Monthly Archives: April 2007

Saying goodbye to a beloved friend

I have a full, sincere enjoyment of the written word, both by reading it and creating it. When I first came to college, as a student, to the same institution for which I now work, I was eager and excited to be here. I was ready for almost anything that would come my way. I was not ready, however, to feel transformed in the first semester that I was here, by an instructor named Barbara Hoffman.

Barbara was my instructor for Writing Skills. She came to our first class session, dressed in her clown outfit, full face makeup and all, and proceeded to pull items out a trunk, to symbolize the various aspects/details we needed within ourselves to be outstanding creative writers. She pulled out a bottle of champagne at the end, popped it open, and we all celebrated this new, exciting adventure together.

In the months that followed that semester, I wrote about things such as Hershey’s kisses, and Elton John’s closet. I studied every detail of an experience, every allowance that my imagination would offer to me, and put it to paper. Every paper that we wrote in class was returned to us, full of comments in every open white section of the paper, about what was great, and what could make our writing even better. I learned more about myself and my creative writing ability in those few short months than I ever thought possible.

Barbara died yesterday. She was preparing to retire from here in a couple of weeks, and to travel to faraway places. I found out while sitting with a friend, who encountered her twenty five years after I had, but our experiences with her were much the same. An impact that lasts a lifetime.

I guess she is travelling after all. Be free with that wonderous spirit of yours Barbara. Enjoy every moment, as you always have. I will NEVER, EVER forget you and your impact on my life.

Remember that love means FREEDOM.

How many of us have ever said to the partner/person in our lives “If you loved me, you would…..”? I know I have said it, probably more than a couple of times. Like, by having some contractual agreement for you to do what I want you to do, that will prove your unending love for me? Besides the fact that it is controlling and constraining, making those types of demands on another person just doesn’t work. I don’t know that it ever brings results that are lasting, let alone healthy.

What is does speak to is our own desperate need for love, to be acknowledged, cared for, nurtured, embraced, appreciated, adored. I crave that as much as the next person. But one part of my self-discovery that seems a little less pleasant to deal with about myself, is that I believe the desire, and then at times, the demand for that from another person, is a subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, form of controlling the other person to give you what you want.

What is the worst thing that would happen if I let my partner just be who she is meant to be? If I allowed her to make her own choices, do her own thing, and loved her because of that? I don’t think it would be a “worst thing” scenario, I am coming to realize and accept. I think, the BEST thing that could come of that freedom, given to myself and my partner, is that, by having that freedom, each of us never stop being our individual selves, while sharing this cool journey together. We both have uniqueness and flair and energy to bring to the couplehood, always some new aspect to discuss, always something new to discover and explore about the other. It keeps the mystery, the passion, the independence. It leaves less room to resent, to compete, to become too intertwined, to lose our personal identity.

“Love that restrains isn’t love. It’s insecurity. We may tell others how we feel about something that they do or don’t do. We may make decisions as a reaction to other’s choices. That is our right and our responsibility. But to restrain another in the name of love doesn’t create love; it creates restraint.” Melody Beattie

Love, by nature, is a concept that I visualize as open, free, flying, on the breeze. I want to continue to capture it as that, so I need to love something, or someone, by setting it free. Not to have it be mine, but to have it be what it is meant to be.

Our Passion for Justice, by Carter Heyward

“Love, like truth and beauty, is concrete. Love is not fundamentally a sweet feeling; not, at heart, a matter of sentiment, attachment, or being ‘drawn toward’. Love is active, effective, a matter of making reciprocal and mutually beneficial relation with one’s friends and enemies. Love creates righteousness, or justice, here on earth. To make love is to make justice. As advocates and activists for justice know, loving involves struggle, resistance, risk. People working today on behalf on women, blacks, lesbians and gay men, the aging, the poor in this country and elsewhere know that making justice is not a warm, fuzzy experience. I think also that sexual lovers and good friends know that the most compelling relationships demand hard work, patience, and a willingness to endure tensions and anxiety in creating mutually empowering bonds.

For this reason loving involves commitment. We are not automatic lovers of self, others, world, or God. Love does not just happen. We are not love machines, puppets on the strings of a deity called ‘love’. Love is a choice- not simply, or necessarily, a rational choice, but rather a willingness to be present to others without pretense or guile. Love is a conversion to humanity- a willingness to participate with others in the healing of a broken world and broken lives. Love is the choice to experience life as a member of the human family, a partner in the dance of life, rather than as an alien in the world or as a deity above the world, aloof and apart from human flesh.”

This above writing has been assisting me in redefining love for myself in my world. I never doubted that love is full commitment, but where I take pause is in the idea that love does not just happen. It requires tasks and duties that keep it alive and nurtured. It is represented by so many acts that we perform daily with and for the ones that we love the most. However, with romantic love, this gets lost so often, even on a lover like me. I get so stuck in the need to be verbally, symbolically reminded of the romantic, full heart love feeling, that I neglect to see the love that is expressed in all the tasks, duties, daily little rituals that occur. I understand that those are expressions of love, but those expressions are often not enough for me. I need to hear the words, see the look, feel the power from my lovers’ arms. There has to be a balance in there somewhere. I just need to find it.

Fear shows its face, and it aint so bad……

FEAR. I even dislike the word. I have been afraid of fear, in a sense. Impossible? I think not. I have always, I really think I mean ALWAYS, been unafraid of fear. I have, most of my adult life, at least, believed that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather going on in spite of our fears. I have believed in my own level of courage, of strength, of perseverance, but never really stopped to consider what those fears were that I went on in spite of. I know that for much of my adult life, I have convinced myself that I had no fears about anything much at all. Besides airplanes, and snakes, and some other nagging fears of things outside of myself that I quiver about when confronted with either one. But, the kind of fear that I am talking about here, the one that I have had the hardest time naming and taming, is one that lurks within me, is a fear related to a belief system that I possess, a goal or dream I have for myself, the unknown at times.

I realized, probably only a few days ago, actually, that I am not just afraid, but terrified. But, realizing this was really little comfort to me, because even though I was willing to take that first step, in acknowledging my fear, I still needed to name it, label what it was that I was specifically afraid of. And, what I came up with was relieving as well as upsetting, because I realized how long I had denied a fear that is very real for me, very normal, and able to be faced and dealt with slowly and gently.

I am TERRIFIED of being forgotten, of not being memorable. Okay, without sounding too dramatic, I really mean it. I was trying to figure out why it is that when I like spending time with someone, whether as a friend, or me wanting something more, that I obsessively call, text, drop by, to acknowledge my presence to her. WHY do I do this? I do it every time I meet someone new that I really like. I cried on it and thought on it for hours, days, last week. And that is my answer to myself. If I call or text that person, frequently, it will be almost impossible for her to forget me. That is my total fear. I even do it with persons that have been in my life in the past. Even if our parting was not good, even if we have not been friends for years, I feel the need to recollect myself to them, if I have a way to contact them. I DO NOT WANT TO BE FORGOTTEN.

My other fear was even a bit harder to admit. Since I have been single in the last year, I have noticed that I view almost every lesbian I meet as a potential mate. I have done this most of my adult life. Maybe others do it too, I don’t know. But, it seriously interferes with making new friends, and just viewing people in a objective light. It also keeps leading me to think that I need to be actively looking for a partner, because the moment that I stop looking for her, she will walk by me in the street and our opportunity will have been missed. I don’t think this is a fear of being alone, it is more of a fear of missed opportunity, to not answering the call of fate when it is at the door. I DO NOT WANT TO MISS THAT PERSON THAT IS MEANT FOR ME.

So, what to do? One thing that I am not doing, is beating myself up emotionally for these fears. When I really started to explore this stuff, I actually felt some huge relief at starting to figure it all out. And, believe me, some days, it is certainly not as neat and tidy as it might appear on the page, at least not in my mind and heart. But, I feel like I have taken a step, discovered a clue, that can lead me in a direction that I literally haven’t gone in yet. It is really the most free, in my spirit, than I have ever felt. Free to be, free to face life head on and not crack up. FREE……

Letting go and letting God, once and for all.

I have such a hard time with one particular lesson in my life, usually in regard to my most personal, intimate relationships. That is in the aspect of letting go. By trade, and personality, I am a helper. I want to assist others, ease their pain, dress their wounds, and heal their hearts. I have almost always felt a sense of satisfaction, gratification, and almost self-worth in my ability to help them in ways that they have been unable, or unwilling, to help themselves. So, logically, I have taken on a career in the helping profession, counseling and assisting those that seem most vulnerable and in need of help, usually meaning children and families.

Now, I know that this is in the very fiber of my being, the need to help others. I am not faulting myself or giving myself a hard time for considering that as an important focus for my life. I mean, as human beings, I think that we are called to serve and to assist one another, especially those most in need of our help. The trouble for me has become trying to be the helper in every segment of my life. I hold onto the helper in me, desperately and hopelessly, in the situations when I need to let the person help herself the most- my personal relationships.

I have always seen myself as a person who trusts fully when I am in a relationship with someone, almost blindly at times. However, I always seem to find myself with persons who have a difficult time trusting, who are struggling with trying to discover who they are (but in reality, aren’t we all at times?), persons that in hindsight are intrinsically unhappy with their being. So, what better way to prove my love, concern, absolute regard for them, then to save the love of my life from herself? Show her the guiding light, the way to absolute happiness? There is always a willingness, at least at first, for my guidance to be accepted, for my nurturing to feel good to her, for her to “try on” what has worked for me, and try it for herself. But, we always seem to go down a darker, less selfless road. She ends up feeling resentful, at my insistence on doing and controlling aspects of the relationship, and I end up feeling unappreciated for giving up all of my self, for her to develop her self. What a mess. And no where near where I need to be in terms of letting go. I read an affirmation on Letting Go every day, my copy of the book is so worn out the binding is broken, almost every page has highlights or writings in the margins, I have read and read and read it. Today is the day I actively use what I have read.

What I am now, finally, thank God, understanding, and more importantly, ACCEPTING, is that letting go is an issue of trust. Who, me? I trust everyone, I trust anyone, I tell everybody my life story if they are willing to listen. But, what I am really doing is giving myself away, I think in some desperate attempt to make myself indisposable to that certain someone. Then, they have all of me and I have none. In all of these years, the one that I have been afraid to trust is God, that he would care for me always, and that caring for me doesn’t mean telling me everything as it is to happen. Trust in God, for me, means that I COMPLETELY let go, I completely allow him to guide my life, based on my own healthy choices. I am totally scared of doing that. I want to be in control, I obsess about control, I need to be in control. But, I am not. No matter what I choose from day to day, He holds the cards. Today, I need to begin to remember that, and trust that it is all for the good.