The Lady In My Life

I’ve been working for a while now on my memoir. It’s been slow going and often frustrating. Some parts have been reworked into essays I’ve mostly published elsewhere. And a big part of the blame probably has to go to the lady in my life.

I told the lady in my life I’d write a blog post about her. The more I’ve worked on it the worse it’s gotten. So I’ll post this now and some other day I’ll rewrite it in a way that hopefully sucks a lot less.

Pain, anxiety, and fear are my great muses. I can write all day about stuff that stirs up those kinds of emotions. The lady in my life doesn’t do that to me. She keeps soothing my anxiety with her blunt, deadpan honesty. After telling her I nearly killed one of my abusers, she didn’t flinch at all. “You should’ve,” she said without blinking.

We’re open with each other in a way that seems crazy to many people, including me. Our relationship started completely backwards. We shared many of our deepest, darkest secrets with each other before learning each other’s middle names.

That backwardness reminded me of a scene from a favorite movie of mine, “Same Time, Next Year”. George and Doris spend one weekend a year together over the course of decades. They share many deeply personal moments together, but after more than a quarter century, George realizes he doesn’t know her favorite movie stars. (My lady and I talked about this once. I can tell you her favorite singers and bands now. I’m fuzzy on her favorite movie stars. I better do some homework.)

This is not to say it’s all smooth sailing. We both suck at relationships (which is why we were both single). We stumble and struggle and sometimes have weird, uncomfortable moments with each other. More importantly, though, we’re committed to trying to figure it out. “You’re a keeper,” we’ve told each other several times. We tell our loved ones about that occasionally as well.

It probably helped that we met online. I’m not sure we would’ve shared all those scary things had we been face to face. We took a good amount of time to talk things out and get to know each other before we did finally meet in person. Of course, that first physical meeting brought up fresh new anxieties.

Being in each other’s physical presence made us a little more shy with each other. Suddenly everything was very real. Questions about physical touch swirled in my head and still often do. Should I hug her right now? Should I kiss her? I won’t ever forget the first time she held my hand. I nearly cried.

The touch of her hand was incredibly nice, so smooth, soft, and gentle. That wasn’t the best part of it, though. It was that feeling of her opening her heart to me just a little bit more. She put quite a lot of trust in me right away. Feeling it physically was such powerful validation. I gave her a special gift for her birthday. I arranged with the Easter Bunny to bring her a basket of goodies. She tells me and others often that I’m sweet. I try often to show her kindness, but nothing I’ve done for her has made me feel worthy even of that little gift which has been only one of many.

Just a couple hours after first meeting her in person, the nerves brought me some stomach trouble. There was no way for me to escape at that moment. I blew up her bathroom, and afterward humbly and shyly apologized. “Everybody shits,” she shrugged. I didn’t need another indication that she was made for me, but she gave me one right then.

Jealousy has had no place in our relationship. We speak openly of our celebrity crushes. I’ve watched her fawn for famous men who make her heart throb and (perhaps foolishly) encouraged her to reach out to them. I remind her from time to time that I’ve actually spoken with a couple of my celebrity crushes. I even mentioned that a pretty woman asked about my relationship status. None of it ever fazes her. “I know you,” she always says. She sure does. I know quite a number of incredibly attractive women, but the lady in my life knows I’m devoted to her. (Either that, or she’s crazy. Probably both.)

Even though we met online, we keep our relationship mostly away from the internet. Our friends and family know about us, but there is no concrete evidence of our relationship on social media. We’re keeping it quiet for now as we stumble around, trying to figure out how not to suck at relationships, or at least this relationship. If we do become Facebook official, that’ll be a pretty good indication that we figured that out or at least think we have.

The lady in my life is so smart, funny, and beautiful. I wish I could write better for her, but that was never what caught her eye in the first place. From time to time, Bruce Springsteen rings through my head, “I can’t understand what a woman like you is doing with me.” Maybe some day I can get her to write about why she does keep me around. Maybe she’ll even post it on Facebook.

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I Believe Ghomeshi’s Accusers Because I Am Just Like Them

My opinion won’t make any real difference, but I believe the women who accused Jian Ghomeshi of rape. I understand why they might maintain contact with him and even continue relationships with him. I did the same thing.

As a very young boy, I was sexually abused by a girl. Afterward, I rarely spoke the words “I love you” to another human being. I didn’t even say them to my own mother (whom I very much did love) for over a decade. I was too scared to expose my vulnerability. For so many years, the one person who would hear me express my love was the person who had raped me.

When trying to talk her out of suicide or running away from home, I would tell her I loved her as I begged her not to hurt herself. She often made my life hell. She raped me, hit me, threatened my life, treated me like a slave, made me feel worthless, all these things more times than I can count. Still, when I feared losing her, I would tell her I loved her.

So I can believe a woman would continue a relationship with a man she says raped and abused her. I acted much the same way. I do it somewhat even to this day with the way I hesitate to identify my abuser.

Every time I publish something like this, I receive praise for my courage. I’m not brave. I won’t submit this anywhere it might be more widely read. I won’t have a friend review a draft as I normally do. I might not publish it at all.

These women who accused Jian Ghomeshi are truly brave. They took the risk to speak out against someone so privileged and protected. My opinion won’t bring them justice, but I do find them credible. They’re just like me, except they possess a whole lot more courage.

You Can Read Me on Across the Margin

A while ago I participated in a writing workshop with the amazing Sarah Fader, CEO and founder of Stigma Fighters. I thought I might come up with an essay for Stigma Fighters, but I ended up writing something much more scary: When “It” Happened. It was recently published on the incredible webzine¬†Across the Margin.

It was difficult to write. It was much more difficult to submit it for publication. I’m struggling even to write this. I’ve received some wonderful support already, but I’m still struggling with the anxiety it has stirred up. It’s a fight for me not to run and hide right now, and I still have plenty more scary stuff that I hope to write.

I’ve done my best to hide the identities of the people about whom I’ve written. I don’t want to cause them any harm. I only want to tell my story and potentially help others who struggle as I do. If you’re unhappy with what I’ve written, you are free not to read and even to write your own story. I won’t stop you. And I won’t stop myself.

99 Word Flash: Just One

Some day soon I hope to get back to regular blogging. I have several ideas struggling to get organized in my head while I also try to get other life matters in order. In the meantime, I’ve been tapping out some flash fiction here and there and sometimes even publish it. Here is the latest, from the Carrot Ranch Communications prompt “Just One”.

 

Just One Answer

He stared at the name on his wrist as the question echoed around in his head. Most of the time he refused any answer and certainly never gave the one people really wanted. For many like him, it was the lives he couldn’t save that brought the nightmares. He took so much pride in bringing everyone home from his first combat tour. That luck was absent from the second. Still looking down, he spoke the question back to his inquisitor, “How many people did I kill in combat?”

Looking up from his memorial bracelet, he quietly answered, “Just one.”

Writer’s Block Relief: Six Sentence Story (Second)

I’ve been struggling with writer’s block lately. Anxiety has been a lifelong companion, and it’s definitely getting in the way of me writing regularly. I’m worried all the time about how my words might land. I need to get back to just tapping something out and letting it be. I figured an easy way to do that would be with some flash fiction. So here I go with a six sentence story from the prompt “second”.

The second time she gave me the look removed almost all the doubt in my mind. Still, for the second time I took the safe route and kissed her cheek. We hugged, two survivors well into adulthood desperately afraid of physical intimacy. We had exchanged “I love yous” after barely a week, but we tread so carefully with the physical. Maybe someday soon I will finally share that first kiss with her, perhaps followed closely by a second. Maybe someday we’ll both overcome our fear, maybe just for a second.

Back On the Verge Talking About Body Image

I’m back On the Verge for this month’s theme of body image. You can check out my contribution here.

Body image is often thought of as a “women’s issue”. Certainly that is not the case, but what if it was? Why do we so easily dismiss a problem with the assumption that it only affects a portion of the human population? We’re all in this together, and we need to do better at recognizing that fact.

I’m immensely proud to be an OTV regular because they are so wonderful at creating a safe space for all kinds of voices. So head on over there now and check out all the wonderful stuff they have going on.