Letting Go (Part Three)Hanging On

Orlando.

March. 2004. Twelve years ago. The morning after opening night of my production of West Side Story, scheduled for a three-week run, almost every show of which was already sold out, and almost every one of its more than thirty teen cast-members relied on me to one or another degree for parenting, support, affirmation, discipline, advice, and, definitely, Love. In particular, there were a few boys who struggled with their sexuality, whose lives were dangerous in small-town Frederick. I had a few of these every season, some for seasons at a time. I could be counted on to see them. To listen. To get it. Except, one of them I had been unable to cast in West Side, and during the course of its rehearsals, he tried to kill himself.

Orlando.

The morning after opening night, I was home alone. Would be home alone for another few blessed hours of silence, solitude. It had been a rough six months. In September, a man I had loved and who’d loved me in the typically difficult, complicated, impossible way I managed such things, had killed himself not long after I had screamed at him the sins of his perfidy and cowardice about who he was and who I was to him.

Orlando.

Days after he had finished his life with a bullet to the head, my dearest male friend — my only real male friend — he who had been the one who’d had to tell me of the lover’s suicide — he died unexpectedly due to complications from a simple surgery. We’d known one another since I was a young teen, and he, the older teen, both of us in a local theatre production and giggling messes whenever we were on stage together. In the long decades since we had spent endless, lovely and horrible hours together making theatre and terrible, silly, hysterical mistakes with awful men, each of us in our own way, mine being a refusal to engage at all, to live nearly celibate, not believing any sort of happy awaited me, while he did much the opposite, never NOT believing this one would bring happiness, both of us dysfunctional and scarred by difficult childhoods, name-callings and hiding and semi-in-and-out of closet lives that we might survive.

Orlando.

So, that morning, right? After West Side opened, home alone, in my room. Grateful for silence, for peace, for a chance to take a breath or two. The front door bangs. My housemate. She is calling me with some urgency. She should be teaching. She should not be home for another six hours at least. I come out of my room. I head downstairs where she stands in the kitchen, inside the door, looking terrified. I ask, What is it? “Sissie died.” My aunt, who’d raised me, who’d given me reading and theatre and unconditional love and who had been ill, in the infirmary of the Record Street Home, where she had moved with some bitterness in her eighties, where she had been lost in a netherworld of forgetting and after years of seeing me as her perfect Charlie had come to believe me to be my father when I went to visit. She had died. My housemate tried to hug me, but I just stood there. She asked what did I want, what should she do. Leave. Go back to work. I’m fine. She did not believe me, but I would not budge, I insisted — loudly, at last — that I wanted her to go. I am fine. She left. I watched through the window, making sure she’d driven away. I went into the bathroom. Took off my clothes. Stood in the shower. Finished. Dressed. Sat at the kitchen table. My cell rang, it was the child who was playing Tony. He’d heard. They all — my children — knew how I felt about Sissie, what she meant to me. They saw the pictures of the two of us on my wall, three-year old me, forty-ish her, holding my hand. Holding my hand. Holding my hand. My Tony was saying something. Charlie, do you want to hear something funny? Is it okay if I tell you something funny? Would that be wrong? No, I told him, go ahead. He told me a story about the two girls with whom he was hopelessly, endlessly in love and how one of them had shown up at the cast party and attacked he and the other with a purse as they were tangled together, asleep. It was quite a hilarious story and I laughed. And laughed. And laughed more. Until I was sobbing. And sobbing. Because she was gone, Sissie. Not holding my hand. Not holding my hand. Not holding my hand. I hung up. I’m fine. I’m fine. And I screamed and cried and ranted and howled and keened.

Orlando.

Yesterday, Orlando, and started the texts and the messages and the calls making sure I was okay. I’m fine. No one I knew was murdered. It was horrible, yes. It would become a cluster of missing the point and blame and ignorance and hate coming in where love ought to fill voids and we’ve been through this and I have theories and I wanted to espouse them but, instead, I posted this (in pieces, connected) on Twitter:

Rise. Love your best Love. Light your brightest Light. Offer that. Share that. Resist the urge to answer hate with despair. Rise. RISE.

And this:

Dear ones, this thought: So many on here & IRL msged me asking if I’m okay today. Yes. I am focusing on all that love in my life. I am strong of spirit, here, ready to hold the hands & stanch the weeping hearts of any who need me. Life has given me SO MUCH, & I am determined to grow my joys, share the companionship & humanity you loves, you lights, send my way. Virtual to you or real life, I am grateful to touch/be touched by your thoughts, ideas & join w/you in the face of any hates, despairing, sorrow, setback to say; I am angry, sad, joyful, confused, WHATEVER we are/you are/I am. Let’s live in it together & chant in Love & Light: I am I am I am I am!

Because, I felt as if I wanted to write my heart. I felt as f I had to say something, allow something to flow. Because, Orlando.

I’m not a social scientist or a brilliant essayist. I’m not the miracle to which my name aspires. I’m not particularly good at navigating within the confines and conditions of what most people consider to be real life. But I am, at long last, happy. And while today seems odd timing to say so, I have always over-shared. This is not the manic happiness symptomatic of my dysthymia, those happiness rushes which are always followed by equally deep gutterings of sorrow; this is a happiness of contentment.

After decades of sorrow and helping others let go of theirs, here I am, going. When a month ago I got my latest eviction notice and went into panic, a few weeks after I had spent the best week of my life living the glamorous, love-soaked, passion-filled fantasy scenario I’d dreamed of since childhood, I started to fall to pieces. For a hot minute. Then I hooked up for another hot minute (well, more like a hot three hours) with a gorgeous twenty-six year old, Triple AAA league baseball player, and started looking for a place to live. Which I found. And started purging for the packing. Letting go. Getting rid. Knowing that with this, another in the long line of sudden, unexpected relocations and changes of my life, I had finally gotten it.

I am, indeed, fine. And so when everyone checked on me yesterday, I could say, in truth, I am fine. I was sobbing. I was angry. I was grasping for explanations, wanting to make sense of it, wanting to blame. And so I packed some more. And so I went to the gym because there are fellows there who give me comfort. And so I watched the Tony Awards with loved ones and knew there were loved ones in the audience. I sobbed at the pre-show. I sobbed during the show. I let myself feel. I let myself be in each moment.

Orlando.

Yes, I want to accuse. I want to rant my, “It’s you Reagan and Bush and Romney and Ryan and all Republicans — whether you are one of the ones ACTIVELY espousing LGBTQ hate and assault rifle/NRA love, or just continuing to be in silence a member of the party under which banner such things are espoused — you are guilty of the Orlando deaths.” I want to rail my “You who CALL yourselves christians and espouse beliefs that being LGBTQ condemns one to lovelessness and sin — whether you believe that or continue in silence to be a member of an organized church that does — you are guilty of Orlando deaths.” I want to howl at every politician, every hypocrite, every citizen of this country where we drone-death people EVERY SINGLE DAY — which I continue in silence to be culpable of. I want to keen at this country in which people of color are murdered, again and again, by MY POLICE FORCE. I want to shout about the inequities and onus heaped upon those of us who are in the bottom percentage of income, without credit cards or “acceptable” credit history and our inability to book a hotel room, change our address with the USPOSTALSERVICE on-line. I want to. I want to. I want to.

But, Orlando. Today, still, too much. I am fine. I am blessed in all of this to have the people I have, the privilege I have, the freedom I have, the Love and the Light I have. And I have keened and mourned and wept and fought for decades.

Orlando. I am holding hands. I am here to hold hands. I honor the fight. I may fight again, loudly, but today, for me, like the day Sissie died, if I let it all in, it will be too much. I am not letting it go, I am holding on to my center, sharing what center I have with those who need me to hold them up.

It’s what I do. Have always done. Will always do. For me, Orlando, it is about mourning the sorrow and yet, still, somehow, finding a way to give to you my Love, my Light, my peace and center, and not — right this moment — focusing on how the tentacles of discrimination and hate and homophobia have infiltrated my reality and killed lovers, friends, whole generations of my people with plagues, and hiding, and horror, and this.

Orlando, I mourn for you.

My people, I will be here for you. To hold you. To listen to you. To stand with you. To stand FOR you. But right now, this actual minute, 9a.m. on the day after Orlando, I am heading for a storage unit to purge and cull and let go and hold on to 20 years worth of stuff before I move it again, before I start again in a new location on Thursday.

Because we go on.

Orlando.

 

Letting Go (Number Two)

Trigger Warning: Letting Go (Number Two) for title is horrifyingly appropriate — – although Letting Go of Number Two might be more apt. In case you’ve not yet deduced as much, I will be discussing bodily functions herein, because there are all kinds of letting go, as my bowels of late are wont to demonstrate and, too, I am extremely sick of feeling as if I am being kicked in the guts — this intestinal discomfort is like being beaten up and I must let it go, find a way, so, as always with me, that begins with talking about it. A lot. Ha. And when discussing the possibility (and symptoms) of IBS and colitis with a dear one she said, “No one ever really talks at length about these things. Which is weird because everybody poops.” Yes. We do. And sometimes, in great amount and frequency.

July of 2014. I was in training for my first long distance bike event, which included daily sessions on the road and in the gym, and extremely clean and healthy eating. I was in the best shape of my life. And it hit. I was wakened one beautiful morning by an intense pressure in my lower abdomen, a sensation of imminent explosion that had me running for the bathroom.  I made it. Barely. The contents of my intestines exploded out of me as if my colon had become one of those water-pistol blaster toys, a powerful propulsion of liquid.

I was in shock. Of course I’d had diarrhea in my life but this wasn’t that. This was a violent, uncontrolled expulsion like my body was reacting to a poison. Which was my first assumption: I must have eaten something spoiled. I didn’t have long to think about it though, because episode two came within minutes. I was on the toilet, spasms of waste detonation, and it went on for days. Anything I ate or drank was soon blown out of me. My body wanted nothing inside it. My digestive system was a roiling, reactive war zone, attacking and rejecting anything I introduced as invading foreigner.

Since this post is sort of, well, not terribly pleasant, I thought a musical interlude would be helpful. This is a beautiful rendition of a gorgeous song by two extraordinarily talented artists who manage to fill a ballad of longing for freedom with joy and hope. So well done. And instructive, because in order for me to love again — love myself fully, open to another, move on, LET GO, and heal my body — I need to convince Charlie in the past to let go, release me from all the memory and fear and hurt and sadness, acknowledge it and move on. Love and Light, kids.

I am stubbornly anti-doctor, and so it took a few days and ultimately my weakness leaving me so exhausted I could barely walk to call my primary care physician. My income level and insurance coverage being what it is, I could not get in to my doctor for two weeks. They suggested that if I was that sick, I go to an immediate care facility prior to my appointment. I did. Instruction: take Immodium. I did. Didn’t work, in fact, made me more bloated and in more pain. Return. Instruction: take this antibiotic in case it’s a parasite and get your stools (uhm, that would be LIQUID) tested. I did. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to get a stool sample but it is a disgusting process. I put it off for a week. By which point I had somewhat improved. Result: I got better. Test results showed nothing. Primary care physician said come back when it happens again. I explained they wouldn’t ever SEE ME for two weeks. Result: I was ignored. By the end of the near month it took for me to get better, I had lost ten pounds and spent weeks afraid to go anywhere or do anything because it was not safe for me to be more than a few feet from a toilet.

I never made that bike ride. But, by September 2014, I was fine again.

Then, Summer 2015. It started again. Only much worse. The pain was excruciating. I didn’t really sleep for more than a week when it began. Doctor couldn’t see me. (Surprise). Emergency care didn’t want to treat me again for the same issue when they felt it should be a primary care doctor issue. Finally was carried into my primary care physician. Passed out there. More tests. Result: this time it was discovered I had a rare parasite, usually not seen in this country. Two courses of strong antibiotics. But still, primary care said I need an appointment with a specialist — who couldn’t see me for two months — by which time I was fine again. He said I should come back when it happened again but always take probiotics. I explained it took two months to get an appointment. I was ignored. He said I needed to have a colonoscopy because of my age and just to check.

I did. I was fine. Picture of health.

Now, May of 2016. It’s back. Not like it was. Or, I’m used to it. But two weeks ago I felt the telltale pain and bloating and did the sprint for the toilet. I went back on the probiotics which I had stopped taking because they are so expensive and in about a week my bowels were better if not completely normal. For five days.

Two days ago, it came back.

I need to call a doctor, I know, but I am just not sure I am up for the dance of “you and the gastroenterologist both told me you wanted to see me while it was happening”, because it doesn’t usually seem to  1)be believed or 2)make any difference. The chances of me getting in to the primary care are slim enough, but getting there, getting the required referral, going through same explanation with gastroenterologist’s office and managing to do all this while it is still happening, are very slim.

So, I am doing my own diagnosing. I do not believe I have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease because there has never been blood detected. And while I have been suffering a lot of fatigue for the past year, I have never had night sweats or loss of appetite (except for last summer) in association with these episodes.

I suspect — and fear — this is Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which is a rule-out diagnosis anyway, and for which the symptoms are treated because there is no known “cause”, although stress is thought to be a trigger.

I do have some stress. Here is what I think I need:

  1. To continue my current focus of energy on LETTING GO of the dark-views and seeing things in a brighter, more loving light. Doing pretty well but I do think the effort — which really is a chemical change to my system — is causing me some “am I failing” and “how have I been wrong so long” and guilt and fear stress — on which I am working. Every day.
  2. Xanax — which I would only take as needed, on a temporary basis and which would require me LETTING GO of my fear and distrust of medications and my fear of my own addictive tendencies. I’ve done Xanax during one period of my life, six years ago when my reality was upended and re-shaped in a very necessary but nonetheless very stressful, accusatory, difficult way. I only took six total. So, I think I can handle a prescription without becoming addicted.
  3. A steadier source of income — or LETTING GO of my fear I am going to end up on the street and continue my re-defining of “need”. Truth is, I’m worrying a lot about money and obsessing on having lost my retirement savings and old age cushion, and spending too much energy trying to understand/make sense of why some have so little and some have so much and how this disparity in the world is feeding the hate brewing throughout this country and the world.
  4. To finish making the move to the new apartment and be settled in to that new routine, which includes LETTING GO of lots of stuff — material and mental — to which I’ve long been holding on, piling up in reserve, thinking I needed it to keep me safe or make me happy.
  5. I would — can’t believe I’m saying this — like someone with whom I can regularly hold hands, cuddle, depend on for affection. This would be the hardest LETTING GO. I’ve long considered myself not couple material, not attractive, not likely to be understood/accepted by someone as long-medium-short term regular cuddle material, and I have a foundational mistrust of men. And I want a couple of someones I can’t get back or never had and that is a huge block, because who I remember/imagine them to be and my distress from their departure/absence keep me from letting anyone else in.

That’s a lot of Letting Go, darlings. And while 1-4 are very doable, 5 seems extremely unlikely. So, maybe what I need to LET GO of is my desire to be cuddled, or, perhaps, unrealistic expectations. I mean, I managed to understand and accept I was never going to be a Broadway or recording star; never going to get a literary agent or publish a book; never going to be wealthy; never going to see Europe or Italy. I can LET GO of this renewed interest in a cuddle buddy.

And, here’s the thing, my body has clearly spent the last few years messaging me that there is too much being held inside, that I need to work on my release and purging systems, my physical Letting Go running amok. I need to listen.

And I am. Releasing it all. One mad-dash to the toilet at a time. And here, sharing it all with you. I mean, as a wise woman said, WE ALL POOP. Yep. So true, shit happens.

And in more ways than one, my darlings, here I am, going. Love and Light.

Letting Go (Number One)

I know some of you were worried about me after yesterday’s post [CLICK HERE FOR SHATTERED RECORD] but you mustn’t. This blog is my therapy. Where I vent and voice my joys and my anguish. I am always, ultimately, fine. So worry not.2016 move charlie old pic

I found this picture of me, it must be nearly ten years old, taken when I was still teaching and living a much larger, much busier, much different life. I found it in the pages of a book I am giving away, getting rid of, purging. And how cool is this? I have found this old photo, this old image of me, rediscovered a piece of me as I decide what to let go. Life gives us novel scenes every day if we pay attention, yes?

Letting go.

I’m trying to shape a smaller life in which I am more cognizant of my use of the earth’s resources, conserving my own and the planet’s energy, using resources in a reasonable, sensible way. Part of this is to be more daily aware of my place and part in the world, but I’m hardly an altruist, this re-thinking became necessary because I need to be very careful with my money.

So, since I was house-sitting from Friday to Tuesday, up a small mountain outside of town, I decided ahead of time that I would not leave the house, not go to the gym, but, rather, use the time for quiet contemplation, writing, reading, and emotional and spiritual preparation for the chore of packing up my home to move it again. Too, driving up down the mountain uses a lot of gas and like I said, I am trying to watch my carbon footprint and my cash.

Thus, it’s been five days since last I went to the gym.  and the longer I don’t go, the easier it is not to. I planned to get up and hit the gym at 6 a.m. but I didn’t make it until 2 p.m. I wasn’t just Tweeting and dawdling and time-wasting. I was packing, or, actually, purging.

If you follow me here or on Twitter, you know I am moving. You know the need to move came as a surprise. You know it upended me at first, terrified me, sent me spiraling down into one of my dysthymic abysses. You know I spent a few weeks in panicked search for a new place my sister and I could afford, scrambling for more work, re-evaluating and re-shaping the life and routine in which I’d become comfortable, here, where we were.

But Charles, (he begins to talk to himself even in his blog posts?), it is good to remind yourself that the name of this blog is Here We Are Going, so, seems only right to, you know, GO.

I am in high-GO-gear now. By the time I left for the gym I had stuffed to exploding the back of my SUV with boxes of books my sister and I are getting rid of.  While this is only the first load — and the easiest of the books to let go of — we have gotten this far. We also, each of us, today filled two HUGE contractor-size trash bags with clothes and knickknacks for donation. My SUV is FULL. Tomorrow, we are taking these donations to various sites, checking out our storage unit and beginning the culling there, setting up some utilities for the new address, and GOING, GOING, GOING.

This is a BIG, HUGE deal for us. This moving. This managing. And we both have depression issues and could easily (and started to) fall apart and go into our fear and poor us modes over this. But, we are not. As I said to her today, after I’d stuffed the car full and right before leaving for the gym: “We’re going to do this with ever-increasing joy. Everything we strip away is symbolic of an inner piece of baggage we are jettisoning. Freedom from fear. Growing love. Making room for more light. Letting go. MOVING ON! And, in the process, giving away things that will bring joy to others, passing on our great good fortune and clearing away STUFF so as to have more room for HAPPY.”

HAPPY. Which takes me to the gym. Which makes me happy. So happy. It is amazing to me how much better I feel when I go to the gym — and equally amazing how easily I forget this. Having not gone for five days, it was really tempting to skip just one more. I had even considered giving up the gym entirely, but, I think, honestly, the gym is what helped me to stop drinking a bottle of wine a night, definitely helped me stop smoking, get to a healthier weight, and I am absolutely certain that without it I would need to be on medication for my depressive-tendency/episodes.

2016 move condoms

And I love it. And, there are adventures. And, well, some of them I am saving for a project I’m working on, so, I can’t really tell the whole entire story, but, the photo above this paragraph, those three pair of shorts and the Magnum condoms, all have to do with the gym. My gym. My happy place. When I got back from the gym this evening I pulled three rolling-bins from under my bed. They’ve been there for 3 years, mostly untouched, except for the one in which I found the shorts and condoms, all of which came — in one way or another — from the gym. Everything else in those bins is in my car, waiting to go to donation sites. But the shorts and the Magnums, I need to save until I write the story.

2016 move equus

And, too, there’s a story about this Daniel Radcliffe in Equus hoody. But I’m not, likely, going to tell it. I just want to get rid of the damn thing. Anybody want it? I paid a fortune for it. Which I would never again do. Now. Because I am living a simpler life. With less stuff. And more, well, LIFE.

Later dear ones. More packing to do. And even more fun, exciting, cleansing, and as wonderful for me as the gym, more LETTING GO.

Love and Light, dears. Love and Light.