Week 9, Day 4 – Aging

The choices for today were:

1.                  write down what you felt when you left childhood for the teen years. young adulthood. When did you feel you reached adulthood and mature adulthood, if you feel you did? what do you see now that you didn’t see then? What do you think the future holds in terms of your aging? How can you make it even richer? Discover the secret that sits in the center and knows about aging?

2.                  time line your life by age passages that you remember. What is stirred in you as you review these passages? What do you look forward to about aging?

As I reflect on this period of my childhood, I remember having this sense, as a child, that I was not fully appreciated for who I was and what I was growing to become.  I rarely felt fully seen or fully appreciated by the members of my family.  While there are many experiences of joy during this period, it was also a time where I went from feeling as if I were an integral part of my family to feeling as if I were not as much a part of my family as my brothers.  There was this clear sense of otherness that developed as I was growing up, of not fitting in.  Yet at the same time, there was this fear of being abandoned, rejected, and set aside.  There was also this fear that if I was abandoned then something bad would happen like when I was sexually abused by my dentist.  What I did not realize was how that experience also moved me to a place of fighting for my dignity and the dignity of others.  For example, in nursery school there was this boy who tried to kiss me.  I said no.  So he peed on me.  I punched him in the face and got suspended from nursery school.  I got suspended in 1st grade for punching this boy out because he called my best friend a nigger.  It seemed like I was destined to be an activist.  I began marching in protest marches in junior high.  It was also a time where I think I struggled to define who I was as a little girl and ultimately a young woman.  I remember enjoying going on dates with my dad to the movies and dinner, but also hating to play with dolls and not wanting to learn how to sew.  Yet this is what was expected of me. I remember wanting to learn how to cook, but also fix cars.  I was also aware that I just did not fit in with everyone else – I was poorer than most of my peers and wore what my Mom made me, not what was hip and cool and I was not boy crazy.  Instead, I was more interested in spending time with my girlfriends – one in particular.  The best experience of this time frame was the first time I was kissed by a girl – the worst experience was being gang raped by boys from my school.

I always did well in school, but I am not sure that I really wanted to be in high school.  I was rebellious in school.  I fought to take auto shop instead of the mandatory typing or home economics.  I was the first girl in my high school to do that.  I was always protesting something.  If there was a march I was in it.  My favorite place to hang was on the library lawn outside the high school with the hippies – we would sit on the lawn and smoke pot and sing peace songs and talk about life.  But I was one of those strange kids at our school who hung with the hippies and some of the people we called nerds (you know the ones who were super smart and had plastic pocket protectors) and the greasers (those kids who hung out at the pizza parlor and wore leather and drove/rode motorcycles).  I had friends in all three circles and was one of very few people who hung with people, regardless of the category they were classified as.  On one hand, I fit everywhere, but on the other hand I fit no where – I was not athletic and I was not interested in sports – which was a huge part of my little school.  I had friends in all three groups, but nobody that I was extremely close to except for Lin and Carter C. Carter.  Yeah, his middle name was Carter.  He was killed in a car accident junior year.  Drove his car into a tree  -- they said he had been doing drugs.  I was too weird for the nerds, too hippieish for the greasers and too smart for my hippie friends.  There was not a whole lot of time for socializing, at least not the last two years – my dad had lost his job and so I worked to help support my family.  The other thing that I remember from this time period was that my rebellious nature continued.  I was still in protest marches and getting arrested for civil disobedience, and I helped lead an act of civil disobedience at my high school.  We all walked in with pants on one winter day – this was against the rules and we all got suspended.  They wound up changing the dress code because of our action, but we were tired of having to take our pants off from under our skirts outside the school building.  I didn’t go to the prom – no desire and nobody asked me and I certainly could not go with Lin.  Had consensual sex with a guy one time while Lin and I were fighting.  It was so boring – like watching paint dry. 

This has been a period of growth, resistance, losses, and recoveries.  Lin was killed in a car accident on January 2, 1975.  She was hit head on by a drunk driver.  Two of my friends from high school, Jane and Jim got married and had a little girl – Heather Ann.  They had met in an orphanage and had asked me to Heather’s Godmother.  They were killed in a car accident in November 1975.  Heather came to live with me.  She died shortly before she turned two.  She had an aneurism in her brain that ruptured in her sleep.  She died in February 1976.  In September, 1976 this guy I was friends with at the time, Steven got really sick.  Steven was crazy about me and I loved him as a friend.  He worked with my dad.  Anyway, to make a long story short – wound up that Steven had some rare disease that was causing the wall between the sinus cavity and the brain to deteriorate and he needed surgery to live.  He refused to have the surgery unless I married him.  I had dealt with about as much loss as I could and he knew it.  I think it was his way of getting me to marry him. He survived the surgery, but was in a coma for a while and then made a full recovery.  So anyway, I was married to Steven for 7 years – 7 of the worst years of my life.  He was very abusive.  Finally, got out of that marriage – lived in a dump, finished my undergraduate work.  Met my next partner, Vicky graduation night.  Spent the next several years with her while we were working on our master’s degrees.  We broke up, I went on to do my doctorate and met my ex partner, Lu.  That was in 1991.  We started dating in 1992 and broke up in 2001.  In actuality, I think we broke up 2 years before that, we just lived together and pretended to be together.  We broke up just weeks before I started seminary.  It has been weird at times because she also goes to school here.  I have had to work at boundary issues with her.  For a while, she lived 3 doors down from me.  That was not comfortable at all.  I met my son in 1992, his name is Nicholas and he is the love of my life.  He was a student in Lu’s classroom – a psycho-ed center.  I think it was love at first sight with us.  He has been my heart ever since.  In December 2001, I met my current partner, Zoë, who lives in Virginia and we have been together ever since.  I lost my Mom after a long illness on November 12, 2001.  I lost my father April 12, 2005. Both those losses were devastating for me.  Zoë’s mom passed away in August 2005.  our parents were my first three funerals to perform. The last several years have been a time of significant change and growth. Post graduation from seminary, I was ordained twice, started a church, herniated two disks in my back, blew my knees out, left the church and started on my new path as a spiritual director.

As I sit back and think about my life and everything I have been through, I have come to realize I am a survivor. I am a strong, powerful and wise woman. While yes I have all these degrees, much of my wisdom has not come from books and things I have read, but through life, through prayer and through my experiences with the Creator. I do not know how much time I have left on this earth, but what I do know is this, my goal is to make the most of each day, to make everything I say and do be about love and helping others develop a more loving relationship with themselves. I am looking forward to continuing to grow old with Zoë who is truly the love of my life. I look forward to getting healthier with her and continuing to help each other become the best people we can be.