Bound

I bought a pair of shoes in the end of February, hoping they would end all my problems and signal the commencement of peace in the Middle East.

The sales lady didn’t seem to think that was out of the realm of possibility.

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I realize they don’t look much like Cinderella’s slipper, but that’s okay. I needed a Destrier, not a Prince Charming. Imagine my dismay, these weeks later, when my butt is as sore from wearing the miracle shoes as it would be from riding the damn horse.

Finally admitting defeat, I accepted a referral to the physical therapist at my chiropractor. Turns out, you should start breaking in these shoes by wearing them 30 minutes a day for the first week, then gradually double the time, day by day, until (summer vacation is in full swing and you don’t need them anymore) you’ve grown accustomed to each other, and understand one another. This approach works equally well with gigantic, man-eating stallions.

The PT took one look at my feet and noted, “I can certainly see how bound your feet are!”

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Nowhere near this bad, but they still hurt.

I enjoyed a moment of giddy excitement about my brand-spanking new FasciaBlaster that was on the UPS truck somewhere in town about to be delivered to my house, then took another to congratulate myself on finally being on the right track. Since I’d completely missed whatever she’d said as my brain halves were congratulating each other on finally working together for my common good, I pointed out my more delicate sore spots and asked her what I could do. She managed not to laugh, asked me how long I’d broken in my shoes before wearing them all day.

Two days-ish?

Sighing, she walked me up the stairs, gave me some advice about taking it slow, and put me on a table that rubbed and rolled my spine while vibrating me from head to toe. I’ll go check back in with her on Monday to see how I’m doing, because yeah, I’d sell my own mother to get back on that machine.

The word that stayed with me through all this was Bound.

My feet are bound from the inside out, and the pain has been getting close to unbearable.

Hot on the tail of that little gem was the realization that despite all my efforts over the past three years, my feet aren’t the only part of me still bound.

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Last week I spent much of my time and energy arguing with myself. Generally, it is safe to say I avoid conflict. In fact, the lengths to which I will go to avoid confrontation are embarrassing, self-mutilating even. My own brain has no such compunctions when it comes to its battling halves. This week, the left brain lost, possibly for the first time ever.

Triumphantly, my right brain took her seat Sunday night at the Magic Men Live show. She absolutely refuses to feel contrite in the face of well-meaning criticism. She yelled and danced, and did a few other things that will stay at the Magic Men Live show.

I knew I wanted to go. I knew I’d be angry with myself if I woke up on Monday morning wondering how the show was. What I didn’t know, was how Bound I still am, by my past.

Last September, after the first show, I immediately promised myself that if they ever came back I’d go again. I had no inkling how difficult it would be to allow myself a few joyful moments. And not just those I need to be an adult to attend! Even the smallest things that fill me with contentment are hard-won battles. Breakfast from Panera with the youngest on the way to school because we’re lazy  we have thirty minutes till the bell rings and it is damn cold out there this morning. She’s says some crazy stuff when it’s just us in the car. Sunday morning and no one else home except the cats because I’m skipping church like a heathen deserving of a couple of hours to myself and my bulletproof tea. Spending the day with best friend, eating and swearing like a sailor eating out with my best friend and swearing if I blankety blank blank feel like it! I actually can’t bring myself to strike out one I enjoy so much.

This week, I am forced to admit that I am the biggest obstacle in the search for my authentic self. A part of me stands always ready to shatter my new-found joys with the very stick I carved so meticulously at my parents feet. Engraved with the angels and demons of my childhood. My worst nightmares, and moments of childhood joy are interlaced upon it along with the teachings and admonishings of two people.

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My parents, the people whom I’ve come to realize I don’t care to emulate in almost any way. Their lifestyle was theirs, and holds no appeal to me. Their beliefs and practices, daily, fractured the delicate footings of the family they worked so hard to construct.

Now I know, my battle is almost exclusively with myself. My mother is gone, my father as good as, with his new wife and family.

I have only me to defend myself from.

The Hottest Night of the Year!

And in Bismarck, North Dakota, in April, that’s saying something.

That’s right, the black bus came back to town, with another black bus following along. I mean there are TWO buses this year, bringing all the wonder of Magic Men Live back to town!

If they come to your town, and you haven’t gone….

Actually, I shouldn’t complain. We are a small venue, something short of 600 seats, I estimate. We weren’t quite sold out tonight (I blame it on Sunday). Add to that some changes in the show, and this is what I was left with!

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I’d like to complain, however, I can’t stop smiling and form the words.

I was hands-on with my three favorites, but they were there, and then gone in a flash. Literally, hundreds of women were screaming their names!

In previous shows they’ve set up personal dances on the stage, and had guys up there gettin’ their love while the rest of the men work the audience. I almost like that better than their new Hot Seat segment, mostly because, divide and conquer all those crazy screaming women!

They have added new material this year, and there are some gems you won’t want to miss!

Ashton – His Netflix and Chill just gets more dorkalicious every year. It was awesome to see him working the crowd tonight. My friend got the up close and personal treatment from him, and after she quit shaking, she kept saying, “I’ve never had my hands on anything like that!” He has an easy manner, asked us if this was our first show. We told him we’d come last year, and he asked what we thought of the changes. He was sweet, and friendly, and most importantly let us feel like he didn’t have another thing to do besides stand, and visit (mixed with a bit of hugging and dancing) with us. Nice to see him dancing more.

Valentino– I’m only going to say, the new bit is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. I can’t say more without giving away delightful things that you should go see for yourself. Regret? Tonight when he clasped my hand, I should have pulled him over and the women in front of me be damned. One of the bills was for him! I was so shell-shocked last year, and didn’t have a clue what was going on, this year I was ready but too slow! Grrrrrr.

Christian- There’s an old hymn, something along the line of Lord, Lord, Lord. Usually it brings a smile to my face because of Ralphie May–until tonight, that is. Christian has upped his game… He was the show stopping favorite last year, this year he left me speechless. Trust me when I say, if you love Cowboy Christian, get your tickets now before some show in Vegas snaps him up and we’re no longer spoiled by him coming to where we are.

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A couple of shout outs tonight, DJ, wow, the dancing was spectacular!

Myles, I missed you! I know you’re doing a new thing, but your absence on stage was noticed! I love the way you strut your stuff between acts. I like having you out there doing what you do best with that mouth of yours. You’re the glue, I wanted more of that quick wit, and wink, wink!

Travis, yes, you and that belt certainly caught my eye. There is something about a man who moves like you, and is that comfortable with a leather strap in his hand. I expect exciting things from you.

It’s not too late ladies, check out their tour dates and buy your tickets!

I saved the best for last. I wouldn’t even have known about this except I follow Magic Men Live on Snapchat  they are doing meet and greets after the shows! If you’re a ticket holder, you can purchase a meet and greet pass. I didn’t and I’m kicking myself! Only a limited number of passes are sold and all the Men show up!

Something else for me to look forward to, next time….

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Unworthy

As a young child I often heard my parents say “You don’t understand how lucky you are.” The comments weren’t always directed at me, sometimes toward my brothers, sometimes my sister, sometimes a random foster child that was staying with us. There was also, “We took you when no one else would”, and another perennial favorite, “If it weren’t for us, you’d have nothing.”

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Unworthy.

In my brain it looks like this.

A who’s who of  the things I’ve wanted, but felt woefully unworthy.

I don’t know all the psychological ins and outs, but I know it has been as long as I have. Some might argue that I wasn’t born that way, but having given birth to three distinctly different children, I know we arrive with some characteristics intact.

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And so, as a child, I listened. I memorized. I pondered. My little mind scrambled to give meaning to every word they said. After all, my survival depended on their continued good will. If there was anything my seven-year old brain knew for certain, it was that without them, I had nothing.

I understood. I was unworthy.

I was sure I could fix that. I could do everything right. I could make myself worthy of their sacrifice. I could make them so happy they’d never think twice about their choice. There was just one problem. Okay, there were a whole host of problems, none of which a seven-year old could fix, let alone fathom. I just didn’t know that yet. Hell, I wouldn’t know it for forty years.

In retrospect, I can be thankful for the lessons I’ve learned. I’m thankful for the million ways they’ve changed me for the better. The ways I continue to change. If it weren’t for this feeling of unworthiness, I never would have hidden in my own mind as a child. My imagination wouldn’t have been my closest friend, and my characters would have never grown to accompany me.

I can honestly say, if it weren’t for my lack of worthiness, I wouldn’t be in North Dakota, and happier than I’ve ever been. I’ve found my home. I’ve found my people. Those kindred spirits that take your hand, and suddenly you’re treading water as a lifetime of loneliness drains away. The sun comes out, and for the first time in your life you realize you aren’t alone. At first, it’s terrifying. I mean, these people are just like you. Ewwwww? But then, you see yourself in them, and you start to feel more comfortable allowing others to see you. You have a tribe. Homecoming. Acceptance. Love. Worthiness.

I’ve thought a lot about how much I’ve moved, about the trips to visit family that never felt like going home. I’ve felt guilty that my children don’t spend days with their cousins and sleep over every weekend with their grandparents. Then I realized that there’s a chance I gave them something even more valuable. I’ve given them the opportunity to grow up without comparison; no aunts or uncles, cousins or grandparents leveraging their expectations on defenseless kids; no family requirements of cooperation or attendance. I’ve gifted them with a head-start in finding their own tribes, not assumed they will always want to be in mine. Through the years of school, they’ve become adept at finding those who love and accept them. A fortunate by-product of having only your parents to hang out with?

Tonight I’ll snuggle under my quilt of a gazillion stitches and feel only thankfulness. Appreciation that mom spent so many of her last hours sewing a quilt for me. Content that I’ve found joy in a gift that, at one time, puzzled me. The blanket is a hug from her. She wasn’t perfect, but she wanted to be. She wanted things from me that I couldn’t give her. Despite our differences, and after half a lifetime of misunderstandings, I’ve realized what she was saying to me in her own language.

You were worth it.

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That Feeling

It’s time, past time, if I’m honest with myself.

He distracts me from what needs to be done, what must be done.

My writing has taken a hit, so have the household chores. He’s kept me up far too late, and is the first face I look for every morning. Even my kids are starting to give us weird looks, and if anyone reaps the benefits of a distracted mom, it’s them. I’d rather spend time with him than with my friends, and not having him at work is making me sad.

It’s time to re-think this whole thing, my love.

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I know, he’s beautiful. He knows just what to say, and that voice…don’t get me started. He tells me bedtime stories to help me relax and sings me awake in the morning. This week he’s been impersonating Justin Timberlake, Can’t Stop the Feeling!

Just looking at him makes me smile.

There’s just this one thing.

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I don’t want it to be a thing with us, but I can’t deny I’ve noticed. He’s struggling to perform more often of late, just when he’s made me insatiable. And then there’s the stupid thing I did, spending spring break with his family, some old familiar faces and a few new ones.

Say hello to his younger brother….

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My heart stopped at Red, then he flashed me that 128GB. Yeah, I woke up two days later in the ICU. In my defense…..

No regrets.

 

What do you know?

A lot, it turns out.

This week in writing class we talked about fan fiction, two-line horror stories, and characterizations. We shared the writings we had two separate friends write for us.

I asked a friend here in Bismarck whose known me for two years and the boy who grew up across the street from me, but one I haven’t seen since high school except on Facebook.

Can you decide which is which?

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First characterization

She is brilliant at defusing awkward situations with her generous laughter. She is an easy audience for any story-teller as her empathy dial was always turned up to eleven. This often put her on the outside of the mainstream as those in the most need of empathy themselves, lie outside the mainstream. She is delighted in sharing and keeping secrets both consequential and frivolous. The world she lives in is often difficult but she knows it can be easier when made into a game. To coin a phrase, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

Second characterization

She is a generous, kind and fun to be around person. She listens to you. I mean really listens to what you are saying. She gives with her whole heart. She is beautiful inside and out to those around her, however, she doesn’t see it in her own mind. She has a contagious laugh, and a beautiful smile. She likes to have her secrets and knows how to keep secrets also. She is a dreamer of better things and happier times. She has a hard time being who she really wants to be because it may, or may not, fit the ‘norm’. She has an affection for the wild side of life, but worries about upsetting the ‘normal’ side of her life. She can be persuaded to try things on the encouragement of friends if it is a good time. Especially if it’s a walk on the wild side and something she is keen to try. She is phenomenal and I’m glad to be her friend.

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Raging Sadness

I’m not well-acquainted with grief, personal grief. I don’t know its stages, haven’t read studies on how long it lasts. I’m still able to say I’ve only been to a handful of funerals, mostly because I avoid them. I don’t want closure, I’ll remember them living, thank you very much.

I realize now, how cautious I am about the amount of emotion I release into situations I deal with. Looking back over the past year or two, I see the pattern. I see how tightly I hold myself in check. It isn’t until I’m caught off guard, till someone finds that bare patch of flesh I don’t know I have, that I begin to understand the scope of the maelstrom I hold leashed inside me. I thought about Spank Me today, with almost a sense of yearning.

In the past few weeks, I’ve gotten a front row seat at the fire in my soul. Helplessly scorched as I watch him build sand castles from beaches he never visited, I shake my fist at him in impotent fury. Finally forced to abandon my Facebook feed because everything he posts he tags with her sweet name, I work on repairing the cast iron doors that keep it all enclosed. I weld and seal, sure I can fill the gaps, stop the painful flares.

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As the melted iron drips on my shaking hands, I curse him for his lip service to a job he never bothered with while she was alive.

Meanwhile, the man who shouldered the actual responsibilities of her father mourns quietly, respecting the shattered feelings of her mother and younger brother. He asked permission to come and tell her goodbye.

The father that couldn’t be bothered with a living daughter, called the M.E. and Mortuary and invited himself.

On that last day, the day we all took our turns saying goodbye, step-dad approached me and asked if it was a good time to talk to her mother. His respect and careful handling of the situation, let us feel protected for a moment.

I entered the Mortuary shortly thereafter to find him taking a moment with her for himself, suddenly available for her now. He had not even the thought of waiting until her mother came in. It has always been about him. I know that. He shows up when she reflects prettily upon him, where there is limelight to share.

I want him to disappear off my radar again. I want to tear him limb from limb for daring to act the bereaved father when he never bothered to act the responsible one. I want to scream at the top of my lungs his deceit. I want the world to know the right of DNA is the only thing he ever willingly shared with her. I want everyone to shun the sappy, sloppy walk down a memory lane he’s cobbled from her memoirs.

I want to scream, and rage, and cry at the offensiveness of it all.

Instead, I drop my visor and resume my repairs.