Xanadu

Xanadu
In Xanadu did Kublah Khan a stately pleasure dome decree

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Physics of Quest

I'm pushing, I know that.  Fifty feels like a pivot year, I want to move as quickly as possible to find... whatever is supposed to come next, whatever this new Phase is meant to be.

"There exists in the universe something like The Physics of the Quest -- a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum.  And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this:  if you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared -- most of all -- to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself... then truth will not be withheld from you."

I happened upon this quote today and it feels like what I've undertaken, a truth-seeking journey, internal.  I definitely am treating events as clues and working hard to see the teacher in who I meet.  Am I ready to face and forgive the most difficult realities about myself?  I might be approaching that point, yes.

Something has happened recently, something... that I believe should not have happened.  And it has been handled in way it should not have been handled.  I am resisting the easy narrative, I am resisting the urge to call them categorically Wrong.  It's really tempting.  I realize I've been working to treat these as clues, as teachers.  But it's hard to find a better narrative, one which is emotionally true, fair, without excusing what should not be excused, one that opens a door to the next steps.  We shall see.

Some kinds of pain

you cannot look at directly

only just

out the corner of your eye

like the dimmest of maybe stars

when the velvet night’s

soft swaddling embrace

is clear

Enough

If you know Enough to turn aside

minutely

to become aware

of their pull

Now dead heat

thrown off long ago

at last

has reached you

along the only path it has

Caught

in the only cup

you can hold

to receive it

before it continues

as it will


and you do the same


it only has to happen once

to be heroic

when the Gorgon comes

that someone

seeing it will all end

in disaster

Somehow

with wise mystery

Knows to angle the shining shield

as a glinting weapon

to not-see


All

Reflections

you need to know

more things

in the living

dark wood

Can be navigated

after long enough

If you are patient

And

Whatever you do

Don’t watch where you are going



but Go

Still

Knowing

we navigate

Peripheral vision

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Re-Parenting

Late May -- I read and listen a lot to experts about complex PTSD, developmental trauma and such.  That was true before The Flood at Unkey’s house, and in the weeks afterward it got more Intense for a while.  I recently encountered someone who said, when you shape a kid in this way, at some point, it’s hard to fix it in childhood.  It becomes something that gets set aside, back burnered, until they are an adult.  And when they are an adult with adult resources, they basically can choose to have a second bite at the apple.  That’s the healing choice. It won’t fully un-do it, but through the miracle of neuroplasticity they can heal.  And the job before them in adulthood boils down to this... 

They need to find a way to get themselves successfully re-parented.

Now obviously this is key to the Princess exploration MasterMe is doing. It’s both happening with Unkey and within Myself as I create a relationship with Princess. It’s also happening with improvements with my actual parents who thankfully are still around and available for some of this.

But what stopped me in my tracks was this idea of seeking successful re-parenting in adulthood.  Not because I am doing it now, but because I did it once before.

Un-successfully.

Readers of the blog will have seen some references to someone I have called the predator.  When I was in college, he was my first adult relationship.  It’s a long story I don’t choose to go into here in depth, but perhaps it could be nearly summed up by calling it Very. Very. Bad. Poly. 

Basically, at an exceptionally naive college age, I backed myself into a situation where I was in a V shaped poly relationship, and the problem was his wife didn’t know - because he persuaded me to lie about it. And we were basically living together; I had my own room in their house for some time.  In today’s terms one might have thought they had a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell relationship to which I was a perhaps subconsciously recognized party. But I don’t believe the wife saw it as an open or poly marriage.  And after years in it, I found out the foundation of my own involvement was also built on an edifice of deception.

That was thirty years ago.  Every spring is a reminder on some level of the start of that relationship; the flowering beauty of spring  was no small part of my seduction.  But the point I want to make is this recent realization:  part of what happened, the reason I couldn’t leave the predator for so long was... re-parenting.

He and she gave me a home. I had a little room under the eaves of their solid Craftsman house, with a nice candlewick quilt on the twin bed and morning sunshine. It was a solid 1920s house with a yard, trees, beehives, garden, garage, classic car tinkering, cooking, baking, a dog, a cat, a porch, books, a loom, a cedar closet, birdfeeders, friends, neighbors, Sunday night spaghetti dinners. She and I went antiquing. He and I went to garden centers, and for drives in the old Volvo. The door was always open to me. I could even walk from the train station.  I loved that place with a fierceness.

I had run away to college halfway across the continental United States to escape and for three years I had floated along alone, not connecting with anyone. certainly not men. until he picked me up.  And though I fell for him, I also fell for the home they gave me.  I was essentially a stray, a lost college kid far from home, and they took me in; they were pretty clear that was the intent.  They always wanted their house to be a refuge, a safe harbor for their friends, and all else aside, they were successful in that part of the mission.

The Princess flood freakout and Unkey seranade that night, plus that researcher’s comment about seeking re-parenting made something new happen:  for the first time in 30 years there is a level on which I can feel a little bit ok about the predator.  He still was a predator, but I understand now what I got out of it.  I was in it for the re-parenting.

Unsuccessfully.

Because when it ended spectacularly, it took my new home and parents with it.  Which was in some ways bigger and more devastating than not having it to begin with.  Privation is one thing, you don't know any better.  Deprivation... well, now you know what you've lost.  So now I understand why it did so much damage and why even now three decades later new layers in it can appear.  But for the first time, instead of chalking it up just to being colossally stupid and naive (*waves at the General*),  I feel - frankly - Proud.  Yes, I chose the wrong people, but choosing re-parenting at 19 was a good choice, even the right choice.  There was a wisdom at work in me, and I can claim it now.

Successfully.

I feel a pull like that toward Unkey's house.  What I don't know is whether it is real or just wishful thinking. Time will tell.

Magic Saunas and Sofas

Mid-May:  Something interesting is happening lately.  I am realizing how isolated I am. I always sort of knew it in an abstract way, but as I grow and connect more, I realize the magnitude of disconnection is tremendously larger than I had seriously contemplated.  When I lived with E, we were out socially a lot but being out didn’t mean I felt connected. Now living alone in My house, I go out less but in the last year or so, I connect more.

In between, I just sort of float in space, like a space walker who slipped away from the shuttle, there’s just enough connection to everything else that I don’t float away entirely and disappear but it’s not much. Absent a serious partner, I go days, weeks, if work is hot and I’m sick, it can sometimes easily be a month in between moments of real connection with another human. If you raise the bar to significant, emotional, meaningful, personal, IRL connection with a person, it can be multiple months. There surely were points in My life where it has been years. The answer depends just on how meaningful you define the threshold has to be. But I’m realizing that many perhaps most people inhabit that connection zone daily, and apparently I don’t usually.

I noticed recently that I felt lonely. And then I realized that’s a new sensation. I have long been - and said aloud that I am - entirely comfortable being alone WITHOUT feeling lonely. Yet as I connect more and get a frame of reference I realize that maybe I simply blocked that channel of awareness a long time ago.  This is part of why relationships have been such a challenge: they generally have provided the vastly disproportionate amount of that connection and when each relationship ends, I’ve reverted to the floating state.  It’s been a high stakes game. The deeper I feel the connection, the more it deviates from My baseline, the more devastating the end. 

A few years ago now I decided I needed to “play the field” instead of dating one person at a time intensively. That lead to realizing I could have multiple simultaneous connections which made each better because it took off a good bit of the pressure to make any specific one WORK. And that has led to accepting the possibility of an open relationship and having poly partners. 

I had a wonderful day this weekend with My Big, his partners and a group of their friends, brunch at their house and then a trip to the Korean sauna complex. And now I’m thinking, no, I’ve had this backwards. I should NOT be living alone in My own house. It’s not just that the dirt crawl space is bad for My asthma and unhealthy; this whole approach may be unhealthy. Maybe I more than perhaps most absolutely NEED to be in a group housing environment, maybe I NEED poly partners, in this atomized urban society with my atomized emotional environment, maybe I need to fucking SURROUND Myself with opportunities to be with My people. Just as I breathe a lot better at the sauna for the obvious reason of the humidity, I also breathe (emotionally) a fuck ton better when I am with My kink tribe, surrounded by their humanity. Maybe I withdrew on purpose without understanding what it meant, maybe it was a necessary developmental stage and I’m simply ready now, maybe it just worked out that way when I could afford to finally not have the burden of roommates I couldn’t afford to be picky about. Either way I’m realizing how much My current approach may not serve Me well right now and how it reinforces My core tendencies, closing off a lot of learning opportunities.  

It's hard to notice and think about your own internal operating system.

Which is a nice intellectualized way of saying: I think I’m scared.  This connection to Big feels so good. Plugging into his house and their circle feels so good, the people are kind, it all feels so healthy, and it feels so easy, I certainly have not succeeded in creating such a circle.  E was good at that and I benefited but we’ve been apart long enough I can no longer ride those coat tails. So it feels good, so good to be with Princess’ Big and in his circle, but wow, it is starting to feel scary good to like it and want it and begin to crave it. Thirst for it. Like someone in a desert approaching what seems a lush oasis of water and praying it’s not a mirage.

I noticed yesterday that I find it uncomfortable to be in groups because it’s so unclear what’s happening, the “herding cats” problem.  It’s like an uncomfortably chaotic family, on some level I find Myself waiting for the pater familias to come in and start knocking heads, clear everything up, stop the interpersonal tension, but it doesn’t happen. The annoyance of the cat-herding is real but I noticed it clears up when I’m clear about what I want, and express it. “What are we gonna do?  I dunno what do you want to do?”  When I said at the spa: “I really want a scrub and they can take Me at 6pm, is that ok?” Then that became an organizing principle. It lead to (honestly not Me saying, but Big taking ownership of Princess wishes and being Princess advocate in a place I have trouble advocating for myself and saying): ok, she needs to be in the pool 30 min before and it will take 30 min to do, so who would rather eat in an hour and who would rather wait til 7?  

Suddenly all the pieces fell into place for the rest of the event.  Suddenly it wasn’t chaos.  This doesn’t sound mind blowing but... it’s a core thing I’m working on, that in childhood I couldn’t figure out in the situation how to make Myself heard and get My needs met. The connection to the Big and his circle is giving Me a safe and sane context to see how these things work, see them in a new way that helps Me do it again differently, navigating now from a knowing that bubbles up from inside Me and feels authentic, instead of as a cognitive puzzle I puzzle in My head up above but cannot often be sure I’m solving correctly, because I cannot connect the puzzle down to an inner answer about what’s Right for Me, much less what is right and fair to anyone else.  It’s just too complicated a puzzle to solve alone, I cannot know all the variables, My responsibility is just to offer My piece.

I’ve had other experiences recently, one with a wonderful fellow female Dominant, who is married to her delightful partner. We had a cuddle pile under blankets on the sofa one weekend, watching a little TV, napping together on each other on a chilly day. I’ve not really DONE that before. That in combination with some recent reading seems to have sensitized Me. I see now, I can recognize the sensations, the feeling of mammalian nest, soft lively energies in a pile being together, enjoying the gentle contact, getting primal food and touch needs met together. Sexuality not a flicker in the energy, just nest.

After the Korean spa trip, late evening, Big, his primary partner and I were the last ones around, sitting on the three seater sofa watching TV.  We began and could have remained 3 facing forward. I swear that’s how My family always watched TV, facing forward, well behaved, each alone on their square island of cushion. We ended with me on one end mostly facing the other end, Unkey reclined between My legs, resting his back on My torso, Me taking the initiative to pet his hair, give him a little pillow, and slide a hand under his shirt a little, his arm reaching up for My other hand; My left leg wrapped around onto his left, his left arm helping support it; his legs across the lap of his primary partner, and my foot nudging her too. We stayed that way a long wonderful while, it felt like an electric vehicle must feel at the recharge docking station.  I marvel at how I have lived at all with so little of this.  How different the world looks from that position on the sofa rather than facing forward.

And I notice too how I got from one to the other. It was My back injury, My weakness.  I cannot turn My neck enough so I needed to shift My body to look at him comfortably. Honoring that in Myself required Me to turn toward them, and we kept adjusting our individual selves until we found a balance that worked for everyone.  I needed to turn so I did; he supported me and realigned to me in a way that intersected us together with her. It was so nice.  I usually resist My pain, I don’t want to be the one to ruin the balance for others. I don’t want to be a Bother. But last night it felt like a bigger and more organic process than just me; I’m not able to ruin it. What I can do is resist the process unfolding to make it not work for Me.  It’s a different choice.

It happened earlier in the day too, now that I think of it, in a different way. Unkey emerged from a particularly hot sauna and Princess beelined for him. His face lit up, she offered him her icey slushy mango freeze, he was soaked thru from the heat. He drank it with pleasure. Then he said: I have an Idea !  And even though he knows Princess can NOT take much heat, he pulled her back into the same 175 degree sauna, just for a minute, and she LET him (which was brave of both Princess and MasterMe). It was made of red clay and had a perfect dome ceiling inside, maybe a 20’ diameter room made of clay stone. 

We sat together in the special spot he had discovered and he sang a note, then Princess listened to the sound in her head and heard another note and she sang that one. So they sat in the super hot rock dome room alone together and sang, and then our friends came in and we sang more and the friends each picked a note and the mix kept shifting as each person ran outta breath and it was like buddhist monks chanting or something and it was beautiful.  And then a stranger came in and we kept doing it, and they didn’t join but afterward they said they really liked it. And it was magical.  Unkey and Princess made magic together. Not just for them. Not just with friends. Also with a stranger.  That’s EXTRA magical.  Unkey has good ideas.

Same thing, each person adding their piece, everyone organically shifting and adjusting and the whole thing together beautiful, the shared space bringing itself into tune through each of the people.

And then as SOON as we stopped singing Princess realized the floor was TOO HOT for our BUTT, and everybody was TOO HOT, and we got OUTTA there.  But it still was magical.

Smelly Feet

Unkey’s house was hosting a MUNCH, and he invited us to GO.  

It’s a group I’ve wanted to connect with, but they often meet a prohibitive distance away.  On the day, I couldn’t seem to get Princess off the dime, and I was having some trouble figuring out why.  It seemed to be something to do with being in a big, unstructured group around Unkey.  When I’m near Unkey, Princess comes to the forefront in me, but that doesn’t mean he is feeling Unkey-ish.  I know it takes him a bit of effort to tap into that for me;  this began as him service topping me and I am careful to remember that reality.  He is growing into the dynamic with me, but it’s a stretch, and I don’t want to push us. I rein Princess in when it seems necessary.

So I suspect I was just NERVOUS basically, about going to this munch because we felt CONFLICTED.  I wanted to be at the EVENT, and be near HIM, but I knew he would be playing host and not in Unkey headspace and I was maybe anticipating Princess feeling abandoned and stuck, unable to process it with him as it occured.  This is sort of our deal, when we are together, I am truthful with him about what Princess says and feels, and we manage her together if needed.  Also I had a persistent headache.

So I couldn’t get us out the door to the munch and eventually MasterMe told Unkey we had a problem with Princess and he said something like:  just get yer butt over here!  So even though we were not properly ready in several ways (shoe issues, no real potluck contribution, no makeup), Master just kinda grabbed some stuff into huge BAG for all contingencies, and threw Princess in the car and we WENT, headache and ALL.

When we got there, everyone was singing and playing cuz it is a musical kind of munch.  I held back and off to the side, feeling discombobulated.  He came and said hi to us and all, but he was in host mode and that was OK.  Master let Princess stay on the edges with her headache, and decide how she felt about the whole thing.  We chatted briefly with some people and deflected a guy or two. Mostly we were deep in observer mode.  Princess wanted to take her shoes off but she didn’t like that her feeties were kinda SCHTINKY and she felt very EMBARRASSED about that.  This was one of the issues that Master had bulldozed over on the way to showing up.

Eventually it became clear Princess was not going to relax about the smelly feet problem.  So I looked around the big open living space.  Wash my shoe inserts in the kitchen sink? Oh, HELL no.  I’d go home first.  Wash them in the guest half bath?  Maybe but it would take a while and possibly inconvenience others or worse attract unwanted attention.  Hrm. Ah-HA ! The sink in the laundry room, which has a door. There’s soap, an appropriately utilitarian sink, privacy. I can be in and out and no one will ever know, and then I can really start attending this party.  I’m sure if I asked Unkey, he’d be OK with it. Good plan.

So I went in, closed the door, and feeling a little guilty for being a slightly bad guest, I washed the orthodic insole things.  I was drying them by standing on them when I realized the floor was wet. And then I realized the sink had leaked.

A LOT.  Everywhere.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Now Princess starts freaking out, and the General wakes up from his nap.

I hustled out to the munch; managed to attract Unkey’s attention across a room of 30 people without catching anyone else; urgently pulled him to the laundry room; and he hustled off to provide towels.  After I did an initial wipe up, I really panicked, and had to pull him back over. There wasn’t enough water on the floor, nothing close to how much I had put down that drain.

I had to ask him if maybe the water could be falling down into the semi-finished basement below.  They had had something similar happen before in a different spot. We scampered down, trying not to raise suspicions.  And there it was, a big puddle on the floor. Some furniture was wet. A big oriental rug was touching the puddle. He got me more towels.

He didn’t say a whole lot, we just levelly and quietly dealt with it without disrupting the party and then he entrusted MasterMe to finish the job, while he went back to running the event.  I mopped up, propped up, did everything I could to Fix It.

I was down there in the McMansion basement alone a long time, the water was the easy part.  

Then I had to mop up Princess.  

She was... devastated. 

And the General was pissed.  

And Princess was sure Unkey either was mad at her or was going to be mad at her, either did yell at her or was gonna really yell at her, and she was afraid.  She was a bigger puddle than the water itself. And just pummeling herself for flooding Unkey’s HOUSE!  How could she DO that!  The General was using words like stupid and bad guest and such.  And I had one HELL of a time convincing them that Unkey was ok, we were ok, it was ok. They did NOT believe me. I wasn’t sure I believed Myself at that point.  But he hadn’t blown up at me and he hadn’t been hostile, he’d been studiously neutral, which I hugely appreciated.  And I realized...

... this is it.  This is ground zero of my PTSD.  

Princess has assumed the crash position because she is SURE the most important man in her life is going to lose his shit IN HER DIRECTION and she is BRACED for it.

That was... sobering.

Poor Princess.

Yes, she was devastated.  I was down there at least half an hour working to screw my head on enough to go back upstairs.  I did. I went and sat amongst the music makers, they did another half dozen songs. I kept to an edge, and basically stayed social on the surface and withdrawn everywhere else until most all had left and Unkey came over and asked how everyone in there was doing.  He had a sense it wouldn’t be great.  I let him know it had taken some doing, and in his fascinating quiet way he let me know he grasped what I was saying.

Someone I used to know rubbed my shoulders a bit for the headache but had to go for a playdate.  Then I was naked in the hot tub outside on a March night in the mid Atlantic. Wearing my silly sauna hat. Nekkid with a half dozen people, not talking a lot but holding it together, sitting next to Unkey in the bubbling water for 40 minutes, with my headache and a bruised Princess,  just feeling close to him, letting him pet me under the surface, feeling connected.  Slowly believing he doesn’t hate Princess, he still luvs Princess the same as before she flooded his new house.

As the evening ended, it was just me, Unkey and his primary partner (PP) in the house. She gave me an ice pack so I could cool down the headache before driving.  I was lying on the floor with my feet on the sofa seat, stretching a little.  Unkey came in and started playing piano, not talking much but I was talking to him, sort of a running commentary about the music and how he was playing it.  His PP came over and offered me a footrub which I gratefully accepted.

For about half an hour, I laid on the floor with the ice pack I needed for my pain; being comforted with touch and my Unkey serenading me on the piano.  Not far off how my dad used to like me to play piano for him on a Sunday afternoon while he laid down.

Unkey and I even have the exact same piano.

It’s taken over a month to write about this, because it was a very deep experience. The depth of my... terror... about the flood.  And the depth of my... I don’t know what to call that good stuff... in that last half hour.  I realized that while my childhood had that terror, it had none of the comfort.  I really don’t think I have any memories of feeling as safe, supported, nurtured, accepted, you name it, within my family of origin in childhood, as I did right then with Unkey and his primary partner.  It was a balm.

It... glued something together in me.  It allowed something in Princess to solidify.

And then I went home.  

MasterMe said:  Good job, team. Good work tonight.

Princess said:  Good job, Master.

Butterflies

March 2019 -- One night Princess and Unkey had a DATE night, on a stupid Wednesday. They had some yummy FOOD he brought, and then they cuddled, and Princess showed him the little booklets of temporary tattoos MasterMe had gotten for her about a year ago in the ART store.  It seems like somehow Unkey is more comfortable with Princess being the one to get the ball rolling when they finish dinner and wanna start being playful. It seems like MAYBE Princess’ enTHUZiasm helps him get in touch with his own playfulness, and then once that happens, we feed off each other.  But... If she doesn’t initiate then we can stay in friend mode and we end up naked talking about cloud services or sumptin NILLA.  Which is still GOOD, but that’s not a PRINCESS idea of FUN you know.  So Princess asked Unkey as an opener if he maybe would like to put a temporary tattoo on her and he said YES!  

Princess is always so PLEASED when Unkey likes her IDEAS. Well, he really LIKED this one!  He did a butterfly. And it was good, so he thought we needed a SECOND one, to be balanced and even you know. And then he JUST KEPT GOING!!  So Princess tried to lie very still while he put them on her BACK, and her BUTT and her THIGHS.  And you know, Unkey got INTO it, he was all serious-playful, being really careful to make two straight lines of evenly spaced butterflies from her shoulder blades down over her BUTT almost to her KNEES!  He used them all UP!  TWO whole BOOKS!  There musta been almost twenty butterflies on Princess. And they were beautiful.  And. And...  he got a little silly BOSSY, telling her to hold them up, and be ready for the next one, and count.  And sometimes he would slide a finger or two in her and make her WIGGLE and MOAN, cuz he likes NOISES from Princess. And then things got sexy here and there in a very sweet way.

When we were almost done cuddling and it was almost time for him to go HOME, Princess got the idea Unkey should have a tattoo TOO!  She wanted to kinda MATCH, and she wanted to have him have a nice MARK from the date TOO.  He wasn’t too SURE but he INDULGED us, so we put a nice swirly henna colored circle on his HIP.  And we pressed it nice and FIRM like the directions say for THIRTY seconds so it LASTS.

It was So. Much. Fun.  Princess is very happy with her Unkey.

And THEN, the next day, Princess noticed in Master’s fet feed that Unkey posted a picture of his Tattoo!!  But he was DISCRETE and didna say how he GOT it.  MasterMe and Princess were at an event when we saw it and we got all silly-happy-smiley and lovey-DOVEY and it was hard to explain WHY to the people at the munch near us.  But we were all glowy and almost a little WEEPY.  Princess kinda HOPED maybe he might do SOMETHING like that but she still make a big loud GASP when she saw it, and started bouncing around.

And then she told Master: we should post the BUTT-erflies !!  

Now... Master does not historically put naked photos of Herself out on the interwebs. It’s not her THING. But even Master had to AGREE that the photo Unkey had taken of all the butterflies was a VERY good photo of us.  So She made a SPECIAL EXCEPTION.  And RIGHT AWAY we started getting likes on the photo, and comments on the photo, and then Unkey made a silly sneaky comment on the photo TOO!  Princess was bouncing all OVER the place.  We got more likes and comments and schtuff on the BUTTerflies than we ever did on anything else we ever posted, it was COOL.

We don’t have a good ENDING to the story, there’s no MORAL to the STORY or nuthin.  Princess just wants to say she LIKED it a LOT.  And she thinks Unkey and her are a good team when it’s a quarter past silly.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Gardening in the Dark

Early May -- It’s been a rough few weeks with work stress and allergies/ asthma. Unable to leave, unable to breathe, coughing fits so hard I was having Middle Aged Lady problems.  Not happy. A week of steroids got Me human but not fixed. Acupuncture helped for about 36 hours and then I was backsliding. I learned there is an FDA approved “medical food” for asthma (naturally not covered by insurance), realized I could get the same stuff with supplements (EPA) and grass fed beef (DLA). Hit the algae based EPA hard, woke up to today and felt... like DOING something. Checked the weather, found good breathing conditions, ventured out.
Maybe it’s just the weather, or the EPA, or the acupuncture, or a super delayed assist from the steroids, or a combo. Maybe the fact I am unplugging the powerful wifi router inside My Faraday-Cage house when I’m not streaming makes a difference to My clarity.  Somehow, today I felt like me again for the first time in weeks. I bought 16 cubic feet of good dirt and 6 of cedar mulch, loaded it in the car Myself; unloaded it Myself; drank two coconut waters; ate almost nothing; and then Princess and MasterMe proceeded to happily do heavy gardening for most of six hours.  We didn’t stop until after 10pm, which means we gardened in the dark for quite a while. We even managed to dry-flip-dry-fold away the 10x20 tarp.  And then just as I was finishing creating some order from the chaos, the rain came.  A nice strong downpour, some wind and lightning.  It felt GREAT to have accomplished so much in the perfect window I got today, and be rewarded with a spring rain.  Tomorrow everything I did will look even better.   After weeks of barely feeling alive, it was great to feel VITAL.

We didn’t quite realize both Master and Princess like gardening, but we do.  That means buying the house was significantly Princess’ idea; she wanted DIRT and to be able to make a FIRE for steaks and marshmallows.  Today she was looking at a little chimanea at the garden center.

Princess likes to use her body, she is interested in plants; she likes DOING schtuff; and she gets a real THRILL out of looking in the bathroom mirror and seeing she is FILTHY.  So Master had her shower before bed to not get the sheets dirty and keep the pollen outta bed. Princess enjoyed her shower, washing her dirty feeties with the brush; using the stripey big towel she got visiting john; putting on her super soft flannel Peanuts robe that she bought at Unkey’s suggestion; gently drying her hair with the special brush to make it FLOOFY.

It’s interesting to realize how much I enjoy getting dirty and getting clean.  I don’t enjoy showering for work, that’s a rushed chore much of the time, but I really love this slower post-garden process. Smelling the nice body wash, stroking My soft hair, the delight of feeling fresh and clean and soft and fragrant.  For so long hygiene was a Should and one I faintly resented wasting time on. So inefficient to have to bathe, such a waste of time. 

What I notice lately is that it doesn’t feel like a Should, or another annoying obligation.  I’m not imposing an activity on Myself from the head down.  Lately the motivation to do things like this - self care - come bubbling up from below, and they float Me.  There is a lightness to it now. A Joy. They feel good, delicious even.  I have been missing out, but Princess understands.  This is rapidly becoming a good litmus test for how Princess is doing.

So the tomatoes are in, herbs planted.  The planters are for the first time completely full of dirt and grow bags to organize things. The weeds are pulled, gap lined with newsprint, the space filled with cedar mulch level with the retaining wall; that should fix the annoying and persistent weeds. The lilac is blooming, staked, mulched. The cold frame infrastructure disassembled for summer.  The ginormous unwieldy wet muddy tarp dried in time over the fence in the dark; folded in the dark; rolled up alone, bungee corded, put away all the bags and debris gathered.  All that remains is to buy more of whatever I feel like, and to divide and plant the yellow flowers along the chain link to make it prettier.

It’s so good to work with My hands, to do tangible work with visible, gratifying results.  I need more of that.  And somehow gardening is a gateway to horniness. Not a bad thing.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Sunshine Away


It was a fair to middling day in the Gulf of Mexico, s'posed to be rainy but by late morning was looking better, it had brightened and I wanted to enjoy the few hours of good weather on My last day at the beach. My father wanted to go to the Naval Air Museum... again. This time the pretext was to show My aunt a specific plane he used to fly, not that she cared. He wanted her to see it, he wanted her to Understand. I’ve come down four winters now and have been compelled maybe 8 times or more to this museum, which is excellent for its kind of course, but I’ve had a lifetime with My father’s love affair with large machinery. It’s his passion, not Mine and I didn’t want to spend the day that way and I resisted. Neither mom nor aunt wanted to go either but they were not saying so. Our family remains more patriarchal than most and by Day Five dad was just chomping at the bit.

MasterMe protested that we wanted to go to the beach and get the last sun and play puttputt, there was a coded negotiation with Father, and in the end, we agreed to go for “just a little while” even as I ribbed dad that he was gonna owe Me $5 if he kept us there til closing. I did My best through all possible good-sport tactics to make clear I did not want to go, but the message was clear: this is the price you are expected to pay when you come to visit. He said that out loud. I observed that material terms to an agreement are supposed to be disclosed before the deal is sealed not after. He said I should know that already. It was a jesting kind of conversation but a serious one, the kind that seems to be the best of bad options.

I wanted a shower but no, no time! Had to get going! After arriving at noon it was beyond 4pm when we left. We made it to the curb once, at 2:15 and mom inquired about lunch. In a flash dad was back inside, and texting that yes, QubiClub was still serving, meet him there. *sigh* So close. So close. I’ve never managed a jail break from this museum successfully; that’s the closest I’ve come.

By time we finally left, with me driving the elders, it was starting to mist and fog. Mom was increasingly anxious in the back seat, fearing an accident. So much for going to the beach. So much for mini golf.  So much for what I wanted.

So much for what Princess wanted.

Master drove us home in the fog and tried to be sanguine about it. I was annoyed but keeping it under the surface, trying to make the best of family Quality Time. Hoping the weather would break open again as we drove. It didn’t. Master was focused on driving safely in poor conditions with mom in the back getting more and more anxious. Just like Grandma used to be. My aunt bought me a Starbucks at the end of the trip, which felt like she was trying to make something up to me, and I appreciated it, but in our family way, nothing was said about the deal not holding even though everyone knew about dad getting what he wanted, and being the only one. So we returned home, sat down, and it took about 10 minutes to notice I was irritable and to admit to Myself why.

I didn’t quite realize it yet but Princess was MAD. I mean H-E double toothpicks FURIOUS. Master had promised her, and Master and our FAther didn’t deliver, and now her trip is OVER and she missed her last of only a few short opportunities to get sun on the beach. She instead spent that time inside because her FAther wanted to show her aunt stupid airplanes, and it was GONE. And she was MAD. And that’s a LOT how she feels about the stupid museum: it takes away her sun on these trips.  Her very valuable, limited supply, hard to get, never-know-when-it-might-happen-again-if-at-all SUN.

Master can appreciate the technology and that dad got to pursue his dream of flying and that dad has survivor guilt about VietNam and that the Navy was the best time of his life, and he feels ill treated by what the Navy did to him, and all that. That’s dad’s story. Mom’s story is that she married a Navy officer, and maybe it wasn’t what she expected but it’s the deal she chose.

But neither is Princess’s story.

The Princess story is that those airplanes took her daddy aWAY. Today the museum took her beachy sunshine aWAY. The stupid Navy and stupid airplanes have done nothing but take her sunshine away her whole LIFE. And today, she just had E-NUFF. Even on her vacation at FIFTY years old, those stupid airplanes KEEP taking her daddy away, and she is SICK of it.

One of the interesting things about today is Unkey said this museum sounds like fun to him, and Princess immediately thought she would LOVE to have Unkey with her at the museum. That would be FUN and it even sounded kinda sexy. That helped Master realize: ah, this is a lot about feeling alone and unsupported in the Princess feelings TODAY. Not 50 years ago... TODAY.

That connected some dots. Cuz we do like SOME things about this museum, it has cool STUFF, we just have such mixed FEELings we have trouble enJOYing it much. There is a sculpture at the museum that makes Me nearly burst into tears every damned time. I hate that fucking sculpture. It tears off the same scab every time. There’s nothing in My life that so predictably makes Me break inside, and it’s fucking annoying. My father has never been present in that moment with Me on any of those trips. He sees the sculpture, he understands it logically, but he is never THERE emotionally with i and with Me. He is looking at the fucking airplanes, he is looking at absolutely everything – anything - else.    There are some important skills he lacks.

Master only dimly foresaw Princess reaction to this reasonably foreseeable progression of events; Princess thinks Master should be a bit BETTER at that kind of thing by now. But it snuck up on Master. The trip to the museum was just the latest in this series of events that Master has done before, and knows how to handle in Master space -- but which is happening for the first time with Princess directly engaged.

And then we were back at the rental unit and FAther was sitting in the front room telling our aunt about his side of his family property feud, that crosses three, no four, generations. Going on and on about his beef.

And Princess could not bear it that she was so upset about being made to go to the museum and NOT getting what she was PROMISED and NOBODY NOTICED !

Princess was INVISIBLE and she HATES being invisible, and she was FURIOUS about it, in a very real, acute and possibly new way. So Master took her into the bedroom and laid down in the dark, cuddled in a blanket, tried to calm her, tried to tell her it was ok and Just Breathe. But we could still hear our FAther comPLAINing to our aunt, wanting her approval for his role in the stupid conflict, and then Princess got even more upset cuz she realized no one had noticed she had disappeared. Princess was really losing it. She felt so alone she just could not STAND IT anyMORE!!  She just wanted to break EVERYthing!!

So Master did something new. Master dressed her - didn’t try to make noise, didn’t try to be quiet - and put on shoes and a coat and got a bottle of water in the open-concept living space, and walked out the big heavy front door. And no one noticed.

We walked out the door in the dark and fog and we went to the BEACH, like we wanted to this MORNing and we walked the beach at the water’s edge in the weird darkness like being in The Shining movie. Alone. 
And this is what I thought:

I cannot bear his pain, there’s so much pain in him. He has pain about everything.  I cannot bear his pain and I cannot bear his joy, because his joy for those damned airplanes is Princess’s pain for his absence. And there doesn’t seem to be any space in the middle for connection that feels real, that doesn’t feel like being trapped in a glass bubble. And it seems impossible for Princess’ pain to be seen and heard and comforted.

So Princess ran away from home for the first time tonight and she ran away to the ocean. In the fog and drizzley misty dark. And even though it’s maybe not so safe, Master let her. Because Princess has needed to run away many times before and never did and that’s why she feels so STUCK. Master decided she needed to be allowed to run away.

We are a little afraid we might be raped or murdered out here on the beach, or hit by the beach cleaning truck, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or carried away by a rogue wave and a rip tide. And we are trying hard to not think too much about the last scene of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening book, in which the woman decides her only real option is to walk fully clothed into the Gulf of Mexico, and let the water take her.

We are in a very dark place tonight, we have felt very bad like this before, many times. Princess is despondent, despairing, and alone. Master hopes choosing something new will make a difference. So Master got us to the beach and then turned around and took a picture of our building in the weird dark fog so we could recognize its unique pattern of colored lights to get home - smart Master, good Master, wise Master.  And then Master let Princess go.

Princess, do you wanna stay in Alabama or walk to Florida?

FLORIDA!

And it was not a little bit genuinely scary. I’ve never walked on a beach in the dark like that. I have spent very little time on beaches. It seemed unsafe and unwise. We walked along the edge til we got to the place it gets a little steep and sand-suctiony, and after a while we couldn’t see our building for a long time and it really was kinda scary being alone out there. And then we sat down on a pile of sand and stared at the ocean waves in the dark wondering if a tsunami would come. And MasterMe started writing what became this blog post, just because there was no one we could talk to and we just couldn’t find anything else.

Eventually Princess’s BUTT got sore. 

That sand was not soft and fluffy like it LOOKED. It was packed from the wind and waves and it was HARD.  And it SUCKED.  She didn’t mind being on the beach, but she wanted a comfy CHAIR or a SOFA.

Princess, are you ready to go home?  We’ve been gone a while.

NO !

Wanna walk a little further just to make a point?

Yah.

Just to prove you CAN?

*nods*

Ok.

So we walked a little further. And then eventually:

Princess are you getting tired?

Yeah.

Gotta pee?

Yeah.  

Are you ready to go home?

*sigh* 

*mumble*... i GUESS.

So Master took Princess home, it was a long walk, and we were nervous we lost the building but we didn’t, and at the end, we left the water’s edge, sat on a dune outside the condo building and grumbled that STILL nobody noticed. We wondered how long til somebody would TEXT and ask where we WERE. We were gone about 90 minutes all together, and it was definitely dinner time, and eventually our FAther came out to ask what we were doing Out There. Slowly Master and he had a talk, in which Master managed to say that we need him to understand that museum is NOT all fun for us, it makes us sad and it makes us angry.  He said me too, and he talked a little about what it was like back then, how hard it was to leave his family to go away to fly the airplanes, and it was nice he shared that cuz he doesn’t talk like that much, but still it was about his perspective, his pain.

It didn’t make Princess feel any better. She just sighed in her head about how it’s always Like This.

Master tried again, she said: when we go there and get upset we feel trapped; we want to be a Dutiful Daughter and we don’t want to be a wet blanket on Family Fun, but there does not seem to be a way to leave when it gets to be too much for me. 
Master did manage to say an important thing:  that we don't know how to be upset now for things that happened so long ago; we don't know to be upset with him and we don't *want* to be upset with him cuz we know it hurts him too, but that just leaves us upset and confused. And that's why we don't want to go to the museum. He said he wouldn’t make us go again unless we really want to. He knows he did that today, he MADE us go. He said he won’t do that again. He said that twice. So we know he Meant It and we know that means he was feeling Sorry he made us.

That’s a good start.

Master didn’t quite manage to say the big thing, the hard thing: that these museum trips are all about HIS experience, his joy, his pain, and there doesn’t seem to be room for Princess’ feelings anywhere among those airplanes. We don’t need him to feel guilty about the past, we need him to be present NOW, for the part of me who gets sad and angry. But Master says that’s a Big Ask cuz he does feel so terribly Guilty.

But it was Progress. So we got up and made a hug happen with our FAther, our deeply human FAther, and then we walked to dinner with mom, and the three of us had dinner on a covered porch at Flora-Bama Yacht Club, which is just a big beachy bar place. And we all shared a boozy milkshake that got us each a little tipsy and made us all FART a little, and we walked back feeling some better.

I don’t know what got said in the apartment while I was gone, I would like to know, but I think something got said. Maybe it’s just that they got scared when they realized I had disappeared and they had not noticed. Maybe my mom or aunt said something to dad. Maybe they were just startled by their Dutiful Daughter doing something she Doesn’t Do, and in the Dark no less.

Looking back, Master says this was all ok. We felt the feels and at first, Princess tried to stuff her feelings and pretend to be ok and when that didn’t work she tried to hide in her room. And it made her chest hurt. All of that is the freeze part of the fight-flight-freeze response to trauma; it’s the way we pretty much always have coped with the hardest problems, including the Parent Problems. 

But this time we did something different, we got outta Freeze and we did Flight. We fled. And when we ran away, we felt angry and we kicked some sand, and we Talked Loud And Annoyed on the beach. That’s Fight. We went from cold pain to hot pain and then it burned itself out and got extinguished and we were All Done, so we went back Home and while it wasn’t ideal, there was some amount of Support and Understanding when we got there.

That’s all ok. It’s never happened before like this. Maybe Princess has NEEDED to know how to run away, how to Flee and to Fight. Maybe that’s part of The Medicine.

It was deeply beautiful out there on the beach, at the water’s edge tonight. Alone in the fog and dark. It felt raw and wild and dangerous. It felt Real. It was the very antithesis of Sunshine but it was still Beautiful. It’s almost as if for the first time, I stopped fighting for the missing sunshine and allowed myself to be fully present, to sink in that beautiful Dark in a way that worked, in a way that let Me come back to Light better.

At first tonight felt like a Disaster but maybe Master did better tonight than it seemed. Much better.