Non Sequitur – A Birthday Request

My birthday is coming this week. I’ll be 39.

Save the date for next year. There will be a celebration.

But for this year, it’s pretty low key. Back in my 20s I set the standard that I only celebrate the Zeros and the Fives with parties, but the rest of the birthdays pass by with small-scale celebrations.

It’s been a really strange week. On Thursday night I got an email from a coworker whose recently former ex boyfriend had been found dead in his apartment. He’d been battling addiction and losing, which had prompted their breakup – but she was torn up about ending their romantic relationship and trying to remain his friend. Over the past year, she’s come to me for counsel more than once because she knows I’ve been in a similar situation.

And now her experience is that much more similar.

Then I found a couple of new podcasts for my commute. One is RISK! – a storytelling podcast. The other is the Savage Lovecast which people have been telling me about for years.

Both of the episodes I listened to this week featured a story about a young widow and the struggle to reconnect with your sexuality – stories that resonated with me deeply. Then I read a post in one of the facebook groups I participate in and another young widow shared her story, which also had similarities to mine.

And then yesterday, I saw the article from a young widow who wrote an open letter to the people criticizing Patton Oswalt for announcing his engagement so “soon” after his beloved wife passed away (like, nearly 2 years ago).

It just seems like that subject keeps trying to pound its way into my head, and all in the course of the six days after I signed escrow papers to begin the process of transferring ownership of my home, where my own widowing took place.

I’m not like, devastated. In fact, I have found all of the stories I’ve heard this week to be uplifting and generally comforting. It does feel nice when we realize we’re not alone, even three and a half years after it happened.

Hearing their stories doesn’t just remind me of what I’ve lost. It shines a great big light on what I have gained, as well as makes apparent what I’d had all along. It reminds me to appreciate everything I have every day that I have it.

Well. That wasn’t the post I was planning to write.

Honestly, I thought this was going to be the post where I asked people to donate $3, $9, or $39 to one or more of a list of charitable organizations I would like to benefit from my 39th birthday.

I guess that post got away from me.

A few weeks ago, I asked my friends to share with me some of the charitable organizations that they feel are doing good work in marginalized communities – specifically for LGBTQ+ and POC. I wanted the recommendations to come from those who have, or continue to benefit from the services these organizations provide. As someone who works in the nonprofit sector, I know better than to trust the website or the PR….

….I trust the people that are being helped.

In addition, yesterday someone had posted a video to an IndieGogo campaign that I thought was worth funding, and doesn’t have much time left.

So below are the links to the organizations that were recommended to me by the very people these groups exist to support. And if you are the type of person that is inclined to give gifts for people’s birthdays, then I would ask that you consider making a contribution to one or more of these organizations for my birthday.

You don’t have to tell me if you did or didn’t – but if you do, I would love to share my appreciation publicly in a future post.

The Relational Center The Relational Center exists to promote the essential importance of relationships. When we value our connections with others and with the environment, we create the necessary conditions for health and sustainability. So our work promotes personal, interpersonal, and social practices that help people build strong, resilient relationships. Our programs provide healing support, a space for community building, and tools for leadership.

Los Angeles LGBT Center Since 1969 the Los Angeles LGBT Center has cared for, championed, and celebrated LGBT individuals and families in Los Angeles and beyond.

Lambda Legal Lambda Legal, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

Trevor Project The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.

And the IndieGoGo Campaign that only has a few days left:
Woke Girls Woke Girls is a new line of fashion dolls and chapter books that celebrate the power of today’s American girls. Through empowering representation of girls from marginalized identities and stories which finally portray them as the magical heroes that they are- Woke Girls shows girls that even when the world is unfair, they have the power to love themselves, stand up for what is right, and build a better world.

I will be making a personal contribution to each of these causes myself. I hope you will consider joining me.

Seven: On the occasion of my wedding anniversary

Seven years ago last night…

I’m going to be honest. I don’t remember much. Bits and pieces, but I don’t remember my emotional state. I don’t recall having the jitters or what I talked about late into the night (or with whom). I don’t remember it being difficult for me to fall asleep.

But I remember just about every moment of the next day. All of the amazing ones and all of the stressful ones, too.

People still tell me it was the best wedding they’ve ever been to.

It’s so far away now. Seven years – If we’d broken a mirror that day the curse would be ending today.

But all we did was break a glass. One of the three concessions we gave my parents – the glass, the chuppah, and the blessing over wine.

There’s a part of me that will always love him. When people call him my “ex” I have to correct them. He didn’t walk away. We didn’t divorce.

I still refer to him as “my husband,” because that’s what he was. It amuses me. I once told a friend that there’s a part of me that will always be polyamorous because my love for him continues to exist, though he does not.

Some time ago I wrote something on an alt account. I can’t remember if I ever shared it here or not. I went back and looked at it tonight, and I think that…in honor of my seventh wedding anniversary tomorrow, and the 18 months since I’ve found love again, I’ll share it here now.



Passing the Torch

There was a version of him who worshipped the light in my eyes. Before the darkness overtook his soul, and maybe even still then. He’d stopped going to church, but he still prayed in his own way.

Now, he is a memory, an idea, a series of stories that have been carefully curated into an album one pulls out to show company.

And here is the time that….

And then there was the time that….

It’s hard, sometimes to pinpoint exact moments when I felt his love, but not at all to remember how it felt to be consumed by his love. Not the kind of love that is fleeting and temporary. The kind that is unhinged, unhampered, and undeniable.

There was love after him but it was careful and methodical and questioning. It was too afraid to fly, and instead it fell.

You are not afraid. You, with your quiet confidence. With your understated presence. You fill the room by not trying. You are just you. Without apology. Without need for apology.

You look upon me as though I were fine art. To be admired, and cherished, and even celebrated; but not worshipped. For you, I am not descended from the heavens but grown from the earth. There is the magic of fairy tales and the miracle of science.

And I do so love to do science with you.

I wonder, had this been a relay and not a reboot, if he’d been around to meet you, how he would have felt about this quirky situation of ours?

He worshipped the light in my eyes. I think, if he could, he’d take one look at me now that you’re in my life and drop to his knees before you with gratitude for bringing it back.

Countdown to year three

I’m 11 mornings short of three years.

Like with most of my traumas, I’m able to talk about it now with time-seasoned detachment. It’s a story that happened to someone else – a different version of me.

But sometimes the emotions sneak up on me. Like, when I’m approximately 12 mornings short of three years and I’m laying in a different bed beside a different man in the same room of a house transformed, feeling happier than I’ve ever felt….

…12 mornings short of the three year anniversary of the worst day of my life. A day I woke up believing it impossible to ever feel any form of happiness again.

“He would have wanted this for you,” imaginary people in my head tell me.

And silently, I respond back, “I want this for me.”

Eleven mornings short of three years ago, he stopped living. Sometime between then and now, I stopped living for him.

Can you help me? (Or: Why I’ll never allow a television in my bedroom again)

It’s not surprising that he’s crept into my thoughts more during the past week. I learned how to Christmas with him in my life. Doesn’t help that google likes to remind me what happened “on this day” X years ago. Anything more than 3 years usually includes memories of the time that my label was “wife.”

This morning, as I have been for nearly all the mornings during this holiday break, I woke up way too early. The light coming from outside my bedroom window was still dark enough that I couldn’t find my phone on the bed without feeling around for it.

In the process, my hand found the handle of my vibrator. I’d fallen asleep last night before making use of it. I thought perhaps a nice, slow morning orgasm would relax me enough into another hour of sleep.

I peeled off my underwear and pulled the sheet up over my shoulders to keep the chill out before I got started. As I do, I let my mind wander through the Greatest Hits – the handful of fantasy situations I imagine when I’m just trying to get straight to the orgasm without so much meandering along the way.

I lightly grazed my hand over the sheet and felt the little jolt of sensation when it traveled over my pert nipples. I smiled, thinking about recent events that involved my nipples and my lover’s warm kiss.

But then, it happened. The sound of my own voice, in my head…

Can you help me?

Instantly my mind shifted from this happy place by remembering her. The she that was me before he died.

“Can you help me?” as I lay in bed beside my loving husband with my vibrator pressed up against my clit and his hands clutching the video game controller.

The orgasm evading me as I tried to call up the feelings of being desired while he focused all his attention on smoking pot, taking Ambien, and watching documentaries.

“Can you help me?” I’d ask in my small voice, laced with yearning and unmet hunger and the wanting of the slightest bit of attention.

And he would sigh. Hold the controller with one hand while reaching over to grope my breasts with the other.

With my eyes closed, I could pretend he was actually looking at me while he did it.

The orgasm would come. I’d drop the vibrator. And, without a word, he’d pick the controller back up and carry on with his game, or the documentary, or the bong hit I’d interrupted with my request.

Can you help me?

It dawned on me, not for the first time – but for the first time in a long time, that for nearly three years, that was the entirety of my sex life. That was how we “did it.” That was as much as I could get in terms of active participation from my husband in my orgasm.

It pained him, by the way. He knew that he wasn’t giving me what I needed. He knew I wanted more, and more often. But tired. Pain. Depressed. High. Busy.

There was always some excuse to mask the complete lack of desire he had – not just for me, but for anything. The drugs and the pain killed it all.

The best he could muster was a healthy grope on one of my breasts. It was really all he could do for me.

I flashed back into my present tense. I set the vibrator down. I was never going to get there thinking of that. I went back and read some of my texts from yesterday evening from my lover. That’s not my life anymore. She is not me anymore.

But yeah, for a few minutes this morning, I felt really, really sorry for her.

Wipe the Glass (Happy Birthday, Tony.)

He’d have been 55 today. I didn’t want it to affect me, but I can’t pretend it didn’t. It’s a really strange combination of emotions – knowing that I’m happier and healthier now, knowing that I’ve found love again and pulled my life back together and survived an incredible loss.

And still feeling off on his birthday.

This would have been the birthday that I’d have broken the bank to get us a reservation at the French Laundry in Napa. It was a lifelong goal of his to eat there one day. I tried for this 50th birthday, but I missed the window of opportunity for a reservation and there wasn’t a chance in hell I could get it, so we’d decided to do it for his 55th.

Maybe one day I’ll still get a chance to eat there. At the very least, I have Thomas Keller’s cookbook somewhere in the garage (the gift my parents got him for his 50th). Now that I’m a fancypants home chef, I’ll dig that sucker out and make something.

So, I’m digging into these emotions, because I think if I can shed some light on them, I can overcome them. I mean, it’s not like I’m overcome with grief that he’s gone. Like I said, my life is better now. There is love again, and not just for the guy but for some really great people he’s brought into my life by association.

I’m gonna take a minute away from this whole thing to share some gratitude for my metamours. They’re both really wonderful, really unique people an I’m very, very grateful for them. I had a really rough night last night, fraught with nightmares and sleeplessness, and this morning wasn’t entirely pleasant, and one of my metamours came through and 1) made it feel safe for me to be honest, and 2) said exactly what I needed said to make me feel better. I’m really, really grateful for our growing friendship. The other one is her own brand of fantastic and has made me feel comfortable and welcome since day two of this relationship. I say day two because he forgot to introduce us to each other on day one.

Anyway, back to the other thing. Right. Guilt. What I’m getting at is that the reason I think I keep crying this week is that I feel guilt for moving on. Not surface guilt; like, rationally I know I have no reason to feel anything of the sort. But deep, deep, down there’s this sense that if I didn’t feel something on this day it would mean i’m a callous, unfeeling, cold-hearted bitch.

So I look at the date on the calendar and I furrow my brow because I’m happy and …what does that make me?

If I were you and you were me and you asked me this question, I could be completely rational about it and tell you that you’re crazy. Of COURSE you deserve this happiness. Of COURSE you’ll feel something on his birthday. Of COURSE being happy doesn’t make you an evil cold-hearted bitch.

And I can tell myself that, too.

When chatting with my metamour this morning I came up with an analogy for how this feels. So, if you’re in a glass-enclosed shower, the glass fogs up with steam. When I pick my emotions apart and tell myself there’s nothing to feel badly about, it’s like I’ve taken my hand and wiped a large swath of clarity. I can see the world clearly through the glass. But slowly, very slowly, the steam starts to fog it up again.

I have to keep wiping at the emotional fog collecting in my brain.

There’s more to it than just Tony’s birthday, there’s other stuff going on that has nothing to do with Tony. Work stresses. Family stresses. Distances from people I care about.

Life is awesome, but just ’cause it’s awesome doesn’t mean there aren’t days when the awesome isn’t front and center.

I was trying to think of a way to commemorate Tony’s birthday this morning. It was hard. I thought about asking people to donate one item of clutter …you know that thing that “might be useful one day” to someone who might use ittoday. Tony was a hoarder and I can tell you that after he died, a great many people benefited from the mountains of clothing and kitchen supplies and furniture and canned food that he collected.

I thought about asking people to reach out to friends or loved ones who struggle with depression or anxiety and saying “hey. You matter.” Tony suffered from both of these, and chronic pain. There were days when he didn’t want to live and lost himself in video games and ice cream to get by.

I thought about asking people to embrace something bizarre or do something weird today. Tony loved the bizarre, obscure, and perverse.

I thought about suggesting people show kindness to someone in need today. Tony always did. If it were his last dollar, he’d give it to someone needier than he.

But, this morning on facebook all I asked people to do was to find a reason to celebrate. Have a treat. Blow out a candle. Find a reason to feel good.

‘Cause he’d have been 55 today on Friday the 13th. And despite all his troubles, he was a good man who loved me. There is nothing wrong with celebrating that.

wipes the glass

I don’t know who I am without you

Today at work, I mentioned to my coworker about my weekend, and with a happy sigh and a smile after describing something he (my partner) either said or did, I said, “I love him….”

She paused on her way out of my office and turned around and asked the question:

“I know it’s not fair to compare, but…is it the same or different as it was with Tony?”

It’s timely she asked, because just yesterday I was pondering how the tone of a statement I’ve said and heard many times has changed over the past few years.

I don’t know who I am without you.

Who I was with Tony would have said those words laced with romantic overtones. In fact, I probably did say them. They’d have been absolutely true, but at the time, I thought that’s what love was. The inability to extricate myself from my relationship to him.

When he passed away, something extraordinary happened: I survived.

That’s right. All those times I had said, “I’d die with out you,” turned out to be wrong. I didn’t die. I wasn’t immediately ready to get on with my life – that was and continues to be a process, but I didn’t cease to exist.

I also had no identity of my own. I was Mrs. ______. I was Tony’s wife. I was caregiver, step-mother, bread-winner.

But, I had no sense of who I was without defining it by my relationship to him or others.

We’ll fast forward many, many months. I entered into a D/s relationship that started online and long-distance, and then became in person and fairly close to 24/7.

Remember, I was in a different place then, emotionally. Newly-widowed, still trying to figure out what my life was about, reestablishing my priorities, and not really wanting to face reality yet – I let someone else (someone I trusted) take control over me.

I won’t paint the picture with swaths of black. There was good that came out of that relationship. I got my house cleaned up. I ate healthier and exercised more. I quit smoking. I started focusing at work a little more. I did responsible things for myself because he wanted me to. It was what was in my best interest.

I became VERY needful of his guidance. I wasn’t in an emotional place to guide myself to where I needed to be. I just wanted to hide under the covers and have someone wake me up when it was over.

He asked me one night, over skype – what I would do if he were to suddenly disappear. I panicked. Full stop. I panicked hard. Hyperventilating, indescribable fear. I could not stand the thought of losing another one. He realizes now (and feels terrible for) his mistake in asking me that question.

But in that case, “I don’t know who I am without you” was not romantic. It was laced with fear. I was not yet ready to face the world alone.

That relationship ended when I started coming back into my own. There were some issues I won’t get into, but I was starting to get a sense that I was taking orders from someone whose wants no longer seemed to align with my best interests, and it started pushing me further and further away from wanting anything resembling a 24/7 relationship or a “Dominant.”

That’s when the real work began. It was slow. I’ve written about it time and again. I asked myself a lot of questions. I dug down into the why of my decisions and my needs and figured out who I wanted to be and charted my course to get there. Sometimes people helped along the way – people who gave me advice that worked. Sometimes I learned from the terrible advice (or actions) of others who showed me very clearly who I did not want to become.

And now, here I am.

“I don’t know who I am without you.” That phrase falls flat now. It’s not romantic. It doesn’t cause panic. It just doesn’t ring true at all.

I know exactly who I am. I know who I am, and I know that I am changing. I know that I have goals and aspirations that are all about me, and that – when I am ready – I will work on achieving those goals for myself.

I know who I am without him. And, I love him. Those two statements are not in opposition of each other anymore.

In which I win at life

Today would have been my sixth wedding anniversary.

Those of you who have been following along know the implications of that sentence. Or, rather, you probably think you know.

I barely understand the implications of that sentence.

On the drive home last night, I realized that where will come a time (approximately two years from today) where I will have been widowed for as long as I was married.

And the year after that I’ll have been widowed longer.

Weird. Right? It’s not just me?

It’s weird.

Anyway, here’s the thing. I’d almost forgotten it was coming. And then I saw the date on my phone last night and it clicked. Wedding anniversary.

I prepared myself to be all sad, or emotional, or something.

And instead, I keep thinking about earlier yesterday evening. It was the moment I realized I’d won at life. It was like a Sally Field moment:

He gets me. He really gets me. It’s when I got the text message from my partner that said probably one of the most heartwarming and loving statements I’ve heard in a long time:

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“I trust you more than I trust the SMS timestamp on my phone.”

That’s what he said. The context doesn’t matter, though it’s adorable then there for you to see. He trusts me.

DOES ANYBODY ELSE GET THOSE SUPER AWESOME SHIVERS READING THAT?

Just me?

To be trusted like that means the world to me. Last night I went to sleep truly feeling like I’d won at life.

Which is a really strange way to end a blog post that started as an acknowledgment of something so bittersweet.