Tag Archives: Romance

The Healing Power Of The Center Square

Life has a way of happening. Most people, if they’re fortunate to live long enough, have to deal with dismal happenings. Even if you are inclined to wrap yourself in an insular protective bubble; never venturing out or letting people in, your body itself might cause you anguish with illness and decay. How we deal with what life throws our way speaks volumes about who we are and who we’ll ultimately become. There are people who can put their heads down and forge on through, brushing away darkness and fear like flies on a horse’s bum. These people most likely have a fined honed coping mechanism (most likely in the form of a bottle or official diagnosis.) And while forging through pain and loss may feel like kicking furiously to the surface for a lifesaving gulp of air, it will undoubtedly at some point bite you on that bum. If you are made of flesh and blood, you probably need to feel sad when sad things happen. You needn’t wallow, wail or simper, but you do need to experience the loss.

If you are in the throes of misery right now you may be asking; “For how long?! When can I just get on with my life?” I am so sorry to be the one to tell you this; but this is your life. Bad stuff is no less relevant than good stuff or status quo. It’s all part of the same experience. But as humans, especially western ones, we love us some timeframes. Upon hearing about a fatal illness the immediate question is always “how long do I have?” When we are told of an engagement the first words out of our mouths are; “when’s the wedding?” We are not comfortable simply being. We like beginnings, middles and ends. This isn’t a 21st century phenomenon; ancient religions have proper mourning periods that dictate when we are to reenter the world. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with guidelines but they can get in the way. We tend to focus on “how long will this take?” versus “what am I feeling?” and “how have I changed?”

Eliminating a deadline is not the same as embracing stagnation. We can move forward while being present. Conscious progression is possible when we discover what practices and coping mechanisms work for us. The only way to do that is trial and error and keeping an open heart, mind and eyes. A sense of humor always helps too. Most definitely filed in the “error” folder of the coping file was a colossally bad choice I made many many moons ago. I was in an intoxicating heartbreaking tumultuous all-consuming glorious doomed romance for a year or two when I once again considered leaving him. It was going to take enormous resolve and plenty of girding to choose to walk away from the most exciting and meaningful relationship I’d ever had. So where did I go to build this resolve to throw away cinematic romance with both hands? Paris. Oh if I were only kidding. Someone had offered me a free trip to Paris and I assumed the universe was telling me to go away and get some perspective. Clearly the universe and I were playing a game of telephone; ’cause boy oh boy did I mangle that message! Can you imagine? Paris. I won’t insult you by painting the picture.

I’d like to think that with each passing year I get a little less stupid. But I might just be kidding myself. For months after my husband died I kept visualizing myself at the beach. I finally got to a point where that seemed possible and off I went. And where did I go? Of all the beaches on this entire planet, I chose the one that most resembled where we had honeymooned 18 years earlier. I had consciously avoided the exact country but had subconsciously chosen a physically identical resort, climate and ocean. The good news is that unlike the unproductive Parisian pathétique, on this beach I sobbed my way through a bottle of sunscreen and a dozen pomegranate mojitos to a new stage. I likened it to taking peyote. I’m guessing. I wailed into the water while eschewing make-up or regular hair care (hey, that’s my version of a sweat lodge.) I spoke to no one and if it weren’t for texting, would’ve befriended a soccer ball. And when I returned I drifted into a new stage that felt manageable and even hopeful. I was ready to start figuring out what moving on meant. So maybe it wasn’t all that misguided, my beach destination.

There are many stages of sadness and grief and they aren’t necessarily linear. Just because you no longer feel utterly paralyzed doesn’t mean a song or scent will not send you back to bed. Events can occur that are so eerily similar to the original loss that they can cause you to not pass Go and head directly back to the beginning. But unlike before, you know the way out. During the first few months of no longer being married, household silence was profoundly disturbing to me. I had always been an NPR-on-all-day kinda gal, but the last thing I wanted to hear was news, or worse, blithe commentary. I needed mindless comfort. I needed auditory macaroni and cheese. I found it on the Game Show Network (no seriously, there is such a thing.) There I found my childhood friends, Fannie Flagg, Richard Dawson, Brett Somers (aka Mrs. Jack Klugman), Paul Lynde and others. In a million years I never would’ve guessed that memories of childhood would ever be a comfort, but hey, that’s how bad off I was! Every morning, after drinking my tea and staring off into space, I’d gather myself up and head for the television. For one blessed hour I would have the company of old friends (and do my best to ignore the incontinence and walk-in-tub commercials.) It was about as different as it could be from discussing the New York Times with my husband every morning, and I dare say that was the point. The recently familiar was excruciating but the historically familiar was a comfort. Fast- forward a year and a half later when an intense and whirlwind relationship ended in a hauntingly similar manner as my marriage, and I headed directly to Fannie Flagg (via her author persona versus her game show persona.) I knew that her folksy approachable style was something I found to be soothing. (That is how multiple psychic sh*tstorms can be educational!)

I don’t watch game shows any longer. To say I’ve moved beyond that suggests a linear path, I’ve moved away from it. And that is the point. Finding what works for the moment is key. When it doesn’t serve you toss it aside. When talking about your loss is no longer a comfort or a relief, stop talking. You can’t control people’s curiosity but you can control your indulgence of it. You are the author of your own story. No one else is allowed to edit. If you want to identify as the mother of your deceased child, go right ahead, you are. If you want to present yourself to the world as someone entirely new, go right ahead; and feel free to continuously revise. And when this whole world starts getting you down, know that your own version of the center square will always be there.


Posted by on August 15, 2015 in Well-Being


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Text And The Single Girl

Every few years someone develops a treatment and possible cure for heterosexual female singlehood. This is also known more commonly (at family gatherings) as ‘why you’re not married.’ Somebody, usually a woman, looking for fame and fabulous prizes, develops a method and/or writes a book that will help you find a man. Not necessarily a good man, but damn it, a man. The strategies (which can be yours if you act now) are in one of two camps; ‘the 5-10 step strategy’ in landing a husband OR the ‘this is what’s wrong with you and why you can’t’ land a husband. Both of these approaches are based upon the theory that husbands are to be sought and to be enticed into matrimony. ‘Hold the rotary phone!’ you say? This is the 21st century! Women own homes, and have babies alone. Husbands have never been more socially or financially unnecessary.

But people wouldn’t be buying these books or the media wouldn’t be covering these stories if there weren’t an interest. While it would be thrilling to think there is parallel target marketing happening for men, the truth is there isn’t. Centuries have passed and single women are still being told that “what gentlemen say and what they thinks is two different things (and I ain’t noticed Mr. Ashley asking for to marry you.”) In other words; play the game and win the prize. The latest game focuses on the ‘be available to all men at all times and hope that someone will consider you the one‘ approach. Don’t expect to ever be asked out on a date or even called (he only texts), just always be available. That text at 2:00 AM? Answer it! Won’t it make for a cute bedtime story for your children some day? Go home with the guy who seems harmless enough. You never know where it might lead (except that you do, that’s why you’re going home with him.)

There is nothing wrong with enjoying the company of men (clothed or unclothed) but the very idea that the way to a committed lifetime partnership is by having zero standards or expectations is absurd. Is there a guy that you’d like to know better? Is he not making any actual moves towards a date? ASK HIM OUT! You are not locked in a tower and and needing to lower your hair extensions. You live in the same world as he does. Ask him out: for a specific date and time. (FYI: “You wanna go out sometime” doesn’t mean anything and will not result in a date.) If you’d rather not have your communications solely via text, then don’t answer the text, instead call him back and hear his voice. You needn’t be scary or stalky about it; a simple “I’m a lousy texter” should do the trick.

Getting to know new people and (YES) dating is supposed to be fun. There is nothing fun about accepting whatever male attention scraps are dropped in your path. People want to feel special and appreciated; those are the first steps to romance. Unless that 2:00 AM text is originating from space or contains the message; “Just landed in Rome and realized I can’t live another moment without you” it’s not going to make you feel too special or appreciated. Ask for what you want, behave the way you wish others would behave, and you might just create the life you were always meant to live.

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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Cultural Critique, Marriage/Wedding


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My Funny Valentine

For as long as I remember there has been something or other to boycott. A large portion of my childhood was spent devoid of grapes and iceberg lettuce (the former more of a loss than the latter.) Later there were brands and corporations to eschew. Targets of boycotts, like leggings, go in an out of fashion. The longest boycott I ever participated in was my militant boycott of Valentine’s Day. That’s right; that little pudgy cupid-y holiday filled with cardboard hearts, flowers and candy. “Why?”, you ask. What kind of horrid trauma was bestowed upon me to render me so devoid of romance and “Be Mine” tenderness?

There is no childhood Valentine humiliation to divulge. My brown paper bag Valentine mailbox was as full as anyone’s. I received the same sized heart shape chocolate box from my parents as did my siblings. But I also went to an American high school. Some time between graduation and freshman year of college it dawned on me that Valentine’s Day might not be all hearts and flowers for some people. Specifically, for single people.  And my solidarity was born. I protested the holiday (silently, I did not take to the streets) as a popularity contest with harsh fall-out. Those that benefited (excluding the flower and candy industry) already knew they were beloved. The people who sat at their desks watching the delivery person pass them by, could have lived without the reminder.

Then something strange occurred. I realized that not one person was benefiting from my stance. I stopped kidding myself that denying myself would in some way make anyone feel better. Suddenly the holiday, placed strategically in the middle of the darkest most dismal season, made all the sense in the world. What could be more joyous and hopeful than a celebration of love in the middle of February? I lifted the moratorium, and marched myself to the card store. I now not only accept the annual romantic gift and dining, I gleefully encourage it.  Life is short and any opportunity to express love and affection should be embraced. Romance should not be confused with a grape or a head of lettuce.

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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Holiday


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