Friday, October 24, 2014

Taking Stock

I spent a week in Tacoma General Hospital last week. A silent kidney infection went rogue and put my body into Sepsis. Been home for a week and I'm back to being able to do pretty much nothing, again.

I looked at the bottles and bottles of pharmaceutical drugs I've been allowing into my body since the cancer diagnosis

Then I had my husband bring down every bottle and box from the upstairs bathroom. 

When I look at this, I see poison. I see the root of why my body cannot heal properly. Why I'm limping along in a world between alive and dead, barely able to function. I can't place the blame entirely on Western Medicine.  I bought the snake oil, lock stock and "smoking barrel. " 

So this morning I'm assessing my state of being. There's a bag of kitty litter complete with turds waiting for this pile of pharmaceutical crap. Right now, I'm angry. At the consumer culture that makes medicine into profits, bottom lines, and way to get paid, instead of healed. I'm angry at a culture that treats the old as fodder for big pharma. I'm angry at myself for so easily swallowing the pills and the lie.

I'm not being stupid. I'm intelligent enough to know what I need to take, and what is simply junk. So enough. Enough of the sawbones' claptrap.  This morning, with the beginning of a tickle in my throat that wants to turn into something bigger, instead of the medicine chest, I'm into the kitchen and my teapot.





Thursday, September 18, 2014

Stepping Off the Big Pharma Road and Onto My Own

This is not a blog about Fibromyalgia. I am no expert. I have no special wisdom to impart to anyone looking for tips, tricks, or strategies on how to deal with having this vicious chronic madness that invades your life and turns it inside out. For the uninitiated:

fi·bro·my·al·gia
fībrōmīˈalj(ē)ə/
noun
a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in localized areas. (from google search)

The National Institute Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases says, "Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue (feeling tired). People with fibromyalgia have “tender points” on the body. Tender points are specific places on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs. These points hurt when pressure is put on them."

The Mayo Clinic defines Fibromyalgia as " a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals."

For two years since undergoing treatment for Breast Cancer, I've been battling, all out warring with a host of symptoms that fit the clinical definition of Fibromyalgia. According to the diagnostic criteria, which mind you, are sketchy at best, a person has to have suffered these symptoms ongoing for a minimum of three months. I received a definitive diagnosis this week, finally. The first appointment with a specialist came last year after repeated visits to my primary doctor, who implied I wasn't trying hard enough to get well, and that my pain was purely the result of clinical depression. The specialist, a neurologist, leaned back in his chair and glibly told me that Fibromyalgia is just a garbage term. It doesn't actually exist. Yeah...never went back to him. I've done the Big Pharma Shuffle, from SSRIs, to Tricyclics, to Lyrica, Effexor, Celexa, Trazodone--I've truly lost count of the number and kind of drugs I've swallowed attempting to gain control of my body and its pain and exhaustion. I have completely weaned myself from all prescription meds  except the three I truly need to take.

I don't know why I thought that I could invest all of my faith in Western Medicine. Fear and the desperation of chronic pain will drive a person to make unwise choices. Prior to seeing the rheumatologist who named my pain, I was focused on simply bearing it, coping moment to moment. I focused on hope--hope that it would go away, would heal on its own, hope that something would happen to make it better, or all else failing, I would die and it would all just stop. The problem with coping is that it requires different skill sets to deal with problems. I have not been using the right skill set to deal with this. Hope, too, requires a particular energy and mine has been to retreat into passive waiting. That kind of hope carries a thin light and I need something more active, more bright to see me through what I know now to be the state of my physical being.

Even my old standbys of altar time, prayer, drumming, creating art have not been enough to transmute the imbalance of chronic illness. I've tried, but I recognize now that I will need to go much deeper into spiritual practice, find the proper teachers and guides, if I am going to be able to have any decent quality of life.

First of all, I have no abundance of disposable income. Just don't have it. But I do have the resourcefulness gained from being poorer than many most of my life. I know where to look for free stuff. First stop, library for books about fibro, exercises, symptomology, treatment, all that. Next stop, a search for support groups that yielded a free  Tai Chi class at the Senior Center in Sumner, WA, about 20 minutes from me. I went to the class this morning, no small accomplishment since just opening my eyes and emerging from the blankets was a feat of strength today. The class was small and the forms were done seated--a blessing for me since I've given in to using a cane during this flare. The center has Yoga every week for 5.00 a class, and Ceramics for 3.00 a class.  I'm signed up for both.

I admit that at first I was turned off by the idea of hanging out at a place for old people. I felt I wasn't ready for that, not slowed down enough, but this morning's class disabused me of the notion that I am anyplace but in the deep down of slow and scrounging for a spoon. Humble pie is bitter sweet...and though it seems that so many of the young are slapped with Fibromyalgia, it is not a disease of the young. It is a disease, an imbalance in people who, like me were high energy never miss a beat, juggling all the plates in the air one handed. I was never a Type A kind of person, but I had my shit together. I did everything and anything I wanted to do. That was then. Shuffling about trying to remember what I was saying a few minutes ago is now. Wiping the kitchen counters and having to put my head down for a few minutes so I can make it to a chair to sit is now. Lying awake at two a.m. in pain so relentless and bone busting I'm sick to my stomach is now.

So I'm digging deeper for healing, even deeper than when I had cancer. Western Medicine has failed me. I have no more faith in what they provide except within an extremely limited scope. Spiritually, I am in a place that feels awakened by the call to do more than I have ever done before. To be more of who I am meant to be and to connect to my place in this world more firmly. Yes, even in pain I can do this.I am no longer at war with my body, no longer engaged in ways to make it submit to my desires. I see this path as one of making peace with my reality, finding balance in the midst of storm. Pain no longer is the focus, though it is ever present.  Will the pain go away? I can't say, but I am moving toward wholeness, not simply moving to be pain free. Ashé...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Allowing

Healing is a process. Healing is continuous. Healing washes the spirit in waves much like the tide rises, sometimes unperceptively but always in motion in and out, advancing and receding only to return again.

On November 4, 2011 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I have been treated and tracked from the realm of cancer patient to cancer survivor. I am still learning what that means. One thing I've discovered is that I have not "recovered" all that I was before cancer. Deep fatigue, muscle and bone aches, memory loss and slowness have continued to be present and relentless; a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia is a naming that gives little comfort.  I have developed scarring in my lungs and other late effects of the treatment that have a serious impact on my ability to function. I'm angry and frustrated at not being more physically well than I am. I know that I am not alone. Despite the doctors' pronouncements that I'm cured and should be feeling so much better--I'm not. I am out of synch, out of balance with my body and my spirit. The treatment took its toll and I am coming to know and accept that wellness and balance will be the work of my life from this point forward.

Western Medicine treats. It is not concerned with healing. From etymonline:

"restoration to health," Old English hæling; see heal. Figurative sense of "restoration of wholeness" is from early 13c.; meaning "touch that cures" is from 1670s.

By force and by poison cancer has been torn from my breast and my body. Blood was drawn and tested and found to be free of malignancy. Yet, I am not restored to wholeness, nor have I yet to receive the touch that cures. The year of BC blocked me from my spiritual practice, isolated me from the physical ability to engage in those pursuits that have  sustained me, kept me balanced, whole, and in harmony with my life in this body. I have resisted the truth that healing/balance is now the work of my life. I had been on a trajectory that had graduate school and work at the center of my life. Though the work I wanted to do was good work, work that would help others, it was still about what I could accomplish more than it was about who I am. Now, who I am has changed and that is as it should be. As a human I do not want to change. As a spiritual being change is a part of my existence. And once more, I have no map or guide book to navigate the passage I must travel.

Once more I find myself in this place of unknowing; I am walking with faith toward gnosis. It has been and continues to be a mostly solitary journey for me. By necessity I have withdrawn from connections to people and things that are not useful now. The time has come for me to let go of a guide who has been with me since the beginning of this journey in 2011. She gave me a new copy of Anita Moorjani's book, Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing , which I have read and meditated on.

Each day I do something outside even if all I can do is sit in the sun. I try to practice patience with myself when I can catch myself in the act of self loathing for my perceived inadequacies both physical and emotional. As a Black Woman, I have been acculturated to a life of self denial, of self worth only in the light of what I could accomplish and achieve, because no matter what just me would never be enough. The Black Angels that keep appearing in my readings--Sun Daughter, Mother Soul, Earth Mother. Coming off the sleeping path of these guides requires me to be focused on my own needs instead of everyone else's. Cancer has taken all of that self from me. I am no longer able to keep house, cook, take care of everyone's needs as I did. Having Breast Cancer has brought change and this opportunity for growth. Anita Moorjani describes her healing as a process of "allowing" rather than doing. For me, it feels more of letting go. Letting go is the first step in allowing. Without letting go, nothing can open, nothing can enter in.

My spiritual practice has changed as it must in the wake of Oya's broom. Simplicity reigns supreme. My altars remain oases of spiritual energy, a little bliss in the eye of the storm that comprises my life these days. Many days, tending them is by necessity brief, but the brevity makes me pay attention more to what I am doing. Oya clears the way, and not kindly, for new growth, for rebirth, for allowing. When you hold on too tight, Oya will open your fingers and level everything you know down to rubble. From the destruction, if you are open, if you "allow," will come the growth that Creator asks of you. And that is why we are here--to love, to grow, to become, to experience this journey in a human form.

My journey has reached a place of learning what it means to heal, what it means to be broken, and what it means to be whole while still in the midst of pain. I have no clue where this road is leading. A spiritual life is no guarantee of answers. You don't get special treatment. The blessings and joy are built into the work of it all. The end of summer sunflower from my garden is the blessing that found its way into my pain-numbed brain, and hearing Osun's laughter in my spirit, I brought the golden girl inside to Iya's altar. That I could allow this small place of beauty in the midst of  pain and fatigue that made me want to crawl into bed with a bottle of wine and a chocolate bar, is a sacred thing to me. There is a place of light still that lives within me. I am understanding, I think what it means to "allow."





Thursday, September 4, 2014

To Be Whole in the Sea of Chaos

I live with a mentally ill family member. It is my choice to allow them in my home. I know what I am doing and what I am in for with this. I know that I am not alone in coping with this situation. According to NAMI, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill,  one in four adults experience mental illness in a given year. Not all mentally ill people live with family, but many do. Dealing with the daily challenges of balancing a spiritual journey with the chaos that is the constant companion of my family member has made for an often treacherous path.

In this world, we treat the brain and its chemistry. We dampen, we sedate; we manipulate receptors.  We parse the mind into vectors. We take people out of the community and lock them in wards of hospitals. We indoctrinate new behavior patterns with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Yes, we still attach electrodes to peoples' skulls and induce seizures--ECT.

What this realm calls mental illness, my ancestors would have called an opportunity. The visible imbalance in a person would have been treated as a milestone of growth in which the entire community, led by medicine people or shamans  would have engaged in a process of encouragement and restoring of balance--not just for the individual,  but for the whole community.

Yet, it's not simple.  I don't live in a community of people who follow my traditions. I do not have access to a shaman or other spiritual leader. My family member is an adult in their 30s.  I cannot force her to seek help or take medication, or to seek spiritual guidance and healing. It is not my responsibility to do any of these things anyway. What I can provide, I do. She is safe from the dangers of the streets, has good nutritious food, and all of her basic needs provided for, including access to help for her illnesses both physical and mental.

What I have come to know in the process of this experience is that I had to let go of the guilt, the self-hate,  and self-blame I was pounding myself with daily. Not only was my family member's mental illness affecting me, but even more, my own destructive destorted emotions and thoughts were making me sick on all levels of my life. When I finally recognized what was happening to me, I entered into my own healing around her illness.

The shape of healing for me lies primarily in letting go. Letting go of what is not mine to control. I am an earth mama. I dig in deep and hold on tight. There is no holding another person's illness. I actively support my family member, but this journey is not mine to travel. The actions I take to move toward wholeness in the midst of her brokenness are deliberate. Without a community or shaman to turn to, I rely on the rituals of ancestor reverence, meditation, purification, and releasing to carry me.

My art is prayer and so I create...something even if it's just a few words in my journal.  Trees, plants, flowers are healing to my spirit, and they sometimes bless me with some wisdom I am needing, so I spend time outside every single day.

Drums are the Mother's heartbeat, a vibration that sinks into my bones and sends heartache into the earth to be transformed. Weekly drum circle at Ted Brown Music, yes.

Spiritual house cleaning is not always an action within. I needed to rearrange where we sleep in order to bring a more peaceful and calm energy to my home. Moving my family member into an upstairs bedroom, taking her chaotic energy out of the heart of the house makes it possible to reclaim my space and re-establish the flow of the household.

While I love her and care what happens to her, these actions are for me. If love is an action, then I am choosing love for myself. As a woman on my own spiritual journey, I choose how my feet move. Some may call my actions selfish. I call them loving. I call them being present to what is and letting go of what I can't control.

Mental illness is a place of labyrinthine darkness,  where there is no light and guides are few. From the outside I see how my family member struggles, how her pain spills outward threatening to pull me under.  I am no good to her in that place of under. My lesson is to experience healing in the midst of her brokenness,  to sit with what is, to learn the truth of what it means to be a wounded healer.

For those looking for more traditional support locally:

TACID
Community Connections


Monday, August 25, 2014

Lessons from the Food Bank

In 2011, I got breast cancer. I lived through the treatment.  I am still here. I paid the ferryman's price to stay of this side of the Styxx. I can no longer work outside in the 9 to 5 world. I don't care much for the term, "disabled." I collect a small payment of 525.00  month from the 'gov'ment.'  I shop for clothing on ebay, and in thrift stores. I reuse and recycle, plant a food garden, and this year I'm making my first batch of pickles grown in my pesticide and chemical free back yard. I clip coupons, shop sales at the grocery and every Monday, bright and early I take my coffee, my book, a folding chair and hit my local food bank.

According to Feeding America.org food banks are no longer just a failsafe against emergency needs for food. More and more people are relying on food banks as I do--as an ongoing part of my family's food supply. In 2013, FISH Food Banks of Pierce County served more than 500,000 people, many of them young people under 18 years old.

No,  I am not too proud to wait in line for surplus day old bread, canned goods, and whatever else the local food bank has on hand by the grace of Creator and generous donors. Without this weekly supplement to our food budget, we would not be able to make ends meet. That's not entirely true. We could eat, but we would not be able to pay some other bills which would lead to a cascade of catastrophes culminating in no lights or water or gas. Not good. So I go early and I wait the three hours for the doors to open.

I am fortunate to have this resource available.  I am even more fortunate for the company I keep while waiting in line.  My Kwan Yin, Tara Goddesses, a group of ladies who arrive early many times before I do, have become a cherished part of my week. From Korea, they speak comfortably with one another, observing their cultural traditions and behaviors that to me speak clearly of their solidarity as women, and their respect for and loving actions with each other. One or two of them speak some english, but it doesn't matter to me. I am content within the easy flow of their conversation, reading their body language, observing their rituals.

The ladies who arrive later always come and say good day to the oldest of the group first. She takes their hands gently, holding them for a few moments--a sweet gesture of affection. The women share. There is laughter, news traded,  even a bit of gossip whispered, but mostly there is the unmistakable warmth generated when women gather. It is a radiant energy that gives a lightness of being to my heart and opens a space for my spirit to smile and connect with these women, without a common tongue between us.

It began slowly, this lightness I feel.  It began with one of the women knitting and so I brought mine. They smiled and touched the stitches,  nodding approval. I felt they allowed me into their circle just a bit with that interaction. So when I arrive each Monday I nod, smile, and greet them in english, "Good morning!" They smile,  nod, and return my good morning with their own. We might exchange a few words about the weather.  Then came the day a man with a rickety riding mower came to cut grass on the church grounds. A huge rock was kicked from under the unprotected blades. It screamed into the wooden porch support where we were all waiting, hitting the wood with such force, it sounded like a large caliber gunshot. The impact was inches from my head, where I sat in my green lawn chair.

As we looked at the crushed wood in the porch support, and examined the heavy rock  streaked with paint from the wood and scored from the blades of the riding mower, a couple of the women touched my arm, saying "luck." The oldest, looked at me pointed up and said, "God," and smiled.  Now when I see her on Monday she takes my hand and gently pats it. Sometimes she tells me her knee is hurting. Other times she just smiles.

The women call her anjeo, a term of respect and affection I'm guessing.  I feel included in their morning gathering though I dont speak Korean and I am of African and Cherokee descent. This Monday morning I am the first in line. As my Tara ladies begin to arrive,  they greet me in english.  "Morning! " "How do you say good morning in Korean? " I ask.  Anjaseo... when anjeo arrives she says, "good morning! " I say, "Anjaseo!" She is delighted and hugs me. Anjaseo♡

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Standing in the Wake of the Comet's Tail



Robin Williams died on Monday, taking his own life at the age of 63. He was one of Creator's special ones, carrying within him elements of Coyote, Brother Raven, Trickster, and Puck. He was also hilarious in the way of those grazed often with the fires of madness, and darkness. Depression was his lightless companion.

I cannot speak on his life. I didn't know him. I know depression well, for it is inside me, an aphotic ocean that churns and swells. It threatens to drown me regularly. It's not a thing I share with people in passing.  I am an earth mother, a strong black woman, a wounded healer. Women like us don't have depression. That's the lie we swallow,  fed to us daily by a culture dedicated to our diminishing, our Otherness,  and ultimately our destruction. We fight against disappearing. To own a soul sickness like depression, well, it feels like ungirding all of my carefully built up protection, bearing the most vulnerable place and inviting oblivion.

Robin Williams' death is lingering in my thoughts, chopping the waters of my own Cimmeria. Because I get it. While so many shake their heads in disbelief,  cry the questions of why, how could he do it, what was he thinking..? I don't know what particular demon held sway for him in his final earthly hours. I do know well the ones I have battled during my lifetime and I tell you they are powerful and crafty, and well-armed with all of my weaknesses, all of my insecurities,  all of my shame and self-hate. That is what depression is for me. A struggle between the elements of light and dark, good and evil, sane and mad. Extremes of the continuum of my spirit and soul driven by the inevitability of change and growth, confounded and confused by distorted thoughts and reality.

I have tried the way of big pharma. It is a treacherous road, with fuckyou ditches on both sides.  I've a trusted guide, translated therapist for many many years and I sometimes need a health and welfare break from her. I get that this is lifetime thing. There are days when I feel honed by my experience. Other days,  well, just feeling anything is a challenge.

So why am I still here, while other people have taken their leave of this place? I am no stranger to suicide. My youngest brother took his own life at 23. My oldest grandson ended his life at 15 years old in 2012. Despair runs deep in my family.  I am still here. Still striving for wholeness in the midst of my own and the world's brokeness. Here is why:

At the core of my heart, I have been given tasks and a purpose, perhaps more than one to complete while in this body. This is a knowing, not a mere belief, not some airy fairy new age clap trap. For me this is ancient, visitations in dreams, signs and portents kind of knowing. This knowing is not of the rational world; it is of the spirit. Creator has work for me to do here. Osun is my guardian,  my encantada,  the Orisa who has chosen me.

Her path is not an easy one.  It makes me seem outlandish and other to even those with whom I may have an affinity. Her path is one that asks me to love without possessing, to live outside of the world's conventions, to have intimate connection with the beings of trees, plants, rocks, rivers, animals and insects.  Living this way invites derision, avoidance and labeling from people. This adds energy to my dark places,  making them more difficult to balance.

 Despair has held me in such a suffocating embrace, dropping from the precipice seemed a blessing. I have somehow found the courage to return to the solid ground of Creator's love for me, the love shown by giving me a spiritual work to do. There have been times when the strangle hold of depression has brought me face to face with the means of dying and courage was not enough. It was only through an intervention that the means to destroy myself were removed. Something would happen--someone would come home, a book would fall off the shelf, the wind would kick a door closed,  the dog would walk in and pee on the floor. The spirit world often dresses itself in coincidence. And those interruptions would be enough to derail my actions.

I really have no great truth to reveal. I got no wisdom on this. All I have is my own journey, the connections I've been blessed to make. Robin Williams may not know how deeply he touched this world. For me, standing in the wake of his star dust, I am even more aware, more in love with our sacred nature, our sacred relationship to one another and all of Creation.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Hematomas, Haters, and the Generation Gap

I have been openly polyamorous since 2006. I probably don't "do" poly the way a lot of people do. I'm not into having copious numbers of partners. I don't do schedules or calendars for spending time with my partners. My relationships are pedestrian--no kinks, no fetishes, no puppy piles, or other sex focused practices. I'm a long term, life partner kind of poly, 15 years with one partner, six and a half years with the other partner. I don't really understand or relate to poly as a primarily sexual variety kind of lifestyle. My spiritual path and practice embrace multiple loving and committed relationships that are essentially founded in friendship, emotional connection, and spiritual growth. M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love,  says that only after the newness of romantic love has calmed, can the real work of loving begin. He says that in order to really love someone, you no longer focus on what they bring to you. Real love becomes the life long work of holding goodwill for all concerned in our relationships, wanting to see our friends, family, lovers, and ourselves become their best selves, allowing them room to grow.

"I define love thus: The will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth... Love is as love does. Love is an act of will -- namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”

This is how I relate to the concept and practice of polyamory. Short and sweet answer, it means we talk...a lot. An area that is a source of many conversations between my partners and me is boundaries--mine, his, and his. It is essential that healthy boundaries be established for all of us because the result of loosely defined or non existent boundaries has led to extensive fallout. We have found ourselves in the middle of a shit storm and wondering how on earth we got there. We got there because one or all of us assumed an understanding that had not been discussed, or assumed that we all felt the same way about something. This brings me to the specific nature of one kind of personal boundary, namely is it ok to leave graphic"evidence" on your partner's body that would be a reminder to your other partner that you've been sexually intimate with him?

I don't think there is a graph, pie chart, or other visual to map the ways in which humans in relationships could feel and express their wishes on this subject. So much depends on the configuration of poly you're living. For us, the term Vee fits about as well as any other ( See also More than Two  for a glossary of terms relating to polyamory.). I am the point of the Vee and my partners are the axes:
My partners are involved with me separately in committed relationships. They are not involved with each other romantically, but they do maintain congenial interactions between themselves. They show respect to each other's relationship with me, and they are respectful of each other's boundaries. They are both very flexible when it comes to time and they don't make a habit of trying to have more time with me at the expense of the other partner. Example:  Partner 1 has been under the weather with bronchitis. We spent time together agreed on  by all of us, but when I mentioned to partner 2 that partner 1 was still feeling pretty punky,partner 2 said that if I needed to stay longer, he was fine with it. Partner 1 was appreciative, but wanted to stick to our original plan and I went home when it was time. This is how the menfolk get down with each other.

(possible TMI alert)
So here it is: I discovered a very tiny bruise while I was showering. I mentioned it to partner 1, who felt sorry about having done it. It was not intentional on his part. I was not upset about it and thought it was not a big deal. When I was a girl, many moons ago, we called the little or sometimes humongous marks love bites. They were damned near a badge of honor for bad girls in training. Partner 1 maintained that it was not cool for him to "mark me" because he considered it disrespectful to partner 2. "That's why we call them hater marks." I had never even heard the term before. Somewhere in the passing of one generation to another love bites became a way to show contempt for an enemy by leaving a mark on his or her boyfriend or girlfriend. A way to say, "yeah, I had that..." I was fairly drop-jawed at this cultural change to the way in which some of the young approach sexuality as a weapon to wield against one's enemies. What happened to the Love-In ?

I became aware that what we were really talking about was a specific boundary between partner 1 and partner 2. I know it may seem this is not a big deal because it's just skin, right? It's only sex, so they say. Yet, I've noticed as we go about the day to day of living in a polyamorous relationship, we become more and more conscious of the other people involved in the dynamic. As we are daily making a choice to act in loving ways with each other we start really caring how what we do affects everyone else. Partner 1 is a man who is sensitive to how partner 2 could feel about seeing a love bloom  on me. Therefore, he was not only apologetic, he said he would be more conscious to not leave a love bite in the future.

This is not so much about giving and getting love bites or even what the proper terminology for them is as it is a revelation that  moments of understanding and communication sometimes come to us in the weirdest circumstances. I could open a conversation with partner 2 about it, but to what end? It turns out he did not notice the mark. There are generational differences going on here. Partner 1 feels strongly about being respectful to partner 2 when it comes to guy stuff. It's part of what makes our poly relationship work between himself and partner 2. I get that. I am grateful that he cares enough to think about the comfortability of everyone involved and even more to act in a loving manner. I see his actions as Peck's "choice to love".

Further, choosing to act in a loving manner transcends any generation gap. The choice to love closes the gap and opens the space where real love can take root and grow. Loving action is the place between us where not only spiritual growth takes place. It is the center of healing and change that transforms us into what we are meant to be.