Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Relationships are like bodies. There needs to be a solid balance in order to maintain optimal health. If you throw one tiny part off balance you disrupt the whole system, it falls apart and death comes shortly thereafter. Maintaining a healthy balance with a body is hard work. One must eat right, get enough exercise, drink enough water, create good emotional states, minimize toxins, get enough love, meditate, feed the brain and these are just a few. Almost 2 years ago I watched my mother die in a hospital because the balance was completely thrown out of whack and as her body struggled to regain that balance something else would go out and it was like watching an avalanche as her health deteriorated and she slipped away from us. Watching a relationship go through that same downward spiral can be just as painful and horrendous. It’s hard work to keep a relationship going; feeding it, exercising it, giving enough time to it, creating good emotional states, minimizing toxins, getting enough love, solitude, feeding each other’s brains and these are just a few. But if one area gets out of whack then the whole is disrupted and like an avalanche it falls apart and dies.

Like a person who uses vitamins or drugs, we can use artificial means to boost and aid but eventually the natural body has to learn how to maintain itself. What if a body never really had a healthy balance in the first place? Like my mother, who struggled with obesity and poor nutrition for her entire life. Her body learned to balance itself thru the imbalance of her choices, so she didn’t eat right, exercise, drink enough water, etc and still her body created balance, albeit an extremely precarious one. The problem arises that when you run such a delicate system on a series of imbalanced balances and one thing slips up the whole system more easily crumbles whereas if you started with a healthy, solid balance then you could afford to make several mistakes and the system would maintain itself. Like the game Jengo, if you start with a solid set of blocks and you remove some in strategic places you can keep the structure from collapsing but if you are missing some in the first place you’re starting out with an imbalanced system, which will collapse more quickly. But ideally you would like to not weaken the structure with depletions or poor choices in the first place, only adding appropriate foundational elements that will strengthen the system. Ideally.

Now, what about a relationship? Say you start with a weakened foundation. For instance, I had a bad relationship with my father; it was missing lots of critical parts, it was abusive, conditional, it was unsteady from the start (my Jengo structure had a whole lot of holes in it). Now I go through my life and every man I meet it’s like starting with this faulty structure, so I struggle to put band-aids, contraptions, contrivances onto it, anything that will help me hold it together and pretend that my structure is solid and whole. But the truth is it’s not. It never was. Now, on the other hand my mother and I had a wonderfully, unconditional love for one another. She fed me everything I needed to build good strong relationships. With women. I am caring, loving, and participative in all my relationships with women. But due to the lack of understanding that is needed in a male/female relationship, I cannot seem to make them work. The balance is precarious and every little tremor seems to rock the foundation like a major earthquake threatening annihilation. For those who had strong, healthy relationships with males in their lives they can weather the small stuff, their foundations are solid and a few blocks removed from the structure will not cause it to completely collapse. But my structure is not so solid. And I cannot afford to lose a few blocks. What do I do? How do I go back, rebuild the structure stronger so that it can withstand the small stuff? Part of my problem is the idea that I believe that the love I receive from a man is conditional. If I don’t do this just right he won’t love me. If I mess up here he will leave me. It’s always imbalanced. It starts with imbalance and along the way I struggle and grapple with keeping it balanced. I walk that tightrope like I could fall at any moment. There is never a time of solidity. The foundation is cracked and I sense that collapse is eminent. So, is it enough for me to just know this? Can I fix the problem by acknowledging the problem? Is it possible for me to maintain a healthy relationship with a man or is every one doomed? Or can I transpose the loving, unconditional relationship I had with my mother on my male/female relationships? Applying the standards that I had with mom onto my marriage? I will give it a try and let you know how it works.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


When I was a little girl, about 7 or 8 years old I would spend weekends with my cousins in the gorgeous countryside of Fincastle, VA. They had rolling fields, horses, and a creek that wound through the surrounding land where we would spend hours digging up herkemer diamonds. One day it was raining and raining and we were stuck inside. I stood at the door that faced the barn and a large field where the horses grazed. They had just put up hay so the big bales were scattered throughout the field. As I stared out through the rain I saw one of the hay bales get up and transform into a huge hay monster, it had legs and short arms and dark eyes that seemed to look right at me. I rubbed my eyes, shook my head and peered through the rain to see if my eyes were playing tricks and again I saw the creature lumbering towards me. I turned to Gwen who was peacefully breastfeeding Trevor in an old rocking chair and asked what the creature in the field was, to which she responded that they were just hay bales.

When I was 39 years old I was watching a performance of Chuck Davis's African American Dance Ensemble at the American Dance Festival. My son Mark who was 2 years old was with me. At one point a small hay bale sitting upstage left began to rise and stood up and danced to the driving drum beats. This scared Mark and he kept asking very loudly, "What is that?! is it a wolf? Or a monster??" As soon as I saw it the above memory came back to me, long forgotten until that very moment. I think the dance was in honor and celebration of harvest time.

Today I looked out of the window at the driving rain and tried to blur my eyes as I looked at a beautiful maple tree with green lichen growing on its limbs willing whatever spirit resides in her to show me something, anything. I wondered why it is that I don't see things like that anymore. Does the veil get more opaque the older we get? Because when I stop to think about it, I used to see tiny people too. I had an imaginary friend named Duffy who used to join us for dinner on occasion. I would sit and talk to him while my mother rejoiced in what a wonderfully imaginative young daughter she had. Was Duffy a figment of my imagination? Was the hay monster real? Did I build the tiny villages out of sticks and leaves in the woods for the tiny people? And why have they left me now?