4 types of tears
I have heard of 4 seasons in one day. I have experienced 4 moods in a day. Who am I kidding – I have had 4 moods in an hour. Today was a first. Today I had 4 types of tears in a day;
We all know these tears. They come at the worts time. You are so angry you could explode. You are trying to keep your voice even when you want to screech. Your rage is building and all you want is to make the other understand your position. You need them to understand. And your body goes and betrays you – you burst into tears.
This morning it was my son, being cheeky, then back-chatting me, kicking the game over and finally sitting with his back to me saying ‘I’m ignoring you, Mum’. At least I didn’t yell.
The most common type of tears. They are best defined by what they are not. Generic sadness. Not quite grief. Not quite heartbreak. Not quite wracking sobs. Just tears. Something saddens you, upsets you, pulls at your heart-strings and the waterworks begin.
Later this morning after the ‘ignoring incident’ where Mr 2 was sat in the ‘thinking corner’ of the couch to ponder his behavior he promptly fell asleep amidst his apology. Sleep. At 11.30am. Most mothers would be silently dancing around the room with joy. But my baby is sick. This isn’t the tiredness of a child running in the sunshine. The tears just flowed.
These tears are new to me. From what I can tell they are reserved only for situations where you are unable to or ineffectual in your attempt to help a loved one. I have only ever experienced them when a loved one is ill in some way.
This afternoon, leaving the Dr’s office I simply couldn’t stop them rolling down my cheeks. He assured me that the referral I clutched was for the best Dr in his field and that my waiting period was remarkably short. He also warned that none of the efforts I was making would help in any way what so ever, except for making me feel useful. Great.
These are often mistaken as happy tears. There is a difference. A subtle difference. Grateful tears are tears of pure thanks. Something reminds you how very lucky you are; to be alive, to have the family you do, to be exactly where you are and the gratitude is expressed physically as little drops cascading down your cheeks.
Later this afternoon, when we arrived home. Mr 2 sitting in his Daddy’s lap pretending to drive the car in the driveway. Cooper is luminescent with joy and his Daddy is sitting in awe. Powderfinger’s ‘Burn your Name’ (one of our wedding songs) comes on the radio. I am utterly struck by exactly how blessed I am to be wife and mother to these beautiful men.
Yes, I am hormonal, sleep-deprived, stressed, exhausted and generally sentimental but what a day…
I often get warned that a lot of the angst I experience is because I expect too much of people. There is a largely unspoken societal rule that says ‘Don’t expect a lot from others.’ I have seen blog posts dedicated to this exact topic. How much should we expect from friends? How much should you expect from wedding guests, or the guests from the couple? How much is it reasonable to expect grandparents to help with child care?
Everybody has a different agenda. Everybody has competing priorities. Everybody has a schedule that is packed to bursting. Most people want to help you, support you and meet your expectations (I am an optimist). But sometimes, often? it just isn’t possible. So we have learned to expect less. Certainly less that my grandmother could expect from her friends and neighbors when she was my age.
What really pisses me off is when people get upset when you do too much. They start talking about ‘your place’. They start listing off your other obligations. They get defensive. They get suspicious. They get upset.
It makes me wonder what happened to us as a society? What happened to paying it forward? Personal generosity? Helping a neighbour? We are all in for attending a concert for charity. Having money direct debited from our account each month to support the faceless needy. But cooking for the elderly, giving a struggling friend a much needed rest, actually showing up for each other when it counts, well, it seems we need some special permission for that.
I don’t know if it is compassion or pig-headedness, but I won’t be asking for special permission. I won’t be standing by when I could lend a hand, and I won’t be apologising for it either.
Ode to Peggy
It’s my Nan’s birthday tomorrow. I won’t tell you how old she will be because she has Alzheimer’s and can’t remember herself. (And I think it would be rude to out her age here.) We can safely say she is pushing 90. Nanna, or Nanna Peg as my 2-year-old calls her, is responsible for my love of food and affinity with simple cooking & my love of reading. (She is also quite possibly responsible for my addiction to pickled cucumbers – or else I might just be weird.)
One of the saddest things about her deteriorating memory is that the food she cooked every single day, from recipes she never ever wrote down, were the first causalities. The bonus of sitting on a high stool in her kitchen every chance I got as a child, watching her cook, stealing the ingredients, snacking with her whilst reading or watching the footy is that my taste-buds know her food inside and out.
There are details of my grandmother that are committed to memory that I will never forget (fingers crossed I missed the Alzheimer’s gene). She was the first with a hug, she ate and cooked humble, hardy food, her skin was always soft, she did her hair with rollers and tied it up in a scarf until it set, she had a shoe collection to rival Carrie Bradshaw’s, she always set the table, she ate granny smith apples with salt, her meat pie and her bacon bone soup were to die for. Above all else she dedicated her whole life to nurturing and loving.
I used to think her path as a carer and home maker was old-fashioned and lacking in value. Oh how naive I was. The unfaltering dedication she showed caring for a procession of family was saintly: from her husband to her children, her ailing parents to her grandchildren without so much as a sabbatical between them (us). She even opened her door to countless ‘strays’ over the years as well. The risk of your legacy in life being only love is that you can only hope those you touch keep your love alive.
In my effort to keep Peggy’s love alive I am taking a leaf from her book. Last night that leaf was bacon bone soup. If my husband’s face was anything to go by – he felt just as loved as I used to as a child.
Thank Fuck for girlfriends…
…and their ability to remind me that life is unedited. Long, labour intensive and full of challenge. Oh goody!
There is something special about a close female friend. Yes, I have close male friends (well had, but we will get to that later) too, and they are fantastic in a whole other way. Male friends give me the best hugs; remind me there is something solid and grounded and strong around to hold onto. Female friends hug me less and embrace my heart more. Sigh. Girlfriends love me enough to know they can call me on my bullshit and that I won’t be offended. My girlfriends know when to cry with me and when to point out the crocodile in my tears.
My girlfriends are my girlfriends precisely because they have similar hearts. They are ‘my people’. Similar but different – they have varied perspectives. Many of them directly contradict mine, but that is to be expected when you are the hippy leftist that hangs out with conservative lawyers. Sometimes i find it laughable that two of my besties (of over a decade no less) are lawyers who between them will have more degrees than the average graduating class. But I digress. They know how to talk my language, to direct my flow of thought; they reveal myself to me in conversation.
Heart conversation is such an intrinsic and divine feminine act, talking to each other’s souls through our personalities. There is no mistake when we feel some divine presence when we really share ourselves with girlfriends in conversation. We feel it, because it is divine. Sometimes I can see us as ageless crones passing divinity back and forth between us as words.
I cried. She laughed. I said ‘but’ and she kindly pointed out my resistance. She saw my claws and my soft underbelly and she recognized herself. She told me what I already knew. But hearing it from another, somehow, made it different. She told me I had to learn to be infinitely open and infinitely loving. She told me I needed to soften.
I washed the tears from my face when I washed my hands, because really, every life changing conversation is interrupted by a toddler crying ‘Toilet time!’ Isn’t it?
Things that matter
I have some people in my life that I would do anything for. You heard me. ANYTHING. Before you mentally set about disproving me; Yes, I can imagine times I could kill for them, surrogate their children, break the law, donate organs, fly across the globe. You get the picture.
Kelly Diels got me thinking this morning about what makes these people so special? What have they done to lay claim to my spare kidney? Well, they are family. They are ‘my people’. Not all of them share my DNA. Not all of them (very few in fact) live close enough for me to have an easy coffee with. Most of them I don’t see as often as I’d like. But none of that matters.
These people support the very best in me. They call me out when I’m slacking. They are clear when I’m confused. They say what needs to be said, even when they know it will stretch the friendship. The hold me and let me cry. They cut me slack even when I don’t deserve it. Especially when I don’t deserve it. They bear witness to my value when I don’t have the eyes to see it. They accept all sides of me (and boy, do I have a few). They accept my wildness even when it pushes their own buttons – God I love them for that.
They have sat crying with me in the cold grass in the wee hours, mediated my temper, offered a heart-felt ‘I told you so’ in the morning and then fixed my hair. They have helped me tend to a battered and sore body without flinching. They have heard the blackest secrets of my soul and not turned away. Not even I could do that. They share in my private world in a way others never will.
These people matter. These things matter.
Is objectification a prerequisite for sex?
“I have no problem with women objectifying men in ads, or men objectifying women in ads. Because, really, the only reason we [humans] are still here after 65 million years, is because someone has been shagging.” - The Gruen Transfer.
I’m sorry, did I miss something? Since when was objectification a prerequisite for sex? Is it because I am a woman that sex to me is more than visual attraction and physical possession?
Need I be terrified that men today subscribe to this theory that in order to perform a most intimate act, which is at its heart prone to our deepest vulnerabilities, they must first objectify their partner and presumably protect their manliness? Have I got it all wrong? Please tell me I have it all wrong.
I understand that sex isn’t always a beautiful thing. Sometimes is it about pure base attraction, heat, pheromones, friction, sweat and climax. Great sex for the sake of great sex, is still great sex. But can it really be great if it is essentially one object fucking another? Barbie and Ken in the sack was never the hottest idea.
Something tells me that our pop culture adopting the values and aesthetics of soft porn may have something to do with this theory. And really, the Gruen Transfer is a show about advertising and we all know that the advertising industry have been justifying the proliferation of the male gaze and over-sexualisation with the simple catchphrase ‘Sex sells”. The prude in me asks; at what cost.
Everybody with two grey cells to rub together knows that the brain is our sexiest organ. If it weren’t then natural selection over the past 65 million years would have produced an aesthetically superior race by now. And that simply isn’t the case. So, how is it that a comment about objectification on a national TV program so flippantly accepts objectification as a part of sex?
For me all I hear are warning bells. Are our young women growing up understanding the in order to be attractive (and receive physical love) they must come pre-objectified; spray tanned to within an inch of their lives, hair highlighted, teeth bleached, hairless except for that on their heads, carefully styled to appeal to the narrowest possible idea of sexy? Are our young men growing up understanding that in order to be a man they must act like the degrading assholes you see in most porn these days (professional or amateur) and order women around, ‘take’ all three orifices available, include ‘light’ bondage and spanking and end ejaculating on her face?
How oh how can we restore intimacy to sex? I think it begins by reversing the over-sexualisation of our youth, introducing instead real sexual education (i.e. something more than sex is bad and dangerous don’t do it), by adding erotica to challenge the stronghold [mostly] degrading porn has on the ever-growing market, and by individually asking more for our partners. If it is normal these days to objectify, demean, humiliate in our sex lives then I say let’s do something radical like honour, respect, and worship in our sex lives too.
‘I’ll never let you sweep me off my feet’ - Bulletproof, La Roux
I love old movies. Especially film noir. The femme fatales, like their compatriots in other films of the era always fell in love, but unlike the other heroines (Audrey, Marilyn) they fell despite themselves. These women didn’t want to fall in love.
Actually the femme fatales (my favourite of which was Rita Hayworth) actively tried not to fall in love. They schemed, they evaded, they manipulated, they two timed, they played men off one another, they emotionally withdrew. The whole time, despite themselves, they wanted a man (a good man) to sweep them off their feet. They wanted a man to pass their tests, to see through their false bravado, to love them more than they loved themselves, to love them into who they could be.
There is a lot me can learn from these women, and I am not just referring to their elegance, grace, wit, beauty and class. They teach us also what it looks like when a woman falls on her own sword in love. It isn’t pretty. They usually ended up dead, in jail, in an awful marriage or miserably alone. Before I continue please let me clarify; a woman’s worth isn’t in her marriageability. Single is not a fate worse than death for a woman. My point is these women ran from, denied and fought what they really wanted and symbolically they ended up dead.
These women wanted Love with a capital ’L’. They wanted to be swept off their feet. They wanted a love that would deliver them from their confusion and fear so viscous it had teeth and ate them whole. We do that a LOT don’t we? We are so terrified of what we really want that we make ourselves impermeable, we try to become bulletproof and repel it. It is safer that way, or is it?
In the words of my favourite Femme Fatal, The Lady from Shanghai Elsa ‘I’m not what you think I am, I just try to be like that.’
The real deal with support
Support; to bear the weight of, endure, withstand, strengthen, provide for.
To elicit support there first must be something to bear/endure/provide for.
This is logical. It makes perfect sense. So why do we resist this so much? (Or is it just me?)
When the going gets tough, instead of reaching out or crying out, I get out my game face. Those who know me know my game face is more like the smile on a china doll. Painted, perfect, unmoving and utterly fake. There is a reason that when things get tough you want to melt down. There are a few reasons, in fact. Melting down is a way of letting out what is going on inside. The tears or tantrum release the internal pressure. Melting down is also a call to action to those around you. It shows them the gap, between where you are and where you want to be.
I am not suggesting that we collapse into hysterics in a store, or completely drop the ball at work. To be supported, there must be something to support, some strife, some emotional turmoil, some difficulty, some effort. Perhaps it is time, in the sanctuary of our inner circle, to drop the act. Give it up. Quit hiding your pain, fear and need. Give others the opportunity to rise to meet you where you are.
The gold is spoiling my grass
I was once told the story of an old man. I have no idea where this story comes from, so if you know let me know so I can attribute it here.
This old man is negative, grumpy, set in his ways. He wants more money; everything is expensive, prices are rising and he longs for the days when he was a boy and prices were reasonable. One morning he wakes to a pile of gold bullion stacked in his front yard. His response ‘Oh gosh darn it! That gold is ruining my grass!’
I don’t want to stay dry in my relationships. I want them wild and messy and juicy. By that admission, this means they will be hard, confusing, potentially disappointing, and require much vulnerability and risk. At this point in my life I don’t want safety or surety. I want passion, abandon, fiery integrity, brutal truth, and raw beauty. I want to get wet.
First let me say Wow! Fearless honesty should always be applauded! My relationship is wild, definitely messy and juicy (in the personal growth sense) right now. It is hard, really hard, deep, slow work. And to do the work we have had to face paralysing fears, speak searingly painful truths and embrace a vulnerability I have never known before.
What a powerful re-frame. ‘Wet’ is a magic new paradigm. I am not ‘going through stuff’, ‘in a rough patch’, ‘falling apart’. I am jumping into the depths of my marriage, our love, with both feet. I am getting wet.
Things I never thought I’d say…
… to a toddler under two.
- Don’t climb the screen door higher than the door handle.
- Put the beer bottle down.
- Take the SD card out of the laptop and put it back in the camera. Now!
- It is not polite to call your uncle ‘boring’.
- You can have Sushi on Saturday.
- It’s not nice to put your hand down your Auntie’s (every woman that hugs him) bra.
- No swiping money from Mummy’s wallet.
- Hang up! It’s not o.k to call your auntie before 7am in the morning! (Yes he called on his own.)
- Lets negotiate…
- Sure you can have lemon and Parmesan pasta for lunch.
- No. 2 cups of (decaf) tea a day is quite enough for a little man.
- It’s not funny any more. Tell Mummy where you hid the remote.
- It’s not o.k to make yourself dinner. It was very clever though to get the bowel, spoon and ingredients.
- No hustling your grand parents for chocolate.
- No playing tug-of-war with your [Great] Nanna Peg, you are pulling her over!
- Can you start that paragraph again? Mummy didn’t catch the second sentence.
What did you think you would never say?
Yesterday I feel like a traveled back in time. I caught the train into the city to meet a friend. No blackberry. On the train I read a book. A real paper book. Not a blog or an E book on a smartphone or tablet. We sat on her couch and on her bed like we used to when we were 15 (yes I have known her that long) and we talked. We didn’t communally watch TV, play a game, sms, or update our Facebook pages. We even let our phones go to voicemail. Oh the horror. We went to lunch at a local cafe and had pies, not some elegantly put together tossed salad, and enjoyed tea and soft drink. No diet or artificial sweetener to be seen. We even shared the best chocolate éclair ever! Yumm.
I read some more on the trip home on the train and when I had the carriage to myself I called a long distance friend to catch up with her. On the walk home I picked up some ingredients for dinner and actually visited a ‘video store’! Two DVDs later (two of my faves) I went home to cook dinner and watch DVDs curled up on the couch with my husband, under a hand-made patchwork quilt no less!
It felt fantastic to just connect. Not connect in the über modern sense of knowing what your friends had for lunch thanks to twitter, or where there are thanks to foursquare, what they did during the week thanks to their Facebook pics. But real connection, to hear the wobble in their voice when they talk about something difficult, to see the smile crinkle the corners of their eyes in a way that an emoticon simply can’t convey. To laugh with someone. To feel that genuine connection, where so much is conveyed between the words.
I don’t know about you, but pretty much every young woman [20 to 35] I care about has been on an emotional roller coaster recently. And we seem to be stuck in the big dipper part swinging from low to lower, with an occasional sharp upswing. The thing that is keeping me (and I know a lot of them) sane, is female connection. Its power simply cannot be underestimated. It is like alchemy for the soul!
Have you thanked your ‘girls’ recently? Mine know who they are… love you guys! xxx
We give lip service to compassion. It is a lofty ideal that, more often than not, we use to calm ourselves when we are pissed off at someone else. For example when someone cuts us off in traffic or the check out chick is rude to us we talk ourselves back from a rage by being ‘compassionate’.
Compassion is more than cutting someone slack.
Compassion is deeper than considering someones feelings.
Compassion goes beyond pity.
I didn’t realise until I got the responses from my 150th blog post (the ask a friend challenge) how integral compassion is to who I am as a person in the world. I meditate on compassion. When someone wrongs me my response is, after the requisite clearing of the angry emotions (I’ll post on this process soon), to find genuine compassion. Finding that place of genuine compassion recongises that we all in this together. Compassion effortlessly forgives.
Compassion means – to be deeply aware of the suffering of another.
AND to have the desire to alleviate that suffering.
I actively cultivate compassion. I focus on the suffering on untold millions and try to take it into my heart. It hurts. It is supposed to. I try to breathe out compassion. For myself. For untold millions. It is hard.
Harder still. Hearing that my oldest friend lost his mother today. A graceful, impossibly strong woman with wicked sense of humour is lost to this earth. I don’t know what to say. Compassion is all I’ve got. Suddenly compassion doesn’t feel like enough.