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we are beggars all.

Today I have been listening to and thinking about this song, the lyrics of which will be interspersed through this post.  The song is called “The Weight,” and it’s by the band Thrice.  My boyfriend brought it up the night he gave me my magic wand, and though I couldn’t think of how it went right then, I had heard it before and was taken in by it.  I honestly think I have never heard a truer expression of what true love is, and I am deeply touched thinking about it.

There’s many who’ll tell you they’ll give you their love,
But when they say “give” they mean “take”.
They hang ‘round just like vultures ’til push comes to shove
And take flight when the earth starts to shake.

Someone may say that they’ll always be true
Then slip out the door ‘fore the dawn,
But I won’t leave you hanging on.

Another may stay ’til they find someone new
Then before you know they’ll be gone,
But I won’t leave you hanging on.

No, I won’t won’t be that someone.

This will likely be a very candid blog — not that I am ever anything else, but you know.  Just a disclaimer.  I have often felt like a beggar.  In many ways, my life has been that of a vagabond or a drifter.  I’ve moved 33 times in 25 years.  I have gotten where I am today because of intensely hard work and because of the help and charity of others.  I use the word charity not to imply a sense of pity, but in the almost spiritual sense of giving out of the need to pass on the blessings one has been given.  More about the act of giving than the perception of need implicit in the receiving end of such a gift.

And come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and there’s no end in sight.

Some talk of destiny, others of fate,
But soon they’ll be saying goodbye,
But I won’t leave you high and dry.

‘Cause a ring don’t mean nothing if you can’t haul the weight
And some of them won’t even try,
But I won’t leave you high and dry.

I won’t leave you wondering why.

In love as well I have often felt the beggar.  I have often felt myself unworthy of real love — I have been tossed aside often enough that I am supremely unused to having anyone stand by me.  I have always been at the whim of others’ convenience — there when it suited them and cast off when it stopped being convenient for them.  I think because of this, I don’t understand why anyone would want me when I am the mess that I am.

And come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and there’s no end in sight.

And storms will surely come,
But true love is a choice you must make and you are the one.
That I have set my heart to choose
As long as I live, I swear I’ll see this through.

I spent quite a long time waiting for my current boyfriend.  We knew each other for a year and a half before we started our official relationship, and I won’t pretend that some of that time wasn’t incredibly difficult for me.  I still wrestle with the idea that I’m either not enough or too much or both at the same time.  I think everyone feels that way sometimes, but I have it honed to a fine art.  Which is why I think that this Thrice song is such a resonant depiction for me.  I’m not used to a love like this.  As one of my favorite gods said in one of my favorite books (by David Eddings), “Thou wilt warily give love, but you must also learn to accept it.”  I’ve never known a love like this, but come what may, I will see it through.  In the words of another, newer favorite song, I’ve got nothing left to lose.

Come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and I see no end.

Come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and there’s no end in sight.

In other news, my beloved city of Nashville, Tennessee is under water.  If you haven’t heard about it, the Cumberland and Harpeth rivers that both run through and around Nashville gained about 26+ feet over the weekend, causing catastrophic flooding and billions of dollars of damage to homes and businesses.  I-24 became a raging river, and the water was forceful and deep enough to detach homes from foundations and even sent a modular school building floating down the interstate.

One of my closest friends had to be emergency evacuated from her apartment — she’s very lucky, and it turns out the water only got ankle deep and her car even still works, but thousands of others were not so lucky.  My old boss had to sit and watch from his home as a man was stranded up a tree in his Forest Hills neighborhood — Tom couldn’t get to him as there was fast moving water that was far too dangerous to move through, and I’m told the man was stranded there for at least 20 hours in the pouring rain.  There are thousands of other stories like these.  I’m dismayed and disappointed that the national media is paying only cursory attention to this disaster.  Almost 30 people have died so far, and countless others are without power, clean water, and homes.  If you are at all able, please text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the relief efforts.

I only lived in Nashville for a year, but it is a truly lovely city full of warm and inviting people.  To see loved ones and colleagues entrapped in this disaster and also being nationally ignored is heartbreaking, and I wish I could do more to help.  I don’t get a ton of views on this blog, but hopefully enough people will read this and be moved enough to spare $10.  If enough people do it, it really does make a difference.

Please help.  We are beggars all.

❤  Emmie


tale as old as time: beauty, the beast, and the cycle of abuse

abusive relationships have been on my mind recently.  they’ve been in the news, as well, sparking debate and frankly, some really disgusting commentary.  all my life i’ve seen them.  i’ve seen my mother in emotionally abusive relationships.  i’ve heard of her physically abusive ones.  i’ve watched friends go through them.  and then last year i had the unfortunate experience of dealing with an abusive person myself.

to speak to the current news about rihanna going back to chris brown, there are several things that have cropped up.  people have asked why she would go back to him.  some have said that the sympathy train stops here for them–basically asserting that whatever happens to her now is her own fault.  some have shown anger.  others have been purely baffled.

a metaphor that is often cited is the beauty and the beast story.  a woman meets a man who screeches at her, isolates her, keeps her from her family, maybe even hits her–yet she believes he’s really a good person, and he eventually comes round to reveal a handsome prince.  if you look at it like that, then these women really do look insane.  the problem with that metaphor is that they have it ass-backwards.

it goes a bit more like this:  a woman meets a charming prince.  he’s kind to her, fun.  they go out.  they click.  he’s a gentleman who is interested in everything about her.  time goes on.  she starts falling hard.

flash.  one night, maybe over dinner, he makes a remark.  maybe it’s about her friends–does she really want to be hanging around people like that?  her heart skips a beat, and she sits there, confused for a moment.  oh, he says, it’s just because she is so intelligent and wonderful–her friends are maybe a bad influence.  for a split second, she catches a glimpse of fangs, and then it’s gone, and the prince is back.

then it happens again.  few days later, or a week.  maybe his interest in her life turns into a cross-examination.  he makes a show of being supportive, but he digs everything out of her that he can–and he doesn’t reciprocate.  he tells her he feels like he’s getting to know her really well.  she feels nervous telling him so much, but he’s being so kind.  not judging.

the weeks go by, and things are good.  sure, there’s the occasional glimpse of matted fur or claws, but mostly, it’s just the shining prince.  she’s happy, except for when those flashes come.  sure, he might say something that seems insulting, but he compliments her at the same time, so he probably doesn’t mean it as an insult.  maybe when she’s telling him about her views on politics, he tells her all liberals are loonies–if she is one–but oh, she’s so intelligent…maybe moreso than he.  she’s beautiful and smart.

when it hits, it’s like a lightning strike on a clear blue day.  suddenly, the prince is gone, and there is a ravening beast standing before her.  everything he dredged out of her, everything he gleaned from their weeks or months together is turned into a weapon against her.  he might just use words, or he might use his fists.  but the aim is clear–it’s about power.  he has to break her down.  he uses everything she told him in confidence, and he twists it back on her.

when it’s over, she’s stunned.  what just happened?  that couldn’t have been the same person.  not her prince charming.  he wouldn’t do that.  there must be something wrong with her.  she’s upset and hurt.  she’s crying and lost and confused.

and then the prince is back.  he’s sorry he hurt her–he didn’t mean to, really.  he’s not that guy.  he’s a good guy.  but she set him off somehow; she shouldn’t do that, he says.  he says she hurt him, too, but he forgives her.  why can’t she forgive him?  he’s kind, and he’s nice, and she starts thinking maybe it was all in her head.

you see…there’s nothing wrong with these women.  there’s nothing wrong with me.  the women i know who have been in abusive relationships are strong women.  powerful women.  but when it happens, it’s subtle.  it’s insidious.  it’s manipulative.  it creeps in amidst the compliments, riding on their coattails.  a jibe here, a cruel “joke” there.  little seeds sown against her friends, against her family, against people who would support her and help her get away from him.  it’s gradual, and most of the time, it happens before they know it.  it’s crazy making.  it’s a mind fuck.

it’s holding one of my best friends as she lays crumpled in my lap, sobbing and asking over and over again, “where did the man i fell in love with go?  i can’t find him!  why can’t i find him?  where did he go?”

it’s hearing him scream at my roommate through the phone, almost incoherent in his impotent rage, and seeing her face washed with tears, eyes wild and lost because no words she can say will make him stop.  every answer she gives is the wrong one.  and his anger keeps coming.

it’s my heart pounding in my chest, all the while feeling as though someone’s fist is clenched around it.  it’s tears burning down my cheeks.  it’s weeks of confusion.  it’s telling him no and him not listening.

it’s women all around the world who are having their power stolen from them by tiny, tiny men who cannot feel powerful unless they’re stripping it from someone greater than them.  who can only feel big when they put someone down.  in the end, it’s about control.  it’s about power.

it’s a cycle.  the prince will fade again into the slathering monster, only to return with flowers and champagne when the sunlight comes again.  the only way to break it is to step outside the circle.  to step off the carosel and let that beast go to hell.

it’s that phone call from my best friend, telling me she left him for good.  it’s my roommate kicking him out of her life.  it’s me making the call to him, telling him never to contact me again.

the reason abusers do it is because they feel they have no power, whether consciously or subconsciously.  we have it.  they don’t.  so they try to take ours.  no one wants to be treated like shit.  no one wants to be abused.  it can happen to anyone, from a high ranking ceo to an army officer, to the server at your favorite restaurant.  it’s happened to me.  and people i love.  no one is immune.  the important thing is to learn to recognize those flashes for what they are–warning signs.

at the end of the day, we have to trust our instincts.  listen to what they tell us.  because no one deserves to be treated badly.  we’re worth something much more extraordinary than that.