Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Side Chicks and Courtesans

Being in the role of the side chick is a very strange place to be. It's made me take a long, strange trip and examine my life and it's patterns to discover that I've been there more than often. A lot. It's not that I see myself as the victim, but maybe because I see myself as not good enough, and that saddens me. It is a place that makes you want to dive deep and ask yourself many questions. Questions you don't like the answers to.

My first boyfriend was Shawn. My first best friend was Laney. Somehow I ended up being his girlfriend too. We were in a love triangle that became known to all, yet continued. It was weird. I was abusive to myself. I put myself into second place, and that was my first romantic experience. Sub-par became the norm. I accepted mediocre in exchange for the love I craved. My father had just passed and I was thirsty for that validation. I guess I took it wherever I could get it. Now before you judge me think about this... I watched one of the two main sources of love in my life get lowered into the ground, covered in dirt and patted over like everything's just fine. It was not and never would be. The absence is like a black hole with no dimensions; no up, no down, no sides- endless. You scramble to fill that darkness because it is so all-encompassing and coming down on you, FAST. Any light you can shed on the situation seems like a solution; that light was Shawn.

Now Shawn was not blameless, but neither was he a predator. Neither was I. He was human, and therefore had hormones and feelings. He liked what he saw. I was vulnerable; impressionable. My need for validation outweighed my desire to adhere to society's standards. Throughout history there has always been 'the other woman,' sometimes more than one. From tribes to kings to concubines, women were seen as property, possessions and pawns to move about as needed. We were chess pieces on the big board of life, chattel to be done with as the men saw fit. Then the Italian Renaissance came around and the Courtesans entered the picture.

Courtesans were women of prestige and power, prowess and privilege. They were possibly the most educated, refined and sought after women in the world. They were extremely well-educated, nobly refined and able to properly discourse with men on philosophy, religion, the arts and other theories of life and beauty. They were the only women allowed in libraries. They owned homes and servants; fine things and possessed skills in the creative arts. Yes, they were well versed in sexual endeavors to please their counterparts, but the men were just that- counterparts; equals, matched, unvarying. Courtesans were not disgraced, degraded or shamed. They were raised at birth- chosen for their intelligence and beauty. Many a man ran off with their courtesan. This became a threat to the threads of society. A society built on arranged marriages for one degree or another whether it be land, money or property. Men were not fulfilled. They looked outside their marriages. They found solace in brilliant and attractive women.

Not much has changed. Contemporary marriage isn't necessarily arranged, but it is somewhat contained. We are given this definition of what love is supposed to be early in life and if we do not find it by a certain age, we are doomed to be alone so many people settle. Yes, I said it, and will get ostracized for my views because they are frightening. They incite fear because there is a hint of truth in there. We will overlook this, ignore that and forget such and such. We pretend, we evade and we ignore. We sacrifice our happiness for money, for our children and for false security. I know because I too have been married. I'm not some bitter, lonely woman hoping to wreak havoc. I am the authentic voice of reason. The majority of Western civilization just did what they thought they were supposed to do and live with the consequences.

You may wonder what this has to do with being the side chick. Everything. When someone is not fulfilled and they venture into the unknown- even innocently-sometimes things happen, and hearts and bodies follow. Our society is the one who says it's bad. The 'other woman' is to blame because she is powerful. She incites fear for her unknown factor, her appealing appearance and probably most of all, her possibilities. Most times she does not purposely go into a situation and decide to interfere. Her heart does the work for her, and many a time situations are not presented clearly by the man at first and by the time they are, it is too late. Feelings have been established by both parties. No one sets out to hurt anyone. It turns out that way, but all the hate thrown at the woman seems unnecessary when looked at in certain light. Men will be men and women will always fall for them.

It's unfortunate our culture looks at relationships so narrowly and defines them in such boxed terms. If you love this person then you cannot have feelings for that one. If you have sex with someone that means you don't love the person with whom you're committed. People in partnership should be able to create their own parameters within their own relationship that work for them and not have to go by society's standards. Doing this is what creates resentments, hiding and lies. People cannot be themselves so they try to be this image of a happy couple. They rebel- men AND women, and find someone else to fill in the holes of desire, companionship and play they do not get because they settle.

In comes the side chick. She is beautiful. She is brilliant. She shines. You can't wait to see her. She makes you feel like a little kid. You talk about real things and you make genuine love. Sometimes she's your dirty little slut and at others she's your angel; she is whatever you need. She loves you unconditionally. She is who you should have waited for. She was made for you. It feels so good because it's almost effortless and then you go home. You miss her, but it's the good kind of absence. The great philosopher Pericles was said to have left his wife and married his Courtesan. This was a scandal for the day, but they lived out the rest of their lives happily and he probably never looked back. Pericles was known to say about love [it] "does not claim possession, but gives freedom." His courtesan must have loved him with a fierceness enough to let him go because when you love someone like that, they cannot help but fly.

Now you may say I settled by being the side chick. As I have gotten wiser, I would disagree. While I do acknowledge I have intimacy issues from an early loss and being the 'other woman' protects me by allowing me my space, it also gifts me with a very intimate side of my lover. A side that sees honesty, candor, humility, playfulness and childlike wonder. I get to experience a sort of awakening in another person that I have personally brought about. I feel honored. I don't go around looking for guys with girlfriends (I don't deal with married men- too messy,) but it does seem they find me more times than not. Maybe it's the odds as I get older and that everyone is already paired up. Some would say I'm just unlucky, but even right now, the man I love lights me up inside and makes my heart jump. Others would say I'm a tramp, but they are just jealous haters and have no right to judge. I love him. He loves me. My girlfriend asked me the other day if I was worried if it would last, if he was ever going to leave his girlfriend. I told her this: that I am blessed for each interaction we have. Not desperate, but have gratitude for. Big difference. If it were to end tomorrow, of course I would be sad, but I would want him to be happy- that is the way I love him; that is the way the freedom of our relationship allows me to love him. I would not change this experience for the world. Having the chance to learn to love someone unconditionally is the point in life. The downsides of being the side chick- holidays alone, no dinners out, limited time together- are definitely worth learning that caring for someone means putting their happiness at the forefront; not before yours, but alongside yours; equal to and that no matter your wounds that get you to where you are...You're there, so be present and don't see your choices in a negative light, but shine a spotlight on the positive aspects and they will multiply then maybe, just maybe, you'll end up like Pericles' courtesan and get your man in the end.








Friday, January 26, 2018

Still life

Feeling this pinprick
first tugging on my heart
with echoes of sometime else
knowing you
with us as the backdrop
to a life
full like a fruitbowl
plump; color and shade and shadow
playfully lingering, yet solidly there
Sensing a vastness inside
the soul healing; expanding
yearning to find its edges,
and leap.

Wonderment in permanency,
peaking under the bed
making sure the monsters have left.
A battle for big, heaving swords
swung over large, light hearts
that use silence as their weapon.
They wait.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Stories (*NEW*)

“Humans are storytellers. It is our nature to make up stories, to interpret 
everything we perceive. Without awareness, we give our personal power to the story 
and the story writes itself. With awareness, we recover the control of our story. 
We see we are the authors and if we don't like our story, we change it.” 
~Don Miguel Ruiz~


In order to give birth a woman must conceive. Think about it; the complexities and miracles happening simultaneously. To conceive is described as an expressive experience, a forming. A single solitary point in space and time in which a person seems to almost fold life into itself creating clarity. There is many times an almost audible click letting us know the rightness of our path when we make contact with the divine.

Just as we are what we think, so can we fall victim to who others think we are. When we let the mirrors that are our friends and family; the beloved and the strange, tell us who we are we feel trapped. I think one of the most important things I have learned to take into my fourth decade is that I no longer need to search for who I am outside of myself. I am learning to trust. I am learning to trust me.

I am learning to bend, not break. I am learning to patiently observe, not assume. I am learning to watch the people in my life to determine their authenticity, because in learning to love myself I see the damage NOT doing this creates. I am learning patience is not just a virtue, but an imperative. I am learning that true, healthy love is soft and gentle, not hard and cruel. Whom you choose to let into your life is a direct reflection of how you feel about yourself.

We bring to us what we are equipped to handle at the time. When we reach too high we fall often, feeling like failures, but that is not the case. We rushed. We pushed. We pulled. We flailed. We did not wait. Most times, we know this deep down and it's just a case of accepting where we are, when we're there. Our nature is that of impatience, distrust. One can never hold fast to something they grasp quickly, loosely or ingenuously. Diligence and intent is needed to embrace what we truly desire. A tight grip on what we hold dear. A fierce possession.

I vow to myself to welcome goodness, light and positivity into my life. I promise to strive to be true with my word and impeccable with my action. And when I fail... I swear to get back up, clear the dirt and air, and breath again.

My story does not have to be your story. It doesn't even have to come close.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Daddy


“This is the ending. Now not day only shall be beloved, 
but night too shall be beautiful and blessed and all its fear pass away.” 
                                                                                           ~ J.R.R. Tolkien ~


It's a memory so worn in my mind there is a long dirt path, winding but always stopping at the same place. Shortly after my young father passed from a swift-killing cancer, I became an eleven year old island unto myself. I spent a lot of time alone. Mom worked full-time and my little brother was always somewhere else. I gave new meaning to the term "latch-key kid." I would come home to an empty house. The empty house that was the coordinates for my father's last breath. I think about this now and wonder what that first day must've been like...getting off that bus, fishing the key out of my pocket. I probably stopped in the driveway looking at the looming structure. I probably marched right up to my giant, hands postured to open that door as quickly as possible so that I would not loose heart. The door. Open. Staleness. Quiet. Empty. Gone. What did that feel like to a barely developed mind and soul physically unable to comprehend what this trauma would mean in my life; compulsive desperation, looming fear, permanent uncertainty. Did the rooms echo just a bit more than usual? Was the light unable to push through those clacking felt wooden blinds? Would this happen to everyone in my life? Would they all leave? I think I went straight to the empty dining room where a hospital bed was so quickly removed. I think I stood right in the center. I think I held my breath...for 27 years...hoping this was a mistake and daddy would come through that door. He didn't.

I now know that I need to take this child of eleven years and hold her, comfort her. For years all I did was try to strangle her one way or another. I could not make peace. I could not stare it in the eyes with Davidic ferocity. We had a beautiful antique Singer sewing machine in the hallway giving a panoramic view of the cedar foyer, front door and driveway. Like a dedicated puppy I would sense when it was time for my masters to come home. When they did not, I lay paralyzed on that floor, fingers tracing SINGER over and over again. My heart felt stopped; in my throat. What if they did not come back? What if I really AM all alone? Will this house swallow me? For years, I had recurring dreams of that house, always in stages of disarray and construction. I finally realize what it means; that I was literally stopped developmentally searching for something to complete my house. This yearning led me all my life to search for things outside myself to change the way I felt, because I could not leave that house. I was stuck, tips of fingers sliding over black gilded letters. I am ready to get my slingshot.

How do I do this? I step through it. I find a comfortable place within that fear, uncertainty and desperation not to stay, but to move through; shake it up, turn it loose. Think of days as a child sitting on the ground. Through a boredom, you are picking at the dirt. You find that perfect rock, but its beauty is embedded deep in the earth around it. With marked determination you start out with small picks at it getting that sparkly earth under your fingernails, musty damp hits your nose. You just take it one small movement at a time, but you don't give up and you stop looking to see how far you have to go.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The truth you are





 “I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” 
                                                                   Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

I never meant for it to happen. I lived my life as I was taught; the importance of achievement, the honor of degrees. I became a slave to standards of perfection that I was not able to garner. After years of doing what I was 'supposed to' do, I rebelled with fervor and systematically destroyed my life. I owned the homes, drove the cars and filled my closets with stuff in the hopes that things would make me happy; things would make people like me, things would sustain me. Being raised in a southern baptist family as the daughter of a preacher and a teacher, I was given a definite code of ethics to follow. I was given the blueprint for how my life should go, and when I started going off-course I looked at myself as a failure. I became captive, frozen in time to my failure. I was defeated.

It took years of poor thinking to get me where I landed. I was negative, fearful and suspicious. It seemed I was suspended in time as the eleven year old who lost her young father to a quickly devouring cancer; never to return. I lived in constant fear that everyone was going to leave me like he did, and that I could not trust in their existence. The more fiercely I held to this belief, the more it happened. This kind of retaliatory thinking leads one to actively push away people who attempt intimacy. I vowed one night soon after my father's passing to "never let anyone get close to me again." And, that's just what I did.

If you spend your life running from love, sooner or later you will stop, look around and see you are all alone. I picture a completely bright, white room with no edges; just a vast smooth, egg-like place where you find yourself, alone. Enclosed. A vacuum. There is a reason why a vacuum is nothingness. You must exhaust the gas in order to make room for something else. Just as we have to fall down before we can get up, those fortunate enough to have found their bottom- their vacuum- are blessed to have reached that white room and accept it, thus allowing space for more. More love. More life. More lessons. Oh, there's pain abound in this dark illusion of light where shadow cannot pass. The brightness around you blinds you to your shortcomings, your habits, your thoughts until one day you find shelter. The refuge of god. A higher power who will guide you through this process and, most importantly, never leave. Being able to address the truths about you that no one else knows and move through them is how you get to that space where you can finally, truly love. To be a giver, not a taker. The opposite of a vacuum is compression. Compression pushes out on whatever is surrounding it. Pushing out is giving. Arriving at that place in life where you are overflowing, leaking light on whatever is surrounding you is beauty in action.

It's all a big circle, life is. A cycle of wounded, broken souls spend time on their vision quest emerging transformed. As teachers of  the soul who know they can never go back to the person they were, they are obligated to reach out, see who grabs their hand. Come on, they say, let's find the truth you are.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Freedom


The whole war of control between humans is about making assumptions 
and taking things personally. Our whole dream of hell is based on that.
 ~taken from The Four Agreements~


Assumptions are like expectations. Assuming is accepting that something is true without proof, and taking it for granted that you could be wrong. It is believing that something is or did happen; you have already formed an opinion. Expectation is more of an action. It inspires hopeful anticipation based on the probability something will occur. There is expectation in assuming. Expectation can be assured confidence or fearful apprehension that lives in the present with its eye on the future. Assumption operates from the past being  more of an event that provokes judgement. Both can, however, cause us pain.

I discovered last year that I was selfish. I was absorbed in only how things affected me. I was not looking outside myself for how I could positively affect my environment. I was only dwelling on how it affected me. This is such a prison within itself that so many of us unknowingly remain. We think that we are not being focused on ourselves because we tell ourselves we are thinking of others. Yet, the way in which we think of those around us qualifies as absorption because we are thinking about how they affect us, not the other way around. And there you have it.

Seeing our character flaws is a brilliant thing, and changing them is a miracle. What we do not realize is that it can be done. It takes hard work, courage and a good support system; people around you who are not afraid to tell you what they see, and you being open enough to receive it. The recipe for success in this is put together by having something greater than yourself in your life, and being humble to that source. Learning that perspectives are filtered by thought-life gives you a head start in that the more positive your thoughts, the more adaptable your behavior.

I encourage others to really study this in themselves. I am not perfect by any means, but when I finally figured this out- I felt peace. I no longer took things for granted, or took them personally. Taking things personally is having personal importance over others where we make the assumption that everything is about us. Discovering that life is not all about you means that it is about others. What others do is not about you, it's about them. It's about their world, not yours. Taking things personally is making the assumption that they know what is in our world. Recognizing this will open up your heart, and free your soul. Try it. You might like it...


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Brave

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” 
~ Anais Nin ~

I did something yesterday that I had never done before. I saw the red flags about something and stopped my involvement. Usually, I would ignore the strong intuitions I had about the situation, keep moving along and eventually get hurt all the while knowing that "I should have known better." What was it that finally made me do the right thing?

A smart man I knew once said that you have to be afraid of something to be brave. He was right. You do not have to gather courage about something that does not scare you. No one wants to be alone. Really. Many times we will settle for less out of the sheer thought of being by ourselves in a terminal way. Whether it is a job, a significant other or a place of residence if we do not let go of what we think is all we can get (therefore holding on for dear life) then we cannot open our arms to the wealth of existence that life in harmony can bring. This does not apply only to tangible things, but to ways of thinking, feeling and acting. So many times, we get stuck in believing things that do not serve us anymore or acting in ways that are self-destructive. At one time in my life, I was so fixed on negative ways of thought that positive thoughts repulsed me. I realized, however, that it was fear that fastened me to misery. Somehow I knew I was wrong, and in changing I would be admitting this. I would have to accept that I was wrong; alter how I viewed the world. As I adapted to this new reality my life became easier- I found joy!

When we get healthy emotionally, we realize that being alone is better than settling for things not good for us, or even just things not of our preference. We are willing to be brave; courageous in the land of the unknown. This realization is so freeing. It grounds us in a way nothing else could. It seals our fate in a way that will bring what we do want into our lives. Now, I'm just waiting....