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A Quiet Winter Season

These have been days wrapped around holidays, celebrations, and observances of the natural turning of the seasons.  As we've passed through the winter solstice,  Chanuka, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and approached the beginning of the new year, I have found myself not knowing what I might say.

I am aware that it is the custom to share greetings and good wishes of the season -- and I do.

I am aware that, culturally, this spate of winter festivals engenders a shared mood of joy and merriment, and that we really are all expected to join in the singing and gifting and feasting.  To hold oneself apart from all of that is seen as, well, Grinchy.

I am aware that, as we turn the calendars from December, 2011 to January, 2012, the sense of having a fresh start is compelling; that the making of resolutions is our traditional way of acknowledging the simultaneous acts of reviewing the year just past, and anticipating the year yet to come.

Day after day, I find myself looking at this blog, and wondering what it is that I can say about all of that to those who read here...

  • Would it be good to recount the pleasures of gifts given and received?  Surely, we have done that, and felt happy and amazed at the abundance of good things in our lives.
  • Would talking about the pleasant afternoon spent in the company of the youngest of our, now grown, children, convey how very special that one has come to be in the life of our family?
  • What about the bounty of holiday movies that we've been to see?  We've enjoyed a remarkable crop of intelligent, provocative, and thoroughly enjoyable films lately.
  • Does it make any sense to talk about the luxury of time together?  The days of the winter break from school have coincided with the time that T had off of work to recover from her surgery, and so we have had a rare space when we were under very few obligations outside our own little household.
  • Is it even possible to catalog or delineate the changes we are experiencing emotionally or "spiritually" or intellectually as we move, day by day, to live the life that is now ours?  I don't think so... not yet.

Our lives have become quiet.  The storms are, at least for now, moving off into the distance.  It is oddly still in our world.  We've learned not to look back at what was, and we are not inclined to look very far into the future either.  Small pleasures, and quiet joys, and fragile-seeming moments of laughter and happiness are treasures that we hold close.

It is as if we have come through a dense woodland into a small clearing.  The darkness and terror of the passage is still fresh in our memories, but the clearing is open and light, and it is less scary than what we've been through.  For now, we are content to hang onto one another, and we are reluctant to test the edges.  Life, here in the clearing, is gentler than the dark and twisting paths of the forest.  We are resting -- and we wish you seasons of gentleness and rest as well...




In the beginning...

For us, the beginning of everything was wrapped up in words.  We "met" on line, and it was an odd sort of meeting.  Those were the days of listservs, and He and I participated alongside each other in one such online discussion community.  In the beginning, we talked alongside one another rather than TO each other.  It took us a bit of time, but we finally noticed each other, and the conversation was joined.  Once we started, we talked and talked and talked.  There really did seem to be no end to the flow of words between us.  It was  a river that fed our souls.

In this last year... a great silence has fallen between us.  It has felt as if every attempted conversation ended badly, and day by day, we've become less and less willing to try.  It has felt safer, most of the time, to sit quietly, side by side, without a word passing between us.

But, just in these last few days, words have begun to live between us again.  We are tentative, cautious, seeking the pathways which we've lost...  The threads of conversations are beginning to weave a web joining our hearts and minds.  It feels miraculous and wondrous.  Not making any predictions or forecasts.  What might come next is opaque.  I only know that we seem to have found our words again.  It is a beginning place.  Words.



Two Wolves

I am aware of feeling very angry.  Inside.  I know that I ought to let this all go, and find some quieter, calmer place -- especially at this season.  Knowing is not doing.  Casting around the web, looking for some bit of wisdom, I found this...




Just a couple of weeks after Master got His new bicycle, I was struck with a serious case of bicycle envy.  He was having so much fun with His new bike that I found myself wishing that I could have one too.  T has a bike that she brought home from her mother's house.  When spring comes and her shoulder is healed up, she'll be able to ride right along with Him.  I was very caught up in wanting to be part of the fun...

The problem, or at least one of the problems, is that I haven't ridden for years and years -- probably not since my teens.  And, I have balance issues.  Some 20 years ago, when I lost my hearing, I also lost my balance.  I stay vertical because I learned (or re-learned) how to do it, and if I lose focus or my attention wavers for an instant, I can fall over quite convincingly.

As Master started to work at His Christmas shopping, I let it be known that I'd rather have a bike than almost anything else I could imagine...  And that is how I became the proud owner of my very own beautiful new Trek bicycle.  It is wonderful; a far different two-wheeled conveyance than the old Hercules 3-speed I rode so many years ago.  And, to my absolute delight, the balance issues that I worried about do not seem to be a problem.  I ride along just fine.

So, we've been riding on days when the weather permits it ... round and round and round here in the condominium complex.  It is relatively safe, if you don't count the possibility of being run down by a blue-haired old lady, and there are plenty of hills and curves and a wooden foot bridge that spooked me at first, but has been conquered in fine style.   Yesterday afternoon, He and I began to discuss the possibility of a ride when I got home from school.  It was cold here (in the low 30s), but clear and sunny, and we thought we could bundle up warmly and enjoy a ride.  I told Him that I was wishing we could go ride in an upscale neighborhood not far from here... see something different, do something besides ride around "the circle," and He agreed.

I came home, and He was ready to go -- all bundled up in lots and lots of layers.  I got changed, layered up, and joined Him in the garage to get the bikes out.  We took off together and headed over to the ritzy neighborhood.  We rode and rode and rode, all around all the curvy streets and cul-de-sacs with the fancy names.  It was way more challenging than I had imagined -- very hilly, but we covered the whole neighborhood, and found ourselves, once again, at the entrance to the place.  I figured that we would ride back the way we'd come, and head back to the house, but He took off the other direction, around a pond and down the hill.  He turned onto another street, and rode on ahead.  At first there was a sidewalk, but then we reached the point where the sidewalk ended -- a very Shel Silverstein moment.  There was a lot of traffic, and the road was very narrow.

Suddenly, a car passed me by, very close.  I hadn't heard it coming, and I jumped when it passed.  The front wheel of the bike fell off the edge of the pavement, and the bike wobbled wildly.  I ended up in a very undignified heap in the dirt at the side of the road.  I laid there, checking to see if anything was broken.  Nothing seemed to be, and so I untangled myself from the frame of the bike, and scrabbled up to my feet.  Master was long gone...  too far ahead to notice that I wasn't still behind Him.

I walked, pushing the bike for probably a half an hour -- headed for home.  He, when He did notice I was missing, went looking for me... But really had no idea where I was (and I hadn't taken my cell phone).  He rode all over the route we'd covered, but not back down the last part of the ride home.  Eventually, He went back to the house and got the car, and came and found me.  He loaded me and the bike up in the car and took me home.  I was shaken, but not damaged, and very glad to have been rescued.  What an adventure!

I guess the moral of the story is that being 57 years old is a lot different than being 16.  Who knew?  Anyway, I guess I am back to riding "around the circle" until I am more sure on the new bicycle.  That may take some time...


Teresa Here

I have been pretty absent lately on the blog. My shoulder is finally recovered to the point that it doesn't scream when I try to type. I have also been just ready and listening to my family as they continue to struggle thru this difficult year.

I am good. I have tried to be supportive and loving. Sometimes I am not so good at it, but I still try. We have had a tough year. Tom and Sue are working together and apart to become healthier contributors to our family. I did the therapy and as much continued care as I could muscle.

When I saw Joyce's response to "It's All About Control", I was taken aback. I have never thought to be jealous of Tom's relationship with Sue. He isn't jealous of my relationship with Sue and I don't think Sue is jealous of Tom and I. The 3 of us have been together for almost 11 years. Certainly in the beginning, I felt threatened and jealous, but in a poly relationship, nobody moves faster than the slowest member. And I was pretty slow back then so they were considerate of my needs. And I finally caught up and found my better half, Sue. We have both said it before, the fact that we share a brain.....we also share Tom.

So no, I am not jealous. I worry that Sue is not as gentle with herself as she should/could be. I worry that they don't take the time to just be and let things go.
I want us to be together forever because I do not think I could live without either of them.

Well, I will go back to my sling and Percocet. Talk to you all later.



It is About Control

Henry (called Hank) and Patricia met at a communication workers union gathering in the spring of 1954. He was, like so many men his age, a veteran of World War II. He served with the communications corps, stringing line across Europe ahead of General Patton's advancing army. She was seven years his junior; a woman who knew her own mind -- who liked her freedom and independence. She was a beauty, but cold as ice. In the years that followed, he'd sometimes get drunk and declare that she had "gotten married in June, but he had married in April." Officially, the date of their marriage was June 4, 1954. I was born in the early days of February, 1955. It was an event that neither of them ever intended.

I don't know what I called her when I was but a baby. I imagine that some variant of "Mama" served when I was just a little thing. I know that I have no conscious memory of her as anything but "Mother." There was nothing cuddly or sweet about the woman who bore me. She bitterly resented my coming into her otherwise perfect life, and she was never shy about letting me know that I'd ruined everything by my very existence. "I never wanted children," she would declare to me whenever some childish behavior of mine impinged on her routines. "I wish I had joined a convent!" -- the final and intentionally brutal finding on the value of my presence in her world.

She drank. So did he -- my father, although it seems that his drinking occurred late at night after we'd all been put to bed. Mother would drink as soon as he left for work in the morning. It wouldn't be long before she would be angry, raging around the house at the unfairness of everything. She would throw things and kick things and slam pans on the kitchen counter. I would cower in corners and behind furniture, trying to become invisible; trying to avoid making her more angry -- trying to keep from drawing her attention to me. If I failed to vanish; if her rage focused on me, then terrible things would happen.

There was a cellar under the house; reached by a cellar door from out back. A wooden ladder led from the trap door down to a concrete pad on the cellar floor. In my mind's eye, that pad is about six feet square and roughly finished. Beyond the concrete, the cellar floor was packed dirt. A single, bare bulb hung from the rafters, and when it was lit it showed a rank of wooden shelves built along one wall. I remember that my father stored paint cans down there, and lots of dusty cardboard boxes. A stack of tires sat on the dirt floor against the back wall, at the end of the shelves. When I committed the crime of being a noticeable child, spilling my milk, or dropping something, or fussing about whatever, her rage would boil over -- and she would drag me to the cellar. She would kick open the trap door, dangle me down the ladder, and drop me the last few feet to the concrete. The door would slam shut, plunging me into darkness, and I would sit there shivering in the darkness -- too afraid to even cry. I never knew how long I'd have to stay there in the dark with the spiders. I only knew that I'd be out and cleaned up and looking pretty for the arrival home of my daddy. Daddy became, in my baby mind, the source of safety and salvation.

My regular sojourns in the cellar came to an end once I was old enough to talk. I am sure, as I think about it, that Mother feared that I'd say something about it to my beloved daddy.

In time, there were brothers, three of them. The oldest of the three, was born three months premature, and was always a sickly and frail little guy. By the time he was big enough to play with me, I knew that it was up to me to protect him from Mother's rages. Our usual refuge was the small space between my bed and the wall. I managed to secret a box of dog biscuits there, under the bed, so that he and I would have something to eat while we hid and listened to her storming through the house.

I survived. Grew up. Learned the lessons: Be good. Be quiet. Don't cause trouble. Watch everything and everyone. Read every situation. Take care of everything and everyone. Don't let things get out of control. Soothe and appease. Manage. I went through all my years of schooling earning straight A's in every class. Never, ever had a problem at school. There was never a reason for the teacher or the principal to phone my house. I also never had any friends that I would bring home, and since I was always worried about taking care of the brothers, I made sure that I went right home each day after school -- so there was none of the usual social stuff that kids engage in outside of class. I never had a job, growing up -- not until the summer of my senior year in high school. Before that, I tended my mother's house; ironing and mopping, and watching the younger ones. I prepared most of the dinners for my family from the time I was 11 or 12. I was a solitary and self-contained child, and an isolated and awkward adolescent.

It is probably no great surprise that I "fell in love" with the first fellow who paid any attention to me. The man who became my first husband seemed "safe" compared to anything I had known. Not surprisingly, I thought that being safe was all and everything. By the time I learned that he didn't have what it would take to make my world safe, it was too late. I had babies of my own. I worked like a mad woman to make their world safer than mine had been. I didn't have much to go on; didn't know what to do; didn't really know what was needed. I did my best, and I missed plenty of gates along the way. By the time they were in my world, my pattern of isolation and suspicion was pretty well established. I worked to build distance between them and my Mother, knowing that she could hurt them in the same ways she had hurt me. In doing that, I kept them from knowing other parts of the family that might have enriched their lives. I had no good friends, and I think I worked way too hard and was too preoccupied with survival to be a very good mom for them. I have plenty of regret about the things I messed up with them.

In time, my life brought me to the turning and the choice to join my life to Tom and T. I believed he was the one who would, at last, give me safety. My life long desire to find the person who would control the things that I could not or would not, who would control the uncontrollable was over -- or so I thought. He told me He was strong, and I believed Him. He told me He was powerful, and I believed that too. He told me He knew what I needed, and He assured me that He would give me those things. I was desperate and needy.  There were things I didn't look at carefully.  There were questions I should have asked.

And now, after everything that has happened, I am working with the therapist using a book called "Finding Life After Trauma."  The fourth chapter is called "Control Is the Problem."  It is filled with spot on statements about the ways I've tried, all my life, to control my reactions, my emotions, my world.  All the stategies that I learned so well as a small child, keep me in pain and turmoil as an adult.  Those methods of controlling things "inside" of myself might have saved me then, but they cripple me now.  But then, there is also control on the "outside."  I do that too.  I give up quickly when things get difficult.  I let "others" make decisions for me.  I worry excessively that others will disapprove of my choices.  I instantly recant any suggestion if there is any opposition to it.  I really hope that others will tell me what to do, directly or indirectly.  All of that is part of who I am and what I truly want.  I let myself be controlled via a whole range of means.  Much of that, the book labels as "unhealthy."

I don't know what to do.  I feel caught between what feels "right" for me, what has felt "right for me for as long as I can remember -- and the judgement of the "professionals" that says that is all wrong.  I can't imagine that He and I will ever be "equals" -- just playmates and lovers without any power exchange.  If I am supposed to somehow reacquire power and control, and stop letting / wanting / needing His control, then how can we be?  I am scared.  I can't stop; can't stay where I am; can't go back to what was; can't imagine what some other path might look like or mean.  I don't want to do this.  I am just terrified.



All the King's Horses, All The King's Men, Survival Is What Remains of Life After the Fall

Sue, I too have struggled to think what to say about my/our present reality as you express in "Borrowed Words." My present is so bleak and dark, and yet changing.

Nothing is accomplished by layering blame onto each other on top of the overwhelming remorse we all feel, accompanied by the grief at the losses of family members we have all recently experienced adding to our burdens. If we have proven anything over the last year, it is that guilt and remorse have achieved nothing of any benefit for us, other than perhaps providing something to hold onto as we pulled ourselves forward, hour after hour and day after day, as we slogged our way past sign posts that told us there was an end to pain in our own deaths. I have enough remorse and guilt for all of us. If there is some help in owning blame, let it be mine. I won't feel any worse and it may help you.

I know that living with me and contrasting this holiday season with times past (back in the days when you proclaimed living with t and I at Christmas was like having moved to the North Pole with Mr. & Mrs. Claus) it is clear that I am broken. It would be silly for me to try to pretend I am OK, when it is so obvious my present experience of life is basically hollow and worthless. I am sorry that I am not the celebrant I have always been. The aspects of life I enjoyed most at this time of year are gone. My sense of self is smashed and I have found no way to recreate it.

Too, I am better than I was a year ago. I hate this existence, but I no longer waste time feeling remorse that I don't have the courage to end my life. That is meager progress, but it is something. I find the life that remains amidst the horror that is 12-step recovery, probation, shame, grief for our lost loved ones who died over the last three years, my lost career, major health upheavals, and my loss of D/s orientation, bleak and gray, but it is better than the acute agony I was in a year ago. I am finding that with time my memories of what it was like to experience being a man dim from a previous reality to become a sort of conceptual vapor....................................something I can think of, but which feels so unreal that I know it could never be again, if it ever even was. Eventually this reality has become the phenomenology of my present. Perhaps someday coffee,kool aid, Christmas music, not being in jail, the fact that we don't live on the street and have food, will be enough to feel "good" again. Maybe this is some neurological inability to modulate reality up to happiness at the end of the first year of sobriety. Maybe the joy I used to feel in life, was all just pathological.

I only know that while I had "issues," as they say, in the past, I also had periods of joy, excitement, and felt great I was who I was. I loved you both, and wanted to wake up each day to have another day with you both. I cannot imagine life any other way than with you and would be devastated to lose you. Now there is no joy. There also is no drinking. There are no episodes of drunkenness. I cope with life without that. I am told that there is great value in "living life on life's terms." It is one of the huge "gifts" of 12 step recovery. AA-ers pray to God thanking Him for allowing them to live life on that basis. For me it is a living death sentence. I found living life on my terms a great joy. Life dictated by life is bereft of hope and light.

I am sorry you are feeling remorse. I feel sorry that I caused that to the extent I led to it. I imagine it was/is mostly my fault. Everything is.

We need to find a way to survive. It is what remains. Remorse and guilt get in the way. Don't we hurt enough without doing that to ourselves? I hope you can become free of self-flagellation. I no longer have blame and anger. I don't have enough value to feel anything close to that, and it changes nothing..............and hurts you. I want you to heal.............maybe, at least, you can live again.

I love you.


If this is "health," I'll take pathological joy.


Borrowing Words

I come here day after day, and I cannot find words.
I am broken.  Hopeless.  Without faith.  Believing, finally in nothing.
In one moment of weakness, inattention, fear, and foolishness, I destroyed everything I ever valued.
Some things cannot be fixed.

The silence inside my mind feels oppressive.
I've nothing at all to offer but the borrowed words of a poet...  swan

Fear of the Inexplicable

But fear of the inexplicable has not alone impoverished
the existence of the individual; the relationship between
one human being and another has also been cramped by it,
as though it had been lifted out of the riverbed of 
endless possibilities and set down in a fallow spot on the 
bank, to which nothing happens. For it is not inertia alone
that is responsible for human relationships repeating
themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and
unrenewed: it is shyness before any sort of new,unforeseeable
experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope.

But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes 
nothing, not even the most enigmatical, will live the relation 
to another as something alive and will himself draw exhaustively
from his own existence. For if we think of this existence of
the individual as a larger or smaller room, it appears evident 
that most people learn to know only a corner of their room, a
place by the window, a strip of floor on which they walk up and 
down. Thus they have a certain security. And yet that dangerous
insecurity is so much more human which drives the prisoners in 
Poe's stories to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeons
and not be strangers to the unspeakable terror of their abode. 

We, however, are not prisoners. No traps or snares are set about
us, and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us.
We are set down in life as in the element to which we best 
correspond, and over and above this we have through thousands of 
years of accommodation become so like this life, that when we 
hold still we are, through a happy mimicry,scarcely to be
distinguished from all that surrounds us. We have no reason to
mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, 
they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abuses belong to us; 
are dangers at hand, we must try to love them. And if only we 
arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us
that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now 
still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust
and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those
ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into 
princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses
who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps 
everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless 
that wants help from us. 

Rainer Maria Rilke