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Archive for the ‘Loss’ Category

Tonight's sunset.

I think of my son often, and on evenings alone on the veranda watching the sunset he comes to mind in a way that always makes me smile.

The opening line of one of Jaren’s songs, “Swedish Nutball”, resonates as the sun sinks way too fast into the western sky.

I can feel the rotation of the earth …

I pretty much stop right there, as the rest of the lyrics aren’t exactly conducive to contemplating a lovely end to a day, but there is no doubt I do … feel the rotation of the earth.

Those who’ve never seen the face of Sol plunge at speed into that end of the ocean called Horizon near the Equator are missing one of our planet’s best thrill rides.

From the first kiss of sun to sea to the last wink of brightness over Horizon’s lip all of about 4 minutes pass … the sucker drops like a stone, so fast there is no question or quibbling over just how fast this globe we’re stuck to spins. Whooooooosh!

I own a vast amount of E tickets for this ride and try not to miss it as it comes around almost exactly every twenty-four hours, year in and year out. Being four degrees south of the North/South dividing line, the time varies by no more than a few minutes. Rather than longer days and shorter nights, or vice versa, we in the middle just see the sunset swing from one area of ocean to another, then back over the course of the year. (Google “Declination” if you’re interested, as for some reason the link won’t post.)

Most days I sit and watch, either a cup of tea or glass of wine at hand, but sometimes I do choose to stand for the event. Staring at our star as it does its dip, the beautifully illustrated awareness of how bloody fast this planet spins, can almost make me dizzy.

I live on the west coast of Mahé, a situation I love since it gives me this drama rather than the early morning show of the sun doing his impression of a Pop-Tart emerging from a toaster.

I tend to avoid the bugger as much as possible during that chariot ride it takes across the sky, seeing as how fried is not my best look, but when I see him heading toward the high dive to prepare for the plunge I will drop what I’m doing to watch the form, the style and the amazing ovation the sky and clouds give once he’s gone and the way that echos across the ocean.

That the show is all mine is special, but sharing the ride makes it even better.

Here’s Jaren NOT singing about sunsets …

And, yes, what I’m thinking now, he thought of first.

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More than just crude matter ... ?

Although I’ve been gnawing on the Weiner thing for a few days, as the story keeps spurting I’m not quite lubricated enough to bring a post to whatever climax the tale deserves, so today I’m sliding away from it and onto something completely different.

What happens when you die?

There are numbers of reasons this question prays on my mind right now, involved as I am with the dead, the dying, survivors and inquiring minds, so I’ve been giving the guaranteed outcome of life a good deal of thought lately.

There are, of course, a hell of a lot of theories, and any number of them make a lot of sense when contemplated from one direction or another, and I tend to go through the list from time to time, not that I expect much of any answer until my time comes.

That, in fact, is one of the possibilities … that at the moment the bucket is kicked we become enlightened. In shuffling off this mortal coil (Hamlet – iii. i. 67) all the information kept from us during our lifetimes is once more available … it being either more than we can bear while busy drawing breath or outside the “need-to-know” limits that coil thing bars us from catching on to … and suddenly it all makes sense.

From what lessons we were supposed to learn to why we died a certain way, we see the patterns, the reasons, and judge for ourselves how well we did … and what classes we may have to repeat.

Another involves a “higher power” who does the judging for us, then sends us off toward either eternal damnation or an infinity of happy harp-strumming. Although very popular, this one doesn’t fly with me, as there seems to be something ungodly petty about condemnation after only one short course, and even those who manage to hang around for 100 years have still only managed an eye-blink of time in the big picture.

There is also the idea that when we die, we’re just dead. The staunch atheistic approach insisting we are biological beings, pure and simple; we’re born, we live, we die and that’s that.

It makes a lot of sense and science goes a long way to back this up. Every week there’s some new study out on some biochemical process that causes dishonesty or various personality traits or love or the inability to love (And I’m sorry, but I’m so not in the frame of mind to dig up links to this stuff right now, so if you’re looking for references try Google.)

This could very well be exactly the case, but it seems rather pointless.

Not only pointless to live a lifetime with worries of no more than doing your bit to ingest enough nutrients to reproduce … the prime biological mandate … but also to assume the position that this is all there is … ever.

It also seems a rather unimaginative stance.

I prefer something that could include parallel universes and essence of being that is made up of energy, rather than flesh and bone and brain. An existence that doesn’t begin and end with … and, okay, I admit I’m quoting Yoda here, but that little guy made a point I like … “this crude matter”.

If crude matter is the be all and end all, the point escapes me, and if there is no point … well, there is no point. If being dead amounts to no more than compost we’ll certainly not be aware of that state of having become, and I guess that’s okay, too. It does rather put the kibosh on any growth and learning and leaving a mark, though, if the only mark to be left could be called skid.

There is either a reason for being born, for living and for dying that goes beyond making more to be born, live and die, or there isn’t, and it seems a flagrant waste of energy if that’s the whole circle. Fleeting moments of joy, plunges into the depths of suffering, decades of acquiring knowledge, flashes of brilliance, art, music, literature, war, starvation, cruelty, benevolence … all the stuff we get up to that plants don’t … they seem to indicate we might expect something more.

On the science front, it’s pretty clear that although at any given moment in time the answers seem set in stone they aren’t and new discoveries come up. Is it possible one day it will be scientifically proven that we are, indeed, luminous beings encased, for a while, in this crude matter? That we are here as we are for reasons we aren’t supposed to know until the bell rings, the fat lady sings and we graduate from this class and pass along to another level?

I could say I hope this is the way it is, and I do, but if it’s not … if this is all there will ever be … well, I’ll be disappointed if there’s anything left of me to be disappointed with.

If, however, there is some “me” left … energy me, next-life me, other-universe me, hang-around-and-visit-loved-ones me … I will feel better about the whole dead thing.

As I put on Jaren’s funeral “program”:

Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of the ocean.
_ David Searls

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Two Years …

A fav shot of Jaren and Me

Jaren Eli Combes
February 17, 1971 – June 2, 2009

The world is a poorer place without this son of mine in it. The past two years have seen less kindness, fewer laughs, flashes of brilliance that didn’t happen, music unwritten.

There is a part of me that would like to indulge today, to write out the experience, to talk about the shock of such a loss, the little I recall of the months that followed, the ways I attempt to cope, the erosion of my foundations and many changes, but I can’t.

What I can do, however, is take comfort from the fact that he is well missed by many and share a tribute.

My thanks to Todd Brock for the videos and the site, to Adam Orth, Tim Kirk, Damian Anastasio, Scott Lancaster, Orb Kamm, Liza Welshman, Tink Moss and many others who have let me know just how much impact Jaren had on their lives.

For Jennifer, Sam, Cj and Seb I am more grateful that I can ever express.

If you’d like to spend some time with Jaren, Todd’s memorial website is here.

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Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. If you’re alive, it isn’t. ~Richard Bach

If you happen to run into me today, please give a kiss and a hug and congratulate me on not being dead yet.

It’s the 17th of May again, an anniversary I have, for 11 years, marked by not being dead. It was emergency bypass surgery that made the still alive thing keep happening, a holiday adventure in Singapore I’m not likely to forget, and although not high on the fun-and-games factor, it was one of the best trips I’ve ever made.

Being alive, I keep writing, and usually on the 17th of May I jot down pondererings on aspects of life I tend to take for granted much of the rest of the days I walk and breathe and watch a sunrise.

On the 16th of May, 1999, I was abruptly informed that I was somewhere between one and thirty days of a fatal heart attack … news that almost caused one right there and then. By the 17th I’d been sliced and diced and given a new lease, and although open-ended and loaded with get-out clauses for the lessor, I’m still not complaining.

Had I died back then I would have missed a lot. Some of it total shit, for sure, as at that time I was a reasonably content woman and had not buried any child of mine. I could have predicted little that has happened since, if anything, but I guess that’s a good thing.

Of course, Sam and Cj are bonuses beyond belief, and although they would have come into the world without me since I had nothing to do with their creation, missing out on being their mother would have been a real gyp.

I’d like to think that the end of me would have taken some residual good stuff with it; there would be a bit less music and much fewer words around, and maybe … just maybe … I’ve done some good for someone somewhere over these years of gravy that pay toward my price of admission.

Checking off another year prompts more than reflection, though, as each 17th of May I wonder about the 364 days until the next one and what they might bring. Sorry to say I don’t do this with as much joy and wonder as I should, but rather with no little fear that I might not be able to pull off another whole year.

That low-hanging sword serves to remind me life is a short option under any circumstance, and although I have little fear of being dead I can be terrified of potential alternatives.

This is the time of year I want to grab every bit of life I can by the collar, pull it close and squeeze as much out of it as I can. My patience grows thin now … not that it’s ever very thick … and a welling sense of panic creeps over me that too much is passing too quickly.

It’s not a case of feeling compelled to climb Everest or fling myself out of airplanes. No. My bucket list is pretty damned simple.

Item number one for the last some years was having all four of my kids under the same roof with me at the same time. That is no longer possible, but I do hope those of us still around share space someday.

I would like to feel safe and be happy for as long a time as possible, as that would be a whole new experience that would be nice to have for a while … just to check it out.

Watching mountain gorillas and seeing Venice … not at the same time, thankyouverymuch … are about as close to conventional if-I-can-before-I-croak dreams.

A sense of settled with some idea of what just might happen over the next month or two or six would be nice, too.

Perhaps all that will happen … maybe this year, even. Perhaps not. The point is, however, I am still along for the ride, and good, bad or indifferent, I’m bloody grateful to be here.

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Tasting Ashes

It’s a gray dawn in Seychelles, appropriate for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

As a child, I dreaded this day, as it usually meant an early Mass on an empty stomach in a very crowded church that more than once resulted in passing out cold as I waited in the long queue to get ashed. Of course, it also meant the giving up of something I’d deemed of great value for all of 40 days.

This year, Mass is out, as I no longer deal with those issues and canceled my subscription many years ago, so don’t need those ashes.

Oh, no. I have my own.

The taste of ash is strong in my mouth today, as I’ve been spending too much time lately learning just how thoroughly I was raked over the coals, but this has dictated my Lenten sacrifice.

Yep. I’m giving up men for Lent.

From now until Easter I will not allow a thought of romance, a flash of attraction, a longing for touch, a regret over lost love to linger for more than the instant it will takes to wipe it from my head. I will waste no time missing any man from my past nor holding hopes of future connections. I will satisfy myself by and with myself, and I will take comfort only from those whose link to maleness in my regard is either nonexistent or inconsequential.

I will expect no reward of bounty when Easter arrives, but rather hope that by then my cravings have been tamped down to the point that only the most vigorous … and deserving … blast will bring on even the slightest explosion. In other words, I hope to gain something approaching temperance.

“Temperance is moderation in the things that are good and total abstinence from the things that are foul.”
~ Frances E. Willard

I’m not saying I’ll be avoiding men, as that’s simply not a possibility in life outside a convent, and I have no intention of substituting one habit for another, and I will continue to interact with, and appreciate members of the gender … that would be those who sport a member, but I’ll be ignoring that fact … with deep respect as fellow humans. Maleness in general, however gets a complete pass.

So, with ashes on my tongue I begin a Lenten season of dedication to self combined with acts of penance and charity that will include the giving of my time to others whose ashes taste much like mine.

Yes, on a gray Ash Wednesday morning, I throw off the shackles of a much-enjoyed compulsion and look forward to 40 days of prayer and peace.

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I'll haunt the fuck outta you.

“The tender word forgotten, The letter you did not write, The flower you might have sent, dear, Are your haunting ghosts tonight” ~ Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

This post is not about a plea for sympathy, stirring up pre-grief or needing any bolstering, so, please, don’t react to the read with anything but the humor I intend to provoke.

The fact of anyone’s matter is that life is short, and then you die, so getting shook up about being assured that IS the future seems a silly, silly thing to do. We’d all live better if we did it as though each was our last day … the reality being each could be … and we do ourselves a disservice when we force such thoughts from our minds.

Sure, it all gets a bit busy and complicated to spend much time contemplating checking out, but letting the idea of the party continuing on without us soak in isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it helps a lot in enjoying the one we’re dancing in right now.

My biology dictates my life will not be long. My genetic code has more dashes than dots, minuses that shave minutes and hours and days and weeks and years from my tree of life, and that’s a fact I learned long ago to accept. Being rather okay with the idea that I’ll someday be dead, I’m grateful for the time I have … however long that might be.

I’ve made some really crappy lifestyle choices, often don’t eat right or get a good cardio workout nearly often enough. I have vices, am not picky about organic or GM, and have been known to have sex without a condom.

The fact that happened with “committed” partners and didn’t always provide protection brings up the other shit that has and will take a toll on my span … the effect of stress brought on by letting shitty people have power.

From the incompetent, lying peeps who are supposed to provide Internet connectivity, to the lyin’, cheatin’ scoundrels who pledged much more than that, disappointing results create huge pressures. Those who believe karma is the tit-for-tat to be expected would suggest I’ve earned the grief, and if that is the case I’ve most certainly paid off much of what debt I incurred in previous lives. (I must have been a real peach to have earned such pits!)

Today being today, I’m rather liking the idea of that haunting thing (Thanks for that, Jules!), seeing my face, a la Jacob Marly, popping up on door knockers … or someone else’s knockers … with a “Hey, asshole! Boo, fuckin’ BOO!, invading dreams (Why should YOU get any sleep, Fuckwad?), ratting pots and pans, creating havoc, breaking guitar strings mid-song over and over and over again, cutting Skype connections, hiding cell phones, giving icy-cold pinches to warm body parts … ooooh, the list goes on and on.

I could be good at this, but in the meantime I’ll enjoy the sunshine, the sound of birds, conversations with great friends and all the joyful wonders I have, and wait for an Internet connection to happen that will allow me to post this blog.

Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse!

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To spite his face ...

Driven to Destruction

What drives a girl to suffer
the pain of being lied to
when she has the tools to buffer
and she knows the words are false?

If it’s evidence she’s wanting
… some handle on the facts …
there’s not too much trouble hunting
proof that leads to the last waltz

No man is quite so clever,
some are dumb, and that’s one fact,
And it’s really rarely ever
we’re not hep to all the schmaltz

But we stumble over “Mi amor”
and find we’ve fallen in
that deep hole without our armor
What’s with that shit impulse?

Those lyin’, cheatin’ scoundrels
pull the wool so carefully,
but we catch on to the hound’s, hell!
then ache as we convulse

So …

What drives a girl to suffer
the pain of being lied to
when she has the tools to buffer
and she knows the words are false?

Two years on a tightrope

Tensile strength’s a wondrous thing
when strung ‘tween heav’n and hell
and balancing upon a string
has often served me well

I’ve found a step in some directions
moves me toward a goal
(though a predilection for erections
leaves me less than whole … )

Scampering back a step or two
toward heaven? or toward hell?
and I’m remembering what I knew …
All lessons learned too well.

On one end, there’s my future
the other holds my past
but either end can injure
and both could be my last

I’ve walked the rope almost two years
between his needs and mine
broken promises and tears
unraveling the twine

Possible? It never was,
with this I learned to cope,
withstanding lies and all because
our world was hung on hope

The tensile strength is ebbing
the tightrope’s come undone
it’s loosed the complex webbing
keeping he and me as one

It’s snapped, that rope, and left me
hanging inches from the earth
my safety net has saved me;
still in tact and know my worth

There’ll someday be another
with the strands all forged anew
Yes, there will be other lovers
and, yes, someone will be true

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Anse Soleil rainbow

The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.
~Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I woke this morning to an odd dream, not unpleasant, set in Victoria Lodge, a fab Five Star B&B in North Devon that belongs to my friend, Jacqueline. It’s a beautiful place in a lovely English village on the Bristol Channel where I passed my days walking Jac’s sweetie of a greyhound through the Valley of the Rocks as I pondered my future.

Jac’s friendship and hospitality were huge gifts, and her house was my bolt-hole, a life-saving haven, a calm harbor in a storm-tossed sea.

I awoke with a smile, although wondering why such strong images of that time and place presented today …

until …

I drifted into full consciousness and realized today’s date: 2 March.

It was on this day in 2008 my husband of 15 years informed me of his betrayal and plans to hit the ejector seat button on our life together. Nope, didn’t see that coming, and the sideswipe almost send me careening off a cliff.

Mark was the man I’d left my life behind for, my trusted partner in building a future from scratch, in parenting two children, the only person I’d ever felt completely safe with.

Shit happens.

Three years have come and gone, and although I can too vividly recall the moment life’s path forked drastically I’m still following my feet. The road’s been rocky and strewn with potholes and no few twists have needed navigating, but it is what it is.

I’m surprised to find this date so deeply burned into my psyche that a dream as profound as this morning’s presents even with no conscious connection, but it’s often my inner awareness that keeps better track than my waking mind. I’m too busy to dwell upon losses and it’s the future I must look to, not the shadows of what might have been.

I’ve taken my lumps and my lessons … and the gifts that came with. I’ve had some amazing moments that could not have happened if the path had not diverted and managed to love and be loved again. There’s been music created and named for me, some magical experiences, joy-filled pauses that required a change in circumstance to occur.

Three years ago, I could no more have predicted a moonlit proposal or a romantic wander through ancient pyramids than a visit to Mars, but those happened and wouldn’t have had the shit not happened, too.

Of course, Sam and Cj are blessings, and they alone provide all the “reason” there would ever need to be for the path to have wandered where it did.

So, there are no regrets … simply memories and the knowledge that what happens, happens, and will keep on happening. There is more life behind me than ahead, but that’s no reason to live in the past. The future won’t play out as long, but I’m still in the game, and although I have no expectation that the rest of my road will be smooth there will be reasons to smile.

Today, as I remember my losses, I look forward to gains with gratitude for the fact that it’s rarely been dull.

The last year alone provided enough not-dull to spawn a raft of words (Check out “It Gets Verse”, a book of poems that spilled out in 2010.), and continues to inspire.

So, on that note, I’ll close with a bit more wisdom gathered, more experience collected, more words strung together as life goes on …

Scoundrel

What is it with a man
who has it in his head
that no matter the hour
and the fact that I’m in bed
can’t stop his hands from dialing
my number every night
with a need to tell me often
how his life is now a fright?

I don’t want to hear his needing
or his fucking endless pleading
for the chance to maybe seeding
a new bed

He has sown those seeds to women
who have no idea he’s givin’
it about around the world from here to there
(And I wish so he’d get out my damned hair)
But me, I learned my lesson
and no longer spend time guessin’
if he’s lying or he’s truthful
cuz there’s no doubt that what’s useful
it’s the only motivation
he can bear

He’s as shallow as a puddle
and although he seems a muddle
he has all his ducks so lined up in a row
that he’s aimed upon his targets
and the women he has marks up
are too clueless in their thoughts
that he’s their beau.

He is yours if you deliver
and he’ll have you all a quiver
just as long as there’s a payoff in the end
For he goes nowhere ‘les it’s paid for
but you’re guaranteed a lay, for
he’s a horny little bugger,
(Ask his “friends”!)

So, Yo! New girls …

Never say I didn’t warn you
Give your heart and see it torn, you
should really pay attention when I say
he’s a lyin’, cheatin’ scoundrel
fewer morals than a hound, you’ll
be knowing this already in a way
But you’re probably ignoring
all the signs that you’re deploring
and pretending that I have gone away

And I have, at least I try to
but he’ll never let it lie, too
much ego in the man to let me be
Plus he loves the life that I live
and he’s hoping I might still give
him what I have, or half,
and all for free
with not even any word of
honesty, that’s just unheard of
in that world of his that’s all about “ME, ME!”

Yes … I live and learn and live some more, catch whatever stardust floats by, grasp at rainbows and ride out … and write out … the rough bits.

It is what it is, intangible and indescribable as a tint of morning.

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Falling in love is so hard on the knees.
~Aerosmith

Given the rocky road all my romantic relationship paths have morphed into, often ending up in a screaming careening off a cliff into the abyss and crashing upon crags of whatthefuckhappenedthistime, this article titled, “Relationship Advice: Want a Sustainable Romance? Here’s the First Step”, got a read out of me this morning and assigns a bit of homework.

This post is about a frequently overlooked first step towards a sustainable relationship with your current or future partner. Couples I’ve worked with find it helpful because it builds the self-reflection and self-awareness you need for growing and evolving yourself in your relationship capacities. I call this first step doing a “Relationship Inventory.” With it, you can review, understand and learn from your past relationships. Then you can face forward with greater clarity and capacity for creating and sustaining emotional and sexual intimacy in the present and future.

Begin by making a list of all your significant romantic relationships. For each, reflect on and write down what attracted you to that person and why, at that particular time of your life.

Ack! This might take a while, but since I do still hold out hope for a “sustainable relationship” somewhere in my future it seems worth the time and effort, but I’ll keep my list of “significant romantic relationships” to myself, thankyouverymuch.

First things first, and that will be defining “significant”. I suppose I could set a minimum time commitment, but that would include some whose impact was negligible even with a bit of longevity and ignore a few who made a huge difference in a short time. Most miserable subsequent heartache could be a qualifier, as well as most joyful moments, although those could go hand-in-hand. Prompters of life changes make the list, of course, as well as those who set me off to thinking in different directions, and men who pop into mind a lot go higher than those whose names I struggle to recall.

Okay …

First for pondering is: What was the pull?

What qualities of that person attracted you to him or her? Why did those qualities attract you in the first place? Be honest, regardless of how you might feel about those traits today. Consider what role your life circumstances played in the attraction were at the time, including your emotional state and needs. Describe your level of emotional development and awareness at the time of each of those relationships.

Hm.

Considering the fact that the first romantic relationship I had involved being handed a ring at the age of seven, there’s bound to be some differences in my level of emotional development and awareness.

Since I still have the ring and remember the boy’s name, he has to head the list, and the pull is still obvious to me: he was cute, thought I was wonderful, and he owned a horse.

Over the years my parameters have shifted, and I’ll have to give a lot of thought to why I invested myself in men who weren’t so cute, were not so convinced of my wonderfulness and didn’t even own a bloody car.

Also, reflect on how your parents’ relationship impacted you, in terms of the model they exposed you to of how couples relate.

The model my parents exposed? OMG! No wonder I’ve been doomed to infidelities, narcissists and multiple divorces. I don’t think I even want to go there, actually, but I suppose I must if I’m to learn about myself through this pop quiz. Fine.

Next step: Then what happened?

Write a paragraph or two describing what you think happened during the course of the relationship that led to its ending. Of course, you’re looking back from today’s vantage point, but try to portray an unvarnished story of what happened, and why. Describe, without assigning blame.

Easy enough in some cases; not so in others. And I’m not just talking the not assigning blame thing. I’m more than willing to shoulder my part of any breakup and admit where I’ve fallen from the path.

Some relationships exploded, some imploded, some simply fizzled out. Some I outgrew, some were jettisoned for damned good reasons, some I hung on to by my bloody fingernails until there was nothing left to grasp. Some ended suddenly and completely, some lingered for years; some resulted in deep friendship, a very few in a lasting rage. Some I was happy to see the back of, some I miss to this day.

There were relationships begun with the writing large on the wall spelling out clearly: This won’t last! Others started in a climate of hopeful anticipation of happy-ever-after. Some could have been perfect … if only one or two things had been just a bit different.

I am not an easy woman in the get-along-with-for-a-long-time sense of the word. I can be demanding, expecting the best of those in my life and pushing for excellence. I know this can be wearying. I am also moody, stubborn, opinionated, insecure, needy and I don’t cook, so no picnic for anyone on a long-term basis. I have very little tolerance for soothing male egos out of some traditional mandate to do so and figure a guy should be able to take a bit of constructive criticism without feeling the need to run out and find some bolstering from peripheral women to make up for it. I take commitment seriously and brook no betrayal and am far too honest to take kindly to lies.

All this, I know, does not add up to a pleasant package for some, and the fact that I’ll walk away rather than stick with something that feels slimy has put the kibosh on more than one partnership.

So, moving right along to: What did you learn?

Next, write down what you think you learned about yourself from each of those relationships that ended. Include what you think you recognized at the time as your blind spots, your own behavior or unexpressed feelings that might have contributed to the failure or to prolonging the relationship when it would have been healthier to end it sooner. Did you apply what you learned in your next relationship, or did you repeat the same things, despite what you thought you learned?

See above … but it’s double-barreled when it comes to that failure vs/ prolonging thing. The difference between dragging a dead relationship and working through issues is not always clear, a distinction made more difficult when the horse continues to be flogged on a regular basis. As I’ve written before, hope flings infernos, and sometimes I apparently like the heat.

As for blind spots … well, I really like men and that seems to fuck with impartiality in a big way. My taste also tends toward confident men, and it’s often not until some time has passed that the confidence proves itself to be a mask for insecurity and a compensatory illusion, more flash than substance and a defense that can eventually prove offensive.

Next: What didn’t you learn?

Reflect on what you now realize you didn’t learn about yourself in each relationship that would have been helpful to your growth and to your next relationship. Or, what you could have learned from the relationship that ended that would have helped you grow your relationship capacity if you had been more self-aware at the time?

Much omphaloskepsis happens with this step, an ongoing process throughout life. Since even the stuff I have learned has yet to be completely integrated … things like dealing with the fact that I don’t like being alone, my needs for touch and comfort and sex and someone to care for … self-awareness doesn’t always seem the issue.

My “next relationships” have been sometimes based on finding someone who is sans the specific issues of the last relationships, so while my list of what I don’t want gets longer, I may not be paying enough attention to what I DO want.

I also suspect I’ll again give my heart too freely, and I really should have learned that lesson by now.

And finally: What happens now?

How can you use what you’ve discovered from the Relationship Inventory in your present life, as you go forward in your current — or next — relationship? For example, can you describe the kind of personality, emotional qualities, life vision, values or “vibes” that mesh well with your own; that promote connection and positive energy between the two of you?

I can, yes. What I can’t yet do … and perhaps I’ll spend more time with this inventory … is alter the idea that it will still come down to passion, chemistry, connection, fire, and that may mean I’m doomed.

There’s a lesson in that, though, and one I may have to accept. Since I have so few regrets when it comes to past relationships … they were what there were, for better and for worse … it’s hard for me to imagine turning down many had I been armed with this inventory.

I’m thinking back to my first husband, a man I married when I was 17 … he was 19 … and wonder what my life would have been like if we’d managed to stick that one out. We would have celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary a few weeks back and there would be years of history shared, kids, life intertwined. We’d be growing old together, companions, and he is still very cute.

That, however, was not a path I was given to walk, and although I’m rather tired of ending up at Lover’s Leap and DO hope to get it right one of these days, I’m not convinced I’ve learned enough yet on love and life and men and myself to pull that off yet.

Is it unreasonable at my age to still find myself wanting a knight in shining armor I can baby?

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My early blessings ... Jenn and Jaren


Spending time, as I have lately, chasing the past, I can’t help but fall into that familiar spiral of circular thinking that is: “What if?”.

Regrets? Yes, I have a few, and more than I want to mention, partly because there’s not a fucking thing I can do to change much now, and also because My Way never felt anywhere within my power or control. Sure, I took the road seemingly less traveled more than once, but in retrospect I see how often the path was laid at my feet even when I thought I was striking out in untested directions. In truth, I’ve just been along for the ride.

If I had it to do over again, what would I do differently? Hm.

Some of the most significant events in my life were considered doom-and-gloom negatives, but avoiding them was not only not an option at the time but would not be on any list of steer clears in a retrospectively-influenced re-do.

Getting pregnant at seventeen was not looked upon as any sort of gift when it happened; in fact my swelling belly was thought quite the harbinger of the end of things. Birth control was illegal for anyone under 18 even though the Summer of Love had just happened, my parents were outraged, my boyfriend, chagrined, and all my plans that were to lead to successful ease-of-life faded faster than cells reproduced in my womb. Having two kids by age nineteen boded ill for the future, as did being married and divorced by twenty-three.

Would I rearrange any of that now? No way, at least not any of the bits I could influence. Jenn is an amazing woman … smart, funny, successful, loving, talented, the best daughter in the world and a wonderful mother. Jaren was incredible in ways no one else will ever be, and although losing him has been the hardest misery I’ve ever faced, I wouldn’t have missed even that.

Leaving my family behind in the US and moving half way around the world only to be left high and dry some years later sounds like a stupid fucking move, especially when it meant losing all those years with Jenn and Jaren and ending up hardly knowing my fabulous granddaughter, but would I spin the globe in reverse and take all that back?

How could I? Not with Sam and Cj in my life.

I could no more skip the misery of Mark than I can regret the years of him. Shit. I can’t even lament wasting some of the last of my cute on Ernesto … after all, he gave good moment and there’s music left over and I’m not sorry about that … but I do wish we’d been in Mexico that Christmas. I should have gone. (And last night’s phone-in hug from a Mexican jungle for Jaren’s birthday garnered him another ‘good moment point’ since hugs can be eternal in many comforting ways.)

Now that I think about it, most of my regrets involve things I didn’t do rather than anything I actually did. There’s a lesson in there somewhere …

If there had ever been money enough I would have spent more time flying back and forth and bringing Jenn and Addie and Jaren to me often … very often … but there never was. Would I change that? You bet! But those aren’t cards I’ve been dealt, so wasn’t able to play that hand. Would I get on a plane tomorrow and spend time with my mother while there’s still a chance she’ll know me? Yep. But until I sell this place that is not an option.

Life is what it is when it is, though, and for this moment I’m here chasing my past and thinking how to stumble into the future. If I had any advice to share from the bottom of this spiral it would have to be not to don’t do anything you think might be important, and not to think you have endless time for doing it later. Seems to me it’s easier to apologize for … and recover from … stuff you did than to regret what you never got around to doing.

I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes.
~Carl Sandburg

Even when it’s ashes of roses …

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