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Friday, August 31, 2007

Not quite finished...

And so, in about three weeks I will see Therapist once again, and hopefully he will be able to help me put myself back together. Please stop calling me Humpty Dumpty.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A time to weep, a time to laugh...

I will be honest; there are parts of my life that I don't believe I will ever understand. There are times I want to kick and scream and tell everyone I know how very unfair I think it is. There are times when I just want to be held while I sob out all the misery left behind.

But there are also parts of my life that are incredibly beautiful. As I was running this morning, I realized how much I love that part of my day. The world is dazzlingly bright, and the smell of fresh air and grass just make me feel happy. My body feels free and fit--I feel as if I belong to the earth. I hear the morning birdsong, see the blue of the sky, feel the breeze as I's an incredible feeling.

I have been blessed by the people in my life. I know this. I am plagued by the fear that one of them will leave--and realistically, this will probably happen. But I also realized today that nothing can take from me the amazing moments I've spent with them. Those belong to me, even if the people do not. Spending those moments in fear rather than celebration is a waste of very precious time.

I have been blessed with a joyful, loving heart. If you've spent time with me, I'm probably in love with you. That's just how it works. The list of people I'm in love with is rather long...and the more time you spend with me, the more deeply I fall in love with you, especially if you love me back. It makes me happy to love you.

There are so many things I love to do. My life is full. I have complained endlessly about the hurts in my life, and I'll probably continue to do so, since this is my blog. But a year ago I met someone who spends his life giving motivational seminars to large groups of people. He has a weekly email which I receive, and it always has some upbeat, obvious, happy message which I read and delete. But this week, in spite of the obviousness, I needed to hear what he had to say.

If a man is indeed
the sum of his memories,
then removing or changing an experience
would change the man.

I like me;
I may not like the things
that happen to me,
but if I changed them
I wouldn't be who I am today
or who I WILL be tomorrow.

Never regret;
you may look back and think
things could have been better
but you may just turn that weakness
into the strength needed
to be where you are today.
-Peter Davidson

Stuff happens.

Some of the stuff that happens in life is fun and some of it can be, well, not so much fun. We rarely get to choose what happens to us, but we always get to choose how we respond to what happens to us. Sometimes running away may be the right thing to do, but hopefully we eventually grow into wiser beings when we take the time and energy to sift through our experiences (aka our STUFF) and learn from them.

So, take a look at your recent or long ago stuff and decide: is it time to RUN or is it time to LEARN?
I've spent the past four months poised to run. I've tried to push away people who love me. I've tried to bury myself in work. I've tried to isolate myself. It isn't making me feel better, of course. It never does. The problem is that LEARNING usually hurts, and I'm becoming less resilient as I keep encountering painful things. But honestly, it can't hurt more than trying to separate myself from the people I love deeply. It can't hurt more than remaining stagnant, or repeating stupid mistakes. It's time for me to LEARN not RUN.

So if you're someone I've tried to push away, but maybe you still love me, will you help me? Because I'm going to need it. I'm pretty tired, and LEARNING might be hard for me. And I haven't been grateful or helpful or nice in the recent past, so I don't really deserve it. But I'm asking anyway. Will you help me? Please, will you keep loving me? I don't think I can do this alone.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fairy Tale

Once upon a time a young Samantha met a young Darrin. Samantha thought he was very nice. Darrin fell in love with Samantha's young friend, Gina, who had the most gorgeous blue eyes in the world, and a very nice body to accompany them (you can take my word for this). However, unlike her beautiful exterior, Gina's interior was somewhat shallow, and after dating Darrin for a week or so, she decided he just wasn't good enough, and they did not live happily ever after.

For whatever reason, Darrin wanted to stay friends with Samantha, even when he wasn't dating the beautiful Gina. And since Samantha thought Darrin was nice, that was fine with her. After a few months, Darrin and Samantha began to spend lots of time together, and one day Samantha thought maybe Darrin was falling in love. Normally this would be a good thing, except that Samantha was the type of person who liked beautiful Gina's more than she liked nice Darrin's.

Weeks went by. Samantha made several dating suggestions for Darrin. He was an agreeable sort and took her suggested dating advice. Samantha had a roommate named Karen. She thought Karen and Darrin would make a lovely couple (and it had nothing to do with the fact that their names rhyme, since both of the names in this story are pseudonyms). So during the day, Darrin and Samantha were inseparable, and at night, Darrin and Karen went on dates.

As time went by, Samantha became very happy having Darrin with her. She missed him when he was gone and looked forward to seeing him every day. One night Karen wasn't available for a date, so Darrin and Samantha stayed home and spent the evening together. Samantha was sitting close to Darrin, and thinking about how much she liked spending time with him, and Darrin had his arm around her (Samantha has no idea what he was thinking), and it occurred to Samantha that if Darrin continued to spend time with Karen, he might marry her. Then she realized that Darrin had become her absolute very best friend in all the world. And she knew that if he married someone else, he would probably not be able to be her absolute very best friend in all the world. So she asked Darrin if he'd marry her. He said he wished she was serious, and to Samantha's surprise, she found that she was.

So Samantha and Darrin got married.

And today, millions of years later, it's Darrin's birthday. So as is my tradition, I am posting ten things I love about Darrin:
1. There has never been a time, in the millions of years we've been married, that Darrin has not supported me in any part of my life. He believes in me and always tries to help me succeed.
2. He is a wonderful father. He loves his kids with all his heart and always wants to do more for them.
3. Nothing seems to phase him. He's just easygoing and loves being along for the ride.
4. He has a wonderful sense of humor. Sometimes, its just fun to sit with him and laugh.
5. He's good at building/fixing things--even though sometimes I complain that he takes it to extremes (sometimes I think the best way to fix something is to throw it away).
6. He likes to shop for anything.
7. He pretends to love the music I play.
8. He thinks I'm beautiful--and he makes me feel that I'm beautiful, too.
9. He goes on walks with me even though he hates it, just so he can spend time with me.
10. He buys me flowers because he knows I love them.

Happy birthday, Darrin. Being married to you has brought me incredible joy. I love you.

Monday, August 27, 2007

See you in September

This time last year I was skipping around the Queerosphere, leaving comments (sometimes snarky, sometimes sympathetic, always profound...okay, maybe not), and getting to know people. I left interesting impressions wherever I went. For example, I was a frequent visitor to Pinetree's blog (I still am), but he had decided that I must be a drag queen. Smurf seconded his opinion...until I contacted him on a personal matter under my real name and he googled me, did some really good math, and figured out who I was online. However, it still tickles me that they thought I was a drag queen. I made tons of new friends, many of whom I still talk to today, and even organized a sort of reunion at, of all places, THE EVERGREEN CONFERENCE.

We had a wonderful time (at least I did), ditched the Friday night barbecue to meet even more blogger people and have a semi-elite dinner together. Then they humored Smurf and I and played Hugger Mugger with us (and no one else liked the game, but there's no accounting for tastes), and we stayed up too late and it was FUN!

But then I had to get all self-absorbed and serious and I no longer talk much on anyone's blog, and dangit!! I'm funny!! What the heck is going on here???

So I hereby decree a new era of Samantha-isms. I'll be visiting you, and even if your post doesn't interest me I'll say something irrelevant just so I can see my words in print. If you don't like it, you'll have to delete me. And occasionally I might say something serious, but don't count on it. We all just need to lighten up! Okay, maybe it's just me that needs to lighten up...I can take my own advice, provided it's good.

That being said, I hereby invite any interested party with spare cash lying around to come to the Evergreen Conference this year. You can see how much it's benefited me--look Ma! I'm straight!!! And I promise to bring plenty of neon sticky notes, plan lobby floor conferences, take the stairs not the elevator, laugh my guts out, and maybe even learn something--but as long as the company is good, I don't really care about anything else.

So--if you want to meet at the conference, let me know. Last year we made a private commemorative blog, because some of us had never seen each other before--we probably don't need to do that this year. However--some of you offered to dress in drag and accompany me to the women's classes (but didn't follow through), and this year, I'd really like the company. Come on, you guys!! I went to your classes last year and I learned all about "sex-o-clock", and "raging erections". Surely if I can do that for you, you can reciprocate...imagine what the ladies talk about...tempting?

Okay, enough! I am finished with this post!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Coming out to my children--yes, they all know. Part last: Tabitha and the end of the story

This post is dedicated to Ambrosia, iwonder, and Jason Lockhart, and you should go to their blogs and say hello to them--please leave a comment, otherwise your visit will show up on their counters and they won't know who you are, and it's very rude to visit someone and not introduce oneself. And just for Jason, because he asked, I have "supersized" this topic and will write about it in more than one post.

After talking with DJ, I received a late phone call (which isn't necessarily unusual at my house). I was talking in my bedroom, when DJ came in and started messing with things on Darrin's dresser. I said, "Hey, you're supposed to be sleeping--go to bed." He answered me: "Okay. But I thought you might like to know--that talk we just had? Well, Tabitha was still awake and she's upstairs crying."

I quickly said good-bye to my caller and went to Tabitha's room. Sure enough, she was in bed sniffling. I sat down next to her. She crawled into my lap and sobbed. I waited until she calmed down a bit, then asked her if she wanted to tell me what was bothering her. She nodded, but didn't say anything. I asked if she'd heard what DJ and I were talking about. She said, "A little bit," which in Tabitha language means she heard everything. I asked why it made her cry. She said, "Mom, I don't want people to find out about you and Sully and say mean things about you. I don't want them to hurt you. It's not fair."

I told her that everyone gets hurt, and that, no doubt, if lots of people found out about Sully and me, there would be those who were unkind. But I told her it would be okay, no matter what was said. I asked her if she had any questions. She said she didn't, but asked if I would just hold her and talk to her a little while. So I rocked my twelve-year-old daughter to sleep, while we talked about the upcoming school year, new friends, how she'd like to have her hair cut, whether or not she'd like to play on the volleyball team...

When she started to doze off, I tucked her in and kissed her.

Then next morning, assuming that Adam knew about Sully, Tabitha spilled the beans because she wanted to see what he thought about everything. Adam and Sully had made arrangements to go to a movie that afternoon, so I had Adam call and ask Sully to come 30 minutes early, at which time I let him know of the Stevens family confidence breach. To my relief, Sully laughed and said he was glad the whole family knew. He and I chatted for a few moments alone, then invited the kids to join us. The were allowed to ask any questions they had (they had very few) and Sully and I again let them know that this was not something they could share, but that Sully and I would like to choose who was told. They agreed.

It's been a week now. Adam has had another conversation with me, in which he tried to make his 13-year-old brain understand how gay mom has sex with straight dad:
Me: I can explain, but I don't think you'll understand.
Adam: Give it a try?
Me: Okay. But it might be awkward. Most kids don't like to think about their parents having sex.
Adam: Try anyway?

So I tried. I explained in the most basic of terms that because Darrin and I love each other and because we've worked together for many years, that we now are able to express physical love without being distracted by my orientation. I explained that even though I'm not necessarily attracted to him, he's attracted to me, and I love him deeply, so having that physical relationship is joyful because sex between two people who love each other is something wonderful. I really did try to explain...

Adam: I'm not going to get this, am I?
Me: I don't think so. I'm sorry.
Adam: Can we try again when I'm fifteen?
Me: Of course. In the meantime, don't worry too much about this, okay?
Adam: Okay.

Anyway, today is pretty much life as usual, and that's a good thing.

Coming out to my children--yes, they all know. Part two: DJ

This post is dedicated to Ambrosia, iwonder, and Jason Lockhart, and you should go to their blogs and say hello to them--please leave a comment, otherwise your visit will show up on their counters and they won't know who you are, and it's very rude to visit someone and not introduce oneself. And just for Jason, because he asked, I have "supersized" this topic and will write about it in more than one post.

(By the way, before I begin the post--thanks to those of you who have identified yourselves either through comments or email in the past week. I love getting to know other people, reading their blogs, and learning more about them. And if you haven't said anything yet--there's no time like the present.)

DJ has always been a listener. He talks when he feels comfortable, or when he has something to say, but mostly he just wants to be with people and hear their stories. There's a warmth about him that people are drawn to, and for me, well, he just makes me feel happy when I'm with him. Sully and DJ have become very good friends over the past couple of years, which is a good thing for me, because I absolutely love Sully. We've had him come to our home often, and he celebrates most holidays and birthdays with us in some way. And just in case you're wondering why I'm bringing Sully into this post--it's because it was through him that DJ learned about me.

Before he left for school, Sully had written notes to each member of our family. He had spent an evening with us, and after he went home, I sent the kids to bed and cleaned up the kitchen. An hour later I opened his note to me, and saw at the bottom a postscript which read: In my letter to DJ I told him that I was gay...

It was nearly midnight. I walked up to DJ's room and listened. I could tell that he wasn't sleeping. I turned on the light and asked if he wanted to talk. He nodded, so I sat beside him on the bed and asked him what he thought of the things Sully had told him. DJ said he wasn't really surprised. He had wondered about it and thought it might be true. But to have it written out and confirmed was sort of disconcerting. He wanted to know why Sully came to me. I told him Sully really hadn't come to me, I had come to him. DJ wanted to know how I knew Sully was gay without him telling me, and why I would want to talk to him about it. So, I told DJ that I was gay, as well, and that I knew how it felt to grow up thinking that I was the only one--at least in the church. And I thought that Sully might need to talk to someone who kind of understood how he felt. And besides that, I loved Sully and wanted to support him as he learned more about himself which can be really scary. DJ had a few questions about me, but none about Sully. I gave him the same reassurances that I'd given Adam, and also made it clear that he must keep confidential the information Sully had given him. He gave me the, "well, duh!!" look, but I told him I just felt it needed to be said. He said he would never tell anyone, of course.

I asked DJ if he had any other questions about me or about Sully. He said he didn't because we have talked about homosexuality openly for many years. DJ shares a birthday with my cousin, who is gay, who came out when DJ was about five years old. So when he heard conversations about the person who was born on the same day as he was, DJ had lots of questions about what was happening. We answered them.

Our current conversation continued:
Me: DJ, Sully's been through a lot in the past couple of years, but I think he's much healthier today. He definitely seems stronger. It's okay to worry about him, because he's your friend, but Sully is a really wonderful person, and I think he'll do what's necessary to stay healthy and strong.
DJ: I know. I'm really not worried.
Me: Really?
DJ: No.
Me: Why not?
DJ: It's because of you.
Me: But I worry about people all the time.
DJ: Yeah, but you also have taught me for my whole life that even if people mess up, it doesn't change who they are. Even if they think or believe differently from me, I still love them. You just taught me that I can care about people and let them live their lives without deciding what they need to do. You always say, 'Other people's lives and choices belong only to them. Your job is not to tell them what to do, but to love them no matter what.'"
Me: I do?
DJ: All the time. I've heard it for as long as I can remember.
Me: Wow. I had no idea I was so preachy.
DJ: Yep.
Me: I'm sorry.
DJ: Mom, you know I'm kidding. You don't really preach, you just let us know that everyone is very special. And I believe that.
Me: Why do you believe me? You're a teenager, you're supposed to deny everything your parents have taught you and go be rebellious with your friends.
DJ: Maybe someday.
Me: Warn me first.
DJ: Of course. I'll write you an email and bake you cookies.
Me: Good idea.
DJ: Can I tell you why I believe you?
Me: Oh, yeah, I asked you a question.
DJ: I believe you because I've watched how you care about people--and I see that they love you, too. It's real. You're not loving them because it's a calling, or because you think it's right, but because they're really important to you. I've seen you cry when one of your friends is hurting. When they're in our house, I've watched you laugh with them. And it makes you happy. I want to be like that.
Me: DJ, you often surprise me.
DJ: Well, I'm just pretty awesome.
Me (laughing): No question about it. Will you sleep now?
DJ: I think so. I'm pretty tired.
Me: Be sure you respond to Sully's letter. It's a really important thing to tell someone what he's told you. Just make sure you let him know how you feel about him.
DJ: I'd already planned to email him in the morning.
Me: And please, ask questions, if you have them. I think Sully would love to answer them, and you know you can also ask me.
DJ: I know, but I really don't have any questions right now.
Me: Okay. Sleep well, and I love you.
DJ: I love you, too. Mom? I'm really glad you're my mom.
Me: DJ, that might be the nicest thing you've ever said to me. Good night.

How about that? My teenager listens to me occasionally, and in his eyes, I'm an okay mom.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


This made laugh so hard (but what else would one expect from the "Spawn of Satan")!

Friday, August 10, 2007

My Dad

I finally talked with my dad today. I explained to him the problems I'm having with current therapy assignments--specifically the fragmentation of my person that I've created. We talked about the different feelings each fragment is experiencing in reference to parents, abuse, and God/Christ. It was a difficult thing to do, but had some rather marvelous results.

Number 1: My dad loves me. He always has. He said he hasn't always been the greatest parent, but he hopes I'll forgive him someday. Regardless, he loves me--every part of me--even the fragments I've created. He loves the child that read when she was three, learned her times tables at four, and beat him at chess at age five. He loves the desperately sad, angry eleven-year-old who wonders why he didn't save her. He loves the confused teen who cut and starved herself to relieve pain beyond anything she could imagine. He loves me--the me I have built as an adult.

Number 2: My dad believes the wisest course of action at this point is to see if Therapist will continue to let me work with him. The distance seems a little extreme, but my dad thinks it will be worth it. So--contingent on Therapist's caseload and willingness--I may get my wish to see the love of my life once again (I have so many of those!!).

Number 3: My dad doesn't think I'm crazy.

This is my 100th post. It feels monumental to me in so many ways.

Just in case you were wondering.

Dear DJ,

"Felunica", "horfa", and "fwic" are not words. It does not matter if they "roll off the tongue" well. If you continue to use them, you will keep losing at Scrabble.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I experienced something prior to my 12th birthday which left me feeling bereft of anything human. I was angry, sad, and alone. Any belief in God that had been instilled in me during my childhood was gone. I stayed in this state for many years. I attended church, as it was a requirement--I was active in YW activities (again, required)--I spoke in Sacrament Meeting when assigned, using many wonderful scriptures mingled with the words of Thoreau, Kafka, Sandburg, and Dr. Seuss. But I had no belief in what I said. The talks were as well-crafted as I could make them, but far from spirit-inducing--although I'm certain there was thought provocation.

At age 17, I left my home. I got a job and worked until I entered college, at which point I stopped attending church. I went occasionally when a roommate suggested it might be fun, or when there was a social reason to attend, or when someone I knew left on a mission. I watched people worship and wondered what the point was. I was touched by nothing--ever.

However, at one point, perhaps by accident (I refuse to speculate), I encountered James E. Faust. Being an avid reader, and thoroughly familiar with the folklore surrounding his last name, I was somewhat interested in him. Enough to read some of what he had said. I researched his writings (secular and spiritual), I read about his life, and somewhere inside me a connection began to form. He seemed real. I felt that if I met him, he wouldn't care that I fell in love with women, that my body had been battered and used beyond that which it was capable, that I didn't go to church or believe in God, that I was filthy and beyond redemption. I felt, somehow, that he would love me--all of me--that he would allow me to stay with him, even knowing that I was unworthy of his presence, and that there was a possibility that he might even enjoy my company.

I know--how bizarre to fantasize about a church leader. I have nothing more to add to that particular sentiment.

I suppose all this came about because I loved what President Faust had to say. I loved the way he presented it. I loved his words. For the first time in my life, someone spoke to me in a way that made sense. I never felt that I was condemned if I didn't believe him. On the contrary, I always felt that he was challenging me to prove or disprove what he said, to question, to research, to find out for myself. In time I realized that my testimony was built primarily through looking for more and more information based on talks and books by President Faust. He spoke logically. I didn't have to rely on blind obedience. And that was okay.

President Faust died today. I have always felt when older church leaders passed away that it was the natural course of events, not to be mourned but simply something that happened. This particular death feels different to me. I feel a sense of loss, because in two months he won't be speaking to me one more time. I won't feel the rush of love and gratitude when I see him at the pulpit. I'm going to miss him--a person I have never met--I'm not sure how that happens.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Speaking of Darrin's demise...

I was talking with a friend (married) on the phone a couple of nights ago. We were discussing what we would do if we ever found ourselves spouseless--for whatever reason. He said he wasn't sure he could ever get married again. I told him I was going to, for sure. He was surprised and said he couldn't see me married to anyone but Darrin. Then I explained that I would find some sad, lonely man who enjoyed going out to dinner, seeing movies, playing games, taking long walks and talking, but wasn't really that interested in having sex. He said such a man does not exist. Now I'm completely bummed. Darrin just better not die--ever.

Or if Darrin ever does die, I told another friend I'm moving to a cave with my snakes and piano and I'm never coming out or talking to another person ever again.

Somewhat extreme, I suppose, but it won't happen for another 25 or 30 years, and by that time my blog will be obsolete, I'll have been replaced by a younger, more vibrant (who knows, perhaps more male) Queen of the Queerosphere, The Great -L- will have grown too old to leap tall buildings in a single bound and come to my rescue, and everyone else will have such compelling lives that they will have forgotten I exist. Which is, I suppose, the only available option in life's inevitability. However, on the off chance that you still love me, I'll post directions to my cave when I move into it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

I'm a loser magnet.

I did not want to go to the store yesterday. Bad things happen when I go to the store when I don't want to.

Bad thing number one: A large man (I swear he was seven feet tall and equally as wide) rolled my direction and asked me if I knew where to find the "vitamin pills". As I was headed that direction, I showed him in a very nice manner, whereupon he asked me where to find the condoms and asked which kind I prefered. Being unhappy that he asked, I pointed them out to him and suggested it might take awhile before he could find a place on his body on which to attach it, then I left him with his mouth hanging open.

Bad thing number two: A woman was standing next to me in the haircare aisle. She admired my hair and asked if I used something special to attain its thickness. I muttered something about genetics. She woefully indicated her thinning locks. Being in a hurry, but not unsympathetic, I mentioned that it must be frustrating. She turned nasty in a second and said, "Just what do you mean by that?!" I blinked at her and said: "Frustrating: 1. Discouraging by hindering, 2. Preventing realization or attainment of a desire." She said, "What??" I said, "Good luck with your hair. Don't hate me because I'm beautiful." and walked away praying that she doesn't abide in the same town in which she shops.

Bad thing number three: A child kept following me. I took the child to the service desk, whereupon the young lady informed me that they didn't provide childcare services. I tried to explain that the child wasn't mine--she took a phone call in the middle of my sentence and kept making shooing motions with her hands. The child with me began to imitate her--which had the unfortunate effect of infuriating her. I heard her say something to the person on the phone about parents with rude children. I waited patiently, then said, "Listen to me carefully. This is not my child. He has been following me. I don't know where his parents are. I don't really care if you provide child care, but I think it would be in everyone's best interests to find his parents at once." I will admit to saying this rather loudly. People were sort of staring. The flustered employee said, "Why didn't you say so in the first place!" and declared a "code Adam" or whatever. Crying mother was found, child and mom were reunited, I left to finish shopping.

Bad thing number four. I had an argument with the weird 30+ old checker man. He said, "Hello, beautiful lady. Did you find everything you were looking for?" I picked up my stuff and headed for the self-check without answering. He said, "Hey, sorry." I said, "Yes, you are." I finished checking out, and as I left, noticed him keeping pace with me. "I'm on break," he said. "Do I know you?" I said. "No, but I wish you did." "Leave me alone. I'm married," I told him. "No ring--that's kind of unfair--how's a guy to know?" he said. "You know now. This is a place to shop, not pick up on people. And at your age, well, maybe you should think about a college degree. Wal-mart checker isn't bound to land you a person like me."

Okay. I was rude. I was disgusting. I should not go shopping when I don't want to. But I ask you, what in heaven's name causes people to approach me like that? I need to stop smiling in the store.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Activities to help one stay awake while driving 5-hours, round trip, to the airport

1. Do not talk on the phone to Tolkien Boy until 1:00 a.m. the night before.
2. Be upset at geriatric father-in-law for scheduling his flight at 9:00 a.m., requiring a departure from home at 5:30 a.m. in order to get him there on time.
3. Take 12- and 13-year old offspring along on the drive.
4. Do not listen to geriatric father-in-law's stories for more than 15 minutes at a time.
5. Try to ignore odd smell of geriatric father-in-law. Spray Febreeze in car-size bottle (which makes me so happy) every 15 minutes.
6. Sing. Don't worry if the words are correct. Just sing. Don't worry if singing bothers geriatric father-in-law. Just sing.
7. Enjoy incredible rush of joy as geriatric father-in-law is dropped off at the curb.
8. Talk with 12- and 13-year-old on the way home. Don't get too upset if the exit to the freeway is missed and one ends up on Tape Avenue.
9. Turn around and search for correct exit.
10. Stop for breakfast.
11. Hug and kiss 12-year-old when she shuts finger in car door.
12. Play the shouting game. Rule: randomly shout out everything you see. Laugh at self for being too tired to make mouth say the things that are seen.
13. Try to make words out of letters on license plates. This will not work if the license plate has only numbers.
14. Remember when 12- and 13-year-old fall asleep that they were up at 4:00 a.m. to deliver newspapers. Resist urge to sing loudly or play the shouting game.
15. Do not close eyes when within 3 miles of home. You will not open them.
16. Go into house and fall in bed. Sleep for four hours.
17. Thank the Lord that a smashed finger was the only casualty.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Dr. Seuss read the New Testament

1 Corinthians 12

"If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
"And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
"If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
"And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you."

Books by Dr. Seuss inspired by above scripture passages*:

The Foot Book
The Tooth Book
The Eye Book

*Of course I made this all up. But what else is there to do during a boring Sunday School lesson. "Left foot, right foot, left foot, right...Feet in the morning, Feet at night..."

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Sex-ed with Tabitha

Warning: If you are not a parent, if you are a male who experiences SSA (read "gay"), if you are uncomfortable talking about sex (especially from a female perspective), my advice is to walk away from this post. There is a possibility that it will not make you happy.

Tabitha and I had the opportunity Tuesday night, to spend a night alone. We booked a hotel room in Utah, and stayed up reading Harry Potter and talking. I've never spent a night with just Tabitha before. We had a very interesting conversation:

Me: This is fun. We've never had a night to ourselves.
Tabitha: No. And actually, I wanted to ask some questions that I've been embarrassed to ask with the boys around.
Me: Ask away.
Tabitha: It's about sex. Is that okay?
Me: Yes. What can I tell you?
Tabitha: Well, I'm confused about how it can happen. I don't understand.
Me: Why don't you tell me the things you do understand, and we'll go from there.
Tabitha: Okay. We've talked about body parts. I understand that the man's penis goes into a woman's vagina. But Mom, I've changed my cousins' diapers. Everything is floppy. How does it happen? And why do people like it?
Me: Let's start with the second question, and I think it will answer the first. How much do you know about your genitals?
Tabitha: Not very much.
Me: Okay, so let's talk about that. I wish we had pictures!
Tabitha: (giggling) Mom!
Me: Sorry. It would make everything easier to visualize, though. Anyway, you know where your vagina is, right?
Tabitha: I think so.
Me: Its the opening between your legs that's about the same diameter as your index finger.
Tabitha: Yes. Mom, how do people wear tampons? It seems like that would hurt.
Me: Not everyone finds that comfortable. Some people have smaller vaginal openings than others.
Tabitha: Do you wear tampons?
Me: No, I've never been able to do that.
Tabitha: So I don't have to?
Me: Nope. Do you have anymore questions about that?
Tabitha: No. Go on.
Me: Well, just in front of your vagina is your urethra--the place you pee. Both of these openings are enclosed by folds of skin made of tissue similar to the inside of your mouth, called labia. These folds of skin protect the vagina and urethra, and are also filled with nerve endings that are sensitive to touch. At the top of your genitals is a small, firm spot called the clitoris. This, too, has many nerve endings that feel nice when they are touched. People like to have sex because it feels good. Does that make sense?
Tabitha: Yep. So, tell me the rest.
Me: All right, now let's talk about boys' genitals.
Tabitha: Okay. Because that's what I'm confused about.
Me: Right. You know what a penis is. Behind the penis is the scrotum which holds the testes, which produce sperm. When boys become mature, their penises become larger and longer. The penis has something called erectile tissue in it. When a man becomes aroused, meaning he feels like he wants to have sex, that tissue fills with blood and the penis becomes larger and firmer. That allows him to insert it into a woman's vagina.
Tabitha: Because it's not floppy anymore.
Me: Yes.
Tabitha: And the parts of us that like to be touched, men have that too?
Me: They do. Sex feels good to them, as well. Tabitha, sex is really a good thing. The reason we tell you to be careful only to experience it with your husband is because during sex there are lots of hormones, special chemicals, released by the body that cause people to feel bonded to each other. This is especially strong for women. Imagine, if you feel very close to someone, you feel he belongs to you (which is what bonding does), and he leaves. Can you see how that would be harmful to you, emotionally?
Tabitha: Yeah. So it's not just about diseases?
Me: No. That's part of it, of course. But mostly, we advise you to be very careful with sexual emotions and touching because it places you in a position where you can be easily hurt. You want to be as certain as possible that you are with a safe person who loves you and will stay with you throughout your life before you have sex with him. That's why we tell you to be married first, and to be very choosy about the person whom you marry. Once you've made sure that the relationship is secure, safe, and long-lasting, then you should have sex as often as you and your husband would like to.
Tabitha: You said you and dad have sex because it helps you stay close to each other, it helps you express love in a way that only you two share.
Me: Yes.
Tabitha: I like that.
Me: Me too.
Tabitha: Do you think that's why Heavenly Father says don't have sex or do sexual things before you're married? He knows about those hormone things and he doesn't want us to get hurt?
Me: I think so, yes.
Tabitha: Okay. We should go to sleep.
Me: I agree.
Tabitha: I love you, Mom.
Me: I love you, too, Tabitha.

A Day Off

...I will not think about feeling.
...I will not worry about analyzing myself.
...I will not acknowledge things that hurt.
...I will not cry.
...I will not worry about nightmares.
...I will not stress about friendship.
...I will not measure my inadequacies.
...I will not worry about aches, anguish or distress.

...I will smile.
...I will play with my kids.
...I will take a walk and notice all that is beautiful.
...I will count the ways in which I am blessed.
...I will love without restraint.
...I will laugh whenever I wish to.
...I will ignore the things that haunt me.
...I will be me.

And if you've only met the person who wrestles with inner demons, who is immersed in her own troubles, who can't let go of the past and live in the present...well, today would be a very good day to come visit me. I think you'll like the person you meet. She's a lot of fun and has a wonderful sense of humor. I enjoy her immensely.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Non-sexual Touch

I've been researching this for a few months. It was an assignment Therapist gave me before he left. It's something very difficult for me to read about. I don't like the importance I assign to the topic as it applies to my life. I don't like my need for it. I don't like to even think about it. However, as is my custom, I have finished the task and am posting my research and my conclusions about its application to me.

Lesley Karen Lobell, MA (Specializing in Relationships Therapy):

"Many people are afraid of their need for physical closeness. They fear their need to be touched, and try to deny it. Many people think that, other than with a lover, to demonstrate or receive physical affection is a sign of weakness.

"Many people", so this is not exclusively my fear. And I am afraid of it. I don't like it. Apparently my perception that this need is a sign of weakness is not uncommon either.

"Physical contact is a prerequisite both for a healthy individual, and for a fulfilling, mature, loving relationship with a partner.

Okay, and I understand that in context with my relationship with Darrin. However, I don't seem to be able to comprehend that same need outside my marriage. But perhaps this comment is exclusively aimed at couples who are sexually intimate, and I'm fallaciously globalizing it to include close friendships which have no sexual component.

"Our bodies require touch: it relieves stress; it makes us happier and healthier. In our fast-paced lives, however, we often forget the importance of giving and receiving affection through physical touch. We deprive ourselves of this very basic need."

I've never felt that touch was a requirement. Because I don't like to be touched unless I deeply trust the individual from whom that touch comes, it's difficult for me to assign importance to physical affection. Perhaps that's one reason why I feel incredible stress when the need for non-sexual touch asserts itself.

John Gray, PhD

"As children, both boys and girls want to be cuddled. When boys hit puberty, the desire for sexual contact becomes stronger than for non-sexual contact. Women, on the other hand, may never lose that strong need to be held."

Not exactly a hopeful statement for me to read. Somewhere inside me, there is a desire to fill the need for non-sexual touch in one installment, say that it's done, and never feel the need again. I'm guessing that's not how it works.

Linda Marks, MSM

"When people are touch-deprived, they become numb to the fundamental need to touch and be touched. They become touch-phobic, holding a hypervigilant tension in their bodies, keeping others at an emotional distance, operating from the head for protection while disconnected from the body and heart."

Yes, I can certainly see how that can happen. More than that, I submit myself as living proof.

Sarah (found on a blog):

"With old friends, a physical relationship can spring up. It’s acceptable to give girlfriends hugs, backrubs, stroke their hair. Once a relationship has been founded, physical gestures are not as surprising. But it takes extreme trust before this level of a relationship is reached. Many people never even find a friend like this. They simply go through life at arm’s length, trying to connect through words. Is this physicality necessary for a society so intellectually advanced as ours?"

Naturally, given my orientation and the fact that I'm married, there are probably times when the above mentioned contact is inappropriate. Perhaps that explains why I'm more comfortable allowing/seeking touch from men, specifically SSA men. I don't know. I find this confusing.

Aline Zoldbrod Ph.D:

"The benefits of receiving good touch are lifelong and profound. Children who are appropriately and lovingly touched will feel profoundly loved; they will feel they deserve only good things; they will grow up to experience their body as attractive; they will feel lovable; they will grow up to be able to self soothe; their self esteem will be higher; they will feel safe in the world; and they will feel comfortable expressing their own loving feelings to others through touching. Memories of good parental touch last every minute of a child's life, and these visceral, tactile memories of being so cared for can be called up during times of loneliness, stress, or illness.

Wow. I could go on for hours. I'll just say, I was not a child who received appropriate, loving touch as I should have. I did not experience, and still struggle with:
1. Feeling profoundly loved--by anyone.
2. Feeling I deserve good things.
3. Caring about my body (as shown by my need to use self-harm and my eating disorder).
4. Feeling lovable.
5. Ability to self-soothe (again, I resort to running, overwork, etc.).
6. Self-esteem (this is tricky--I know who I am and what I'm good at, but my self-esteem falters when I try to apply it to how others perceive me).
7. Being safe.
8. Expressing love through touch (if you've had a moment of prolonged touch with me, I trust you and love you very much).
I have extremely few memories of good parental touch. This is something I find incredibly regrettable.

"While you can take courses in massage, (even in erotic massage….), there aren't any courses to teach you how to touch your children as they go through different developmental phases and ages. Yet what could be a better legacy to leave your kids? The simple pleasure of routinely being gently bathed, splashing and having water play, then being tucked into bed, hugged and kissed by a mother or a father is more powerful than a million dollar inheritance.

I have nothing to add to this. I can't change my past.

"My own memories of good times with my parents are heavily weighted to times of verbal and physical affection, and they are vivid. My mother generously linked verbal praise and touch. I recall standing in my house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a teenager, wearing a new pale blue flocked dress which set off my green eyes. I was preparing to go out on a date. My mom came up, faced me, took me in her arms, hugged me, and said, "Oh, my angel child." My mom is dead, yet that 40 year old memory still vibrates with feeling. And I always feel beautiful in that color. My father expressed love more by touch than by words. He and I had a ritual of back scratching which lasted throughout our lives. He woke me up for school by scratching my back for years and years. One of my last memories of him, when he was dying of cancer, is lying next to him in bed and scratching his back. The association of back-scratching with love and pleasure and connection permeates my life, and is now a part of my relationship with spouse, friends, and my kids.

Again, nothing to say, except that she was incredibly blessed, in my opinion.

"If you came from a neglectful or abusive home, it can be painful to get in touch with what you didn't have. But it can be a growth point, a way of opening yourself up to feeling more. Think about ways to reach out physically, and pick one which doesn't intimidate you. Handholding, for instance. Then just try it. And even if it feels awkward at first, feel good about yourself for persevering."

Okay, I have a phobia about touching hands. It takes a lot for me to do that, and I'll even avoid a handshake, if possible. It's not about germs or cleanliness. It just seems to be something that I can share only with a person I truly love. In reference to that paragraph, as a whole, I have to say, I am trying. It's a slow process. It takes me a very long time to build the trust necessary to allow someone to touch me, and it takes even longer for me to want to reciprocate that touch. Hugging is not included in this. A hug lasts just a few seconds, and there is relatively no skin-to-skin contact (I love clothes), so I'm able to give the impression that touch has no impact on me when I meet people, since I will usually offer a hug over a handshake.

During a moment when I shared touch with a friend recently, my hand brushed his jaw/cheek. I am interested in how vividly I can recall the sensation. Skin contact is still something I have to steel myself to allow. The aversion comes not because it is distasteful, but because it inspires fear. In the above example, I did not move my hand, but allowed the contact to persist--waiting, I suppose, for the fear to subside, which it did. Perhaps there is hope for me after all.

I suppose to someone who feels less stress in learning about this topic, I seem neurotic and odd. I'm sure they're probably right. I wish I could discuss this with Therapist. I miss him.

Friday, August 3, 2007

It's not about appearing perfect.
It's not about having to be right.
It's not about pleasing people.
It's not about competition.

It's about being afraid.
It's about the feeling that if I lose control someone will take advantage of me.
It's about feeling intense love for others, but having no understanding of how that can possibly be reciprocated in my direction.
It's about hanging on for one more day, doing everything in my power to make sure one good thing happens, being too busy to die inside, and praying for sleep when night comes.

And now you tell me that I must let all that go?
What will happen then?
Must I find out alone?

Tolkien Boy told me that there is One who can take my load, if I will give it to him.

My problem?

I don't care if he knows how I feel.
I don't care if he's suffered all that I've suffered.
I don't care if he can now give me rest.

I wanted him to protect me--and he didn't. I wanted him to stop the abuse--and he didn't. I wanted him to help me somehow--when everything was happening--not millions of years later...

Grown-up Samantha knows how wrong I am. She knows how to have faith, and loves Him with all her heart. She accepts his beautiful sacrifice and understands how it applies to her.

Child Samantha trusts no one. She vividly remembers how much she was hurt, how frightened she was, how sad and lonely... She has learned that she must take care of herself, and never allow anyone to get too close. She does not know how to allow someone to help now, when he did not help when she really needed him.

I am Sam. Both of them. What do I do next?

Thursday, August 2, 2007


There are times when I feel so tired.

This week I made yet another trip to Utah. I took my Father-in-law (who has been visiting us) to see his son-in-law who has been in the hospital in the ICU unit. I left him with his daughter and went to stay with my sweet sister who has allowed me to crash on her couch countless times during my trips to Utah. I love her.

I was tired when we left home. I got more tired as I listened to the stress-filled voices of my in-laws (especially the one belonging to my mother-in-law, who suggested that life would be easier for everyone if her son-in-law just died), so I stayed at my sister's, visited with AtP and Tito, said hello to Ren, spent time with my daughter (who accompanied me), and finished Harry Potter.

I'm still tired after a long drive home (arrived five minutes before I had to leave for a counseling appointment), but at least I'm home. And some of my garden flowers decided not to die. That was a nice surprise to find waiting for me. I love flowers.