506: The Risk is Worth it. Thoughts on Friendship.

I don’t believe I have any answers that anyone else cannot find for himself. Or to non-negate the previous statement: I do believe I have no answers that another cannot find for himself. I have a hard time reasoning in my mind the authenticity of any self-proclaimed or manmade accentuated leader who hints, dictates, or infers that he has the answers. I am quick to steer away, and feel quite many a qualms, when I hear of anyone who thinks they have found the answer, the truth, and the way. I know too much to be a blind sheep, and too little to proclaim I know enough. This is not to say I diminish or shake a finger at modern religion or any new up and coming spiritual fashion, only that I seriously question and outright deny the fact that any human can foreseeably house the answers for another; and certainly without the answer, he has no right, if rights be the matter, to dictate to another how to live or present oneself.

I find the purest souls to be the most delightful in their attempts to literally do nothing but be, and to let be. Those that don’t pursue fame, recognition, reward, and esteem are the ones I gravitate towards, the ones who are actually repelled at multiple levels by anything to do with being in the spotlight. Those are the ones I tend to uphold as seers and seekers of truth.

Secondly, I know enough of myself to know that I am highly influenced by my environmental and physical condition, including my own stamina and mental-conditioning. What I present as reality, and perhaps a semi-temporary-truth one day, will likely be obsolete at another juncture in time.

I don’t like to sway people. I don’t even like to ‘not like.’ Still I don’t like to form judgments, or to reach conclusions about others. Of course some things, some actions, and some people (because of said actions), stand out as recognizably out of the arena of blandness. I mean to say, they make a mark that is recognizable to both my heart and mind. Mostly, it is the things that seem mean, spiteful, unjust, and not lenient which stand out, particularly something that might be deemed ‘evil’ or ‘perverse.’ But even then the lines (and labels) merge into this gray area, and I find myself neither here nor there, trying to counter both sides of an argument that has converged inside my mind.

With all of this said, I offer a few things about my thoughts on friendship. And if that wasn’t an Aspie preamble, I don’t know what is!

Aspie and Friends:

1. I prefer online friends. Online friendships eliminate much of the burden of communication. I have time to think, to edit my thoughts, to respond in a slow and delicate manner, to take time, to get back, and to not be seen physically. Most of my challenges with communications come in the mode of sensory overload and in my evaluation of what I am seeing. Yes, I still evaluate with online friendships, but about 75% of the stress of communication, particularly nonverbal processing, is eliminated. That’s not to say online communication doesn’t offer it’s barriers and weaknesses, but overall, particularly when I take the time to check for clarity, online communication scores high above face-to-face encounters. I mean I could lose myself in a freckle or hair color and miss half of an entire conversation. And forget about the background noise and nonstop monitoring of my tone of voice, inflection, and talking speed.

2. I make online friends. It’s scary but I do it.

3. I support some friends, when I am capable, and they support me when able.

When I am at my lowest, I will sometimes reach out to three or four people at one time, most of whom are Aspie or whom have Asperger’s traits, and if not Aspie then people whom I deem for the most part trustworthy, nonjudgmental, and possessing the capacity to love unconditionally.

4. I reach out to several people at a time because someone might be busy and I also don’t want to overburden one friend with my intensity.

5. I am not blessed to have many friends. I don’t mean that in a bad way. Of course I am grateful for people in my life but no one blessed me with them. I made the friendships, day after day, year after year, risk after risk. Yes, it is hard. Yes, I mess up, and yes sometimes I get super hurt. But I am not fortunate, or even lucky to have friends, because I have worked HARD to make and maintain these friendships. And I have worked hard on myself to learn how to be the best friend (person) I can be.

6. I accept my faults, frailties, and entire humanness. I am far from perfect but I avoid beating myself up. Yes, I allow myself to have a pity-party sometimes, especially when many changes are occurring in my life. However, I have friends that understand these aspects of me.

7. I only interact with certain friends during my most vulnerable times. I choose a select few friends to confide in about particularl things, especially subject matter in which I want no advice or solution finding quests.

8. If I am not careful, and I talk to a friend who offers advice or her view of the situation, the conversation can do me more harm than good. I have learned to be selective. It is a survival mechanism. Some friends can handle my intensity, others my insecurities, others my wild-imagination, and a rare few the complete me. I have learned I can’t be the complete me around everyone; I will get hurt. I have learned I can be complete by dividing myself amongst many friends. I don’t think this survival skill is specific for those on the spectrum, but I do believe Aspies are vulnerable in their ability to be strongly wounded by others, and that they often find themselves in positions of offending or shocking, without that intention.

9. Friends are not easy for me, for there is a part of me who, despite an inconceivable amount of self-reflection, insight, and work, will always think I am not a good enough friend. This isn’t a self-esteem issue. I do like me. It has to do with the extreme ways in which I can psychoanalyze myself and dissect conversations. I am always, and will always be, an observer of others, twice removed from discourse and continually dissecting and evaluating and reliving over and over past conversations.

10. I have one friend in which I can just spill my guts and fears and anxiety and she will JUST listen. She doesn’t do tit for tat. In that I mean she doesn’t ask me for advice, expect me to listen or to return the favor. She just lets me process. I think every Aspie (and every human being) needs someone who will just listen.

11. I recognize I will always feel like I don’t give back enough in friendship. It is just the way it is. When people give to me, in time or other ways, I feel an immediate want and obligation to equal the score. It’s not that I mean to keep score, only that I naturally don’t want to take advantage of anyone.

12. I love to have friends from all backgrounds. I am not picky. Or maybe I am, if you think the capacity to love without conditions, to be honest, to be giving, to be kind, and to be genuine is picky. But with that said, and a little trustworthiness thrown in, I am capable of being friends with many, many people. There isn’t a checklist.

13. I think I need friends. I think everyone does. I think the risk is worth it.

I don’t neccesarily think the introduction matches the list. But, oh well. My friends will understand. 🙂

13 is my favorite number.

Looking for aspie friends? Join everyday aspergers Facebook like page to the left.

478: Off or Amiss

“I have the hardest time when I try not to be me. When I collect all the dos and do nots from the world and then try to act as if I am okay. To pretend and hold in my truth. I can do it for awhile; I take on this false persona and carry on, some strong soldier who is above it all and will get through. But then I collapse fast. Spiral downward and weep. I become lost and confused by what I had held onto as truth. I get tired of talking so much, of seeing so much, of frankly knowing too much; and I try to pretend my way out of it. To lie to myself and think I am like everyone else, and can make my way through, if I just release parts of who I am. And that is where I fail myself miserably. Yes, fail–in refusing to honor my authenticity and in imagining I am innately flawed and in need of alteration. In truth, in my true inner truth, I am perfectly me, and loved for me.” ~ Sam Craft

Distinguishing between who I am and who I am not comes down to my core values.

When I am in a mental fuzz, processing through something I deem rather important, which occurs on average a few times a week, I always confide in my friends. For part of me must process aloud with another person to reach an understanding of my own thoughts. I don’t process out loud to hear myself speak; I’d rather be a quieter person than I am. I process out loud because I am driven to, almost to the degree I am driven to eat when I am very hungry or drink when I am parched, only with a pulsing demanding urge in my brain.

I have often thought and desired to talk less. I have tried to repress my words. I have tried to remain silent. But whenever I do, my need to process comes out as some form of angst.

I don’t just process with one friend about one event. I usually process the same event over and over with three or four friends through the stretch of one day. It is amazing to me that I can ‘hash’ out the same information repeatedly, sometimes the exact same phrases and sentences, and not get bored, overwhelmed or exhausted. This act of processing aloud is a direct way to lubricate my engine, to reboot, and to get my chain in my brain unstuck.

If I can’t process with friends, for whatever reason—perhaps I am very emotional or at a loss to what I am feeling or perhaps no one is available—then I process through writing. This is not what I choose to do. It is what I have to do. If I do not find an outlet for my thoughts, I feel for certain I will lose my mind. I have never experienced anything remotely as painful as bottling up my thoughts inside my head. As I have written on many accounts, the complexities of the ideas inside my head will overwhelm me and consume me, if I don’t have means of escape.

The very first point in which I find I am not being true to myself is when
1) I bottle up my thoughts and pretend I don’t need to process.

This stuffing process never ends well. I always end up in some type of breakdown, typically locked away in my room crying, pleading to God, and/or trying to sleep away my pain. In other words, angst manifested!

The second point in which I cease from being me is when

2) I take on for an extended period of time any negative emotion that does not resemble love, acceptance, patience, understanding, and/or letting go.

If I attach to any extreme emotion, for example anger over someone’s behavior, then I am not being true to myself. However, typically I have no idea initially that I have attached to an extreme emotion.

I have watched many people hold grudges and anger towards others, sometimes for a lifetime. I can’t do this. I don’t have the capacity. I have had reason to try; and I have repeatedly failed. I failed and failed, until I got to the point where I realized negative energy doesn’t suit me.

But I am still human, no doubt, and I experience disappointment, loss, rejection, and extreme hurts, like everyone else.

Just yesterday I was very upset with a friend. Normally, at my best, I can only hold onto upset over someone for a few minutes, if not a few seconds. But this was a painful experience. I became someone else briefly to process and escape the circumstance.

As I attempted to partake in my walking mediation around the lake, I had totally convinced myself of several things. I believed fully that:

1) My friend was unkind
2) I was worthy of more understanding
3) I would cut off all communication
4) I would not regret this decision
5) I would remain strong and steadfast in my decision

At the moment, which lasted a couple of hours, (long walk), I truly believed I was going to stay in this state of distance and judgment forever. That was it. I was done with this person. In order for me to think these thoughts, I become a version of someone else. I thought of myself as not having Aspergers. And I played random tapes in my head, in an attempt to rationalize my attachment to the feelings I was experiencing. Everything needs a logical reason, even emotions.

I told myself: “I deserve more.” “That person is a jerk.” “Get them out of your life.” “Stop focusing so much attention on this person.”

I morphed into this headstrong person that no one could touch or damage. A person who was damn straight in the right! I held this mental state for a while, but it took vast amounts of energy. However, I believed myself. I truly did. I had changed. At least for that moment, I was done being me, and definitely done being Aspie.

Yet, after exerting extreme amounts of energy, I absolutely crashed and collapsed. I broke down. I became lost. I cried. I, as one might say, ‘wigged out.’

For my true calling is not to begrudge anyone or hold ill-will towards anyone. I cannot house discontentment or hatred. I can’t even house regrets. What is is what is.

At the point of emotional collapse, I came to a sort of bridge of truth, wherein this falseness of being I created deteriorated and I was made to walk over the ruble.

I surrendered.

And then I did what I had to do: be me.

And who is me?

Well part of me is this very, very truthful spirit that feels driven to process through any sense of discontentment. And the other part is someone who absolutely MUST talk to someone when something feels off or amiss. If I don’t confront the person directly, thoughts take over, and pieces rattle and rattle in my brain.

After I reach the breaking point, I speak my mind. I generally message a person and ask a question or write him or her pages of concern. This is my way. People who I hold close to my heart know this about me.

Once I speak my truth, I feel like I am me again. But the truth has to come from a pure place of heart, without ego, without manipulation, without want or need on my part, beyond the desire for clarification and peace of mind. If I act in any other way, I don’t feel right inside, and have a tendency to circle back through a version of someone I am not. Perhaps choosing a whole new line of rationalizations and ways of avoiding the issue at hand: the source of the discontentment.

After I get my heartfelt thoughts out, I am returned to a balanced state and I can focus. I can finally get those random chores done or fill out that paperwork. Until I am done processing something vital, though, I am lost to the rest of my world, even my children at times, lost in my head and trying to swim out of the currents to safety.

I am learning to observe myself more readily, as I move through these channels of thought and transformation. Ideally, I would like to catch myself before I have a chance to begin holding onto anything that doesn’t resemble peace. Yet, I understand that my avenues of self-processing are uniquely set to the way my brain is wired. That of a person with a builtin ability and survival-need to process, evaluate and reach a perceived endpoint.

466: I am what I am Becoming

I was going to title this post: Chocolate Gives me Hemorrhoids.

Then I laughed, as I logically made a streamline of comparisons about my love of chocolate and my love of community, and how, much like chocolate, community always leaves me with an uncomfortable, yet very bearable, consequence.

And I chuckled more, as I deciphered the numerous ways in which I still over-share and over-quauntify my thinking.

Divergent, I am. This is true. Definitely true. But far less true than I believed two years ago.

I woke up with a flash this early morning. My brain wanted to write a post, my body adamantly disapproved, and fortunately vetoed the whole reckoning, and forced us back into sweet slumber. Yet, before I fell back to sleep, a good hour of delightfulness (not), I kept hearing these words over and over: I am what I am becoming. I am becoming what I am.

It made a lot of sense at one in the morning. Not so much now.

Still, I gathered this little summary, from my mind, this afternoon:

“Identity is a pendulum. Each individual is grasping onto what he thinks he is and releasing what he no longer believes himself to be. Even as no one is what he seems, and all is as illusion, we give and take based on temporary boundaries set upon the image of ‘self.’ In saying ‘I am what I am becoming,’ I recognize I am in state of constant transition, never stagnant, undergoing various degrees of transformation. In stating ‘I am becoming what I am,’ I am aware that I become those elements that I hold onto as truth.”

Indeed, the complexity of my mind carries on.

I have hesitated in regards to writing another post, as I had opted to give myself ample time off and away from the computer. I found myself being sucked into the online life, instead of attending to my very relevant and real existence outside the computer. In other words, I used technology to escape reality.

I did this escapism for about two years. I have no regrets. The journey was necessary, relevant, and fostered much growth. But I am done.

I thought I would soon be writing my last post. But I don’t think so, yet. I am not quite ready.

Since pulling myself off of the computer, I’ve made some dynamic shifts in my life.

Here’s a list. Because I love lists:

1. Recently, I have stopped going on social networks (Facebook), except briefly for one day a week. I might occasionally have a private chat with a friend there, but the rest I leave alone. This has been hugely freeing. I was spending a good four to five hours a day on Facebook, and though it felt necessary and even ‘good’ at the time, the energy I gave out and took in (from others) affected me greatly. Now with more time freed up, I find myself having as much energy for endeavors, outside of my home, as I did some nine years ago, when I would have easily been identified as a ‘social butterfly.’

2. I have adapted a bit of a ‘bitchiness’ to me. Likely because I am PMSing, but primarily because recently I allowed myself to get hurt one too many times. As a result, I felt the need to lather on a thicker coat around my aura. My husband reassured me this morning, without my probing, that yes, I was still overall very kind and loving to others. This came as a huge relief, because my little bit of bitch-waves feel like the titanic of disaster-moods. In actuality, I probably behave like most typical nice people now. I am just quick to say ‘no,’ set boundaries, self-talk the necessities of self-care, and make appropriate choices based on what is ‘best’ for me, not others! What a concept.

3. I jolted myself out of some dark place of self-wallowing and self-pitty; and to tell you the truth, when I observe similar behaviors in others now, I get kind of jaded and sick to my stomach. Like I want to barf and scream: Stop focusing on yourself! I feel I can do this because I have been there and done that. I’m surely not innocent. And I am not trying to judge, either. Just merely wanting others to find some inner peace and self-love. Somehow, likely through a series of letdowns and heartaches, I got a good look at myself. Somehow, the curtain to my current reality opened long enough to see that I was bleeding out with borderline narcissism. Yes, it was beneficial to spend some ‘cave’ time taking a good look at myself, my weaknesses, my strengths, my challenges, my hopes, my dreams, etc. But enough is enough! There finally came a day where I woke up and truly shouted out loud: ENOUGH! And you know what, I have barely had an Asperger’s trait since. Genius traits, yes. But stuff like looping, fixating, over-analyzing, worrying to extreme, and all that pain-in-the-butt nonsense, I just stopped. No pill. No magic. Just one word. Enough! And so it is, going on two weeks now, even as I enter the PMDD zone, that I adamantly refuse to drudge into the muck of self-pity, self-rejection, and agonizing fear. Like I said, I adapted a bit of bitchiness to get me through. But that too will pass. Ironically, it’s a nice change.

4. I have realized to a GREAT extent that I become what I focus on. It’s like my super power. I can become fantastically brilliant and fanatical at whatever I choose to spend time on. I can become so engrossed and impassioned with my endeavor and laser-focus that I pull others in with me. Case in point: this blog and my like-page, and the following. I reluctantly and without plan, became some sort of Aspergers super-hero. And I say this with no pride, whatsoever, but with a rather oh-my-fricken-godess sigh. Seriously? What was I thinking. Not that I don’t love people I have met and continue to meet along this journey. But the act of continually losing my self-identity and morphing into something brilliant I barely recognize as self has become quite the bother.

5. Recently, I became so much ME, I lost sight of the rest of the world. And I became so much ASPERGERS, I forgot who else I was or could feasibly be. I forgot that before I found out I had Aspergers I was highly-sucessful in social arenas. I forgot I liked going out. That I liked people. And that even though I was an introvert, I was what could be classified as an outgoing, very likable introvert. Somehow I convinced myself, in the past 24 months, that staying at home was a viable option of entertainment for the rest of my existence. I kind of became a Chicken Little, only the sky wasn’t falling, my whole life was.

I had five more things on this list and accidentally deleted them all; which is likely for the best, for the bitch in me was taking over a wee bit more than I am comfortable with. I will end this post with a brief list (yes, another list) of what I have done for myself in the past 12 days.

1. Joined several social groups in the area including spiritual groups, socializing gaming groups, jazz and music groups, movie groups. I schedule an event and then go meet an entire group of strangers. It’s so fricken scary and fabulous, all at once. And I am enjoying myself without the post-game evaluation of am I good enough and did I say and act the ‘right’ way. I don’t go there anymore.

2. I have started to practice my guitar more often and continue to take lessons.

3. I have rented dvds on Buddhism, set up a prayer table in my room, hung up cool white lights in my room, and have been reading books that aren’t in my typical genre. One currently is a humorous non-fiction book about a womanizing drunk.

4. I have given up gluten and try to eat very little white sugar. Though my intense moments of chocolate indulgences continue to surface; thusly I sit less.

5. I have bought myself some new hats and sweaters and boots. Nothing spiritual or ah-ha about that, but still fun.

6. I have made a set schedule so everyday I know what’s ahead. For example on Mondays I go to a quaint cafe and have the freshly made soup and salad and read and I walk three miles around the lake. On Thursdays I go to a coffee shop and go online with my laptop. On Fridays I make dates with friends and I go to the mall and play Netrunner with a lot of introverts. I am taking myself to see movies, too.

7. I try to walk five days a week 1.5 to 3 miles. Something I am ever so thankful I can do.

8. I am listening to my mediation and positive affirmation cds more frequently. Visiting the library to attain uplifting music; lately I’ve enjoyed Mozart. It’s a nice break from love songs that currently make me either gag or cry.

9. Tonight I am going to a poetry reading and bringing some of my poetry to maybe share. Tomorrow I go to a cafe that is having their monthly gathering on the planets’ alignments. I have tickets to many performing arts events, some with friends, some with my spouse, and some with strangers!

10. I have on my calendar to check out the weekly mediation at the Buddhist center and to join a community group, such as Rotary, soon.

The way I see it is: if I keep my interest varied enough, and nothing consumes me, I won’t morph or attach into any one genre, event, or way of being.

Until next time. Wishing you the best in all you are becoming!

465: Unconditional Love

I love you.
When you are lost, when you are alone, when you are driven away from me by some unknown force.
I love you.
When you are forsaken by your own self and thoughts. When you twist reality into a fantasy that is dark and bleeds of isolation.
I love you.
When you go, I will watch and wait until the nightmares subside and the light beckons. I will wait at the end of the tunnel, at the entrance, at the exit, at the only place you will eventually arrive.
I am here for you; not because you beckoned, not because you desire, not because I expect a single thing.
I am here because I love you.
I love you in a thousand upon a thousand ways.
I love you for your beauty, your deep etched soul, the sunlight that slips through your fingers and glistens on your skin, of happiness to come.
I love the hope that is you; for whenever you falter and fall, you return. You retrace your steps and return.
I watch you without fear of abandonment. Your actions do not make me. Your ways do not change me.
I am you and you are me; yet, we are separate in our choices and visions.
I know who I am, where my seams connect, making me whole, my parts intermingled to form true divinity. And I view you the same. Ever so splendidly made.
In your presence I become more real than I imagined possible; all of me expands and implodes, building contrasting caverns of existence.
When you do not have faith in yourself, I will have faith in you. When you do not have faith in us, I will have faith in our togetherness.
If ever I grow frustrated or worried, know it is the burden I hold, the lasting longing I carry to behold your sorrow erased and your joy sprung anew.
I shall wait outside your threshold through the depths of time.
I shall remain full in my attempt to exist as a stronghold onto myself.
And in this way, I will have done my best.
I will not stand between you and your dreams, you and your freedom, you and your happiness.
I will always abide by your wishes, whatever they be, as I trust your decisions and the makings of your mind. I trust that you have the answers.
I kneel for you, as you kneel for me, both as suitor and servant.
I stand beside you, cheerfully enchanted, cheerfully grateful for your victorious days.
If ever I take you for granted, it is merely my shadow resurfaced, feeding off the illusion of fear. If ever I fail you, it is merely a part of myself forgetting the beauty we are.
Know, if I had to live this life again, and start anew, my hope would be to have you the same. Just as you are. In your gleaming perfection.
I love. I love you. And whatever you choose to do, or be, or say. Whatever you choose to represent as your own existence and truth.
I love you.

~ Samantha Craft, December 2013

love R

409: Unconditional and Conditional Love

( I am writing more because a lot is going on with our extended family. I process to find relief. If you don’t see me around for a bit, I might take a break. Hugs and love ~ Sam)

I have had the opportunity to experience a variety of friendships. In so doing, I have learned a lot about myself and love. For the majority of my life I felt a false-love from others and gave out false-love. Even though I felt the false-love, I didn’t recognize the falsehood for what it was. I was an active participant in the illusion. Most of these friendships were based on need. This desire was masked as possible fulfillment and completion. I know now no one can complete me.

I still hold all of these people in love and light. All of my friends continue to be some of my greatest teachers. I don’t choose to see any wrong in where I have traveled, and hold no one in my life responsible, not even my self. I have forgiven me and all. I place no judgment on any of my past or current friends either. I see them as lovely lights and filled with goodness. I don’t see them based on their actions but based on their hearts.

I was a player in the game of false-love, particularly in relation to men. Most of this telling is based on reflecting back to my behavior in pre-marriage years. I think if I had read what I have written below in my twenties, I never would have seen the ‘truth’ of it, and gone on living in denial. Maybe I even would have been spiteful and angry. I think if I had read this prose in my thirties, I would have thought I already loved unconditionally, and this was a waste of my time. I would have thought the person was preaching or trying to teach what I knew. If I read this last month, I would have thought, interesting, but I know this already. But it wasn’t clear to me until recently. Dynamically clear.

For now when someone claims to love me with a conditional type of love, I don’t feel love from them. I don’t know why, but all falsehoods affect me to a great degree. I don’t even know how I see this false-love, but I do. That’s not to say that people who proclaim to love me don’t love me. I believe they do. I believe a part of them does. But I believe a greater part is in constant battle with an unmasked, unnamed, and unforgiving fear. I believe this fear constantly transforms who I am when interpreted by another. I become what another projects from fear. In rare cases I become the light of love. This, and only this, is when fear is eradicated from its shell of illusion.

There is a struggle for people to find love and claim love, because they haven’t yet found the love inside themselves.

This false-love scares me momentarily, until I dismiss the fear.

It scares me because when another feels the illusion of fear, I feel the separation.

I have those in my life now that love me unconditionally. There is much freedom in this, to be me and be loved for me. I am not loved based on my outcomes or what I do or do not do. But even I, in my relationships with others, slip back into conditional love; this is very evident in my marriage and with my children. I continue to release judgment on self and others, and to learn. I am fortunate to have such experiences available.

When I am loved unconditionally I feel fed and nurtured. When I am loved by someone with conditions, I feel caged and judged. I am learning to not feel caged and judged, and to see this as illusion too, but it is taking some practice.

Lately, I am becoming more of a projection of what another choses to see in me. I can feel this in my depths. I become what another believes he or she sees. I become, in essence what they hold within. I have heard of this happening to other people, as well. So I am not alone in this experience. It is interesting to watch as I transform based on another’s deep level. I do not at this time think I am choosing to still see “fear.” I recognize the beauty and light in all, and see the fear only as illusion, nothing more. I can’t see beyond the beauty into fear, because there is no fear at the foundation.

I know I am still learning and growing.

I no longer choose to buy into another’s pain; especially when their pain is projected onto me, as if I did something or didn’t do something to cause the hurt. I do not have the power to knock down or to build up a person. Only source and a person’s own self can affect the spirit. I do have the power to love, and in this love to bring wholeness to self. Everyone has a choice to accept what he or she thinks I am saying or to reject it. To take in what he or she interprets as my truth or to decline. To say thank you and receive or say thank you, but no thanks. In this way, ultimately it is the receiver’s choice to determine what he or she takes in. I choose to take in all as truth and none as truth. I choose not to pick and choose. Unless someone is speaking from a place of fear, then I typically, when aware, politely decline. I prefer not to take on another’s fear-projection.

I believe there are only two roots: Love or Fear. All truth grows from there. Take a fruit off of the branch and examine it for what the fruit is. Rotten equals Fear. Ripe equals Love. One can tell much from the end product. Take the final outcome and drive backwards to the root. Where there is pain, there was fear to begin with manifested in false-love—illusion. Where there is mutual healing, there is love—the only existence.

Again this is my temporary truth.

My personal interpretation that assists me:

What true friendship is: Unconditional love.

What unconditional love is: Love without want, need, perimeters and/or expectations.

What want and needs are: Self-based, ego-centered desires that one thinks will make him or her happy. Also known as illusions and/or the path to suffering.

What perimeters are: Rigidness and separation; the judge emerging to decide if another has been deemed sufficient in their actions.

What unconditional loving friendship isn’t: All relations not based on unconditional love; in other words, all relations based on conditional, false-love, aka fear.

What unconditional love is not: False-love, also known as fear.

What fear is: An illusion often manifested in various actions and/or emotions that aren’t stemmed from love.

All false-love breeds fear and pain; all true love breeds more love. This true love can lead to spontaneous awakening and healing.

When one does not feel unconditional love, either the giver is loving with false-love or the receiver is misinterpreting the gift of genuine love.

This is not love: Expectations, martyrdom, fear-based desire, giving to receive, condition based giving, imagined selfless-giving, self-projection, owning, self-based desire, deeming one special or above the rest, caring more about self than other or caring more about other than self, blame, self-loathing in the name of love, fearing the future, needs based on outcome.

In love there is no hurt. All pain is self-inflicted.

Indicators of false-love:

Look at what a giving, loving, caring person I am, why can’t you love me like I love you?

I sacrifice for you, why can’t you sacrifice for me?

I am not good enough to be your friend.

You aren’t enough.

You should do this…

You disappointed me.

You won’t/don’t love me.

If you loved me, you would….

If you do this it will all be better.

You are the best person in the world.

You are hurting me.

People can have a mutual loving relationship based on unconditional love with moments of neediness and pain; unconditional love can fluctuate just like the seasons. No one is expected to be a perfect anything. Especially not a perfect lover or perfect friend. To suggest so, would be automatic judgment and separation. However healing happens when one starts to recognize his or her actions based on fear. Then self-healing can begin to take place in the one. After the one self has begun the healing process, the other in the friendship, noting the changes in his/her friend, will either continue in a state of fear, fight the change before also seeking self-understanding, or naturally seek out the friendship to heal in a way reflected in the healed or healing friend. In this way conditional love can bring both parties to pure love based on unconditional love.

If both partners are not ready, strong, and compassionate about growth and self-awareness, blame and jealousy quickly arises and the friendship may end. Yet, being this was a friendship based on false-love the illusion is what ends, not the friendship. This enables both to be free. One to go on to further unconditional love and the other to decide to remain in denial, suffering, and repeated pain or to seek out self-love. No one is right or wrong, better or worse; they are where they are.

In some cases someone who has learned self-love will be in a friendship with someone with conditional-based love. In this instant the person who continues to love unconditionally, despite the other’s projections, demands, and needs, can reflect back the ideal form of love and in this way transform the other trapped in a pain cycle.

True love heals when one capable of unconditional love simply is.

Again my temporary truth.

Strong indicators of conditional false-love:

No desire to celebrate a friend’s successes.

Not wanting to share the friendship with anyone else.

Thinking you are the best and/or only person for that person.

Changing actions or making decisions in an attempt to gain attention.

Obsessing about the person.

Thinking you are responsible for a friend’s growth, success, triumph, or accomplishments.

Thinking you are a person’s savior, teacher, protector, or safety.

Giving self-credit for another’s joy.

Thinking you have the answers another seeks and needs.

Thinking you were used, abused, or mistreated.

Jealousy of other people in the friend’s life.

Judging and putting down a friend’s friends.

Evaluating a friend’s choices, behaviors, mannerisms, and way of being.

Feeling the need to set a friend straight, so he can see your way.

Secretly or overtly harboring feelings of hurt and a sense of abandonment about the relationship.

Talking to someone about a friendship using harmful words about the friend.

How friendship appears:

A reflection of the love a person holds about his or her inner self.

What unconditional love-based friendship feels like:
Coming Home

332: Letting Go

Photo on 2-20-13 at 10.49 AM #2

***
I drove 1700 miles over the four-day weekend.
I grounded myself in my roots near the ocean-side of the Monterey California Peninsula.
I spent the weekend with my dear aunt, a devout and very loving Catholic.
I slept in my nana’s and nano’s room that has been untouched by the years, with aged prints of Mother Mary and Jesus set about me.
I slept in their bed, where they’d slept so many years together, long ago, before they passed on to another place.
And I felt remarkable healing.

I drove alone, and had in total, through several trips, over a day’s traveling time, some twenty-six hours alone on the road.
I prayed a lot. I laughed and I cried.
I sang to music.

I found myself again.
I didn’t let the invisible fear slip in.
Each time I felt a pain in my body or mind, I released the fear to God, and watched as thoughts evaporated and lightness entered me.
I didn’t hurt, despite my muscle condition; I was able to sit for an extended time and remained energetic and able to function at a high-level.
I was happy.
I was me and loved my company.

I was nurtured by loved ones and by myself, well-fed to the point of my chubby cheeks and lovely soul growing a few inches.
I nurtured every part of me. I walked and slept deeply.
Each night, in my grandparents’ room, I was blanketed in the deepest warmth and adoration. I have never felt such love.
I awoke refreshed and renewed.

The visions still came and are still coming, and so is the sadness, sorrow, and suffering. But there remains so much hope and thoughts of goodness to come. And I recognize the goodness is already here. Right here in me.

I am realizing with this traveling of body and spirit that I was happiest when I was teaching. I was happiest when I had a reason to get up and get out of the house, a responsibility beyond appointments and housecleaning and driving.

I am searching now, inside, wondering where I will go next, what my soul longs for, and whom she longs to be with. I miss the company of others, and realize that although my recent social isolation felt necessary that I now wish to return to a semblance of the life I had before, when I moved in the world more frequently with others and when I was confident in my work.

I have hidden a lot in the past twelve years, since I left the public schools, hidden at home and in my own thoughts. I have too much time to think, too much time to process and worry, and too much opportunity to over-weigh my choices and decisions repeatedly.

I need to be, and in my being, I need to be with other people more. I need to create friendships and connections here, in this place I have lived for almost three years. It’s time to stop searching for me and just be.

I have set some “goals” for myself, loose ones with no restrictions or necessity, no demands or “musts” attached, just ideas that I am releasing to my higher power, creations of whom I’d like to be again. Not just the part of me I released over a decade ago, but the part of me that had so much joy and eagerness for life.
I am slowly finding her, rekindling her flame.

I had to let myself burn in the fire awhile, slowly cinder there in deep reflection of self and my travels.

But I think I’m done with that now, the analysis and ins and outs of who this person that is me be.

I know I am love and light.
I know I am beautiful.
I know I am worthy of love and adoration.

I know I have an abundance of love and service to give.
And now I release this part of me, this “pain body,” this searcher, this wanderer continually searching for that which is nowhere to be found.
For I am here. I always have been, as has my God.

And so I am trusting in my next steps, not so much blindly, but with the legion of selves I have created at my side, cheering me on;
and I am releasing, with every part of my self, all pain to the higher realm.

I am releasing. I am letting go. And in so doing, I am free.

Blessings and love,
Sam

I find his music to be very healing. I memorized this song. It’s gorgeous, as is his spirit.

This is who I am:
555826_10200575910870333_815695153_n

315: My Aspie Friend Rocks!

copii aspie iarna (2)

This post is dedicated to the little girl who made this drawing. I do not know her and I do not know her mother. We only just connected online today. I was sent this drawing as a gift, and what a gift it is. The picture is called: Asperger Children in Winter The daughter’s words speak volumes: “I know Mommy, who can be my best friend, somebody who has the same syndrome as me; then he could be kind with me and understand me better; I’m so sure about that.”

I couldn’t help but to cry. If you are comfortable, please say a prayer for her. Hold her in light. I cannot wait for her to meet her special friend. I cannot wait for her friend to behold her beautiful heart.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
marcelle

First off I have to say at a recent Super Bowl gathering, one in which I only broke out in one hive, I was totally myself. So much so, that I had to private message a new “friend” after the party to say, “I am sorry I talked so much. I usually do that when I like someone. I am not very good at parties.” Fortunately, she messaged right back saying, “I like you, too.”

I felt like such a grade-schooler, but so relieved.

I don’t want you to think in the past couple days I have been depressed; I have not been. My vitamin D levels are freakishly low again, and that adds to my pool of spurts of melancholy, but all-in-all I am doing quite well. Miraculously, I walked through a valley of darkness, being plucked by vultures and all, and came out unscathed and rather well-lifted in faith. And as of late, I have been pouring my heart out to my higher power, whom I choose to call Jesus (and choose to not push on anyone else), and we have really hit it off.

I’m not sure what’s up with all my prophetic and spiritual writing, but I seem to be tapping into something, and my God seems to be the conduit. It is healing, remarkable, scary, and peaceful all at once, like a giant ball of chocolate flying through the air at dart-speed about to land in my mouth. I savor it, though the impact can be quite overwhelming.

Back to that party… Something funny happened. There was a lady there, a mother of the hostess, never did get her name, forgot to ask. But we sat near each other a good stretch of the game, particularly during the power outage (super-boring-sportscasters-don’t-know-what-they-are-doing-part). We were chatting a bit. Well, I was mostly giggling and cracking myself up, as is my protocol at first-time gatherings; that and stuffing my face with food.

Anyhow, we were talking about the Superbowl commercials, and I said something to the tune of, “So far the best commercial is the one with the older people.” I was careful how I worded my sentence. I didn’t want to say “senior citizen” because there was one sitting right next to me. I looked over after I made my statement relieved I’d dodged a bullet.

But then I kind of blabbered. Not being able to stop myself, I added, “Did you notice how I didn’t use the words senior citizens.” I paused to giggle.

Then more poured out to substantiate what had leaked out. “I was careful, as you are sitting here.”
I blushed.

Time to regroup and repair, I added more, “Two of my best friends are senior citizens. I like senior citizens. I really do.”

But nooooo, that wasn’t enough. I laughed again. “Oh, man,” I said, my face aflame. “That sounded so bad. Like saying I like black people, two of my best friends are black.”

The senior citizen, well she just started busting up.

Me, in the meantime, I’m wondering who the heck is controlling the mechanism between my brain, thought, and speech.

After that mishap, I set about to chat my new “friend’s” ear off. I think I basically told her every ghost experience and psychic experience I ever had in my entire life! And boy, I really didn’t know I had enough eerie moments to fill up well over an hour!

Luckily, when this oh so patient and kind lady wrote me back later that night, she also added to her message: “It’s nice to talk to someone who doesn’t think I’m weird.”

Now that there… that is just gem-talk, I tell you, pure gem-talk.

It is nice to talk to someone who thinks they are weird. So refreshing!

I love weird people. They get me, and they are typically so dang interesting.

My favorite weird person (and that is a high-ranking compliment from the planet she comes from) would have to be my super-fabulous friend Alienhippy. We met through blogging. I checked her out and studied her blog before I started mine. I don’t know if she knows I used her as a prototype. Don’t think I’ve told her that, yet. But I’ve pretty much told her everything else about me that she could find here on the pages of this blog. We talk every single day, from where she is in England and where I be on the Northwest coast of USA.

I love her so much that my husband just said, “Looks like are next family trip will have to be to England, then.” Of course, I adamantly concurred and set about to wonder how I’d feasibly survive that flight.

Alienhippy (that’s not her real name, in case you are that one percent wondering) is a dynamo of a friend. And this is why:

My Aspie Friend Rocks

1. She never says: “I am fine or I am okay.” When I ask her how she is feeling, she tells me straight up how she is, inside and out, how her physical body feels, her spirit, and mind. I don’t have to wonder, or guess, or pry, and there is such freedom in the realness of the experience of knowing. I won’t get into details, but I even know about her bowel movements!

2. She always, without fail, tells me she loves me so much. She used to say she loves me too much, but I told her that wasn’t healthy, as I be who I be. And now she just says she loves me so much and just enough. She tells me over and over, almost each time we touch base. She loves me so much that I feel this syrupy liquid of protective jell all about me all day long.

3. She has no hidden motives and is real. My friend she just tells me her heart and her soul. She tells me of her faith, her trials, her children, her life. She doesn’t hold back anything. Any subject is open for discussion. And I mean anything! You name it, and we’ve probably talked about it. And I never feel embarrassed or shamed or stupid for sharing. She gives me the freedom to be completely me, because she is completely herself. We laugh so hard and have invented our own secret code words. And we make up names for each other. I like to call her banana slug. Don’t ask me why. Because I have no idea.

4. She loves me no matter what. She would love me if I was green and slimy; she said so. I would love her no matter what size or shape, no matter what species, no matter what! She is just the bees knees and so wonderful. Her heart is as big as the universe and my heart fits right inside hers. I tease her that if she had a “package” I would totally own her. You see, we can talk like that.

5. She doesn’t lie. She’s like me: lying feels like we are dying inside. We have no choice but to spill our beans and be truthful, and because of this we have this unbreakable trust. We know we are what you see. We know we have no curtains hiding secrets. We know we won’t tell, won’t shame, and won’t break our trust. We have like an unspoken truce. We have a code of honor. And everything I say is taken to heart.

6. She reads me. She can tell when I am holding back and not saying everything. She can tell when I am sad, feeling broken or lost. And she not only reads me but helps me. She gets me. She knows my pains and understands how it feels. That’s how she can read me. She knows when to ask: Are you okay? And she knows when to say: You are beautiful inside and out. She even knows how to comfort me when I am looping and spinning in my head.

7. She is a reflection of me. She is so dang beautiful that I just feel so lucky to be her friend, and she loves me so much that I know I must be that dang beautiful. I am so very honored to know her. The compassion she carries for others is out of this world. And she wears her heart on her sleeve. She is the best mother and a very honest wife. We like to tease about our husbands, as they are so alike in their ways. And even are sons have the same name and ASD.

8. She gets my brain! Praise the heavens. I don’t have to explain anything to her. She understands my fixations, my breakdowns, my panic attacks, my insecurities, my passions, my obsessions. She’s been there and done that, and is still doing it. I don’t feel like I’m a loner traveling through a strange planet anymore. In her I found my people!

9. She is so smart it’s scary. Oh my goodness. I’ve never met a wiser woman in my life. The things that come out of her mouth, you’d think she was a senior citizen, a super smart one whose been around the block and inside the mind of brilliance. She just knows how to untangle things and find new angles and read between the lines. Her analytical mind coupled with her heart is just amazing.

10. She is unique. In all her aspieness, she is still a uniquely divine and gifted woman. Her aspie qualities just enhance who she already is naturally, a gift to me and this world. She has longed for a friendship like ours for years, and I have longed for a connection like I have with her for years. God matched us up, me and her, to show us our inherent goodness; for me I am her forever friend, the one she would swing with under the big tree in her childhood dreams and wish for, and for me she is my earth angel. In fact I know she is my earth angel, as last week when I was crying and at the end of my rope, I pleaded up to God, and I asked, “Why have you given me so much without assistance, without a sign, without hope?” And he kindly and adamantly replied, in a curt and matter-of-fact way only my God can, “I gave you Alienhippy, didn’t I?”

If you are an adult female touched by Aspergers looking for friends, do I have the group for you! You’ll be loved like a rock… though I’m not sure what that means. :))))

https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/261412237267413/

299: The New Day

I’ve decided
I’ve decided that you deserve more
More than what I am offering
With my clinging and self-doubt
You are not the key to my self-worth
So I shall work on being less dependent
On you
I am ready to pull away some
I think
I want our friendship to be nurturing
And I am tired of being so needy
I understand what is happening
I am self-harming
Through you
I build you up into someone you are not
So you can disappointment
Or rather
So I can think you are disappointing
For then I experience a rawness inside
A Terrible Ache
That reaches into the heart of me
It is only then
With the coming ache
That I feel alive
Without this intense angst
I feel numb
For no one can fill my depths
With the love I need
And thusly I am left hollow
And alone
In desperation and with desire
I grasp on to Love’s cousin
Pain
And pour him into me
I use
My addictive substance
Over and over
To exist
Because I feel alien
In this world
In both form and experience
I have been using
Using you
To feel real
Using
To wake up
My sleeping soul
I am sorry
For clinging
For aching
For suffering
Through you
But I still choose you
I choose you again and again
Only this time
You are chosen
For your beauty alone
For your light that shines through
The darkness in me
And opens my eyes
To the new day of us

~ Samantha Craft, January 2013

.

273: Come, My Lady. You’re My Butterfly

“I think he might like me,” I told my husband, in reference to a man at a coffee shop.

“What do you mean?” my husband asked.

“Well, he was smiling and taking interest in me,” I answered.

“Honey, he doesn’t like you; he doesn’t even know you. He is attracted to your body or something about you physically. That is different from liking you.”

“Oh,” I answered.

The next day, as I was heading out the door to go to the grocery store, my husband said, “Remember if a man looks at you because he is attracted to you that doesn’t indicate that the man likes you. You are a very pretty woman who some men find attractive. But their attention doesn’t mean they like you.”

I found his words to be a mixture of both comfort and confusion.

I am slowly, very slowly, learning the social innuendos regarding communication with men. I never knew there were so many unspoken rules when speaking with men. It’s fair to say I’ve got the female social interactions down, but now there seems to be this whole other guidebook regarding men.

I think, for me, having not had the example of a healthy father and mother relationship, nor brothers, or even uncles that I knew well, as a child, meant that I never had the chance to really learn how to interact with a man, except single men I sought after to make my husband. (starting at age six)

And, I guess, too, the actions of predators in combo with the uncouth behavior of some other men, added to my confusion of my place in the world as a woman.

I only had one male friend as an adult for a very short time. He wasn’t actually a friend, really, more of a member of a support group that I belonged to, a man about fifteen years older than me, who I once in a while saw outside of the support group–maybe once or twice. I was involved with another man at the time—obsessively. So I never saw my friend as anything but a friend.  And I was like a little sister, to him.

Interestingly, after lacking in male interactions for over four decades, I’m still looking at males the same way I did when I was six. They might have aged, and I might have aged, but the little girl inside of me is still wondering is that my prince?

It doesn’t matter that my husband adores me, and that I think he is a very dear man. I doesn’t matter that I logically understand that there is no prince out there. What matters is I still have this pattern. I still see men as someone who I want to make love me. That if they love me then I am of worth. But this love isn’t based on how they see me inside; it is based on how they see me outside.

Likely, (obviously) there are still some Daddy Issues; the holding, hugs, kisses and I love you’s from a father that never materialized.

The fact that I need validation of my physical worth from a male, more so than a female, and that indeed a female’s opinion of me, unless repeated over and over, does null for my self-esteem, is troublesome.

Logically, I recognize that the opinion of another is not a reflection of my worth, but somehow I still hold onto a man’s words and actions towards me more than my own belief and love of myself.

I’ve grown up some in the last few months, grown up to the point that I am hyper-aware of my thought processes, actions, and my emotions. There are very few moments in the day that I’m not an observer of self: outside of my own body watching me exist and walk through the steps of my day.

I understand what I am doing in regards to the power I grant men. I used to think it was shyness, now I think it is a not knowing, a not understanding, a confusion and displacement of ease. Standing near any man close to my age or older, causes my ears to turn red and face blush.  Almost any grown male seems to put a magical spell of nervousness, meekness, neediness, and insecurity upon me. I naturally become a shy, flirtatious giggle machine, complete with batting eyes and the flushing cheeks.

Photo on 12-9-12 at 3.22 PM

I realize that I was basically unseen and unnoticed, very much invisible, in most areas of my life, until I blossomed at the age of fourteen and began to gain attention based on my appearance. I was homecoming princess, popular, and dated a very handsome boy. I learned then that my looks could serve as a form of power: a way of being seen.

I learned to equate being seen with having worth.

I am starting to reprogram my prior learnings.

I am interacting with males more and recognizing they are no less powerful or magical than females, that their opinions are not more important than others’.

The hardest part is I still don’t understand the nuances of male/female communication. I don’t understand how much I should look into a man’s eyes, how close I should stand, how I should smile, what my tone should sound like, what topics are socially appropriate. I don’t understand what most people seem to learn subconsciously through experience.

I understand now how often men have actually flirted with me throughout my life. I understand now why, in high school, I shouldn’t have been having an ex-boyfriend massage my back when I was involved with a new beau.

I am starting to understand how I surely give out mixed signals, matching and mirroring a male, thinking that reacting as a mirror-image is the safe and appropriate technique. After all, it works with females!

I feel so very alien and unprepared for earth, as I approach the male zone.

In dealing with male encounters, I don’t want to come across as a prude, or rude, or stuck up, or extremely shy, or as a flirt. I just want to come across as me. The problem is I don’t know what that looks like.

I’ve trained myself to make facial expressions based on my environment and whom I am with. I’ve trained myself to act in the best way possible, to not lose female friendships and to not embarrass myself.

I don’t have a natural facial expression. I don’t know what that even means. It used to be, if my face was relaxed that my mouth was downturned, and I then appeared mean and unapproachable. For a few years, I walked about with slightly puckered lips. Silly, but true. Now my face has been trained to be in a constant puffy-cheeked smile in public.

I looked at my husband the other night, as he was checking me out, and I said, “Okay. So I’ve added a new understanding, a new rule to this computer brain of mine. I have new input.  I now know that a man looking at me doesn’t mean they like me. But now I am confused, because you look at me with desire all the time. So does that mean you don’t like me? Does that mean you only care about my body?”

My husband then spent the next several minutes explaining to me about the concept of getting to know someone, of how attraction can turn into like, and like to love, and then, after time, the person is liking the whole of you.

I stared back at him with a quizzical expression. My eyes grew wider. “I don’t understand,” I said. “In all my male relationships (boyfriends) I loved the person as soon as I met them. It didn’t change. It doesn’t grow. It just was.”

I went on to explain my perception of love. That yes, indeed, I can grow to respect a person, to enjoy their company, to take great pleasure in learning from them, and grow in companionship and familiarity, but that my love doesn’t grow. It remains the same.

I began to see, through my husband’s explaining, that clearly I  don’t experience life as many people do, particularly love. I don’t experience relationships in the same way, either—or communication.

Last night while at the local store grocery store, I asked a handsome store employee for some help finding a dessert wine. I know little to nothing about wine. Just asking a man for help is a huge step for me. I have to stop myself from staring at my feet, stuttering, giggling, and staying stuff that is just plain stupid.

He asked if I was going to need the dessert wine for dinner, for dessert, or after dessert, and what dessert I was having. He said this while staring deeply into my eyes, as if searching, and connecting. I stared back for a while. Locked eyes. I was processing.

I didn’t know why I wanted the wine, or what I was going to have the wine with. I just wanted to have something sweet. I processed how the man was looking at me, and I did what I knew to do, I stared back, mirroring the man, as I processed his communication skills thinking: This man is really good with eye contact. I wonder if my mascara is smeared. My ears are on fire. I am nervous. Can he tell? I’m so glad I have this hat on.

 So many thoughts, so very fast. With even more intense eyes, I offered, “I don’t know why I want the wine; I just want to drink it.”

I think I came across as giggly, clueless and cute, perhaps even flirtatious. Not my intention.

The man was standing very close, and very, very kind. (I think) He spent five minutes with me giving me a mini-lesson on wine, and showing me his favorite. I kept thinking: He doesn’t like me. He might find my eyes pretty. That’s why he can’t stop staring. And I think he swiped a peek at my butt, but he doesn’t like me.

The entire time I was listening to the brown-eyed man, I was simultaneously analyzing his body language, his choice of words, his proximity, his inflection, his everything. I noted there was some attraction going on, but I couldn’t tell if he was interested or flirting, or just nice to everyone.

In retelling the story to my husband, he took in the clues and observations of my encounter with the store worker, and reported that likely this man was somewhat interested in me. He reminded me I was an attractive woman. (He lingered at my beauty for awhile. Bless the dear man.) He explained that if a man instead of a woman had approached and asked this employee about wine, he likely would have been shorter in his explanation, not have locked eyes the entire time, and not smiled and offered out his favorite wine. He wouldn’t have been standing as close either.

I still don’t know. I told my husband, in all seriousness, (and while slightly tipsy from the port wine in hand), that I’d like him to come to the store with me the next time and stand back an aisle or two away, and watch how men approach me and interact with me, and tell me if they are flirting.

He said, “Honey, I really don’t take pleasure in watching other men pick up my wife.”

Hmmmmmmmm. Hadn’t thought of that.

For now, I guess I’ll keep watching men watch me, and calculate what it means. Take note in my little imaginary spy book. Note that a stare at my  bottom doesn’t mean like, and definitely not love. Note that a prince isn’t likely out there roaming the wine aisle waiting to take me away to his castle to live happily ever after.  Note that the attention towards my outward appearance doesn’t note my worth. Nor does the lack of attention. And note that though I may appear to others as an experienced butterfly, I am still very much a naive nervous caterpillar quivering inside.