Her Half-Willing Heart

The ropes I’d so carefully sewn on a half-willing heart

had been stretching longer than I cared to admit.

They pulled at the flesh too slow to recoil

but gradually dipped me in pain –

till I sank,

till the taste of air

would have been dizzying.

I felt every tug of the string

caught in her beloved discontent,

laboured for the broken thread

of a love I carried alone.

And when she was finally brave enough

to take up the knife

and slice us in two,

I was stung with grief,

and with relief.

Our Love

We’re not painted, thinned out

technicolour prints of what love claims to be.

We’re rolled and dimpled skin,

and the slick rawness of lips

touching for the first time.

We’re the hours that vanish

while you hold your fingers over my skin,

forming circles in my back,

and me letting you.

We’re schoolhouse windows decades old,

broken glass and rusted bars,

but we’ve leaned out through the history,

risked cuts on the windowsills,

and seen how lush the schoolyard is,

how wild the trees have grown.

We’re the ones who make no apologies –

behind closed doors we make love

like it’s our last revolution.

Defeating hate and greed tastes like

your kisses when you’re sweaty, smells like

your hair when you wake up, feels like

the way you look at me when I say I love you.

Our love is no political protest,

but in this clenched fist world,

loving at all is a radical act,

and loving like this

strikes fear into the hearts of men

who don’t know how to lay it bare.

Debutante

She had a baby girl,

eyes like her mama,

smile like her daddy.

She moved the mountains

every mother comes up against,

built muscles of stone for her children.

To the daughter,

she made mothering look easy.

Baby Girl marveled at the way

Mama cooked without measurements,

survived without compliments,

changed for those she loved

without a tear

or a hair out of place.

Baby Girl liked lists and recipes,

tugged at sleeves for begged niceties,

drank gallons of water to replace all

that seeped over her eyelids,

and had a secret

she couldn’t ever change.

She didn’t want to break Mama’s heart.

But one day a door in Baby Girl’s chest

that held back acres and years

– of glossy lingerie ads and

unspoken questions about the

the way hips feel under satin
or the urge to brush long hair
back from a girl’s face –
it cracked down the middle
and every private keepsake
came tumbling out,
out where Mama could see.
And in Mama’s chest
another door burst,
and years of dreams for Baby Girl,
of trimesters and white dresses
and chats with Mama
over tea while Husbands
talked outside,
spilled out over the floor.
And though Mama tried to hide it,
it did break her heart,
and Baby Girl felt the fracture
as if no time had passed
sine they were two hearts
sharing one body.

P.S. If you like, check out my Etsy store and support The Humane League!

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SoftSpotAccessories?ref=l2-shopheader-name

Growing Out My Hair and Falling in Love

For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamt of having gorgeous, thick, wavy hair down to my butt. Princess hair. Rapunzel hair. I would run my fingers through my wispy blonde bob cut by my mother, and imagine curls cascading behind me, brushing over my shoulders like a blanket, or a superhero cape.

I remember one day I went up to my purple bedroom about a dozen times, got on my knees and prayed for God to give me long hair. My family didn’t go to church so I knew little about God or praying, and treated it as more of a business negotiation.

“God,” I whispered, “if I wake up tomorrow with hair down to my butt, I promise I will go abroad and spend the rest of my life as a missionary.”

I had no idea what a missionary was, but I figured it had something to do with hacking through the jungle. Small price to pay for a fabulous ‘do, anyway. At five or six, the only thing I held in equal regard to long hair was the idea of being in love.

They were both things I assumed would happen one day, and they would be perfect, and when they did I would be complete and happy. When I was old enough. For the time being, my mum still cut my hair, and she kept it short, easy to manage.

I let it grow through junior high past my shoulders and had my first brush with romance. I sat next to him in class, held his hand, even let him kiss me a couple of times. But I was way too shy, too confused, still a baby, and the following year the boy was gone and my hair was back up to my ears.

In high school I tried to grow it out for a while, but I still didn’t really know how to take care of it and there was so much else to worry about and navigate. None of the boys noticed me anyway. At the end of tenth grade, I shaved my head and had a pixie cut until graduation. I told myself I didn’t need to look like the other girls or get the attention they did, and while that was true, I was also full of fear. So scared of rejection that I mentally and emotionally took myself out of the game. My hair became a symbol: can’t tie me down so don’t even try. That way when nobody tried, I could convince myself I’d chosen it. This is not to say that short hair isn’t beautiful. It absolutely is. Authenticity is beautiful. Confidence is beautiful. But a lot of the time, when I had short hair, I wore it like a suit of armour.

I started to grow it again when I went to university, and to my great shock a boy took interest in me. He made me laugh and I liked hanging out with him. But something wasn’t right. I should like him, what’s wrong with me? Someone finally wants me and I’m going to screw it up? I shut down, started ignoring him, he found someone else. Surprise, surprise, next year off came the hair. I was so afraid. Afraid of my femininity and my sexuality. Afraid it wouldn’t attract anyone. Afraid it would and I wouldn’t be able to handle it. Afraid of my own power and all the things that were out of my control.

After university, I was letting it grow again, filled with fresh hope, when one night I was having some drinks with my roommates, and two of us shared a brief kiss. The dam burst instantly. I knew I loved her, and some of my fears started to make a whole lot more sense. We started dating.

She liked my hair short, fun and easy, something she could ruffle like a puppy’s fur, no tangles, no upkeep. And for a while I liked it too, I would have done anything to make her happy. But then I skipped a couple of haircuts, let my pixie get overgrown, and things got more complicated. I was in the awkward growing stage, not really knowing how to style it or take care of it, but willing to learn, willing to wait it out. I was ready for the commitment of longer hair, and I bought leave-in conditioner, elastics and a wooden brush. I wanted to put in the effort even though we were already exhausted. We both missed short, fun, and easy. For our own personal myriad of reasons, we broke up.

Now I’m growing it out again, solo this time, and while of course it doesn’t really matter what my hair looks like, it’s become something of a personal challenge for me. I want to prove to myself I can do the work, that I can see something through to the end, that commitment isn’t just a pipe dream. I want to learn how to manage something I’m not familiar with, instead of defaulting to what I know. I want to accept things even when they don’t look how I’d like and see the beauty in them, to show up and gently tease out the tangles instead of allowing them to become rats’ nests. I want to remind myself every day why I’m growing it longer and be grateful for it, especially now when I’m in the thick of the Shoulder-Length Itch.

I know it might seem superficial, it is just hair after all, but that little time of grooming each day is a marker of the time I must put into my most important relationship: the one with myself. That will always be my most important and grounding commitment, and in learning to love, honour, and forgive myself, I learn how to do the same with others. After all it is winter, and even when my hair’s misbehaving, static, flat or in my way –

it keeps me warm.

 

 

Demigoddess

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Sex and love are not the same thing. For some people, at some times, sex is an act of intimacy already felt. For some it’s a chance to connect. For some it’s self-expression, or just good fun. For some, it’s not fun at all.

As a demisexual, I straddle the line between allo- and asexual. In fact I’ve only ever been sexually attracted to one person so far. I know what it’s like to be dying to touch someone and be close to them, but more often than not I know what it’s like to say “Yeah, she’s pretty” and have no further interest than that.

First off let me say, if you want to have sex, honey go for it. You have every right to go into the world and have a good time and make connections and enjoy yourself. If you’re being safe and consensual, you have EVERY RIGHT to explore and live in your body. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

Now my aces, my sweet sweet aces and demis, there’s a chance you’re feeling pressured to have sex. Or being made to feel weird for not wanting it. Or wondering why you don’t want it.

I know I was. While I think it’s important not to get too hung-up on labels, before I learned about demisexuality I thought I was just devestatingly shy about sex, and that’s why I wasn’t doing it (I was also just figuring out I was gay). I felt so much shame about never having had sex. I felt estranged from my friends and peers. The word “frigid” would send me into a downward spiral, even if it was in reference to the weather. Just discovering the word demisexual made me feel like I belonged, like everything I was experiencing made sense. I wasn’t a freak for not feeling any attraction to all the people around me, and I wasn’t a freak for being insanely attracted to my then-girlfriend.

She, coincidentally, was discovering she was asexual. Asexuality, as I understand it, refers to an absence of desire to touch another person in a sexual way. Some aces don’t mind sex, some like it; they just don’t feel that draw towards sexual activity with any particular person. But if you are an asexual who doesn’t like sex, or doesn’t ever want to have sex, know sweetheart you are still perfect just as you are and you are still worthy of love.

And if you’re an ace who wants a romantic partner and is scared you’ll have to have sex to have love, let me remind you, sex does not equal love. There are plenty of non-sexual ways to be physically intimate, and lots of ways to be intimate that aren’t physical at all. Please don’t do something you don’t want to do in an effort to make them happy, honey. Honour yourself enough to speak up about your boundaries and concerns. Honour the other person enough to be honest with them and believe they can handle it. Even if it’s hard, tell the truth. Give them a chance. Give yourself a chance to have an authentic connection based on trust and openness. That’s love. You deserve that, dear one.

We live in such an overly sexualized world, permeated with porn culture, which can leave us with warped ideas about sex and relationships, and make us think there are all these expectations for us. But the only true expectations are the ones you place on yourself. You can have a rich, beautiful romantic relationship if that’s what you want. And not wanting that is equally as wonderful.

You will find your place; you will find your people.

I’m sure of it.

Celebrating People Where they Are

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I found a book at the library the other day called When Your Child Is Gay, and brought it home for my mum. I showed it to her, said I’d really like her to read it, and left it on the counter for her. To my knowledge, she hasn’t picked it up since.

I came out to my parents just over two years ago, and while there have been ups and downs, they’ve each adapted in their own way. My mum struggled the most, which broke my heart. She battled with it silently and got through it on her own as she’s always seemed to handle difficulties. She never felt the need to talk about it; she came to deal with my sexuality on her own terms.

My parents, in general, don’t feel the need to talk about much. They are British, practical, and very family-oriented. If our little community of five is healthy and safe, then all is right with the world. And I love them for that.

But for someone like me, an overly sensitive, often dramatic person obsessed with connection and the search for meaning, sometimes it can be hard to feel understood or heard. My mum doesn’t see the benefit in reading a book about having an LGBT daughter, so she won’t. That’s the simple truth, and I sort of knew that. So why did I give it to her? What do I see as the benefit of it?

I wished that it would normalize LGBT people and culture for her. That she would talk freely with her friends and our extended family about me without avoiding the subject of dating. That she would come with me to pride parades. That she would be proud to have a lesbian daughter, not proud of her daughter in spite of the fact I’m a lesbian.

As lovely as all this would be, is it necessary right now? Even if it is, it’s not within my control. I know without a shadow of a doubt my parents love me, they accept my sexuality, they would both come to my wedding and welcome my future partner into our family. One of the most touching things my parents have done in support of me is get up and hug my former girlfriend when I brought her home for the weekend. They even let her sleep in my bed.

Now folks, these people are old school, and very much creatures of routine. They watch one episode of the Waltons every Saturday at 8 (and they have it on DVD so that’s a schedule of their own devising) and place ducks and roosters to compete in the local summer fair. My dad got upset with me during the summer for allowing my fourteen year old brother to sleep in till 9am…on a Sunday. Coming to our house is like going back to the thirties, complete with a renovated Ford Model AA in the garage.

Yet when we walked in the door, they greeted us so warmly and treated my ex like a member of the family. So does it really matter if they aren’t donning rainbow shirts and don’t understand the need to come out publicly or identify as LGBT supporters? That’s not who they are, anymore than being straight is who I am.

And just as I want them to accept me, I need to accept them for exactly who they are. And not just accept them as I have been, tolerating but secretly wishing they were different. When I get right down to it, in giving my mum the book I was hoping she would be able to move from accepting to celebrating me, although I haven’t been celebrating them. And I should. I am incredibly lucky. My parents are eternally loyal and unquestioningly generous. They have created the most beautiful safe hub for themselves and their children where, even when I first came out and we were all trying to adapt, I still felt I belonged and had a place to go.

So I want to take a moment to applaud everything my parents are and all they’ve done for me. Love isn’t about picking the people in our lives apart, trying to reassemble them into our personal ideals of them. It’s recognizing all they do for us, why we’re so grateful to have them, seeing them for the Divine in disguise that they are.