Open Wounds

There was blood on the floor from the gash gaping gore Licking the edges itchy with healing

tang of salted copper pennies

Bite of flesh digging deeper in rage lust vengeance

I want to feel what I need to inflict

Anger angst apathetic vices

you are full of fire and cold embering flames

expired heat and disgust replaced desire

Wrath lashes through dull warm beer haze

And I spit with spite at the little bitch you've become

Washing hands clean

scalding boil of lye and fat

scraping remnants of memories to clear away the decay of your existence

leaving gone and still going

And I call your name one last time


The Siri Call

I called in a moment of Siri stupidity.  How "Sears" could sound like his name . . . That beautiful name that is born in my heart and melts on my lips.  That name that invokes so much for so little.  Siri wonders why I would save a number that I would never use.  I wonder how to check her hearing. In a slap happy panic I tap and jab at the phone to stop the call because while I think of him all the time, only Siri knows this and she's a rotten little brat for putting our secrets out into his phone.  She's put my name and face right in front of him because she wants him to think I want to talk to him instead of obsessively think about what he's up to. Unless his Siri talks to my Siri and they know what we've only wondered . . .

I hear the ring on my end before I'm able to end the call and I hang up to wait.  Did he hear my call? Was he going to ignore it? Does he think of me with wonder or trepidation? Will he call me back and force me to use my words on him?!?

I'm a missed call but he's been missed too and my phone knows this.  She conspires with me to search for his social media footprints.  I can trust her with my credit cards but in matters of my heart, she's a minx and into mischief.

I wait for him to not return my call and decide Siri is an idiot and I'm glad I don't pay her to be my matchmaker.

Before My Day Started

Her words flow like a balm but land on me like drying honey. Sticky memories and untethered thoughts flood and flow like water on a dessicated sponge. Springing vibrantly from her tender remorse, her sponge renews disgust with the stench of what has died. She's late to the game and needs to rehash, relive, catch the rebound and make it her layup but I was never part of the team and I no longer want to play or cheer on a losing team.

Renewed rejection prickles and itches and my scratch is opening sealed wounds. I'm digging past the edges of a healed scab into flowing blood that was a series of superficial scrapes the first time.




Jealous Much?

I once read a Maya Angelou book that I loved into worn and dog eared pages. It was weighted with the pleasures of words that resounded deeply in the wistful and angsty corners of my heart.  The most profound (to me) thought she shared was on jealousy.

“Jealousy in romance is like salt in food. A little can enhance the savor, but too much can spoil the pleasure and, under certain circumstances, can be life-threatening”

The beauty of online dating is the ability to hide certain details like where exactly I live and work.  That's the benefit of hiding behind a keyboard.  I let potential suitors know I'm available when custody shifts to their capable Dad, and I usually have a couple of offers lined up for Wednesday because that's my first kid free opportunity.  Last week and again this week, I was asked to meet at the California Pizza Kitchen in Burbank.  I work in Burbank and that seems to be the solid choice because it's across from Ikea and everyone seems to know how to get there.

For years it was our place.  My ex and I went there for date nights, and we shared many family meals there.  I went there last week with a lanky guitarist/skateboarder and learned from the staff that still remembers me that it's still my ex's favorite place with the new woman in his life.  I was surrounded by scent memories and nostalgia in a restaurant that has slowly shifted into something new and trendy in shades of my favorite colors.

My date probably had first date nerves, but I wasn't so into him that sharing a first meal with him mattered to me.  He relaxed into the evening when he realized I really don't bite. He had yet to impress upon me the benefit of his presence.  As cocky as that sounds, I am picky.  I'm on four dating sites, and have swiped left enough times that I've exhausted both Clover and Bumble's list of potentials because I've narrowed my criteria and rejected as many as they had for me.  I like a clean shave because that's a preference.  I like fair skin and light eyes with a solid jawline.  At the end of the day, he has to be doing better in life than I am, and not feel like dating is the same as a sex interview and that's where they tend to crash and burn.  I'm very interested in not having to take care of anyone else, and I refuse to date younger men.  As of right now, I have 237 likes on Clover in the past 3 days and 90% of them are still in their 20's. It's a cougar's market.

"No man is offended by another man's admiration of the woman he loves; it is the woman only who can make it a torment."

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

I'm meeting someone else at that same restaurant this week.  I hear his insecurities when he brings up my ex.  He wants to compare and contrast but that's not a game I'm interested in. I can hear his need when he tells me how carefree my smile is and that I have a magnetic charm he has wanted to get to know for some time and then he talks about his insomnia.  He thinks he needs what I have but I don't know how to share it.  It's who I am.  He's a bit jealous of the ex and I don't think he can tell I don't care to see that.

I have jealous moments, but it's not for the man my (still) husband has become, but the life we used to have.  It's gone.  We've both changed too much for that history to become a future. I have moments in the bustle of a busy restaurant with friendly smiles and fresh yeasty bread with a crackling crust and the aroma of fresh pizza sauce that catch me by surprise in memories of spilled soda and laughter and even a bit of hand holding when we shared each other's rings. I'm sometimes jealous for the life we shared before this last year changed who I am and forced choices I never imagined I would have to make.  I'm no longer jealous of the woman that called me a horrible mother, an ugly woman and that I deserve how my husband treated me as she spent long nights and days texting my husband and sharing family moments with her children and mine in restaurants and at their workplace, replacing me at my children's birthday parties that are now separate celebrations.  I'm no longer jealous of the in laws that treat her like family and told me I was no longer family because I was thrown away.  I was thrown away.

I think of the ignorance and joy of a life as a wife that never imagined a "what if" or "when . . . I will" because I once had a marriage that didn't have a contingency plan. Our future was camping trips and growing old together and it doesn't look like that anymore.  I'm jealous of the certainty of that.

Spring Forth Through Winter's Heartache

"April is the cruelest month… breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain." – TS Eliot, The Waste Land Eliot nailed the angst coursing through this month. There's too much to do and my heart aches with longing to be more than I can right now.

There's a blending in the flow of memories that dovetails the many into a nebulous "he" and each sin is muted and sharpened by the collective act of their rejections.

The place where I was in the mixing of "we" flows in chaotic jagged edges. In leaving me, they took too much and I was unable to do more than breathe and ache. I am a series of ripped seams and messy scars. I'm moving in fits and starts because I must. I can not stagnate. I will not.

There are steps being walked through. Tiny steps. Baby steps. I need to trust that I will not fail myself once more in attaching my hopes to another crumbling ledge by placing my hope in the hands of another fleeting love.

I see the winds have cleared the clouds and the cool air is tempered by a warm sun. The rain drops and drying tears of yesterday bring new growth. Decayed leaves mulch tender roots, keeping moist what would otherwise dessicate in death. There's an unspoken promise that is stronger than words and it flows in honeyed nectar in each flower that blooms. Each dawning realization is a promise to be better than I was.

Gates have creaked open in stiff disuse and what is without will grow within and I await the cool dusk where I stand a little taller under the warmth of a fading sun. Reaching. I wait for the fury that rages with the fall of night in hushed anticipation of my sleepless slaughter of self because each day I am stronger with a boldness of courage I can't always feel.

Where certainty falls short, faith holds my firm belief.

Sleepless Nights

Long after dusk settles into indigo night, the stars shine proudly with haughty indignation. Clouds filter through windy skies in a dance of shadow and light.

They see the thoughts that intrude through sleep and wake racing thoughts from fitful slumber.

Whispered memories tell me I'm not enough and there is no beauty or jewel within.

I know the lies but can't separate them from truth without the light of his vision to see through.

I know to look in opposing views from the perspective he gave but memory shifts and I only see the failures painted over me by his artful brushstroke of rejection. 

His bright light shines too far from memory to cast more than a haze of soft shadows dancing in the periphery.

My anchor becomes a distant memory in a dream imagined from hopeful fascination.

All thoughts of self disappear in him.

His words.  His laugh. His joy. His shy smile and his proud stance.

My surrender.

Our words wash over me and I'm surrounded by his dreams. His accomplishments. What he does to make him be who he told me he was.

His beauty blinded me from seeing who he was.  What was still fades and I have yet to see.

But I'm no longer blinded by the radiance of who I made him to be.

I see that in fitting our world around him, we left no room for me.

I see the spaces where I fit were outside of who we were and the empty spaces were full of my longing.

I whisper to the approaching dawn the ideas that form a weapon against insecurities.

You are amazing because of who you are and not what you do or what pleasures are found in you because you are worthy of being pleased.

Murmuring lips whisper prayers for peace and a love that sinks below skin and settles in the marrow of my bones.

I am enough to be and in the acceptance of my limits I find I have an abundance.


Rewriting the Past in the Present

I woke up early yesterday and decided I wanted to walk over memories made in San Pedro in 1997. It was my first thought at 6 in the morning. Actually, I waffled back and forth for a few hours while in bed, thinking I would take a niece. One didn't answer her phone and the other two were busy being productive young adults.  I checked the weather report to see if those insane winds we just had would revisit and threaten my comfort at the beach. No crazy winds and it's too hot to not wear a bikini.  I've been to the beach alone plenty of times, but to go alone in a bikini is another thing altogether .  I almost stayed home, but I noticed the toe nail polish I chose earlier this week matched my bikini and took it as a sign and finally left after 10. The boyfriend I had in 1996-1997 was a special guy.  He was German and El Salvadorean.  We met through friends.  He knew them before he left Los Angeles for Far Rockaway, New York where he finished out high school with his grandmother because he was out of control in gang life here.  He came home with an accent that I will always have a thing for.  I think it was just the way he straddled ethnicities and racial identities the way I do.  He didn't fit in one place just like I couldn't and he felt like home. He was the type to remember every month anniversary with flowers.  He remembered I'm not fond of baby's breath and each bouquet was unique and beautiful.  He designed a lot of them himself. Before he bought his Mustang, he would hitch a ride with his best friend who was dating my best friend.  Once, he rode his bicycle from his home in North Hollywood to my home in Elysian Park just to see me.  He always had a hiking adventure planned, or wanted to take me out somewhere special.  He bought me a couple of dresses, and had a great sense of style. He once bought himself a jacket but gave it to me when he saw how much I loved it and how happy it made me. He made serious things fun, and sensual things funny.  I was devastated when our relationship ended. There were other men and a whole marriage happened since then, but I had always cherished this one memory in San Pedro and it was time to walk through it with the clarity of time.

I took the 110 Freeway to the very end.  I remembered when he drove and I fell asleep.  Falling asleep while someone else drives is always a sign I feel completely at ease and trust the person I am with.  I think falling asleep with someone else means you feel safe enough to give them your vulnerability.  I remembered waking up on the way because he had decided to race someone else on the freeway and the speed change and swerving woke me.  I startled awake, freaking out a bit and he laughed at me.  I laughed too, and only now see I would have been justified in being angry that he was always driving recklessly with little regard for my safety.

I got to the Korean Friendship Bell and walked around for a while.  I remembered holding hands and walking around the bell.  He was so happy and he looked all around, but I was just focused on watching him.  We stayed on the concrete path around the bell, but I didn't yesterday.  I wandered around the grassy hills all around because I wanted to explore all sides.  I want to see all there is to see.  I love a good view and forgot how much I do in the flow of being so much to other people.

I drove a block from the Friendship Bell and parked at Pt. Fermin Park.  We had hiked down from the park almost 20 years ago, then we ate Cheetos and  made sandwiches from all that he packed in the lunch he surprised me with.  Today I hopped the wall like we did before.  The fence seemed bigger today than it did before.  The "No Trespassing" signs were everywhere. And people were still ignoring them. I wore a bikini today with a tank top and skirt over it.  I put on my river shoes at the car and hiked down the way we did last time.  It was steep and at times completely terrifying.  I forgot about it because he made me feel safe back then. I focused on one step after another, and secure places to hold onto while the dirt shifted and wrapped around me feet, sliding me further along than I planned in many places. When I got to the bottom, I started hopping from rock to rock reminding myself of a goat, shocked and excited that I made it all the way down the cliff face without falling or injuring myself.

I walked around and looked at the life in the rocks. There were sea urchins and anemones.  There were so many tiny hermit crabs in the small tide pools.  In one area, I saw three sea slugs at once, and clams with long arms reaching out to hold on during the rise and fall of the tides and violent crashing waves.  The High and Low Tide schedule I had gotten from a lifeguard in Malibu informed me that we were already at low tide, and as I watched, I remembered seeing millions of starfish, when I couldn't spot one today.

At one point I saw a man hike over the rocks from the eastern side of the shore.  He stood at the base of the cliff, ready to head back up and he seemed content to enjoy the waves that were crashing and flooding around my ankles as I stood on boulders and watched a rocky shelf appear out of the Pacific. I smiled his way because it was a friendly place to be and everyone there was happy to be there. He waited and when his girlfriend joined him, I could see she was wearing strappy sandals.  I remembered with gratitude the last time I was there and I was warned to bring sensible shoes and had a hand to hold and constant guidance over the rocks.  I could remember and feel the love through all of these years and it was a great feeling as I released that memory of his gentle kindness.  I took a moment to reflect on the selfishness I witnessed today and redirected my thoughts as I saw the parallels in this stranger and my own life. It was Magic Mountain and Disneyland all over again, where we lost kids for a while.

As the rocks spread out before me, I realized that even in low tide, the water would still reach me, and wash around my ankles.  It still splashed the hem of my skirt even as I could see rock formations that were completely hidden when I first arrived.  It was this profound moment when it dawned on me that even in low tides, the waters will reach me, but they won't over take me because they crash so far away from my place - my focus, that the little waves don't matter.  It was a life lesson that I could apply to the roller coaster that is what started as a marriage.  Some days the waves splash much more painfully than others, but I'm at low tide, and it's nothing like it was in those first months where everything was devastating and the water raged above me and there was no air to breathe or a sun to warm the chill of the icy waters.

I decided to hike back up on the other side where that couple had ascended the cliff.  I turned and took a picture where  I thought I had reached half way.  In reality, I was only half way to Sunken City.  Sunken City was a small community of bungalows.  The cliff began to fall and the homes were evacuated and relocated.  Two of the houses fell into the sea, but the place is full of bare foundations covered in graffiti. While waves lapped around my feet and sea life swayed in the tide pools around me, I could see several people up there, watching me, and I assumed it was the top of the cliff, but lower from where I hiked down. The climb from Sunken City to the park was the most difficult. It's possible that if I had explored a bit I might have found an easier path. I reached the top and it felt amazing to do so.  I kept looking back and thinking, I could have died, and how dumb this idea was because I'm a Mom.

But I didn't die and it felt amazing to do it on my own.

I kept smiling because I did it.  I did it without twisting an ankle, falling, or scraping my hands or legs. I broke the law in going past the signs that were placed for my safety.  I went down, then up the side of a cliff without a buddy or even letting anyone know what kind of shenanigans I had in mind.  My sister knew I was planning on going to San Pedro, but I didn't mention the climb.  If I had one of her girls with me, I wouldn't have made that part of our adventures, but I felt fine doing it alone.  I also talked to my Dad and he wanted to know what I was getting into.  I told him I was on a field trip in San Pedro and he mentioned how much he wants calamari.  I told him he could meet me at Santa Monica later and we could have dinner.



I arrived in Santa Monica and sunbathed for a while.  I chose a spot near the pier where there is no swimming a fewer people. I had already hiked in my tank top, and spent the day sans sunscreen (poor planning) so my awkward tan lines are a product of that, but I spent some time on a beach in my bikini, completely alone.  It took a while to realize no one cared what I looked like.  It's a truth I once danced in under the protective gaze of a husband and my constant vigilance over our children. Alone on the beach surrounded by other people . . . no one really cared about my stretch marks or soft parts and the ones looking sent a smile of appreciation.  I didn't bother to go in the water.  I am fully aware of how cold it is, and the icy sting on my ankles and calves in San Pedro were enough.  I walked up and down the pier and again saw that friendly photographer.  He found a ladybug on my shoulder and handed it to me, saying it was good luck.  His smile was friendly as always.  He opened his arms for a hug, and I returned it with half of one.  My instincts are telling me I'm not comfortable with him in that way because how I feel about a hug says a lot, and I will probably avoid that part of the pier unless I'm walking it with someone who wants to hold my hand.  I mainly wanted to see what people are catching, but I haven't seen any fish yet, so I'm probably not missing much.

I stopped in the aquarium under the pier to ask about the missing starfish.  The guy charging admission told me there was a virus that attacked them a few years back and there aren't really any in our waters anymore.  He told me to give it three or four more years because the last time he was scuba diving, he saw some tiny ones and they're coming back.  He was impressed with my observation and I had a few moments of joy at the attention to my curiosity.  I'm always curious, but it's not always a good thing to be. I left and wondered if I should have flirted with him, but didn't feel inclined to correct that.  I was still enjoying the way it felt to hike up that cliff and that feeling left little room for any romantic endeavors.



It was my Dad and sister's first trip to Bubba Gump.  More than that, I was open to including them in part of my day, without altering my plans completely to make someone else happy. It was the first time I had been there since going with my family - with my ex.  It was nice to see their food joy and see them enjoy the pier as briefly as they did.  It was last minute, so they weren't prepared.  I walked them to their car and then walked to mine where I pulled on a pair of jeans, then pulled off my skirt.  I slapped on my Uggs because they keep the sand and cold out and walked along the shore to catch the sunset before walking along the pier again where I offered to take pictures of strangers that were trying to catch their coupledom in a Santa Monica Sunset. I sat on a bench and smiled at the day I had while a musician played Greensleeves.  I spent some time singing along to some K-ROQ classics with Rock and Roll Jesus, and one of these days I will take a picture of him. He sings and hustles almost every day of the week.  Most of them do, and I admire that. I had a bag of cotton candy to myself.  It was my reward for not drinking my calories at Bubba Gump when I had their unsweetened tea.

I left and took the streets again.  This time I thought I'd take a new street, which is something I used to do all of the time and how I found my way to Will Rogers.  I used to just drive and take streets that were interesting.  When I was younger, I kept a Thomas Guide in the trunk in case I got lost.  I got a little lost last night and when I asked Siri to rescue me, I started laughing at how far off I was.  I pulled over because I didn't trust her sense of directions, and looked at the map and saw where I went wrong.  I made two left turns where she was sending me right, and I knew where I was again.  That is growth for me.  My greatest adventures through Los Angeles used to be in getting lost and mapping my way out of it.  Then I dated gang members.  My ex was the only one to get jumped into Vet status, and that was after we had started our family.  No one got jumped out. They're still gang members. They will always be afraid to "get caught slipping" in a rival gang's neighborhood.  They will avoid certain areas in the off chance someone will recognize them, and it's not as simple as saying you have the wrong person.  For some reason, it's possibly worse to deny you're the person that made really bad choices.  I remember getting lost around the Citadel with the ex.  I went into a full on panic attack.  Last night getting lost gave me joy and great belly laughs.  I laughed at myself and laughed at how exhausted I was, and how much I was enjoying the ride home.  I even smiled through departing Dodger traffic, and decided it's time to look for a schedule because that area affects my escape hatch trips.

It was a lovely day and I'm so glad I listened to Goddess Gloria when I met her in that child support court and she suggested I re-do that memory in San Pedro.  She was right.  It was a good memory and he was a great guy, but he had a cruelty streak that I saw in how he treated my younger brothers.  I would never introduce him to my sons because of that.  It wasn't okay then when I was a selfish big sister, but I'm a mom now and it's my job to protect my kids.  I take that seriously.  He had a problem with accountability.  Nothing was ever a result of his actions, and I have enough sins of my own to cover.  He's another person not worth looking up, but that memory was special and I needed to see it for what it was and making new memories - memories of my accomplishments and my growth made yesterday so much more than what happened in 1997. And my old lady knees feel great. It's my calves and thighs that are looking for a day of soaking in epsom salts in my jetted tub. It hurts to move but I'm smiling.

Picking at Scabs When I Should Allow Healing

These scabs are healing into itchy discomfort. I scratch them off with frequency. I don't mean to. My body moves separately from thoughts of healing with intention to what is familiar and feels good. Lies. My self moves into ways that feel. Good or bad, I must feel this thing that makes me wonder if I might have wrecked him just as beautifully as he has altered me. I think of him in kindness and sometimes in echoed sorrows from misguided angst. I've let go of the rage and at times it will surprise me with a visit or because it is no longer around to help me feel. When the rage is gone, thoughts dance in nostalgia and I am bereaved in longing and glowing embers of memories and unfulfilled dreams. Early morning birdsong wakes me and pulls my thoughts out of my control into a movie screen of memory and in predawn silence there is no control in child song distractions. In the glowing light of gentleness before the onslaught of life's demands, there is kindness and wonder and no way to let go.

Wedding Survival After Divorce

  1. Wear something comfortable that makes you feel sexy. Being comfortable makes it easier to stay focused on the happier parts of a wedding when you really just want to focus on the sad parts of your marriage.

  2. Dance! You’ll be so focused on having fun that you won’t worry what you look like, or who might be watching.

  3. Connect with the other guests and focus on the couple. This isn’t your pity party, but more than that, getting through a rough day is so much easier when you’re focusing out on others.

  4. Take lots of pictures. Remember how excited and in love the couple was. That’s your beacon of hope for your next marriage, or your next fling.

  5. Sip water with your champagne. Being too tipsy is a slippery slope when raw feelings are just under the surface.

  6. Write your thoughts down, before and after the big day. Part of healing is looking at what is, what you’re anticipating and what you walked away with. Reflecting later with your own documentation will help you reflect and focus on the areas that you still get to work on healing.

  7. Grab a centerpiece! When was the last time you got flowers you didn’t have to buy for yourself?

  8. After the big day, celebrate their one year anniversary with a celebration of your own. You got through it, and you’ll get through more.

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Silver Linings for a Jilted Wife

Being a jilted wife hasn't been without its blessings. In the beginning, I needed some form of hope to cling to, and it was consistently provided. My greatest hope was for a reconciliation. 12294902_1147264275307493_1758765169033767560_n

I had a friend tell me about her parents separating and reconciling after 8 years.  Another friend's parents did the same after 3 years.  My sister's brother in law divorced, then remarried his wife.  I was doing a bathroom and kitchen remodel and the guy doing the construction work told me about the 3 years he had left his wife and that they had just reconciled and with all of them, it was better the second time.  With all of these stories, the leaving husband was going through the same script that detailed the happiness he deserved.

There were times when I needed a financial miracle and with perfect timing, one would fall in my lap. I had a bunch of returns and purchases to make one day, and I accidently dipped into the red in my primary checking account.  The exact amount of cash I had from the returns was able to get my account positive by pennies.  I anticipated a debit for my car insurance and when it wasn't deducted, I called and was told my account was current and not due for another month.  I still don't know how that happened. Some of the women who had told me their stories of being left for some nebulous idea of deserved happiness offered money for gas or money for frivolous Christmas gifts for the kids.I was replacing a missing toilet auger at Home Depot when I ran into my Mom and she bought the auger and a Christmas tree when I had no idea how a tree was going to happen. I've had people I didn't expect to help me buy me groceries.  My sister had my cousin bring her a pair of Uggs from his trip to Australia, and when they didn't fit her, she gave them to me.  My parents have been unceasingly generous, helping me in the most unexpected ways.

I've spent nearly 16 years being a stay at home mom and sometimes student.  My wardrobe reflected that. As a wife, I very rarely went shopping for myself. I love designer purses, but all of them have been gifts from other women or hand me downs.  I wore everything until I was forced to throw it away.  When my husband left, I was forced to look much more seriously for work, and I chose to look for something that would challenge and inspire me. I had wardrobe donations from a cousin I had met twice, and a friend of my mother's that I still have never seen.  Everything they gave me fit perfectly and I was able to be picky about what I wanted to keep.


The biggest miracles seemed to involve my car.   For most of 2015 I was driving a 1989 Ford Contour. Paying for a used car in full is what we usually did.  We'd run it into scrap, and buy another used car.  It was almost an income tax time tradition. It had problems. Lots of problems.  For most of the problems, I lucked out in having a cousin in school to become a mechanic.  They're always looking for cars to work on and it usually just cost me parts.  My Dad helped with the rest.

The night before Christmas Eve I was driving to my sister's house, 20 miles away.  After I got off of the freeway, my car started to sound funny.  Just as I was pulling into a parking space on the street near her house, the power steering went out.  I went inside and we made tamales.  When it was time to leave, I was able to drive to the gas station about two blocks from her.  I pulled into a space and added power steering fluid.  When I tried to start the car, I heard the clicking that tells you your battery is dead.  I was safely parked in a space, and my sister called to check on me.  She was walking toward me when I was talking to my roadside assistance.  They covered 10 miles. Because Dad's AAA covers 200 miles, I spent the night at my sister's house.  She had a house guest for a few months that happened to be out that night. I had a comfortable bed to sleep in.  She gave me a pair of polar fleece pajamas.  She doesn't wear contact lenses but her husband does, so I had a contact lens case and solution.  And a fresh toothbrush because she practically stockpiles those. I felt so protected and so grateful that this didn't happen on the freeway.  Facebook and the tow truck driver helped me troubleshoot.  It was the serpentine belt pulley system.  My cousin fixed it, but the problem came up again in January.  He repaired the pulley for me, but it was time to replace it. I recognized what was happening and was able to safely pull over to park on the street and have it towed.  He didn't have a way to fix it quickly this time. My Mom would normally let me borrow her car, but her axle was broken from a car accident her car had just been in. My niece gave me a ride to a dealership and I walked in with a prayer and a smile.  I drove home in a 2016 Toyota Camry.  I'm sure it helped that I decided separate checking accounts meant I could improve my credit without permission. The license plate came on my birthday in mid February and the down payment was made later that week.  Yesterday my niece passed her driving test and registered the Ford Contour I just gave her.  She's driving her first car the day she got her license.

Right now I'm stressed.  I'm joyful, but not peaceful.  There is a heaviness in deciding to end a marriage.  My husband left, but the decision to divorce him has been left to me, as he hasn't started by filing yet.  The weight of that is heavy.  At the same time, I feel a freedom I didn't expect.  There is a lightness in being able to do what I want when the mood strikes. I'm excited about hitting the beach and getting lost in ocean waves this summer. It's been years since I've done so because being Mom means I was more worried about my kids than anything and I didn't want to get in the water where I could lose a child.  I was the one hoping to restore our family, and our kids will see me differently when I destroy that hope.  There is a burden in that. I'm more worried about my kids than a life of dreams I have released.  Job hunting has become a job.  I wake up and it occupies my every thought, and most of my actions.  So there's stress.  Today I needed to remember the miracles I walked through and refocus on new goals because the old ones have shifted and getting a divorce isn't a goal. It's a thing you do when you decide to close the book.



Releasing: A Poem for a Failed Marriage

Facebook's "On This Day" button is one I click on every single day.  My husband said he wanted out of the marriage on March 11, and every day so far, I've been checking, wondering how I broke my silence.  There's a lot my mind protects me from in forgetfulness.  I had a community that wouldn't get involved and suggested I keep quiet about our separation. I felt this burden of shame because he wanted to quit.  I wanted to move forward and he was so stubbornly stuck on the past and I had no way of going back to repair damages. So I wrote a poem and left it on my Facebook wall.  I didn't give it a title.  Some emotions are too raw to be tamed with a name.  Then I forgot about it until today. 12552758_1183676484999605_7000040186006802789_n

I willed her survival as I tried to pull her along. Feet stalled and failed until I saw she was lost in her prison of despair. The door swung open on failing hinges and she shut her eyes. How she couldn't hear the grinding and reigning rust is beyond me. She held the bars that gave blisters when I offered honeyed balm.

She died this night and my body swayed and rocked with dried tears and tired sobs. He came and watched me pull her. His hands were tied in before.

She left with all my insides. Her gift was too much pain. My dear so sweet you thrilled me and I must learn to live once more.

Setting Goals and Conquering Mountains

When I was in my late teens I didn't have major goals.  I think my only goal was to have enough disposable income to have someone come to my house and clean up after me. We married and had two kids and I said if he wanted another child I wanted another bedroom in our home and a dishwasher. All three of our kids were surprises, or we were being really irresponsible. I got the bedroom.  Not the dishwasher.  I would love a dishwasher, they look like saved time and fewer broken nails.

My goals are shifting.

I still want to hire a housekeeper and get a dishwasher.  Some dreams will never die.

I also want to travel.  I had imagined it, but never thought of it as practical or worth it for my kids. My boys don't like long trips and usually prefer to stay in a hotel room. We used to spend long summers in a tent along the river.  We loved Camp James in Kernville because they offered electricity. My husband has all of our camping things, and as long as it took me to pick out all of the things I wanted, I don't see myself wanting to start over any time soon.  At the end of the day, vacationing as a travelling mom required a vacation from my vacation.  Now I have days long stretches of being alone and I would love to travel.  I'm even applying for jobs and saying I'd be willing to travel because travelling alone sounds amazing.

I have more practical goals as well.  I want to buy pre-need memorial policies for my children.  My Mom did it for all of us.  When my husband's uncle passed away 2 years ago, I was looking into making arrangements for him.  He didn't have anyone else willing to make the calls and finalize his existence.  There were plenty of friends to go through his things. Once I had brought his things out of his home, there were family members that were indifferent yet curious. His remains were left to his family, and he ended up in the care of his nephew's wife who had interacted with him a handful of times in the first few months of our marriage around the year 2000.

In going over my Mom's pre-need policies, I could see that she originally covered every single possibility when she bought it all through Rose Hills.  She had four plots for her four daughters. She transferred everything except the plots to Forest Lawn as our family grew.  She is from Thailand and through legal channels, brought most of my relatives here, starting in 1984 with my grandmother.  She took years to petition and prove that she could financially support new immigrants.  Then she adopted six of my siblings. I get it from my Momma and she is one woman to be proud of. When I was going over her contracts, I could see that a lot of goods and services didn't transfer.  It was over a year of visits, letters, and calls, but in the end I was able to get her policies transferred back to Rose Hills without penalties from Forest Lawn and they're willing to honor the original contracts.  Forest Lawn didn't penalize her because I pointed out the areas their insurance agent willfully ignored his fiduciary duties to his client. This was after meeting with a couple of insurance agents, their records clerk, and even the President at Forest Lawn.  I admired her.  With the amount of policies my Mom had and the services she would have had to purchase again, I saved her over $10,000.  The insane part is how much you save when you purchase your policies early.  The longer you wait, the more funeral costs climb. I believe they share the same trajectory as college tuition. Doing this for my children is important to me.

Once I build my savings into a comfortable place where I have a 6 month emergency fund, I want to invest.  I hear good things about stock mutual funds.  I want to focus on index funds, but experiment in international funds.  It's all still terrifying, but I like the idea of a challenge and doing something new.

Then there's the house.  I love my little house, which is really my Mom's house, but I want to move one day.  I love the little winding roads and city views, but I don't love living on a tiny one way street with only street parking.  I want a place to grow things because I love to grow things.  I want space for a pond, because the little koi that could is coming with me, and I want space for my kids to slam a door that is just their door.  And a dishwasher, which means I will also have a garbage disposal.  I miss that.

Once I buy my house, I want to set up a power of attorney and living trust.  Without major assets, it doesn't seem important, but I'll also have to set up a will for my smaller trinkets and emotional belongings.  Then there's figuring out what happens with the kids should something also happen to the husband.  It seems far less likely we'll die together if we consistently choose to not be around each other.

My last goal is more about me.  I want to be okay. I can recognize that a divorce that hasn't started and unstable employment are a lot to handle.  I understand that sometimes a surprise can shift my day because I had spent it on a tightrope anyway.  I want to not be thrown by it.  I can see that light at the end of the tunnel. I'm getting better. Last night my son called me to ask a question, and my response to hearing my husband's girlfriend playing house with my kids and hers was to answer his question and excuse myself from the call.  I didn't lose it.  I'm not bashing her.  I didn't stay up all night, but for about an hour, I let that situation bother me.



The day I had wasn't an excuse for that lost hour.  Every day presents challenges.  Every moment is a chosen reaction. I was blessed with a late birthday breakfast, pedicure, and shopping date with a woman who has always had my back, even when I stabbed hers.  We talked about life and she helped point out some of the ways my husband was controlling me.  She saw more than I could, but she's right. He manipulated me into avoiding her friendship because he didn't like her.  He wanted me to go to bed at the same time as him, even if I couldn't sleep.  That was about control and even if he wasn't violent, walking on eggshells because I was afraid of my actions affecting his mood wasn't okay. We joked about how blessed we were to live as we did in our 20's without a pregnancy scare or STI.  We're also grateful we grew out of that.  She helped me see that I got bored of dating when I felt men were easy because of the men I was making myself available to.  She also pointed out that I could raise my standards and it would change things.  Then she told me that online dating was a waste for her as well.  She married a man with patience, fire, and a large brain.  He is everything perfect for her as she gives what she gets and they respond in love. We talked pre-nuptials.  I've never been asked to sign one.  I think it puts doubt into a relationship, but at the end of the day, I'm not necessarily against shacking up either. I'm not against it, but I'm also not thinking that far ahead. I'm trying to take care of my heart and healing, and I haven't considered finding someone to take care of me. My values as a wife are so solid in my mind. What I did as a single person was so different and I'm not sure how I want to address that now that I have a second chance to be single, and not a trollop.  That may change. I'm still figuring it all out. I did a lot I never dreamed I would as a wife. I accepted more than I thought I could in the name of being a good wife.  Who knows what will happen next time, or when next time will happen.  I still haven't started looking for my next husband or even a first date. I love visiting with her, because her perspective leaves me joyful and optimistic.  The past with her is lighter than it is in my memories.

I returned my Dad's call and had family emergencies that required about an hour of my time and frustration enough that my silence was to try to remember the happy place I had just been in.  I got home feeling chills and was hit with a fever.  I was thankful that I could be sick without being Mom too. This morning I told him I'm staying in bed and being sick, so he invited himself over.  I told him I wasn't up to it, and now I think I have to put clothes on just in case he pops over anyway. Boundaries!

I slept for a few hours before hearing from the husband then kid3.  He's contacted me twice in three days, and I preferred the radio silence. I miss my kids but for now I'm okay not hearing their voices if I have to hear their pseudo mom too.  I'm not calling her a stepmom yet. She still has her husband and she gets what she needs from hers and mine. One day my husband will be my ex.  I'm not sure if that'll happen once I file, or once it's final.  A couple of loved ones want me to let him file, and remain single for the rest of my life.  That doesn't appeal to me. I want to hire an attorney and it's not to get all he's worth, but I want someone else to do the heavy lifting so I can do the emotional healing. When he becomes my ex husband, I'll have his name covered on my arm, and I already have a best friend planning to be with me when I do.

How My Support System Holds Me Up

I live in Lincoln Heights.  The hills dip and climb with views of downtown L.A. and the hills above Hollywood.  After getting kids off to school I drove around streets on hills with crumbling asphalt.  There's a hefty dose of fear that the incline is so steep my car will flip backward if I'm not careful.  At one point, I couldn't see beyond the hood of my car because of how sharply the road turned up the hill. The neighborhood is all narrow streets with room for one car at a time, and never in both directions. Street names include Tourmaline St., Turquoise St., Amethyst St., Mercury Ave., Beryl St., Pyrites St., Onyx Dr., Moonstone Dr., Radium Dr., Topaz St., Galena St. and Amber Pl., and in those names, I know there was a rock doctor that found home in those hills and pleasure in the views from them. This is my home.

Throughout my neighborhood there are a few modern homes that appear out of nowhere and clearly don't belong here.  My home is a 1920's bungalow. The old bones were made to be where they have stood for nearly a century. Scattered throughout the neighborhood are lots filled with tall grass in untamed flurries and platforms of crumbling concrete.  I have only one neighbor with a perfectly manicured lawn.  She understands there is no controlling your children but you can control what your yard does. You can see the rise and run of stone or worn wood that once led somewhere.  Steps are missing, and handrails are less than memory . . .  just gone.  The supports are still there because they were so much stronger than the broken home they established.  Ivy and weeds meander and overtake lifted areas in a bid for the love of the sun and wildflowers attract bees that lazily dance through their work day.  I headed home with a clear head and plans to play in the dirt because there is something so rewarding about dirt under my nails and making things grow.

My neighbors are good people.  I never interacted with them much when my husband lived here. One summer day in the first few years we lived here, we were all outside and my husband hosed me down from head to toe.  I was soaking wet and sliding through caked on mud. He was the only one laughing.  My neighbor across the street would hear him yell from her house and always assumed there was violence in our home.  There was emotional abuse.  There was financial abuse.  There still is financial abuse. He took his aggression out on cupboard doors and bedroom doors.  He never hit me, and I only feared he would once.  That fear was enough to get a restraining order that I later had lifted.  A judge was worried about my safety to the point that he was willing to take away my husband's rights to me and our children. In all the ways my Dad stresses me out, I love him enough to never want to sever that bond between my kids and their Dad.  I would protect them from him, but I don't feel they need it. He's become the Dad I hoped he would be, without me around because he's probably a much better person without me. I wonder if I was too much of everything in the way that he was content in doing nothing once he got home. The day he moved out, my neighbors came over to see how I was doing.  They didn't know I was home and fighting to pull out the bathroom sink and vanity as he was taking out bunkbeds and the barbecue grill.  My next door neighbor told me how petty he looked in taking a grill he never used. I was usually the grill master unless I asked for his help and did all the prep for him. My neighbor offered to help with anything around the house if  I needed it. I'm a big girl.  I can vote and buy my own booze.  I keep my distance and try to be a good neighbor to him and his wife. The neighbor across the street shot me a text to make sure I was home and tell me she was taking pictures if I needed to file a police report. She opened up about her concerns of abuse and then told me of all the ways her husband hurt her.  In all of the distance I kept, they still gathered around me in support.  When we had a custody hearing, both of them offered to write character reference letters on my behalf. They did.  (The judge only looks at notarized affidavits.  Lesson learned. I wasn't trying for sole custody.  Not really.  I just know a good bargaining chip when he had no idea what I wanted. He told me what he wanted and wasn't concerned with what I cared about.)

My neighbor could see something in me that she saw in herself and when she explained it, so much clicked for me. I won't disclose how many, but I've had several people tell me about their rapist or the abuse they suffered at the hands of a loved one.  I encouraged one woman to press charges against her abuser after her experience with date rape.  In helping her, I was able to work through my own experience without ever telling her about what I felt. I printed and saved the newspaper clipping about his arrest for a long time. There's a resilience in us.  It's a light that attracts abusers, but a glow that encourages other survivors.  I get it now.  It's not always a fear of violence, but an inability to step out in confidence.  It's a part of us that I'm working on rewiring in me. It's the part of me that feels respecting others comes before my needs. It's the part of me that is comfortable living on eggshells because it's been so long since I didn't have to. It's a part of me that is only confident in the ways that mean the least to me. I used to tell my husband that I have amazing legs and a decent rack, but I couldn't show him what I wrote to the point that I stopped writing.

As I was turning off the garden hose this morning, my phone rang switching off the 311 song I was in the middle of singing.  The peace and joy I felt was in my voice as I answered my phone.  My Dad has a gift for asking what I'm doing before telling me what he needs.  One day I will call him on this manipulation.  He put me in a place where my gut twisted in stress and for a few minutes I craved the taste of courvoisier and cigarettes and the escape that was once my favorite preparation ritual before family gatherings. I'm not that person anymore.  I don't remember how she woke up without a hangover and I can't handle cold Tommy's burgers for breakfast anymore so I called my sister instead.  She gets it.  She reminded me of how amazing caller ID is.  I hung up with a plan to write and do what I was planning to do, and decide if I will be the daughter I want to be, or the person who needs to be taken care of first. I ended up choosing me with plans to fall in line as a daughter tomorrow when I can at least prepare for it.

I have a huge family that supports me in any way they can and in ways I've never even anticipated.  They are so team me that sometimes I need space to breathe in air not tinted by the anger they express in my protection.  Their love in that way can turn toxic. They also see me as resilient and can't always tell that the space I sometimes need is from them and their needs.  Their needs aren't huge, but my plate is pretty solidly full.

When I was in high school I made a boyfriend my world.  He had brown hair that flopped in a mushroom cut and loved basketball, but the game didn't love him. I used to pack his lunch and mine because giving is part of who I am. In hindsight it wasn't one of my more brilliant moves. I tend to give more than I should. He had a hard time punching a straw through a Capri Sun pouch, and I felt obligated to take care of him. I felt needed and like he wanted my brand of love.  I even skipped drill team tryouts the next year to spend more time with him. He took a cowardly exit in telling me he had to let go of me because his parents found out we were still dating long after they told us to break up. Later random girls with larger curves than mine and lipstick bolder than mine would tell me he hooked up with them when we were together.  We spent ditch days exploring the swings at Griffith Park or touring Olvera Street, but he wanted something else.   It took a while for his pregnancy scare that broke us up to get around to me.

I realized confession isn't for the person you unload on.  It's a way to unburden your own guilt without regard for the destruction you unleash on another person. Confession is selfish. I think that's why I tend to wait until confronted, or until I can see the repercussions of my actions. When I'm undeniably wrong I apologize.  My kids know I will own up to being wrong and inconsiderate.  There's no such thing as "because I said so."  They know to call me on it when I'm screwing up.  As their mom I get one shot at being what they deserve.  When I screw up, I own up to it as genuinely as I can.

It was my first time ever being dumped and I returned to the group of friends I had before him.  They were older than me, and at that time mainly on the football team.  I remember standing behind them as he would walk by with new girls on his arm, and I felt protected. I had these amazing guy friends who only saw me as a younger sister, and they were standing around me and it was a ring of protection.  He would walk by but he wouldn't look at me.  Even if he did, his look was met by the guys that at least gave the impression they would hurt him for me if I wanted them to. They were part of a hill top kick back I was never invited to.  I can appreciate that they never saw me as one of those girls. They probably have no idea how much support they were giving me. I remember being told by a few boyfriends that I was too nice and innocent and those weren't bad qualities, but that was part of my rebellion after being dumped by my New Yorker.

I have a lot of male friends that have stood by me in protective friendship throughout my life.  I was once having a party when I was in the garage at my mom's house.  At one point, I was being pulled toward my bed by a group of guys I didn't know. I had hands all over my body, grabbing and pinching me. I tried reaching out to the one guy that I was actually seeing and he left me to grab another friend of ours.  (Seeing him as a bit of a coward didn't make me want him less.) The friend he grabbed then pulled me out of my room, making that group of guys back down.  He was short and stocky, but not many people would pick a fight with him. Years later my friend's girlfriend would tell me about the many times he beat and raped her.  I left that friendship because my heart couldn't condone who he became, but the irony of being saved by a rapist from a gang rape has never settled into insignificance.

Last night there were Facebook Messenger pings back and forth between me and one of those football player friends from high school.  I told him how I finally cursed out my husband. Again, not to his face - to another friend of mine.  But I did it.  He told me I should curse out my husband to his face, and called him names for me and again, I felt supported and cared about. I told him about some of the stunts pulled this year, and he called him a coward.  I noticed a theme. Again, I'm into all the wrong people.  I then told him how much his support meant in high school too, and I'd have to go back and read our emails again to see if I ever thanked him for that.  I've been so selfish lately, I may have missed that kindness. He also told me he was in a similar situation where he needed to choose to love himself. I could hear what my friend said and see past me into having compassion for my husband.  It was another one of those moments when the path we are on has trail markers and mile marks and there is peace in that.

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I'm in a strange place.  There are times when I am angry and I want to call out all of the vulgarities that cross my mind, but the part of me that wants to be a wife in obedience to my vows has me biting my tongue in aggravated silence.  It's not about my husband but about the wife I want to be. I expect to see him in the years ahead because we have children together and I can expect that we'll both try to put them first. There are times when I am at peace because there is joy when I look at the freedom I feel away from him.  I have gratitude for my release.  Life is full of ups and downs, but I'm habitually optimistic so I look for joy and find it and that's usually when something unexpected knocks the wind out of me.

I have friends who like to tell me how amazing I am.  Faithful readers will see that there's a lot my life has seen.  I'm a remarkable survivor of the craziness I've chosen.  I'm resilient in all that falls into my life. There's a lot of emotional resilience I can stand on because as complicated as life likes to be, I'm still here and I'm not quitting.  I have too many that rely on me to let a setback set me back.

A friend of mine is a praying person.  She's prayed for my marriage in times when I couldn't.  She prays for us now, as I'm just praying that forgiveness be placed in my heart so there's no room for bitterness.  She tells me I'm not playing the game right.  I'm supposed to be sad in my corner and falling apart and my husband doesn't know how to work with that.  This might be some of the reasons why he's become especially vindictive, but it doesn't matter anymore. It doesn't hurt as much when you stop wondering how you can get past it and decide you don't have to. Honestly, I think he's always had a hard time understanding me, and I tried to become more of what he wanted to make it easier on him, not seeing how much this cage has been hurting me. I was pretty broken at first.  We were at different places when he told me our marriage was over.  He was miserable, and I thought we were happy.  I saw my Dad's Post Traumatic Stress Disorder my entire life, and somehow it looks like Posttraumatic Resilience in me.  I can celebrate my milestones and know that it only gets better from here.

I love my church Pastors.  They're husband and wife and could be my very attractive teenaged parents.  There's always wisdom and encouragement in their conversations and they help me see the divine when I'm too self focused to see outside of my thoughts. She encourages me in showing me that I'm not created to be below anyone.  He has a soft caring side, but will put on that police officer's hat when necessary and give fatherly  advice when appropriate. In my life, I've seen three therapists.  They are great for getting past the major hurdles that keep you from moving forward, but the best gift they offer are tools to help you see yourself out of your valleys. I know when to ask for help and I've proven it to myself when I've sought a therapist.

I'm supported and knowing that keeps me encouraged.


First Steps in Releasing My Marriage

I deleted music files from my iTunes library that included a love song to me from my husband.  He raps.  He never understood how time has made me hate rap music.  I can listen to older songs that I loved when I was younger, but there's something in the sound that hurts my ears.  There's something in the culture that makes me hate being female.  It's the idea I'm only good for sex and life is only about making money and hate. It ties me to the memories of the boys I wanted to love, that worshipped the music that idolized misogyny and abuse. The lyrics are no longer about political change and empowerment. I started shuffling music on my laptop and old songs that got me through previous breakups would hit me and it was heavy with nostalgia.  I then got in my car and when my phone started shuffling through music I deleted off of my laptop, I realized I need to go through every library on every device to remove him.  That was a bit much, so I listened to Lorde for most of the day instead.  I may have thrown in a little Blu Cantrell to make me laugh, and DJ Quick because he reminds me of a certain boy that wanted to treat me like the song and I wanted to remind myself why I'm not that person anymore.  I will never again be "Down, Down, Down," no matter how much I loved the beat. Nothing creates distance and disgust faster than the music that boy loved. I started my day by visiting my father in law.  When we first married, my mother in law gave me a bracelet that belonged to her first mother in law and was intended for me, before my husband was born.  When my husband left he asked for it back. I'm sure it was his mother's suggestion because he never thinks that far ahead.  At first I was certain that we would reconcile and I said no. It was my right. I had earned it.  When I decided I was done, it felt right to give it to my father in law when it was his mother's. He and his wife greeted me with hugs and love.  He wanted to see it, and remembered he had given it to his mother.  I told him I wore it to family gatherings and weddings to feel as though she was with us in spirit. He insisted that I keep it.  His thoughts were he loved me and I'm his daughter.  He understood my value of family which is why he asked me to stand in as a family representative for his late brother.  He loves me in a way that his own kids could never feel and I'm so blessed in having that honor. My husband asked him to remove our family photos from his walls, and that request was denied.  I've only known him 16 years, and I know that once he claims you as his family, nothing can change that.  He kept apologizing for his son, and I told him it wasn't necessary.  Then he tried to give me his impressions of my husband's girlfriend, and the fact that she's still with her husband.  I needed to excuse myself then, because it's too easy to jump on that train and it never leaves me in a good place.

I got home and when the kids arrived after school I told them what I had told their grandfathers. They don't do well with surprises and I try to give them as much warning and preparation as possible. They're kids, and in their hopes and dreams their family will one day be restored.  I pointed out that their Dad is already acting like we're divorced. They took that news better than they did when I told them I wasn't working again.  It was crazy the way my oldest railed that he couldn't believe I lost my job.  In that moment I could see his father in him.  I could see the eggshells before me and calmly pointed out I worked for a temp agency and I'm between assignments.  I didn't get fired.  Then I pointed out I had a crush on my boss and it was probably for the best.  He then said, "it's okay mom.  It'll work out," and I could see he has his mother's eyes. I did laugh at his miraculous turn around though. I woke up to sounds of my kids gaming and singing. This is that adjustment I keep hoping will settle around us with seamless regularity and hopeful optimism.

This Water Baby Is Raising Her Standards

I've always been drawn to water.  I spent one summer going to Manhattan Beach every single day.  The water was so clear, I was able to stand and see a piece of chert that was practically glowing at my feet.  I still have it.  I loved Bolsa Chica for the fire-pits, but it can only be fun if you bring really good water shoes. Those seashells and pebbles have carved into my tender feet for years.  Huntington Beach has fire pits and you can avoid the rocks and watch the surfers. I loved to watch the surfers. There should be surfer watching soon. There's a dog beach between the two where frolicking dogs will chase balls in the water and you can almost taste the love between them and their humans. It's like cherry pie before I had to cut wheat from my diet and I took flaky pie crust for granted. There are beautiful cliffs in Malibu and huge pockets that haven't had sand added to them, making the shoreline natural and beautiful. Dockweiler Beach has fire-pits and you can watch the airplanes fly overhead as they launch then bank over the ocean later at night. I love the ocean for how small it makes me feel.  I love being pushed and pulled by the waves, only to escape by diving into them and becoming part of the churning that would force its will otherwise. I love beaches with tide pools.  There's one in San Pedro but I don't think I can go there without remembering the boy that helped me pick out sea urchins and starfish with lots of laughter and splashing. He was so tender with my scraped hands and knees. We held hands and he walked with me around the Friendship Bell and packed a lunch so we could picnic on the grass. We hugged and laughed as we looked at the ocean.  I want to leave that memory untarnished. It was a good one. I've been meaning to check out Crystal Cove instead.  For years I said I wanted to go to Black's Beach just because it is a nude beach.  I haven't made it and I haven't made plans either. In the last 16 years, I've spent less time at the beach and more time in rivers, pools, Jacuzzi tubs and lakes.  Part of that was my husband likes rivers and lakes.  We spent so much time fishing in them.  I'm not a fan of the gear and I don't like much outside of reeling in a fish, so I don't see myself going fishing anytime soon.  A lot of the rocks around my pond were from trips to Upper Big Tujunga where he and the boys fished, and I carried bags of rocks back to the car. Pier fishing is what I did with my Dad and the few times I tried to go deep sea fishing, I got sick as soon as the boat stopped going forward.  I like boats, but staying still and rocking on the waves instead of being part of the waves always made me sick.  It took a summer to get used to the smaller waves on Big Bear Lake. My other reason for not liking big scary bodies of water is my kids.  My now 9 year old who was 8 months at the time suffered a near drowning.  Pulling him out of the tub when he was blue was traumatic for me.  I had nightmares for a while. To this day, I still panic whenever they want to go into water and I feel like I can't keep a hand on all three at the same time. I prefer to not go and let my Mom take them because she loves water as much as I do.

There's a pond in my front yard that I enjoy from my front porch. I dug into hard ground with the help of my father in law.  It has a waterfall and it's all pre-formed pond liners, but I love the sound, if not the look. I love the reflected light dancing on walls and ceilings from the moving water outside my window. There's a koi fish in it.  This koi has survived for years with rain water and water hose refills when the water gets low and not a drop of treatment to balance the pH or de-chlorinate, and a pump that goes out from time to time and not a drop of food in years.  He's outlived the tadpoles that spent about a year becoming bullfrogs and then disappeared over a winter to emerge and disappear again. My cat is a murderer and she's granted him clemency. She prefers lizards, birds, and rodents. He's as stubborn about giving up as I am.

Last night I was home around 7:00.  I had an interview with a temp agency and puttered around Hollywood long enough to be happy to head home. I had taken off my slacks, and blouse and I was already in bed calling it a night with Hulu and Facebook.  I finally listened to the lyrics to kid3's favorite song.  There was a petite brunette singing a cover rendition and I thought I'd finally hear the whole thing.  I don't listen to much radio and I saw that the original is his Dad's favorite artist.  He's a Belieber. It occurred to me that my little one has been singing the song in his Daddy's heart and it made me angry. For the record, I had many moments of choosing to like his Momma too, and it wasn't easy. I knew she didn't like me no matter how many times they tried to say otherwise.  I chose to accept her as part of him. To know me is to know I give people more chances than they deserve.  Something about that song got under my skin like an itch and I got dressed and went for a drive.  I took Broadway through Chinatown and onto Sunset to Pacific Coast Highway and turned left. I called a really great friend on the way.

I've known this friend since we were in diapers and my firstborn's middle name was chosen based on the name I called on for much of my life.  When we were young, he was called Peanut Butter and I was Jelly according to the older neighborhood kids and our siblings.  It was as much about our complexions as it was about our conjoined hips. We were always hanging out around the neighborhood in East Hollywood where I broke my leg and a week later he broke his arm.  He ended up in a hospital bed at Kaiser on Sunset and a while later I ended up in the same bed in pediatrics.  He was there through every single romance I've had, and the distance only came with my husband.  I was starting life with a husband and kids.  He still goes to bars and clubs and lives the life I used to live. He's one of those friends that I can pick up with at any time and it's like there was no time or distance between us.  In our friendship there is freedom and I was able to rage and curse out a man I had been trying to be respectful toward. I discuss my anger at times.  I'm still protecting him in not disclosing some of his actions to most people. My anger is part of me and I'm not afraid of it. You just won't usually hear me emasculating him.  It's a choice, and I try to choose it more often than not.  That doesn't mean I'm incapable. That means my impulse control is strong on most days.  Not last night.  It was the first time I've ever cursed him out (even if not to his face),  the entire time I've known him.

It was early enough that when I made a left on Temescal Canyon Road, I could still legally park there, but it was dark, so you won't get pictures.  There are street lights but the beach itself is cloaked in darkness. In the distance, the Ferris wheel that spins above the waters off Santa Monica Beach is visible and tells me where the freeway is. The light of the moon and the many stars I could see were enough to see and step confidently.  I felt comforted in the blanketed darkness clothing the sand and sea. It colored the horizon in shades of indigo night. The gate leading to the parking lot at Will Rogers State Beach had already been closed with yellow metal that clearly denies access and the parking lot only held one car, as it's companion left when I was stepping onto the sand. Lifeguard tower 8 was where I spent many nights through high school and until I met my husband.  I've sat there with guys that played guitar, and with a strong drink to fight the biting air and sea mist. I've been there in groups and alone.  I've raged at the heartbreaks that were raging through me because the ocean could absorb the sounds of my anguish. I celebrated moments of solitude where my introverted side could recharge.  I shared my spot with the boys that were like my brothers. I was still on the phone with the Peanut Butter to my Jelly while he was at work but otherwise, I was completely alone. He told me about the many girls he had taken there, and I was shocked that I never thought to do the things he did because my comfort was more important.  There's only one way up or down on that ramp and it's pretty exposed.  This was probably the first time I was there without a pocket knife or a stun gun, not that I ever needed to confront anyone. Besides, beach sex is overrated and it's always cold at night.

This was a frequent filming location for Bay Watch.  When I arrived, I could see signs for a crew that will be there or already was there. Location scouts love this place. On the left are volleyball courts with nets swaying in the wind.  To the right there's a jetty that marks the sand, stepping into the ocean and breaking the harshest waves with immovable fortitude. This tower is unique in that it's built on a concrete platform that holds a large drainpipe and carries you over the water.  I've only ever been there at night and farther from low-tide, but recognized my favorite place on an episode once. The waves break against the platform and flow all around the tower.  There's a fence around it, but only to keep people from jumping off of the platform because people aren't always smarter than they look.  The tower isn't restricted except the closed windows padlocked to keep people outside.

We talked as the crashing waves calmed me.  We talked as they energized me.  By the time I was driving home, my mood had significantly picked up and my anger was gone.  As we talked, we discussed each man child I claimed in my heart.  He pointed out what he saw and through that I could see my perspective shifting and sharpening.  He felt I could have done better than every single one of them.  In looks, in intelligence, in personality, in self esteem, I was the dominant one.  He said every relationship has an imbalance, and I was always on the upper hand but never saw or acknowledged it.  I fixated on their one good quality.  For one boy it was his hair.  For another it was his voice.  For another it was his face.  For another it was how much he wanted me. I could go on but the point was he could see I had a type.  I always thought it was fair skin and great hair, but not all of them fit that bill.  Most of them didn't. He said I like the ones that are a little geeky and not too smart.  He could see something about each one of them that was lacking in some way. I told him about my crush and he pointed out that I was sabotaging myself even though I claim to want to date smarter people. I could see myself having a conversation with him without having to explain what I've said.  He reminded me that they all kind of grew on me because they weren't immediate total packages.  I walked past the obvious winners and plucked my way through the second string, subconsciously identifying their insecurities and then letting them  shape their fears into who I was, effectively shifting the power dynamic.  The exception was the guy I was with through the end of high school.  He was an ex-gang member, but I pursued him with his New York accent, and six pack abs, and his hooked nose.  He wasn't eye candy, but he was sweet and generous. He was always bringing me flowers. He wasn't the total package and I have no interest in looking him up, but I do like who I was when I was with him for the most part.  He didn't have that innate ability to lead though.  I value that now when I couldn't understand it then.

With each breakup, I became more of the person my great friend grew up with. He sees me as someone that tells it like it is.  I see it as jaded cynicism. I'm someone that is positive and optimistic for the most part.  I believe in faking it until I feel it.  My perseverance and tenacity are hot in others and an asset to myself. He likes this person as she is. I like this person as I am.  I like the boys that are shy and a little insecure.  I like the ones that need my attention that are willing to make it a point to make the first move. I find it sweet and he pointed out that it's the mother in me that needs to bring that shyness out. It always backfires and  I build them up into pricks. Or I'll date someone with such strong attachment issues that they need to prove they can make a conquest of anyone without being able to move into a relationship because they lack emotional maturity. We talked about the fact that I haven't kissed anyone besides my husband since April of 2000.  He tells me it will be epic when I do.

I started thinking about some of the things my husband has said the past year and the song that our little one was singing made more sense.  I realized he had been speaking to me the lyrics of this song, and it made me think of the many conversations we had when I was teased about my vocabulary.  To this day, I will find myself changing the vernacular in my writing so it is easily digested, but I shouldn't have to do that when I talk.  And this song that made me want to emasculate and infantilize him also made me feel pity because I could hear his insecurities in the song. I could sing the same song to him, but I have a better grasp of my feelings than that and would rather focus on what will lift me up.

I went to bed and the rage in me had died and it was replaced with hope.  There was hope that I would find enough value in myself to intentionally try to approach that man that could be out of my league.  There's hope that I could find someone to have meaningful conversations with. I want a salt of the earth, man's man. I kissed a couple of girls in my youth and it did nothing for me but make me miss the bite of stubble. I love a clean shaved face and solid jaw line. I like to be the soft one next to lean muscle. I want someone with the self esteem and drive that pushed him away from drugs or gang life, and made him try harder so his success was in his accomplishments. I've only ever had two ex lovers that weren't into drugs or gang life. They were always looking for attention and couldn't understand the value of silent companionship. They couldn't commit to one person, even if it wasn't me. It's not about money or looks.  It never was.  I remember being in my twenties and flirting with the guy in the car next to me. It was a red convertible. We exchanged numbers and when he called I told him I couldn't date him because all I remembered was his car and I couldn't be that person.  He respected my honesty, and the part of me that couldn't do that is still alive and kicking. She calls me a whore when I can't see past the frosting on the cake and that makes me keep walking. My husband thought I only wanted him for his money, but I wanted him for the way he saw me. I just didn't notice when he stopped looking at me that way.   The one amazing thing my really great friend pointed out was that I gave my husband 16 years of faithfulness and he messed up by leaving a good wife. He left me and I waited beyond what was reasonable and I have done enough.  Telling a wife and mother she's done enough is one thing, but getting her to finally believe it is another.  We talked about an hour and a half and at the end of that time, I believed it.

We also talked about the times we were young and being silly.  We laughed about the many times I said I'd be an old lady with a cane, and chasing boys. We talked about walking into the Palace in Hollywood at the end of the night.  We were pretty drunk and one of the guys we were with walked right into the glass doors, opened them and went right in as if he didn't just greet the door with his nose.  The security guards didn't bother to stop us. It also closed within the 15 minutes we were there.  There was another night we had gone to a hotel in the valley to go dancing with my Dad.  They played Israeli music and songs in Arabic. Some of the older women taught me to move like a belly dancer.  It's where I heard my first Alabina song and this was before Shakira in the late 1990's. I used to go dancing with Dad on Saturday nights and this was the one time I brought friends.  We got a bit sauced and when my Dad went home, we decided to go to Rosarito because we had never been to Papas and Beer.  I took the backseat of my car and he drove us into Tijuana and further south into Rosarito.  We pointed at each "alto" sign and laughed because they looked a lot like stop signs.  It's never taken much to make me laugh. We got there at 4 in the morning and it was closed. Everything was closed at 4 in the morning.  We drove around a bit and watched the sunrise.  Instead of hanging out all day, we headed home and had a tire blow out on the freeway (my  first of more than I can remember). It was an epic adventure. I've still never been inside of Papas and Beer. We talked about the time we went hiking to the waterfall from Chantry Flats in the mountains above the Santa Anita racetrack with a bottle of Tequila Rose and the guys going for a swim in the freezing water.  There's something funny that happens when cold water gets past boxers and I can still hear the squeals in that memory. He reminded me of the fun I had as an adolescent when I wasn't handing my heart off. I needed that.

A Profusion of Gratitude to the Men in My Life

67796_1220955494605037_3461914738602956731_n When you face a maelstrom in life, it’s easy to look for signs of safety and reach out in an attempt to find an anchor.  The winds die down.  The torrential rains are reduced to water dripping from branches and leaves. Trees have gathered what they could, and what remains will trickle down to enrich the soil at thirsty roots. Plants are so self serving. Birds chirp in triumph over the nests that weathered the storm and pigeons coo over their eggs that survived the onslaught in motherese sounds of comfort. The clouds lose their gray anger and lift into fluffier whites that couldn't possibly release another onslaught.  At least until they lower and darken, covering the land in shadow once more.  So begins a new flood on dry land not ready to take what the heavens choose to give. But in the eye of the storm it is calm enough to see the other side coming, and calm enough to brace for what you know you can still make it through because you've been there and will find yourself there again.

If I look hard enough, I can see the same in my emotional life.  I'm looking for an anchor and it's wrapped in the covering of a heartbroken past that keeps throwing old flames at me.  I understand it.  The pain of a broken heart is the same, no matter who does the breaking, it's my heart and I have to do the mending.  This would be the main reason I'm not yet dating.  I'm not a problem to fix and I'm not ready to publish another issue when this one has yet to be edited.  And yes, at times I say it just to convince myself.

It's funny how the universe decides to contribute.  My youngest has a sweatshirt with diamonds that reminds me of one special guy.  The very next week he tells me the he has a new after school teacher with the same first name as another man I loved.  I'll see the name of a studio that reminds me of a name I've been trying to forget or in the course of my last job, I'd see lots of names that reminded me of this feeling that I've been walking through.  I'd be in full focus of my task at hand, and suddenly get sucker punched by a name with significance and pain. Or worse, it'll remind me of a secret rendezvous that was so sweet the longing is worse. I love the random bumper stickers from home towns not my own that put me in the place I was driving to escape from. I hear so much about the benefits of gratitude, I thought it might be worth a few words in redirecting my thought patterns.


Thank you for opening doors for me.  Clearly I'm capable, but it was still nice and appreciated.

Thank you for noticing my hair cut.  It's not a huge deal that I cut it, but it's huge that you would notice.

Thank you for noticing that I like my coffee creamy and sweet and that my tea depends on my mood entirely.

Thank you for listening to my drama and not trying to fix it, nudging me and guiding me until my lightbulb flashes in understanding and not taking the credit we both know you deserved.

Thank you for dropping your defenses long enough to let me see how badly you wanted more and then putting them back up so it wasn't uncomfortable.

Thank you for picking up after a party and taking the trash out for me. Hosting in my youth makes me hate doing it now, so thanks for being okay with me coming to you instead and letting me help where I can.

Thank you for surprising me with a dress that was a little too tight. It told me you thought of me as smaller than I am, and I loved your sense of style.

Thank you for surprising me with jewelry.  I didn't always wear it, but I always loved it.

Thank you for offering to whisk me away to a place I've never been to make new memories to crowd out the old ones.

Thank you for listening to me sing without making it a performance, and joining in because you saw how happy I was and you wanted to be part of that.

Thank you for not being threatened by the thoughts I needed to bounce off of you.

Thank you for letting me run my fingers through your hair even if it looked messy afterward.  I have a thing for really large brains with lots of wrinkles of knowledge.  I'm only part zombie after a long night and it soothes me.  (I needed the laugh and something I could read aloud to the kid next to me doing homework.) Honestly, there's something soothing about soft hair and the trust given when touching it.

Thank you for wanting constant contact, whether holding hands or an open palm on my lower back or holding onto my hip so I'm that much closer to you.  It might make walking awkward, but I loved it.

Thank you for insisting I lay with my head on your lap while you watched t.v. and I dozed off with you stroking my hair.

Thank you for not laughing when I eat Cheetos with chopsticks so I can avoid cheesy fingers.

Thank you for respecting my answer when I say I'm not ready to date.  I appreciate that you understand I might change my mind and are willing to wait for what you want to hear.  When that hunger is awakened, I assure you, my impulse control will go for a walk, and you will know in the looks I steal because your body will understand the hunger in my gaze. And I'm sure you can understand that you may never be the one.

Thank you for buying gifts even when I say it's not necessary, and even if it's a chocolate bar because you understand that eating chocolate gives me food joy, and you want to see my joy and hear the silly and sometimes sexual sounds that come with it.

Thank you for understanding that my "no" means I'm withholding from myself too and not giving me a hard time about rubbing one out on your own.  I appreciate that one more than I can explain.

Thank you for the calf rub that didn't come with a price or expectation.

Thank you for running a bath, then insisting I step into it.

Thank you for the moments we had, and not making promises you never intended to keep.

Thank you for that random post it note in my textbook.  I saw it right when my high started falling and I wondered if the night before was real.  It was real and it is still an awesome memory.

Thank you for cooking for me and inviting me to give you a hand.  I loved bumping into you and our messy hands and washing them together.  To this day, I find something so luxurious about washing hands in warm water. Thank you for that.

Thank you for seeing me as I am, and not as you thought I should be.

Thank you for letting me be in the moment where everything so beautiful around me put a pause in your day long enough for me to get a fix that would last as long as I can remember it.

Thank you for sharing my first with me. What ever firsts they were and as slowly as they needed to happen.

Thank you for letting me trust you with the restaurant and letting me be picky about what was on my plate.

Thank you for making things a game, and rewarding me in your silly laughter.

Thank you for driving so I could watch you in my creeptackular way, leaving indelible memories long after our goodbyes. I'll never forget the sun hitting your hair and filtering the brown into spun gold.  I was so excited that my first gray hair looked like yours did that day.

Thank you for believing in me when I couldn't see past my immediate failures.

Thank you for taking care of me when I was drunk and giving me your self control when I couldn't find mine.

Thank you for the flowers and that each arrangement was unique and worth drying. Thank you for remembering I don't like baby's breath and that they were for monthly anniversaries, holidays, and just because and never as an apology.

Thank you for never buying forgiveness from me.

Thank you for your gentle leadership and being amazing to children.

Thank you for your protective nature, even if I don't need it.  I like it.

Thank you for being the man I needed you to be.

How My First Crush in 16 Years Is All About Me

12347831_1149949565038964_4708053133024759724_nIt's so easy to blow off the idea of a crush or crushing on someone because crushes are what I identified with as a teenager.  After marriage and kids and work and keeping a home running and the art of adulting, it seems insignificant. It's something I can't imagine having time for.  Actually, I can.  I have.  It was fun. And yes, I lost time in my lack of concentration because his presence made my mind go blank far too often.  I have been in the middle of something and when work doesn't get done, I prove I don't have time for it. Crushing something takes a whole and perfect object and adds pressure to the point that something fundamental is released and changed and the modification can not be undone.  If you crush a grape - a very specific grape for wine making and not table grapes - you release it's juices and let it ferment.  The decaying of the grape, with special enzymes and time are what make a wine.  It's a process that has to be completed or it's unusable. Let it go for too long and alter the conditions required and the wine becomes vinegar which has a unique purpose, but I wouldn't ever advise sipping it. I tried it for a little while and even if it's diluted apple cider vinegar, it's just not worth it. It's the same with a friendship that crushes it's existence into something more.  How do you go back? I don't know that you can.

I think the process of living is in itself a form of a crush.  We go through experiences mired in trials that transform us and going back is impossible sometimes.

I've had lots of crushes in my life.  My first three or four long term relationships were guys that grew on me until I was obsessed and determined to make their kisses mine.  I tend to be a nice person that takes more than she deserves and gives more than she probably should.  Call it my lack of boundaries, or an inability to decide I deserve more than they are capable of giving me. It always started with physical attraction and then I got lost in what their favorite everything is, without really paying attention to me and loving myself first and best. My infatuation crushed who I was and wanted to be.

I didn't have a crush on my husband.  At first I was insulted that he didn't call me when I gave him my number.  On our first date, I was surprised that we had a conversation and he wasn't trying to see how far I'd let him go.  At some point the rightness of him settled around me. With him, I just knew. There were no butterflies, just a new feeling that we were aligned with destiny. I wanted to be with him all of the time and the love blossomed and filled my entire being.  Fifteen years is a long time to be wrong, so I want to believe we stayed together long enough to create and gain what we were meant to. I was content in our lives but the understanding of my joy lately tells me I was there too long and he saved us from existing and released me into living.  I'm not surviving.  I'm thriving.  He taught me to speak up for myself and helped me stop my boozing and smoking and promiscuous ways. He healed my brokenness and rewrote my Daddy issues.  I can always thank him for making me better, but I also believe we stopped making each other grow, and started piling burdens on each other instead of nurturing each other in love, grace, patience and understanding.  Without that laundry list, it was just laundry and undefined comfort in expected routines.

I love my current crush for it's frivolity.  I love the excitement and butterflies.  I love picking out then changing outfits a few times each morning instead of rolling out of bed and throwing on whatever isn't stained too badly.  I like the way my ear picks up on his voice and I have a silly smile on my face whenever he looks my way.  Today, very loudly throughout the office, he mentioned that I'm always smiling.  A friend in the know giggled and laughed with me and if my skin wasn't such a warm chocolate, you may have seen me blush but I felt the heat flush through my chest up to the roots of my hair.

The crushing in my infatuation was the slow walk over the last vestiges of commitment toward my husband.  In the liminal spaces of longing looks, I've given myself permission to look for another man's face and I've started longing to hear someone else's voice and it is not about betrayal or pain, but a birthing of pleasures in a new life and with a new freedom.  He isn't just a person I find extremely attractive.  He is my first crush in over 16 years. He symbolizes the first steps of determination from a future I didn't want and was terrified of.  I took that step after denying that possibility for so long and I find it's a meadow filled with California poppies and a blanket and I can lay as long as I want to, looking at the wispy clouds and feeling the warmth of the sun as it kisses my sorrows into oblivion and hope is restored for a future I can finally see myself in. The clouds part and gather to give shade in tandem with warm winds and it's amazing.

There was a crushing and I know I can never go back.  It's not about my crush. It's not about starting or finishing something with him. It's not even about my husband. My crush is about me and I don't want to uncrush this grape.  It can't be restored. The process has been started and the enzymes were added.  Given enough time, this wine will be full bodied and fruity and pair well with dessert.  Second helping please.  With brie and fig preserves please. Okay, and maybe a naked crossfit body, please.

Man Flesh and This Fledgling Shameless Cougar

12495080_1122281354460063_2379444456358224913_n I'm having a morning of just appreciating the male shape.  I love the sleek lines of a well tailored suit that let me see how many hours a man might spend in the gym.  I love broad shoulders and narrow waistlines.  I laugh a little when I see a man in shorts that clearly skips leg day, but spends more time than needed on his chest.  My office overlooks a swimming pool and in the summer I expect to look over and witness an actual Hollywood sausage fest.  Think of that what you will.

I remember the days when I was dating and without fail, all of the hot guys that were all wrong for me were also all driving stick shift cars that wore their time and dedication in their wax job.  I would never be loved in that way by them.  Every moth needs to try that flame out at least once or twice before deciding it's not worth getting burned.

My husband wasn't like that.  He was shy and flirtatious.  It was a cute oxymoron.  I wore my usual confidence.  Dating was no longer about finding a soul mate.  I wanted dinner and attention.  The dating game was boring and pointless.  I was losing faith in finding anything meaningful because I felt like the legs and breasts (pre-childbirth) were all people saw when they looked at me, and it made dating a game of power and dominance.  I wanted to conquer rather than become a sad conquest.

It didn't matter to me what my husband looked like at the time we started flirting.  I would walk into the pool hall where I hung out with my friends, and he was their security guard.  I would walk in with a short dress with barely enough room for me in it, and he would say he needed to pat me down.  It was silly and I didn't think much of it.  He later told me he thought I was a man.  One night I wasn't drinking and headed over to the bar.  I leaned over and said, "I'll have a Coke, and he's buying."  He nodded his approval and told me," It'll cost your number."  I saved a dollar.  His drinks were free.  I wrote it on a matchbook.  He didn't call me.  A week later I was on a date at the same place and asked him why he never called me.  He said he thought the number was a fake.  I still have that matchbook.

There was something about our parallel histories that very nearly intertwined.  I knew on our first date that he would be the man I would marry.  The day we got married I remember feeling disbelief that it was happening.  I was filled with fear and defiance and I wondered if I actually felt love, or if I should have given it more time.  In the months when passion faded into a peaceful co-existence, I realized that he loved me more than I loved him and it felt safe to love him.  In that safety I began to give him every ounce of my heart.  I began to find parts of his body that I could love and worship.  I still love the dip in his lower back and the hollow where his hip meets his thigh.  It's those soft curves of his body that I loved to kiss.  His soft parts matched mine.

I gave him all of me.  I was rude to friendly smiles and cut off the friends that kept telling me I was out of his league.  I stopped talking to friends that thought our flirty friendship was okay and never allowed a crush to develop on anyone else.  There was a night or two in our first 5 years of marriage where I revisited those friends.  A guy I was once infatuated with was there.  I was never more than an available body to him. I appreciated that look of desire he shot me, but would walk away feeling awed that he would respect my marriage in trying to hide it. My husband would later have an online affair.  He would meet a different woman from his online life at a comedy club, then joke to me that I had a better body than hers and that saved him from cheating on me.  He would more recently have a special friend replace me and not understand why I don't want her around my kids.

This is my new mood, and I can deal with it.  Can you?