thewren

my forays through love and other gastronomical stories

The Lesbian Chronicles: You Reap What You Sow. — November 28, 2017

The Lesbian Chronicles: You Reap What You Sow.

I am co-habiting here in Montréal with my Mother due to a confluence of events much too complex to write about today, better saved for that proverbial rainy day blog.

Here is my mini version:

Years ago in a different time and place I was a practicing Buddhist. When the day arrived for my naming ceremony I felt quite hopeful, as I was attempting to rename myself from my given name of Rhona and my adopted name of Katharine to something else altogether.

I entered the temple and waited patiently for my turn, and hoped the Buddhist Name Goddess would be kind. My teacher gave me a blessing and named me ‘Sawjack’. I asked my teacher what my name meant and was told ‘You reap what you sow’. (This is where you insert that creepy music from the movie ‘It’ when the clown is about to do something very very bad.) At that time I didn’t understand the ramifications of reaping what you sow, today I most definitely do.

I have up until recently chosen only powerful but cruel women. Truth be told, their cruelty turned me on, but only in limited quantities. When they acted according to their character, I demanded that they treat me with kindness instead of cruelty.

“How did that work for you?” You might ask. “Not so well!” I answer. So here I am, living in Montreal with my cruel and powerful mother and certainly reaping what I have sowed which to be honest, is mostly manure.

C’est la vie! I have learned a lot and continue to do so. I am one of those irritatingly optimistic people who believe what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

‘Till next time,

K.A.L.

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Shadows And Light — April 15, 2017

Shadows And Light

Recently  I made a video of myself reading one of my stories and frankly I was quite dismayed. I wasn’t sure who I was looking at, certainly this person on the video did not match up with the image I have of myself.

This was the first time that I had ever seen myself on video and frankly I was more than a little disturbed.  I did not like at all how I looked, or more specifically how I spoke. In still photography I look fine, because I can smile like everyone else, I’m just not able to smile with my teeth showing. On video however, I can see that when I speak I certainly do not speak as most people do.

I have Moebius Syndrome, or Moebius has me. Regardless of the how or by whom, having Moebius means that some muscles in my tongue do not function, forcing me to speak differently than the norm.

In my community which includes healers and therapists; there is a movement to look toward the light, believing that if you are in the vortex of positivity you will be rewarded with all the riches, healing and love that you have been longing for.

I have toyed with these concepts for a while and find them lacking. Here is why –

If I can’t make peace with my flawed mouth then I will have failed and the kingdom of heaven will then be permanently closed.

In my opinion however, this concept of praying away the shadow only forces the shadow deeper underground. I  am a perfectionist. I can never not be one, perfectionism is written in code into my DNA.

Now how can I make peace with not looking perfect?  I can’t. What I can do is this. I can finally make peace with never being normal and make peace with not looking nor sounding like Joni Mitchell (my heroine). Then paradoxically I can relax into me, because I just gave myself permission to love and accept my unyielding perfectionist self.

So I am loving the hater part of me instead of shaming the hater part of me into submission and into the shadows where she has lain waiting, always waiting to find another opportunity for self abasement.

Accepting the all of me just as I am: the good, the bad and the ugly. 

Forgiveness — September 12, 2016

Forgiveness

 

Definition of Forgive

1: to give up resentment

2: to grant relief from payment

3: to cease to feel resentment

I have had such difficulty writing this piece. I wanted to give all of you something perfect and shiny and bright. I wanted to wrap up my story with silver ribbon and a blue box from Tiffany’s.

Instead you are getting my truth which is not wrapped with a bow but in yesterday’s newspaper, and I didn’t even use the cartoon section for the wrapping, but the obits.

The greatest sorrow of my life has been my relationship with my mother. My first days of life were spent in an incubator in the ICU department of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montréal, where my mother abandoned me for a business trip with my father to Québec City –

” Why would I have stayed with you in the hospital? said my mother
The nurses were there!”

Late this summer when I told my mother I needed to stay with her for two months due to my untimely exit from the apartment I had shared with my now ex – partner Lorraine, her response was less than enthusiastic. I ignored her non response, and proceeded to annihilate what was left of my fantasy mother by asking her to come back with me to Toronto so that she could help me deal with the unpleasantness brought on by my exit from my aforementioned apartment.

“You know I’m not good with that stuff!” said my mom.
“Mommy!!! I need you!! I need you now!!!!” said desperate me

“I need you mommy!” was now looped through my brain and played non stop throughout my day, like an itchy ear worm.

I couldn’t stop myself. I understood intellectually that I did not win the good mother lottery prize but emotionally I was still just four years old, begging my mommy to come to my tea party. She never came and my Barbie’s had to drink their tea with just Ken and me for company.

In my desperation I called a psychic I saw advertised on my Facebook feed. Rachel told me I needed to forgive my mother before I can move forward. Really? This is what I paid five dollars for? ( It was a special offer.)

How do I forgive? According to the Miriam Webster – I need to stop feeling anger toward the person who wronged me.

I have tried repeatedly to do just that. I really have. I have gone to therapy for years with hopes that I could come to some type of peace with my mother. I have talked incessantly about my situation with Jodee, my long time therapist. I thought I was making slow but steady progress, but in Montréal all healing went to hell in a hand basket. I felt unhinged, as if I literally was coming apart. I was desperate for my mother to take my face in her hands and say –

” Don’t worry Katharine, I got you”

I so wanted my mother to create a safe space for me in Montréal, even though that had never happened on the thousand trips I had made to Montréal previously. I didn’t think I was asking for much, just a drawer to put my clothes in, and an acknowledgment that this was indeed a scary and difficult time for me.

As a child, I did not enjoy Halloween, as dressing up in costume made me anxious. I lived with parents that put on masks every day when they went outside our home. Just like the parents who caution their children to use their inside voices during school and synagogue; my parents used their inside face with me, and their outside face with others. The mask they showed to others was so radically different than the one they showed to me at home, that I am still disturbed by masks of any kind, knowing what danger can lurk beneath.

I tried this time, I really tried to make believe that I could calm this frightened fragmented inner child of mine, but I, like my mother before me, threw baby Katharine out to the wolves. I could not console her and I let her rage at being abandoned take me over.

I so wanted my mother to come to my rescue, just this once.

I kept on repeating:

” Mom, you can redeem yourself for all the damage that you have done before, all I ask is that you create a safe place here for me to rest and recoup until my new apartment becomes available in November.”

And each time I begged and each time I pleaded, I lost a little bit of my soul and a lot of my dignity but I could not help myself, so desperate was I to be seen. To make matters worse, as a retired psychotherapist, I understood intellectually that my mother was not ever going to give me what I needed, and in fact took pleasure in seeing her former jappy princess daughter reduced to sleeping on her not so comfy couch, but I was not able to make my brain meet my heart.

Weeks passed in this way, and then my birthday happened, or didn’t happen, to be more accurate.

I had spent the weekend before my birthday celebrating with my close friend Marcus and his family. Before meeting Marcus I had an idea of what familial love should feel like, but did not have a body memory to go with it. Thanks to Marcus and his family, I have experienced love as a felt sense. To celebrate my birthday, they surprised me with a weekend at the splendid Hovey Manor, located in the Eastern Townships.

When I came back I made the mistake of sharing my joy with my mother. If any of you here tonight are familiar with the reality TV show Survivor, whenever the winner of a reward challenge gloats about her reward, the people left behind become angry. I came home so happy, I forget my own rule about keeping my joy contained so as not to risk my mother’s wrath.

Too late.

Now I was to be punished, and since the punishment level was in line with my joy, the punishment was extreme. My mother decided to banish me from her kingdom which meant that my birthday would not be acknowledged.

No birthday cake. No birthday card.

” But I’m sixty, Mommy!! See me! Celebrate me!”

And my shame at my bottomless need to be seen by her, obfuscated my otherwise sound judgment.

And still.. and still.

I’m now back in Toronto, safely ensconced in my new cozy apartment. Every morning before I get out of bed, and every night before I go to sleep, this agnostic Jew prays to the Divine Mother and my Guardian Angels and anyone else I can think of, saying my prayers out loud because I don’t want to take any chances on any unseen helpers not hearing my forgiveness plea.

“I release you mother, and the hold you have on my heart. I am going to do my best to stop blaming you for not being the mother I so desperately wanted, and to try my best to live a life unencumbered by my old friends shame and blame. Please dear Mother God send me your love and healing and if you’re feeling really generous, please send me my Beloved. I am ready to receive her now!”

Hopefully these prayers will help me this month when Chanukah comes around, so that when I light my Chanukah candles sans Maman, I can take comfort in knowing that like the Maccabees before me, I have won the battle even though I have lost the war.

Never Can Say Goodbye.. — December 10, 2018

Never Can Say Goodbye..

Can’t quite say goodbye to Coke. I have traditionally been terrible at breakups. I rationalize, I make excuses, I beat myself up. My fear of being left alone without any sweetness in my life has kept me anchored to unhealthy practices across the board, but each new day brings hope of freedom and a resolve to be kind to myself in ways that will not bury that anchor deeper into the earth.

Always, And In All Ways. — December 8, 2018

Always, And In All Ways.

Almost thirty years ago I watched a movie by Henry Jaglom called ‘Always’. The movie was loosely based on around his upcoming divorce from his wife Victoria.  In the movie Henry told his soon to be ex- wife that all he wanted was to go out with her to a five star restaurant, both dressed to the nine’s, and while sitting at the table, Henry wanted to take a shit on top said table, whilst Victoria sat calmly and watched him poo. When I heard Henry express his wish to his wife, I understood it immediately. This is what I too wanted more than anything else in the world.
I like Henry, spoke metaphor as my first language so I knew what Henry was getting at. He wanted to be seen and loved and accepted in his entirety. He chose an outrageous act to demonstrate his need for total acceptance.
This movie and especially this scene, impacted my life greatly. I would share Henry’s story with potential partners to see how they would respond, sadly all responded unfavourably. “Ick! Really? You want to poo on a table? I don’t get it?”

Many years passed without anyone really understanding me or this story, so I gave up telling the story but never gave up wanting this wish to be fulfilled until recently. What changed? I am 100% experiential learner. In my last relationship my ex was Henry, and she wanted me to be Victoria and allow her to do the poo in public thing. Interestingly when I brought up the movie and the scene to her when we first met, she followed the crowd of ick-sayers. It was only later in our relationship that it was clear to me that this was exactly what she wanted me to do for her.

Now of course what she wanted from me did not involve dressing up nor restaurants nor poo, but it did require me to allow her to act in very inappropriate ways. This is when I realized what a burden Henry had put on Victoria, because in a relationship between two healthy partners, each person should be seen and heard and most importantly, respected.

It’s great that Henry was having his moment in the spotlight, but what about his wife? Was Victoria embarrassed, or worse, shamed by his behaviour? Some people might not love being put in a performance art piece involving poo. Because I am not one of these people I failed to see, until my ex brought this to my attention, what a huge price you are asking the other person to pay.

Moving forward, there will be no poo performances in my future. Because sadly, I got only one chance to be a child, and I didn’t get that opportunity to smear my poo all over the table. So now I’m shit out of luck, because now I must mother myself to the best of my abilities. If I can do this, and I am devoting the rest of my life to this process, then I might actually have a ghost of a chance of having a mutually dependent relationship, based on love and respect and empathy and of course, dining out.

Love and other Crimes of the Heart — December 6, 2018

Love and other Crimes of the Heart

Love and other Crimes of the Heart.

It was autumn of 2012. I was having problems concentrating at work (I was a psychotherapist) and my body ached all the time. I might have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome so off I went to my doctor to find out exactly why I was so bone weary. Initially all the tests came back negative, so it was at my next appointment that I decided to speak about the elephant in the room, the one waving at me in her pink tulle tutu. Yes, her.

“Yoohoo,Katharine!” she called “Time to tell the good doctor what you are finally brave enough to explore, your facial differences.” So I did just that.

I look slightly different from most people, I can not move my eyes from right to left, and I speak slightly differently than most, perhaps akin to someone who had a minor stroke. I had always felt such a sense of shame at my differences, an all purveying global sense of shame.

So I braved through my fears and talked to my doctor about these anomalies and he then sent me to a neurologist,who then sent me to a geneticist. The decisive conclusion? I was diagnosed with Mobius Syndrome. Mobius Syndrome is an extremely rare congenital neurological disorder characterized by facial paralysis and the inability to move the eyes from side to side. I was considered one of the ‘lucky’ ones. I could smile (at least with my lips closed) and I had 20/20 vision, even if I could not see peripherally. After I did some personal research I found that Moebius is thought to be an immune system disorder, hence my Chronic Fatigue like symptoms.

While I did not know I had Moebius Syndrome growing up among the beautiful and the privileged in my wealthy Montreal enclave, I did know that I did not look normal by their high standards. That alone was enough to make me feel different. The writer Andrew Solomon in his book ‘Far From The Tree’ writes about wealthy families who have a child who is different. Andrew originally thought that money would help these children have an easier life, and in many ways it did (better doctors, private schools) but what Andrew found after interviewing these affluent parents and their children, was the pressure to be and look perfect made life very painful for these ‘different’ children in their strive for excellence at all cost families.

This described my experience in my family of origin perfectly. Instead of being empathetic or at least honest to describe my differences, my mother just told me that I was weird. What constituted the weird was unclear, but not looking perfect played a big factor as well as a predilection for reading and music that did not endear me to my extroverted tone deaf mother.

Add to that mix a slight speech impediment and a tendency, despite the impediment to always speak my version of the truth did not help matters. I remember one occasion when once again my mother was yelling at me for some real or imagined transgression I looked directly into her eyes and said “Good mothers do not yell” and she replied “What do you know? You are four years old!“

I knew instinctively that nurturing was not part of mother’s equation. I had hopes that school would be better, but the children at my school just continued the verbal abuse I was experiencing at home. My classmates called me names and laughed at me in front of my face. I had no friends and would eat my lunch in the girls bathroom stall. For years after whenever I was walking down the street and heard someone laugh I felt instinctively they were laughing at me. My survival now depended on my retreating to the safety of my mind as it was too painful to be fully embodied and present in my world.

I taught myself to read at three. Books became my best friends and my salvation. I tried my hardest to fit in and be normal but normal was not made available for me. As I entered high school the bullying began to intensify and many painful years ensued.

The summer before I began university it occurred to me that my troubles would diminish if I could somehow become beautiful. Then people might stop hating me for having committed the cardinal sin of being born different. Then perhaps I would begin to be deserving of love.

That was certainly the message I had received from my social climbing parents. Fitting in and conforming were my parent’s way of life, something they both tried desperately to impose on their misfit daughter. I was raised not to become a Doctor or a Lawyer, but to become someone’s wife. To get that title of Mrs. and that final rose, I had to become beautiful.

For their sake as well as mine, I tried. I had rhinoplasty and a breast reduction. I poured toxic chemicals on my hair turning my naturally brown jewfro locks into long blond hair that even Farrah Fawcett would envy. And it worked. Instead of being an object of their derision, I was now an object of their admiration. Women would tell me how much they loved my hair. Men began to ask me out on dates. The bouquets appeared and the Cristal champagne flowed, and my plan for the beautification of Katharine Angelina was complete. The ugly duckling was transformed into a swan. My work was done.

Except that it wasn’t. I was hiding another secret, one that made me feel on the inside as different as I had looked before on the outside. I liked women. I did. But what could I do with those feelings? All I wanted was to be accepted. Just once. So I dated all the single Jewish boys in Toronto (having moved to Toronto for graduate school) and was left each time feeling bored and disillusioned. Then karma called and his name was Bob, my future husband.

I had never used birth control because I thought whatever happened to me genetically probably prevented me from having a child. I always thought I would adopt when the time came, but just before deciding to leave Bob, I became pregnant. Finally, for the first time in my life, I felt normal! I was having a child! Someone to call my own. Someone to frolic in the fields with, a little helper for choreographing Mother / Daughter Bob Fosse dance numbers. I became pregnant in July of ’91 and walked down the aisle in October of that same year praying, as I walked down that long red carpeted aisle that God would forgive me for betraying my soul’s desire.

Listed below my takeaway from those golden years:
1.It is much better to be feted than hated.
2.No matter how beautiful I was presenting on the outside, I still felt disfigured on the inside.
3.My blood sport was choosing partners (husband included) who would reflect my self-hatred back to me.

My daughter was born on April 11, 1992. I made the decision shortly after her birth to become healthy and own my attraction to women. I divorced my husband and began dating again. Suddenly, being in relationship where I was not respected no longer felt sexy. Healthy attachments were assuming paramount importance. I now required my person to show up, be responsive and attuned. Oh yes, and one more thing: to really really want to be present – here and now to help me celebrate this very special ordinary moment.

A few months ago I watched the news show 20/20. This particular episode featured young adults with facial anomalies who had the opportunity to have a renowned plastic surgeon repair their flaws. I was particularly taken with one young woman whose eyes and nose were unusually formed. I thought she looked lovely and compelling – much more interesting to look at than the classic cookie cutter version of beauty.

Those feelings of appreciation of her unique beauty were for her though, and her alone. All I had ever wanted, was to have a great big toothy grin so I wouldn’t have had to witness that fleeting look that passed over most people’s eyes when they first met me. I abhorred that look. It singled me out and dismissed me, both. That look made me try even harder to charm and be witty so that everyone could see that I was not handicapped, but trying even harder left me feeling depleted and desperate. I needed to accept my differences and come to peace with my flawed and fractured self.

I came to realize that only through surrender would I find the love I so craved, the love I had been searching for all my life. And so I surrendered –

My craving to be seen by my mother

My desire to be saved.

My wish to be beautiful.

Slowly I relaxed into my body and finally made peace with my crooked little self.

As I end this chapter of my story, I am reminded of the words of the late poet and author Raymond Carver that in closing, I would like to share here.

Late Fragments

And did you get what you wanted from this life even so?

I did. And what did you want?

To call myself beloved.

To feel myself beloved on the earth.

My (Almost) Lesbian Love Story — December 5, 2018

My (Almost) Lesbian Love Story

I recently listened to an interview on CBC radio where Matt Galloway interviewed parents whose children were entering junior kindergarten. One Dad told Matt that every night at dinner he asked his family three questions. I love this idea, and will share the questions and my answers below.

Here are the questions:

1. What did you do today that was kind?

I spoke with kindness to my mother, who has rarely extended that gift to me.  I am determined to keep extending myself in kindness despite her lack of initiation or response.

2. What did you do today that was brave?

I pushed myself and my puppy Lucille, who would much rather stay inside all winter to walk five miles in the freezing cold to the Atwater Market. I have recently committed for the first time in my life to an exercise program, which was much easier to commit to in the balmy days of October, than now in the midst of a freezing cold December. The Atwater Market is located at the edge of the St Lawrence river, which meant that I had to walk downhill to get there (easy) and walk uphill to get home (hard). When I came home I was tired but happy that I braved the cold and my initial inertia to stay on track with my fitness goals.

3. What did you do today where you failed?

My favourite quote is a quote by Beckett ‘Ever tried. Ever Failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’
(On a side note I just googled how to highlight a quote: is it ” or ‘ ? It’s ‘ .)

I recently connected with a woman that I felt might be The One, and by recently I mean I had only been in communication with her for just a few weeks. We met on a dating site and very quickly I tried to place a stranglehold on how and when she needed to respond to me in the guise of transparency, which I can now see was just an act of control.

Of course it shall come as no surprise to anyone who reads this piece that she responded to my requests of constant contact by saying sayonara. I initially took this as another in a series of lesbian almost lovers who couldn’t make a commitment to my needs, but I now see this as the act of my small self trying desperately to gain control. Hopefully with my newfound insight, I can move forward armed with the knowledge that love is an organic entity that need not be controlled.

I have worked hard at being heart connected to what I am feeling. For most of my life whenever I have felt any strong emotion, be it positive or negative, I buried it with food. Now I am closer to sitting in the Observer position, watching my little child feel her feelings and not reacting from her wounds, but but leaning in to my/her pain, taking a deep breath, and reassuring my child that she is safe, and I got her. Unfortunately yesterday in my fledgling attempts to calm my little baby, I failed.

Moving forward, I shall try my best to let love unfold organically without my little conductor self trying furiously to orchestrate the outcome.

I’m happy that you all are here with me for the ride!

Moebius Syndrome and Me: Blond Ambition —
menemsha — November 26, 2018

menemsha

some people use prayer, others use vision boards to imagine into the world their greatest dream, i use poetry.

menemsha

 

darling,

long have i

waited

breath by breath

for your arrival.

 

i must be honest

here my love,

there were times

(days//months//years)

when i thought

you would never

appear

yet here you are,

bones

and pulse

and skin,

no longer

a figment

a fragment

nor

fervent wish.

 

the totality of

your love has

forced me

(slowly, ever so slowly)

to acknowledge

that i am deserving

of kindness

and a place

in this world.

 

memories of

menemsha,

the winter of our

content,

days spent

searching for

sea glass

on the frozen sand,

two of us laughing

warmth

against the cold.

 

i lose myself

in the depth,

in the deep of

you

feeling joined

in a way

i’ve never felt before,

my own

unified theory.

 

tonight, i breathe

you in,

resting my head

ever so gently

on your welcome

chest.

 

our eyes lock

and you smile,

and suddenly

i know,

without a glimmer

of a doubt,

that i’ve

found a heart

without question,

someone

to watch over me.

 

 

kal

 

 

 

 

The Invisible One — November 24, 2018

The Invisible One

The Invisible One

We’re out together

walking,

yet you aren’t

walking with

me.

We’re out together

talking,

yet you aren’t

talking to

me.

We’re out together

dining,

yet you aren’t

dining with

me.

Why won’t you see me?

Why won’t you

see my tears?

Am I just

your shadow,

or a reflection

of your fears?

I’m here:

the canary in

your coal mine.

I’m here:

your sacrificial lamb.

I’m here:

your rage repository.

I’m here:

your invisible one.

You keep repeating

that you love me

but now I know

what’s true.

Long ago

I once

believed you

when you whispered

“I’ll take care of you.”

Feeding My Hungry Hippo — November 14, 2018

Feeding My Hungry Hippo

To ponder: How to know when being determined crosses the line and becomes desperate. I personally have crossed that line way too many times. Not only have I crossed the line, I’ve dotted the i, and crossed the t. In my newest incarnation I am trying to check in with my body, with my ‘knowing’ self, and keep checking in.

Once I begin to notice subtle changes in my breathing pattern, right before I move into full blown panic mode, I know I’ve begun to chase that ever elusive ‘thing’, be it person, place or object, that I’m convinced will bring me peace/love/security etc.

Ironic isn’t it, that the chasing of my desires, brings me back to the place I most don’t want to visit, my hungry hippo self, that will never ever be sated, as the nature of my hippo is perenially hungry. I just have to sit and be with with her, (I’ve named her Henrietta) feeding her what she needs instead of what she wants.

Love Is Who I Am — November 12, 2018

Love Is Who I Am

Love Is Who I Am

‘You either walk into your story and own your truth, or you live outside of your story, hustling for your worthiness.’ Brene Brown

I have always been that hustler, that hooker, that looker, offering up my body as a token of my admiration, beseeching her to love me through my trifecta of tools: shame, blame and manipulation.

Always dancing as fast as I can, all the while singing the same refrain stuck on repeat, “Please love me. Please fill me. Please heal me. Never leave me. I will do any thing and be anyone you need. I will make your every wish come true.”

Hoping always that ephemeral, elusive feeling of safety would land on my right shoulder like a butterfly’s kiss, like a benediction.

But that was yesterday. After a lifetime of yesterdays, on this bright November day, I can walk straight into my story, thankful to proclaim my own truth, which is this:

I am worthy of love. I am inherently loveable. I did not need to change my surname to Love. I did not need to lie prostrate on the floor, begging to be loved. I just needed to know, I just needed to feel, I just needed to own that my flawed and broken self has inherent value in this world. And it does, and I do, and therefore I am, extremely thankful to be here now in this messy magnificient world.

– Katherine Angelina Love

I See You —
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