Working Together

"We shape our self
to fit this world

and by the world
are shaped again..."

Excerpt from "Working Together" © David Whyte
in The House of Belonging

Many Rivers Press

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Solstice; Misplaced Loyalties...The Burn and the Return

Just a few words about confession, transparency and this blog.

I use this blog as a confessional. I personally do not believe in my heart and soul that there is anything wrong with the truth. I am quite aware that telling the truth is a bore when it is not wrapped in gilt and poesy; when it is not in a song or turned out into a piece of fine art for people to admire or relate to on their own terms. I'm aware that my writings are self indulgent. I do it because I want to and I can. It is the only way I know how to express myself. I think aspiring to be an artist requires a great deal of faith, discipline and bravery and I admire that. However, I don't care about what people do to get by in life, really, unless they are nasty mean and destructive. Some of the people that I most admire in the world - no matter what they do - are people who dare to be themselves against all odds; I'm inspired by people who try new things and explore different ways of solving problems; people who are sincere and those who  find a way to say the unsay-able. I notice and appreciate people who dare to be seen; people who choose love.

I wish I understood how books are made; how to write fiction or a song or a poem;  I wish I could convey what I'm feeling and seeing through music, painting and photography. I have no talent or ambition for those things. What I do is a type of meta-collage. I use social media and I post images, videos, words, quotes and comments that reflect my experience of where I am at in time and space. I utilize three realities simultaneously - what is on the internet (virtual); what images are given me in my dreams (dream time); and what I experience everyday while awake (physical). Each entry on the internet is a language of found objects for me about what I am experiencing. Some of the entries cycle back through years referencing something from the scope of my life. Social media is my canvass - my blank page - my slate. None of the content is my own and everything found - stolen, if you will - to tell my story. I cast my net across cyber space and weave my web for what is the exact right thing that goes with the other thing that adds to the next thing as it is revealed. We all do a little of it on Facebook daily.

I've been doing this since 2003 and in this way I am like the swallow and the crow. These are animals that have adapted to the environment they have been born to. They learned to live with the human ego while bringing their nature along into the mix. They build nests in our eaves and steal our sandwiches off our picnic tables then poop on things and, in general, get in the way of big human plans. Likewise, I can be regarded as a pest in much the same manner in social circles. I can be found often accidentally doing something to offend the culture police. I promise you though, should the internet fold tomorrow, I will persevere in much the same way these birds do. I'd adapt and make use of whatever changes that kind of cataclysmic event would produce. Oh, yes...yes I would.

My voice evolved through social media. Occasionally I will stop and wonder how it has happened that I have ended up writing self serving drivel for years in a public forum. I feel an absolute fool every time I sit down to blog...yet I keep doing it. I just keep showing up and once I get past the point of feeling like a tool, I keep writing and something within me feels better and I am stronger for it. That is all I know. If I have a goal at all, it is to wake one morning and be done. There will be nothing more to tell...nothing more to spill. I will not sit down with my coffee and my journal in the morning as I have for 40 plus years. I will, instead, pick up a pair of binoculars wander outside in my underwear, slippers and an untethered bathrobe to begin a compulsive study of bird identification until I get hungry for breakfast or the neighbors call the cops. Until then, it appears, I'm writing a blog post...because I can...because I must.


"If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,  
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear. 
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream..."

~William Shakespeare
Midsummer Night's Dream

As the summer days have grown longer my life has brightened accordingly. I have been amassing experiences in the last six months related to my word of the year attachment and many of these have been released causing the volume of my confidence to be turned way way up. Thanks to good fortune and support from friends and allies, I am beginning to feel myself again. Liberated and optimistic...details I have worked with over the last decade have been examined and released. Some are small yet deeply rooted in meaning for me.

cilesfineline blog background  2006-15
I inaugurate my new blog background this Solstice to reflect the efforts of the last six months. I will be posting this video on Facebook for dramatic effect...because it makes me smile and because I found the film so amazing and the circumstances in seeing it so profound in January. There has been a freaking amount of personal heartache I've endured in trying to figure out what to do with who I am in the last year. I've had my own version of a "hell of a ride". I will also be changing my cover photo for the first time since I began Facebook. There are crows. It is the first day of the rest of my life.

One of my most sacred and difficult attachments to be wrested from the shadows into the light this year was my delusional misplaced loyalty to men - more to the point my conceit, projection and objectification regarding them. My misandry, if you will. Whatever I have been dealt in life, through it all, it should be recognized that I have dished out plenty. The fact that I was not aware of an ability to do harm at the time is hardly an excuse. I've known for sometime that my relationships with men have been difficult on the best days but what I did not know was how complicit I was in enabling my own dysfunction and - to my deepest regret - sharing the worst of myself with others.

                                                     The Herstory

Since having received help in the late seventies in learning to cope with the trespass upon my youth, the next important step was to make friends with  men. I had made two sons after all and the situation was roiling towards an inevitable conflict if I didn't get a grasp on my personal history in this regard. Having a long term relationship with a woman helped me understand how immobilized I was in my communications with men. By experiencing the difference, I was able to identify what parts of my relationships with men were missing. I was comfortable in my same sex relationship and I can't say enough regarding its value in my life. There are things I would have never have known without that experience. It was not so much the sexual relationship that was enlightening as the day to day sanity available to people who care for each other as partners when they can communicate and fight and make up and do all that stuff that makes the love boat float. I had never had any stable relationship like that with a man though I had witnessed others enjoy it. That discovery was huge for me. I appreciated it deeply but being partnered did not feel right for me. I was restless. Unfortunately, while I could be attracted, I don't fall in love with women.

With my promiscuous history behind me, I recall sitting in the tub one day in the eighties and counted over one hundred sexual encounters. I decided then and there to burn that bridge. No more cavalier relationships, being sucked up into some need for attention and casual sex. My sisters seem to have no problem with it but I was a splattered bug on a windscreen with each encounter. To this day I cannot remember a tenth of the names of people I had intimacies with. How can that be okay? Sadly when I made that promise to myself, I was still too young to steer clear of temptation. I was still hungry for attention and attachment was still good enough.

Liberated by a new perspective and vocabulary I had a way to relate to all people and I spent years trying harder to learn how to be a good friend to men. I feel that in many ways I succeeded as I have male and female friends of all ages now that I adore to the moon and back. I learned to ask questions and listen and trust the answers. These relationships are some of the most valued in my life. I haven't slept with any of these friends - that was never part of the dynamic in these relationships; maintaining that boundary and enjoying the rich exchange within it is a big factor in how I am able to continue to enjoy these friendships. I am good with that. Sex was never something I was very good at even after the long journey in recapturing my power and sensuality back from the grip of assault. I enjoyed sex, certainly, but it never was my first language nor do I think it was meant to be any more an ambition for me than conventional partnerships were. The reason it was so important for so long was that it was such and arduous journey to heal the damage. When it came down to letting it go when I approached 50 and I was losing my sex appeal, there were few tears shed over the matter. Sex is a very important way to connect with another person yet it is just ONE way in the full spectrum of a life. All the valuable connections I had made in my life were made from the heart and soul not my sex. It saddened me when I reflected on all the friends I lost because I had sex with them and they were reduced to attachments. That is the way I played it out. So I maintained my extra 60 pounds for a decade or so and tried to bury the hatchet...only, as it happened, I found out that what I considered a ritual burial turned out to be the shallow grave of a crime scene.

                                                   The Clinic

My insurance was about to run out and my regular doctor at the clinic was on holiday. I need to have some tests done to stay in compliance for when I could get insurance once more so I saw another doctor in the clinic for a pelvic. I was annoyed. What do I need a pelvic for? I'm 60 years old and I haven't seen any action in 14 years? I humored myself through deciding at least someone would get a glimpse of my dusty pantry. The doctor noted a slight rash. I was surprised.  I asked her for a mirror and she laughed, stating, "We haven't had hand mirrors in the exam rooms since 1979! You will have to do that investigating at home but it looks to me like a herpes rash." A WHAT? What's THAT?" I was stunned! I had never had any idea that I was infected with anything like herpes! Had I been sleepwalking? I needed a paper bag to breathe into but they put those away with the mirrors, apparently. Noting my distress she prodded me into describing my sexual history and when it got down to the numbers she spun around in her chair to the computer and began typing. I told her that my other doctor declined my request for hepatitis testing. I had read that it was advised since I work with fringe populations but she didn't seem to think I was a candidate. She stared at me and frowned in disagreement. She thought I should be tested right away. I overheard her talking to herself and the monitor... 'The full Monte - the full STD panel...maybe not syphilis"...Syphilis? What? Fucking A!

Vials of blood were drawn at the lab and I went home and drank heavily for days until bleary vestiges of old lovers would appear and I would apologize. Assailants came to call, as well.  So I am a skank. That will validate a lot of perceptions. I was born in the gutter and it appeared I would die there too. The time was ripe to kick start that long overdue road trip to alcoholic oblivion that I had been putting off all my life. I picked my poison and toasted every one that got away for being a lucky bastard in the end. I cried a lot and then I cried some more.

In trepidation I returned to the clinic for follow up a week later. My doctor came into the room and stared at my test results stating too enthusiastically that I didn't have HIV and I didn't have Hep A but I had a strong showing for most of the rest of the panel. She perused the data in a pleased way that only a clinician can appreciate -  like she had just bet and won on a trifecta at the Belmont. Swept up as she was on examining her data she inquired without looking up if maybe I would like to change my mind and be tested for syphilis in light of these results. I let my glowering silence draw her from her clipboard. "No...Just. NO." I replied. "What does it matter, at this point, if I die compromised by syphilis or dementia?" I asked. About this time the doctor realized I was having a bit of trouble assimilating this diagnosis.  She began to back peddle in an attempt to find the threshold of communication with me and waded in with, "You know this is not an uncommon diagnosis for people your age. You had a lot of unprotected sex after the pill was available and before the AIDS epidemic hit in the eighties, as did many of your generation. We have a lot more accuracy in testing now and this is what we are finding. There's no way of telling how long you have been sharing this, however." I DID know that it was a problem with the aging but I had framed that in the context of sexual encounters in elders who dated and those who were in assisted living facilities. It simply never occurred to me that I would be a candidate. Thank GOD I stopped mixing and mating when I DID!! The fact that I did stop makes a strong case for the existence of divine intervention, certainly! Still the knowledge that I had been a serial STD assassin for an unknown extended period of time was more than I could wrap my mind around. There just seems to be no end to the depth of my complicity when it comes to this issue. "Regrets....I've had a few" is a serious understatement at this juncture.

                                                   My Misandry

In the past I have objectified the men I was attracted to and disenfranchised them much the same way men do to women without even realizing what I was doing. Anymore my sexism is often embedded in a cloak of humorous cynicism and sarcasm.  I'm guilty of being all too quick to share in a laugh at the patriarchy's expense. This is a way to avoid connecting and it creates a distance. I work on that as I can yet the issue still stands.

When I suggest, "we are playing by boy's rules, after all" in referring to the way of the world; though I know it is condescending, what I mean is, it seems many of us are held fast in a cultural design of male construct. There is a whole other world women have access to that men (and women) cannot fathom while they are fixed in that paradigm. We are ALL caught in the design somewhat because it is what IS, no matter what gender; we all buy in. Women's liberation is gender liberation in aiming for a balance in this. I really love being a woman and the life I love - the other world view that I maintain -  is predominantly female from the center of my being. From the center of the male world view, I think it must be perceived as hysteria or insanity. Perspective; it depends on where you are standing. My frustration has been with the imbalance of power when I began to feel my own and there was no place it seemed to fit within any social dynamic that exists. My redemption is within the healthy breaks appearing in the status quo and perceptions thanks to younger and more progressive and compassionate free thinkers who are in the world today. Living alive like a girl will have its day...probably long after I'm gone.

                                                 The Reflection

Would this have happened anyway if my life had a sound beginning with no abandonment, assault and derailment? Possibly. I'm a precocious person. I would have not wanted to miss anything pleasurable. I would have been all over sex, drugs and rock and roll, my feral childhood not-withstanding. I don't think, however, I would have been so clueless regarding men and how they are wired had I had appropriate contact with them as a child and understood that they were actual human beings like me. I would not have been compelled to attach myself to magical relationships that others did not participate in to compensate. Had I not been raised by she-wolves and been so hopelessly oriented into power struggles with men, I would have probably "got" the concept of testing and safe sex much earlier as protecting my own interests and those who I cared about would have been a higher priority. Also I would not have had to act out for years subjugating myself to numerable partners. Perhaps the journey would not have lasted 50 years...or perhaps these things take as just long as they take, as they say. I just know that part of this scenario would have happened and did happen to many of my peers with variations. I am a product of my time this way.

Having confessed all of that, if you know of someone who has been carnal with me over the years or you are Googling old lovers for shits and grins; well, this is the former. This is the shits and I'm sorry but if you haven't already made the discovery, you should get thee to a clinic.

                                               The Epilogue 

I would hope that besides launching this confession into cyberspace to lighten my load that younger readers who stumble upon it may understand this as a cautionary tale. There is little that you will be doing in your twenties and thirties that you will not be wearing in one form or another in your sixties. For my generation it was the sexual revolution. Examine your generation's issues. Choose wisely early because if you are fortunate enough to be alive in your sixties, you will be compelled to live large and be bountiful in gratitude. The accumulation of life just feels that way. All the things that you were just slamming in your mind when young that your body was reveling in, return to you in old age without all the static; they return in the pure sensation in which they were experienced in your physical being. Splashing and bracing your body in the surf as the ocean wave tries to push you down; the drip of the glaze off of a warm cinnamon bun across your finger and your absent minded raising it to your lip to capture it, the feel of your lovers face cupped in your may have been too busy in your head at the time but your body remembers it all and reminds you in memories when you get older. Nothing is lost on body consciousness. Even the scars and traumas have their place in the aging experience with the love that's applied to their healing. The lust and passions of youth can evolve into this benevolence jelly in ones being and it is quite luscious to experience this accumulation of your own soul so resplendently. Live large, live transparently and compassionately with empathy... and don't give out before your time is done here. You will miss the best part. You will miss the love cycling home.

My troubled attachments to delusional loyalties and my life as a lonely satellite with its enchanting view is released. I continue to try and apply compassion to all my friendships and cultivate empathy for my fellow human beings, as I can. I will probably continue to walk across people's lawns and trespass generally in ways unblessed. Mostly I watch the life dance in its full orchestrated splendor, enjoy my memories and keep reveling in my life as crone. Accordingly, my kundalini is otherwise occupied in matters of natural law, holding space for the dying and steeped in the mystic where it is best suited at my age. My connection is to the earth now and I'm damn thankful to have made the ride through the exosphere. If you want to connect with me, you can contact me here.

Thanks to skydreamer barnes for the beautiful Pretenders video; to Shakespeare for writing Midsummer Night's Dream, Sir Henry Edwin Landseer for the painting above; Chsotiri for the video excerpt from "Gravity" and Sandra Bullock for her mad acting skills. Special thanks to C. Anthony Martignetti author of  Lunatic Heroes and Beloved Demons who, with great daring and candor, helped me understand the male mind a bit better but mostly for teaching me how the power of an honest confession can hold heroic demons to a higher law.

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