Permission to Touch

12694843_10206724520889788_1593744844446308582_oWe do this to our girls.  For their own protection, we say.  And maybe there is some real harm we save them from.  But at what cost to them?  What price does our world pay?

We tell them touch is dirty, hugs are easily misinterpreted for something ugly, their bodies are dangerous, boys are bad.  But what about the boy that needs a hug from the girl growing up with him next door to help him through a tough day at the mercy of playground unkindness?  What about the brother that finds the world so hard and cold he turns to fighting with others rather than get the need for touch met curled up in the arms of his big sister as she reads him to sleep at night?  What about the other girls who learn they need to focus on being better, looking better, getting better grades, doing better things than her rather than holding her hand and dancing in the rain?

We do not tell them they are a beacon of light to us and other children, that beams of beauty and healing flow from their fingertips and into the veins of those they touch.  We do not show them that their kindness makes the world a better place by simply being here.  We do not teach them that their bodies are made with soft rounded edges to express the welcoming gentleness of their souls within.  We never give them permission to learn love as a clean and essential thing, to use touch to bring power to the world.

Instead we cover their budding forms with drapery and block the power of their purity from view.  To protect it, we say.  We need to do this, we say.  We stifle the very sunlight and oxygen they need to grow strong and healthy.  We flout the purpose beauty has, which is to be seen.  We pour their liquid innocence into a cubed plastic trays and put it in the freezer.  As if beauty could ever be killed.  As if we could really protect their souls from being hurt.  As if love could ever be ugly.  As if the dry edges of hard cold could be better than the wet heat of heartbreak.

Yet there are those who crack their shells open and learn to build fences instead of walls.  They let themselves be seen and trust themselves to monitor the distance between their bodies and others.  There are those who create boundaries balanced with the boundlessness of their hearts.  Large light shines around the edges of the little bowls they were first hidden under.  Silver linings warm even the darkest of their interactions.  Electricity strikes when their palms touch the businesslike hands of others to seal the deal, to welcome the discussion, or to end the meeting.  Their black-ice pantsuits hint at the curves of hearts still beating hot red blood deep within.

We do not teach them, but our girls learn that they can be love and light in their world.  They are women now.  The only permission they need is their own.

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Needy Woman

singleMY NEEDS ARE:

  • attention
  • acknowledgement
  • to feel like I am significant to someone who matters to me
  • stability
  • trust
  • quality time
  • matched intentions
  • recognition of my feelings, my thoughts, my stands
  • to be desired, wanted, TREASURED
  • to be cared for
  • to be treated like a lady
  • to feel feminine
  • (I could go on but I think you get it)

YES.  I said it.  I have needs.  These are mine.  They’re with me.

Isn’t it interesting how difficult it is for us Single Women to say that out loud?  And we know what our needs are.  But filling them in relationships often feels like an insurmountable task.

This morning, following a night of recognition of my unmet needs, I ask myself, and you, what is in the way?

I looked first to the party line – “I haven’t met a man who gets all of it and is ok with it.”  Really though?  Doesn’t just about every man have a corresponding list of human needs?  Weren’t we created with the intention of matching off eachother?  Many men are seeking that special someone to desire, to treasure, to give their attention to, whose trust and respect they crave to win, and whose intentions they seek to match.

In my own human experience I dug a little deeper.  So if it isn’t that I haven’t met a man who gets all of it and is ok with it all, then what is it?  And then I got it.

It’s not about the receiver not being open.

We just don’t throw the ball.

How many of us judge ourselves for having these needs?  I mean, who wants to be a NEEDY WOMAN?  Every day I see women punishing themselves for needing attention, for needing to be desired, for needing to feel significant to someone else.  I catch myself singing the same tune in my head, the modern tune of single women – you SHOULDN’T need these things!  Needing these things means I am broken.  And broken people do not deserve to be treasured, trusted, cared for, respected.  And needs are so unnattractive.

Right?  Sound familiar?

Honey, how NUTS is that?   How are we ever going to get those pesky needs that actually make us human met if we don’t accept them?

How can we expect anyone to believe that we deserve them to be met when we don’t feel that we deserve to have our needs met?

Who on earth would make a priority of filling a need of yours that you deny even exists?  Or believe shouldn’t exist?

I propose an experiment.  Single women out there, let’s try this out.  The next guy who is nice to you and strikes up a conversation in the supermarket, the bookstore, the coffee shop, the bar, find a way to weave it into the conversation.  “I am a woman, I have needs, and it is important to me to get those needs met.”

I’m curious to see what happens!  Please be sure to tell me.  I’ll go first – I will have that conversation with 5 men before Monday.

Bulletproof Babes

We were taught to be independent, strong, self-sufficient, poised and in-charge.  We were told by our mothers, themselves the daughters of bra-burning times, to suck up our fears, manage our emotions, never let the bastards see us cry and never ask for help as long as we can help ourselves.  Lessons were passed on that high-maintenance is for bimbos and dignity and class cannot co-exist with it.  Being demanding is as bad as promiscuity in the estimation of our lady-teachers.  We are to serve with strength and selflessness without thought to our needs and in return we will be respected and loved.  We are a wellspring of power, woman hear us roar, and we can supply the whole world with what it needs.  The ironies that were passed down from grandmothers, aunties, teachers, family friends and mothers abound.

We associate being honest about our needs with images of weak, victimized, or morally bankrupt women.  And so, to not be seen as a doormat, a loose woman or a gold digger we put on a persona of needlessness that then results in us becoming more… NEEDY.  Think about it.  If we deprive ourselves of food telling ourselves that we don’t need it don’t we become more and more… hungry?

But there comes a time when a Bulletproof Babe says “So what if I have needs?  Of course I do!  I’m human!”  We come around to the question of how are we to expect ourselves to provide selflessly for the needs of others when our needs are not met?  Even in the airplane instructions before take off we are instructed to put on our own mask first before helping the person next to us, child or no child.

I am learning through my own experience as a woman that low maintenance women, like strong buildings and towers, without support and care suffer in structure, appearance and strength from neglect.  Without support and TLC they crumble, crack under pressure and become inhabited by bitterness.  They lose their value – how they value themselves diminishes and is then projected out to what value others see.  Others react to what they see, convincing her further of the lie that started her shrinking view of herself in the first place.

But it starts with her.  What does a guy have to offer a girl who refuses to acknowledge she has needs and flaws and vulnerability and needs someone to lean on once in a while?  How many times do we Bulletproof Babes find ourselves lonely and disappointed because a friend wasn’t able to read our minds and be there for us because we didn’t know how to tell them how to support us and that we needed support in the first place?  How many times have we let a slight pass and pass again and pass again until we blow, totally surprising all around us?  Why does it have to fall apart and be blatantly obvious and beyond the point of deniability for us to accept a helping hand?

We don’t have to be bulletproof to be beautiful, rigid to be respected, nor do we have to be low-maintenance in order to capture the attention of someone who could love us.  These are the ways we trick ourselves into being someone who attracts human leeches, persons who seek to take without giving, because that is what we put ourselves forward as willing to accept.  Think about it… “Oh she doesn’t need this from me.  She just wants someone to give and give and give to.  She doesn’t expect anything back, bless her little cotton socks.  Goody!  Free ride!  Why would I EVER leave?”  Except, of course, we don’t want that type around either, do we?

To the beautiful Bulletproof Babes out there, let us support eachother and drop the act.  Being strong doesn’t mean having no needs.  You deserve to have your needs met, not ignored.  But the first step to making that happen is to not ignore them yourself.

Feminism (Motivationalpostersonline.blogspot.com)

I hope God was ready…

…cuz his hands are now full, with a gal made to grasp the horns of the bull.

A woman of spirit, ahead of her time, she cut her curls short 60 years before mine.

To Christ she came laughing, handed over her debt, said “He took the cussin, gamblin, drinkin, but never the cigarette.”

To Aunt Natalie… God’s own spitfire.

The cloth from which my own spirit was cut – gone to be with her Father but on earth never forgotten.

 

 

 

 

The Power of Fantasy

It is not a widely known fact that I battle with depression and anxiety.  On a monthly basis.  It’s something many women face.  For those of us with this tendency, every time we face down PMS we pray God please let it go away after a few days.  There are months when it lasts the whole month.  There are years when it lasts for several months.  Fortunately for me, I have only once seen it pass a year.  I’m sure that if a study were to be done on where a woman is in her cycle when she decides to kill herself, commit homicide, or do something absolutely dreadful and drastic it would find that that time of month is where the magic happens.

On a bout several years ago I spoke to my brother.  He was just out of med school and had already passed the psych rotation (The one where he was diagnosing every member of the family with some random disorder or another.  I got the diagnosis of histrionics.  I told him to piss off).  He said something to me in the wisdom of his youth that I have never forgotten.  When you find yourself depressed you need to step outside of yourself and act as a carer.  Pretend that you are caring for a member of your family or a friend that you love very much and that they are sick.  What would you do?  You would take them for walks.  You would take them to the movies and distract them.  You would cook good food for them and give them good books to read and sit on the beach with them and watch the sunset.  You need to care for yourself as though you are caring for someone you love.

This is a practice that has kept my monthly to a monthly for a few years now – caring for myself as though I am not myself but someone else that depends on me.  And I have found a tool that works.  FANTASY.

For those of us who are avid readers there is a lush forest of material to feast on.  Every form of thought in this life is represented by a written book.  There is poetry, self-help, scientific, chick lit, classic literature, romance, comedy, spiritual, technical – you name it there is a book on it.  But what does a mind that is plagued by pain have the capacity to digest?

My saving grace has been FANTASY.  Sneaking into the worlds created by the minds of others has been a great distraction from my own gnawing aches.  It exercises my weary mind when I cannot sleep, it embraces my imagination with something other than darkness, and when I wake from the foreign world I find myself grateful for the comfort of my apartment, the love of my family and my two animals, and the work to which I dedicate my waking hours.

Narnia and the Lord of the Rings were some of my early entertainers.  These have been made famous by years of followers and have been represented by movie-makers a few times over.  But a series can be so satisfying because as you finish one book you look for the next one to carry you through next month.  I have two obscure recommendations for those new to fantasy but needing to escape.

Stephen Hunt’s Jackelian series:

I came across these books in college.  I don’t know what made me pick up this little book with the nondescript cover off the shelf in Waterstones but I have become bound to this series every since.  My mind could not rest after ploughing through the brilliance of ancient lords of the court and so I would simply switch gears and cares into the world of Jackals.  Stephen Hunt introduces you to a world that resembles the home of Oliver Twist in some ways and Star Wars in others.  It is inhabited by human beings, the Fey, Steammen (sentient machines from the frozen mountains of the North), Cassarabians of the deserts to the south with an uncanny science for the development of mutants with the use of Womb Mages, Catosians who are steroid-pumped amazon-like women warriors, Craynarbians who have an exoskeleton much like crustaceans we now eat, and many other “races”.  The travels of Commodore Black (resembling an old version of Jack Sparrow) through the Fire Sea, over the deserts, through the jungles and into the sky cities of this world are easy to relate to and impossible to abandon once you pick up a book.  The first book, The Court of the Air, was an incredible launch into the life of Molly Templar, an orphan with a fantastic fate.  I recommend this book to any woman sufferer, and any person needing an escape.

The Redwall Books of Brian Jacques:

This world is inhabited by the animals of our own world with a noble congregation in a place called Redwall Abbey.  Mice are mighty and Badgers brave as they fight off the hoards of stoats and tricky foxes.  The medieval abbey of Redwall is full of secrets and surprises, headed by an Abbot and championed by a warrior.  The language takes on the accents of the British Isles with such accuracy it will tease the laughter out of the surliest and most unwilling reader.  The suspense is something that will keep you in the books late into sleepless nights.  The lessons and even the language of these books are appropriate for every age.