Mister Bojangles is my little 10 pound Jack Russel, Chihuahua mix dog. Technically a designer Jackchi. Ha! that just makes me laugh. Its fancy talk for mutt. He is a rescue from Texas. He was lost during a flood down there. He doesn’t bark much and he behaves for the most part. He seems to like men more than women but he loves me. He is not incredibly intelligent but he is sweet and loves to play. When I first got Mr. B he had no idea how to play with toys. Over time he learned how to play with toys and now he has specific toys he loves. He has a great space with a window and to be honest he is pretty spoiled. The first week I got him I was living in downtown Rochester. This was about 4 years ago. I was walking him in the churchyard next to my apartment building and he backed out of his harness. He immediately took off toward the road and there was a bus coming. I screamed out “B!!!” and he stopped in his tracks and ran back to me with his tail between his legs. It scared me. Over time I learned that B does not really understand that roads mean really big dog squashing cars and trucks. He was always trying to go into the road. So that leads us to our adventure this morning.

Mr. B got off his leash this morning in our front yard. I was dressed for work and in heels. I dropped the leash on the lawn and took off after him. He was running full tilt for East Avenue. I had the worse case scenario in my mind and figured that either he would be lost or killed by a car. I kept calling to him and running after him. When he got to East Avenue he turned right and stayed on the sidewalk. I was surprised and happy about that but he was still running. He would run and then take a quick pee on something and then run again so I could not catch him. It was like he was taking one of his regular walks on fast forward. I was frantic. If he reached Penfield Road he would have to cross and that would be dangerous for him. I kept chasing, threw off my shoes and chased some more all the time yelling out “Mister B!”. Then I started begging “come here boy I have a treat for you”. I even picked up a small stick trying to pretend like it was a treat in my hand. He stopped and looked back at me and then kept running. I said it a few more times and he would stop and then take off again. Finally I just gave up. I decided I could not stand by and see my dog hit on the road and at this point there was no catching him. I yelled out “ok you win, I’m going home.” I turned to walk home and I was crying over the fact that I had failed him somehow. I also thought to myself that he must really not like me to run away like that. I know that I should not put human experience onto a dog because for him it was probably more like “woohoo!!! I can pee on everything!” I glanced back and there he was trotting behind me. He was not close yet but he was coming along behind me so I kept walking and he kept following. After a few moments he was walking closer to me and then he stopped to pee and I picked him up. Just like that….as soon as I gave up the chase he came right back to my side.

I cannot lie…I wanted to scream. This reminds me of so much of my fucking life and almost every single one of my x’s. In my past I have only said “That’s it I’m going home” in one instance and in that case I didn’t really want to say it but the pain was too much and I just wanted my life back. But the chasing part? I have spent my whole life chasing people who probably did care for me but they had a joy for running from one bush to another and that was what they were going to do. I get that. I really do. All of us should do what makes us happy. If we are trying to stop someone from doing what makes them happy then the first time we loosen up the reign we try to put on them…zoom…off to Penfield Avenue they will go. It is also an untruth that they will just find someone better and stop that behavior…someone they love more and they will settle down…All Bullshit. I have seen it first hand. Their search for joy doesn’t stop because they know what they want and if you try to change someone who is trying to get to the next bush (yes, pun intended) you are going to lose the race. In the end you will be standing on the sidewalk all disheveled with your heels thrown in the grass looking pathetic. It is better to pick up your shit and go find your own joy. If they want to come back around, Yay…if not then let them go in joy and find your own joy.

I used to repeat that sappy saying which goes something like this…..if you love someone set them free if they come back they are yours if they don’t they never were. Today I call bullshit. First of all we don’t own anyone. I don’t care if you are married, been living together for years, have a collar on them or whatever. We do not own people. We cannot expect people to promise to feel a way about us until we die. I think marriage vows should never say until death do we part. I propose that instead they say “I will always be honest with you about my feelings” That way when things change you know that shit and you are not trying to guess what is going on. Additionally you are not trying to chase someone down the sidewalk when you can be chasing your own joy. Our expectations are what break our hearts and expecting someone to never change is not reality. A friend of mine recently posted on her Facebook that she wants someone who puts themselves and their joy first because that is what she is doing in her life. I have to agree. I am putting myself first. I will never chase another person. If someone doesn’t respond to me or doesn’t want to be with me then I will wish them well and move on. I will not do it in anger. I will do it with the love I feel in my heart for them. We may even cross paths again. I don’t believe it has to be “with me or fuck you”. To truly love someone is to want them to live in joy and to be happy. Yes, I may hurt when things end and I am not perfect. I have said and done things I regret in regards to endings in the past but I have learned some big lessons over the past 5 years. I am really grateful for my life and the lessons I am learning. In regards to Mr. B. When I got him home I kissed his head and told him how much I loved him. I know that I will not have him forever and I want him to be happy. I have a responsibility to him as a dog owner and I will always do my best to make sure he is safe. This starts by making sure he gets extra long walks on these beautiful days so he can pee on as many bushes as he likes.

I have spent most of my life in relationships with men who at some point in the relationship began to look right through me. I would be totally focused on a conversation with them and then notice that they were looking at someone else across the room or near us. Their attention was already on someone else and not me anymore. When I would mention it I would be told I was imagining it. Before long that person was the one they were with and they would start the same pattern all over again. I have never had the experience of having someone in my life who really seemed dedicated or completely in love with me. Over time my trust in men was broken over and over again. The most recent one which was almost 2 years ago was the one that finally ended my search for that person I felt I would meet someday. His betrayal did me a favor. In my 50’s I finally accepted there is no knight in shining armor and I am my own hero. But it hurt, more than I could have ever imagined. It was one of the biggest tower moments of my life and interestingly I was the one who blew up the tower when I said “ENOUGH!” and ended the relationship. When it ended that relationship I began to believe that loving someone would lead to hurt in every instance. I told myself that love was just biological and no one is honest anymore. I stopped believing in love. It is probably the best thing that ever happened to me because it is true. Hear me out…. Even in the most loving relationship with the most dedicated person there will be hurt. If it is our expectation that this one will be the one who never betrays or hurts us we are just setting ourselves up for more intense hurt. Where there is love, there is hurt. Why do I say that? Because no one can promise they will never change and certainly they cannot promise they will never die. This forces me to live in the moment. If I live in the moment without expectation of anything beyond that moment with a person I can live in peace. I can accept that person as they are and wish them well when it is time to part our ways on the walk of life. Attachment to a specific outcome is what causes us pain. My attachment to a dream that never came true was a source of many years of pain for me. I have smashed that dream into a million pieces and rebuilt my life.

So what about now? Will I ever have someone else in my life. I do have someone in my life. I find it ironic that when I gave up on that dream someone walked into my life who literally worships me. A friend said to me the other day “Do you know what I love about how Zach is with you? He doesn’t see anyone but you when you are in the room and even when he is not with you he is always talking about how wonderful you are” That my friends is such a new thing for me that I do not know what to do with it. Do I love him? Yes, he is a wonderful, kind man who would do anything for me. But I also want to love him as a human being who may change and someday one of us will die or need to move on. I am not anxious about that because I am here in this moment cherishing the time I have with him, with all of you and with my family. If I keep focused on the fear of the day I will cry I am not focused on smiling in this moment. I don’t want to cry before it is time. I have had enough of that.

I had a major revelation about a perception I have had about some events that happened in my life over a year ago that hurt me deeply. My ego was deeply wounded and I was protecting that wound in a way that it was keeping me from enjoying life. It was keeping me from dancing both symbolically and literally. At one point last year I was dangerously depressed and suicidal. Then I had a conversation that woke something up in me. I spent a couple of days just trying to unwrap this in my brain and when I finally saw the situation for what it truly was I began to understand something I was missing in my perception of what had happened. There was a part of the situation I had not been able to see through my pain and the revelation of that has freed me in such a huge way. I spent way too much time focused on trying to convince people who had hurt me why they had hurt me when I needed to turn that around and convince myself. What good was it doing me to try to convince people of something they are well aware of ….or maybe they are not aware of…but even if they are aware what at this point could they do? I think there was a part of me that was begging to just have it fixed so I would not hurt anymore. But the truth is it was done and over with and I was wasting my time trying to fix something that was not fixable. Furthermore my instant reaction to the tower moment and what I thought was the truth was just not true. In the moment the lightning hit and I was thrown from the tower I was blinded. I became so guarded that I become bitter and jaded.

What matters at this moment is that I have learned some amazing lessons. I have learned to set boundaries and keep them. I have learned to say enough is enough. I have learned to take care of myself when I need to. I have learned that sometimes I need to withdraw and reevaluate and that is OK. I have learned that sometimes people are going to hate you no matter what you do. I have learned that I do not have to react to that hatred. I have learned that in some instances people do not want to see the damage they have done. I have learned that sometimes all those things are things that I have done myself.

My life has changed for the better. I will never be the same and for that I am grateful. There was also a piece of this puzzle that when I finally clicked it into place I was just shocked at the realization. Why did I not see this before? But I see it now and today…right this moment I am forgiving and am letting go completely. It was never about me not being valuable. It was never even about me not being wanted. I was always wanted and valued. The bottom line is that it is also not my problem anymore and for that I will always be grateful. I don’t have to live my life questioning my worth anymore because I know my worth and no one can take that from me.

Today I am releasing from my mind and my heart those things I spent over a year feeling tortured about. Thank you for the lessons.
Now…. It is time to Dance.

When you have had a deep valley of soul crushing depression and mourning it changes your life. That happened to me. I was in a deep dark place. I did not want to leave my room and I felt numb most of the time when I was not crying or thinking about how I wanted this life to be over. I tried to pull myself out of it and when I could not I went for help. I spent months in therapy and then I went into a 10 day program to help me to learn ways to cope with this depression and move on with my life. I struggled with medication issues and found that those medications I was on were making me worse. After some nasty withdrawals I finally starting coming out of it this past Fall. I started feeling better about my life and doing things again. I felt like myself or at least that is what I thought. But I have come to realize the past few days that I have been in a state of low grade depression for months…and probably for most of my life. I have a cycle of trying to pull out of it and doing lots of things but I always want to retreat for days after I do things and when I do plan things I spend all the time up until that thing dreading it. I am anxious in groups and I am always thinking that people secretly hate me. I have a fear of those I love leaving me without a look back. It has happened a few times and that is hard to deal with when it does. Last year at this time it did happen. Someone I had invested much emotional energy into and had been a close friend to for over 6 years just said “Don’t contact me anymore” and that was it. I was not a part of their new life and they did not want anything to do with anyone who had been a part of their old life. I honored their request and never emailed or contacted them again. I still hurt over that. I thought we would be friends forever. I want them to be happy and if never hearing from me is part of that I understand…but it still hurts.

So I am depressed. I have no motivation. I don’t sleep well. I worry about everyone around me abandoning me but at the same time I do not want to drag anyone down. So this is my plea to those close to me. Get out if you need to. Just be honest with me. The dishonesty is the worst part. If I am dragging you down just say so and go. I feel like giving up sometimes but those people who have truly stood by me…those people have helped me not to. I am grateful for you.

My adult daughter has been calling me on a daily basis to ask me about tarot card meanings. She is learning to read tarot. I always hoped my children would want to be a part of my spiritual path. I never forced it. I never made them go to ritual. I did however make things available to them and I encouraged them to seek out the path that was right for them. I wanted to one day pass the flame to my daughter or son. I am pleased that my daughter at 33 is taking up the study of tarot.

I was cruel. I admit it. I said things that in the moment were my truth. I had carried that pain for months and months. It was stinking and awful and I finally said it out loud. I don’t know what I expected. That I would feel better? That this person would tell me what a mistake they made and how sorry they were? Did I wish for those things? Yes, I did. It was not what happened. Instead I saw the pain in their eyes and when we hugged goodbye I felt that pain. It was awful. I wanted to get back out of my car and beg them to forgive me for what I said. I did something I had swore I would never do. I wounded someone else. I forgot all the terrible things I had done in my past I had been forgiven for. I forgot a basic truth…what happened was not done to me…it was not even about me. I felt so hollow at that moment. Yes, I was wounded deeply by what happened but my perspective has changed over these months that have passed by so quickly. I now see a person who is just as broken as I am, not a monster, just another human being trying to do their best. I have made a vow to do better. I will not open my mouth in cruelty again. It is better to forgive and move on.

Another bit of writing from about 15 years ago that I added to today.

New Lebanon, Ohio is a small town.  Small enough that you know everyone and everyone knows you.  To walk from one side of the town to the other only took an hour or two depending on how fast you walked.  At least that is how I remember it.  There are more churches than bars and at one time we only had one grocery store.  In the 60’s the high school basketball team, the Dixie Greyhounds, won the state championship and there is still a sign at the city limits to let you know that.  The local hang out when I was in high school was the dairy queen because the Toot which used to be the hang out was gone.  The only interesting thing to do when you became old enough to drive was to drive the loop.  We would start at the edge of town at the Dairy Queen after we hung out long enough to be told “You kids need to find something to do besides taking up all this space”.  Then we would decide who was going to ride with who and we began the nightly ritual of driving up and down Main Street.  Loop around the Dairy Queen, past the High School and the water tower, into the downtown where the library and the bank were, past the only bar in town (nicknamed the crack) and down to the dentist’s office to loop the parking lot and start again.  New Lebanon was known as Magic City when I was in high school because the only thing to do was drive the loop and get high.  Off from the main street all the streets led to the housing developments which we called tracts.  Houses upon houses that all look alike: rectangular, brick with two car garages and two trees in the front yard.  Each one looked slightly different depending of the personality of the people who lived there.  Our neighbor had a bird bath in the front yard and used white rocks to fill up the spaces around the bushes.  Our house had black bark around the bushes and black shutters.  Some houses had fences and others didn’t.  For the most part they all looked alike from the outside. 

Our house inside never seemed to change.  I always wondered what other houses were like inside.  We had the same furniture until I was 17 and moving out.  Our living room had green curtains with plastic backing.  There was a huge dark wood bookshelf with the Encyclopedia Britannia from 1965 and books my dad collected from book clubs by mail.  There was a gold couch that was worn from years of my dad sleeping on it all the time.  Two end tables with nothing on them but a lamp and a coffee table with a giant family bible on it that had nothing written in it.   There were two things on the white walls of the living room, a huge mirror that was framed with gold grapes and a picture of a seashore that was distorted and dark.  The pictures were on opposite walls so when you looked in the mirror you saw the distorted seashore behind you.  The carpet was green and sculpted.  I hated green.

The den was bare also.  We had one picture on the wall above the leather couch; it was a picture of musical instruments which were distorted and black with lots of red in the picture.  The picture just looked mad and confused.  The couch was this horrid black thing that you would sweat and stick to in the summer.  In front of the couch there was a coffee table my sister carved a picture of big bird into, it had a small drawer in it that contained nothing.  At the end of the couch was a cabinet stereo that had sliding drawers and was full of records by the Irish Rovers, Janis Joplin, Glen Campbell, Percy Sledge and other artists that I became familiar with over the years.  At the end of the room in the corner facing the couch and the kitchen was a black and white console TV with a knob for channeling.  The only remote in the house at that time was my sister and I.  Off to one side was my father’s black lazy chair, no one dared to sit in it except him.  He used to scrape his feet with a paring knife while he sat in it so there was always this fear that I was going to touch that dead skin if I went near it.  The carpet from the living room also spilled into this room and was the same boring green, the curtains? Green.  We did have a fish tank for a short time but I accidently killed the fish.  I had seen my dad putting ice cubes in the tank when we got it and so I thought that was something you were supposed to do.  The next time the babysitter was with us I told her we had to put ice in the tank and all the fish died that night.  My dad called me the fish killer for weeks. 

In the kitchen we had a big oval table by the glass sliding patio doors.  It had big soft wheels and the material on the chairs was almost the color of my skin and was some kind of fake leather.  There was never a centerpiece on the table.  It was always bare.  We did not have placemats or napkins.  The kitchen had nothing on the walls and the counter only had canisters for sugar and flour.  They were silver with black lids.  Our stove and refrigerator were avocado and the fridge had a drawer on the bottom.  The Washer and dryer was also avocado.  It seemed so bare in there, so bare that if you talked too loud it would echo. 

Now I decorate every inch of my life.  I cover up the tables with flowers and Knick knacks and cover the walls with pictures and the trappings of my life.  I string lights from the ceilings and around the windows.  I am afraid of the bareness.  Today I live far away from that place of emptiness but on days when I miss my family I get in my car and I drive from my house to the grocery store down the road and make the loop through the parking lot and then come back down my street and make the loop over and over until my heart calms down again.