akienm: (Default)
I remember...

I remember watching you cry
as I slowly made love
to every inch of you
I asked you why
You said you didn't deserve it
I replied that touching you
was like playing music
Listening to the feelings I brought up
was the joy of listening to the music
That loving you
was as much a gift for me as for you
And we held each other
akienm: (Default)
2016 09 07
I remember...

I remember when I finally figured out that pragmatism gave me an edge.

I had been told who I should be when I was a kid. Sometimes directly, sometimes very indirectly... In words, in media, everywhere. I learned that I was supposed to be a stable husband, I learned that I was supposed to always be productive, I was supposed to be honest, I was supposed to be smart, thoughtful, giving, strong, creative, i was supposed to be able to sing love songs to my partner, I was supposed to be able to figure out how to fix *anything*...

And I really have been those things sometimes. But it's also the case that the *requirement* to be those things made it harder to see when I wasn't being those. I couldn't easily own that I wasn't living up to those ideals. And the *habit* of hiding from those shortfalls made it hard to change them. If I was upset about not meeting those ideals, then all the jumping up and down which all that upset caused might make me feel like I would make a change, but mostly history wouldn't bear it out.

I learned that change comes from being able to accept where I am. With enough compassion that I can have the mental equilibrium to compassionately notice the failure, rehearse the new behavior, and pat myself on the head for doing the things required to build a new habit.

Being pragmatic, being willing to be connected to what is, made me more powerful to change was is to what I would like it to be.
akienm: (Default)
I remember…

I remember figuring out that there was a formula that I used when I successfully changed a habit. I don't even remember now what habit I was trying to change. :)

I realized tho that a couple of times in a row, I'd developed new habits like so:

1) Decide what the undesirable behavior is
2) Through introspection, figure out what need the behavior was trying to meet
3) Figure out something else I could do that would meet the need
4) Commit to myself that I'd do that new behavior, including rehearsing it in my head.

This was all well and good, but I kept not doing the new behavior. Sometimes it was because the new behavior didn't actually meet the need (which meant more introspection to identify that fact and to develop another alternative behavior)… But most often, it was because I was trying to learn something new, and I just hadn't habituated it yet. So…

5) Notice, after the fact, with compassion, that I hadn't done the thing.

The first time I did this systematically, it was like two weeks after the event that I realized I hadn't done the new thing.

6) Reward myself with an "attaboy" for noticing the failure.

It wasn't until much later that I realized how crucially important that step was to keep me going.

7) Commit once again to the new behavior, and rehearse it again.

What I noticed was that with each successive miss on performing the new behavior, the interval between the miss and my noticing the miss got shorter and shorter. Until eventually, I was able to notice in real time and make a conscious decision to do the new behavior.

This has been one of the two or three most important skills I've developed.
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First, a question: What do YOU remember about Harbin Hot Springs?

I remember the very first time I went to Harbin. No, scratch that. I have been to Harbin so many times I really have no recollection of the "first time". I know that Francesca Gentille took me there. I was still very shy about nudity at the time.

I remember camping in the meadow. I remember walking the trail to the pools. I remember someone having hung glow sticks on string all along the path. I remember watching a photo shoot at the creek at the edge of the meadow. Slender nude women with fairy wings. I remember wondering what was further up the road, but being told that was the residential area and not "open to the public". I remember many years later somebody telling me that was silly and it was fine to walk through there, just be respectful. I remember awe and wonder seeing so many parts of the place for the first time. I remember resenting the vegetarian rules in the kitchen, and always taking my own food prep stuff because of it.

I remember having sex in the warm pool, very, very quietly. I also remember one couple who got very noisy, and security came just as they disappeared from the pool and into the hot pool. I remember when it was allowed to chat very quietly in the warm pool, and I remember how they got so strict about silence eventually. I remember watching how the place grew and changed over time.

I remember Ancient Ways there… I remember Loving More there. I remember World Polyamory Association there. I remember, as a pleasant blur, so many moments there. I remember running the area at Ancient Ways that we coordinated with other parents so the kids could have a place to be, and the parents could take turns watching them.

I remember at Loving More, they created "families" at the beginning. Each morning, I was supposed to socialize with people I didn't know. Me, the introvert. Um, no. Forcing me into socializing is a non-starter for me. But it led me to start creating workshops. The first one was Poly For Introverts. I loved teaching there. Heck, I've loved teaching every chance I've ever had. I remember the conference center and how awesome it was to have warm pools we could actually chat in, like Harbin in the old days.

I remember the RV we owned for a while, and how it slipped it's brakes or something and we went rolling down the hill toward the creek (with us in it), but were stopped by rocks and branches. I remember someone coming to our aid and plugging a small hole that had been created in the gas tank with a bar of soap. I particularly remember the RV, not because of the crash, but because of the awesomeness of having our own complete kitchen.

I remember going back and forth between the hot and cold pools. I remember staying in the hot pool until I could feel my heart beating in my eyes. I remember how doing so seemed to completely kill off any infection I might have been having. A lingering cold or flu suddenly gone the morning after such a soak. I remember one winter, sitting in the warm pool, Dawn told me she was getting close to being ready to get out. So I left before her and went into the hot pool for that long. When I got out, I draped a towel around my shoulders, went and got my sandals, picked up my clothes in a bundle, and got ready to walk back to the meadow. Dawn was all dried off, and bundled up against the cold. I had steam coming off me until I got back to the meadow. Only then had I cooled enough to get dressed. That was such an awesome feeling.

I remember different walks along that path, sitting to watch the sunset, sunrise, the moon, or the moonless night. I remember walking up to the little meditation tea house on the hill above. I remember the mountain lodge and the school office.

I remember the first time I stayed in The Domes, they were sooo cool. I remember learning so much about myself up there. I remember getting the book on the history of Harbin. And learning how the place had burned before, more than once. I remember reading about and imagining the grandeur of the old hotel building.

I remember the love, the tantra, the massages, the sex, the hikes, the quiet contemplation. I remember Francesca, Dawn, Zoe, Leah…

I remember thinking that Harbin was for me what Burning Man is for many.

And I remember the fire. And how so many of us were communicating about it online. I remember reading speculation as to it having been destroyed, and then reading how it really had been.

And I remember thinking that with all this outpouring of sadness, support, and love, that it almost can't help but rise again. I will remember the fire one final time the next time I sit in the warm pool.
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I remember a Wil Wheaton blog entry ( http://wilwheaton.net/2015/08/tears-in-rain/ ) linked to from Facebook that I ran across this morning. I remember how he talked about never being good enough for the voice in his head. I remember reading his description and how it sounded just like he was describing my experience of it.

I have at various times known as much about antidepressant drugs as anybody not actively in the forefront of the field. While it's better these days, in the past I have had the voice whisper how much easier it would be to just give up. I'm pretty certain that the only reason I'm still alive is because of Carlos Castaneda. In one of his books, the protagonist is "introduced to his best friend, Death" (despite the quotes, I'm paraphrasing). He is told that "whatever happens in life, you can look over your left shoulder, and Death will be there. And he will tell you that whatever has happened does not matter. That the only thing that matters is that he hasn't touched you yet". I have used my death in this way many times… Whenever the voice of depression grew too loud.

Wil's description let me see myself, my own struggle with the voice, in a new way. I can now see it from outside of myself. I can see how my dad played a key role in creating that voice. Specifically the part about never being able to be good enough. But that means it's my dad's voice, not my own. And that gives me a new weapon in dealing with it.

It's very clear to me that, while depression has roots in neurochemistry, it's also in part about habits of thought. Perhaps this will help me to identify when I'm playing my dad's tapes.
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This one is about something that happened to me yesterday. I was talking with a friend, and we were talking about how her child is growing up and has started to ask questions about sex, the way little kids do. And this friend told me she was torn about how much to tell, as she wanted to preserve the child's innocence for as long as possible.

Now that is something I've heard before, for my entire life really. I know that when I reached puberty, I had no idea what to do or how anything worked. I had an ongoing fantasy that an older woman would come to me and teach me about all this stuff. The discomforts of that, probably along with my time on the farm, left me with a very pragmatic approach to innocence. I am now firmly of the opinion that it's not our job to protect our children from the world, it's our job to train them to be ready to deal with the world. Train them in what they'll need to know as adults.

In my own home, with my kids, we were very open about the topic of sex. Some of that was related to our avocation of teaching in the poly world. Some of it was just being forthcoming and factual when they had questions. But by the time my youngest reached puberty, there were no mysteries about it for her. She knew about safer sex, and even safer sex agreements between people in open relationships.

Yesterday, I happened to call my daughter just to chat. While we were on the phone, I was reminded about the conversation I'd had earlier about innocence. So I explained to her about this conversation with my friend, and then asked her "Now that you're an adult, and have come out the other side of all that, how do you feel about having had sex be such a normal topic when you were younger?"

As well as I can remember, this is what she said: I wasn't upset by it at the time, and by the time I started having those feelings, I knew what they were. I knew about the difference between sex and love, I knew that the sense of infatuation was brain chemicals, and I knew how long they lasted. I knew how infatuation can become love over time. I watched my friends fumbling around with this, and they all wound up coming to me for answers. I knew enough not to make the same mistakes they were making. It really prepared me well, and I'm glad it worked out that way.

I was gobsmacked. I had long ago promised myself that just not beating my kids was "enough". That if I could do better than my dad did in that department, then I was a success as a parent, regardless of how deficient I might feel about specific things. And by that metric, I was a success. Sure, I wish I were more closely connected with my kids, but just doing better than my dad did was enough.

But this, this was like assuming I was getting a D in the class, only to find that I'd gotten an A.

It's worth noting that my daughter has been in the same polyamorous relationship with the same people over the entirety of her time in high school. They are still together.

I… Just… Wow. :)
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I remember meeting Sushi. Sushi was a female orange tabby cat, who's eyes were too small for her head, rendering her *mostly* blind.

My daughter had been invited to a birthday party for one of her friends. This party was held at the local animal shelter, and rather than bringing gifts for the child, we were encouraged to bring money or things to donate to the shelter.

So the kids were sitting at 3 tables more or less around the middle of the room. All the parents were sitting at a table in the corner. The plan was to bring in some of the animals, one at a time, for the kids to interact with.

They explained that the kids would be able to interact fairly freely with most of the animals, but because of Sushi's blindness, the kids were allowed to come only up two or three at a time to pet her.

Once the kids had all had a chance, the employee started to head out of the room, walking past the parent's table. I said "hey, what about us?". So she came over to our table, and as she was reiterating that we shouldn't handle the cat, the cat left her arms and settled onto my shoulders. She had clearly picked me.

She was a pretty friendly cat, though fiercely independent. And she was a fighter... I remember the house in San Leandro had a window in the upstairs bath that could open, but we couldn't put a screen on because of the design of the window. We opened it often because it was needed when the house got warm. A neighbor cat came in and Sushi came out ready for a fight, and chased the interloper out with much noise and gnashing of teeth.

Even when she fell ill, she was fighting to the very end.

I remember feeling like there was no way I could do what needed doing once she got to a place of suffering... But having grown up partially on a farm, I understood why it was necessary.

She will be remembered fondly.
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This is a collection of small things that *mostly* don't seem to exist in my world anymore. Some of these I've already written at length about, some I may yet write more about. A few of them do still exist, which I didn't know about until I started creating this.

I remember power outages that would last an evening. I remember the monthly crafts by mail club. I remember Indian Guides. I remember playgrounds with black rubber mats and climbing bars made of steel and otherwise unprotected. I remember small kid-powered playground roundabouts where we'd try to get them going as fast as possible until there weren't enough kids still on it to keep up the speed (the others having been flung off). I remember drive-in movies and how we'd play at the playground (along with a whole lot of other kids and no parents) by the snackbar until the announcement that the movie was about to start. I remember the tinny speaker hanging on the car window. I remember drive-in restaurants. I remember playing marbles at school. I remember candy "cigarettes". I remember Dick and Jane. I remember chemistry sets. I remember iron-on decals for *everything*. I remember very tall metal slides. I remember the rocking horse with big, unprotected springs to hold it to it's frame. I remember spirograph and spin-art. I remember bead curtains. I remember poptop cans. I remember when most soda still came in bottles. I remember making things out of the poptops. I remember when beanbag chairs were a big deal. I remember metal lunchboxes. I remember drinking from the hose. I remember checkers made of wood. I remember Little Golden Books. I remember How and Why Wonder Books.

I remember "please allow six to eight weeks for delivery". I remember dime stores. I remember a candy bar for a nickel. I remember when society allowed parents to let their kids out into the street without an escort. I remember milk men (very vaguely). I remember ubiquitous boomerang pattern Formica. I remember ubiquitous cheap dark brown wooden paneling (*shudder*). I remember washing machines with wringers on the side. I remember when we knew our neighbors and looked out for each other. I remember when most boys had paper routes. I remember coke machines that were horizontal, like a chest freezer. I remember wooden clothespins without springs in them. I remember when microwave ovens were new. I remember Space Food Sticks. I remember TV dinners.

I remember not needing a reservation to go camping. I remember riding in the open back of a pickup truck. I remember the oil embargo of the 70s. I remember when some cars didn't even have seatbelts. I remember gas reaching $1. I remember when it was safe to leave your keys in your car. I remember when almost all cars had bench seats front and back.

I remember slide projectors. I remember when TVs had to warm up. I remember our black and white TV. I remember stores that sold nothing but TVs. I remember console TVs. I remember TV repair men. I remember when they actually came to your house. I remember vacuum tube testing machines at the local store. I remember everybody watching TV together as a family. I remember when network TV news prided themselves on really doing their best to do objective reporting. I remember when Pong was new. I remember the introduction of the first home reel to reel video recorders (before Betamax & VHS, which I also remember). I remember 2 competing video disk technologies, both of which passed away. I remember TV before cable. I remember The Perfect 36 (TV station) and it's mascot, Carol Doda.

I remember records (yeah, I know they still exist, but they're a niche thing now). I remember 45s. I remember Close-And-Play. I remember cassettes. I remember when there were still 8 track tapes. I remember my old reel-to-reel tape recorder with the cat's eye level meter. I remember console stereos made of walnut with great craftsmanship. I remember the very first CD Walkman (big, bulky thing). I remember wind up phonographs, tho they were not common (my grandfather had an Edison disk player from 1897). I remember K-Tel commercials. I remember when Hi-Fi was the thing. I remember my dad's records, and the ones that made a big deal of being in stereo.

I remember telegrams. I remember dial telephones. I remember when most telephones were black desktop models. I remember party lines. I remember when direct dial was a pretty recent thing. I remember crossbar switching. I remember calling popcorn. I remember when the trimline phone was new. I remember when making a call on your wrist was limited to comic strips. I remember when a long distance call was a really big deal. I remember when CB was a big deal.

I remember parades were a lot more common. I remember all the Apollo flights and the moon landings. I remember Nixon being thrown out. I remember protests against the war in Viet Nam. I remember when all the textbooks at school said Lyndon B. Johnson was president, even tho that wasn't the case anymore.

I remember slide rules. I remember typewriters. I remember ditto machines. I remember laying out the school paper with razor blades and paste. I remember mom's first digital calculator (a Sharp with a tiny LED display, and that worked in RPN). I remember movies in school that predicted ubiquitous computers, video calling and instant access to information. I remember how it felt like science fiction. (And I have gotten to play a very small part in making that happen *woo hoo*!) I remember flashbulbs and flashcubes. I remember "brownie" and Super-8 cameras. I remember when the first LED digital watches (yes, LED not LCD) were a new and expensive thing. I remember rolodexes. I remember using the Atari 400, Atari 800, Heathkit H9, Commodore PET 2001, Sinclare ZX80, PDP-8, Wang VS 100, Apple ][, Apple ///, Apple Lisa, Commodore Vic 20, Commodore 64, Victor 9000, IBM PC 5150, IBM PC AT 5170, Compaq I, Amiga 1000, Apple Macintosh (the first one), and a host of later PC and Mac derivities

I remember when pretty much everybody smoked and there were ashtrays everywhere. I remember "safety razors". I remember when everybody wanted a nice tan. I remember leisure suits. I remember mercurochrome. I remember disco. I remember click-clacks. I remember when breaking a limb at school was part of what happened, not grounds for a lawsuit.

I remember Ultra Man, Howdy Doody, Laugh-In, Hogan's Heroes, Mister Rogers (when he was still young), The Courtship of Eddie's Father, The Beverly Hillbillies, My Favorite Martian, Lost In Space, I Dream Of Jeannie, Mister Ed, Green Acres, The Flying Nun, Batman, Bewtiched, The Newlywed Game, The Brady Bunch, Star Trek, The Munsters, The Partridge Family, The Odd Couple, M*A*S*H, All In The Family, Maude, Sanford & Son, Emergency!, Dragnet, Adam-12, Three's Company, Barney Miller, One Day At A Time, Baretta, Mayr Tyler Moore, Lou Grant, Welcome Back Kotter, Alice, WKRP In Cincinatti, The Jeffersons, The Love Boat, Quincy, M.E., Benson, The Incredible Hulk, Six-Million Dollar Man, The Monkees, Sonny & Cher, S-W-A-T, The Waltons, The Smothers Brothers, Flip Wilson, Chico & The Man, Good Times, The Carol Burnette Show, The Bob Newhart Show, The Archie Comedy Hour, Captain Kangaroo, Superman in black and white, Batman, The Banana Splits Show, The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show, The Pink Panther Show, Wacky Races, Penelope Pitstop, Yogi Bear, The Thubderbirds, Kimba, Flintstones, Stingray, Top Cat, Underdog, Woody Woodpecker, Flipper, Little House on the Prairie, Happy Days, Mister Magoo, Dark Shadows, and a host of others. I remember a bunch of entertainment options that it would no longer be politically correct to even mention.
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This is a composite memory. I remember that nothing I did was ever good enough. I was never good enough. I had to hide that I wasn't good enough. I remember working on projects, and dad would come over and tell me I wasn't doing it right, and here let me show you… And then it wasn't my project anymore. This happened so many times I remember being a still pretty small kid and asking dad why I couldn't work on my own projects. I think he relented some after that.

But I've carried not good enough ever since then. I had to succeed at everything, or the place I had in the lives of those around me would be taken away. At various times, I've talked about this in different ways, but it comes down to the same belief. Most of my jealousy came from that.

When Gene passed, I could see how much his passing effected a lot of people, including people who hadn't seen him for years. Now I've started to see how that's true for me too. And as I think about it, through the coaching work I've done, both with Dawn and on my own, I know that work has deeply touched many lives. Through SoundFit, I've come to have a clearer perspective on what I bring to my workplace as well.

Maybe I don't have to keep losing out. :)
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I remember Eugene Rominger​'s memorial. I remember the old faces and the new. I remember that the remembering was lighthearted and joyful for the most part. I remember Anthony Adragna​'s stories about explosions. I remember Robert J. Stear​ telling me later that it had drawn out memories for him that he'd completely forgotten about. I remember hearing about how Alex Medeiros's career in computers got started, and I felt really good for him. I remember Bear Thesmith was there, and that made me glad.

I also remember deciding that the lead up to this event was decent grounds to clean all the things, since we hadn't really done spring cleaning yet. I remember not figuring out how to successfully make the churros cookies until a couple of days after the event (the secret is to use a cake decorating bit to squeeze them out onto baking parchment sitting on top of dry ice. Then as soon as they're solid, getting them into the hot oil).

I also remember realizing that despite what a recluse he was in many ways, that all these people spent the time and energy to come to this. And it put my own poor sense of value into a new perspective.

I am grateful for this memory. And for all the folks who could make it.
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I remember when Gene died, it left me very busy… I had a bunch of things to take care of related to the memorial, I had a lot of processing to do (which I did online), and I allowed all this busy to get in the way of my I remembers. I remember thinking of countless things I thought I should remember to put down. I remember that part of why was because with Gene's passing, all the things in my life suddenly seemed more urgent.

I am contemplative thinking on this memory. I think I lost sight, with all the feedback from others, that I was doing this for me.
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I remember...

I remember my mom had a subscription to the Fad of the month club... Or the National Handcrafts Institute... Or the National Handcrafts Society. Was all the same thing. She got packages every month, and I don't remember most of them. The web doesn't have much on this, I've found the ones I could.

I remember my folks getting me a subscription for a while. I remember using the parts to one of the projects to create a game... Mostly it was a game in my own head. My brother told mom I wouldn't let him play too, and she told me I had to let him. Let him play inside my head... Nope, couldn't figure that out. So I tried to invent something based on the same set of ideas. He grew bored right quick. But by then, I'd lost whatever it was I had going on before he joined me.

I remember playing with some of mom's projects when we were kids... We weren't supposed to. We of course broke them. Was probably one of the earlier times of me getting hit by my dad, and one of the earlier times of me starting to see the world as fixable. When things broke, we could fix them. Not all the time, but most of the time.

That lesson about fixing things still drives my life today.

I like this memory.

Here are some of the images:
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I remember we painted rooms at Dawn's house. I remember that night talking about you having a job interview or something the next day. I remember realizing you painted in your good shoes and now the black shoes were covered in a starfield of little white spots. I remember that there wasn't going to be time before the interview to get new shoes. I remember telling you to give them to me, I went and got a Sharpie, and for the next I have no idea how long, I colored those dots one by one until they were all covered up. The other side of ADD is hyperfocus, and it sure came in handy. And you had black shoes to wear to your interview.

This is an amusing memory.
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I remember John O' Groats, the northeast corner of Scotland. I remember we arrived when everything had closed up. Knowing the importance the point had once had, I expected more. A museum or something. We continued up the road.

I remember driving the northern coast road and there still being traces of sunlight reflected in the sky past 9PM. It gave me a moment of wonder.

I remember the little B&B, which I haven't been able to find the location of. Gills, maybe? Thurso? Not sure. Run by that older couple who welcomed us in and were so concerned over our wellbeing after the accident. They apologized for dinner having been put away, but they'd be happy to make us some sandwiches? And then we had to tell the story again, at their behest, to the rest of the guests. They all laughed at the cop's "Next time, get a MAP!".

I remember the Castle of Mey. I hadn't really thought before that about the connection between modern British Royalty and the… Well, the dirt. All the agricultural things that happen out in the hinterlands that they connect very directly to. I was impressed.

I remember RSPB Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of mainland Britain. I remember stopping well before the lighthouse at this tiny little building that was the Tourist Office, the Post Office, a Tea Shop, and three or 4 other things, all in this tiny building that was only manned a few hours each week. I remember stopping by the lighthouse and reading all the plaques they had there. I remember driving around in the area on the inland side of the lighthouse, right there at the edge of the coast. I remember abandoned pillboxes and other concrete buildings from WWII, now just shells. I think there were one or two plaques there too. The whole area was open, empty, desolate, and rich in history and hospitality.

I think I remember staying a couple of days in Thurso… Tho I may be mixing up Thurso and Gills in the mists of time. I remember very clearly staying a couple of days, and having a window that looked out onto the bay. I remember the window was the first one I'd seen that could open at 3 different angles. And I remember the view onto the bay.

I remember countless small stops along the way at places that had tourist places with history and gifts, some made in Scotland, some in China. They've all kind of blurred together in my memory. How many different boot knives can really distinguish themselves before they blur together, eh? Scraps of tartan? Cute little signs with this or that witty saying about Scotland? Is there any part of the world that doesn't have that at this point (with it's own local bent, of course)?

I remember Smoo Cave. I think the name was nearly as amusing as the location. I remember the cave itself was pretty neat, with dramatic lighting and a tour on a boat. I remember learning all about the geology that created it and the history of the site. None of which I have retained through the passage of time.

I remember Durness, and how we found little internet booths we could use (rent maybe?) and catching up on some email with the kids. I remember you shopping at the crafts booth and finding something or other for Victoria… And seeing more things that would also would have been neat, but we didn't have the room.

I remember wanting to see Point Wrath, but it was only accessible via scheduled tour bus and we'd missed the last one. I remember we couldn't drive out there ourselves because it was MoD property, and used for training and testing on munitions.
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I remember thinking over and over about how I wanted to share something with you, only to remember a split second later that you weren't here any more.

This is a sad memory
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I remember sitting in the bathtub. I remember you, sitting in the red corduroy dress, and you were complaining at me about something, I have no idea what it was. Perhaps you were saying you were bored. I hay have asked you to remove your shoes, I'm not sure about that. I remember standing up in the bath, steeping out with one foot, picking you up, and lowering you into the bath with me, dress and all. I remember you being shocked, but eventually amused.

I really like this memory
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I remember feeling cut off. Like I didn't know how to connect.

I remember being very young and walking around the perimeter of the yard at school, because I didn't seem to know how to fit in with the others.

I remember being a little older and looking at the girls at school in their dittos. They really did drive me to distraction. I remember being fascinated by the front abdominal curve that the high waisted and tight fitting jeans afforded. And I remember feeling cut off from being able to connect with those girls. I remember it was very painful.

Even later, I remember sex parties. I remember one of the early ones I went to, many years ago. I was so excited to be invited. And not only that, I was going to give an "opening ritual" that I'd written specifically for the event. I remember that as we were prepping, we discovered that I was having a herpes outbreak. I remember going from being excited to being appalled. I remember thinking that if I went, it was going to be like a starving man at a buffet but prevented from actually getting to the food. We made an agreement that we'd leave after the opening ritual, and spend time just the two of us.

I remember delivering the opening ritual. And it was amazing. Everybody felt more connected after the opening ritual than I'd ever seen at any point in any sex party, and we hadn't done anything but the ritual. I remember my partner being so excited that she really wanted to stay.

I remember I had crappy boundaries, and grudgingly said OK. We went to the host and asked about a fun compound for me, because that would make it easier to be in that space. The host suggested a different fun compound instead, assuring me that it'd be much better for this event.

I remember that I reacted poorly to the compound. I remember it was the worst night of my life. Worse than going to the ER because of gallstones. My partner wouldn't play with me, because then she wouldn't be able to play with anyone else. So I really was starving and on the outside looking in. Listening to the sounds of play from upstairs. I was a tight ball of rage for the next 8 hours.

I remember my first actual cuddle party. It wasn't that long ago, on my birthday, May 8 2011. It was held at my place. I remember growing more and more discomfited through the very early moments of the event. I remember quietly disappearing and stealthfully fleeing from the event.

I remember last night, mulling over things about Gene with a friend. Something about how Gene also didn't feel like he deserved anything made me see that he wasn't the only one. For the first time I was able to see that, through all of these experiences, I had felt like I didn't deserve it. The beatings from my childhood left me believing I was so awful and worthless a human being that I deserved nothing. Except maybe to be hurt. Being so undeserving, clearly nobody would want to connect in physical or sexual ways with me. I've known for some time that I had problems with my sense of worth, but last night was the first time the words "didn't deserve it" fit.

Somehow I'm now able to make some distinctions now between esteem, worth, and deserving. Esteem because of what I'm capable of, I have that. Deserving… I've never had that. I've never felt like I deserved anything. Not even a rest. Everyone else deserved, but not me.

I remember conversations about privilege, and how I reacted to them, because they all talked about white males feeling like they deserved this or that just for being white males. Those words made sense to me as words, but they didn't have emotional meaning for me. I've never felt like I deserved anything. Because of this, the privilege conversations just felt like another way to say "see, you really are awful, you deserve nothing".

I've felt like I could figure out how to get some things, how to build some things, and when I was young, how to cheat in some way to get things. Like stealing dad's m&m candies when I was 7. I learned to do a lot of things really well, like sex, massage, being handy around the house… But these were all me trying to bribe the world to keep such an undeserving person around.

I never felt like I *deserved* anything. Even what I have now. I have carried this my whole life. Now, in this moment, even sharing this is hard. I don't know why, maybe because I fear the world will confirm this lack of deserving.

But maybe identifying this distinction of "deserve" will make some kind of difference. Maybe I can at least tell myself I deserve to rest from time to time.
akienm: (Default)
I remember hearing of Gene's death. I remember enough about it that there are probably two additional posts as of now. Might even wind up with more, I know I have more things to remember with him.

I remember my Dad's death. I have written of this before here.

I remember another several deaths. Matt Shelton, Joe Brown, My mom, Tom Hemsley, Ingred Harder, Grace Brown, Merle Hemsley, a few cats…

I remember being puzzled about how little most of them seemed to effect me. My mom passed after a long coma, and it was more relief than grieving. I guess I grieved her passing before she passed.

Gene's death has impacted me more than any other. In some ways, it's the first time I've really faced the death of someone who mattered so deeply to me. The first time the death had a day to day impact on me, so far anyway.

I want to remember this feeling. It's not pleasant. But loss is also part of being human. Being able to feel bad makes feeling good have something to contrast against. It makes me not take it for granted.

With Gene's death, I remember not being able to hold it together, dissolving into tears. Oceanic waves of emotion. Repeatedly. Dad, some tears right after he passed. The others, sadness.

I think this is the first time I've really experienced death so keenly. I'm learning what it is to really mourn someone. I even asked Leah the other day how to tell if it was depression or mourning. Then, 5 minutes later, I was watching her get dressed with this deep contentment. I guess it's mourning.

As of now, I think that even when it has faded, this loss will be with me forever.
akienm: (Default)
I remember has usually been about events as I observed them, because when I started this, my only plan was leaving snapshots for myself made of words. Now that this has impacted others, and grown to include things I've learned… I find myself wanting to save more. I would that I could have saved the ways things Gene made me feel. Like, yesterday, I wrote about my brother-by-all-but-blood, Gene. I wrote about the history, but not the feelings.

Gene made me feel things.

Today, as I dwelt on the end of his life, I briefly felt anger. Which surprised me. It wasn't here for long, but I was angry that things had to work out so that I would lose him.

Today I also felt profound sadness. An oceanic feeling of ebb and flow that I couldn’t but ride along with.
Yesterday, after I found out, was different… A shattering sadness. I suddenly found all these loose ends, this Gene shaped hole torn out of my life. As I've grown older, I have fewer connections, and each one became more important. You were important to me.

Gene made me feel powerless in the face of his depression. I wanted so much to help, but it seemed to me he needed a primary partner in his life, and I could not be that. Gene in love was so warm and bright. I saw him that way a couple of times. So… well, so not like Gene… And yet the best expression of him.

Gene's relationship with my families (yes, plural) was a wonderful thing. Watching him with my kids, or he and my dad talk so very long ago, was always a quiet, contented joy.

Gene made me laugh. He would clown around in his often quiet way. And then sometimes the quiet would just be the lead in for a much louder punch line.

Gene made me feel heard. There was nothing I couldn’t say to him. He gave me the most generous of listening. It made me feel less alone in the world.

Gene made me feel smart. I could tell that, while I admired much about him, there were things he admired about me too. While I wasn't quite the McGyver he was, I was awful close. And we could brainstorm for hours about how to do this or that impossible thing.

Gene made me feel stupid, but not in a painful way. I would be trying to figure something out and whip out some tool or part or whatever that I didn't even know existed, but that solved whatever it was perfectly.

Gene helped me to feel safe in the world. I knew if I ever called him with problems like the one he called me about a couple of weeks ago, he'd be there for me no matter what. Even if he didn't agree with whatever it was, the support of family was there. I feel just a little lost now without it.

Gene also made me feel like he had my back for smaller things, for playful things. Like some of the things we did at Faire. I remember David leading a parade yelling Make Way For A Bunch Of Drunken Sots! And Gene was right up there at the front of our little parade with David and I. I felt free to be joyful with him.

Gene was also there when I needed to vent pain. I don't know how many times I felt like life was crashing in around me, and yet I knew I could go to him. He helped me be strong and carry on.

For all of these things, and so many more… I feel grateful to have known you.
akienm: (Default)
I have learned that a feeling is a feeling. It's not "what is". It's my reaction to something in front of me, based on my habituated thought patterns developed in the past (stories).

In my past, if it was negative feelings, the urge to make them stop was *HUGE*. Either I had to take action to make them stop, or somebody else did. I made deals with my partners to not do things that upset me. I tried to make sure that if my partner was doing something that would make me jealous, I had a date of my own to distract me.

Now I try to be with the feeling first. To empathize with the part of me having the feeling. To parent myself in the way I wish my parents had. Only after that's well and truly complete do I look to see if there's more to do.

It seems to take a lot more effort, and I don't always remember to do it… But with time and practice, I'm doing it a little more often with each passing month.

This is an awesome learning.


akienm: (Default)
Akien MacIain

August 2017

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