories and relationships when they end. There are certain things I associate with each ex, and when those things are mentioned it brings to mind that person. I keep these things in The Cemetery, representing the things associated with each person and the death of each relationship. For example, in the case of my most recent ex, one of the things in the cemetery is a heavy woolen sweater. He loved sweaters and had lots of them – beautiful supremely warm sweaters. He even gave me a couple of them, and they were some of the warmest garments I ever owned. They were my salvation during the winter months, and wearing them made me feel close to him. There are all kinds of odds and ends in The Cemetery – digital cameras, microphones, American flags, keyboards, Jeep Wranglers, police uniforms, football jerseys, etc. Certain places remind me of certain people – South Beach, New York, Texas. Whenever I find I have visit The Cemetery, I visit the other relationship graves while I’m there. I’ll look at the things I’ve left at each grave to commemorate that particular relationship’s passing. Sometimes I’ll feel sad and melancholy. Sometimes I’ll laugh. Sometimes I’ll feel uncomfortable. And since I was putting this last relationship to rest (In my head I placed a bunch of carrots and kale at the grave along with one of my corsets instead of flowers – he loved carrots and kale), I decided to visit some the other graves, reminisce a bit, and revisit some of the lessons I learned from each relationship. In fact even the kind of grave that the relationship has in my head says something about the relationship.

Cemetery

This is sort of like what my ex cemetery looks like in my head. But without the bird.

The remains from my relationship before this last one is in a mausoleum – a huge granite building adorned with shiny brass doors and marble pillars. It is very grand looking and fancy on the outside, which is a huge contrast to the coldness and loneliness inside.

masoleum

I put this relationship in a mausoleum in part because the over-the-top grandeur of it suits that particular man’s his tastes in things.  It is fancy outside, just like he was, and still is. I also put this relationship here because it taught me A LOT, so there are a lot of things that need to be stored in memoriam – and in my head these things are all over the room inside where the remains of this relationship are kept. Things like microphones and keyboards and pointed shoes. But also stored there is a copy of my first CD. It is there because more than anything this represents the most important thing I got from this relationship – the formulation of my artistic/creative voice. My first CD represents that more than almost any of the things I’ve done before it because it was the first time I really gave a lot of thought to who I wanted to be creatively, artistically – what did I want to say, and how did I want to say it? I got a chance to incorporate many of the things I love into my voice – like music, like sensuality, like love, like lust, like beauty and just everything that is in me – all of those things found their way into my first CD more than any of the work I’d done previously. And because of that CD, I allowed myself to blossom as an artist and I fully began to step into my power. And I would have not created that project had it not been for this relationship – more importantly I wouldn’t have allowed that project to carry me as far as it did. It is not my best work, but the point at which it occurred in my development was crucial for me. So it rests here, with this relationship.

I have been engaged a couple of times in my life, and one of those failed engagements resides in a lonely grave on top of a mountain.

mountaintop grave use this one

I placed him there to represent several things that our relationship was. It definitely was a high point in my life outwardly. I was doing very well from outward appearances – living in a very nice townhouse in White Marsh, driving my minivan, both of my kids in good schools doing well, and I was dating a wonderful man who loved me, and we were planning our future together. He lived in New York, so we had been doing a long distance relationship for quite a while. But now, finally, we had decided he would move to Baltimore, and we’d make plans to be together. I loved him very much, and even my children cared for him. I could see my life coming together beautifully and perfectly. But notice the mountaintop is far away from everything. That was one thing that was part of our relationship too – when I was dating him I was very isolated from my extended family and friends. I was also very isolated from my creative self. During this period I rarely wrote and had not started performing yet, and whenever I would mention writing he would gently discourage me, telling me I needed to focus on my career and things that would build our future together as a couple; he didn’t want me to take time away from that with things that would be a “waste of my time”. I went along with that for a long time. I was working a lot to maintain my life, and at first it was easy to lose connection to people, and to that creative part of me. This grave is far away from the others in the cemetery, representing the physical distance that existed between us during our long distance relationship. But one thing about something that is up high – there is a very real chance it will come tumbling down. And that’s exactly what happened with this relationship. It was very exalted in my eyes; I put it up high on a pedestal and tried to be Miss Perfect Girlfriend/Wife To Be. But that didn’t leave any room to be me, and when I finally started becoming who I really was, he wasn’t too happy about it – the real me had some real problems about how he handled certain issues in our relationship, including his infidelity. In memoriam of this relationship near the grave I put books of matches and lighter fluid (long story), pizzas, a beautiful lacy nightgown, and a miniature sailboat. The most important thing I learned from this relationship was to stand my ground and know my heart, and I started to know who I really was really was enough. This man taught me the importance of knowing myself, knowing my limitations, knowing what I needed in a relationship and demanding it, no matter what.

My very first serious boyfriend has two markers in The Cemetery, each representing a distinct part of our relationship. The first marker is a large, beautiful black granite stone surrounded by tons of colorful flowers underneath lush, gorgeous trees.

grave with fresh flowers use this one

This grave is here because it was in this relationship that I bloomed and began becoming a beautiful woman, a lush, sensually alive woman. This was the man to whom I lost my virginity, when we were both teens. This was the relationship that opened my budding heart to love, because he was my first love and I was truly devoted to him as a teenage girl, and he was equally devoted to me. And even though it died, it died a very natural, organic death that I can genuinely mourn.  It deserves a special resting place that represents natural beginnings and endings – a place that honors a relationship that, while it was not perfect, was beautiful. It was full of genuine love, genuine devotion, and genuine affection that was pure and unadulterated because we were both so innocent and inexperienced at the time. We were young and full of hope and joy for our future. It was the first time for both of us in every way. In my head at The Cemetery, there is a little granite bench near this grave where I can sit and think about this relationship, and all the good that came from it. Yes we had issues and it was rocky at times, but I still feel blessed and happy that this relationship was how I learned about sex and love.

The other grave for this relationship looks more like this:

LONELY GRAVE

It is in a barren dry place by itself, isolated from everything else. Some twenty years after our first breakup, my first love came back into my life. He sought me out and found me at my job, saying he was divorced and had moved back to Baltimore. I agreed to meet him for dinner one evening, and quicker than it takes to tell, we were fully involved in a relationship again. It felt so wonderfully sweet to me, like a long-overdue homecoming. He was the first man I ever wanted to spend the rest of my life with, but we hadn’t been able to. And now, somehow, fate was allowing us another chance to be together! It was so wonderfully romantic, and we spent hours getting reacquainted, telling each other all the things that had happened in the past twenty years to bring us to where we were. I let my most foolishly romantic fantasies run wild during this period, and I was very happy – right up until the time I discovered he was still married, had only recently left his wife, and was involved with at least three other women in addition to me (I still wonder how he found the time!) When I confronted him about this, he physically assaulted me and broke my left hand, and I had to have surgery and physical therapy to repair it. It hurt more than I can say, especially coming from him. My beautiful memories of our young love affair were forever tainted with the awful revisiting. I wished with all my heart that I had not allowed things to get so far. I hated that I had allowed my romanticism to run the show. I hated how unrealistic I’d been, how foolish, how full of fantasies that I really expected to come true. And it was not the first time a man in my life who I was seeing was violent with me. The redux has a separate grave – it was very hard for me to separate the sweet memories of the wonderful boy I loved in high school from the dishonest, hateful man I allowed into my life. But I did by separating them in The Cemetery. So our youthful first romance gets a beautiful grave, and that last painful episode – well, gets something that reflects its ugliness.

My cemetery has graves of all kinds. Some have simple markers. Some have more elaborate ones. Some I don’t visit much. Some I stop by pretty often, maybe because I’m still looking for answers regarding those relationships. In my head I change the things I place at each grave, as I recall different things about those relationships. I guess all of this sounds rather morbid, but to me it really isn’t. This is just how I deal with the loss of these people in my life, and it helps me eventually remember the good things and let go of any pain or bad feelings I may try to cling to about the person.

Today as I put my latest relationship in the cemetery, I made a few stops at a few graves. I laughed a bit, and I cried a bit too. But as I left, I was glad to say that in spite of all the deaths and all the loss all around my heart, my heart is still alive, pumping loud and hard and strong, giving me the will to continue to live and love fearlessly. The deaths make me appreciate the life my heart has. I appreciate the miracle that I have somehow continued onward, and will continue onward. And these deaths, while tragic, were all necessary to make my heart the strong vessel it is.

And I hope your heart is too.

Until next time,

Tula

“I think it is lost…but nothing is ever lost nor can be lost. The body sluggish, aged, cold, the ember left from earlier fires shall duly flame again.”  –Walt Whitman

The Healing

“…say farewell to the dark of night, I see the coming of the sun…I feel like a little child whose life has just begun…You came and breathed new life into this lonely heart of mine…You threw out the lifeline just in the nick of time…One, you’re like a dream come true – Two, just wanna be with you – Three, girl, it’s plain to see, that you’re the only one for me – And four, repeat steps one through three – Five, make you fall in love with me – If ever I believe my work is done…Then I’ll start back at one…”

SOFT

And here I am…soft.

I have my soft back like I used to be.

I have my soft.

Thought my softness died in me.

But look at me now.

I am sweet smiling joy,

and so soft.

All over, inside and out,

gentle and tender.

Like water rushing over a hard stone

for a thousand years to finally make it smooth

Him finding me took a thousand tears

but when he did he finally proved

that the soft part of me was still alive.

Just dehydrated.

Thirsting for proper care.

Didn’t know how much I’d missed my softness

until he rediscovered and kissed my softness

and made the waters return,

bringing life back

to the most womanly part of my essence.

The part that is soft,

especially in his presence.

And here I am…soft.

Poured him onto my skin

and it made me soft.

Let him just soak right in.

And now I feel so supple and moisturized.

So silky and revitalized.

He is a spa treatment for my wounded self

and my tired spirit.

So real to me.

So healed with he.

Now I bathe in the reflection of the beauty

he reminded me that I possessed.

Now I am soft,

from the curve of my breast

to the smoothness of my back

to the fullness of my thighs.

My lips and my eyes.

All soft.

Still soft, to my joy and amazement.

Because I wasn’t sure my soft would survive

this life of hardness.

When I threw that shell over it

for its own protection

I worried that my soft might suffocate.

And I had to leave it covered for so long

I thought it might be too late.

That no one would be able to resuscitate

the soft in me.

But he knew what was living

beneath the surface,

strangling and gasping for air,

but still managing to stay alive.

So he took a deep breath, held it,

dove deep, long and probing,

and recovered my treasure.

Rejuvenated my pleasure.

And when he came up for air

he had in his possession my soft.

And he still does ‘til this day.

Because with him is the safest place

for the softness in me to be.

He cares for all of it

like he cares for all of me.

Me who is again finally…

soft.

“…Through the night, I feel your voice…and with nothing but you in my mind, as you quench me of all my desires…and I’m filled with ecstasy…I can’t believe its real, I can’t believe its true, I can’t believe that you chose me when I was choosing you. And I can’t believe that you are here with me, and I am here with you…softly kissing you…forever kissing you…gently kissing you…”

I am going to break this down so that anyone and everyone can understand. There is a lot of confusion out there about what roles men and women are supposed to play in relationships. “What does he want from me?” “What does she want from me?” The battle of the sexes wages on and on and on, with everyone making demands and no one quite able to figure out how to get what they want. But I have the answer to all this. It’s this simple.

A man’s role in a relationship is to overcompensate.

A woman’s role in a relationship is to over appreciate.

If a man can find a woman he loves who will over appreciate him, and a woman can find a man she loves who will overcompensate in dealing with her, they just might make it.

Men – Your job is to overcompensate where your woman is concerned. Every day, in every way. Overcompensate as much as you can, day in and day out, week after week after month after year. Never stop. Overcompensate for everything, even if you are doing everything adequately in the relationship. Why? Because by the time you meet your woman, she’s been through a lot of things – in life in general, and with men in particular. More than likely she’s had a pretty hard time – that’s just the nature of the world these days. She may be trying to raise kids on her own. She may have been a victim of some kind of abuse. She’s probably insecure about a lot of things. She’s probably had her heart ripped out of her chest while it was still beating by some callous uncaring man who didn’t know how good he had it with her. She’s got her hopes and dreams but oftentimes has no idea how she’ll accomplish any of them. She may have been abandoned by her family. The world is cold and cruel and unforgiving, especially for women. And women are always punished more harshly for the mistakes they make – so the woman that you love is probably hiding scars, bearing burdens, and struggling in ways she would never want you to see, because you wouldn’t want her if you did. Now granted, none of this is your fault, or your responsibility. But this isn’t about what is right or fair…this is about you being with your woman. So as her man, it is going to have to become one of your missions in life to be the balm that helps her heal herself. That will mean you will have to overcompensate.

Yes you will have to make her forget about all the jerks by doing right by her for yourself and for all of them. You will have to be generous for all the ones that were stingy, forgiving for all the ones who were harsh, and faithful for all the ones who cheated. Is it a huge burden? Hell yes. But nothing worth having is easy. So overcompensate. Do it. And what I can tell you is this – if you truly have a good woman, and she sees you doing this, eventually it won’t be as necessary for you to do it (though you will still have to at times). It won’t be about you doing it; it will be about your willingness to. The fact that you can do it, in time, will be enough. But as a man, that’s your job. You compensate, then you do extra.

Now for the ladies. Your man needs you to over appreciate him. I mean that seriously and literally. You need to appreciate him for the things he does that he should do and that, to some degree, you shouldn’t need to go out of your way to appreciate him for. Why? Because just like the world is hard and cold for you, its cold and hard for him too. He is catching hell out there – a kind of hell you know nothing about – a kind of hell you don’t even know exists because a man will never tell you about it. He is getting murdered out there, not just physically, but psychologically. He’s trying to work not just to survive, but to thrive. He wants to do well today and do even better tomorrow. But no one seems to care about his pain. According to way too many women, men have no pain, but that’s a lie. Often they’re getting past similar abuse issues from their pasts, broken hearts, misplaced trust, and the like. But men don’t expect you to directly right those wrongs like we do, which is why they don’t require overcompensation like women do. But what they do want is for you to receive with great sincerely, joy and gladness everything they bring to you. And I do mean everything. If a man loves you your smile is like water in the desert. Don’t let him die of thirst, or have him getting his water from some other well.  Men want to know you see all they’re doing, big, small and in between, and that you’re acknowledging them, their work, their sacrifices, their plans, the way in which they are trying to do their very best.

Will that mean you have to thank him for things that, to your mind, shouldn’t  require thanks? Occasionally. Will you have to praise every little task he performs from dawn to dusk, from peeing straight in the morning to taking the trash out at night? Well, no, I wouldn’t suggest that. What I will say is that from time to time, on a very regular basis, you need to let your man know that you see his efforts, and you acknowledge them in a special way. Sex is always good, but it can’t be the sex you usually give him. Make that the time you step your game up. If it’s not going to be sex (I suggested sex because its something most men would like and feel appreciated by!), make it something the man really wants. Let his boys come over to watch the game instead of banishing them to some sports bar. Cook up their favorite snacks and leave the house until the game is over. (Even if you like sports too, leave anyway. Sometimes guys just want to be guys without girls around and it has nothing to do with the extent of your sports knowledge.) But the point is over appreciation. That is what a woman does. You appreciate, then do extra.

Now not every woman knows how to over appreciate. And not every man can overcompensate. Some men just don’t want to put the work in to please their women like that. Some women think the fact that they’re present in a relationship with the guy should be appreciation enough. And that’s all well and fine, but trust me it will not be enough to keep them around successfully. It’s all about overcompensation and over appreciation – and that’s all I have to say about that!

PEACE!

Jump Offs: The Myths, The Realities

I cover a lot of different topics on this blog. But for the next few entries, I am going to be focusing on relationships, especially the more intimate and sexual aspect of relationships.

There is a lot of discord going on between men and women these days, and much of it is because of a lack of honesty — a lack of honesty with each other, and even worse, a lack of honesty with ourselves. I want to stimulate TRUTHFUL, open, mature discussion about these matters. I want to generate discussion that doesn’t seek to make one gender feel superior to the other. I want to generate discussion that isn’t focused on proving who is right and who is wrong, which is one of my pet peeves about these types of conversations — they are often divisive and more about finger pointing that helping us identify our issues and resolve them so we can treat each other better.

I want all of us to stop making ourselves feel better by looking down our noses at how other people behave in their personal relationships. But that’s not easy. We don’t like to face our own internal ugliness head on. It is much easier to observe others, criticize others, talk about what others have done that we never have done or would do, berate others for tolerating things we say we would never tolerate and so on. But more often than not, most of us have, in some form or fashion, have engaged in most of the behaviors we criticize others for. So it is my hope that those who read this won’t have the politically correct knee jerk response. That’s too easy. After you read what I have to say, Just think about it, ponder it, and don’t judge.

Having said all that…let’s begin!

The topic of today is “the jump off”. I want to get into so real talk about jump offs, the myths and realities of the jump off scenario, people’s attitudes about jump offs, and even jump off etiquette.

Now for some reason many people feel that being a jump off is demeaning, degrading, etc. Women and men speak in a condescending, even a disrespectful manner about this arrangement. But let us be honest and clear about exactly what a jump off is in an attempt to understand that negative attitude.

A jump off is situation in which one has a relationship that is solely sexual in nature. It is an entirely physical interaction. The exchange in and of itself doesn’t have to be cold and unfriendly, but it does have to have a certain amount to detachment to work. People should always be courteous, hospitable, and pleasant in these circumstances; what is absent in these scenarios is a connection between the two participants beyond the temporary merging of genitalia.

Now, I don’t know why this arrangement is met with such derision by so many. So often I hear women say with much scorn and disdain, “well, she’s just a jump off” or “I ain’t trying to be just a jump off”, or men will say “she ain’t nobody, she’s just a jump off”. Why the negativity people? Is it really necessary? If two consenting adults mutually agree to engage in such an arrangement and are honest with themselves and each other about it, what’s the harm? Why the attitude? Why is it so bad?
Why do men feel compelled to accompany the jump off arrangement with a level of contempt, though they still willingly participate in it? Why is that necessary? Do men find it impossible to respect a woman who enters into this situation; are they only capable of having jump offs that they don’t respect on some level? Why the verbal harshness in referring to them? Why is the jump off role in one’s life minimized and trivialized instead of being looked at objectively and honestly? And ladies, some of you seem to equate participation in this kind of thing as something unladylike, that its an indication that something is wrong with the woman that does this, that it means she has low self esteem and doesn’t want more for herself besides jump off status, because of course she MUST want more. Why can’t it be that the woman made a clear decision about what she wanted and is getting exactly that — no more, no less? And why does this mean the man is some kind of man-whore with no respect for women, or no ability to deal with a “real woman” in a “real relationship”? What if he really only wants the sex, and isn’t misleading, hurting, harming or disrespecting the woman? Why the snobbery when it comes to jump off scenarios, especially when a large majority of us, if you reach age 25 and are still single, have either had a jump off, been someone’s jump off, or both, at least once — whether you knew it or not or are willing to admit it or not?

Having said all this, I’ll let you in on an important truth. For the most part, jump offs are myths. They don’t genuinely exist to the extent that rumor would have you to believe they do. True, actual jump offs, where the two parties are just sexual and nothing else are rare. That level of detachment where one shares their body without sharing themselves isn’t easily accomplished by men or women. It is a genderless condition. Very few people can honestly manage it for any extended period of time, and there is a very simple reason why.

Human beings are wired to seek out connections to others. Now please read that correctly — that doesn’t mean they are always seeking romantic love. BUT being human is about the connections we make to other humans — our family, our friends, etc. Those connections are how we know we are alive, they validate our existence, they allow us to find meaning in the time we spend here on Earth. The inability to successfully make those connections is a sign of a greater psychological disorder that we don’t have time to get into here. Now we may get hurt in our relationships, or find ourselves in abusive circumstances that injure our spirits and souls in a way that make it hard for us to reach out to others. In some cases we are so damaged we actively avoid involvements with other people beyond the superficial and necessary. But no matter what we say or do, we still usually stumble upon someone who attracts us, who stimulates our interest, our curiosity, and we attempt to make a connection, even if the connection is just sexual. We may do it badly, awkwardly, or subconsciously. We may do it in a thousand tiny little ways that no one understands but us. But no matter how successful we are at it, we do find ourselves reaching out to connect when we come across people that ignite an undefinable spark in us in the hope of lighting up our cold dark lives, even if we fuck it up because of our own issues.

Because of that, jump offs work like this:

You and said person become sexually involved, and agree that will be the limit of your involvement. Cool. Jump off etiquette requires that you and this person have minimal contact that is not sexual. So you meet, perhaps politely converse while undressing, fuck, and part company.

Now if the sex is not particularly outstanding, it is possible that the jump off status can remain intact for a time. The lack of mind blowing sex makes it easy to keep the contact sporadic and inconsistent, two other key elements to a genuine jump off. A jump off is never someone you fuck regularly, consistently or frequently. As soon as a jump off consumes that much of your time, they are taking up space in your head as well, because if you fuck someone a lot, you think about fucking them a lot. Anyone who takes up that much space in your head isn’t a jump off anymore. They may be a lot less than a boyfriend or girlfriend, but the detachment that is part of being a jump off is gone.

But if the sex was just okay, its not going to hold your interest or attention for long. At some point, whether it takes days, weeks, months or years, you’ll find someone else you like fucking more, or someone else you just like (or someone else you came to like because of fucking them, which we’ll get into in a minute). No matter how it happens, waning interest will usually cause the jump off to die a quiet death.

Now let’s say you like the sex. Let’s even say you love it. The earth moved and the angels wept, etc. If that was the case, you are not going to be willing to make hooking up an occasional occurance. Something in you was touched; you have been moved. A connection was made somewhere inside you, even if it was made in your sex organs…those connections count too. So now you want to spend more time fucking this person. Spending more time with a person, even if its spent fucking, invariably leads to more opportunity to get to know a person. And getting to know a person can often lead to getting to like a person. Liking a person has a way of leading to finding ways to spend time with a person. And when that happens, its clearly no longer a jump off. Again, it may be less than a spouse, but its no longer a jump off.

The space between jump off and committed relationship is a huge one. It is the largest gray area in all of human existence, and truthfully, it is the area a lot of our personal relationships operate in. Many of us have that person we are intimate with, who has clearly stopped being jump off status a while ago, (even if this hasn’t been verbally acknowlewdged by either party), who has yet to fully, openly, and willingly shoulder all the burdens of a committed relationship. They might appear to in their actions at times, but the “out” is always there — the “out” being that the person never agreed to a change in their status, and you can’t change a person’s relationship status without their consent. That “out” is the single most frustrating thing about this vast gray area in which most relationships exist. So these gray area living/extended and remixed jump off situations become like giant relationship waiting rooms…the places where people pass the time hoping their conditions improve.

The other big myth surrounding the jump off scenario is that it can’t change. That isn’t true at all. In my experience and observation, a situation like this has just as much of a chance of surviving as any other kind of relationship. But if it is going to change into a more “official” relationship, one of the parties involved is going to have to request a change in relationship status. And making that kind of request is a huge risk; you must be prepared to forfeit everything you already have with this person. It is truly an “all or nothing” proposition. Because if the other party doesn’t agree to the status change, the relationship is over, or will be over soon. Why? Because one party has made it known they aren’t satisfied with the current state of affairs, and the other party isn’t going to wait for the dissatisfaction to make itself felt in other ways. Most people are cowards, and just ride along, sorta kinda mostly cool with how things are but still secretly hoping that one day they are offered all the keys to the kingdom.

My finals words on the topic are simple: never let anyone make you feel bad about FEELING something for someone else, even if it is the wrong person. As long as you have it in you to care about someone else, all you need to adjust is your selection process. That is a much easier task than the alternative; it is much harder to teach someone to feel once they have lost their ability to do it. And while jump offs may not really exist like you thought they did, what does exist is a world full of people looking for shelter from the unforgiving harsh world…people who want to care who have lost their way…people who carry heavy loads, manage deep searing pain and hide ugly scars the best way they know how. Sometime they may seek temporary shelter from their most personal storms in your most personal space if you allow it. They may decide to stay. They may not. But no matter what the case, don’t lose sight of who you are in the midst of it all. Because at the end of the day, you are the only you you’ve got.

I think I have commitment issues…but I am a woman? What da hell??

I think I have commitment issues. If that’s true, that is a problem. But I may have a greater one. I am a woman with commitment issues!

In case you didn’t know, only men have commitment issues. Women are just sitting around waiting for love, romance, relationships, marriage, boyfriends and husbands. They’re just dying to be all “booed up” with some dude. They’re just waiting for an opportunity to love a good, strong, honest man to take them off the market and away from the cruel cold world of singleness. The only thing keeping them away from “happily ever after” is men’s unwillingness to commit.

To hear them tell it, men don’t want to commit. Men don’t want monogamy, and the monotony that is often a part of it. Men want as many women as they think they can handle, they have no interest in maintaining faithfulness to one. Men are dogs running the street, unwilling and unable to settle down. And because men are unwilling to commit, and women are just beside themselves with excitement waiting for commitment to happen, there is always this great sense of unbalance in the universe. Because men won’t commit, thousands of lovely women will never have their “happily ever after”.

But what am I to do when I think I am on the opposite side of the fence as most of my gender?

All my life every woman I have ever known wanted to get married. That didn’t mean they didn’t want to get their educations, or pursue their careers, or accomplish other things. But marriage was always in there, always an integral part of their plan for themselves. When I was a young girl, my girlfriends would dreamily plan their weddings, taking their Barbie dolls down imaginary aisles in their rooms with their older brother’s GI Joe’s. Even if their mother’s told them “girl, men ain’t s**t”, (because some mothers did do that), the girls still held onto their dreams in a little corner of their heads. I never planned my wedding as a child like my friends, and my dolls never got married. They were single I guess, dating the Ken dolls and whatever other toy male representatives I could find amongst my toys (I didn’t have a brother.) I never imagined marriage really. When I did think about my wedding, my main concern was always how much fun the party/reception would be — what music would the deejay and bands play and what kind of delicious food and fabulous drinks would be there – you can see where my priorities were, even then.

As an adult, most women I’ve known really wanted to get married. Sometimes they were in a relationship with their boyfriend that had gone on for years and they wanted to “make it official”. Sometimes they had kids by this guy, which was all the more reason to “make it official”.  Sometimes they were under pressure from their family (“girl, you ain’t married yet??). Sometimes they wanted financial assistance (“somebody needs to come help me with these bills, plus I need more income to get this mortgage!”) But whatever they reason, they wanted marriage. It was important to them. It was a burning desire they would not turn away from. It just had to happen, it just had to be.

I am still waiting for my burning yearning to begin. Even in the cases of my children’s fathers, I never felt like the children we shared was a good reason to get married, much to the chagrin of my family, which has a long illustrious history of “shotgun” weddings – more women in my family have gotten married pregnant than not. But I didn’t do it.

I have never experienced that burning desire to get married. Even when I have been involved with men that I wanted to marry, that I thought I would marry, it never burned inside me. It was never the most important thing to me. It never kept me up nights. I never ached to be wed. I ached to be with them, yes, but not as a wife necessarily. Being with them was my primary focus, not the marriage part. Now don’t get me wrong…I did want marriage yes, and I wanted it very much, but…it just never seemed to inflame me like it inflamed other women. And in every case where I was involved with a man I thought I would marry, at some point I ended the relationship.

In some cases, I sabotaged the relationship with unrealistic demands, and when the mere mortal of a man failed to meet them, I ended the relationship. Sometimes I was unfaithful, and when I started doing that I knew I had to go, so I ended the relationship. Sometimes I knew the man would never be happy and satisfied with who I really was at the core of me, and I ended the relationship. Sometimes I felt like he just thought it was time (“well I’m getting older, I don’t wanna be the old dude at the club so…let’s do this!), and to me that was never enough reason to get married, so I didn’t do it. I have returned engagement rings, cancelled appointments to look at dresses and the whole nine. All this leads me to wonder if my fear is commitment.

I have had good men in my life – gainfully employed, college educated, smart, good looking men who wanted to marry me, and I didn’t do it. Men with homes, men with cars, men with ambition and dreams, men with substance mentally, emotionally and spiritually, men who treated me well. As I write this I can think of four men with those qualities who I could call right now who would be more than happy to seriously date me, and if I put my mind to it I could be Mrs. Somebody in six months – maybe less, with a bad ass ring to seal the deal. But I don’t make any of those calls.  Even on the days I complain about being single, how I wish I could find love, and more importantly, acceptance in the arms of a man who would cherish and honor me, I can’t help but taste the hypocrisy in my mouth as I think about the men I keep at arms length for whatever reason.

Sometimes I think my biggest fear is being forced to be something I don’t want to be. In a lot of my past, I have dated men who really thought I was perfect, except for one or two things they wanted me to adjust. Unfortunately, the things they wanted me to “adjust” were things that were too much of a part of my essence. It always seemed like there was something wrong with me when it came to these men, and I always left rather than cut off pieces of me to fit. And right now, I can’t imagine it would be easy for a man to want me for a wife. I just don’t look like, sound like, act like, anyone’s idea of a wife I guess. When men picture their wives, a woman like me doesn’t pop into their heads. Men always seem to want their wives to have these very obvious “good girl” traits, even if they discover later it wasn’t as “good” as they thought it was going to be. My “good girl” traits aren’t obvious. Anyone who knows me well will tell you I have them, but from the outside looking in it isn’t the first thing you’ll notice about me. I don’t have a problem with that; I enjoy my many layers and facets, but many men do have a problem with it.

Sometimes I think I fear getting into something I can’t get out of easily. Marriage is hella hard to get out of, and the longer you’re in it, the harder it is to get out. I know you shouldn’t enter into something immediately looking for the exit and trying to plan your departure strategy, but this is what I do. I am a planner. So to me it makes sense that you plan how a relationship would end if it ended, because it’s better to plan that now while you like the person than later when you hate them and are gonna be all about cutting his balls off. But I know if I get married, there will be no divorce UNDER ANY CONDITIONS. We may part and go our separate ways but there will be no divorce. And I always worry that I might choose a man that I’d have to separate from, and that would hurt.

Sometimes I think my biggest fear is failure. I don’t like not succeeding at things, not being good at things. I work hard to do everything I do well, exceptionally well. And in most cases, I manage to accomplish that. Everything I have ever failed at haunts me endlessly; I revisit the grave of that failure, pondering over what I did wrong, trying to never do it again. If I failed at something as important as marriage, I don’t think I could deal with it. I think I would never forgive myself. I would blame myself, feel ashamed and hurt and sad and defeated. And knowing me, I would marry someone who was my best friend, because I genuinely believe you have to have that kind of love that exists in close friendships as part of marital love. (You know how when you get totally fed up with your best friend, they’ve made you totally sick and you’re disgusted with them, but you know good and damn well they will always be your best friend no matter what? That kind of thing is what I want in my marriage.) So if the marriage failed, I would lose my best friend too. That would tear me up more than anything. I don’t know how I would handle that.

Sometimes I tell myself I am too honest to get married. I hate to say this, but some marriages seem to involve some degree of coercion on the part of the woman. She had to threaten to break up with him, or nag him into it, or get her family to nag him into it, or get pregnant, or pretend to get pregnant, or something like that. It has always been my dream that a real man would get to know me, love me, carefully consider all his options, and decide that having me as his wife was what he wanted more than he wanted to be alone or with some other woman/women. I want him to volunteer, completely and totally, heart and soul, ten thousand percent. I don’t want it any other way. If I have to employ trickery, or use my womanly wiles, or get him drunk or drugged, I will not do it. But very few men seem sure enough in their choices to pursue them actively once they make them. Oftentimes they just don’t make them at all, and wait for some woman to drag them into it. And the women never seem to much care, as long as they have their husband.  That I cannot do.

Sometimes I think I am selfish. I mean, every time I have ended a relationship I have said to myself in consolation,“well, I guess I just love me more”. And as much as pop culture talks about self-love, to really make marriage work both parties have to, on many/most levels, care more about the other party than themselves. And this has to happen all the time. For marriage to work everybody has to be serving the needs of the other person and the union 24/7, and not their own needs. Ideally, if everyone is always serving everyone else and the needs of the union, everyone will get most of what they need and want.  And hardest of all, you still have to do this even when the other person isn’t. But in the relationships I ended, at some point I decided he was not serving my interests; he was only serving his own. And I decided I didn’t wish to serve his interests anymore. That kind of selfishness has no place in a marriage, so I guess it’s good that I ended those relationships.

Sometimes I think I just haven’t met Mr. Right.  I do so want to find someone and create a place and space for us where we can be our most genuine authentic selves, and improve on ourselves individually and as a couple. I sometimes worry that my man will hate me once he finds out about the real me. I don’t want a man to fall in love with “my representative” when we are dating, only to discover me and she have NOTHING in common. I want him to love me, all of me, me as I am today and me as I will come to be as I improve and grown in the sunshine of his care. And often I tell myself I haven’t found that evolved man who can appreciate my domestic side and my workaholic side and my imagination and my creativity and my sexuality and my tendency to be overly analytical and critical and nitpicky and sometimes self-deprecating  and all the other vastly contradictory things I am.

But mostly I think I’m just afraid of commitment.

My parents were reasonably happily married for over 40 years, so I had a good example of a solid marriage before me. Many of my family members are married, and have been for many years also – ten or twenty plus years in some cases. I am the oddball in that I have been single so long, just raising my kids on my own, and pursing my own interests without even a regular guy in place to bring to family functions. They kind of see me as this slightly off-center, artsy type that they don’t quite get, but they love me because I am family. They have stopped trying to fix me up, because it never works.

So I write this now, as a single woman who may be afraid of commitment. Occasionally I attempt to talk to other women about it, but they all look at me like I’m crazy. That lets me know how messed up I am, because I am supposed to want this like a man in the desert wants water, and I just don’t feel that way about it. I am not prepared to give up all of me for it. I don’t want to pick the wrong man. I don’t want to be hurt, or taken advantage of, or live a life of misery with some man because I chose out of desperation. I don’t want my sex life to dwindle away into nothingness (I hear that’s what happens in marriage, and sex is wayyy too important to me to have that happen). I say I want a man of my own, and I have options if I were to attempt to exercise them. I’m not sure if they are the options I would choose if I did the choosing, but I have them. I could at least explore them, find out what they have to offer. What is my problem?

Am I afraid of commitment?

Looking for a brotha with a conscious d**k (Don’t be scared, just keep reading…)

So today I thought I’d have a little fun…

Those who know me best know what a sarcastic person I am. I roll my sarcasm into layers of dry wit, deep fry it in hot oil and it comes out hard and crunchy, though the goodness inside usually l can’t be enjoyed anymore. While I’m always going to be a bit sarcastic, I am recognizing that when I fry my sarcasm too hard, people don’t enjoy eating it. So I am attempting to not fry it as hard as I usually do, so I can maintain some tenderness and flavor under the crust. I want people to enjoy the taste of what’s inside as much as they like the crunchy outside.

I have spent a lot of time in my area’s spoken word community, both as a reporter covering the scene and as a performer. I am by no means a famous poet, but more than a few people know who I am, even if they aren’t exactly clear on what I do. The spoken word community very naturally spills over into other underground performance art forms and creative endeavors in general, and it creates this larger patchwork conglomerate of poets, musicians, vocalists, actors, comedians, writers, rappers, visual artists, fashion stylists, photographers etc. It ends up being a large band of “creatives” as I call them, trying to find ways to do their creative things and, in some cases, earn a living at them.

Now I am a huge fan of old school hip hop. One thing I truly miss is the “storyteller” rappers. I think I relate to them most because I am a storyteller also. Hip hop artists in these days and times don’t tell stories, they run down lists of things they allegedly own or have done/can do. The two that did it the best to my mind were Slick Rick the Ruler (of course), and The Notorious B.I.G. (a less obvious choice perhaps, but if you really get into his lyrics you find he was a consummate storyteller).  One day I was listening to these two, and I got to thinking about their storytelling lyrics and about the artistic community and the things I see in it. As a result, I wrote the piece below. If you aren’t familiar with this community, you may not “get it”. But I think the idea it presents is universal, and at the end of the day the moral of the rhyme is “don’t judge a book by its cover”.

So, without any further ado, I present – “A Conscious D**k”

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

Lemme tell you a story

bout a friend of mine

who was always havin’ problems

keeping her men in line.

Always picking brothers

who were straight up losers.

Corner boys, hustlers,

and drug abusers.

I never understood
why she would pick these men.

Ending up with drama

time and time again.

One day she said,

“I’m gonna try

a brand new trick.

I’m gonna find a brotha

with a conscious d**k.”

She said…

“A conscious d**k.

A conscious d**k.

Gonna find a brotha

with a conscious d**k.

Tired of these brothas

actin’ wild and slick.

Just let me find a brotha

with a conscious d**k.”

Now at first I laughed,

I didn’t understand.

‘Til she explained to me

about this kind of man.

This dude hates Gucci Mane,

and he hates Lil’ Wayne.

He hates all rappers with

‘Li’l’ in their name.

He doesn’t like Beyonce.

Hates Keri Hilson too.

Only listens to Jill Scott

and Erykah Badu.

With his locs hanging low

and voice deep and sincere,

he could tell her all the things

that she just longed to hear.

She wants..

a conscious d**k.

A conscious d**k.

She’s gonna find a brotha

with a conscious d**k.

Tired of these brothas

actin’ wild and slick.

Just let her find a brotha

with a conscious d**k.

He’d say she was his Queen.

He smelled like sandalwood.

He smelled like reefer too,

but it was still all good.

“It’s from our Mother Earth,

and grows so naturally.

So why not partake of it?

It’s here for you and me.”

He said “I don’t pollute my body

with that old dirty swine.

And if you’re down for revolution

then you’re a friend of mine.”

Said he wrote poems sometimes,

and took her to open mic.

He read a piece called “I met my queen”.

He got that a** that night.

A conscious d**k.

A conscious d**k.

She thought she found a brotha

With a conscious d**k.

She said “F**k ALL these dudes

who act all wild and slick.”

Because she has found a brotha

with a conscious d**k

My girl knew she’d finally found

her conscious king.

And it was ride or die, for him

she’d was down for anything!

So she fried his turkey bacon

and washed his underwear.

And for a little while she really

didn’t even care

that though he was always “grinding”

he never seemed to be at work,

And conscious man dropped out of college

cuz the teachers all were jerks.

Conscious man wouldn’t do what

“corporate America” told him to,

But he stayed playing his Xbox and

his Playstation 2.

Conscious man tried selling weed

but smoked more than he sold,

and soon even the conscious d**k

got weak, wack, and really old

A conscious d**k.

A conscious d**k.

She thought she found a brotha

With a conscious d**k.

She said “F**k ALL these dudes

who act all wild and slick.”

Now she thinks she found a brotha

with a conscious d**k

Cuz conscious brothas could just be

runnin’ conscious games

And no matter who the brotha is

human nature is the same

A thug is more than how he dresses

and how he speaks,

And a conscious brother is more than

what he drinks and eats.

A man is not just what you see

like hair or clothes or skin

If a man is a good man

it’ll come from deep within.

She asked me

“should I look for men

who are wearing shirts and ties?”

I said

“why don’t you stop looking

on the outside

and look into his eyes?”

A conscious d**k.

A conscious d**k.

So this end my story

‘bout the conscious d**k.

Any type of brotha might

be wild and slick.

So don’t be fooled by the myth

we call the conscious d**k.

Previous Older Entries