Home Style Gravy

Drag has become a regular part of my life. Every time you might get dressed up for church, a fancy dance, or a theatrical performance, you are really doing drag. Anytime you purposefully alter your appearance to make an impression on others, you are doing drag. A lot of emphasis is placed on drag that is done by those who are purposefully transforming themselves to take on the impression of the opposite sex. This is a powerful and purposeful form of drag that is worth its currency in gold. I would also argue that drag is a valuable tool of empowerment to those who want and need to connect with their soul’s version of themselves.

On any given day, I am not the most attractive girl. I weigh over 300 lbs. My hair is long, thin, and lifeless. It is often pulled back into a ponytail. I fight to keep fly a ways tucked behind my ear. I wear dark wash jeans that are a little baggy with a V-neck t-shirt and some form of hoodie. No jewelry. No make-up. My footwear is either a slip-on Croc or a men’s work boot, depending on the weather outside. My “uniform” is comfortable and practical, but it doesn’t reflect the feminine. Now, I am a cis female and could just put on a dress and makeup, but that isn’t really me either. The reality of navigating the world in Spanx and layers upon layers of unbreathable flammable fabrics with a thick layer of makeup would be my own personal hell. Besides, there will be a point where I will just look like a sad melted clown.

In the safe space of my besties, Alex and Max’s home, I can live my fantasy and be in touch with the goddess that is Mimi. Over the years, my old dresses and costumes, underwear and wigs, nylons and jewelry, have found their way to our drag room. Combined with yards of sparkly fabrics, scraps of satin, and new infusions of makeup and whatever else we can repurpose, we have been able to come up with hundreds of looks with almost nothing. It has grown from a few bins in a closet to an area that has taken over what was once the largest room in their house.

Allowing ourselves permission to do this took a long time. It really started from a place of desperation. We were all pretty depressed and battling the curse of mid-life self-reflection. After following the rules, getting the careers, and buying the houses, none of us felt fulfilled. Painting our faces and putting on a costume and a wig lifted us. When I was diagnosed with cancer, after I had my surgery, even when all my hair fell out, dancing in drag made me realize that I wasn’t broken. I was still a whole person. Make-up can cover any imperfection. A little bit of fabric, pinned and tied in a certain way, looks younger and more flattering than any garment bought off the rack at Lane Bryant.

Filming our drag allowed us to really “see” ourselves. First, it gave us a purpose. The camera was an audience to perform to, and we were all hams. What came next was the ability to watch ourselves over and over. After a while, a personality began to appear. We all have had many breakdowns either while filming or after filming, and this was usually caused by not accepting who we really were or by trying to be something we were not. Eventually, when you are able to remove the judgement of yourself or how you think others will perceive you, I was finally able to really see myself. I began to enjoy what I saw. I would even venture to say, I learned to love myself and appreciate my own unique beauty.

Once you are blessed to find such an avenue of self-discovery, you want to share it with others. I have shared videos on this blog before; the boys and I have shared these videos with our families; I have even shared the videos with some of my students. Still, it is amazing how tepid the response can be. Some of the people we know best in the world are reluctant to share the joy and humor of these videos because it features guys in dresses. When you are so passionate and feel a conviction to share that passion with others, putting your art out there is like showing someone your new born child. You hope someone will like it; you wish that they too will see the beauty in it.

Uploading a video is frightening, but waiting for a response is agonizing. I have never felt more alone than waiting to see if anyone will watch it, like it, or comment on it. This is not much different than when my students hand me a paper to look over. I teach basic, transitional English to adults. Many of them have a lifetime of experiences to write about, but lack any confidence over their usage of grammar or structure. I like to let them know as quickly as I can that I am a friendly audience. My goal is to help them express themselves to the best of their ability. I always hope that those who stumble upon our videos approach it from the same place of love.

Of course, the desire for feedback is strong, but sometimes you need to just let go. Over the years, perfectionism has improved and also impeded our drag. Waiting for perfection stifles what is inspired. Attaching your worth to the acknowledgment of your peers just makes you crazy. So, release it. I am rebooting this blog because I need to write, and this site is my home. The boys and I are putting out our drag because we love it.

With that being said, I welcome you to our new series, “Home Style Gravy.” Our drag is from our living room. It is simple and unpretentious. The hope is that for some viewers it will feel like gravy. Unexpected. Delicious. Extra. I have taken the time to build a page that showcases these new videos as well as some of the old. Enjoy them. Share them. If you have a second to like or give a positive comment on them, we would love it. Appreciation is something that is always welcome. I thank you for sharing the joy with us. My hope is always that you leave with a smile on your face and the feeling of warmth in your heart.

Orlando-Fighting Hate with Drag

 

Saturday night, June 11, 2016, I celebrated PRIDE in my home city of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Alex and Max were with me as we watched RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8 contestant, Thorgy Thor, take the stage. She bounded on stage with such an effervescent energy! Her lip syncing was so precise. She was so present and was quick to engage the crowd. While singing “the children are our future” from a Whitney Houston mash-up, she lifted a child out of the audience and onto the catwalk. She cradled this 6 or 7 year old black girl who was having the time of her life. No movement was wasted. Every kick, mannerism, and flip were perfectly choreographed. As much drag as I have watched, I have never seen anyone as good as her in person. I couldn’t get enough!

The whole weekend was a hit. Tons of people came out to dance, meet friends, and see drag queens. Even a local public middle school choir sang Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” For a couple of days, all seemed right with the world. Families, couples, gay, straight, transgender, all races, all different economic backgrounds, young and old came to this safe space to be who they are and know that it is okay. There was such love and diversity. I looked at some of the younger people and wonder how my life would have been different if I would have felt as empowered as they are to be themselves at an earlier age.

When I went to bed Saturday night, I was content and exhausted. I passed out with a smile on my face. I slept in late on Sunday. It was early afternoon before I walked downstairs and tried to make myself some breakfast. Immediately, my brother-in-law came to me and asked what I felt about some mass shooting. I didn’t know what he was referring to. Walking into the living room, my father had the television on CNN and I quickly became aware of a proud LGTBQIA community getting mowed down in their safe space.

As the 24 hour mainstream news media went crazy, I just felt physically ill. Phrases like “the worst mass shooting in American history,” “ISIS loving terrorist,” and  “radical Islam” were thrown around with ease. Living in Kalamazoo, Michigan, we have had to deal with two tragedies in the last couple of months that made the national news: A random mass shooting perpetrated by an Uber driver that went off the deep end, and the mowing down of 5 bicyclists by some guy in a pick-up truck for no reason. Our community has prayed, given thousands of dollars to the victims, held candle light vigils, and even held a bike ride with over 800 bicyclists to take back our roads. Now this?

I know Islam is a peaceful religion. I know that, like any other religion, there are people that are extremists. What I hate is that there is this push for people to think Muslims are less than human. In the 80s, we hated Sandinistas and Communists. During World War II, German communities were suspect and Japanese Americans were imprisoned. Look at everything they tried to pass on Mexicans…as if they are rapists, drug dealers, and job stealers. This wave of hatred has never served to make our world more peaceful. It has just made it more difficult to understand each other and have real meaningful conversations about how we can live together more peacefully.

Nonetheless, one-by-one Republican politicians came on the screen to tell me how afraid I should be of these foreign Islamic radicals. No one is safe! Trump asked to be congratulated on his horrible ideas for throwing out all Muslims, or at least monitor their every move for no other reason than they practice this religion or might have had family origins in the Middle East. Then came all the false prayers and well wishes that these Republican politicians wanted to extend to the victims. Some of them could not even acknowledge that the victims were primarily gay.

Of course, that is difficult when you have spent your entire political career spewing hatred to this special population of people. When you were threatened by their relationships, you did everything you could to block them from ruining the definition of “traditional marriage.” You encouraged parents to abandon their gay children. You didn’t protect them from bullying, so several of them committed suicide. You tried to convince people that a transgender person using the bathroom that matched their gender identity would end in child molestation or assault and abuse against women. You equated being gay with being sick in mind, perverted. You carted us off to jail for being lewd and indecent, or you sent us away to be “cured” with prayer. All along, you toted religious liberty. Nothing should get in the way of your sincerely held religious beliefs or ability to practice your faith…as long as you were a Christian Conservative. It definitely didn’t cross over to Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Atheists, etc.

Having the Supreme Court rule in favor of gay marriage was a huge milestone. It gave us hope that things were really changing. It helped millions of us come out of the closet because we finally acknowledged that we need to be who we are. But this attack, the aftermath, the proverbial news spin just reminds us how unprotected we really are and how being ourselves still takes an act of great courage.

Recent reports have acknowledged that the perpetrator had been to Pulse several times before he came back for blood. He had connected with people on gay apps. It is not a huge stretch to realize that the cause of this might have nearly nothing to do with “Islamic Terrorism.” The shooter came from a strict religious upbringing, with a father who would rather acknowledge his son as a terrorist than a faggot. I can imagine that if this gunmen did know he was attracted to men, and never felt he would ever be free enough to love who he wanted to love, that his life must have been hell. He went to this club several times. He saw these same-sex, loving couples having the time of their lives. I can only imagine the rage he must have felt. Still, in his plan to take his life and others, he still couldn’t accept the truth. He had to make sure to call 911 to let him know that he was a “terrorist” to cover it up.

In coming to terms with being queer, there is a point where everyone feels a little homophobic. It is where you have to deprogram your mind from all the things that you are supposed to be in order to sort out what you really want to be. It is so much better when you have loving supportive friends and family to help you work through it. So many people don’t. That is why you see politicians, religious officials, and “upstanding” citizens get caught up in gay sex scandals. Most often, these are the same people who draw up the most scathing and destructive rebukes of homosexuals. One wonders if this is to just create a diversion so people do not question their sexual identity.

There is also something to be said about the ability to purchase a semi-automatic weapon of war within 30 minutes. It is completely legal in the United States. The gun manufacturer is guaranteed more protection under the law than the victims. Countless mass shootings continue to occur, and our representatives don’t lift a finger. What are they doing in Congress?

The frustration is palpable. RuPaul’s girls have been very vocal on social media about the friends and the lives they knew who were killed. They knew that nightclub. Two of the girls even performed there that night and managed to get out before it started. In an interview this week, RuPaul said, “This is a huge wake-up call for us on so many levels, there needs to be a shift in our collective consciousness.”

So, what do we do? Do we just sit around and keep bitching about it, hoping that our prayers are enough? I say, enough is enough. It is time to take some action. It is time to speak up. Just this morning, I personally contacted my local Congressional representatives. You can call or write them, and I will put the link to do so at the end of this post. It took 15 minutes, tops. Next, I wrote a letter to my local newspaper. Simple. Quick. Done.

The next thing I think needs to be done is to reclaim our safe spaces and be out and proud. My girl LyKra, Alex’s alter ego, entered a Drag Battle at a local gay bar. We have only just begun to take our drag out in public. It started just a month ago. We began going to a local Open Drag night. LyKra was well received. She has gotten several offers to perform more. Alex and Max are making costumes out of anything we can find, on a budget of nearly nothing.

I have a new appreciation for gay bars after this weekend. Anyone who walked in and paid that $3 cover was taking a silent stand that we wouldn’t let fear keep us from enjoying and being ourselves. Our reward was one of the best local drag shows I think I have ever seen. The theme was 80s, and LyKra killed the runway in an interpretation of Sigourney Weaver’s Zuul from Ghostbusters. The costume featured a Stay-Puff Marshmallow purse. For the talent portion, LyKra was dressed as Thundercat’s Cheetara performing Patty Smyth’s “The Warrior.” She did baton work with Cheetara’s staff and paused in the middle to recite Jane Fonda’s “warning to consult your doctor before working out” message from her 80s workout tapes. The audience lost it.

At the end of the night, LyKra took second to a queen who had mashed a chocolate cake in her face while she lip synced Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” For the final battle, the six contestants had to pull a card out of a bowl. The two with “battle” written on the card had to lip sync to Stacey Q’s “Two of Hearts.” When the two girls with the battle card were asked to come forward, LyKra was one of them.

I became extremely nervous. I kept yelling, “Oh, my God,” and grabbing Max’s shoulder. I was confident in LyKra’s abilities, but my heart pumped a mile a minute. I had nothing to worry about. LyKra, and her 400 lbs of gloriousness, killed it! The other queen kept looking at her and trying to copy what she was doing. LyKra didn’t miss any beat, she crawled on the floor, she danced up a storm, and in the end the audience couldn’t help but show their appreciation.

So, keep doing you. That is the best way to get over these senseless acts of negativity. Share your voice. Share your gifts. Be yourself. Spreading the light of love is fun and is the best way to confront darkness.

 

Contact your local representatives by clicking on the following link.

 

Spiritual Bad-Ass

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Recently, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by author Debbianne DeRose for her new Spiritual Bad-Ass Tv YouTube series. The series highlights a bunch of Spiritual Bad-Asses who have a lot to say in how we can all get in touch with our Spiritual Bad-Ass selves.

The interview was a chance to really put the message of this blog in a nut-shell. Being diagnosed with cancer is an opportunity. For me, it was a catalyst to discover who I really am and make a choice to live a more authentic life. In the process, I discovered self-love, self acceptance, and got in touch with my creative self – through the healing art of drag.

Please check out the video and podcast via the link below on Debbianne DeRose’s website:

http://spiritualbadass.tv/mimi-mackensie/

Sneaking In Some “Me” Time

 

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“Oh my god,” I finally breathed. “Everyone is out of the house.”

It is a rare moment. My father is out with my brother-in-law, and my sister has just gone out for what I figure would be a 20-30 walk with the hounds. The house is mine!

Being that my father is retired, and my brother-in-law and sister happen to be disabled, they almost never leave the house all at one time. It is time to have a little me time. I peer out of the front window to make sure that my sister is down the road. When I determine that the coast is safe, it is time to quickly squeeze in some good old fashion self love.

I run to my bedroom and close the door. Just in case, I lock it and shove a book bag in front of it. I walk to the bookshelf from across my bed and light an amber scented incense stick. With it aflame, I gently light the tea lights in my altar. One sits in a Buddha’s lap and the other in a rose quartz rock. They are surrounded by all sorts of other crystals I have collected over the years. Amethyst, obsidian, lapis, quartz of all kinds…designed to bring creativity, love, abundance, and protection. I light them to honor this special time. It brings a sort of holiness to the whole ritual.

I lay a towel on my bed, sit down, and reach under the bed for a special box. I take off the lid and pull out my good friend. It is a “Magic Wand.” I pause as I hear a car drive by; I am still a little weary of anyone arriving back home unexpected. I reach for a small bottle of lube and put a dime size amount on my fingers. I lay back and rub it towards the front of my vulva, right over the clit.

I look around my room. It is the tiny bedroom I spent my entire youth in. I can remember the cut out letters my mom stapled onto one wall when my kindergarten teacher told her that I didn’t know my alphabet. They had stayed on that wall until I graduated high school. I never thought I would be living in this room at the age of 38. I had left the coop and lived in Spain and Chicago, I had even bought a house in Kalamazoo, but the economic downturn circa 2008 mixed with fighting uterine cancer left me with no choice but to start over.

While on my back, I slipped the wand down my underpants and turned it on its lowest setting. As I start feeling the vibration, I work to relax. I had never successfully masturbated until I was in my thirties. My friends, wanting me to put myself out there, encouraged me to try to hook up with some guys after I had lost 60 pounds. In one weekend, I doubled the amount of people I had ever slept with. Bringing the total to a robust four. I slept with two guys in 24 hours, and I wasn’t really that satisfied. I felt like I was trying to accommodate them the entire time. I endured one guy titty fucking me, and another guy trying to forget he was in bed with a 300 lb woman. I became so frustrated that I decided I had to figure this whole masturbation thing out. I read internet articles, attended Pure Romance parties, and tried to peruse adult toy shops. I never felt comfortable talking with anyone else about my dilemma.

Eventually, I won a small bullet vibrator from a Pure Romance party. It laid dormant in my house for a while until I got so frustrated that I threw in some AA batteries and decided I had to figure this thing out. A friend once told me that she could only really orgasm from clitoral stimulation. At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about and I quickly changed the subject to something benign. Maybe she was right. I had played with fancy dildos that vibrated and had all kinds of things going on in them, but it didn’t do anything for me. Eventually, I decided to find this “clit” thing.

I tried going up and down the vulva until I figured out that something was going on when the bullet was at the very top. I felt so dirty trying to figure this out, and filled with so much self-hatred and self-judgment that I often stopped well short of orgasm. I didn’t even know what orgasm was still. Upon further exploration, I discovered that I felt I was driving up a cliff and about ready to jump off. I would get so scared that I would stop just before lift off. What if what I was doing was wrong? Was I going to hurt myself? I read some more articles that kept saying you have to relax and ride the wave.

Finally, one afternoon, I rode myself up to the cliff and against my better judgment, I jumped. My body lit up in ways I had no idea it could. I felt like I just plugged myself into an outlet and I was short-circuiting. Tingles and sparks flew through my body, tears came out of my eyes, and my crotch became warm and wet. More than wet, I felt like I had peed myself completely. I immediately stopped. What had I done? How gross?

Already embarrassed, I threw all my clothes and bedding into the washer and threw myself in the shower. I felt ashamed. It wasn’t until I conducted some further research that I realized that girls could cum too. It wasn’t “pee.” It didn’t smell like it. It was something else, something even the scientific community didn’t even understand.

I was proud that I finally figured out how to masturbate. I probably spent a few weeks doing it at every conceivable moment I could. I quickly learned that AA batteries were expensive and only good one or two times before I required more power. The “Magic Wand” was an investment. An investment in myself and a guarantee that I didn’t have to hold out til my next paycheck or raid my remote control for batteries to get me through.

As I started to warm up my body, I began to rub my hands over my breasts and play with my nipples. My skin is so smooth and my flesh is soft. I started to pinch my areolas as I worked my thighs together and apart. It felt good, but I was still a little too worried about my session being interrupted. You can’t rush it. I take a deep breath and switch the wand up to high. I start to tickle as the hum starts to match the vibration of my own body.

I begin to vocalize with the hum. As I feel the ripple of waves of exultation, I continue to grunt and sing out. My toes begin to curl with anticipation, and before I know it I am overtaken by the crash of magical, mystical, energy. I scream til my lungs empty of oxygen and ride the ride until I can’t take it anymore.

I immediately turn off the wand and pant. My body starts to calm, but it is hungry for more. I eagerly give it what it wants. I turn back on the wand and ride it. Over and over again, I ripple and scream with pleasure until I am drenched in my juices and exhausted of my desire.

I lay back and rest. I feel whole. Before I can fully enjoy the moment, I remember that I am on borrowed time. I quickly clean up my wand and put my toy box away. I throw my clothes and towel in the hamper and run to the bathroom. As I stand under the warm water, I know that I am safe. I take a long shower, gently caressing every area of myself. I try to love ever bit of me. My belly broken into three rolls, the saggy skin under my upper arms, my thick legs, and my flat ass. I lotion up and towel off. I slip on some fresh underwear, clean jeans, and a t-shirt.

I come downstairs and sit on the couch, beaming with renewed energy, smoking a cigarette, when my sister reenters the house. As she starts to recount all that occurred on her walk, I take a deep drag on my cigarette and know that I can handle it. I have taken care of myself. Today will be a good day no matter what.

Pride and Prejudice

June 26, 2015 was a tremendous day. I finally had enough money to secure car insurance (no small feat when you have been uninsured for 5 months), renew my driver’s license, and my car’s registration. My income had been reduced since the Spring college term ended, and I knew money would be tight. A series of errors in my payroll check for my summer gig at another community college made it even tighter. I knew I was going to have trouble paying. I knew I had to ask for help.

A week or more prior, I woke up one morning and put on my glasses. Unfortunately, they snapped and the left lens came flying on the floor. My father witnessed the aftermath and offered to buy me new glasses on the spot for my birthday. It was generous and was offered without the type of grumbling I am accustomed to dealing with in such matters. As the date of my birthday continued to draw near, and I continued to deal with payroll issues, I realized that I would not be able to pay the Secretary of State.

The boys suggested that I skip the glasses, wear contacts, and ask my father to spend the money on car insurance. It was logical. It was practical. I had an appointment at the optical department at Walmart the next day. All I had to do was tell my Dad and cancel it. When I woke up the next morning, I tried to build the courage to have that conversation for an hour and just couldn’t. I went to the appointment with my father and got glasses.

I felt horrible that I couldn’t do it. I was embarrassed and afraid. Eventually, through conversations with my sister and the boys, I realized that I had to come clean to my father. We had a brief private conversation where I told him that I didn’t want him to perceive that I was just trying to mooch off of him. I felt horrible about asking him for anything, inconveniencing him, but I needed help. Being honest and vulnerable was the only way I was going to get the help I needed. With minimal grumbling, my father helped out with funds.

So, I was sitting at the Secretary of State when the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage was announced. I knew it was coming, but was surprised to see that it actually happened. It was hard to maintain my composure. With so many people around me, did they know? No one talked about it out loud, but I furiously surfed Facebook and news websites for the details. I was so consumed that the hour and a half wait seemed to take only 5 minutes.

I went to hang out with the boys for the day. We were going to celebrate my birthday. I could tell that they were a little off. We didn’t talk about it for a few hours. When it was addressed, it was related to posting a line of the doxology in a comment to my former pastor’s post embracing the same sex marriage ruling. The boys thought it was inauthentic of me to post, “Glory be to God from whom all blessing flow,” because my current religious positioning was less than traditional doctrine. I told them that I thought it was appropriate because it was a very Presbyterian thing to do in response to a big decision, the election or church leaders, offering, etc.

What this started was a catalyst to talk about needing to be open. I have a side of me that was raised Presbyterian. I have a side of me that sees my home church as a second family, but I rarely have talked about this with them. It is like I categorized things in my head, and if I wasn’t in that section…I don’t normally share it. It is not intentional omission. It does sort of feed the concept of being different things to different people. That is where the struggle is real. You build relationships with people at work, at church, at the bar…..but what happens when those people come together? Who knows the real you? I know it is possible to be authentic all the time, but I hadn’t lived my life that way until recently.

The boys also seem to point out that I was more excited by the day’s ruling than they were. I was flying the pride flag, but I didn’t mention that I was also part of the LGTB community. I had thought about posting something earlier in the day, but waited until we would be together to do it. I had even done a draft of what it would be. We shaped the final draft together, talked about the pros and cons to posting it, and eventually I cut and pasted it into a status update. It was the moment that I had fully come out as a lesbian on Facebook.

We went swimming for an hour. We found a way to toss each other up and out of the water several times, sending massive amounts of water out of the pool. It felt great. It felt like a celebration. I felt weightless for a moment in time. When we came back, several people had liked the post and some left sweet comments. I felt a ton of love.

The love continued over the weekend. Several people sent me lovely birthday messages, my father said he was proud of me and loved me, and I even got to go to my favorite pizza pub and eat my cake too. It was a great birthday weekend.

On Monday, I felt like I was riding the wave until the boys shared with me that Max’s sister’s fiancé had posted some anti-gay stuff on his Facebook page. He even added an American flag filter to counter the pride flag filters that people were adding to their profile pictures. Knowing that Max’s sister had talked to Max on the Friday of the Supreme Court ruling, asking if Alex and Max wanted to get married with them on the same day the following week, at the same ceremony, because now they could, they felt compelled to bring it up to her. She immediately said that she couldn’t take sides, brought up a stupid free speech argument, and ignored any discussion with her brother, even though he was hurt. She did have her fiancé take down the post, but he just replaced it with a picture of a flag transposed over a wave at the beach scene. Whatever.

It would have been left there, but the next day she decided to post an article on “Jesus’s Response to the Gays” with a comment that thanked her fiancé for showing her the “real truth.” In the article, it clearly stated that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Alex was compelled to respond, asking if she really thought that his relationship with her brother for the last 14 years was sinful and what was he supposed to do as a gay man in the situation. I took another tactic. I told her that before she decides to start pointing out the sins in others, she might want to look in the mirror. Last time I checked, she had a long laundry list of her own sins that would keep her busy. I also made mention that her value system seem to shift as often as the weather. She was neither better nor worse than anyone else.

Max’s sister replied to the comments from Alex and me. She mentioned that she had only posted the article and wasn’t pointing fingers at anyone. That provoked another response from Alex and I. Alex offered nothing but love and I offered her a “bullshit.” Later that day, a call between her and the boys confirmed that she did think they were sinners and that marriage should be between a man and a woman. She played the victim. Why couldn’t she exercise her right to free speech? Why couldn’t they come to her church and confess their sins? Why were they always trying to put her on the spot and cause drama?

The boys tried to calmly explain that she was the one posting this stuff. Shouldn’t they have a right to tell her, as her brothers, that it was hurting them? Other people read this stuff, and it didn’t reflect well on her. When confronted, all she could spew was her recently acquired opinions that she had been taught or nothing at all. She couldn’t take responsibility for her words or her actions.

While the boys were going back and forth with Max’s sister, I was burning a little. I was glad that I had a chance to voice my opinion to her but it didn’t feel right. Max and Alex deserved better. They have always been “out.” Max’s sister knew this about him. For years, she had been vocal about supporting him. She would share that her brother was gay and that others should be tolerant. Now, all of a sudden, she was singing a different tune.

I contacted some friends privately on Facebook, and asked them to send Alex and Max a love note. They did, and I think it did touch them. I was often included in them, and was really moved by the love and support. I tried to take a nap to forget about it. I tried to get lost in an episode of “So You Think You Can Dance,” but the momentary relief was replaced by a nagging feeling once I left my mind unoccupied.

I texted the boys to see if there was anything else going on. Apparently, she blocked them from her Facebook. She also defriended me. The boys seemed okay. In a way, it gave Alex fuel to proceed with his drag queen career. If he feared that others would throw similar fits, and this was what it was like, than proceed ahead because he knew he could handle any bully. It feels better to live an authentic life instead of caring how others perceived you.

There was a question of whether or not we would attend the wedding. After the initial confrontation, the boys felt like they were going to go so she couldn’t throw it in their faces latter. Now, I am not so sure where they stood. Why would you want to go when she has gone out of her way to make you miserable? For someone who repeatedly plays old tape about how the men in her life keep abandoning her, she really tries to throw a fantastic fit so life follows suit. Why wouldn’t she vow that love is conditional? In order to be worthy of love, you had to fit all the conditions in her world. That is all the love she feels she deserves. Needless to say, we ended up not going.

I thanked the boys for handling the situation with such dignity and class. They confronted her with love, even though she couldn’t handle it. Instead of getting swept up in hurt and disgust, they made peace with the situation and forgave her, knowing that she was fighting her own demons. Less than a week ago, I feared that I might have gotten such a response. Seeing them actually get one, made me feel that I could handle it too, so I need not be afraid. I blocked Max’s sister so I never had to see her words again.

I woke up today hoping that I had finally shaken the bad vibes off. For the most part, I had. What was odd was that she hadn’t deleted my sister as a Facebook “friend.” My sister noticed some alarming things on her news feed. I told her to not show me, but I couldn’t resist. There were six stupid posts inferring that we were “intolerant,” “assholes,” and “judgmental.” I told my sister that she was never to tell me about any of her posts again. I went to my room to get ready for work. When I came out, my sister told me that she had posted some things on her news feed, mostly clips about how the Bible shouldn’t be used to beat people with and that the most important commandment was to love your neighbor. I smiled. It was sweet. My younger sister, one of the most devout people I know, was defending her lesbian sister and her gay sudo brothers. It goes to show that there is more love out there than hate, and siblings can get along….even on Facebook.

Love Wins!

Today is a watershed moment. As little as a decade ago, I didn’t know if I would see this moment in my lifetime. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld what I have always known was true. Gay people are human, and we deserve equal rights as citizens of the United States.

Today marks a new history. Although there are many who still cling to the idea that homosexuality is a mental illness, a new generation of children will grow up never thinking that gay people getting married is an issue. Just maybe, gay won’t be wrong or weird, just normal. Children can grow up and not be ashamed of who they are attracted to. Dating the same sex may be normal; it could be a nonissue.
I don’t know how my life would have been different if this was the case. It took me 36 years and a diagnosis of uterine cancer to finally come to terms with my truth. I still fight feelings of not being worthy. I am still afraid to fully express my sexuality. I know that just holding hands with a girl in public could still provoke negative reactions or physical harm. Even being a gay teacher could cost me my job.

As I celebrate my 38th birthday on this planet, thousands of couples will be able to finally marry those that they love. Loving couples who may have already been married will finally have their unions recognized, and thousands more can at least contemplate the option of getting married to someone.

I am grateful to be given the hope that maybe, just maybe, one day that person will be me.

Trust

Leaving my job took some balls. I was raised in a home where you better just take what you can get and deal with it. Just think of all those people out there who are unemployed and/or homeless. You don’t want to be one of them do you?

We are conditioned to believe that we need to work hard for everything. If you are not exhausting yourself by the end of the day, you are capable of doing more. If you see things that you don’t like at your workplace, you are to shut up and keep your nose to the grindstone. Don’t stand out. Don’t be a target.

In your list of priorities, a lot of people might say they put “God” or their family first, but take a look at the time and energy they spend on things and work is really the their first priority. This is conditioned from a very early age. My parents both worked. My parents would justify their dedication at work as their method of supporting us. I could even almost understand it if their work really filled their passions, but it didn’t. They were distracted. Sometimes it was a pleasant distraction, but it didn’t really fulfill them.

I don’t recommend that people just quit their jobs when they get frustrated or angry. I do recommend that if you find that what you are doing is not serving you, to honestly consider trying something else. Let yourself be inspired to move towards that which brings you real joy and fulfillment. You might not even know what that means right now, but just asking yourself the question is a start.

One thing that I have gained is time. At first, when you are not used to taking time to be with yourself, it can feel unpleasant. Many people pack their day with activities to avoid being with themselves and dealing with their baggage. With the lack of activity, it is easy to hear your fear based thoughts and develop anxiety over the future.

I find that I have gotten better with this over the years, but there is always going to be a part of you that will have a foot in the past or a little concern over how what you are doing might be perceived by others. I have been working on focusing on myself and not giving a rip about what other people think. It is hard to not feel guilty about doing this because I have been taught that being “selfish” is a bad thing. Really, the only way you can thrive and help others is be being “selfish.”

When you allow yourself enough space to separate yourself from the noise of the world, you can focus on your needs more clearly. I have time to focus on what I am most curious about. I have time to follow my interests. This allows you to develop some clarity on who you really are.

Our journey on this planet is based on us wanting to learn and grow. It is supposed to be fun. Just the fact that we are here and breathing makes us worthy. If we are attracted to a way of life, or when we see something we authentically desire, the Universe says okay, it is done. Abraham Hicks says that our rockets of desire deliver our manifestations in a sort of vibration escrow until we raise our vibration to match our desires. We don’t have to necessarily have to be asking consciously, it is automatic. We determine what we really want in the contrast of our lives. What we need to do is to figure out how to raise our vibrations to the point of allowing.

My main focus in this time has been how to raise my vibration. How can I fill myself with more joy? As my self-worth has increased, I realize that I want to take care of myself better. I want to feel at my optimal. I want to tune my instrument so I sound better when I am played because I know that I am worth it.

As I look for ways to raise my vibration, I have also found myself working through old bad tape. I often find that when I visit with Max and Alex, I feel comfortable enough to start examining areas of my life that don’t feel as good. Sometimes this is just in a conversation, but I also meet a lot of my fears when we are dressing up in drag.

As you can imagine, it takes some balls for a man to dress up in women’s underwear and prance around in heels. Yeah, some queens make it look natural, but the truth is that you have to confront all the stereotypes and negativity that you perceive others to have toward your art. It questions your sexuality, your sanity. As an overweight girl who has identity issues of her own, it can equally be as scary.

When I relax and submit myself to the process, I have to often confront my own fears and insecurities. I have noticed that I am completely overly sensitive to touch. Yes, I have been celibate most of my life and I am sure that it plays a role. I haven’t been touched much as an adult, and I feel like I was often neglected as a child in the touch department. Touch might be a sensory overload. Still, when I feel overwhelmed, there is a more carnal fear. I worry for my safety and go crazy.

After a recent freak out, Max asked if I had ever been sexually assaulted. My immediate answer is no. I haven’t been kidnapped. I haven’t been raped. I didn’t have relatives touch me inappropriately, so no. When I think about when I might have had similar freak out sessions to touch in my life, there is a set of experiences that do come to mind.

In middle school, I was a fat awkward little girl. I had boobs before most of the other girls in my class. In some way, I must have also known that I didn’t like boys. I know I was a really easy target. Leave it to a hand full of guys on my bus to focus in on me. They called me “Titanic.” From the second I got on the school bus, to the moment I got off, I was harassed by these guys. I was often fondled by them, called names, had horrible pranks played on me, you name it.

It went on for three years. During that time, no teacher or school administrator ever did anything. I told no one. It was pervasive enough that I knew adults saw it happening. Their lack of interest in confronting them, only lead me to believe that the students had more power than the adults. I didn’t mention it to my parents, because they were big bullies to me too. My mom had told me previously that if someone was being mean to me, it was my fault. My father made fun of my weight all the time. I felt like they didn’t have my back.

As an adult, I feel I should be over it. I never thought of it as sexual assault, even though it had aspects of unwanted touch and coercion, because it wasn’t “bad” enough. I had assumed that these incidents were only meant to humiliate me. I attached my self worth to what they thought of me. I didn’t feel that they desired me sexually. Maybe I did ask for it by just being that ugly.

What I have come to realize is that it was abuse. The fear they instilled in me still lingers. I learned so well from my bullies that I became my biggest bully. I believe this is how other sexual assault victims must feel like.

My intention in telling this story isn’t to rehash the emotion of it, but to understand why my primary responses are what they are. I am trying to confront the old tape and you have to be able to look at that initial old tape honestly. I didn’t deserve to be teased. I didn’t deserve to be assaulted. Now that I understand that I am worth better treatment, I have to confront one key aspect of my damage: trust.

Trust is the faith that ultimately everything is coming out of a place of love. Fear can’t exist in an environment of love. We trust because we have to. We feel better when we do.

Too often, we let past experiences or the acts of a few people destroy our capacity for trust. I believe that most people show their true colors early, and it is okay to reserve our trust for people who have proven themselves trustworthy. But for those of us with huge trust issues, we can find people who we trust and still hesitate to give them trust because of our fear of being screwed over.

As Alex was draping me with some fabric for a dress, he took out sharp shears to trim off some of the access. The entire time I was filled with fear. I was terrified of being cut which makes it so much easier for one to cut you. Alex had made sure that his hand was in the way, so if anyone were going to be cut, it would be him. He made sure to be extra careful. Besides, he had done this before with success.

I trust Alex and Max more than I trust anyone else in the world, but I couldn’t surrender. The fear backed up till I couldn’t take it anymore and I exploded in tears and protests. I was overwhelmed by emotion.

Fear is incompatible with anything you really want. It is our emotional guidance system letting you know that you are far out of alignment with how Source views the situation. Yet, it can emotionally hijack you. Your body courses in all sorts of chemicals, endorphins and hormones. Your body resorts to the primitive fight or flight response.

You can just let yourself get enveloped in the situation and break off friendships or vow never to do certain things again to try an avoid an unpleasant response, or you can try to check yourself out of the emotion and try to examine it as a third person. When you know a response is crazy, and have the ability to stand back and really reflect on what is going on objectively. This process really helps provide one with clarity. I knew immediately what I did not want, so I can now see what it is that I do want and walk closer to it.

I have noticed that when I am fed and have been fairly stable up to this point, I can separate myself from the experience to mine the nuggets I need for growth. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have a melt down from time to time, but it shortens its duration and allows for a quicker and more long lasting recovery.

I used to not trust that I could have a mini-meltdown without alienating myself from others. I used to be so embarrassed and used these incidents as a way to shame spiral for weeks. Once you can establish that you are a good person, no matter what, and you have developed a team of people that you can trust to be vulnerable with, you can overcome what ever it is that you need to.

This experience led me to focus on an area that I want to improve in my life: trust. Although I know that I feel better while doing it, I am still not where I need to be to improve my vibration. Besides, I don’t want to live the rest of my life always being convinced that someone is around the corner, just wanting to screw me over. Life is too short to waste good energy on that.

I noticed something else from this incident. As I distrusted the process of the shears coming at me and the person behind it, I created the right atmosphere to deliver exactly what I feared. If my worst fear was being cut, my trembling only produced fear in the person trying to perform the act, which could lead to more mistakes. Really, what was the worst that could happen? Be cut? Even if I was, it wasn’t going to really hurt me. Some people knowing that they even feared this outcome would prevent themselves from even being in that situation. This might produce a temporary comfort, but missing out on the experience prevents one to benefit from addressing one’s fears and from enjoying the fruits of getting beyond the fear.

Aren’t we taught that we should always be striving for perfection? Anytime we fall short, haven’t we been taught that failure is the worst outcome possible? Aren’t we told that if we can’t do something perfectly, that we shouldn’t try at all? In reality, failure is the only way to find success. We often have to figure out what doesn’t work so that we know what does work. Great thinkers often produce 1000s of bad experiments, drafts, or products before they get the one breakthrough that changes everything.

People often say that they may have trusted someone or something and then one thing occurred that made them question their trust. Because their trust was no longer perfect, they decide that they have to refrain from trusting in order to preserve themselves. Their lack of trust just attracts more incidents to cement their distrust. It can create so much fear that people just cower in their beds.

What I am learning is that trust is the belief that, more often than not, the Universe is only interested in our well-being. Trust is excepting that the major energy at play in our life is on our side. Trust is believing that you are worthy and that we are all connected. Trust is believing that other people are for the most part good. Trust is believing that we are all connected. Trust is believing that what we are called to do, what we are inspired to create, is worthwhile. Trust is knowing that what you need in this life will be provided for you. Trust is knowing that the core of this Universe is love.

When we can accept this, when we can believe that we can trust, we relax. Things will happen organically. Life is easier. We enjoy ourselves more because we are not constantly looking over our backs. Our energy is free from being rerouted to counter fear. All of a sudden, we have an abundance of energy to focus on things that are aligned with our true power. We allow ourselves to become aligned with who we really are. We become aligned with our true self, which extends beyond our physical manifestation. We realize that we don’t have to fear death, because there is no such thing. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. We are eternal.

Once you are more clear about who you are and why you are here, you can start to see others in the same way that Source views them. Other people are kinder to you. Your relationships become deeper. You learn to love yourself and others. You realize that there is more that unites us than divides us.

The trick is when you decide to have full faith in the Universe, and in yourself, do not lose it if you see a slight flaw. When someone you trust messes up, how can you learn to forgive? How can you learn from the contrast? The trick is when you trust, it needs to be unconditional. You need to allow room for us to be human, to make errors. Often, what we perceive to be a mistake is actually a good thing. Most things that happen in life are neither good nor bad. They are just a necessary part of the journey. Although we might not be able to understand the significance in that moment, often such incidents are meant to push us toward what we really want.

I trust that the best part of my story is still ahead of me. I trust that I am right where I am supposed to be. I trust that there are really no mistakes. I trust that no matter what, I will be okay.

The Art of Allowing

I made it. I made it to my 37th birthday. This past year has been a whirlwind. I went from finally admitting that I like girls, to being diagnosed with cancer, having my lady bits ripped out, pouring drugs down my veins, radiating my torso to the edge of reasonable limits, getting a leave of absence from work, shaking off my house and my mortgage, and actually going on more dates than I had ever had previously in my life. I have never felt more fear, love, joy, and abundance.

Even though a list of everything that has happened to me this year may appear to be a list of sorrow and tragedy, I feel it is exactly the opposite. I have learned to trust more than I ever have in my life. I learned to communicate and build relationships. I learned to love myself first. I have also been learning how to love, receive offerings of love and appreciation, and show my love to others. The impact of these lessons has enriched my life in a way that I never realized it was possible to feel.

How does one top off such a year? With the most spectacular birthday party ever!

I didn’t know how good my birthday was going to be before it happened. I tend to understand that my birthday is a lot like Christmas in recent years. It would come and it would go. There might be a fun gift here or there, but it wasn’t going to be mind blowing. Getting older didn’t always sit well with me either. Here is another loveless, sexless year. What was I doing with my life? I felt all the pressure of being the town hag: childless, partnerless, pathetic. Instead of a day of celebration, it was really just a day for emotional abuse.

Because of this year, and all the growth I have gone through, I didn’t look at my birthday the same way. I didn’t have to hold down the label of being the poor, childless, unwedded, single, fat girl. I embraced the cute, quarky lesbian who chose a life without the shackles I have been told from birth that I needed. I wasn’t relationshipless; I was surrounded by friends who loved me. I didn’t have to feel judgment about not being enough because I finally discovered that I am enough.

At the beginning of the week, I decided that I was going to celebrate my birthday every day. I had one good meal and one delicious pastry every day. I bought myself an early birthday present. I treated myself with love and gratitude. It may sound ridiculous, but when you have never practiced this level of self-love…it is a weird and wonderful thing. It took so much effort to be so mean to myself in the past. It took so little effort to love myself and make me feel good.

My birthday started after midnight, with a shout-out from my beloved boys, Alex and Max. It was clear that they had some things planned for me, but I was to be patient for them to be revealed.

I went home and relaxed for a minute. My father arrived 25 minutes early to pick me up. He knocked on my door, which made me jump. When I answered, he came in holding a birthday card. I opened it. The card had a lovely message that stated that I had always had a hold over him, that he loved me. It also contained a fifty-dollar check. That was the most money I have gotten from my Dad in ages. I was shocked.

We walked out to the car and he paused and looked at me. “I don’t want you to go to this restaurant just for me; it is your birthday,” he stated. We had talked about going to this little Italian restaurant. It was a little pricey, but the food was delicious. I told him that I was excited to go there.

The restaurant is in an old building that used to house a machine shop. The ceiling had the kind of detail you just don’t see very often. The walls were old brick. The dining room had a capacity of less than a fifty people, and it was busier than any other time I had been in there.

We dined on a Cesar salad, Chicken Marsala with roasted red potatoes, asparagus, and a bottle of Chianti. It was absolutely delicious. For desert, I got a raspberry glazed cheesecake and my father had the cannoli. Over the delicious food, my father and I chatted about random stuff. Then he brought up that he wanted to talk to me sense the incident in December, my kidnapped coming out episode. He apologized that he dragged me to events that I didn’t want to go to. I explained to him that it wasn’t that I hadn’t enjoyed his company, or even the event and people that we got to experience together, the problem was that I was having difficulty telling him when it began to become really inconvenient because I didn’t want to disappoint him. The bigger message of the whole incident was that I wanted to be more honest and open with him, but I hesitated because I didn’t want to upset him or have him think anything less of me.

He began to tell me that it came as a surprise, because he was always an open book. What you see is what you get. My mother, on the other hand, was completely closed off. She never spoke of certain subjects around him. She also would get very upset with him, but never tell him why. He only realized it when her purse came flying at his head. Although this may sound over exaggerated, it was actually very true. I told him that it was obvious that my mother had the inability to be emotionally available to anyone. She was never really vulnerable to us, her family. The closest person to her, my Aunt April, didn’t even know everything. My mom just considered herself completely worthless. If she didn’t speak about something that happened to her, it was because she held an incredible amount of shame over it.

I told my father that he should never feel unable to ask me something. I said that my siblings and I want to feel able to be more vulnerable, but that the legacy of our mother had impacted all of us to hold similar demons. It wasn’t because he was a flawed person, or lousy husband that she was unable to open up to him, it was problem much larger than him. I felt a little sad that my father never really had the kind of relationship where he felt closer to his other half. It made me understand why I am the way that I am.

He was also concerned that Alex didn’t like him. He commented that he had never had problems with Max. I had to giggle. During my coming-out pow-wow, Alex sat with me to help me communicate with my father. He made it a point to guide the conversation, and didn’t hesitate to point out the truth or stand up for me. He was never mean, but my father had never had someone be so honest with him directly. I could see how my father could have interpreted it as an attack, because he was direct and honest even if he knew it might hurt a little. My father couldn’t distinguish it as a sign of love because the ego got in the way. I saw it as another surprise moment where I got some insight as to why I react in certain situations the way that I do. I also pointed out that Alex has never hated him, nor did he currently hold any ill will toward him.

The whole conversation was therapeutic in a way. I could tell at the end that my father didn’t really want to go. We sat for a while after we had eaten. He finished his coffee, than waited until he finished his wine. He talked about wanting to get an electric scooter, like a Hoveround, so he could walk the dogs and enjoy festivals again. I gave him permission to drive around a little bit. We checked out some medical supply stores, even though they were closed. Eventually, he dropped me back off at home. I couldn’t tell if he was reluctant to go home because of dealing with my brother-in-law who lived there, or because he just wanted to spend time with me. I hope it was the latter.

I was really touched by dinner, but I was excited to go over to Alex and Max’s. I knew they were up to something. I went over to their house as soon as I was done. I walked in to the studio being up and ready. I crept behind the green screen to find Alex in mid-makeup. He had texted me the link to a video.

Okay, I LOVE So You Think You Can Dance. One of the judges is the bubbly ballroom aficionado, Mary Murphy. The video Alex sent me was of him dressed up as “Fairy Murphy.” Alex had on a brown wig with bangs, dark rimmed glasses and no make-up. Fairy Murphy had seen some tape of me dancing and was to become my talent agent for a modeling/dance company. She had already booked me for my first video. The hint was that I would be Maddie. Huh? The video also had an ending title of amusing non-sense, “Save the Pandas! Eat salted vaginas.”

Well, Alex had it all set up. We were going to do a dance video to Sia’s Chandelier, the same video that Maddie from Dance Moms danced so beautifully in. He had laid out my costume, which was pretty dead on. He was going to be kind of a black swan in it. I got dressed and he put on my make-up. The make-up application was super soothing. I felt like I was at a spa.

We did several takes. Some had us playing with rope lights, others with fabric. It was the first video that we did where I felt completely open. I didn’t harbor any self-consciousness. I just tried to interpret the music. At the end, Alex and I collapsed from exhaustion. I looked like a sack of potatoes on the ground. He asked if I wanted to order pizza, and I yelled out, “yes.” Max came home from play rehearsal to find us post video, collapsed on the floor. I am sure it was a sight.

Clean up from the video took almost no time. I had a moment with Max and told him about all the fun stuff. He looked at me directly and stated, “I know. No, really. I know.” It was clear that Alex and him had been planning this out for a while. I had been walking through it just endlessly surprised and thrilled. I had no expectations; I was just open. It was a fun feeling. So many times, I have been in my head on a day like today. I would be trying to figure out why I was still such a loser on my birthday. Why wasn’t I where I wanted to be? This birthday, I had none of that negative talk in my head. I was just open, open to receiving. I wanted to be present. I didn’t want to miss any part.

The pizza was delicious. I couldn’t wait to see some of the video we shot. We started peeking at some of it when Alex’s brother and his boyfriend showed up. Alex’s brother was in a good mood, but his boyfriend was clearly uncomfortable. This was the second time we really met him. The first time ended with him getting drunk and leaving early to see a dying pet cat.

As I was talking to the brother and boyfriend, Alex yelled for Max to come to the bedroom. The boyfriend looked directly at Alex’s brother and said, “Look. We aren’t the only ones,” as if it was normal to yell at your partner. Alex was just trying to get Max so they could present my cake and balloons. Alex and Max emerged with it, fully lit with “Happy Birthday” candles. I felt like I was having movie play out before my eyes. It was beautiful. It was Instagram. The colors were so bright. Alex and Max sang “Happy Birthday” in harmony. I could have bawled. The last time I had a birthday so perfect, I was thirteen and being presented with a cake a vacation Bible school. My family had kind of forgotten my birthday, so it was a time where I felt so loved. This was definitely on that level. I made a wish and blew out the candles.

The cake was delicious. I am a cake savant. I know every bakery in the area. This one was from a great bakery just down the street. It was beautifully decorated. The frosting was light and whipped. The cake was moist and white. The raspberry filling between the tiers was to die for. I loved every bite.

All five of us tried to relax and get to know each other after the cake. The boyfriend was completely closed off. Trying to get him to open up and have fun was like trying to extract teeth. It was painful. I realized that the boys had complained that I used to act the same way. It was like the boyfriend felt like he wasn’t worthy; he was convinced the boys wouldn’t like him, so he threw more ammunition at them to hate him with. I noticed that as much as he felt we were judging him, his comments would indicate that he was totally judging us. He even just got up and left mid-conversation to smoke without excusing himself.

It was awkward and weird. You could tell that Alex’s brother was grateful to be over and he was happy and just wanted to play with us; the fact that his boyfriend was being a boob kind of embarrassed him. I was impressed at the kindness and inclusiveness Alex’s brother showed him. I could see that he was a good boyfriend and it was sweet. I was even surprised at how much Alex and Max were trying their best to be authentic and welcome him to the fold. I could tell that the boyfriend couldn’t accept it. He was so miserable that he couldn’t see how much love was there for him. I felt bad for him. I felt bad for my old self, but was really glad that I wasn’t stuck there anymore.

I wanted to completely check out. I was having a lovely birthday and he was dragging the energy down. Instead of closing off, I just decided that I was going to be totally open and honest. I usually reserve this uncensored version of me for the boys, but hell, it was my birthday. If he didn’t like me, it was his problem. Besides, if he really wants to be a part of this family, he better get used to it. I kind of shocked myself with how vulnerable I was and felt proud of being unapologetically myself. It came across like one of the final scenes in Auntie Mame. In it, her nephew is getting ready to marry a girl who was super shallow just because she was the epitome of what society thought a good guy should marry. The simple act of being herself, and inviting her friends and her nephew’s beloved characters in his life to be themselves, ticked off the girl and her family and called off the wedding. At first her nephew was embarrassed to death, but he could finally see through his fiancé and her family’s hollowness. This was not the family that he ever wanted to be a part of.

After the brother and his boyfriend left, Alex, Max, and I watched the rest of the raw footage from the video. It was great. We laughed until we cried and I wet my pants. I was told to go home and rest up because I was going to have a big day ahead of me. Before I went, there was a new message texted to me. Fairy Murphy had seen the tape and loved it. I was booked for a world tour. I needed to get my passport ready.

I didn’t have a passport. “Oh,” the boys remarked. “We got that handled.”

I was presented with a beautiful card made out of construction paper. It was a passport for my journey around the world. It was absolutely beautiful. It had obviously taken some time to make. Alex admitted that he glued all the pieces together with spirit gum (usually used to flatten his eyebrows while doing drag). Inside the card were several boxes just waiting to be stamped with my great adventures.

I went home completely stoked. It was already one of the best birthdays EVER. I still had a full day of festivity left. I was almost a little too excited to sleep; I couldn’t wait. Meanwhile, poor Alex and Max were busy out of their minds. Alex hadn’t really slept in days, and I couldn’t even begin to comprehend how much more he and Max busted out that night to make the next day even more perfect.

I was instructed by Fairy Murphy to return to the studio by noon, not any earlier nor any latter. She also added a hilarious tip, “wear gloves to a wake.” When I arrived, Alex and Max were definitely tired. They appeared to be far from rested. I was told that I needed to have my phone with me at all times throughout the day. I got my first text. It was from my Choreo-lady-bro, Tappy Nabs (taken from the powerhouse hip-hop choreographers and couple, Napoleon and Tabitha, nicknamed Nappy Tabs). Max was dressed up in a blonde wig with a thin, red shiny headband. His face was covered in blue eye shadow, bright pink cheeks, and bright red lips. His arms were bedazzled with a ton of bracelets. The clip ended with the message, “Show only your tits when mom is near.”

Tappy Nabs said that my first stop was Illinois. It was there that I was going to enjoy a special treat known by billions all over the world. I honestly had no idea what that meant. I grabbed my phone and passport and joined the boys in the car. They kept asking me if I knew where I was going. I had no idea, but my belly was grumbling. I actually felt a pain in my stomach and groaned a little in surprise, but didn’t let on to Max when he asked that I was hungry. Next thing I knew, we were pulling into a McDonald’s. Get it? McDonald’s was started in Illinois. Alex gave me a badge with a construction paper replica of the golden arches to tape in my passport. I ordered a bacon cheese Quarter pounder. It tasted so good. The sustenance also made the boys perk up.

Like clockwork, I got my next text when we had finished. Nappy Tabs said I was booked for a gig in exotic India. Again, the boys asked if I knew what that meant. I had no idea. Kama Sutra? Bollywood? Alex drove leisurely through town. I was enjoying the drive but the car was not. The transmission was slipping between first and second gear. With each slip, the car would jerk like it was going to stall. I started to worry if we were going to make it to where ever we were going. I was particularly nervous going up a steep hill on the west side of town. Before I knew it, Alex slipped into a very familiar parking lot. It belonged to a hair supply shop that we had recently discovered.

“You are going to get a new wig!” the boys exclaimed. “Of thirty-five dollars or less,” Max added. I was STOKED! I really wanted a new wig. The last time I wore one, I had to wear a long one twisted up and pinned because it was too hot on my neck. I also thought my wigs were a little too dark for my complexion. Besides that, the boys and I have had some friction in the past because I don’t choose the right wigs and I am not always patient enough to wait for them to help me out. I didn’t have to worry about any of that. They were both here and they both wanted to make sure I got the cutest wig possible. I was given a badge with a girl’s head with a black bob and eagerly placed it in my passport.

I just walked into the store fully with open energy. As we walked to the wig corner, I was overwhelmed with all the possibilities. The boys asked if anything caught my fancy. I was just star struck. They began to pick out different options and styles. I tried on one; it didn’t really work. Max picked out a short, curly style. At first, I put it on with the part down the center. I looked like a redneck Carrot Top. Just as I was about to take it off, I twisted the wig so the part was on the side. This tiny movement made the wig just totally stand out. All I could imagine was a nerdy, book-wise hipster lesbian getting ready to walk into Whole Foods in Ann Arbor to look for artisanal cheeses. It just fit.

The boys loved it. They thought it was the most authentic to my personality wig I had ever put on. You could tell they were extremely pleased; especially when they found out it was only twenty dollars. I loved it so much that I wore it out of the store.

My next text from Tappy Nabs told me that I was take in the azure waters of Hawaii. I was to take in the clear waters and enjoy the local cuisine. I was given a badge that I thought was a mock up of an island, but twisted the right way was obviously a Hawaiian lei. The video ended with the note, “I buy rice when I am broke.”

We returned to the boys’ house where the rest of the day would unfold. Originally, the boys thought they were going to be really broke on my birthday. It had been a super tough month for them financially, so they concocted all of this when they thought they had nothing else to give. Alex got paid early, which enhanced some of the plans, but everything was built to capitalize on what we had and what they knew I loved. It was as exciting as a holiday was when you were a little kid and made decorations out of your scraps. What made it special was the time and energy involved. I was already blown away with everything. It was beyond anything anyone has ever done for me before.

Before we made it to the pool, Alex brought out some goodies. He had a blow-up toy for each of us. They were bought from the dollar store and were the appropriate size for a Cabbage Patch doll. I had a hard time blowing up my blue half ring, with a porpoise head. I worked on it for twenty minutes concerned about my breathing capabilities until Max pointed out a huge hole on one end. Still, they were fun. I was even presented with a plastic coconut beverage holder filled with a tropical punch. They had a lid with a straw, and a flourish of fake greenery on top. I got me a floppy sun hat to wear so I wouldn’t burn my head, and everyone was also given Hawaiian lei to add to the atmosphere.

We had put up the pool a week or two earlier but had not swam in it yet this year. I haven’t been able to swim for nearly a year. I wasn’t allowed to after all the procedures that I had. Now, fully healed, I could join the fun. I put on the new swimsuit I had order early in the summer. It was pin-up style, black with cherries all over it and a sweetheart neckline.

I was eager to climb up the staircase to the pool. Of course, it was wobbly and unstable like always. I have always been a little scared of slipping on it, but I hadn’t tried it since my surgery. Stairs have been my downfall after surgery. I have always been afraid of falling down stairs or ladders. I don’t know why. It is just a thing.

After the surgery, my thighs lost a lot of their strength. At first, I had trouble getting up and down stairs because I had no strength. Knowing that I had no strength, I knew I had to be careful because my thighs could give out. This made my fear of steps grow even worse. Once the boys moved their living room upstairs, I had to face this nearly every day. It would take me 5 minutes to do the stairs on any given occasion, and it is only one flight. I had made great progress over the last couple of months on the stairs. I can even do them without holding the rail on occasion, sometimes leg over leg.

I had not done anything as complicated as a ladder yet. Going up it was harder on the knees than I remembered. Getting up to the top, putting my foot over the side, and swinging over to walk down the other side was terrifying. I could feel the ladder shake as I became more nervous. I held my breath and just tried to continue moving without thinking too much. Eventually, I slipped into the water. It was super clear and chlorinated. The boys jumped in with their beautiful dog but we didn’t get to stay long.

A thunderstorm was approaching. We thought about waiting it out in the pool, but the dog was too nervous and Alex too guilty to leave her in the house. We decided to get a bite to eat. We climbed out of the pool as it began to rain. When we got up to the deck of the house, Max put some chicken on the grill. I sat under the large patio umbrella and watched as the rain came even harder. Max was getting soaked while trying to get everything cooked and Alex was prepping other food in the house.

I became fascinated by the faux coconut beverage containers. I stared at the one in my hand and started thinking about how I would have used such an item as a kid. I loved creating little villages and worlds for my tiny figurines. They were a hodgepodge of characters. Fisher Price people, Cabbage Patch kid erasers, He-Man & She-Ra, and another other creature that fit the scale of what I was playing in. I would have used this type of cup in some tropical sub-world that would sprout out on my family room floor, to the dismay of my parents.

I went from visions of doing this as a child, to other instances were I was drawn to miniatures. At 13, I was given a beautiful, wooden dollhouse and a family of Victorian people. I collected items to use in that house all the time, especially during a big family trip out West. One of my favorite places is the big dollhouse in the basement of the Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. I am always fascinated with the commentary on how all the tiny books and items were made and collected. I than jumped to thinking about an old woman that I used to talk to whenever I was dragged to functions for my father’s alma matter. She loved miniatures and told me about conferences she would attend or the latest item she had made for her latest project.

I had been struggling over the last few weeks about an artistic outlet I could pursue at the boys’ house. They had changed their entire house to accommodate their budding interests. Alex had a make-up table and new drag closet. Max had a work area where he was building a 23-foot dragon for his summer community theater production. They had made a space for me too, but I was at a loss of what to do in it. I knew they wanted me to feel comfortable and inspired, but I felt more lost.

I had brought over art supplies. I brought over a journal, but nothing was speaking to me. Now I had an epiphany. The boys were doing things that they have been toying around since their youth. If I thought about what I spent the most time doing in my youth, building little villages and characters held the majority of my time and attention. It hit me; maybe I need to get back into doing miniatures. It didn’t have to be an expensive hobby. You just had to look at things differently. I could do it in a still life, a shadow box, or whatever. I also knew exactly where I should start. I saw myself making characters out of the polymer clay they had at the art supply stores.

In that moment, I was hit with extreme clarity. I immediately shared it with a drenched Max. He could see where I was going with it. The feeling I described was exactly what he felt like when he worked on his creations. Alex came out and I told him. He was surprised at first because he had never heard me talk about my life in miniatures before. I told him that it was something that I never thought I would do again, that it was just child’s play. In a flash, I had an answer to the question I had been pondering for awhile. It was life changing in the level of clarity and ease of which the message came to me.

We ate dinner inside the house, grilled chicken with pineapple and tasty rice. It was very worthy of our tropical destination. I chuckled when I remembered the quote at the end of the last video. Max said that when they first came up with this, they were broke. The boys admitted that they had been planning this whole event for days. Every meal, every stop, every detail had been carefully thought out. You could tell that there was so much love and care put into the day. The rain only added to the tropical flare. It was a quick downpour. By the time we were finished eating, the storm had already left.

We returned to the pool to continue our swim. I had a moment of terror climbing up the ladder again. I had tried to just climb the ladder without worry. Unfortunately this time, I felt paralyzed at the top and unable to move. Max watched me and hesitated to help, but realized I was sort of at a stand still. He came over and held the ladder and calmly encouraged me to lift my foot over the pool railing. I was scared that twisting my foot on the ladder would lead to twisting my ankle or lead to loosing my footing. Eventually, I was able to make the transition and get into the pool.

We floated and chatted in the cool water for a while. We like to make a circle and create a current to ride on. At one point, we noticed the acoustics in the pool were amazing and lined up in the middle. Max sung out one note and Alex and I would harmonize to it. It was kind of interesting. The sound was great and took on a meditative monk like feel that sort of blew us away.

We also horsed around a little. Alex would lay me on my back and pull me around and around. As I relaxed, I enjoyed watching the canopy of the trees above go by. As a little girl, I loved playing in a pool. Sometimes I would be in the company of friends or older siblings and would want to have one of them lift me up or pull me around. I always knew that I was probably too big, so I didn’t really seek it out. Often, I would be the one pulling someone else around. In this pool, Alex is a heavyweight. He can lift almost anyone. So, my inner kid was invigorated and open enough to enjoy feeling the weightlessness.

When we returned from our swim, I got another text from Tabby Naps. This time I was going to go to the Wisconsin State Fair. I was to enjoy some delicious fair food and cheese curds. I was presented with a badge with a cheese wedge on it for my passport. While the food cooked, Alex pulled out a bag of cheese curds and put them in a bowl. Since my father is from Wisconsin, I am very familiar with cheese curds but we almost always fried them. I had never eaten them cold and unbreaded. I found that I loved the saltiness and spongy texture. I ate almost the entire bowl. We loaded up our plates with delicious croissant wrapped sausages, potato salad, macaroni salad, and baked beans before I got my next destination text.

“Are you ready to cool off,” Tappy Nabs asks. “Are you ready to feel colder than you ever felt in your life? Are you ready to explore the great northern wilderness of the North Pole and maybe get raped by a reindeer? Well girl, it’s your time. So get festive, and get on upstairs.”

I taped in my new North Pole badge, grabbed my plate of food, and started to head upstairs. As I came up, you could feel that that air conditioner had been on for some time. Than, I noticed some interesting decorations peeking out over the railing. The boys had pulled out Christmas.

The once sparse and white room had been taken over by the colors and lights of Christmas. There was a tree, decorated with the Abominable Monster from Rudolph and a swag of fabric. A string of felt cutouts hung from the antler of a vegan moose mount (done in foam board). The short wall under the television was covered in red fabric and lights. Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you” played on the television and I found the elusive Miles, the black cat, laying on my red snowflake fleece blanket on my customary seat. I was so taken aback by Miles being out in the open, that I had to take several minutes to pet him. I hadn’t really cuddled with him brought him home two years ago. He tends to run and hide, so this was a real treat.

We sat down with our food, and Alex played a video of Judy Garland singing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” All three of us kind of teared up. Alex mentioned that I had always said that I liked to watch my Christmas tapes with my sister in the summer to try and recapture the feeling of Christmas. He and Max had done it for my birthday. It was so incredibly awesome and touching.

I looked over my shoulder to find a stocking hung on the wall. Alex said open it up. Inside was an assortment of candies: Snowcaps, Reese’s peanut butter cups, Reese’s pieces, and taffy. I hadn’t opened a stocking with real gifts in it for years. I felt like a little kid.

That wasn’t all. Alex flipped on a video of the Christmas Yule log with a holiday soundtrack and drew my attention to the end table by Max. There were several beautifully wrapped packages. I couldn’t believe they were for me! The boys passed them over for me to unwrap, one by one. There was a glow stick, a ribbon baton, butterfly stickers, a dart set, two kinds of comfy socks, and a bag of lavender air freshening potpourri.

I got overwhelmed in the middle of the gift fest. I couldn’t believe they did all of this for me. It was an embarrassment of riches. A part of me felt that it was too much, that I wasn’t deserving of it all. I worked to push that negative voice away so that I could be in the moment and fully enjoy all that was presented to me.

Alex created a play list of Christmas delights. He had segments from my favorite Christmas special of all time, Claymation Christmas. They were interspersed with holiday commercials from the 80s and the 90s. It was like a time capsule. We were sort of amused by the emotional manipulation and the catering to a kid demographic. It was clear that these messages messed with our heads over the years. They made you want a Rockwell holiday so bad. It was hard to keep from having your heartstrings pulled. In many ways, as happy as they made you, they could also make you sad. I was a sucker for a Hallmark moment.

In the midst of the play list, there was an important breaking news announcement from the desk of Fairy Murphy. She had great news; my video had been selected to be presented on TRL (Total Request Live, MTV’s biggest show of the 90s and 00s). Also, the ending title wanted me to know, “Once you go dyke, you buy a bike.” I was confused. We had shot the video the previous night, but it usually took days or weeks before Alex normally finished editing such videos.

My jaw dropped as the final edit of our Sia Chandelier video popped on the screen. Alex had spent the entire night putting it together. It was beautifully edited on the tops of screen captures of the apartment in the original video. Alex’s persona, LyKra, and I were transported to the slightly insane, dark world Maddie had danced in to interpret Sia’s powerful ballad. I, in some ways, was Maddie.

Alex looked at me, with tears in his eyes, and said that he knew I would often look at the dancers like Maddie, or on a show like So You Think You Can Dance, and think that I would never be able to do what they do, to move people through movement and emotion. He wanted me to realize that despite my age, weight, or cancer I can still be the dancer that I dream of being. I can be my own version of Maddie.

We all bawled and watched the video several more times. It was special. There are no fancy dance moves, no technique. I am sure some people might chuckle at two fat people moving around like they are incapacitated to a song about alcoholism. Still, we saw two people who had removed the restraints of self-consciousness to sincerely dance with joy and pure intentions. Alex even saw it as us showing the strains of the struggle of life, encouraging others to hold on and face life with courage and excitement.

Emotionally spent, I got a new video message from Fairy Murphy. I was to go to Italy and enjoy some “balls, meatballs.” We enjoyed a lovely bowl of spaghetti and meatballs and I was presented with a badge for my passport with a paper cutout of the coliseum. Everything was so perfect. The time and attention to the details was intense. The hours of planning and prepping showed through. I finally understood what Oprah meant when she, “love is in the details.” Each detail meant that a separate thought or intention was set. Each detail represented a specific wish to delight me, to let me know that they knew me, to let me know they cared.

Before I could finish, I received another text from Fairy Murphy. My next stop was China with an ending title warning me that, “you better get that checked out.” Ha! I got a badge with a star made with little strips of paper.

“What could that mean?” Alex asked. I didn’t know. He than gave me another box to open. It was filled with six huge fireworks. But wait, there was more, another huge bag with smaller fireworks.

We went outside and he began to set them off. For a half hour we watched Alex light several fireworks. Some were small and sparkly. There were smoke bombs and noisy ones. In between them, were six huge ones. When he lit them up, the earth shook under our feet. We would watch them climb super high and explode into a canopy of light. I almost hit the ground when he lit the first one.

I couldn’t imagine anything sweeter, but there was one last text from the desk of Fairy Murphy. I was to end my day at Yellowstone National Park. I was given the final passport stamp, a yellow stone. The boys set up a bonfire in the back yard and brought out chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers for smores.

You could tell that they were exhausted. Quite frankly, so was I. We watched the glow of the fire trying to catch and marveled at the hundreds of fireflies in their backyard. I looked over and saw Alex almost passed out on the flimsy plastic Adirondack chairs, formerly from my back yard.

I decided to lay back and watch the sky from mine. I could feel my weight sink into the chair. I felt heavy and tired. I relaxed, completely thrilled with the birthday I had. The boys couldn’t believe it was already over. All their hard work was done.

I used to think that people didn’t feel this appreciated unless they were near death. I don’t think my mother ever was really able to feel the full love of those around her until she saw them by the side of her hospice bed. I, too, had difficulty being able to feel the love in my life. I wanted so desperately to be loved. When people gave comments or special gifts in the past, it was so easy to politely accept them and brush them off. I would reason that they just didn’t know the real me. If they did, they would realize that they were in error.

I knew that this thought pattern isolated me. I had so many walls built up over my life to prevent this emotion of being appreciated by others. I don’t know if I thought that if I never felt it, I would never know what it was like not to have it. I don’t know if I thought that those who showed affection might do so only to get close to me so they could hurt me. I don’t know why I had often been so closed down.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I realized that if I continued to isolate myself and prevent myself from feeling love, I would die. Feeling love, giving love, being surrounded by love is not a luxury; it is necessary for a human’s survival. I worked hard to allow more love in my life. I wore it on a bracelet on my wrist to remind me to always side with love. I put the word up in key places in my house.

Over time, I felt like I was able to feel it more and more. As much as I loved these boys before I was diagnosed, my love for them has only deepened in such a profound way. I know and trust them implicitly. I have seen them love me when I have acted like a spoiled brat, a fearful and scared child, and as a weak, sick and wounded sack of sorrow.

They have taken care of me, when I didn’t know how to take care of myself. They loved me when I didn’t know how to love myself. I wouldn’t probably be alive today if I had never met them, and I could never imagine my life without them. I will never know how to repay them.

Just when I was at my most relaxed state, the chair snapped. My back fell to the ground and my butt was still up on the bottom part of the seat. The sharp edges of the broken plastic were poking my skin precariously. The boys popped up and helped me get on my feet.

We stood looking at the fire that was refusing to start. The boys were clearly exhausted. They had been downing several 5-hour energies and relying on adrenaline to power them through the day. Now that their master plan had been executed, they could no longer fight back the exhaustion.

Even though it was 11 o’clock, super early in our world, I told them it was all right to call it a night. Alex glued the badges permanently onto my passport as Max and I gathered my bounty of gifts from the day. I gave each of them huge hugs and promised that this had been the best birthday of my life.

As I drove away, I broke down into a pile of tears. I realized that this was not only the best birthday of my life; it was probably the best day of my life. I finally understood that you could feel all this love and acceptance without the precept of disease and dying. I could no longer tell myself that I was unloved or uncared for; I clearly was deeply loved. I would no longer need a killer holiday to prove that others loved me or that I was worthy of that kind of love.

I worried about how I could repay the boys for all that they had given me. I used to suffer from the flawed belief that you couldn’t accept a gift that you couldn’t return in kind. This kind of thinking always made me nervous about accepting presents from others. Once you started to feel the guilt of having to return the favor, you can start to jump out of receiving the full love of the gift and can even start resenting it.

Today, I just let the love wash over me. I allowed myself to feel it in the way it was intended. I tried to stay present and relish every detail. I worried about my mind forgetting even one moment. Hence, I ran home to try and record every blissful second.

I wanted to let my boys know how everything they did deeply impacted my life. The only way I could really let them know how is to use my gift of writing to send them an ultimate love letter. I want them to know that no detail was overlooked. Even when the balloons lose their helium, the gifts wear out, and the memories fade, I could still let them know how much I know they cared. As Maya Angelou so poignantly said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I will never forget how this birthday made me feel.

_______________________________________________________________________

UPDATE: This video was featured on DanceMoms! It was a special interview with all the girls that aired prior to the season premiere January 2015.

Maddie Ziegler comments about our video:
“Like, people really put all their effort into this.”

You can check out the entire clip here:
https://youtu.be/DRHdGMbTnxw

Now what?

It has been a few weeks since I have completed my treatments. I am past the boney aches. I am even not really that fatigued. Still, I don’t feel a hundred percent right. How am I really different? Why do I still feel stuck?

I feel like I should have a new lease on life. I went through something pretty big. My life was at stake. You would think I am a total health nut right now. I am not. Although I have been told by more than one person to drink more water, take detoxifying baths, cut out sugar and grains, and eat more vegetables….my diet hasn’t really changed.

I should be working on getting stronger. Yet, I am still pretty stationary. I found a bike I would love to own, and it would help me become more fit, but I won’t allow myself to buy it. I have a new cpap, and wake up more energized than ever…yet, I still stay in bed napping. It is a complete failure to launch.

I feel fear. I am fearful of dying. I am fearful of being alone. I am fearful of getting caught up in a life that held me bondage before. I am fearful that things may never work out.

In reality, a lot of these fears are baseless, but I still let them control my life. It isn’t working. Still, I look around and see so much that needs to be done that I am just overwhelmed to the point of sitting there and staring at it for several hours a day. At least I use to put effort in distracting myself from it.

I thought I was making some progress last week when I went on not one but two dates. The women were nice. They were semi-normal, but there just wasn’t anything there. I am beginning to wonder if I was ever meant to be in a relationship with anyone.

I keep wondering why I am not worthy of that kind of loving relationship. I want to have someone to lean on, to love, to be there for me in the middle of the night. I don’t know what it is like to have someone to sleep next to. I don’t know what it feels like to desire someone and feel like they desire you in return. There is so much that I feel I haven’t been privy to, and it hurts.

I have to remember that I am not alone. I am so lucky to have two guys that love me and are there for me. I have someone to listen to me, to play with, to share my life with. I sometimes wonder if I am just being selfish because I want more.

Dating is such a mine field though. First, there is usually such anxiety over just meeting someone new and fearing rejection. That is normal. For me, there is this added baggage. Am I attracted to you? Do I even know what that really feels like? Is it even possible for me to please you? Is it possible for anyone to ever please me? I don’t know what I am doing here.

Sometimes I wonder if I am going to die and never know what it is like to love someone and have them love me in return. I may never know what it is like to have a true valentine or get married. I have had glimpses. In some ways, I feel like I have experienced more love and intimacy that some people who are in defined relationships. Is it wrong for me to want more?

I don’t know what path to take. I am afraid that anyone I choose will just lead me off a cliff. I don’t trust myself. I sometimes wish I just had a map, but even if I was given one…I would probably be too afraid to follow it.

I don’t know what any of the answers are. I am starting to get super impatient with myself and everything else. I want everything solved yesterday, and I am super unrealistic with my expectations.

I am treading water here. I hope I see some sort of boat or at least a lighthouse so I can at least point myself in a direction that has some capability of producing fruit for my labor. I know that you sometimes only need the faith of a mustard seed to sustain you in your journey. There are days were my faith struggles to mustard just that.

For this reason, I keep asking myself, “now what?”

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

I am 36-year-old woman who has only been in one semi-significant relationship, and that was with a man. I can count the number of times I have had sex on one hand. I have felt fairly pathetic for the entirety of my reproductive years. I was convinced that by society’s standards I was subpar.

Coupling always seemed like it is the next maturation step that I never got. As a pre-teen, I longed to be asked out. I dreamed of what it would be like when I met, “the one.” Through school, I felt pinched every time those stupid Valentine’s carnations were delivered to our homerooms. I knew there would be none for me.

I was pretty fat in middle school and that was an understandable excuse in my world for not receiving a side-glance from anyone. In college, I was thinner, prettier. I was convinced that when I moved to Chicago and got settled in, I would find “the one.”

That didn’t happen. When I moved back to Michigan, I got tired of waiting and bought my own house. I figured that if I kept busy, things would sort themselves out. They didn’t. Enter Max and Alex. They pushed me to get out there. I discovered that it is pretty easy to find a guy to date or to fool around with. I dated a few nice guys, but I didn’t feel anything when I was with them.

There were a million reasons why I could point to not having a guy. I hated being single, but I loved not being in a relationship that I regretted. As I watched others take on new marriages, I could see their pain when they were not matched well. Jealousy, verbal abuse, and neglect seemed common. I hated how some of my friends felt controlled. They became zombie noodles.

My parents’ relationship was not something I wanted to model my future on. They would get into vicious fights in my youth. I stopped looking forward to the weekends because they would get into a big fight and you would feel like you had to walk on eggshells. I began to see marriage as a trap. Who wants to sign up for that?

Still, I am a total lover at heart. I love the sappy Valentine crap. I lost my virginity to the first guy who gave me flowers. I loved the idea of love, but saw few models of loving relationships that really reflected this.

The best examples of a healthy relationship came from my gay friends. Alex and Max have been together twelve or more years now. They communicate well. They are each other’s best friend. Similarly, I have friends who are a lesbian couple. They equally have each other’s backs. Both couples spend quality time with one another. They seem to “fit.”

Through the years I have gone from being curious about relationships, to disgusted by them, to longing for them. The hardest times to be single are by far the holidays. Every merchant is sure to make you aware of sharing a special something with someone. This is compounded by all the inquiries from well meaning people into your love life. From work, to your parents, to aunts, and friends constantly asking who I have been seeing…you get sick of finding a tactful way to say, “nope, I am still pathetically single.”

As I rolled into my thirties, the pressure was immense. My aunt told me that now I would be considered a “mature” bride if I wanted to get married. Friends and siblings started getting married off by the butt load. I found it so painful to be a part of the festivities. I forgot worrying about my own wedding. I had already assumed it was never going to happen. My mother reminded me several times in my youth that I was not the “marrying” type. I never understood what they meant. Did they not want me to have a significant other?

Through my life, whenever there was a portrayal of an old “hag,” I felt squeamish. My father would recall all these women that he knew that didn’t get married. He couldn’t understand why. “She seemed pretty to me.” I felt that bucking the system meant a life of hardship: no one to provide for you, no children to take care of you in your old age. You’re on your own kid!

Still, I didn’t mind being on my own. I made my own schedule. I never had to answer to anyone. I had my own money. I could eat what I wanted. I didn’t ever have to share the TV remote. As much as these perks were nice, you can’t help having the nagging feeling that you are missing out. You start believing that you are so different. You must be a freak. How horrible can I be that I can’t find someone who might love me for me?

As the veil of my depression began to break, I started talking to a guy I thought was everything that I would ever want. He didn’t call after our first date. I was devastated. What did I do? No matter how much I touched up my hair, got dolled up, and even tolerated heels…I was still not attractive.

Then, as life tends to throw you a curve ball, I had the epiphany that maybe I wasn’t so crazy, maybe I am just gay. All of a sudden, in a matter of hours, I could see everything making sense. I never thought I had any real romantic entanglements, but I had, they were just with girls. No, I had only really kissed one…but I could understand now that my attraction to them was very similar to someone who would have a crush with the opposite sex. I had told myself that being gay was not a possibility and worked my whole life to repress it. I destroyed my sex drive. It doesn’t seem that far of a stretch to see why I developed cancer in an organ that is most strikingly female.

Once I figured out things, I began venturing into this new world. I actually dated a girl for a while, but then I got cancer. She was cool with it, but I couldn’t handle figuring out my sexuality and my new diagnosis at the same time. I even had a few dates before Christmas, but they were disasters. I was more than eager to have a dating break for a while.

In the New Year, Alex and Max tried to get me to start dating again. I was really reluctant. I really wanted to just worry about me. I was totally okay with this. As a whole, I have found this self-acceptance thing to be super difficult. How can you try to find someone when you still hate so much about yourself?

More comfortable with my single status then ever, I got to Valentine’s Day. I sent Valentines out to friends and family. I indulged Alex and Max with a shower of chocolates and goodies. It felt good. The next day I was to spend alone. I got super hungry and tried to go out to eat. Every restaurant in the area was packed. Low blood sugar fired a spiral of self-pity that I had not expected. Again, I felt like an outsider just looking in on a world that I am never suppose to know. I ended up spending the rest of the day in bed.

For me, I know my problem is still being okay with who I am. I judge myself for looking too boyish (especially with my cancer crew cut). I fear that I might find someone attractive, and everyone else in my world will think they are a complete dog. I am embarrassed to be with a girl that is too butch. I don’t want someone who can’t hold a conversation, or who will embarrass me in front of company. I am worried about someone being too clingy. I feel being yelled at, misunderstood. Maybe I am too selfish to ever share my life with someone. I don’t want to be the whole financial supporter of someone, but I question what I have to give in a relationship. I am scared shitless about lesbian sex. I am embarrassed to be so inexperienced at such a late age.

I am mostly afraid that I can’t trust my own judgment. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad about themselves, and I really don’t want someone to get involved with me and then get hurt. I don’t know why anyone would want to be with me. The insecurity and inferiority exacerbate everything.

Alex and I talked about this past Saturday. He was like, “what do you need to get started?” He had me venture out to the dating sites again while he worked on something else. I clicked on a picture of a girl who I would have never clicked on before. We had a ton in common. She was kind of butch. Could I handle that? I guess you don’t know until you try.

So again, I continue to try. Not because if I don’t find someone that I will die lonely, but because I am just ready to stop listening to crap in my head and just try it. Put on my big girl panties and make some new friends. Don’t be so afraid. Don’t measure mine or anyone else’s worth on what someone else may or may not think. Grow some tits and just show up in this life. If I can handle cancer, I should be able to handle this just fine.