Monday, December 28, 2015

Lies and Love

We are all liars. We lie to each other, but mostly we lie to ourselves. We create these ideals of what and who we are, and when things happen in our lives, we often get hurt and confused when they turn out to be something we didn’t expect. We don’t mean to lie to ourselves, in fact, we don’t often know we’re doing it. But the pain of the lies we tell ourselves, well, the pain hurts us really bad. Most often, even in the midst of the pain, we can sometimes still refuse to see the truth.

Why do we think it hurts so much when we’re disappointed, when our faith is tested and we’re deemed wanting? We hurt partly because we believe we failed on some level, but mostly because we were deceived, things didn’t turn out as we had imagined them, as we had hoped, as we had believed. We try to blame everything and everyone else for that pain. But if we really look at each situation in our lives, the worse of the pain stems from realizing we were wrong.

When I found out I had cancer, I instantly wondered what I had done wrong in my life to have deserved this punishment, to have earned this disease. That’s how I’m programmed to believe, that there are consequences for my actions, that for every action there’s an equal or opposite reaction, or there’s a blood price to pay for the sins we commit. When my ex-husband told me that he was never attracted to me or was never in love with me, I thought I deserved that, too. I didn’t deserve to be loved. The things I loved died. When my father would beat me for talking back to him or denying him, I thought I deserved the pain. The things I challenged hurt me. I was disobedient, and how can the universe, God, faith, or science honor disobedience? Even the natural laws of the universe have abstracts. When my oldest daughter ran away from home, I thought I too deserved that, after all… I ran away. I had just begun the journey of loving myself, loving my body, and loving my mind, and daring to love someone else when the cancer attacked. But it wasn’t the cancer that hurt me; it was the lies, the fantasy of a life I had created for myself, and those around me.

I ran, not so much from the people I loved from this crazy idea that it would hurt them less when I died if I was already gone, but I think I ran more from the dissolution of the dream world I’d built for myself, the hope of a life I dared to dream, and the reality of that dream didn’t live up the fantasy. Not even the man I thought I loved lived up to the man I had imagined. That’s not his fault, that was mine. It was unfair for me to build him as I had. He was perfect. He was simply amazing. Was he as I imagined him? Far from it, but I liked the lie. I fell in love with it. But as with all lies, the truth finally revealed itself, and I got hurt. No, I shattered.

So, here I am now, at a new place in my life, a strange place, because I can’t explain what happened to me, what happened to that dreamer, but I somehow I changed. I have slowly been piecing myself back together. While there are familiar fragments of the woman I used to be, I’m something different, I’m something new and the way I look at life, love, and living is something new too. Could it be another lie I’m telling myself? Maybe. I know I’m capable of it. I’m a writer after all, which makes me a master manipulator, an imaginative dreamer.

I don’t say this about being a liar as something derogatory. On the contrary, some of the lies are beautiful. The truth is always hard, always absolute, always concrete, but we are fluid, moldable, movable. The truth of life for me at this time is that not everything in my life is beautiful. There are struggles, there are strings, there are twists and turns, uncertainties, and a whole lot of choices. But there’s also adventure, discovery, and even love.

I’m falling in love again… in love with my life, in love with my body, in love with my mind, in love with my gifts, in love with my passions, in love with my sense of adventure, and in love with love. I might also be falling in love with this one particular Dominican Marine. Love has hurt me deeply before, broken me, shattered me, but I’m ready to try again. I’m ready to dream again, and the truth is… this is what living is all about – falling down and getting back up again. Love isn’t the broken pieces of my life, it’s the glue that keeps putting those broken pieces back together again. And that, my friend, is no lie.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Sunday, December 27, 2015

I'm Scared, But It Feels Good!

I can’t even express what I’ve been through emotionally, physically, psychologically, or even intellectually over the past few years.  Well, I don’t have to, these blogs have recorded that for me.  I find myself even unable to read them because those emotions are just under the surface, and I can’t jump back onto that roller-coaster ride, not yet. The highs are really high, and the lows are so deep I find myself really, really, really wanting to stay afloat for just a little while somewhere in the middle, somewhere in a medium, somewhere safe I can breathe.  Don’t get me wrong, I still want to feel the thrill of the peaks and the even the pain of the depths, but I just plead the universe gives me a little time to enjoy this moment of inertia.   

I’ve met someone recently, a wonderful, handsome Marine that keeps me smiling. I call him my Bello, because that’s what he is to me, he’s a beautiful soul that arrived in the midst of my darkness. I’m not sure I can explain what meeting him and knowing him is doing to me, because whatever is happening it’s momentarily outside my understanding.  I’m not going to say it’s love, but I’m not going to say it’s not.  I can only honestly say it’s different.  All the loves of my life have been different. Some complicated. Some painful.  All in the past, all gone, all of them I lost either by death, divorce, or deception. Each left a mark, a scar of their own, but a scar that I’m not ashamed to bare.  These scars have made me who I am.  I have no regrets. 

Last year, when I thought I was dying, I pushed everyone that meant anything to me out of my life, or at least to the edges of it, and built this huge wall of fear.  I became afraid… of everything and everyone.  I lost that girl that was living out loud and doing all these amazing things.  God, I envied her, I still do.  She was so full of life, so full of hope, so exuberant, taking on the world and taking a chance on life and on love.  Even now, I still envy her.  I fell in love with her, with myself, with life.  She had nothing, yet she had everything. But, I had to let her go, because cancer killed her, fear destroyed her, and a broken heart ripped her to pieces. She went from living out-loud and deep into survival mode - a place of numbness, detachment, minimal existence, darkness.

But light has entered the room.  Not a big light, but a little one and it grows brighter every day, exposing the shadows that have petrified me for too long.  I’m waking, wanting to find my way back to the light, back to a life full of sunshine, a life where I can once again live out loud.  I have too many dreams, too many hopes, too many passions to keep them hidden in the dark.  A dear revertant friend of mine has helped me see a glimpse that girl I once was, and though I can’t go back and be her, I can be even more.  I survived, again.  I’ve lost so much, but there is much more ahead of me.  

My Bello is showing me that though I’ve lost a lot, but those I’ve lost also lost me. I suppose that’s what I’ve had a hard time to see.  I’ve been so focused on what and who I’ve lost, even the girl I used to be, to see that I was the one lost, not them.  They lost me.  For whatever reason they didn’t choose me. Now, here I am, breathing, standing on my own two feet, staring at a world of possibility, alive, and ready to live.  I’m scared, but it feels good.  I’m ready to live out loud again. I’m ready to jump back into the light and fly.  My wounds are still there, and I have a few new scars, but my wings are not broken.  They’re sore, but I’m so ready to fly.  Yet, this adventure will be different, because I’m different.  I’m not the same woman I used to be. I haven’t yet figured out who she is yet, but I’m okay with that.

My Bello came to see me this week.  He moved his schedule around so that I wouldn’t spend Christmas alone.  Someone put me first.  It felt nice.  He moves me to find me.  He encourages me to chase my passions. He doesn’t ask me for anything.  He makes me feel beautiful, wanted, desired, and adored. Mostly, he inspires me want to live out loud.  While I love the feel of his strong arms around me, or the softness of his lips upon mine, I mostly love the fact that I don’t want to change for him. I only want him to hold my hand as I break out of this cocoon and spread my wings.   
I have loved deeply.  I have loved faithfully. I have loved wildly.  Mostly, I think I’ve loved love.  Maybe now it’s time for love to love me back.  I’m still scared, but it feels good.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Monday, December 07, 2015

Isn't There Any Room?

With the world gathering beneath tinsel, families making holiday plans, lovers finding creative ways to express their affections, I can’t help but see the universe singing along filled with holiday cheers and fears. Yet, with all the fa-la-la, I also can’t help but feel a little lost. The constant festivities have me thinking about things, traditions, ideals about love. Working in the fashion industry and swimming among the super, secret, surprise sales, I also can’t help be a little disconnected, a little torn, and whole lotta confused.

I’m a giver, and I’m a rebel. I show emotion, and I keep it to myself. I like to do things for the people I love and care about, but I hate feeling like giving is an obligation. So, just as I didn’t feel pressured to cook an elaborate meal to feed our gluttonous appetites for Thanksgiving, I feel no pressure to buy meaningless gifts for a commercialized Christmas. I miss the Christmas cheer, but at the same time I’m free from the bondage of it.

Just as conflicted I am about the holidays, I’m just as conflicted about finding room in my heart for a new relationship in my life. I’ve lately met a wonderful man, my Bello, and he is delightful, and handsome and has many of the qualities I’ve always found attractive in a man. He keeps me smiling so much my face actually hurts. We seem to be kindred spirits and click in many, many, many ways. I like it. I like the whole romance phase. I like the butterflies, the expectation, the whole getting-to-know-you period. I’m not in a hurry, taking my time and letting things bloom in the sunshine as they’re meant. But, there’s also this small ache in my heart for the relationships of my past. The world keeps telling me I have to let them go so I can make room for something new. But, isn’t there room for everyone? Just as I continue to love my children as I enter a new relationship, I believe there’s room for both – the loves of my past and the loves of my future.

I suppose I’m struggling with the concept of ‘unloving’. I don’t think it’s possible, not when the love is real. I’m beginning to think that you NEVER stop loving. While you may stop being in an active relationship, you never stopping loving what you really, deeply, truly loved. These loves of our past helped mold us into who we are today. They’re part of our history, part of our experiences, part of our who we were – so how can we disconnect completely from that? My soldier died nearly 25 years ago, yet I still love him today. My love for him never prevented me from loving others and it doesn’t mean I love those in my life today any less. The pain of losing him made it hard for me to open my heart for a long time, but it didn’t stop me. I did open my heart. I did love. Wow, I mean… I loved deeply. I fell hard. I lived, I loved, I had an adventure. While that relationship didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean the love we had wasn’t real, and now that I’ve moved on to another relationship, it doesn’t mean the love is gone. It’s still there, and I believe it will always be there, because I don’t understand how to stop loving. I can stop being in their life, stop being connected, but I can’t make my heart stop the love. I can deny it, but I can’t stop.

Just as I see the holidays with a different pair of eyes, I’m learning more and more about love, and have discovered the concepts I’ve always accepted are like an artificial Christmas tree. Just as beautiful, but when the season is over you can pack the artificial tree away and bring it out year after year, but the real thing… the real thing, was a living thing and the scent of it never leaves you, even when the decorations are put away and the tree is gone from your life. All you have to do is close your eyes and you can still smell it. The life of it lingers in your heart, in your memory, and in your soul. The loves of the past… though gone, still linger, because my heart has plenty of room for all the loves I hope to experience in this life. I’m excited about this new spark, and I hope it burns true as the one’s before it, and yet even brighter.

Till next time,

~Tinsel Tinker, Love Inn Keeper