(photo by Catherine Just)
My first tattoo was a bird on the back of my wrist.
I was 37 and as the ink sunk into my skin it was like someone was turning my skin inside out revealing the being that had been laying inside watching and waiting for her time.
In college I would see small black tattoos inked on women's skin. I would see the hoops circled inside their noses.
Patrick (the man I was with for 21 years) made a comment once, when we were probably in our young 20's that he didn't like nose piercings after I expressed my adoration for them.
He doesn't remember saying it, as we discussed over a decade later. And yet, that one comment stopped me from stepping into a becoming that I had desired for so long.
My story was that he didn't like them so I couldn't have one. I couldn't have what I wanted because someone I loved didn't like it.
I have no idea how much of me lived like that.
The inside out version of myself.
The first day we met he had asked me out for coffee. The building I lived in and he worked in had a coffee shop in one of the hallways.
I asked him instead to come over to my Loft and I would make us coffee.
I didn't know he hated coffee and had planned on getting hot chocolate. I knew about myself that meeting him in public, awkwardly standing in line, wondering who would pay and showing up inside of anxiety would feel like torture.
My skin had already been turned right side out and I was becoming a master at knowing what I needed.
At this point in time I knew :: I have a reasonable dose of social anxiety. I feel safe in my own spaces. I don't do small talk. I have no idea how to go on a date. My magic is intensified when I am comfortable, no shoes, no bra, no worrying about details that will take me out of my body.
So I invited him to come to me.
I never thought about how different from him I was. I never thought about my tattoos or nose piercing or the dreaded braids in my hair. I never thought about how his world was something I knew nothing about.
All I thought about was the feeling that was wiggling inside of me. This iteration of me sat at the table with him and felt so proud of who I was and the life I had built.
I didn't expect to fall in love with him, it was already written in the visions and dreams and walking prayers.
Two hours later it was the calmest I have ever felt when hugging him good-bye. Knowing he was having the same feelings wiggling inside of him.
When we felt ready to share our relationship with his side of our life I was promoting Sexy and Sanguine.
I've been publicly writing and blogging since my 9 year old was 5 months old. I am sensitive to others in my life, I use my intuition.
And. I am quite open. Because my skin turned right side out. Because I pretended in my life for so long I was never ever ever ever going to turn back.
What happens when people who don't understand who you are, your language, your intentions, your skin, your tattoos, your choices or your heart become the people who are now devouring every word you write, every photo you share, every possible piece they can use as ammunition for anger and fear against you?
You recoil. You flail. You fall. You start to turn your skin back inside and you expose your anger and your impatience and your fear of not being enough. Of being wrong. Of being unlovable.
So many women have commented that our blending of families has been so beautiful and loving. And it has.
It has almost turned my skin back inside. I have never felt more raw and exposed.
I have deleted blog posts. I have deleted photos. I have erased words written. I have hidden parts that could not be exposed.
I have been angry. Really, really angry.
That anger and fear have stopped me from being as prolific as I was.
That anger has kept me from running programs that I once was.
That anger, I know, is the fear that I have done something wrong. That I've displeased. That I have pierced my nose and someone doesn't like it. That I have put a picture on the internet that makes someone else want to tear me down.
Yes. The blending of our families has been beautiful and it came at a cost for both of us.
There is no way to do divorce or loving again right. In fact it may be the biggest lesson in failure either of us have ever experienced.
So much fear.
Last night the kids were at their dad's and Lucas got a horrible headache and was throwing up. His dad was texting me and keeping me updated on him as he fell asleep. I kept texting him through my tears.
"Is he ok?"
"Yes. I am right next to him on the couch."
"Ok, thank you." "Is he ok still?"
I cried and felt afraid. Because I wasn't there. Because I had to be a mama sitting on a couch in another house away from them.
And this man who sits beside me on the couch rubbed my jaw and tickle rubbed my arm and my tears slowed down.
We haven't done so much of this right. The words have been erased. Pictures taken down. I would do so much of the past in a different way.
Once I risked turning my skin right side out I was so attached to being authentic that I couldn't believe that anyone else would be any other way.
I couldn't find compassion for people who said things about me that hurt.
I couldn't find my way to trusting that this wasn't going to twist my skin back around.
The last two years have felt censored and filled with hurt and hard as shit.
My fear has slowed down my work. My fear has led to a hibernation of sorts.
Last night, as I cried and he kept rubbing my arm, he told me I was an amazing mother.
Last night, as sure as I know anything, I knew that fear was never going to go anywhere, it was only going to create openings for more and more and more compassion and deeper faith where before I was faithless.
God, Universe, Spirit have been speaking to me and laying down small signs that feel like the lightest of breaths on my neck.
I am being reminded that my words are prayer. And prayer is my surrender. And surrender is the intersection between acceptance and change.
We don't have only one moment in time of turning right side out.
We have unlimited moments, possibilities.
We don't have to hold on to only one awakening, we are a becoming that is ours to design.
We can forgive on repeat.
We can love without having to be right.
I've been getting messages about running Sexy and Sanguine again from women in my circles for months now.
I keep saying, "Yes, yes, of course, it will come back. Not sure when."
Every time I thought about it, I would be pulled back into a text I received with words that sunk into me and hurt so deeply or I think about the words spoken around the pictures I had on the sales page.
I would remember the judgement. The friction that Dave and I have been through together. The explosiveness of our fear meeting the eyes of others.
I wouldn't think about the women who had been part of it. The women who, like me, craved the experience of being seen and loved even though it is terrifying.
I will become 43 in a few weeks.
I crave the feeling of the younger me who sat in the tattoo shop feeling the ink flood her skin through a pain that was a little high of sorts.
I am now in the moments before. When you are picking out the tattoo. Wondering if it will hurt. Wondering if you are making a mistake. Overwhelmed by the feeling of fear turned into safety.
That light breath on my neck of Spirit is the tickle touch from his hands is the morning spent typing these words is the call from Lucas telling me about his headache is the wind blowing outside this home I am falling in love with is the tears that fall again when I remember how much it all matters.
Yes, it is time for Sexy and Sanguine and the circle of women it will draw forth who will heal each other in ways I struggle to put to words.
It is safe for me to talk about this part of my story because we are all new and changed from it and we made it. We have all found a deeper compassion for the thoughts of others, especially when they don't match our own.
The moments before we become new. I'll meet you there. Over and over.
And so it is.
(photo by Catherine Just)