Pain Is Beauty

Yesterday, I was harassed by a female I can only describe as plebeian and insulting to the senses.

I met her about a year and a half or two years ago through a mutual friend, and from, literally, the first few minutes of hearing her speak, I couldn’t stand her. Having said that, I still was kind to her; she just rubbed me the wrong way. She is immature, half-witted, emotionally unstable, and manipulative, and I have never had any desire to be in her presence.

After a very exhausting argument between her and several of my friends (involving her wanting a friend who was intoxicated to drive her home), she had decided she didn’t like me. Fair enough. It also might have had something to do with the fact that not only do I outwit her in intelligence and rationality, she is fiercely jealous of the attention I receive from a guy who later became her boyfriend for a period of time.

To her, she sees a pretty girl who is confident, smart, and has the respect of a man she so desperately wants for herself. She sees me as a threat, when I am not. I am not interested in my friend, but we do have a strong bond and connection, which she cannot have with him, because she has never earned his respect.

I have witnessed the benefits of being kind to others, not inciting anger, staying away from drama, and going the extra mile to reach out, even when it’s the last thing I want to do. Notwithstanding, I have learned that no matter how pure our intentions, people will always feel what they want to feel.

Yesterday, that resulted in harassment. It came out of nowhere, but I am not surprised. What is so frustrating to me is that it is about nothing. I have not done a single act to upset her, but her perceived image of me as a threatening female is enough for her to flash her insecure talons and rip into me.

More than anything, it is really annoying. I don’t have time for useless drama about nothing from a person I feel nothing for and have no issue with so long as she doesn’t talk to me.

This has been happening to me since high school. Being nice doesn’t always get you nice things. Nor does having compassion. Do not read that the wrong way; I am not suggesting that kindness and compassion are futile—I am affirming that, sometimes, having those skills makes us so powerful we intimidate others and they are unkind to us.

Confident and mature humans feel exalted by the compassion and love of others, because they can clearly see its intent. However, humans who are weak and easily triggered only see the world as a battlefield, seeking out those who pose a threat.

The more beautiful and revered we are, well, the more dangerous we appear.

It is something that I am used to, but I will never be used to the unnecessary pain it causes. I don’t mean the ersatz, feigned pain of the antagonizer, I mean being bullied and harassed by other females who do not have the strength to recognize the beauty in others and, therefore, always see other females as enemies instead of compatriots.

This person was never my friend, but I have lost friendships over this very thing. We are all connected and can be support for one another if only people were vulnerable enough to listen. Instead, we use our fear to attempt to break into the psyches of others and grind them down until they are on our own level—a level of obscurity and misery.

Being beautiful (in any combination of ways) is always going to be a burden until we, as a human race, learn to appreciate and respect each other, instead of defaulting to fear. Fearfulness is not an admirable fight. It is pain-inducing cowardice.

We hurt others with our fears, but we also stifle ourselves from reaching a place of peace and truth. Her words yesterday held no truth, yet, sadly, they were her created truth, which speared up through her being and out into the world, due to her insecurity. So much unnecessary hurtfulness sewn into the world because we don’t seek actual truth.

I know I am not done being stabbed by others who aren’t strong enough to confront their own personal demons; it is the hand I have been seemingly dealt, at times.

I hope this chick climbs out of her useless wreckage of self-damage, but chances are, she won’t. I can eventually brush off her slanderous words, but she will never be able to cleanse herself of the hatred she feels as long as she sees beauty as a threat.

Chemical Cocktail, Please

His hand is outstretched with an ornament in his palm; he says, “Do you want to hang this one?”

A week ago, Bryan and I put up the Christmas tree in my living room.

With the new Gilmore Girls Series playing in the background, we spread all of the ornaments across the floor and began to hang.

It was a home-made ornament from my co-worker Heather with one of my favorite photos of Zen and me on it: I’m in my thread-bare bathrobe, snuggling him in a deep embrace while smiling.

me-and-zen

I immediately broke out into tears. Big alligator tears.

I don’t know if it was that I was completely taken by surprise or that it was the beginning of the week where my hormones get all wacky thanks to my silent passenger, PMDD. It probably was a combination of the two, but I was a tiny ball on my living room rug, crying hard while apologizing through snotty wails.

Losing Zen a month before Christmas last year was such a whirlwind that I had erased from my memory that I ever received that ornament. And unfortunately, it wasn’t the only one. After I recovered myself, we continued to hang ornaments, and minutes later, Bryan finds another customized Zen ornament that my sister had made. Another one I had forgotten about. He hands it to me, and once again, I am on the floor, tears streaming down my face.

I have always been “highly sensitive” and “overly emotional” since I was a child. In the past few years, it has intensified. Recently, I’ve discovered I have what is labeled as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, where my hormones go hay-wire for approximately a week to a week and a half each month, usually during ovulation.

So, it makes me wonder, was I really that distraught over my deceased cat or was it just my crazy hormones acting up?

Knowing that I have a hormone imbalance and being able to regulate it with birth control and natural remedies, such as exercise, dietary changes, and herbal supplements, has basically saved me from losing my mind and firing off at people with no self-control. Yet, it has also enabled me to use it as a crutch or an excuse when I do act ‘roided up on emotions.

That bothers me, sometimes.

Some of the magic of life’s moments are blanched when I have the knowledge that a specific combination of neurochemicals and hormones are having a rager in my body and that’s the reason why something makes me wistful, depressed, nostalgic, deeply affected, or impassioned. Things like my libido and emotional acuity can be altered with the application of a pill each day.

However, I cannot deny that PMDD is a real thing and I can actually see the signs of it now that I know what it is. It’s not just a made-up crutch with which I scapegoat my behaviors. I’ll come home from work and have that “I just want to go to bed now” feeling that I used to attribute to laziness and always gave myself a hard time about, but I know now that it is the onset of PMDD. Knowing that helps me get through it and actually motivates me to go to yoga, start cleaning the apartment, or make dinner. These subtle signs always happen during a specific time of the month, providing some proof that the chemical cocktail is coursing through my body.

Crying over Zen was unexpected and real. It may have been heightened by my levels of hormones in that moment, but I love and miss him fiercely.

I refuse to let the knowledge that we’re all varying mixtures of chemicals ruin the incredible luster that is cherishing a lost one, smiling because a memory with an old partner feels painfully beautiful, or hurting because my heart is breaking. It might not always be a fun feeling, but it’s me.

It’s always been me.

The Girl Most Loved

Throughout my entire adult life I have been this girl who men have chased and fallen flat on their faces in trying to reach.

I have gingerly nudged their finger tips, peeling back their grip on the edge of a cliff with my foot, and watched them plummet.

I have dodged their advances towards me, tucking myself away in a dark alley of some unknown city street.

Yet, I have also scripted beautiful accolades to men who were able to seek and capture my wild heart.

And, I have continually been shut out by each and every one of those men.

I am the girl who appears to be in the lead–running gracefully with my smile. Not even breaking a sweat.

Really, I am the girl who comes in last place every time.

running_away

Being beautiful or loved is not exactly a situation about which many are sympathetic. It’s something that isn’t really easy for me to talk or write about, because how can you without coming off as completely narcissistic or conceited?

This is the best way I can describe what it feels like to have everyone and no one want you all at the same time:

When I meet men, I have to be super cautious, because when I am just being myself, not even trying to flirt with them, they fall hard. I’ve been told it’s because there just aren’t women like me. That I pour out the Universe with each breath. That I exude genuineness.

Since I was about sixteen this has been the way it is.

What that feels like is that I’m strangely so special that I am no longer special. If so many feel that way about a person, does that any longer give them uniqueness?

I longingly stare at couples at the altar who maybe didn’t have the best dating record throughout high school and college, but then met that one person, and that person didn’t run away.

Mine always run… at Olympic speeds.

Rarely, I will meet a man who does completely enrapture me. It’s happened a handful of times in my life. When this occurs, all the other men in my life get pissy and jealous. They idolize the man I have “chosen”. They either back off or vie for my attention even harder.

I am completely loyal, however, once I have been swooned, and that man will have my adoration until he “flees the scene”, which he always does.

It feels isolating. I’m terribly lonely sometimes even when in the same bed as a man, knowing that I’m either just being coveted for my sexual appeal or I’m being held away at arm’s length.

It hurts so scathingly deep to be told I’m “perfect” and know they are either just talking about my flesh or abilities in bed, or they truly think I’m amazing and unlike anyone they’ve ever met but abandon me anyway.

I remember one boyfriend I had, where we made love and I said I love you for the first time. It was over ten years ago. That’s the only time I’ve ever been able to say that while intimate with a man and not be mocked or left in silence, with the exception of my ex fiancé, who, although loved me fiercely, abused his power over me and ultimately squandered our union.

There have been times when I have wanted to say it, and I just look at my lover with this reverent and passionate stare, hoping they can read minds or something, because I dare not say it again.

I’m honestly fearful that I will never be in a meaningful relationship again, because the men who fall for me (that I feel anything back for) live far away, choose career over me, have other relationship statuses, or are completely commitment phobic, self-sabotaging humans.

Why can’t I love one of the twenty men circling me for my interest? Sadly, it just ain’t how life works.

The girl most loved is the girl most desired. The girl with the nicest skin, prettiest smell, tastiest parts… The girl most loved is the girl who gives her whole heart only to find that no one really wants it.

I have literally (and I actually mean literally) been abused by multiple men who have claimed that they love me and I am their favorite human in existence. I have been denied; I have been sworn at; I have been verbally battered and emotionally neglected. I have been invited in and then thrown away.

I don’t want to be the girl most loved.

I want to be the ordinary girl who meets the guy–maybe the only guy who will ever be interested–and he only has eyes for her and always will.

Poorly Taken Notes

Last night, I read the words of an 18 year old girl’s personal journal. My hand traced over the sometimes red, sometimes blue or black ink, thinking about how the puerile mind doesn’t fully understand or know how to process others’ actions or heartache—how it barely does now, 15 years later.

Her thoughts trembled throughout the pages, yet agonizingly stuck in a purgatory of adolescent fear. Did he still find her pretty? Why is he suddenly not interested? How will things turn out?

It’s painful to read. Not because this naive girl is being foolish or simple, but because 15 years later, she faces a similar problem and still envelops herself in distrust and anxiety.

She wrote of being “unlucky”, like she, specifically, was peeled out of colorform and thrust into this bleak existence without predictability or smiling faces.

I know now that life is what you make it. That things don’t happen to us like there’s a celestial and surreptitious foosball match, where we’re constantly getting barreled over because we can’t see the ball.

But I don’t believe it. I seem to have shit luck.

That girl—she knew it even then.

She was really pretty. In some ways, prettier than she is now, although she’s more mature, curvy, and experienced. Boys turned their heads, but none ever asked her out. When they finally did, they became infused with the life of her voice and the joy of her effervescence, and then quickly deflated and became uninterested. Was it something she had done?

Probably.

I have made it my life’s mission since I was a teen to right the erroneous ways of my trysts. To figure out how to make things work, and to be a more self-aware and interpersonally involved lover.

And I still have shit luck.

The entry dated September 11th, 2001 chronicled the events of the falling towers, and as hopeless romantics do, that girl told of her own heart’s undoing. The boy revealed to her, while they poured over their scribbled notebooks from chemistry class, that he didn’t want to be her boyfriend, after holding her hand every weekend at every party, and spending nights next to her in bed.

I have never forgotten that day for very obvious reasons, but it was also the same day my emotions were crumpled up like poorly taken notes and tossed carelessly in the trash bin.

Sweet 16

I remember being sixteen years old, tightly stuffed into a friend’s basement in Worcester, MA, feeling higher and happier than a child chasing a trail of pearlescent bubbles.

It was New Year’s Eve, 1999.

I was there with my sister, mutual friends, and the boy with whom I was completely infatuated from the first moment I saw him that summer. I wore black vinyl pants and remember my crush saying to me on the ride to Worcester, “I can see myself in your pants. No, really. It’s not a pickup line. I can see myself in your pants.”

He braided me an aluminum foil bracelet as we stood by ourselves in the kitchen, tucked away in a corner, where we rubbed noses and giggled about how Eskimos and gnomes kiss.

I remember hanging out in one of my friend’s van outside listening to DMX and Dr Dre. I vaguely recall our friends’ band playing that evening in the tiny basement. I also remember eating peanuts while chewing gum, and realizing as my gum dissolved and slid down my throat, that that’s why people use peanut butter to get gum out of girls’ hair. Epiphany. I was hopped up on illegal substances and the world was my oyster.

As the ball was on its descent into the year Y-2-K, we all joked about how the internet would shut down, chaos would ensue, and the beginning of the end would follow thereafter.

None of that happened, of course, but when the countdown reached zero, I grabbed the boy and kissed him so sweetly. It was my first New Year’s kiss and I was on ecstasy.

Very early on the morning of New Year’s Day, I went back to the boy’s house and he laboriously peeled the black vinyl pants off my sweaty body. I lay in the boy’s bed, while he tried to do sexy things to me and I was coming down. I was tired, and it just wasn’t working. Frustrated and selfish, he broke up with me; I was mostly naked in his bed and trapped at his home without a ride.

Later that morning, forgetting what he had done only hours earlier, he in naive slumber, curled his arm tightly around my waist and pulled me in to snuggle. I just lay there and cried silently.

Happy New Year.

That boy became the man with whom I reunited seven years later and almost married.

Now, sixteen years after that emotional bumper car ride, I am sitting here in my favorite, thread-bare bathrobe in my cozy apartment. I am thinking about how many dull years have passed. How many of them I spent being a normal, young adult with a relatively stable existence. How many of them I spent with that same boy, and how many I have spent without him since we split. How so many of those years since we broke up were anything but stable or dull. How grateful I am to be where I am sitting today.

One thing that has always been consistent in all of my teen and adult years is my struggle with love. Oh, I find love, I just can’t keep love. The last three New Year’s Eves have been spent with friends, doling out hugs and cheek pecks at the ball drop.

Four years ago, I experienced something akin to my sixteenth year. I told the new guy I was dating since J and I broke up that I loved him for the first time. On New Year’s Day. It wasn’t planned. I wasn’t trying to be romantic by choosing a special day; it had just been six months together and fifteen years total since I had known him, and it came out of my mouth as we lay in my bed after drinking several mimosas and fondling each other. He reacted poorly. Understatement. His reaction was the worst reaction anyone could possibly have to being told they are loved by their girlfriend.

First, he laughed nervously. Really hard. Then, he pulled me in for a hug and swayed us back and forth for an extremely uncomfortable amount of time. It felt like three decades. We both silently shared a cigarette on my porch, and then, abruptly, he told me he had to go.

My New Year’s track record is excellent.

This year I feel good, though. I’ve been taking a lot of time to focus on organizing my life and my home. I have been writing a lot. I don’t really go out or drink very often at all and am in bed by 10 or 11 each night. I cherish my girl cat and lavish in all this extra time I have to be near her because I am not out getting messed up. I am yet again reconnecting with me, my favorite person to hang out with.

I cannot predict how the year will progress nor do I really want to. There are a couple of projects in the works that will keep me focused on my hobby and love for writing and editing, and I am finally loving my body and taking care of her needs.

Coming from the girl who always has put others before her, I am no longer content to be that person who lies there, quietly stifling her tears, while men abandon her right as a human to have her own fears, feelings, and thoughts.

And while I may be romancing someone currently who makes me swoon, blush, or feel dizzy, he is not the center of my world–he is just a very lovely and enticing piece of it. I like my life and I damn well should. It is mine after all. No one else’s. I live it for me and those who come into it, like my friends, family, or this romance, are all just enhancements and embellishments to the steadily polished bowl I’ve been working on for nearly thirty-three years.

I used to repeat the mantra, “I am happy; I am healthy; I am wealthy; I am wise.”

I think as I move into this new year of 2016, I am going to focus on the simple sweetness.

There’s a calm radiating throughout my being, because I’ve been chasing the metaphorical dragon for years and am finally ready to be me. To be the girl renewed from years of bad relationships and abuse; to be the girl strengthened against giving herself to men just to feel wanted; to be the woman who is comfortable in her new shape but still yearns to feel healthy in body, mind, and spirit. But mostly, to be Amanda, the person I know most intimately.

Amanda loves to read. She loves cleaning. Her home is an homage to the things she cherishes most: her cats, her friends, and music. She is nostalgic and loves to read her old journals (and then immediately shred them upon completion). She is sappy and enjoys eating popcorn by herself while watching comedy romances. She puts herself to sleep each night by petting her cat and listening to science documentaries. She writes in a gratitude journal. She requires time to herself every day to feel whole. She loves writing and making music more than she loves most things, and she gives her heart freely and generously to the people who mean the most to her. She does this not because she has to, not out of guilt, fear, or obligation, but because when Amanda feels like Amanda, she is a resonating channel of love.

From what I know of Amanda, she is sweet. She is kind, caring, and sweet. She’s snarky, sarcastic, whiny, and selfish, too, but no one likes a perfectly polished bowl, now, do they?

May I only hope that 2016 simply holds that presence of free love, if nothing else. It might just be the sweetest sixteen I’ve had yet.

It Is Ours

The thing that makes love so great is not that it’s beautiful. It’s not that it makes us a better person. It isn’t even that feeling love makes us seem less alone in this world.

It is that it is ours.

Of course, we all know that sharing a moment with another human, complete with passion and adoration is beautiful. It more often than not inspires us to achieve greater things within ourselves. Having the companionship of another soul that complements ours helps alleviate the mundanity and hardship of everything we encounter every day: tough and trying days at work, hours running errands or scrubbing our toilet bowls. Paying bills. Choosing 401ks. Moving into a new home. Grieving a loss. Giving birth. Long car rides. Sitting at home with a television show or playing a board game.

Here’s the thing–all of that might be a hundred percent true, but that’s not what makes love so great. What makes love so magnificent and shiny, so unparalleled and desirable, is that it belongs to us. We are experiencing it. Ourselves. Together.

There are few factors in our existence that are greater than the driving, motivating force of what love does to us.

Love is way more than romantic words spilled between two people. It exceeds the actions we display and perform for others to show our affection and dedication. Lyrics and melodies of songs might move us to tears, but even they fall short. Commitment to our friends, family, and loved ones shows love. The ability to forgive and see a person for who they truly are without fault shows love.

But love is also so very relative. That’s what makes it so appealing.

Suddenly, a person who is seen as ordinary to others is extraordinary to us. Other people might see them as exceptional or amazing, but never quite in the way that a person who is swayed by love does. Suddenly, everything about them is a novel waiting to be unraveled. It might be the way their hair falls on their face, the pitch of their voice as they say certain words to us and only us, or the events in their life we know have crucified them–those crippling memories that have often kept them fearful and closed off to us–we learn to love those, too. And why? Because that’s love. It’s not rational. Not logical. No true calculations for how it works, when, and why.

It happens in that moment when we realize that the way they touch our collarbone makes our skin crawl with anticipation. It occurs when we only melt when they tell us we are beautiful. We spend minutes physically dizzy, thoughts spinning, trying to make sense of reality again. We smile just because we know they exist, and we smile harder knowing they smile because we exist, too.

Despite the thoughts and opinions of others, no one can take this away from us.

The world is seen through rose-colored glasses because of love, but we notice that it is never the same each time it is experienced. That is what makes love so great. It is never a repeated episode of something we’ve felt before. Each time, we swear it is the greatest, most unique thing we’ve ever felt, and it’s not because we’re idiots, it’s because it’s true.

I have tried forever to understand why humans put themselves in the blinding, gambling “trust” of love, and it’s not because we just continue to have hope that the “right one” for us is out there; it isn’t because we forget what heartache feels like. Most of us are starkly aware of betrayal and pain. Of situations which we thought we couldn’t overcome. But then that person comes along at the perfect time, saying the most perfect thing, touching us in the most incredibly perfect way, and we’re rapt. That’s just the beginning.

Over time, they continue to bare themselves to us. We share things with each other that only two people who are intimate do; we giggle in heated moments of lust when bodies don’t accommodate our wants, and we heave in extreme passion at the pure excitement and enjoyment the other is having, because theirs is ours.

Most of what I’ve ever read about love is how to make it work, how it doesn’t work, or what real love is. I could write about that, because I think I know at least a few things about love, but it has dawned on me that the epitome of what we all want when it comes to love is that personal experience. That “us” feeling. Those moments, those memories, that can never be shared between two others. Only us.

It is the wave we ride on that spawns great poetry, body-shuddering love songs, and most importantly, it is the intoxicating dance that enables us to feel as though we are taking part in something special. There may be millions of people across the globe feeling this love thing, but amazingly, love doesn’t care–it only cares that we feel it.

In that way, love is so rare and beautiful.

I have written for years about what it really means to love, and how I feel love can be achieved unconditionally. None of that matters, because when it comes to actual romantic love, what matters is what two people feel. The true beauty of what we all crave with love is that it transforms us. It makes us softer, sweeter, more optimistic. It adds spice and meaning to the menial. It leaves a sedative melody humming through our body before bed, and it gives us sparks on our heels and thoughts as we move about our day. We feel this not because everyone can have it, but because we, ourselves, in this very moment, have it.

It is ours.

Opium

An opium evening

We laze with one another,

Folding into peach and tan

 

Your head nuzzled into my soft chest,

The breaths spilling from you in relaxed sighs

 

I caress your lovely hair and kiss

Your perfect face;

Your tiny, freckled nose

 

No words are exchanged

 

It becomes almost impossible to move

Our bodies will us to stay this way forever