Whoever you are, where ever you are, i love you sugar.
From her most recent column, to a woman whose lover refuses to come out to her parents:
Doing so is indeed an ultimatum, but it’s the best sort of ultimatum—one that has everything to do with a positive change in your own life, rather than your wish to control another. It’s an ultimatum that honors a boundary that’s key to your happiness, your psychological well-being, and your integrity. You won’t stop loving your partner if she chooses to stay in the closet. You won’t stop cherishing the wonderful person she is and treasuring the times you’ve shared. You may not even stop being her lover.
But you will profoundly revise the terms of your relationship. You will stop building a long-term romantic partnership with her under conditions that are patently untenable to you. You will stop having a stake in her lie.
This is the hard part, of course. The part where you don’t get to simply float along in the la-la land of your true love while hoping what’s really not good at all will get magically better. This is the part that numerous others have confronted with their own beloved partners who must change in order for their relationships to survive—people who have said you must stop abusing alcohol to be with me, or you must stop snorting cocaine, or you must learn to manage your anger, or you must not belittle my ambitions, or you must be honest or this just isn’t going to work.
These ultimatums require us to ask for something we need from another, yes, but ultimately they demand the most from us. They require us to acknowledge that the worse case scenario—the end of a cherished relationship—is better than the alternative—a lifetime of living with sorrow and humiliation and rage. It demands that we look ourselves squarely and hard in the eye and ask: What do I want? What do I deserve? What will I sacrifice to get it? And then it requires that we do it. In fear and in pain and in faith, we swim there, to wherever that is, in the direction of real life.
Even if you’re not currently dealing with dieting, eating disorders or food restrictions, there is a lot to learn from this post by the Fat Nutriotionist. Some of my favorite parts include her discussion of the little “fuzzy self” inside all of us “who just needs to know it will be taken care of.” Michelle goes on to write:
“One of my favourite quotes from Epictetus is –
“True happiness is a verb. It is the ongoing, dynamic performance of worthy deeds.”
Part of growing up emotionally is accepting that actions speak louder than words. It is accepting that happiness is not a passively euphoric state of mind randomly visited upon you by the fates – that true happiness is, indeed, something you build from the raw material of your behaviours, and the nitty-gritty of your daily choices. None of which may be all that fun in the immediate-term, but produce tranquility, contentment, and satisfaction over time.
Happiness is an investment of effort.
Love, including self-love, works the same way. As an adolescent, love is the crushing force of intense, uncontrollable sentiment. As a grown-up, you take up love as a practice, something you repair and build over time with kind words, kind actions, responsibility and consideration.
“Love is the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love.”
And that’s where we come to the damaged relationship between your mind and body. In order to heal this relationship, you need to express self-love in the form of action.”
I am, once again, promising to take care of myself and my emotional well-being. Read the whole thing here.
“Women are all female impersonators to some degree.”
― Susan Brownmiller
On a recent trip I enjoyed my chosen airplane book so much that I found myself without a distraction for my next flight. As soon as I was on solid ground once more, I hurried to the closest airport newsstand, hoping to find something more than Stephen King or the latest chick-flick-to-be. There, hitting the perfect note between “completely escapist nonsense” and “way too heavy” was Sam Wasson’s Fifth Avenue, 5:00 AM: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman. The prose was a little too clever for its own good, I thought at first, but it was addictive. Like too-salty popcorn, I inhaled it greedily, discovering just how little I knew about Audrey Hepburn, Truman Capote and that movie that is considered a classic (except for that whole Mickey Rooney as a Japanese man, we’ll just grimace and forget about that part, ok?). The thing that really caught my attention was Audrey Hepburn’s relationship with Mel Ferrer, which, to all accounts was downright emotionally abusive. As I read about the ways he would humiliate her in public, and repeatedly broadcast his discomfort with his wife’s success, I looked back at pictures of Audrey Hepburn in a very different light. All these years later, I, too, had fallen prey to the Hollywood machine: I had seen awe-inspiring beauty but not the (beautiful, fallible, insecure) person within.
When I went to Netflix to see if Breakfast at Tiffany’s might be available for instant viewing (it’s not, by the way) I discovered Some Like It Hot there waiting to be watched. Knowing that Marilyn Monroe was Truman Capote’s first choice for Holly Golightly, I gave it a try, and had two simultaneous reactions:
1) This is a terrible, silly movie in which men (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) get first-hand experience about how hard it is for women to be objectified, but still go ahead and deceive, objectify and manipulate the object of their desire (Marilyn Monroe);
2) My god, Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jean Baker) was a beautiful woman. Seriously.
After that, I decided to read Blonde, by Joyce Carol Oates, which had been recommended by a friend several weeks ago. It’s a fictionalized account of the life of Marilyn Monroe, and it’s amazingly written and painful and glorious and makes my heart ache for all the beautiful, smart, wonderful women who were broken down and used by a system that sees their only value in their beauty.
I’ve had Elton John in my head all week.
Some last words by Ani DiFranco seem fitting:
“and god help you if you are an ugly girl
course too pretty is also your doom
cause everyone harbors a secret hatred
for the prettiest girl in the room
and god help you if you are a phoenix
and you dare to rise up from the ash
a thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy
while you are just flying there”
What would it take for you to accept your life –and be ok with your life– just as it is, right now?
I have to keep asking myself this question these days, just to serve as a reminder that I shouldn’t let myself get caught up in feelings of wrongness or broken-ness when they arise. During a meditation session with a friend the other day, my mind was so unsettled that I was startled by the ending gong. I actually jumped, like you do when you’re watching a suspenseful film. After two years of meditating through anger, depression, self-loathing, and frustration, I don’t think I’ve ever been so on edge. And this, after one of the longest stretches of happiness and contentment I’ve ever experienced.
Realization: every day of my dog’s life with me, I have felt somehow inadequate or incompetent as her keeper. Every day for YEARS. Was that walk long enough? Too long? Was the weather too hot for her? Too cold? Did I feed her on time? Did I spend enough time with her? Did I ignore her too much while watching tv or working online?
When she’s no longer with me, will my memory of her be tainted by this feeling that I didn’t give her the love, attention and care that she deserved?
I love this dog. I love her dearly. Even if I scheduled the perfect day – the right walk, the perfect play session, the best meal she has ever eaten, and all the affection she can stand – I’m not sure I would be satisfied with my performance. If I re-arranged my day to do nothing but put my dog’s needs before mine, I still think I would find myself wanting.
That is absurd.
I have been lucky enough to meet a number of wonderful, giving and open-hearted people in the past year. I am enjoying the most functional relationships of my life. And, as I get closer to these people, and care for them, I find that I am transferring this feeling of not good enough to my interactions with them.
Remember this post? I’m still fighting it – and I’m afraid that I’m hurting my relationships because of it. You can’t let people in when you’re stuck in a place of broken-ness. And, as a very smart person told me last night, you can’t ever be happy if you’re always in fix-it mode – there will always be a black hole where the connection should be.
Who would I be if I didn’t constantly berate myself for being faulty?
Making my way to the British Library from Southwark, I came across a scene in one of London’s Tube stations: an elderly woman was at the top of an escalator, with a crowd of people gathering around her. “I can’t do it,” I heard her say. Her voice was panicky – in fact, I think it was the urgency of her tone that drew my attention in the first place. People packed in behind her and her family members. Unable to move forward, they pressed closer as she stood there on the grate, looking unsteadily at the ribbed metal spooling out into stairs at her feet. Across the way, my ascending escalator drew me closer to the group.
“Please don’t make me do it!” she cried out. In that moment, I realized what a terrifying thing an escalator could be. There she was, standing precariously on solid ground, contemplating this machine that would propel her forward, no doubt throwing her off-balance and making her fall all the way down.
At that moment, two personnel walked up to the group and gently pushed closer to her and her family. I watched as they soothed her, gave her a quick pep talk and then flanked her. They each grabbed her elbow and guided her off of the platform onto the stairs. Cheers and applause erupted from behind them: not cheers of “Hurry up already!” but genuine, congratulatory whoops from the crowd. In that moment, I felt like all those people were as proud of her and happy for her as I was. Tears prickled in my eyes to see all those strangers show such goodwill.
Waiting at the gate in Terminal A, passengers were starting to fill up the seats around me. Our flight had been delayed for a second time. I looked up from my book to see an airport official pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair. The woman was frail, and shaky. They pulled up to the line of seats next to me; the seat closest to me was still empty. The airport official stopped the wheelchair and ordered the occupant out. Her tone was no just brusque – it was impatient and downright insulting. She was treating that poor woman like a sack of potatoes that she was tired of lugging around. The older woman strained to stand up; she failed. She rocked back in her seat and tried to stand again, then faltered. She obviously needed a hand. I was so close to her that I felt I should help, so I put my hand out to steady her. She grabbed my arm and tumbled over into the hard plastic seat beside me.
“Where’s your cane?” the airport official demanded.
“Your cane. You didn’t lose it did you? That was all you had to do – you had to keep up with that cane.”
Muttering under her breath the airport official railed against that “silly old bat” and “now I’m gonna have to hunt down that stupid cane,” and walked away from us, pushing the chair.
I looked over at the old woman beside me and looked like she was close to tears.
“Where is she going?” she asked me. “Did she take my cane? I need my cane!”
I told her that the official was probably going to look for it. Did she know where she’d left it?
“Oh, I may have left it in the bathroom,” she told me. I watched the airport official walking off into the crowd and thought this might be information she needed to know.
I told the woman that I’d be right back and I picked up my bags and caught up to the woman with the wheelchair.
“She thinks she may have left it in the bathroom,” I told her.
“I was GONNA get it! Why you gotta get involved? I’ll get her durn cane!”
She thought I’d come up to chide her.
No, I told her, I was just trying to help – I thought she might want to know where to look.
“Mind your own business,” she said, and walked off in a huff.