Beloved Nephew

Today, I am going to attempt to define the indefinable – the relationship between myself and my Beloved Nephew.

I’ve had many people question me, as has he, on the type of relationship it is, because we don’t actually share familial genetic ties. And there are some things I’d like to set straight.

 First off, there is not now, there has never been, nor will there ever be, any type of romantic relationship between my nephew and me. This is not something that is even remotely possible, as we are family, even if we are not bound by blood. I am The Aunt, and he is The Nephew. Period. So anyone thinking anything of the sort, needs to immediately stop.

The Nephew and I originally met through his mom, Midnite, who became my heart’s sister. We met through a group that we both used to study in, & ended up best friends for many years, until she passed away from cancer in 2009. It was during our friendship that BN started calling me The Aunt. 

Since neither of them had any blood relatives in North Dakota, I adopted them into my family. They were truly the first of my Chosen Family, & came along with me & mine for holidays, whether to my house, or to my parents, it didn’t matter, as my parents always have said “With Love, there’s always room for more”.

When Midnite passed, BN and I held each other together. If not for each other, I’m not really sure either one of us would have made it through the grieving process sane. It was pretty rock bottom for both of us.

We spent a lot of time hanging out, listening to music, talking, crying & laughing. My kids starting referring to him as their brother. My ex-husband (who I was still married to at the time), didn’t even mind that he came over & hung out at the house all the time, & he hated pretty much everyone.

When I went through my divorce in 2011, BN was my rock, listening for hours on end while I cried about feeling like a failure, tortured myself about wondering whether I’d ever find love again, and bitched about all the reasons I knew the divorce was the right thing. He backed me up every step of the way, told me I was stupid for putting myself down, & comforted me with ice cream when necessary.

Beloved Nephew is my soul mate, in most senses of that word. 

He understands me in ways that most do not. I can talk to him about anything, and everything. And he can do the same with me. There is never any judgment on either side, only unconditional love.

There are nights when we sit on the phone and “game” – meaning, he plays his game, I play mine, & we talk over the phone. We’re not online, just on the phone, talking about whatever. Sometimes we’re playing the same game, sometimes not, but it doesn’t matter.

Other nights, we can be talking on the phone & doing completely mundane, household things. One night I was washing dishes & he was making himself supper – at 11:30 at night, because we always talk late at night after he gets off his shift at the nursing home where he works. There were moments of complete, comfortable silence, while we each went about our tasks. Silence that I broke to tell him that “You know, if I was doing this on the phone with anyone else, they’d hang up on me, thinking I was ignoring them”.

But it’s true, just knowing that he’s on the other end of the phone, even if we don’t speak, some nights – that’s enough. Strange, but true.

We discussed this on the phone last night (before I fell asleep on him, sorry ’bout that, Nephew!), and neither of us can ever remember a time that we’ve been angry at each other. 

Not ever in all the years we’ve known each other.

That’s just weird, even for me.

If Beloved Nephew were to fall in love tomorrow, I’d stand at his side & be his “Best Wo-Man” at the wedding, after, of course, making sure that the Significant Other was worthy of his magnificence.

If I were to fall in love tomorrow, I’d want him to be my Best Man. 

BN knows things about me that no one else does, simply because he’s been there, through hell and back, with me. Through some of the worst shit I’ve endured in my life, he was always there. 

He’s also helped me celebrate some of the best things to ever happen to me in my life, like being published – not once, not even twice, but three damn times. Once for poetry, once for a photograph, & once a whole blog post.

The same as I’ve done for him.

I’ve watched him grow since his mother’s passing, into a strong, confident, capable, compassionate & brilliant young man.

And even though he now lives across the country, we still talk at least 3 times a week, and sometimes more. He is my best friend, and an irreplaceable piece of my heart.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to put the totality of our relationship into words. People just don’t get it. 

BN is family.

He is Best Friend.

He is Soul Mate, without the romance.

He gets it.

So, in the end, I guess that’s what really matters. He gets it – just as he understands me, I understand him. 

And the rest…doesn’t really matter, does it?

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Heartbeat

This evening was beautiful.

I spent some time outside, knowing it was probably going to be one of the few, really nice days left of the fall weather.

I mowed, & planted my lily bulbs for next spring.

I got back in touch with the heartbeat of the earth, and with my own.

And while I was working my hands in the dirt…I was thinking about “Things”.

How many “things” I have.

How many I care about.

Whether I care about “things” at all.

And I came to a conclusion.

The only things I truly Care about…

All have a heartbeat.

My family, chosen and blood, my friends, my 2 cats.

Everything else can be replaced.

But not the heartbeats.

Those are finite.

I’ve lost a few of those over the years, and a handful just within the last couple of years. They are irreplaceable. Gone forever, they exist now only in my memories, and in the memories of the others whose lives they touched.

And, sometimes it hurts, knowing that the only way I can connect to the heartbeats I love so much is through the phone.

This is why I’ve thought about moving closer to my Beloved Nephew.

At least being there, I know I’d be near someone who truly wanted me to be there. Someone who values my heartbeat as much as I value his. As Chosen Family, and my best friend, our friendship is one of those irreplaceable things I cherish.

And here… Well, after everything that’s happened here, I do have a couple of good friends, but no romantic life… and pretty much only painful reminders of heartbreak and rejection. Not exactly a rousing endorsement to stay.

So, I’m going to pack my heartbeat up in cotton, and pad it against breakage for the coming cold months. I’ll work on savoring the moments I get to have with those I cherish, even if it’s only over the phone, and get rid of a few “things” I no longer need.

There’s plenty I can do without.

Getting To It and Leaving It

Yesterday I worked on my kitchen.

I’ve been tearing it apart for days, preparing to repaint, ripping off wallpaper, scrubbing walls, repairing busted plaster, cleaning up old grease & fuzz (can we all say GREASE FIRE?? Geezus) off the tops of the double oven & cupboards.

And, after 10 hours of painting, cleaning blinds from the windows, moving fridge & stove repeatedly, I ended up with this.

It might not look like much difference, but it really is.  It’s now all a soft, dove gray, except right behind the sink, where I’m working today to put the back splash.

Far from finished, but I’m getting to it. There’s a lot more painting to be done. The cabinets will be getting painted as well, but the doors have to be removed, the pulls taken off & replaced. And I’m doing it alone, so it takes time.

And….. I had a phone call yesterday that – fucked me up for a while.

My mom called.

I have such trouble typing this, because I haven’t really let myself deal emotionally with it, yet. And I can’t allow it to take me over right now, either. So I have to push it down, bury it in a box deep in the back of my brain, for now… Until I can think about it without losing my shit.

My mom’s baby brother’s cancer is back.

My Uncle J’s esophageal cancer, which we all thought was in remission. has come back – with a vengeance. It has spread. To lungs, back, bone.

There’s a period at the end of that sentence.

I’m leaving that for now.

I can’t.

My head is so full of pain and rage about this… And I can’t.

I won’t.

I won’t let the pain and rage win.

I’m going back to the kitchen.

Fuck this.

My Love

There are so many ways to love, it staggers the imagination to even contemplate.

I’ve learned, over the years, to never take any scrap of it for granted.

Too many loves lost.

A sister of the heart, taken too soon by cancer.

Lovers, who left me reeling in the wake of their departures.

Ex-husbands who withdrew their affections, leaving their own scars on my soul as they were cut from my heart and life.

Friends, whose deaths were painful reminders that you have to LIVE each moment you have with them, so that you can be the remaining living testament and monument of their life.

This is why I don’t hide my love for others.

This is why I tell the people that I care about, that I love them. 

Because we all need to know.

We need to know that someone loves us.

Without limitation, without obligation, unconditionally, loves us.

When I talk to my Beloved Nephew, my kids, my parents… I always end the call with “I love you”.

Always.

Because I want them to know.

If something were to happen, I want them to remember that our last conversation ended that way.

With Love.

With other friends, it’s more difficult… Awkward, because, some get it tangled up with the sentiment of being “in love”.

The two are not the same.

I am not “in love” with anyone right now, because that has to be reciprocal. It involves knowing someone else well enough to know that that other person has you in their heart the same way you have them in yours. It involves passion as well as compassion. It involves the desire to remain with that one person as a partner.

No one wants me in that way.

But there are plenty of people I love.

If I could tell them…

And while I might not say the exact words out loud…there are other ways to express it.

A teasing text, a “drive safe”, a “sleep well”, a concerned question as to their well-being… All of this and more are ways to show them I love them.

I just wish they’d let me say the words without freaking out. If I could explain, maybe, and yet…I know it’ll end up the same as always. And I’ll be left with the shadow of them disappearing into the distance again.

Because my love seems to be frightening in its intensity, even though it really isn’t. It is given unconditionally, with no expectation of reciprocity. Whether they love me back or not…doesn’t really matter.

I’d still be here for them.

Because that’s who I am.

It kills me over and over, but I die willingly each time. Because love is worth the pain.

I’ve seen both sides.

Love is so worth it.

In talking to the Beloved Nephew tonight, we discussed this post, and I came out with something I had to add.

Unconditional love, by my definition, means that you love someone enough to want only the best for the person you care about – even if that does not involve you.

It might be painful, but that’s not the point. The point is, that the person you love, gets what they need, and that you are happy for them because this means they’ll be better for it. And if that means their life moves away from yours…it doesn’t mean you love them any less…it means you love them enough to give them up. 

To watch someone attain their heart’s desire, their goal, their next step in life, whatever it us – and to cheer them on in their endeavor, this is love. To support them emotionally as they strive for their goal, this is love.

To step back – if they need you to – to walk away – if they need you to – this too is love. Even when it burns.

Babies are born inherently selfish. They have to be in order to survive. They have to reach out and demand everything from those around them just to live and thrive.

Unconditional love is not something we’re born with.

It is something we learn.

It is something we have to be given, in order to give it away.

And, I’ve found, that those I’ve met who understand the true meaning of unconditional love, don’t always come from conventional upbringings.

They don’t always come from the perfect 2 parent households.

But – they always come from a life where someone, somewhere in their life, gave them unconditional love.

They were taught how to love that way.

So, they know how to love that way.

I was taught by many throughout my life. Family, friends, children, lovers…they all showed me in different ways about different facets of love.

So many ways to love.

So many people I love.

I just wish they all understood my love.

Soul Separation

Something seriously wrong happens to you when your soul separates into more than one piece.

Being a Gemini… This is a familiar, and uncomfortable, feeling for me.

I get too attached to the wrong people, sometimes.

I…have a tendency to let people into my life quickly, if they show me affection & appeal to my caretaker side. I’m a sucker for someone who needs a little TLC, and who doesn’t appreciate being taken care of every once in a while?

I have a soft spot for strays & those with sad eyes…the ones who have been hurt in the past, or are hurting now, and I want to jump in and bandage, comfort and fix.

But – that’s not always a good place for me to invest my emotions.

Because, once they’ve had their fill of coddling & cookies, they get up & walk away without a backward glance. Much like being discharged from the hospital, and not giving the nurses another thought once you’ve left the building.

Except, this nurse…thought there was a relationship there, and, much to her dismay, was quickly disabused of that notion when she was forgotten along with the rest.

Yeah, I was talking to someone.  The Dragon, from my past, who I had come back into contact with around New Year’s, &… I thought we had at least rekindled a friendship, becoming pen pals, at least.  For the last 5 years, I’ve held this man in such high regard that I’ve made him a member of my Chosen Family, which appellation only goes to a very select and small number. 

Namely him and one other, the Beloved Nephew.

There is no romantic relationship with this man, but he has had a huge impact on my life, even though he refuses to see it. 

And, for some reason, he seems to be afraid of this relationship, which baffles me, because I’ve never asked him for anything other than conversation, honesty, & friendship. That’s it.  

And it truly, deeply, hurts, that he seems to have disappeared again…

Leaving a portion of my soul, the piece that attached itself to him, as friend and family, floating, lost out there…aimless and alone.

How many separations can the soul survive… Before it gives up completely?

Or before it ices over?

I need to fix this.

And I believe the only way now…

Is to reunite with my soul-companion.

Beloved Nephew.

Soul-Companions are not romantic soul mates.  They are those people who come into your life – friend, family member – who just – so completely get you that there are no words necessary. They understand…everything…

They don’t always agree with you, but they understand.

You can, and usually do, tell them everything…down to the nitty gritty, the good, bad & ugly. They’ve seen you laugh till you weep, and they’ve held you as you cry till you collapse. They’ve talked you off the emotional ledges, and you’ve done the same for them, bringing the ice cream & booze for the pity parties. You’ve each laced up your “bitch boots” to stomp the crap out of someone who’s hurt your soul-companion, & you’d bring the shovel to bury the evidence without being asked.

There is an almost psychic bond between soul companions that is impossible to break.  Beloved Nephew & I often say we live inside each other’s heads more often than not. 

He’ll call me, out of the blue, because he feels like he needs to… And it’ll be exactly what I need, because I’ve had a rough day.

Or, I’ll text him something I’ve found online, because I know it’s something he needs, & he texts me back saying “How’d you KNOW I needed that RIGHT NOW!?!”

He moved down South to be near his family, while I’m still in the far North… And it hasn’t been easy being away from him.

Not just because we have fun hanging out together.

But because… He just gets it.

And I understand him.

And, I know… For the both of us, because we’ve discussed this, our souls need each other to heal, to grow & to find our next steps.

As family and as friends, and as Soul-Companions.

My timeline is set.

I have a goal.

I am moving forward.

The Pendulum Swings

Yesterday was…awful.

Mom called in the morning while I was at work, & told me that Dad’s best friend had passed away. This man was someone I’ve known for practically my whole life. His daughter & I were best friends and nearly inseparable from kindergarten through 5th grade. (The following summer of 1981 we moved to ND)

He and his wife were like second parents to me, as I spent almost as much time at their house as I did my own.

But, he was also the father of the boy who molested me when I was a teenager.

After Mom told me of his passing, I attempted to go back to work at my desk, but couldn’t concentrate. My head felt heavy, & I could hear a buzzing, ringing, in my ears as everything else around me started to fade out.

Then, the panic attack began.

I told my supervisor I had to go home, & bolted from the office before I went into full-meltdown mode. I didn’t want them to see me like that, couldn’t let them see me like that.

It was my worst panic attack yet, save one I had while separated from my first ex (whole other story). 

Tears rolled down my face the whole drive home, but I held my shit together till I got in my front door.

Then – game over.

If you’ve never had a real, full-blown panic attack…you have no idea how frightening one is. I hope you never have to experience it, because it’s…well…I’ll try to describe it.

As soon as my front door closed, the trembling started. I’m not talking about just “feeling shaky”. I’m talking – my whole body went into earthquake mode.  Someone just watching would have probably thought I was having a seizure, or that I’d just gotten out of ice-cold water, I shook so violently. I had to sit to take my shoes off, & struggled with the zippers because I couldn’t keep my fingers still long enough to grasp them.

The cold set in. My house is generally warm, as I can’t abide being cold. I usually have the heat set at 76. But, yesterday, I couldn’t get warm. I wrapped one of my fleece blankets around me as I stumbled through the house to the fridge for my water, & it still wasn’t enough to warm me up. It took 2 blankets & my 2 cats (curled up with me in the chair) to finally warm me.

After taking another dose of my anti-anxiety meds to try to quell the panic attack, it went to the next level. Hyperventilating.

I almost blacked out, so it’s a good thing I was already in my chair when this hit. It dragged on for what seemed like forever, swinging between hyperventilating & hitching sobs. Coupled with the shaking trembles, it most likely would have looked like a grand mal seizure. 

Finally, the meds started to kick in, after interminable seeming hours, and I started to calm. It was most likely just a handful of minutes, but time stretches out unceasingly when in a panic attack, your brain screams fight or flight!! And there seems to be no end, no exit, no rescue. 

And when you’re dealing with this alone, with no one there to comfort you, there’s no surcease of the pain until your body, quite literally, shuts down. The adrenaline of the attack does eventually run out. It has to.

But when you’re panicking, it doesn’t feel that way.

When you’re in PA mode, all you know, all you see, is the black, horrific, panic. It’s a heart attack, stroke, earthquake, flood & mental apocalypse, all rolled inside of your head & body.

It, quite literally, feels like the end, while you’re in it. Logic has no place there. None. It’s not a matter of “just breathe, you’ll be fine”.

You can’t “just breathe”, when every breath has to be fought for.

You can’t “just calm down”, when your heart is racing so fast you feel like a jet engine is going to bust through your chest.

For me, tunnel vision set in, & all I could see was whatever was directly in front of my eyes, but my brain wasn’t truly processing even that. It was in overload.

Once the attack finally crested, & I started to come down, it was like falling off a cliff.

I crashed. 

I slept, weighted under 2 blankets & 2 cats, it was more like falling into a coma, in that I didn’t dream at all. It was just – black sleep.

Today, I am out of PA mode. My anxiety is still very high, but I’m watching it. Keeping quiet, avoiding going out, & taking meds as needed. 

For those of you who do have anxiety & have experienced PA, you know the aftercare, & what I’ve been through. I know another attack could happen, so I’m being careful. Doing all the things I do to relax, soothe & comfort. Reading, to keep my brain occupied on something other than the situation. Wearing my comfort clothes to feel good against my skin. Burning candles and/or incense as needed to use aromatherapy to soothe. Staying away from caffeine, as that can trigger another attack while in heightened stress moments.

And blogging. This helps me, almost as much as the meds. Because this is my emotional outlet, my “scream into the black” of the internet. My way of getting the words out of my head, onto the “page”, & away from my emotional distress.

The worst has passed, and I’m still here…but the pendulum swings. And the moments are tentative & tenderly susceptible to another PA. Hang on, we’re not out of the woods entirely, yet.

The Newest Little Monkey

Ok, so I’m a little behind with this post, but it’s not my fault.

Honest.

I have a new grandson.

Everybody say hi to Maxwell!

His Mama (EldestDaughter) calls him “Monkey”, because she says he gets this little wrinkle in his forehead when he’s thinking really hard, or confused, or working on his next magnum opus, that makes him look like a baby monkey.

He was born 2/12/2017 in Washington state, where ED is now living with her SO & Schnicklefritz.

And I didn’t get to be there.

*sniffle*

But, he’s healthy, happy, & adjusting to life on the outside, according to all accounts, which is all I can ask for.

I DO get to see them all when they’ll come home for OnlySon’s graduation in May.

*BIG YAY & high five!*

So, for now, I have to survive without baby snuggles & will live vicariously through texted pictures & a recently set up weekly Skype date.

And, I’ll have to revamp my ABCs I wrote when Schnicklefritz was born, & tailor some much-needed “Gramma wisdom” for this newest addition to the zoo.

*I feel a challenge coming on*

For now, here’s some pictures I’ve wheedled out of my daughter!

Who is this person holding me? A brother, you say? Ok, I’ll start working on my “little brother pestering” skill set now.

Here’s this “big brother” person again… Are you sure he needed to follow us home, Mom?  Well, at least he seems to like me somewhat, so maybe this could work.

You know, I’m not too sure about this whole “being outside” thing, Mom & Dad…couldn’t I have just stayed where I was? I was kinda comfy there.

No snark…just awwwwwwwwwe…

*sniffle* 

I wanna snuggle him!