Love Shouldn’t be Blind

We are all different, but there are some of us who feel a bit more peculiar that others. I am one of those people. Being different makes me happy, even if it makes me stand out. That is why I feel that the phrase, “love with your heart and not with your eyes,” makes no sense. Of course I want to be loved and appreciated for everything I am, my character, my heart. . .but I also want to be loved for everything that people can see without looking within.

I feel as though we are constantly reminded to ignore looks so much that we negate the possibility that anything that is not normal can be beautiful. Flawed smiles and imperfect teeth, round bodies or thin physiques become the subject of apology and exception. We have become conditioned to love despite and not because.

When we first meet people it is impossible to take a look deep into their soul without first acknowledging and embracing what we see as a whole. The way they laugh, the way they squint when they are thinking deeply. There are so many visual characteristics that we pass up when we apply the notion of loving blindly.

For a very long time I wanted people to give me a long enough chance to realize that I am more than the sum of my looks. I was loving myself despite. I was wrong. I don’t want exceptions to be made for me. I stand tall at over 67 inches, I have child bearing hips and my hair doesn’t fall perfectly in the morning. There are days where my smile is the quickest and easiest place to hide because all the things that make me who I am are hidden inside of a body that people are trained to accept, not love.

I was one of the many who missed out because I learned with exception. This is no longer acceptable. It hasn’t been for a long time.

One of my favorite things of getting to know people is memorizing the curves of their face. Cementing the way they smile and how little wrinkles form around their lips. The way their thoughts are emitted throughout their body. All these idiosyncratic things about them that I would not know if not by body language.

If I’d carry on ignoring the things that people closet because they aren’t perfect, I would miss out on the beauty and profound touch of a smile.

 

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About that 

Time passes you by and before you know it you’re wishing for a break from it all. . .but then life slows down and you can see the leaves falling to the ground ever so gently and with no rush in mind. Life falls as it may and pieces land where they should and after you wanted a break from the madness you realize the madness is your life. . .and what is life but a little bit of madness.

She is like that now but wasn’t before. . .

They say never look back, but sometimes memories from the past are resurfaced with just a phrase. It was something mentioned in passing that felt like the digging up of mistakes from the past. We all know our past has cultivated the present self but we try to negate it, as if we currently don’t need the old memories to keep us in check. When I think about the person I was, I remember having felt that it wasn’t right, that I needed to change just to be a better person for people. Yet, no forcing or stipulation could have made me change unless I wanted to, and I desperately did. However hindsight, there wasn’t anything wrong with me. I just handled my emotions, or my lack of understanding for them, in a different way than most.

There is no better phrase to compare the panic and instant blockade that occurred in me any time my feelings surfaced than, “a frog in my throat.” Whoever came up with that was both genius and profoundly hurting. I can’t remember the exact moment that made me emotionally inept growing up but I imagine it was in those times when binging my own emotions was the safest option that impacted me the most.

So last night I was getting to know a friend of a friend whilst standing in a line at Howl O Scream and I made a comment that led to him asking me, “so you must be very empathetic?” I proceeded to agree while disagreeing with uncertainty because again in that moment I began to doubt myself and think of how I can be more empathetic than I already am. . .but I digress. My childhood friend was there and that’s when she says, “She is like that now but wasn’t before.” This led to a two minute conversation on how I used to emotionally shut people out. The conversation was brief and not ill intended, we continued talking about other things and went on with the night unscathed.

However, this brought me back to who I tried to become and how I am not much different from that girl now. My brain was on emotional over drive and I couldn’t sleep anymore last night because I remembered how much I disliked myself then.

The only true exception, is my son. From the day he was born, he gave me that feeling of home I always needed. There is no insecurity or frog with him. He knows the good bad and ugly of me. Maybe it’s because some deep rooted part of me is sure I’ll never lose him. I don’t worry about him finding some terrible something about me that he can run away from. I raised him to accept people for who they are and in teaching him that. . .he accepts me for me but not everyone gets my full spectrum like he does.

I don’t even know why I’m making my defenses so clear and exposing myself but for some reason I have to let it out. For many years and to this day, I use humor as my weapon and shield. Truthfully I love to make people laugh, there isn’t anything more rewarding than being the reason someone smiles. However the old me, made jokes at everyone’s expense and buried emotions like a time capsule. I used to walk around stoic and didn’t show an ounce of emotion for people, unless it was anger. Some people called this tough, I say emotionally crippled. My feelings were there but my eyes said more than my lips ever could. If I cared about someone, no matter the level of emotion, they never knew. I hated this but verbally articulating my emotions has never been my strong suit. There were days when I would pep talk myself and convince myself, “this will be the day they know, I am speaking up today about how I feel.” Then when I found myself sitting face to face with them suddenly that frog would consume my throat again and the emotions and feelings flooding my mind were stuck at a damn in my throat. I went through this cycle time after time, and although I shouldn’t say so, it still happens sometimes now. I hated myself for it then and I still dwell on it. It feels like being defeated, like you’re a coward and you can’t make any sense of it because the monster keeping you stagnant in fear is you.

For me anger has always been the only emotion I have no difficulty expressing. In the drop of a dime I would say things so hurtful to people and walk away just to make sure they knew I didn’t care, yet I did. Unbeknownst to them, I was hurting. I was called cold, I was reminded day in and day out that I had no heart, and the word bitch became a common way to define me. You’d think this was from people who disliked me, but those comments came from friends that laughed at my jokes and shared school lunches with me. They didn’t know better, they had no idea I mentally beat myself up about it every day. They thought they were at some disadvantage for being sensitive to other people’s feelings and for being able to express themselves. I however realized very early on that it was I that was defunct, not them. Hearing myself called so many names hurt deeply, but I came up with generic responses and ways to accept what I was being told. My go to, “proud of it.” . . .but I wasn’t proud. I was hurting because I wasn’t some cold hearted bitch, I did feel everything they felt, I could make connections with people and have feeling. I just didn’t know how to express them, and because of it I became a bitch to everyone.

It is so crazy how this minuscule conversation reminded me of who I truly am inside when I’m not being brave. See, somewhere along the way things changed enough to where I am not shutting out my emotions altogether. Do I still find ways to protect myself and mitigate the pain. . .yes. . .but it’s ok, I’ve accepted myself. This may come as a surprise to some because I know I can be very outspoken, but I’m not outspoken about everything. I found in writing I can let the feelings flow rather than have them bottled up inside. Sometimes I blog privately just to get things out of my head. Some people who know me well enough don’t make me feel bad about telling them I love them in writing because they understand saying I love you out loud can feel a little weird at times. That’s with some people not all, and at some moments not all. As I have gotten older I have found moments to just take the plunge, send the message, blurt it out or whatever it takes to keep from bottling in emotions. It’s a constant trial and error but it’s a better process than that of before. Sharing my feelings comes with a scared shitless kind of territory to me, but if I remind myself enough of the instant relief I will feel after (perhaps followed by anxiety. . .but that’s a whole other story) I’ll gain enough courage to say what I’ve been meaning to say.

This constant self introspection has given me an unusual kind of depth with people. I can connect and feel deeply without saying much. I am really good at gauging emotions and I hate when people feel displaced. I hate when people look sad and a topic being discussed is the cause of it. I can look at someone in the eyes and see the pain they hide and I don’t have to force a word out of them. In those moments I opt for a change of conversation or subject because I realize other people can be unintentionally insensitive to people like us. I take other peoples comfort as my own personal responsibility. I don’t need to question why people are who they are, I get it. Admittedly I am curious about people, I love having long winded conversations about everything and nothing all at once. I guess because I can relate and find reminders of myself in them. We are our worst enemies but when I’m looking at myself through the eyes of others I find the self appreciation for myself that I depreciated early on. 

Dream Catcher

Your kiss was a comet
That soared to my heart
That whispered forever
Before it could start

So selfish my endeavor
In keeping you all 
Clipped wings and captive
Just to make you my heart 

But I swallowed it whole
A tough pill at that
I stepped miles backwards
And rejected your advance

I couldn’t keep up
With the happiest pain
I’ve ever felt in this lifetime
Still not yet in vain

You left with freedom
And I hardly intact
Putting you before me
Was my bravest act

My heart is half empty
It’s missing your smile
Your emerald glances
and your childlike regard 

You left me disarmed
And hollowed inside
I refused you in ounces
I ran with my pride

I daydream about you
I mare in the night
I question my strength
For giving up the fight 

I’ll run out of time
Before all hope is gone
Only hoping forever 
Won’t be too long

My freckle in time 
My beautiful tune
Keep singing the songs 
Of our memories in you

-Jo Arroyo 8/25/2016

What do you write?

There is a common thread among people who learn of my writing. “What do you write?,” they ask. . .sometimes I immediately want to say, what don’t I write but that does not satisfy the answer. I feel as though I write everything, so to me what matters most is why I write. I am a very spontaneous person in my every day conversational life. I say things unfiltered, I have my foot in my mouth half of the time and I mostly prefer that things be that way, with my foot as far away from the brakes as possible. I guess because at the core I am after all open to most people who ask questions with the right intention, however that is a very raw version of me. Yet, there are times when I like to sit back in my thoughts and let things process and do all the feeling that 100 mile a minute me does not give herself the opportunity to sort through.

Have you ever seen a movie that has that one scene where everyone else is doing one thing but one particular character stands out. There they are moving around aimlessly while everyone else in the scene is either frozen in time or on the flip side, the whole world is moving around them and they are stagnant. That person is me. Not left behind so to speak or going in one direction without a particular goal. . .but merely in observation of everything and everyone. Right now what I am sorting through is perspective. We all have them. . .good, bad or illogical our perspectives make complete sense to us but sometimes it is good to see things from another point of view.

There are two reactions I receive whenever I tell people I have a son in high school. . .it is either “Oh my god, you don’t look old enough to have a teenager,” to which I always smile in delight, or there is the, “Oh wow, sorry must be tough.” I guess with the way that a lot of kids act lately the latter response is warranted however it is sad. Why do people have such poor expectations of teenagers, they must forget who raised this generation.

As my son has gotten older, we have developed a different kind of relationship, one that I myself am amazed with. I understand him better than I ever have. He can articulate his feelings and without using these exact words he knows how to let me know when I am being a jerk. I am definitely one of those moms who takes no crap, however, I am human. I have yelled too much, or expected too much and even at times shared too much. I hurt feelings, I brighten his day, I am sure I even inflict terror but those are all things of a very wide spectrum of parenting.

The first time I held him in my arms I was so afraid. How could someone trust clumsy little me with such precious cargo? I will admit, I dropped him a few times but never on his head, (Jon if you read this, sorry, I love you, forgive me). Yet somehow we have arrived at the age where I can say, in 4 years I will be done. Eighteen is not too far away but from here to then and from then and beyond there is no such thing as done. I cherish every moment with this boy. I could spend hours with him, recording videos on snap chat and playing them in slow motion just because it makes him laugh. . .not just any laugh but this bright smile straight from the heart laugh that makes anyone lose their breath because it feels so good to feel so alive in that moment. Moments go by so fast but I notice everything and there is nothing comparable to what I feel for my son. I look at him in awe because if not for me he would have never been born, I am responsible for him, but also I would not be here and happy if not for him.

I remember his face on my graduation day, it has only been about 8 months since then. I went back and forth in my mind for years. There were nights where I studied for hours, moments when I had to tell him, “not now,” long nights and early mornings and they all led up to that day. I always felt like I was taking something from him, the time and attention he deserved. I felt guilty and even still sometimes but the beauty of life is that you get what you get when you need it most. I walked across the stage as they called my name and in the crowd there he was with a group of my closest family and friends. I held my composure and my excitement. I crossed my tassel the the left and I made my way outside to meet my friends. I hugged everyone as they came out, and anxiously awaited my sons arrival from inside the stadium. Suddenly there he was, he rushed to me, hugged me and as he cradled my head in his hand he said to me, “everything you have done, has been for me, I am proud of you mom.” . . .and then I lost it. Why? Because perspective. We tarnish a lot of things because of perspective. I felt like a bad mother because of my perspective but Jonathan’s perspective was all I needed to realize that mine was clouded. I am so thankful for my son and happy to be filling the pages of our lives with irreplaceable moments.