yellow tulip flowers in white ceramic vase
Photo by Amber Turner / Unsplash

A decision about a piece of furniture turned into a realization

This house is slowly getting to the point where it's time to start purchasing furniture- again, mind you, not the first time. I began with a dining room table and chairs, which were a revelation. They weren't made together so the chairs are too low for the table, and the table top, while totally cool in design, moves if you lean into it, so it's currently a source of endless hilarity.

And spills, there's that.

Then, as my handyman and I were starting to suss out where to put art in that newly-painted dining room, I wanted some kind of sideboard. Two days ago I was wandering around Michael's looking for big plant pots, and found this, which was intended as a television stand:


It comes in dark wood, too. What I liked about it was that if I used it as a hutch, I could display what little genuinely pretty dishware I owned. Sure I'd have to dust it, so what, right? Right now all those plates sit in the cupboards. I can't see them. If they're out, I get to enjoy them.

Sadly, this piece was damaged, so I'm still looking. But I'm getting ideas.

In talking to my friend Melissa this morning I told her about this piece of furniture. As we were talking about dishes and hutches which had gone out with our aging parents, I realized that over the last year or so, Melissa had been taking huge chances by putting her own vulnerability and feelings on display.

Like pretty plates, sometimes chipped, but all beloved. In fact, for some of her most powerful emotions it's like taking your best party china and putting that out for everyday use, something I've discussed here when discussing actual china.

She was on display, her honest emotions in all their stunning variety and power.

I've watched her move into a very different kind of relationship with her partner. That nearly ended last year, as she went into a period of mourning over what she thought had ended. Nearly did, too. But she chose to stick with it, and in doing so, some essential, life-affirming shifts happened on both sides.

This is just one reason I so enjoy her friendship. Her raw honesty has often inspired me, and I've learned from watching the steps she's taken. Not six months ago she and I both fully expected this relationship to come to a bad end.

Not only did it survive the rough spots, in many ways it has strengthened because of the rough spots. Our relationship went through a rough spot, too, and we also emerged stronger for it. Our ability to trust each other deepened.

That also got in my face. In my family if there was a rough spot you were rejected in whole, not just for the mistake or a moment of bad judgment. You were roundly rejection in your entirety, your character and person-hood all impugned at the same time.

Like when I tried to set healthy adult boundaries with my father, who was abusive, and he wrote me out of the will.

two children covering their faces with their hands
Photo by Kreative Kwame / Unsplash

From very early on I learned that if I made a mistake I was bad to the core. This of course is a way of thinking my parents struggled with thanks to their own upbringings, so I'm not holding them hostage. It's just something I get to observe and choose to challenge, like all other stories that have nothing to do with truth.

The long, fascinating process of learning to pull our authentic emotions out and look at them, to give them permission to see the light of day- such as anger, for example- has been something else again.

Each of us has cultural requirements, not only based on our generation and color but also the region in which we were born, the parents we had, the neighborhood makeup, the schools, all of it.

Lots of layers to parce through, and a lot of conditioning to address.

Those cultural requirements, of course, dictated whether or now we were/are allowed to emote, and if so, in what way, if at all. Melissa's were similar to mine in many ways, so watching her learn to set really important boundaries was a revelation at times about where I've had a terrible time setting boundaries of my own.

Speaking of that.

Last weekend I was perusing my LinkedIn profile and noticed that my most recent ex, the source of a great deal of pain and cost in every imaginable way, had visited my profile.

This is his habit. Months after he dumps me - and in this case I dumped him for once- he starts to hover. In the past, if my LinkedIn profile was blocking him, it was an invitation to reach out. The inevitable always happened. I'd relent, it would cost me a fortune and boom, he was gone again.

Apparently I'd forgotten. So I went to his profile and did indeed block him. Melissa wanted to know how that felt. I was grateful for the opportunity to explore precisely that.

Pretty damned powerful, in fact.

In so many ways, after the last five years, particularly since leaving Denver, right now feels like a brand-new season in more ways than one.

Eugene is blossoming right now. While the cherry tree on my property isn't in bloom yet, many trees are, and every drive to the gym is a celebration. So is having enough friends here so that I have to make myself a list to remember to call them for play dates, if you will.

That's a problem worth having. The physical stuff isn't over yet, but the worst of it appears to be behind me and that opens up a lot of new doors. Other challenges are the kind that indicate that life is finally moving in good directions.

These days I'm far less fearful of letting people know what I think, and I no longer have that awful prickle at the back of my next which presaged a backhand from my father when I am about to speak up for myself. Melissa's been a big part of that, in that her courage in taking the risk to speak her truth in her most intimate relationship was a wonder to watch. And an example I appreciate.

That's led to my taking more risks in places I didn't realize I was being squeamish. That's paying off, too. Like blocking the ex and not feeling one damned bit guilty about it.

I won't insult your intelligence by claiming that ALL'S MAGICALLY WELL AND NEVER AGAIN WILL I.....

Nope. But I will say that as I engage with new friends, work my way into healthy routines, reconfigure my work schedule and plot out a year of adventure (which may well include a trip to Pakistan, I'll write about that, too), I'm noticing a different emotional landscape.

Fewer sharp edges, less urgency, a greater self- kindness.

It's been a hella three years and then some. I'll take softer anything right now, especially a bed instead of that damned couch. New adventures are on the horizon and I am hunting them.

Meanwhile, like Melissa, I'm learning how to set the pretty china, the chipped china and all the other bits and pieces on display in ways that never felt quite safe before.

Still looking for that sideboard, though. If anyone spots one at a shabby chic place, let me know!

leaf plant near bed
Photo by nine koepfer / Unsplash

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