Friday, December 30, 2011


What do we mean by 'closure?' Is there truly such a thing as 'closure?' Do we really close the door on the past? Should we?

To me, closure sounds very final. There's no going back. True, I close the door to my house when I leave for work in the morning, but I do open it when I return in the evening. We close the cover of a book when we finish reading it. But, we may want to reread the book. So, is 'closure' really final? Is that what we really mean? But closure on the past suggests we choose to leave it behind us. We don't want to go back. And going back, or not, might depend on the situation. But, in my opinion, most of us mean letting go of past hurts in order to move forward,  instead of actual closure. If we just close the door, the hurts will always be there, collecting in the storeroom of our emotional clutter, ready to burst forth if we ever open the door, even so slightly.

I was reminded of this just this week. A friend called to let me know a former friend from our past had unexpectedly passed away. The deceased and I had drifted apart and back together a number of times. I finally walked away again, and moved forward, in time never looking back. To me, the door was closed. Upon hearing of her death, I reflected on the times when our paths were joined, which then stirred up a lot of anger at the old hurts she had caused. Obviously, I had just tucked them away, not fully letting go.
I'm going to reach back to my Christian roots for this post. A relationship, and I include relatives and friendships in this definition, needs to be on equal footing for it to work. I remember one of my pastors preaching about "not being unequally yoked," meaning believers should not marry non-believers. Translating this point of view into this post, as we all walk our life's path, we will encounter people along the way who will be there with us, guiding us, and teaching us lessons. Some will remain on the path a while as friends, lovers, or even as marriage partners. Some will remain for a few steps, some a while longer. Some will veer off the path, only to return at a later intersection. But while traveling together, both must travel at the same pace. Once one person outpaces the other, the yoke begins to drag the lead person down and must be let go. Letting go is never easy, for each person may stumble and fall at the release, getting hurt in the process. But, in time, each will heal and pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again venturing off in their own directions. 

I think we need to do whatever we must in order to let go of the hurts of an ending relationship. When my first partner died, I knew I had to return to Disneyland. He was such a Disney fanatic, we were there very frequently.  I had to visit it without him to let go and move forward. 

It's been harder letting go of my ex because of the children. And now that it has been a year, it is getting easier. After all, I have ventured into the real world, met a couple of guys and never once thought I was cheating on my ex. But, there is still some hurt over the divorce itself, especially in the way he initiated it. And in time, I will be able to fully let go of it and move on.  For now, I have returned to places that meant something to my ex and me. I have now attached new meaning to them. I still have the memories of when we were there, but it doesn't hurt to be there.

Sometimes we must let go of hurts within a relationship. Friends or relatives may also hurt, disappoint or anger us, often unknowingly. While we can't terminate the relationship with a relative, short of avoiding them or moving away, we can end a friendship, if necessary.

 Letting go is never easy. It must be a conscious decision, a willingness to release the emotion, to venture into an unknown area, 'How will I feel after I let go?' 'Will I be ok?' Many people would rather stay with what they know than to venture into unknown territory, especially emotional territory.  Feelings can be scary.

Letting go can take time. Or not. It can either be a balloon on a string, I open my hand and off it goes. Or, it can be a handful of sand, slowly slipping through my fingers as I watch the grains fall back to the beach to be washed out with the waves. It depends on what feels right for me at that time.

We may not be ready to let go of an incident. That's okay. We all move on our path at our own speed. We will let go when we are ready because letting go involves digging down deep to determine exactly what caused the unpleasantness in the first place. 'Why did I get so upset? Why did that hurt/disappoint/anger me so?' Oftentimes we then confront something in ourselves we don't like. After letting go of some of the anger over my divorce, I discovered I had allowed myself to be taken for granted during the relationship. And then I wondered if I had allowed that to happen in other relationships. Had that become a pattern of mine? I discovered it had and I learned it early.

My stepfather was a very opinionated hot-tempered man. I can recall him saying that his opinion was the only one of our family. What he believed, we all needed to believe. His opinion was the opinion of the household. Never mind that his opinions were bigoted, racist, sexist, homophobic, get the picture? We were expected to hold the same views. So, how does a teenager, on the verge of forming his own identity, learn to express himself, without the fear of being knocked through the wall, especially when he believed exactly the opposite?  I didn't. I never learned to express myself. So, therefore in my relationships I never learned to address the issues that bothered me, stuffing them into the closet of emotional clutter.

Should we let go of our past? I think not. Irish Statesman, Edmund Burke (1729-1797) said "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." It seems to me we should let go of the emotion and not the memory of the incident. After all, it is our history, and if we don't want to repeat the same mistakes over and over, we need to know our own emotional and relationship history and learn from it.

Now, I just need to practice what I preach.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Reflections on 2011

As 2011 comes to a close, I want to take time to reflect on my journey during this year. I initially wanted to title this post "2011: A Year of Loss." But, that sounded too negative, even though each loss provided me with personal insight. And I love the reflection in this window.

This has not been an easy year. I have been riding a roller coaster of emotions. I am ending this year as I started it, alone; but back in January, I was barely comprehending that I was being divorced, full of anger, hurt and confusion. Now, in December, I have come to understand, and accept, it was inevitable that my marriage end; though, he should have told me in a more honorable and dignified way he wanted out. And that hurt will take longer to heal. The final papers in my divorce arrived in August. Loss number one came with a mixture of both sadness and happiness that it was all over, and with a feeling of optimism that I would continue on my path on to a better future.

2011 has also been an interesting and productive year. I came to realize just how unhappy I had become and therefore the relationship had to change, or end. As a result, I learned to recognize my strengths and rely upon them as I adjust to my new life. I have come to change my attitude and accept there are reasons for everything, primarily as a learning experience, and therefore growth. I now also believe that our experiences happen at the time the Universe feels appropriate for our optimal growth potential.  I now have a better grasp on what I need to do in my next relationship to make it work better. I have also learned the Universe has plans for me and all will be revealed at the proper time.

This year, I again experienced the pain of unrequited love. With the ending of my marriage, my new single life had begun. Was I ready for a single life? No. Was I ready to meet someone? Again, no. I knew I needed time to heal, to look into myself and decide what I wanted in my next partner. I knew I wanted someone who was chronologically, educationally, emotionally, and intellectually my contemporary. I also needed someone who would take care of me. But first, I needed to to expand my gay male social circle for I firmly believe a great relationship begins as a good friendship. And in this adventure, I did meet someone, fall in love with him, but after a while realized it wasn't going to work.  I have chronicled this episode in "I Met a Man," from September of this year, so there is no need to revisit it here. My second loss brought me waves of happiness whenever I thought of or heard from him; and later, sadness mixed with hurt and disappointment when I realized it was one-sided.

Shortly after realizing that potential relationship wasn't going to work, I was emotionally wounded, albeit unintentionally, by a friend. The depth of how hurt I was told me how much I valued the friendship. Can it be saved? Possibly. In time I will heal and perhaps we can move on again. But, in friendship as in love, once burned, twice shy. I will be on my guard for any more slings and arrows, and I'm sure my friend will be as well after our conversation. The dynamic of this friendship is now forever changed, and for the moment it is painful loss number three.

This year, I also lost a wonderful friend and companion; my dog, Simba.  I still come home expecting to see his cute face, twinkling eyes, and bushy tail, all excited to see me. This, too, has been described here in "A Poem to a Pom" from earlier this month. My fourth loss still brings me sadness with touches of nostalgia.

Each of these losses, while painful, especially with the last three happening within months of each other, has presented me with a lesson. It is now up to me to take those lessons and apply them to my life and attitude in order to continue moving forward. I realized I am strong enough to survive a major life change. I discovered I am again capable of a deep emotional love. I found pain can come from where it's least expected. I learned even out of love difficult decisions must be made for the greater good. 

The reflection in the picture above is from the fill pump in the pond in front of the window. The lessons I am learning keep filling me with the experiences I need to reflect upon as I move forward on my path. Unlike the pond, where the water evaporates and those molecules may end up somewhere else, my experiences will always be there for me to learn from whenever I need them.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lessons from Lucy

I love Lucy.  She will live forever, in the reruns of her television shows, films and this statue of her in North Hollywood, California.

Lucy was a fighter, albeit in a television sitcom. But, she still fought back. When she lost the winning dollar bill in a local newspaper contest, she fell into a starch vat to retrieve it.

Lucy was resourceful. She saved half her sandwich when she and the others went hiking in the Swiss Alps. She and Ethel went to extremes to keep their husbands from fighting when their chickens weren't laying eggs.

Lucy was creative. After all, she decorated her New York apartment to look like a Cuban sugar plantation and danced around like Carmen Miranda, all to save her marriage, which wasn't really in trouble. And she wrote an operetta to raise money for her club's treasury.

And she fought, using her resources in creative ways to try to get into Ricky's act soooo many times: locking his dance partner into a closet; sneaking in in costume, and changing under a table. All of these qualities together illustrate one other characteristic of Lucy; she is determined.

I have come to realize I am very much like Lucy.

I am a fighter, just not in a sitcom, but in my life. I am fighting back from a divorce and have come a long way from the depression I was in, which may or may not have led to the divorce.

I am resourceful. I have learned to make adjustments to my life in order to survive. I have learned to focus on what I need not what I want. That's not to say, when I can afford something I want, then make that decision. After all, living your life without pleasures, isn't really living your life.

I am creative. It comes with teaching, but is also just part of who I am. I look at my writing, my photography as just two examples.

I am determined. I will get through this and be all that much stronger for it.

Now, where's my bottle of Vitameatavegamin?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Where am I?

I love the old "Road" movies with Bing, Bob and Dorothy. From today's perspective they are a bit cheesy, but still fun to watch. The story is essentially the same; two guys interested in the same woman; one guy is smooth, the other a little corny, and she is usually in trouble. And the movies all involved exotic locations; Hong Kong, Bali, Utopia, Rio, Morocco, Zanzibar and Singapore. I realize Utopia isn't a real place and therefore can't be exotic, but it does exist in people's imaginations and spirits, and therefore it's all a matter of perspective.

I, too, am on a road. "The Road to Me."

While I am not traveling to any exotic locales, like in the movies or in my photograph taken outside Talkeetna, Alaska, I am traveling to some pretty exciting ones in me.

I have discovered the Lake of Love and dipped my toe in it. I have been to the Temple of Self-Confidence and learned I am stronger than I have given myself credit. I have visited the Island of Self-Reliance and realized I have all the tools I need to continue on my journey, and always have. I have also climbed the Mountain of Self-Esteem and discovered I am attractive to other men.

But on this journey I seem to have come to a stopping point. Maybe it's time for me to rest up and catch my breath for a while. After all, this has been a year of loss for me. I lost my marriage, I lost (in my opinion) a potential relationship, I lost a friend, and I lost a beloved companion, the last three being within the last three months.

Or, maybe I'm at a crossroads and I'm not sure which direction to take. While I wait for the Universe to offer guidance, I can still catch my breath. Whew!

I do sense a new direction for me. It's still very nebulous, as is anything new. It could be a relationship, a change in my career, or something else altogether.

If it's a relationship, I must ask myself this question. Where am I? If the Universe does indeed have someone for me, I need to be in an emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically (both corporally and geographically) ready state to meet him.

Emotionally, I need to be ready to risk being hurt again. I'm just not there. This has been a difficult year as I mentioned above and I just need time to heal.

Spiritually, I need to be ready to grow with myself and with him. I think we're always growing whether we are aware of it or not, so I guess I am there. 

Mentally, I need to be up to the challenge to get to know him, pay attention to the details of what he likes, and dislikes. Plus, let him know what I do and don't like. Am I there? Maybe.

Corporally, I must have the energy to invest in a new relationship and as I've said before, this year of teaching has left me so exhausted by the end of the week, that I'm in bed usually by 9:00 PM on Fridays. And I have so much work to bring home that I have little time to do anything during the week anyway. I spend the weekend catching up on household chores which leaves little time for socializing.

Geographically, I need to be where the gay men are. Unless the Universe is going to send him knocking on my door, (FedEx deliveryman?) I need to be out there. I need to be socializing anyway.  I've tried the online route, and while I have met a couple of nice local guys (and by local I mean over 50 miles away), most of the guys I end up chatting with live hundreds of miles away. The locals mostly just want to drop in for one thing, and it's not coffee. And the locals under 25 or so think this 'daddy' has money. If they only knew! I may try the online thing again, but not for a while.  I've tried the common interest group path, joining several small groups formed around people with similar interests. At first, one group was fairly active. But, the only meetings scheduled now are for every third month. In a different group, when I've gone I've been the only one there besides the host couple. They're great guys, and maybe in time, more will show up. Another group, photography (!), has met once and that's it. I'm not in a position to be a leader at this time, so I guess I must wait for, or prod, the leaders to schedule something. There's the bars and clubs scene, but I've addressed that in another post; something about shopping, Tiffany's and K-mart. That's not to say I can't meet guys and make friends, and maybe that's an option. Time and the Universe will indeed tell.

So, where am I? I'm right where I need to be, even if it's uncomfortable. I'm sitting on a bench, resting for a while, at a juncture on "The Road to Me."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Poem to a Pom

I've had to say good-bye a lot lately. I had to say it to my marriage, to a friend, and this week to a very sweet, loyal, loving family member. But, with each good-bye there are lessons involved.

I remember first meeting Simba. He walked happily into the room, head and tail held high, panting. He came up to us, sniffed us and greeted the others in turn. He was five months old. He was energetic; yet not hyper for a toy breed. He was very friendly and had a loving sense about him. I knew he was ours.

My ex had always wanted a Pom, for what reasons, I don't know. I had always had larger dogs as a child, and my attitude towards these "little yappy things" was indifferent. My ex also had decided on a black-and-tan Pom because it was different than the typical color associated with Pomeranians.

We had decided to add a dog to our mostly feline family some years back, and actually had decided on a Great Dane. After a disagreement with the breeder in question, we realized the time may not have been right for us to get a Dane, or even a dog. Then tragedy struck. My ex's mother died, quite unexpectedly at an early age. He put owning a Pom on his bucket list, he wanted one before he died. And through a series of coincidences, Simba came into our life.

Both of us had had dogs as we grew up, but our moms did all the training. This was our first dog as adults, I knew we needed help; so, we hired a trainer to train us to train him. He tried hard to please us, but as a Pom he had a bit of a stubborn streak. (Though not as bad as another Pom I know. Right, Mufasa?) But, we were able to get him to follow some basic commands. I learned perseverance can pay off.

My ex is a television addict. He would watch for hours. Simba would love to sit on the couch next to him, or me if I were there, too. He had to lick our hands, or if our feet were accessible, he would like them. But, mostly he loved sitting next to us. I learned love has its quiet moments.

He also played us. He had a very thick coat, and undercoat, as Poms do. (Note to self: short-haired dogs require less grooming, i.e., Great Danes.) We did our best to brush him, but at the first tangle he would yelp and we'd give in. So, we turned to professional groomers. I learned to ask for help when necessary.

Simba had some bad habits. He had separation anxiety. He would bark whenever one of us would leave; either to take out the trash, take the laundry to the garage, or leave the house. Yet, when we would return, there was no mess as can happen with animals suffering from separation anxiety. I loved the fact he loved me so much he didn't want me to leave. I learned to accept neuroses in your loved ones.
He also had some quirky habits. He had a favorite toy. It started as a hedgehog, but when the company stopped making it, we substituted it with a raccoon. He would hold the toy in such a way as to suckle the nose. He would often go into a trance-like state while sucking on the nose of his toy. He held it in one specific position so that he wore the fur off, and made a big hole in just one spot. After a while, I couldn't interest him in a new one. And when I would come home late, he would greet me, tail wagging, and while I prepared his food, he would crazily run around in circles until I set it down for him. I learned quirkiness is what makes you unique among your peers.

He suffered from a number of health issues, and was on many medicines. He had a collapsing trachea, laxating patellas and a twisted vertebrae. The first two are common ailments in toy breeds, and the vertebrae happened in a fall. He was on pain meds for the vertebrae for the last five years. I learned you can put up with a lot with someone to look after you.

I will miss his "Please don't leave me" bark when I leave for work in the morning, and his "Welcome home, I missed you" bark in the afternoon when I returned. I will miss struggling with him to take his cough medicine because of his trachea. I will miss having my hand or foot licked while watching television.  I will miss having to carry him up and down the stairs, as it hurt his back to go up and down himself. I will miss him assuming his usual position for me to pick him up.  I will miss him lying next to me on my bed before bedtime, petting him, running my fingers through his soft coat. I will miss his twinkling eyes, his "smile."

I will miss you, Simba, but you've left little paw prints across my heart.......

RIP, my big boy. You suffer no more.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Gears of Life

I knew there was a post hidden here in these gears, but until now I couldn't see it.

Life (and the world) goes on like a machine. These gears are in rest, their job is done, for the moment. They are used to haul up the anchor on the American Pride, the ship I sailed on to Catalina. But life doesn't stop or rest. It goes on and on.

There are times we all want life to stop; to give us a chance to catch up to what is happening, to let us settle in for a while before we get hit with more we have to take care of.

I remember wanting life to stop when my first partner died. Didn't the rest of the world know I was grieving? Didn't they care? My friends did, bless them. But why would the rest of the world? They didn't know me. I needed time to process my feelings, to take care of his estate, what little there was. And in time, I did. I moved on.

I remember wanting life to stop when my husband left. But, it didn't. I needed time to process what he was asking for, and to understand my anger and pain. I also needed to know why our marriage failed, but I couldn't figure it out while dealing with the pain of having a failed marriage. I was the only one in my family, at that point, not to have one. We all do now. I still want to understand why, and maybe I never will. Maybe that's one lesson I need to learn; life has unanswerable questions. At times, it still hurts, but I will continue to move on.

Right now, I want life to stop while I sort out my most recent pains and difficulties; a recent heartbreak, a confusing adjustment to a new philosophy of teaching and the bits and pieces that go with it, the myriad of changes in an adjunct job I have for my school, the complex and confusing modification process for my mortgage, and now, the sudden deteriorating health of one of my dogs.

All of this is happening at once, and is very overwhelming. I know that what doesn't kill me, will only make me stronger, but I feel I need time to get through one event before having to tackle another.  The Universe, however, has a different take on the situation; I am strong enough to get through all of this. My lesson here is just to believe in myself that I can and will, and to prioritize what is most important at the time. That doesn't make it easier.

Right now, my priority is to get some medication for my dog, and some chocolate for me.