Saturday, June 11, 2011

Betwixt and Between








Tomorrow is gay-pride day here in Philadelphia. I won't be going. I can't make that statement without feeling a twinge of guilt and loss. Four years ago, I was still in a long-term relationship with a woman, one that lasted eight, almost nine years. Everyone knew about my "partner;" I made sense to people back then. Maybe in some way it simplified my understanding of myself. It made explanation unnecessary.


I am single now, and people are confused. They don't know "what" I am. My former partner wonders about my attachment to a man. Men I meet wonder what it means that I "go both ways." Of course, I come across the ones that think it means you want to have a threesome.


Tomorrow my "community" will march in a parade and celebrate being "gay." Yeah, there is a bisexual group with which I could align. I don't want to be shoved into a box. Tired of boxes.


So, tomorrow I will remember the love and attraction I had with my partner, her curly hair, and gregarious, loving heart. And, I will sort through my attractions to men. I will remember my marriage, and the nonjudgmental, forgiving man that was my husband. Tomorrow, I won't step into "community," but will be an intricate part of more than one, by default.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Speaking Up!


"A diagnosis is burden enough without being burdened by secrecy and shame."
Jane Pauley

I was accepted as a "candidate" for the Veteran's Administration position. The job would mean better benefits, more security, more pay, challenging work. Now begins the "boarding process," they tell me. I don't know what this means, but it makes me nervous. The thought that they are digging into who I am and what I have done, makes me anxious and fearful.

Why? I have a graduate degree from one of the best graduate schools in the country. I have 16 years post-masters experience; I look forward to learning more about working with veterans. I have worked hard, damn hard, for little money compared to what I have been asked to do.

The other day, I was at a training and the woman next to me spoke up with 50 fellow professionals there and shared that she had an eating disorder,in remission, and was in aftercare treatment for this. She was sitting next to me, so I thanked her for having the guts to share this information in a professional setting. I wondered what it would take me to have such bravery.

Why? Because I have not "come out" about my mood disorder. I hide it, like a shameful, embarrassing relative. I push it into the background, while I secretly take medications throughout the day, practice self-care and work on my thinking and mindfulness. I try to surround myself with things and people that give me the fuel needed to sustain this forward movement.

So, there it is. Genetics and environment have handed to me bipolar disorder. It comes and wreaks havoc in my world, and I pick up the pieces again and again. But, I am living well with it right now, whatever the hell that means. It means at worst that we are at an impasse; at best it has left my life through that back door. The truth is I am symptom free because I have worked hard and with the help of my doctor, friends, creativity, family, pets and work. I am well today. Today, beautiful today.

Some would say not to post this because "they" might read it. Even if there is a chance that someone from the VA would read it, I say ok. This is the truth. I am well. strong. ready to take on new responsibilities. This is who I am. I am not my illness: I am a strong person who has accomplished a great deal, living with my illness. And maybe this illness has given me empathy and wisdom that I can share

So be it. If I were a cancer survivor, I would be wearing a wristband.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

improvisation


The rhythm of my life suddenly seems to sound itself out in the repetitious remnants of my neighbor's music, pounding it's way through my ceiling and running down the back of my mind.

I walked today, slow, mindful steps, step, step, step into Old City. It was a beautiful day, crisp, cool. The day I wished for on all those 110 degree days.

But, there was a strange monotonous feel to my stride. So, then, here is "regular life," where there is seemingly little improvisation. Yet, there is that slow, steady beat that says, "I am alive, here on this beautiful day. I am alive. I am alive. And well. And happy."

Never at peace, it seems. But, perhaps peace is overrated.

The truth is...this steady path announces health and regularity. God knows, I have had little of these in my life at times. So, I should be thankful...thankful for the sure visceral pumping of my heart.

Cause I am well and happy and as far as I can tell so are those around me. Maybe this is peace.

Maybe tomorrow is a day to extemporize.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wait Right Here


I will be posting soon...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Move Along


I have been sick since Friday night when I returned from work at 10 PM. It is Tuesday late afternoon now. I feel somewhat better, but still weak and sick to my stomach. I have spent 4 days with primarily the only company being my pets. I drove all the way into work today, only to discover that I was way too ill to be there and had to turn around and drive the forty minutes back to Philly in torrential rains.

Illness, the short kind from which you recover in a matter of days, is a good reminder of how good things really are. I have had the long-term, life threatening,invasive procedure, lose your job, your apartment and your sanity kind of illness. In contrast, I can be grateful, for this one will surely pass, spending a bit longer than I thought, but moving on...

That said, sometimes my mind wants to burrow into that rodent's nest...all of those irrational, hopeless thoughts that scurry across the background of my mind. I am getting skilled at catching them, trapping them, and releasing them elsewhere. Most of the time, I'm good at that. Then, there is that one thought that gnaws on the corner of my psyche, the "what if," "what if," "what if" rodent that wants to shred my newly built foundation, that wants to eat away at my newly dug posts.

Nope. Sorry. Move along. I will feel better tomorrow or the next day. Just Move along.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Beyond Tired


The woman who sits on the stoop out front of our building is tired. Her body is tired, it doesn't even sit up straight. Her voice is tired; it strains to form sentences. Her soul is tired, she leans away from connections.

My neighbor sounds irritable when I greet her and after a few encounters, I found myself judging her and beginning to dislike her. I changed my perspective, perhaps the only thing we really own, and viewed her fatigue, her anguish, and my compassion took root. I found myself wondering what this woman had lived through, gone through, to be so very tired.

Our buildings are tired, here at this co-op. They are in need of care that not one of us alone seems to be able to give. But when you get past the tiredness and the protectiveness, there is a vitality, a connection to each other. I needed help last night with a problem, a BIG problem, and one of the other cooperators, as we are called, rushed to assist despite the exhausting heat.

There is a community here, underneath the sagging exterior. And I am thankful. More importantly, my perspective has shifted. I am getting skilled at owning my view, my interpretations. It is the only thing I have, really. So I look behind the peeling paint and I see the history of centuries. These buildings we call home are CENTURIES old. Sure, they sag and wrinkle, they lean when they should stand upright. But, I see history here, people living together, different races, religions, ethnicities have lived here long before "desegregation" was even a word.

So, I walk slowly at night, following a long day at work, and I will continue to stop to talk to my tired neighbor. A bond will form, sure it will. It's all in our perspective. And, that is wide open.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Maybe Islands


"The truth is that I’ve spent all my life with my binoculars trained on the Maybe Islands, a pristine place of fantasy that is really no better than the razor-rocks of misery.

...maybe if I could have lived more peaceably… maybe if I’d met the right person years ago, maybe if I hadn’t done this, or that or, its cousin, the other. Maybe, baby, the promised land was there and I missed it.

Look at it glittering in the light. But the truth is I am inventing the maybe. I can only make the choices I make, so why torture myself with what I might have done, when all I can handle is what I have done. The Maybe Islands are hostile to human life."
— Jeanette Winterson (The Stone Gods)