Making Room

In certain recovery circles, there are different slogan versions of the same general theme: “Let it go.” “Turn it over.” “Let go and let God.”

These are usually said in reference of some condition, person, place or thing that is a source of stress, resentment, anger or some other emotion that is potentially dangerous for the person’s serenity/sanity/sobriety.

I’ve had people listen to my tale of woe, and offer as help something like: “Just let it go.”

I always found this very frustrating.

I mean, OK, sure, yeah, I’d love to “let it go!” Who wants to be obsessed with something? Who doesn’t want to release some shit that has a hold on them. I am all for letting it go! But how in the hell do you do that really?

I mean, I can’t just will it away. Been there, tried that. Doesn’t work.

Pray it away? Nope. That has never worked for me. Works for you – have at it. Good for you. Not my thing.

Best thing I ever heard around all of this, something that really helped me understand how this releasing, this turning it over thing really works (at least for me,) was this.

Someone wise once said to me: in order to let it go, just try to loosen my grip around that particular complaint, problem, issue, person, or thing.

To just see if I could release my grip just a bit…

And you know what? That I could do.

I could just try to loosen my hold on it a bit.

And no, the issue did not just disappear as a result. But sure enough, that loosening allowed something to move a bit, and that, it turns out, became the beginning of a shift.

That little release made space for something else to enter into the picture…

What a difference! I was no longer frustrated whenever I had that suggested to me, because now I knew that they key, the starting place, was to just loosen my grip a bit.

It is urban legend that Quincy Jones apparently said to Micheal Jackson, “If a song needs strings, it will tell you. Get out of the way and leave room so that God can walk in.” He later rephrased this to, “You’ve got to leave space for God to walk through the room.”

I am not religious nor do I use the word God to indicate what I believe in spiritually, but I do love and have come to understand this phenomenon experientially in my life: this consciously leaving some space in a situation for something greater than myself to come through with some help, or some magic, or some beauty. At the every least, some new information! I have experienced it a multitude of times.

So now I have my  own version of those slogans:

Let it go?! I don’t know. Leave some space? I say yes!

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: release

Anna & The King & I

One of my favorite songs in musical theatre is the song sung by the character Anna in the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I.

I have always loved it, even when I was very young. I watched the movie version with Deborah Kerr, one of my favorite film actresses of all of the many Hollywood movies I watched after school.

Of course I wanted to be Anna. Never mind that she was a widow and having to go to a country far from home to make a living as a tutor and raise her son. Those things went over my head, I think.

She had a wonderful accent and wore gorgeous costumes. And she and the King had such a romantic and special relationship. I practiced talking and moving like her, and sang her songs, preparing myself for the day that I, too, would be a Hollywood starlet like her.

The lyrics of this song have grown more meaningful to me as I age. I feel I can sing this song with real conviction at this point in my life, having known great loves of my own.

Here is the scene from the film. Anna (Deborah Kerr) sings to the king’s many wives, letting them get to know her:

Hello young lovers whoever you are
I hope your troubles are few
All my good wishes go with you tonight
I’ve been in love like youBe brave young lovers and follow your star
Be brave and faithful and true
Cling very close to each other tonight
I’ve been in love like youI know how it feels to have wings on your heels
And to fly down the street in a trance
You fly down a street on a chance that you’ll meet
And you meet, not really by chanceDon’t cry young lovers whatever you do
Don’t cry because I’m alone
All of my mem’ries are happy tonight
I’ve had a love of my own

I’ve had a love of my own like yours
I’ve had a love of my own

Back then, I was not fully cognizant of the seriousness of the situation the lovers in the story find themselves in. They are servants to the King, and their love is forbidden. They indeed must be brave to try to be together, literally risking their lives to do so.

One would think that this ancient story would no longer be relevant. Sadly, it continues to resonate truthfully, reflecting the danger that still can exist between people simply trying to love one another.

I often catch this song floating through my psyche, when times get tough.

Be brave, young lovers, and follow your star. Be brave and faithful and true.

It never ceases to bolster me.

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: brave

Me Too

It is my intent to remain loyal to my purpose in writing this blog. My intent is to be living out on the skinny branches, which is not always comfortable, often downright scary. It means risking writing about what I care about, even if it may be controversial to others.

In support of my fellow humans today, I wish to share the words of my friend, Olivia Petzy. Olivia is an actress, a writer, host, an improvisor…and she’s one of the biggest-hearted, sharpest and funniest people I know. There are a zillion reasons why I would want to share her with you. But today, it is about something serious.

Olivia shared this on Facebook in response to all of the postings of the “Me Too” movement. The “Me Too” movement, in case you are not on Facebook, is a movement that was started by Alyssa Milano to give people a sense of how many people are affected and have been affected by sexual harassment and assault. It seems to have originally read like this:

“Suggested by a friend: ‘If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.'”

It caught on, and women began to copy and paste and post.

I wanted to share what Olivia wrote because it goes deeper and asks questions that we need to be asking. I wish to share it because I think that unless questions like these and others are asked and discussed, nothing will really ever change.

It is uncomfortable to ask these questions. But change is uncomfortable by its very nature.

Olivia wrote:

I stand in solidarity with every woman and person writing “me too.” I hear you and I believe you and it was not your fault and you did not deserve it. I have also failed you in many ways by not speaking up for you or reaching out to you. I am sorry, fellow suffering human beings. I am aware and I am doing the work.

I need to ask: Why must we out ourselves and relive trauma and pain to help you understand? Why must we cut small pieces of our hearts out and toss them to you as a sacrifice in the hopes that you’ll jump on it and tear into it and somehow taste our fear and our grief and our anger? Why must we come out in droves in the hopes of reaching some (apparently) impossibly high number that will spur you to believe us once and for all and take action? Why must we give of ourselves over and over and over?

Are you seriously saying you didn’t know? We’ve told you. We’ve told you with our words and our body language and our actions and our fading away into the background and our quietness and in a million other ways detectable to those giving a damn and paying attention.

Why aren’t YOU writing “Me, too”? As in “I, too, have been complicit in the pain, suffering and abuse of women and non-binary people through either my own despicable words/actions which I deeply regret, recognize and am actively working to change or through my cowardly inaction as I am a beneficiary of our patriarchal society and have not spoken up even when I knew something was wrong or through a combination of the two.”

Must we do EVERYTHING for you?

Oh, and of course, because you already knew it, because I’m a woman, because I live in the world, because I go out in public, because I’m a woman, because I exist: me fucking too.

I am grateful to Olivia for voicing these things, and grateful to you for reading them here.

My heart is hurting because it still seems such an epic task to bring real, lasting attention to this real problem in our society, and yet I know to anyone who is a “Me too,” this is a huge thing that alters one’s life forever in a myriad of ways.

That that disconnect still thrives in our society terrifies me. It seems insane to me that this has to be spelled out again and again.

Will this ever be understood on the scale in which it exists for the “victims?” What will it take?

#MeToo

P.S. On Facebook, some men also began to post their “Me too’s,” so some amended the language to include men.

Today, a dear friend (who is transitioning) altered it to read: “If all the HUMAN BEINGS OF ANY GENDER who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. Please copy/paste.”

I love that. I changed my copied/pasted post to read like his. Because of course, I posted “Me too” too.

Some women may feel that including other genders takes away something. I think it is both a male/female problem and also a person-to-person problem, so I say let’s get it all out there and see how prevalent both are.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: loyal