Identity Complexity

“How do we bridge who we become with who we were?”

“Remember who you wanted to be”  quoted from a bumper sticker I saw yesterday

“Language sets expectations”

I seem to be running into all of these one-liners that are basically alluding to identity and I find this very interesting.

I have also had some conversation surrounding identity and how we embody it, about the multiple pieces of a person and how they make up the whole.

Also, in writing about intersectionality it spurred me to think about all of the things that make up me; all of those pieces, and how they all fit together with each other.  It’s hard to figure out which piece goes in what order when you start listing all of those aspects of yourself out.  Like, what comes first, what is your first identity?  Of course we all know that it’s your sex.  When you are born they automatically declare “it’s a Girl!” or “it’s a Boy!” and God forbid they can’t figure THAT out, then all hell breaks loose I would imagine.

So if our first identity is our sex, whether we are male or female, then our second identity would be what color we are – am I right?  Those will be the first things noticed about you when you are first seen, what sex and what color.  So, I started life as a white girl.  Oh but wait, wee what I did there…I listed white first.  So is my color or my sex predominant?

I read a lot about “white privilege”, so I think that your color is the predominant first identity.  Even in common conversation we tend to go to color first, like “the black kitten” not “the kitten black”  Am I making sense?  I am thinking this through as I write…so bear with me here.

Identity, as we know, changes over the course of life.  That’s just how it works.  There are some things that don’t change, like your color/race.  But we do go from being “girl” to being a “woman” at a certain age, and we develop into people with various other identities to tack onto the ones we start with.  Once you decide your sexual preference, there’s that.  So, now I am a white woman lesbian.  Jesus, this can be super complicated.

At one time in my life I was a soldier.  And thus that was part of my identity.  Now I am a former soldier, or a veteran.  At one time I identified as a Republican (go figure, it’s true though) but now I identify as independent in political thinking, leaning toward Democrat. I now identify as a Butch lesbian, but remember there is no singular experience of an identity.  So my Butch will be different from your Butch, maybe subtly or maybe starkly, but it will definitely be different.  People are all different, no two are ever exactly alike.

There are identities in class and socio-economic status too.  I’ve always identified as middle class, grew up that way and have maintained that middle class socio-economic status – although some days I feel poor as fuck, I know I do have privilege as middle-class.

This all brings me back to line one of this blog: How do we bridge who we become with who we were?  We all build history in our lives.  Years ago I was a hard-core drug addict.  Today, while I still fight the demons of addiction, I am not what I was once upon a time by any means.  I have evolved, grown, learned and improved in that area of my life and identity.  I think back to when I identified as a more conservative Republican and what that was all about.  I was in the military, perhaps I was sort of brain washed by the military machine.  Today I am much more concerned with social justice and equality than I was back then.

So, there are all of these pieces of ourselves that come together neatly – or so we hope – to make up who we become; who we are today.  Who knows what new pieces will be added to make up who we will be tomorrow, or next week.  Good thing is that as human beings, with very complex brains, we do have the ability to make concerted efforts and to make choices, thus we do have influence on what happens with our decisions.

These are all the pieces of my identity that intersect to make me ME:  A white Butch lesbian woman, independent, Methodist, working-class, HIV+, recovering addict, American, introvert, avg. intelligence, physically disabled, outspoken, employed, mobile, compassionate, activist…hell, the list can go on I suppose.

Like I said, I’ve been thinking about all of this because of the word intersectionality.  So, I’ve been thinking about the way the world sees me.  Not how you or my family sees me but how I am seen statistically.  (But then it is interesting to wonder about how my closer contacts identify me, too.)

Then I think about how the word is used when speaking about oppression, domination and discrimination.  Of course, I am already considered a 2nd class citizen because of the mere fact that I am female.  Men want and do dominate our world unfortunately.  Women will always fight male domination and oppression, I do not foresee a time when that will not be a fact in my lifetime.

Just this last week it was a full panel of MEN that were gathered and deciding on women’s health issues during the Trumpcare debacle.  Not one woman on that panel or in that room!  THAT, my friends, is fucking oppression and male domination at it’s finest – or worst I should say.  Why is it that men think they can or should ever be deciding on women’s health/body issues?  Where do they get the idea that it is THEIR job or duty to tell women what to do with their own bodies, or what is/isn’t going to be covered by insurance.  Insurance covers Viagra, so equally it should cover contraceptives.  Fair is fair in my book.  But not in the “book of men” I suppose.  No man should ever be making a woman’s decision for her. Ever.  That panel should have been ALL WOMEN.

I will leave you with  a quick question, which of your identities expose you to the most oppression, domination or discrimination?  Drop me a quick comment below and let’s talk a little about this.  I’m very interested to know what you think.

Peace!  ~MB

 

 

 

 

 

Closet or Not?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic, I watched a video on YouTube about whether it’s okay or not to stay “in the closet” about your sexuality if you are LGBT forever or not.  This gave me a lot to think about because I am currently talking to someone who IS living in the closet, and I am not.

Personally I  could never live my life permanently in the closet.  I can’t imagine what that would be like.  I can’t imagine being afraid that someone would “find me out” and what it would mean if they did.  I have lived most of my life out and proud.  It’s just the way it happened for me.  I came out to my family when I was getting out of the Army, around 22 yrs old, and I have never looked back and thought I shouldn’t have done it.  It’s made my life so much more enriched and so much easier as I have never had to hide anything about my true identity.

Coming out is a very personal thing.  I’ve never been a big believer in a particularly “loud” coming out.  I think they way that I did it, by coming out to people on an “as needed” basis was right for me.  I know some people really want to make a big deal out of it, but I am a more private person and never felt it was a big deal at all.  It is just who I am.  In my way of thinking my sexuality is no one’s business but my own.  If the need to tell someone that I am a gay woman comes up, it’s because they are either questioning me about it or they are wanting to “fix me up” with their male friend.  Never have I found it necessary to just come out to anyone without reason.  My family had reason because I am close to them and they see who I spend all of my time with and when I am most happy in the company of another woman.  They needed to know.

So, I am becoming very attached to this woman, Beach Babe, that I’ve been talking to and I have been thinking about what it would be like to be dating someone who is “in the closet.”  She lives quite a ways from me, so it’s not like we have had to deal with this yet.  But when we are together what will it be like for me? For her?  Will she be afraid that she will be seen with me and be found out?  How has she handled this in the past?  Has she ever been with someone who is so blatantly out like I am?  Who lives their lives as an openly lesbian woman?  Who is so Butch that they cannot hide and whoever they are with will be deemed to be gay as well?  These are all questions I have about this.  I haven’t seriously gotten into any sort of a deep conversation with her about it.

I understand that she has lived closeted all of her life because of religious views of her and her family, and now because she fears losing her job.  She has a job working with teenagers, and fears that if their parents knew or the boss knew that she is lesbian that it would cause problems and maybe cause her to lose her job.  I couldn’t even imagine what that must feel like; what it would be like to have to hide part of myself like that.

She seems to think it’s not a big deal.  But we haven’t been with each other in public so I don’t know exactly how far in the closet she is.  I guess I will find out when we meet in May.  I will NOT like hiding myself.  I will NOT do it.  There is no way I can “act” or “look” straight, like she does.  I don’t know if she has ever dated a Butch like me; a Butch who looks the whole stereotypical part.  Does she understand that to be seen with me is to be “seen”?

Can I date someone who is still in the closet at 46?  I am not 100% sure.  But I really like this woman and do want to find out.  The other piece of this is the distance thing.  Guess she and I have some conversations to have…

 

Butch Christmas Stuff


ITs common around this time of year to hear partners of Butches – usually in my experience our femme counterparts – ask what to get their badass Butch for Christmas. Of course if they are asking for something specific  or special then your job should be pretty easy.  You just have to figure out if it’s a one gift exchange or if you have in mind maybe an assortment of smaller gifts which will take her to open on Christmas morning and will be much more exciting and pleasing for about any Butch I know.  Maybe you just do stockings filled with little gifts and maybe some of their favorite candy.  Whatever you choose as your tradition is cool…but make dampened sure that your Butch partner is on that same page!  One thing that we tend to hate are surprises.  Don’t say you only want one gift and then present your Butch with several from you.  Because we do listen at this time of year.  We secretly want to please our girls and make the move us more.  So make sure that your Butch knows what you want too!  
Ok now I like the multiple present kind of Christmas if possible.  And I love just thoughtful small gifts.  I’d rather get things that I need and will use or wear rather than get something I won’t use and don’t really need or want.  

Here’s a suggestion list of small gifts you are sure to please just about any Butch with a at Christmas.  Of course this is just a list of things that I am ways happy to receive, but I am a typical Butch with typical masculine tastes. I like to get lots of little things that I use everyday. so here’s my list I think you’ll find it might be helpful in making your Butch happy this Christmas.

  • Pocket knives — every Butch lives a good pocket knife or 3.  
  • Ties and belts.– just be sure you know your Butch’s tastes in these kind of articles, like I like black belts with my black shoes and brown belts with my brown shoes. And I like my ties to be fairly thin. if you know your partner well then  you’ll know what she likes.
  • Good pens — we can never have too many good pens especially as writers. if you want to make it extra-special have her name engraved on it or a nickname.   Like I’d love to have a pen that said “mainelybutch”
  • Watch or bracelet — just remember don’t make it too girly we like thicker things, heavier things.  Rings are cool too.  Just make sure you know what type of metal to shop for. I E. Does she like gold or silver?
  • Her favorite cologne or aftershave.  Just make sure she hasn’t got a full bottle in back up.  We don’t wear much of this stuff and usually only on special occasions.
  • Good hair gel.  I recommend “Sebastian Liquid Steel”  It is awesome stuff and spikes up a crew cut like nobody’s business!
  • Small electronics like a wireless speaker or a nice set of wireless headphones.
  • Hobby gear.  If you are significant other likes to fish why not buy her a fishing license for this next season. you can generally get them at any sporting good store in your local area. If she likes video gaming then maybe the latest video game she’s been raving about would be the ticket.If she likes to ski for half the lift ticket for the two of you for a nice weekend would be a good present.  You get the idea you can pander to her interests. 
  • Then there is ways clothing that we need yearly to react the stained or worn out old stuff like new plain white t-shirts, boxer briefs, and good socks.  Personally I always like that stuff.
  • Good hard bottom slippers.  Just in case we have to run outside and chase the dog.early in the morning before we get our boots on.!
  • Gift certificates — to the barber shop, movies, bookstore, Sears (they have nice tools), sandwich shop, coffee shop, etc.  

So that’s my simple list of little things that will please just about any Butch on Christmas morning.  It’s really not that hard or expensive to make us smile.  

I hope this helps some of you as you go about your Christmas shopping.  And if you are Butch let me know what I missed here!  I’m sure this is,a list that can be expanded in many ways.   PEACE. ~MB

The Truth Hurts Sometimes

I’ve met more than one woman in my life journey that could not handle all of the technicalities of being with me.  I admit, I am not easy to process.  I have a bit of a troubled history.  Don’t read me wrong, I’m a good person with some high morals and ethics, but I’ve taken some forks in the proverbial road of life that others have managed to avoid.  I’ve had issues with drugs and addiction.  That’s probably the one thing that I’ve struggled with most in my entire life.  When I was young I sought out a safety net for myself and found it substance abuse and the people involved with it.  I wised up in my late 20’s and got clean and sober for many years.  I did the typical “mid-life crisis” shit in my mid 40’s and backslid a bit.

I strive to keep that stuff out of my life now.  I stay away from the “friends” that I have that are involved in that world now.  That’s a big part of how I am staying clean and following the good road now.  I tend to let myself be influenced by them if I hang around them, so now I avoid them and I avoid the whole drug scene.

It’s really hard to meet women as you get older.  Being single isn’t easy in your 50’s, believe me.  But add a history of drug addiction to the menu and it becomes even more difficult.  I completely understand that some people do not understand me or understand addictions.  That is just the way that it is.  When I begin to show interest in anyone I make sure that they know 3 things about me right up front – why?  Because I would rather they walk away sooner rather than after I become attached to them – or God forbid, fall in love with them.  what are my 3 things?  1.  I am Butch and that will never change.  2.  I live with HIV infection, which is under control but it’s a fact of life for me….which leads me to #3…I am a recovering drug addict.

Those 3 facts put me into a whole new space with people.  Either they are able to handle it, and give me a chance, or they are not, which is completely okay.  I get it.  Those are 3 major pieces of who I am.  I can’t hide them very well.   And I don’t want to pretend that I can.  Those 3 things are only a small fraction of what I am made of, but they are important if you are going to be involved with me – or even be a friend to me.  It’s important that you understand that I struggle with all 3 on a daily basis.  That doesn’t mean that I am unhappy – quite to the contrary, I am very happy in general.  But I am well aware that these 3 things make me “different” than the typical 55 year old lesbian with 2 dogs and a college degree.  I bring a whole different scene to the table.

I have lived with my addiction and my HIV for many years.  One lead to the other obviously.  Yes, I was an IV drug user and this is how I contracted the virus.  I’ve been clean for many years, fell off the wagon and got back on a few times.  So what is involved for me is knowing what triggers me to fall off and avoiding it altogether.  I’ve gotten pretty good at that, and I am proud to say that living clean and right is what I strive to do every day now.

It’s not easy being with someone who has addiction in their history, and it’s even harder when you add HIV.   I know the precautions to protect my partner from HIV but there is no protection from addiction.  No guarantee that I won’t relapse again, except for my sheer determination to stay on the straight path.  I don’t know how to reassure someone that I will stay on this path.  I guess they either have to believe me, or not.  There is no magic bullet or cure – for either condition.

I don’t want to pursue anything beyond a basic friendship with anyone who can’t deal with the baggage that I carry.  I know everyone has their struggle in life and their burdens to bear, mine are just a little more difficult for some people to understand, and that’s perfectly fine.  There are zillions of other people out there to be involved with, I am just one.

I have been fortunate to have been involved over the years, with women who gave me the benefit of doubt; who trusted me and tried to understand my complications.  I’ve sincerely appreciated them.  I’ve been lucky.

Right now I am trying to deal with quite a full plate of issues in my personal life.  I’ve avoided bringing anyone else into my life for this reason.  But I so want someone special in my life on a regular basis.  I would like to let down that wall that keeps me by myself.  I’ve punished myself for the past 2 yeas now and I’m sick and tired of it.  I’ve seen people who say they care disappear more than once.  I built a wall around myself, insulated myself from hurt and despair.  But it’s not a happy place all the time.  I want to learn to trust again, and to love again.

I’m a good person, I am strong, sensitive and caring.  I deserve to find someone good who can deal with life with me and who won’t be afraid of my past.  Someone who sees me for who I am now and not who I once pretended to be.  But how can anyone believe in someone who has such a history?  I don’t know if it can be done, which is exactly what I fear the most.  (although my ex did it for almost 14 years and never let it sway how she felt about me…so perhaps it could be possible again.)  I long for a good strong relationship that will endure.  Something beyond “just friends” –dammit, I want to be loved and understood.  Maybe it’s just too much to ask for at this point.

Ok, let me close this up before my mind explodes.  I am trying so hard to just be cheerful for the holiday season, and to keep on keeping on.  But tonight I was reminded of my flaws (see above) and it stung hard.  I am hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst – as always it seems.  Sometimes the truth just hurts.  There’s no way around it.

Peace.  ~MB

This Week…

2016-11-05-16-16-15I never title my posts until I am finished writing them.  How about you?  Do you start with a title or the body of your post?  It just occurs to me that maybe I am a bit weird in this respect.

It’s a cold day here in southern Maine.  I been freezing all damned day.  I got up this morning a little later than usual for me….I am usually up by 6 am but today I slept until 9.   Have been fighting being cold ever since emerging from my warm, snuggly bed.  I know.  It is November and I should expect to be chilly.  Doesn’t mean I like it though. And you all know Ijust hate winter anyway…and winter is in the air for sure.  T may even snow today.

I took some time today and stopped at the barber shop and got a nice fresh haircut.  It feels great to have it shaved back to my normal Butch style. Tips #3 blade on top and a #1.5 blade on the sides and back.  Squared off and edged out nicely.  Nothing makes me feel better about myself like a good visit to the barber. I did grow it out to about 3 inches on top….but it was driving me crazy. I do much better with my normal crew cut.  I was not meant to sport longer locks.

I’ve been doing much better this past week.  Been feeling a lot better and have had a good week all around.   Spent a good deal of my days working, which was okay.  I spent some needed time with my Mom and I got things done.

I’ve been chatting with a very sweet woman that I know. I am pretty shy but I’m trying hard. I struggle with letting people get too close to me sometimes.  Hell, all the time!  I am afraid of getting too close and getting hurt yet again. I have stayed clear of online stuff for a good long time now.  The last time I got my heart handed to me it was someone I met online.  I don’t care to repeat that episode. I’ve also decided that you can’t get back together with anyone.  Once you split up its over .  Getting back together is akin to trying to put crap back where it comes from…and that is just impossible.  Thus I am moving into new territory. I am enjoying my current situation and chatting with the new girl.  I do hope it is something I can build on and take a bit further. It would be great to have a steady woman in my life.

Lulu and Nola are doing quite well.  Lu’s itching issue is a bit better with the use of some benadryl and some hydrocortisone spray as a topical treatment. Thanks to those who replied to my blog about the problem.  I have done a lot of research and have concluded it is a dermatitis caused by her being allergic to something. I am just not sure what it issues reacting to. I gather her in a tea tree shampoo which helped her quite a bit.  And whatever it is is not affecting Nola at all, which is great.

The presidential election is this coming Tuesday.  I have very mixed feelings about it. Will be really glad when it’s over…I think.  I am petrified about the possibility of the outcome if Trump gets elected.  I am afraid he will piss off the whole world and make us look like fools.  Not that he hassn’t already done that byeverunning on his platform of hate.  If he’s elected I also fear how much war he will involve us in around the globe.  If she gets in office I am also not sure how I will feel. It’s a battle for sure.  Pour country is perched on the great divide at the moment.

Recently I bought a used Pontiac Grand Prix car.  Now I am not sure about it. I’ve discovered that it’s going to cost me quite a bit to put it on the road and funds are tight right now.  With winter upon me and oil bills coming soon I just can’t afford another big expense .  Social considering selling the car at a profit.  I bought it very cheap in a fast sale from a friend.  I know I can sell I for quite a bit more.  Selling it could help me out with some current bills and oil purchases this winter.  It’s probably my best bet.  I will take a good picture of it and list of online this week most likely.

I have been hanging out with my good friend Linda a lot lately.  It’s nice to have someone around to talk to and to prepare meals with and do fun things with.  She is a very straight friend, which is something I don’t even care about because shesjust a good soul to be around. We do lots of stuff together like visit the thrift stores and ride around town to do errands together.

I am fully back on my hiv meds once again.  That could have something to do with me feeling better as some of the meds are my anti depressants. I have set up my alarm on my phone to remind me to take them and I located my med holders to places where I am reminded too. Ts a bitch to have to take these meds all the time but I was reminded this last week that they are giving me a second chance and also aid in keeping me healthy. My next test and doctors appointment is in December.

OK friends, followers and cyber stalkers I have filled you in on most everything for this week.  I shall wrap it up here and go to co some chicken quesadillas for dinner.  I hope you all have a great time this week!  Remember to go VOTE on Tuesday!  Peace.  –MB

Washington DC: Chapter 1

Washington DC: Chapter 1

During the mid 80’s I lived in Washington DC.  I’ve recently been reminded of this and would like to recount my time there for your entertainment.  I had a blast while I lived there and I also gained some serious insight into street life and earned some hard learned lessons while there.  Let me just say that my time in DC culminated with my ending up in DC jail as one dumb country bumpkin, one of the two only white girls on the block of 440 women.  I told them that I had killed my whole family and hung the dog…it kept them thinking I was outright fucking crazy and kept people away from me.  True story.

I was involved with a young woman 5 years my junior when I went from Maine to DC at 26. She was in college at the very prestigious American University there in the city.  When I got to DC I had just the clothes on my back, my Toyota SR5 pick up truck and $50 in my pocket.  It was a spur of the moment thing.  My girl and I had spent all that summer doing stupid things like a ton of cocaine and partying our asses off spending most of what we earned at our jobs.  So when it came time for her to return to college I decided to go along with her.  I thought I was in love, hell I was at the time. I was exactly where I wanted to be and with who I wanted to be with then.  She was a hot young blonde woman and a lot of fun.  We had met through a mutual friend here in Maine.  The mutual friend, Nano, also was going to college in College Park MD, just outside of DC so she also made the trip down to DC with us that fated August in the pick up truck, along with my ferret, Spike.  Yes, a ferret.

The truck had a bed in the back and a cap on it.  It was all set up for me to sleep in when I had to do so.  And going to DC on a whim I knew I would be sleeping in there more than one or two nights!  When I got there on my $50 I realized I had forgotten a few things, mostly like what I was going to eat and where I would put the truck that was safe for me to sleep.  It turned out that I was a pretty hungry young Butch for a couple of weeks.  I did the normal shit like sold my blood at the blood bank for $30 a pint (I have a rare blood type and back then they wanted it).  My girl Jaye, went to school days and I went out job hunting in the metropolitan DC area.

After a week of sleeping in my truck, or in her dorm room – which totally freaked out her roommate and caused her to move out.  Turned out that she was a very homophobic young Jewish girl from New Jersey.  Our mere presence in the dorm made her very uncomfortable especially when Jaye hung a rainbow sticker on the dorm room door!  Anyway, I finally landed a job at a plant nursery in Gaithersburg, just outside of College Park Maryland.   It would be two weeks before my first check came in, but at least I had a job, had the promise of money to come and now I just needed to wait it out, survive the streets until I got paid and could find a place to live.  It was grueling work for the most part.  Hot and sweaty, in the direct sun and in September in DC land.  Still a very warm time of year there.

I was still stealing food from college dorm kitchen to survive the hunger.  I all but gave up smoking because I obviously couldn’t afford cigarettes and I was showering in the dorms when no one was around, like late at night when I would sneak in with Jaye.  Things were pretty tough, but I was a tough nut to crack and I was making it – just barely.  It didn’t occur to my young brain exactly how much danger I was in on a daily basis living on the street of DC and the surrounding suburbs.  I was too young to understand the depth of it all, but I was also too in love with the girl and too into just flying by the seat of my pants to care.

After the job got going and I roughed it out for two weeks I finally got paid.  It’s the most memorable pay day in my life – still.  I took that check, took the girl and my bestie and went to a Greek steak house on Dupont Circle and ate until I couldn’t move.  I shall never ever forget that meal.  And how damned fucking hard I had worked to get to that dinner plate.

The next thing on the list was housing .  I was about burned out with all the sneaking around college dorms, churches and public buildings to use their facilities, shower, raid refrigerators and find safe places to sleep.  With the type of work that I was doing I was pretty dirty and sweaty at the end of my 8-9 hour day in the nursery gardens.  The place was on 880 acres of land.  We had every plant you could think of growing on the east coast.  So after work I would generally go to AU and find Jaye and figure out who was around so I could sneak down the dorm hall to the gang shower room.  Thank God this was decades before 9/11 and security in those places was quite liberal.  Jaye would wash my clothes with hers in the laundry room and so for the most part I figured out how to survive while I was waiting for money to start coming my way.  Sure I felt a little bad about how I had to go about doing some things – like raiding refrigerators when no one was around or jumping in and out of dorm room windows to escape the dread of trying to get past the “guard” at the front desk where the normal people entered and exited the building.

I usually slept in the back of my truck, good thing I had put that cap on it.  and I would park in places like the Wesley Theological Seminary parking lot.  I figured who would bother some truck parked in a church school lot?  No one if they believed in God!  Hehe Except the cops one fated night…but I did manage to talk my way out of it.  I left the lot and he left.  After an hour or so he was gone and I re-parked my truck and went back to sleep. It was the safest place in NW DC for me to be sleeping at the time.

Looking back I can see how crazy this all was and how I’m lucky I made it out alive and in one piece.  I don’t talk much about my drug addiction, but believe me it played a huge part in all of this as well.  Just understand I was probably high most of the time so I was more prone to taking chances and risking my life and limb.  I am never sure of how to incorporate the fact that I was a drug addict for many years.   I was a fully functioning one, I never let it get in the way of my working or doing what needed to be done to survive and thrive.

There are many many stories of times in DC. I am going to write about a couple of them for your reading entertainment.  This piece you just read is just the preface, so that you have an idea of how I got to DC and why I lived there.  I will make an effort to dig up some of the photo graphs of my time in DC for you to see….and what a wild time it was!

 

Vulnerability…and a story

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

I feel often like I just don’t have the right words for various situations.  I can’t say anything right, as much as I put myself out there. I open myself up thus I am almost always in a vulnerable stance just trying to be brave and walk through.  In listening to Brene’s talks (various ones) on the subject of vulnerability and shame I realize that without vulnerability things just don’t happen; people lose their courage.  And being vulnerable is having that courage to keep going; to do what it is that we need to do or that we feel compelled to do.

There are times when I feel more vulnerable lately, that I can put my finger right on the feeling like:

  1. when I take medications to stay alive 3 times a day, the reminder that I am vulnerable to health related stuff is very prominent.
  2. I feel vulnerable when I am around my aging parents and I think that I may not have too much longer to enjoy them, then I question whether I am valuing them enough, even when I am damned sure trying my hardest to be the best I can be by them.
  3. When I am trying to talk to a woman I am interested in, my fear of rejection makes me very vulnerable, but I try to have the courage and just do it.

Story time….

I know I haven’t always been a walk in the park for them.  I gave them some serious trouble and a run for their money.  I was a tough kid, a confused kid and certainly caused my share of trouble.  I think the first time I got caught doing something wrong other than not putting my toys away right, was when I got caught with a porn magazine in my garage rafter fort.

This was probably the most memorable and earliest time I can think of that I felt shame and vulnerability in my young life.  I had built a platform high up in the rafters of the old tin garage we had.  The structure itself was pretty rickety from decades of being subjected to the harsh climate of southern coastal Maine.  It had been patched up, altered, added on to, subtracted from and abused in just about any way that was suitable for whatever it’s current use was supposed to be. At one time it served as a barn for a couple of old cows, I remember those being there, and a couple of pigs living in an adjacent shed that is now gone.  That was before we lived in the house, my cousins were renting it then and had farm animals.  When we bought the house the evidence of the farm animals residing there in the old tin shed was quite obvious.

We used the old shed for a bazillion things, everything from actually storing a car, which barely fit, and you couldn’t open the doors very far so ya had to be skinny as fuck to get in and drive it out of there.  It was my uncles’s old wood side panel station wagon, affectionately called the “Woodie”My Uncle, Dad’s half brother lived with us for a short time in the 70’s…it was short too, Dad booted his ass for continually coming home drunk.Dad was strict about that shit, he didn’t want any of his kids to be around alcohol in any way. I never saw the guy drink more than 2 beers on a Sunday while watching the ball game and I certainly never saw him drunk.

I think my Uncle was drunk most of the time, he was loads of fun!  I do remember that and he used to bring home some awesome things and once he brought home a used, beatu up but functional Honda 50 mini bike….for me!  And then he fixed it up and did a bunch of modifications to it and made it into a little mini-chopper! I had the only Honda 50 chopper tin town,  It was a bitch to drive in the woods and trails I do recall. I wish I could find a photo of that mini bike now.  I did love that thing, and it was my first introduction to feeling really masculine doing something. heres’ a picture of one, not mine but similar.Mini bikeSooo….where the fuck was I going with all of this?   Ah!  My rafter fort. And the porno book.  I only got caught with it because someone told on me!   She was a good girl and knew that I wasn’t supposed to have the explicitly detailed book that I had found on the side of the road up near the bar on the main road.  it must have fallen out of someone’s car or been thrown out.  Either way, it was just laying there saying “pick me up”  And I did.  She asked her mother if it was alright for me to have it, and of course her mother marched right up the road to see my mother immediately and the two of them confiscated the book.

I had a couple of old tires up in the rafter fort, I would hide things like cigarrettes and matches in an old snuff tin that I had gotten from my grandfather.  I would keep my pen and notbook up there so I could write when I wanted to, and I kept some of the books I was reading up there.  I would get out of school days and retreat to that little secluded fort and would be happy as hell reading, writing and trying to learn how to smoke cigarettes.

Now getting caught with it was very embarrassing.  Plus it resulted in foreclosure on my fort.  Down the fort came, and Dad wasted no time taking it down board by board.   I think the embarrassment was sufficient enough, I was pretty damned ashamed of myself for displeasing my father (who I have tried to please all of my life, but that’s another story).  The book was a novel type and didn’t have many pictures except in the middle of the book where they tipped in a set of erotic shots.  No big deal but not suitable reading for a 6th grader.

I then had to start at ground zero on the fort front and find a new location and set up.  The next fort would be further from the house…an ground level stone fort.  Yup, I was a fort builder from way back.  *smirk*

I felt vulnerable in the case with the book for several reasons.  First, I didn’t hide the book well enough, I wasn’t a good enough hider!  Secondly I trusted the wrong person to know that I had the book, I was a bad judge of character.  Third, shame, I shouldn’t have had the book to begin with and was ashamed of myself.  Forth I was vulnerable through embarrassment of everyone of my siblings knowing that I had been caught with a “grown up sex book” as it got called.  The word pornography was far too large for a kids vocabulary at that time.

Anyone curious of the name of the book?  Linda Lovelace- Deep Throat.  NOT 6th grade reading!  LMFSAO

Getting caught with the book was the very beginning of my teenage troubles….it all just kind of snowballed from there, and not in a very good kind of fluffy snowball way.  But every experience leads us to who we are today, so I suppose I had to go through stuff to get right where I am in life and through having each and every experience I have had I have grown and learned…never stop growing and learning, and never be afraid to be courageous!

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
Brené Brown,