It starts with the comments about your habits, your way of doing things, how you talk, and how you move. In the beginning you feel comfortable because your partner, friend, lover cares about you to discuss these habits and ways of doing things with you. You feel noticed, appreciated, seen.
Time passes and you get used to it, and after a while these little comments, become criticisms, and as time progresses even further they become outright mean, hurtful and deliberate verbal punches.
And you justify them. You feel as if it’s love, care, understanding, attention. (above all attention). Cause if he/she didn’t care he/she wouldn’t ignore you. And as Anne Lamott says in her TED talk about her 12 truths about life and writing,
Caring is the other side of control.
But you get used to it, you think this is love, this is caring this is what relationships, friendships, partnerships are supposed to be. Until one day you wake up and you have completely lost yourself in them. They hold the key to every move you make, they have brick by brick stolen your self esteem, your confidence and your ability to believe that you can live with out them. Slowly they have convinced you that you are with out them, useless, weak and afraid, and you believe them. Only they can understand you, and their friendship, love and care is the ultimate and best thing you will ever have.
If you decide to reject their abusive words and actions, you are ungrateful, crazy, you lost your shit, you are imbalanced and certifiably nuts. You are not worthy, you can’t deal, you don’t understand, you’re feelings are irrational, biased and untrue. You will never find anyone like them, only they can deal with your crazy ass, if they left you would be like a lost puppy, you are a selfish, stupid little person.
And that seed of doubt planted right from the beginning; has taken over your whole being. This toxic weed of self doubt, self loathing, self deprecation, is slowly poisoning you. Your kingdom has a new leader and it’s not you. Slowly your foundation has been chipped away and you can’t even stand on your own two feet. But luckily for you, your abuser is there to pick you up, tell you they and only they love you because that’s what real friends, lovers, partners are for.
When the light bulb goes off.
You wake up, one day after having heard it all, and even though you feel wobbly on your feet, you take a step and then another and you rebuild, you begin to listen to your own true voice again, you begin to realize that you’re not a piece of shit, you’re not crazy, you’re not useless without them, you deserve love, affection, care, communication, attention and companionship. And just when they aren’t looking, you jump off the speeding train to no where. You will stumble, you will fall many times, you will feel unsure of the direction you’re taking, but every time you fall, that voice telling you you’re useless without them won’t be there. So you get up and you keep going.
You start to trust your voice again.
From a whisper, it becomes a steady vibrant, beautiful voice. Like any living being, when the abuse stops scars remain, but with love, care, trust and acceptance, your scars are only a reminder of how far you have come.
What role do our memories play in how we hold on to people?
I romanticize my exes.
Even when years have passed, they cross my mind. I do this just enough so I can trick my self into thinking how I regret losing them.
I’m surrounded by phantoms; ghosts of lovers past who I tap into every time I want to feel wounded about my crap choices in partners, lovers and men who are far from perfect in reality; yet I paint them in very different and much more favorable colors.
I’m the painter, it’s my canvas I’ll cry on it if I want to.
I’m content with how my life is right now, and after some time has passed, I’m fine with my choice to not seek any further romantic involvement, with all my failed romantic escapades. Yet… my skin feels the touch points he touched, I romanticize this imperfect and quite ridiculous person into some prince charming when he was far from it…
I clung for years to my memories of these imperfect men like little nuggets of a fairy tale gone horribly bad.
Of course they were imperfect, not what I truly wanted or needed in my life then or now. My loneliness played tricks on me, and we all do this; I projected characteristics, reactions and romantic comedy bull shit scenarios to these toads, who adorned me with fancy words, and over the top flattery.
Rhinestone Cowboys I like to call them. You know the type of men who will pretty much say anything just to get recognition, a smile, vulnerability, and ultimately power over you. And you let them; despite all the cautionary tales, and your friends telling you he’s full of shit, and your own brain trying to avoid another collision course, because it’s inevitable you will fall for the ones who tell you what you want to hear.
When we sit down and take stock of our past failures in relationships with people who on the surface may have seemed “perfect for us”; ultimately what we lament is not the loss of these seemingly perfect people, but the loss of ourselves, in them.
We must not lose ourselves for the whims and wants of others.
We must not lose who we are, we must not lose who we want to become, or hold back to please other peoples idea of us. As hard as that is, as challenging as it may seem, holding out for those who meet us half way or all the way for that matter are far more gratifying, appealing and beautiful.
There is no time for false narratives, bad stories and fake vulnerability. Holding on to ghosts as backward as it may seem to many, has at least helped me know what I definitely don’t want. And for many, recognizing even that; is a start to letting go of the ghosts and the phantoms of the past.
I wrote a poem about 3 years ago, and It’s the first one I ever performed live at an event called First Time Out, in New York at a cool performance/bar space called Pete’s Candy Store.
I was a very nervous, and shaky first time performer back in November 2016, but I took a chance with an art form and a stage that I had never even dreamed I would ever approach, let alone at the “ripe” age of 38.
This piece is close to my heart because I wrote it for someone I deeply care about, who I can now call a dear friend. We went through our ups and downs in life and we ended up floating instead of sinking so I’m dedicating this to my dear friend P. Life has a very strange way of colliding people together who may on the surface seem incongruous.
The more I travel, the more people I collide with. Old friends remain true friends, others fade away, some remain there for a lifetime, through thick and thin, some betray you, some you betray. It’s a never ending cycle of attraction, connection, and sometimes a rare blossoming.
LET ME SAY THIS
Let me tell you a story about leaving home, about struggling to find a place of your own, Let me tell you about walking miles every day in this crazy city, and asking yourself over and over again is this all there is? Let me tell you about loving and heartbreak, about standing on your own two feet, about flirtation about opening your heart again about loneliness about doubt and fear, let me tell you about sitting alone at night thinking… There must be more than life to this. Let me tell you about rejoicing in knowing you have friends who love you and you love them. Let me tell you about poetry and listening to father analyse over and over the importance of poetry…. because talking about your motherland falling apart isn’t that pleasant. Let me tell you about mother and how she is my best friend. Let me tell you about laughter in the middle of the street, till your guts hurt and not caring how loud you are cause that shit was so damn funny! Let me tell you about sex, and passion, lack of intimacy or truth, let me tell you about excuses and mistreatment and unfulfilled embraces, let me tell you about pain. Let me tell you about not wanting to live again. “let me tell you about sitting alone at night thinking, there must be more than life to this…” Let me tell you about falling in love and going out of your mind, let me show you loss and tears. Let me tell you about walking alone, and sleeping alone and crying alone and feeling alone even though your not. Let me tell you about countless early mornings sitting in silence breathing and hoping it will all get better. Let me tell you about waking up with sun in your eyes and smelling the island breeze and wishing you were here with me, diving deeper and deeper into the deep blue sea. Let me tell you about missing my home, my people, my sun kissed balcony, the aromas of fresh baked bread from the village bakery salt on my skin the sound of hundreds of cicadas
drowning the air with their numbing rhythm. Let me tell you about music and dancing, and embracing friends who are far away, and letting your hair down cause… that’s what life is all about. Let me show you what I see, what I hear let me share with you my story, and I want you to tell me yours. Tell me about you, tell me about your dreams and struggles your life and goals, your fears. are you sitting up at night thinking is this all there is? Eat with me, drink with me, laugh with me, cry with me, look into my eyes and see there is nothing more beautiful than sitting in silence and knowing, understanding one another and realizing…. Yes that this is ALL there is.
I’ll call this new chapter of my writing frenzy the 30 day random questions challenge.This is a way to engage more with my few and trusted readers. I have in the past and attempt to engage with more of you out there. Recently to my dismay I have caught myself becoming quite a recluse lately with my writing; so this is an attempt to change.
I have promised time and time again that if I am going to write at all, I’ll write honestly, truthfully and from the heart to whoever is out there reading my musings.
Or else shut this whole operation down.
So here is my first random question- prefaced by some background.
We find ourselves in the era of social media, 24 hour news programming, blogs (yes like mine), articles written on any subject under the sun; on more free article writing sites than our brains can handle, and more newspapers and more free press than we know how to do decipher; yet most or all of what we read is someone’s personal opinion, point of view, or account of things. Our personal perception on any and all things, is being shaped, changed, skewed and solidified by other people’s opinions rather than our own personal experience. For example:
Horrible movie review of an indie film by 3 people sends crowds to the one everyone raves about, determining not only the quality of something, but also its worth based on public opinion and popularity, rather than merit.
Art (this includes, music, film, dance, visual and performing arts)
Public figures of all kinds
You get it. Everything we seem to partake in seems to be there because and strongly based on the opinion makers and holders, regardless of what we may actually decide for ourselves. In short:
why do we allow these individuals with the power to advertise their opinions louder than anyone else, to determine our taste, where we go for vacation, what we like for food, what we should dress like, how we should love, how we should express ourselves and for all intents and purposes how to live our lives.
There seems to be a cacophony of chatter but really absolutely nothing personal is actually shared. We are all forced to use recycled ideas, and opinions while following lifestyle gurus instead of being encouraged to question, discover, risk, and figure out shit for ourselves. It doesn’t bode well for free societies, to be so lead by the nose…
Is randomness, spontaneity and personal exploration losing its mojo?
If you would like to share your thoughts, I would love to hear from you!
We are projecting one version of ourselves, yet a completely different person is being reflected back at us.
We see ourselves one way and others see us in a completely different light.
Where do these two perceptions clash?
Most of it is based on people’s own stream of consciousness and not what we project.
We think no one is noticing us, while there are clearly people drawn to us, our energy, and who we are. Or the idea of who we might be in their head. We hardly notice or welcome people’s gaze, attention, or reflections of us, in a society where everyone is on social media posting every aspect of our lives.
Yet… with all this communication, there is clearly a big deficit in actual communication.
I’ve done this many times and I’m sure everyone does.
I fantasize about who people are, rather than actually seeing them for who they are.
My exploration of these dual realities and images comes at a very pivotal time. I have only recently discovered what I can simply call “my authentic self”. I am still battling with my perceived awkwardness of the pimply shy teenager I used to be, the one no one wants to talk to, and everyone makes fun of, and there are plenty of times I think I’m still that awkward girl. I often hope I go unnoticed, lurking in the shadows observing others.
I battled that fear of exposure, and people taking notice of who I was, or who they thought I was, when I posed for various photographers in the five years I’ve lived in New York. Some nude, some for Yoga purposes, some for fun. I continue to be open and vulnerable in my recent work performing my poetry in front of complete strangers. (that was a challenge!)
In every instance I haven’t seen myself as particularly attractive, interesting or photogenic, but more theatrical and obscure. A curiosity.
Yet the response I get from people, is that of someone who is quite different. After I turned 40 all the shyness and awkwardness of my youth has slowly faded away.
Claiming space, claiming my worth, my voice, beauty, or image as a woman; has been a very interesting exploration. But I’m still baffled at how others perceive me.
How we see ourselves may not be hour others see us.
We are shaped by a myriad of references. Cultural experiences being one of them. I grew up in Greece in the late 70’s and 80’s and then again in the early 2000’s. Despite my American accent and passport, everything about who I am and have become is shaped by my life in Greece. Recently a friend said to me “oh you’re such a Greek-American!” which is a blatant fact. I belong to two worlds, two camps, two realities. Often opposing each other vehemently. Depending on my surroundings; like a chameleon I absorb cultural references I grew up with, and mold them to my current reality. You never know what you’re going to get!
Yet time and time again, others who observe us, will see something purely based on their own perceptions. We ALL do that, sometimes to our advantage, sometimes to our detriment.
Next time you observe someone, before you impose your idea of them, let them unfold in front of you unobstructed by your own perceptions.
There is something enchanting about Brooklyn evenings that few other neighborhoods in New York City possess.
My bias is not with out an excuse; I’ve lived in the same neighborhood in south Brooklyn ever since I moved to New York from Athens five years ago. Except for a brief stint living in Manhattan in the East Village and the Lower East Side (which I still love), most of my time has been spent south of Prospect Park.
I owe my love of this part of city to my original host and friend from college who introduced me to this multi- ethnic, multi cultural and multi layered microcosm few (thank goodness) still know about.
Simply put it’s a gem.
Nestled in between Prospect Park and the Greenwood Cemetery, this still unspoiled part of Brooklyn is a place where you can say hello to the corner bodega owner, chat with your neighbor while they walk their dog, and see familiar faces walking around the streets on a lazy, Sunday afternoon. I wave to the store owners catching a glimpse of the action in the street every morning when I go to work, but I never think of taking the time to truly explore further.
From what many locals tell me, the neighborhood hasn’t changed that much over the years. Originally an Italian immigrant neighborhood, it is now peppered with a spectrum of nationalities, languages, cultures and religions. A true cultural crossroads. But I needed to know more.
Summer nights are a perfect excuse for a long walk.
One evening after an event in the Greenwood cemetery I took this rare opportunity to take the long way home.
As the sunset burst into a beautiful tapestry of colors; shades of pink, salmon, purple and yellow adorned the early evening sky. The aroma of evening primrose and soft wet soil wafted through the air… I was transported. For a moment I was lifted away from the worries of my New York life and felt like I was walking through the streets of my old neighborhood in Athens. I instantly felt carefree; but the real treat didn’t arrive until the sun set; revealing thousands upon thousands of fireflies signaling to each other in their own mystical code.
I closed my eyes took a deep breath and floated with the sounds of stories being told of the families living in these neighborhoods, of meals shared, travels taken and lives changed forever. This was the first time in my years living in New York that I was absolutely in tune with my surroundings.
Living in such a high strung city, we are used to boxing ourselves in. We end up shielding our bodies and minds from the cacophony of noises, lights, tall buildings, strong aromas; all of which accost our senses in invasive ways. We choose to be numb to the big stuff and forget to take a moment to really observe the more subtle aspects of this city. During my walk through my neighborhood, all of that outer noise instantly vanished, and I was able to just enjoy the long walk home.