Give me something to believe in. Or don’t. I don’t care. I don’t believe in Heaven or Hell. I don’t even believe in dirty or pure. I do believe that we are all just like the moon, shining bright but we all have a dark side. I also believe that the purpose of life is to collect and share love.
If God is love, Satan is tragedy and loss, war and greed, waste and destruction.
And that’s kind of how it works, isn’t it? We as humans experience a series of personal tragedies throughout life, and the only way to overcome the pain of tragedy, destruction, or loss…is love. Maybe that’s what religion is getting at. I don’t claim to know any answers. I pay much more attention to the questions, anyway.
I have no fucking clue what happens next. But I certainly enjoy daydreaming about it. I think that is why I’ve never chosen a religion. The commitment of tying my mind to a single belief, one that has been prepackaged by somebody else, is too much of a threat to my curiosity. I hold on to the ideas that resonate with me and leave behind the ones that don’t. And in between all of that, my mind is free to wander through the many rabbit holes of my consciousness.
I could never give that up. Maybe that’s the point.
So, I just spent my first weekend free from school in six months. I have never appreciated a good Saturday more. The warm spring sunshine was a welcome sight.
I haven’t really had a weekend to myself in my new place. I moved just a few weeks after school started. This has been my fifth move in six years. I can’t seem to keep grounded.
The gypsy life has landed me into some pretty intense spaces, each one representing a brief chapter in my life. My new place, my little trailer in the woods, has been my favorite chapter so far.
I thought I would hate it here. I didn’t think I could make this place feel like home, but it’s the most at home I’ve felt in any of my other places.
I didn’t have a lot of options. I was living in a very small house with an unstable person. He was manipulative, unsympathetic, and an alcoholic to boot. I literally took the first available rental in my modest budget. A 1970’s trailer in the country.
It took me a minute to get over the carpet squares and the paneling. The faux brick wall paper in the bathroom was not exactly easy on the eyes, nor was the banana yellow bathtub. But soon I realized that the place had character for days. The gold plastic lights, tucked away in fake paneled ceiling beams bring me back to childhood memories in the smoke filled bowling alley with my mom. There is no better feeling than showering in the sunlight that pours into my very own shower window. I love falling asleep to the rhythm of rain drops tapping on my tin roof. I threw a rug over the carpet squares.
I basically won the real estate lottery with a property line that runs along the neighbors pasture full of pot bellied pigs. The view doesn’t get any cuter.
We have deer grazing in our yard every morning when I leave for work. We can hear coyotes screaming as they chase prey down the nearby river bed at night. I grew up on forty acres of woods, with a pond and river access. This feels like home to me.
It’s amazing how your perspective can change. About houses, about people, about life.
There’s a conditioning in society that occurs, where we as humans attach our value to other people’s expectations, our productivity, our bank account, our waistline, etc. We often sabotage our own happiness because we feel we are not worthy of living a happy life. We either feel obligated to remain small because we feel guilty for being happy in the presence of friends and family who aren’t. Or we take on the shame of those around us.
I believe that a low self worth is the virus that leads to depression, anxiety, drug addiction, and pretty much any problem that exists in today’s society. I also believe that raising our self worth is the antidote to these issues.
It’s not just a female thing either. Women do have it rough. We live in a society that treats women as if we just exist for visual pleasure. Magazines, television shows, movies, advertising, it’s all geared towards making women feel as if our value lies in our physical appearance. It’s disgusting and disgraceful.
But men have it rough too. Men are taught to hide their emotions. Just as we women are seen as supporting roles, men are forced into the leading roles. And that’s a lot of pressure for someone who has no emotional outlet.
Both sexes are constantly being manipulated into comparing themselves to unrealistic idols. Both sexes are constantly being pulled away from vulnerability. Low self worth is a disease that plagues everyone.
I have encountered many people in my life who have a habit of tearing down the people around them to make themselves look better. These people are toxic, especially if you don’t have a solid foundation of self worth. But these toxic people behave that way because they are suffering from an extreme case of low self worth. The only way to combat this toxicity is to first build your self esteem up by realizing that their criticism of you is not real. It’s an expression of how they feel about themselves. It’s a projection of their innermost demons. And when we are able to recognize that deficiency in toxic people, we are able to maintain our own foundation of self love while interacting with these people. The next step is to show them love and worthiness as an example. Not every toxic person is ready to see your example. And it’s not your job to force their eyes on it. But if you shine your light bright enough, eventually you will drive out some darkness.
I have read many articles about narcissism, sociopaths, and psychopaths. Most of these articles will advise victims to cut toxic people out of your life completely. And if you are dealing with an actual psychopath, that advice is absolutely true. But most people don’t meet the criteria of a narcissistic psychopath diagnosis. A lot of people are self centered. As domesticated as the human race has become, we’re really just highly evolved creatures, trying to survive. Survival has always required a little bit of narcissism.
Everyone falls somewhere on the scale of narcissism and empathy. It’s the great balancing act of the self and the ‘other’. That other being a romantic or business partner, a friend, a government, or a society. Self love is healthy and necessary. We come into this world alone. You can’t function as a human if you don’t care for yourself. It’s just that some people operate just off center on that scale. Some people act as if their lives are more important than any other life. They aren’t. Oprah’s life isn’t any more important than Kim Kardashian’s. And her life isn’t any more important than mine. But some people see a pecking order in society. Those people are hiding behind an inflated ego, because they’ve lost the substance of self worth. The people who lack balance between the self and others, people who lack empathy, certainly don’t have any for themselves.
It is rare for someone to be a full blown narcissist with an inability to experience empathy. These are your serial killers, child molesters, dirty politicians, and ruthless CEO’s. These people should be treated as predators. They are more than toxic. They are defective humans. But toxic people need love. If we are to live in this world without war, we need to have a revolution of relationships. Those of us with too much empathy need to heal those among us who have too little empathy. And the only way to bring balance into our society is by blending those contrasts. We all have to learn how to love unconditionally. I’m not talking about romantically. I’m talking about a humanitarian type of love.
If everyone loved and respected themselves, the world would be a peaceful place. Acceptance of ourselves will lead to acceptance of others.
It all boils down to self worth.
How do you value yourself? What spectacular uniqueness do you bring to this world? Do you realize what a miraculous fucking creature you are?
I’ve finally made my way to the road of least resistance. I’ve been spending a lot of time lately, trying to find the balance between detachment and contentment. I’ve been preparing myself for a life of solitude. I’ve been planning my life consciously as a single person.
This doesn’t seem like such a crazy idea, but I can honestly say that I’m the only woman I know out of my friend group who is capable of this. Every friend I know spends their single time, looking for a husband. They might make plans for the summer, but they carefully schedule their lives around the possibility of a partner.
I get it. I do. I understand the undercurrent of loneliness in the river of solitude. As humans, we are pulled towards love. And love is the precursor to sharing your life with another person. But I have the complicated chore of wanting love without the sharing of my life.
So I have been researching the idea of love without commitment. I’ve decided that I don’t want a blended family. I don’t want to deal with a man trying to bond with my fourteen year old daughter or my eight year old who worships her father. She gets mad when I even mention how beautiful Johnny Depp is. She openly tells me regularly that she doesn’t want me to date. I can’t blame her. I don’t want me to date either. I’m not any good at it, and the last time I tried, I ended up living in a situation that was like Rainman meets Little House On The Prairie. It was awful and I promised both of us that I would never live with another guy. I am very well aware of the risk that promise holds with my daughter. I wouldn’t have made that promise if I didn’t intend to keep it. I’m all done with cohabitation in relationships. My family is sacred and I don’t want anyone interfering with it again.
But I do want love. I want someone to talk to about my day. I want to feel the sweet warm light of being loved. I want someone I can share my kidfree weekends with, who won’t try to merge into our lives. I want someone who can accept that my family time is not on the table anymore. I want a deep and transformative connection with someone, but I need that person to know that they will only ever experience the mother side of me through my stories and conversation. I want amazing sex and weekend getaways. I want smoking pot and looking at the stars. I want good morning texts and compliments. I want a genuine interest in each other. But I want these things with someone who is willing to squeeze a really big love into a very small space in my life.
My options are limited at best. I can be a mistress. I can fall madly in love with a married man. I could be the other woman, who helps to fulfill the empty, mundane life of a forty something married man, going through his midlife crisis.
I could break up all the love I have to give into passionate little one night stands. It is tempting to enjoy some stringless intimacy with complete strangers.
Or I could date until I find some equally complex guy who would want to share my very unique boundaries in love.
But options are expectations. And a life of detachment has no space for expectations. A detached life is more of a choice than anything. It’s not an easy choice either. Detachment requires the ability to live day by day, taking in whatever life hands you, and then just as easily, leaving it behind. Detachment is hope without expectation. Detachment is counting on only yourself, true independence.
Detachment is planning the summer I want, without compromise. I have planned a marvelous summer for myself and my children. The itinerary consists of moonlight kayaking, weekends in a pink beach house, A Dave Matthews concert with a bunch of beautiful hippies and a motor home, reiki classes, Girls Weekend in Traverse City, an RV adventure with my ex husband, hiking the waterfall trails in the beautiful upper peninsula of Michigan, going to an Amos Lee concert with a complete stranger, and whatever else I feel like doing. Because detachment is making the choice to create your own life, one day at a time.
I have not had a single summer in over three years. I’m going to enjoy this one.
My ex husband and I have been spending a lot of family time together. We’ve sat down to have dinner as a family every time we meet up to swap kids for the weekend. I absolutely love that my little divorced family still shares a meal together every couple of weeks. A lot of ‘together’ families don’t even do that anymore.
Lately those dinners have branched out into Sunday afternoons of hiking together and going to the theater. We’ve even discussed taking a vacation together this summer. It feels like it’s a bit too much.
I’m not going to lie, it feels good to get out and cover up that single parent shame. It feels good to see other families out together, and not long for that primal feeling of belonging to a tribe. Because I have that belonging feeling when I am with my family, even when we’re just pretending to be complete.
I felt awkward when the lady at the park asked how old my dog was. I had walked my ex husband’s three-legged American bull dog down to the lake for a drink. I just looked at her, wondering if it was worth the effort to explain that I had no idea how old the dog was, because he belonged to my ex husband.
‘He’s three.’ I was impressed with my ability not to share my story. To just keep it short and simple.
The truth is, every one is always complimenting us on how well we coparent our children after the divorce. And we do an amazing job of it, now. But it hasn’t always been this smooth. It hasn’t always felt like a genuine friendship. It does now. But that friendship comes with a price.
I am sitting here, smoking a hookah, getting my night cap on, thinking about how I will graduate in one week from massage school. A career I was pursuing when I had met my ex husband. I’m thinking about the two hour phone conversation last night that started out about the kids and ended with reminiscing about our first date when we got high on my parents front porch and listened to the frogs in the pond. We joked about how his suitcase was always packed because we fought so much and he was always running away. And I would always call him back. It felt like a conversation we would have had when we were dating. It feels like I’m time traveling through the late nineties.
And my eight year old daughter cried after he left this past weekend. She has never done that before. She asked me so sweetly through her tears why her dad and I couldn’t get back together. ‘It can’t be so hard to just get married again.’ She demanded. I couldn’t help but laugh, appreciating her innocence and naïveté. I started to realize that all this family time was having an impact on her, that we hadn’t expected. It was having the same impact on me. Nostalgia is a seductive liar.
Maybe spending so much time together is not as healthy as we had thought. It was like taking your dream car out for a test drive, and then walking home. A thrill for sure, but not realistic. So many obstacles lie between the car and me. The last time I drove it, the car was mine and I walked away. I didn’t want that car after I had it. I hadn’t wanted that car in years. But lately, I’ve been remembering all the things I loved about that car. Maybe the car reminds me of home. Maybe the car is my daughter’s idea of normal.
There’s an aching inside me right now that wants to give her normal. But normal has never been an option in my life. I could never risk her heart to split our family up again. We have to keep aiming our lives in separate directions, because the pull towards family is very strong. But the pull towards each other is not.
This retrograde is pulling at heart strings I had tucked away a very long time ago.
‘You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye Who cheer when soldier lads march by, Sneak home and pray you’ll never know The hell where youth and laughter go.’
From SUICIDE IN THE TRENCHES By Siegfried Sassoon
My dad has been on my mind lately. His health has been declining quite frequently in the past few years. He’s slowly becoming an old man for the first time.
My dad has looked exactly the same throughout every decade in my life. He has had the same hair style, the same mustache, worn the same clothes, boots, and hat since before I can remember. He has been clean cut and hard working his entire life.
But at sixty-seven, after a battle with prostate cancer (one of the many long term side effects from mass exposure to agent orange while serving in Vietnam) he is starting to slow down. Every year that passes, the poison that he absorbed decades ago, activates and attacks another part of his body. The Vietnam war is still haunting my dad.
‘But I am one of the lucky ones,’ he will say.
He never says anything more than that. My dad rarely speaks about the war. He has gone through some old photo albums, but only speaks about feeding the Vietnamese kids who ran up to them when they were moving through little towns, looking for people to kill.
I will never forget the response he gave me when I was young and first found out that my dad was a veteran. I had asked him if he had killed anyone. My dad had never not answered a question before. He just calmly explained that he didn’t want to talk about it. That moment was my first lesson of empathy. His entire face filled with a seriousness that I had never seen before. It scared me a little. I never asked him about the war again.
My mom has told me a few stories over the years. She never talked about it around my dad though. I think she worried about us, growing up in a house with a dad who had night terrors. I never asked about them. I knew. But sometimes she would feel obligated to explain them to me. She always followed up her stories with expressing her gratitude for the troops. And then she would remind me that my dad was a hero. I already knew that too.
His life story is a literal translation of the hero’s journey. From the poverish childhood filled with neglect and abuse, to the marriage at sixteen to the older woman who had gotten knocked up, to the adoption of a child his wife had conceived while he was carrying his dead friends out of the jungle. When his marriage had finally broken down for the last time, after a decent fourteen year run with his statutory rapist, he immediately married my mother, who I have recently learned was their babysitter. She was pregnant too.
Throughout all of this, my dad has been one of the hardest working men I know. He served our country as a combat veteran. He hired in to General Motors on his eighteenth birthday and retired as a supervisor. He worked so much overtime, that he was pulling in six figures. That was big money for the eighties. That was big money for a guy who used to get his food from an actual welfare line and sometimes a dumpster.
On top of the overtime, my dad also felt compelled to build a fucking house. He bought a beautiful piece of property that my mom and him had always loved and he ordered a package to build his own house. They just dumped off some blueprints and lumber, and he built it with a couple of friends. It took him about a year. He had no construction experience. He just read a couple of books and built a beautiful house. I grew up on forty acres of woods, with a pond, and a river. A large meadow in the center of the property held a couple of barns and a few horses. My childhood was amazing because of my dad’s incredible drive and motivation to give me a better life than he had. I often tell him that he took it a little too far because I will never be able to live up to his example or afford to give my children half of what he gave me.
My dad is going through a crisis of sorts right now. It started after his remission from the cancer. He lost a lot of weight. He bought himself a Honda Goldwing trike. He has grown his hair into a sad little silver ponytail that sticks out from under his army green Vietnam Veteran hat. He is actually driving to Tennessee this spring to meet up with some guys he served with. My mom tracked him down on facebook. I was very surprised that my dad agreed to leave Michigan, let alone stay in the mountains and spend time with people who remind him of the most hellish time in his life. I am happy he is doing the trip though. I do believe it might help him some how.
The biggest change I’ve noticed so far is that he has recently agreed to get a tattoo with me, after always arguing against tattoos. He wants to get a combat medal, the one he has pinned on his Veteran’s hat. I am going to get an acorn, because he has always bragged to me that the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. My dad and I are a lot alike, and he has always been very proud of that. I can’t believe he is actually going to get a tattoo!
Unfortunately, we have to wait until October. He has a blood clot in his lung, and the medication regime prevents him from getting tattooed for six months. I told him that I would buy it for his birthday. It is a very strange thing to watch your hero grow old.
I read some old Chinese folk lore the other day, about an imaginary red string that is tied around the ankles of a soul mate couple. No matter where you are at in life, that red string still connects you to the person you were born to experience life with.
I find the idea of soul mates to be completely ridiculous. I actually feel sorry for the handful of women that I know who have only ever been with one or two people. I have a married friend who lost her virginity to her husband. She is in her fifties and has only ever had one lover. What if he’s horrible in bed? How would she know? It seems very tragic to me. I suppose the two of them share so much intimacy, that their connection overrides the monotony. It’s not my place to judge.
I do understand the sexual value of an intimate connection. My ex husband was the first person I had ever felt that with. We had ten years together and he still remains the only man I have ever experienced real, raw intimacy with. He and I didn’t have much in the way of companionship, but we had a very fulfilling sex life. Even after we separated and I moved out, we had amazing sex. We kind of had to ween ourselves away from each other in that way. Ironically enough, we have a very stable companionship now, founded in coparenting and a mutual respect for each other’s journey. But we were never soul mates.
I think I am the only astrologer in the world who doesn’t believe in soul mates. I mean, there are aspects in compatibility astrology that can signify an intense connection. There are aspects that point to attraction, love, and relationships. I can accurately predict if a couple will share a child. But I don’t see it as two people who are destined to come together and share those aspects. I see it as a choice that two people have made, and their energy is compatible or not. But it has nothing to do with destiny. We all share these aspects with many people. By that logic, I have thousands of soulmates in this world.
The belief in soulmates automatically smothers out the idealism of choice. Life without choice would be nothing more than acting. The theater is entertaining, but you don’t gain any value from speaking someone else’s words or moving through someone else’s motions. Free will is a non negotiable in my beliefs. And that means that in any given moment, we have the ability to choose our own life. We have the logic to understand that the head and the heart are separate for a reason. We can feel a pull towards or away from another person. But we are gifted with the ability to choose. Love is a choice that you make and not some fated birthright.
I don’t have some imaginary red string tied to some elusive man who was born to be my lover. I have a heart that has loved many. And I have a brain that has always known (although sometimes a little too late) when to walk away. Choosing to love someone is much more romantic than enslaving yourself to fate.
I see life in much the same way. Life is nothing more than a series of decisions. Astrology is a compass, not a destination.