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Monday, January 13, 2014

Delicate. Like a Flower.

It has been nearly a month since my last post- the longest stretch since I started this blog.  What have I been doing? Let's just say December had a lot of stormy weather and I was worn out. You see I am delicate. Fragile.  Like a flower.  I do not always come out the other side of storms in good shape. I am not a fir tree, though I admire them tremendously. But I did not forget... in the midst of the stormy weather, when my 'what ifs' swirled around...to ask another question. What would?  What would Steve do? What would my dad do? What would a fir tree do? 

Steve would tether the faux Christmas tree to the wall and put only the unbreakables on it, so that the kitten could enjoy it. He would laugh at her often and consider leaving it up a bit longer...Valentine's decorations? Shamrocks?  And so it remains. I have learned to play peek-a-boo and tag with the ninja cat.

Dad would carry on at work, even through stormy times.  Be a good parent. Help a friend when their family receives a cancer diagnosis. And so I have and so I will continue to do.

A fir tree would sway in the wind, occasionally a large and weakened branch would snap off. Frightening at times, but also comforting as the wind sings through the needles, sometimes so loudly that it sounds as though the trees say an endless, "Hushhhhhhhhhhhh" Be still. And so I have snapped a few times, but also spent many moments being still, listening to the trees.


One hair. That is all it takes to make me momentarily, yet utterly, mad! One hair, from my own head no less. Escaped from a follicle and on the lamb; hiding out in my sweater trying to pass itself off as part of my bra strap. For those who do not know me, I believe that from the outside…on most days…assuming it is not a full moon and I do not have low blood sugar…I look positively normal.  Common. Perhaps a bit too bold, with a propensity to curse like a longshoreman. Ah, but tis careful deception.

The truth of it is, I am special...so special…I gotta have some of your attention! No, wait, I’ve gone off-track. I am a different sort of special. “Delicate”, I like to say. “Like a flower,” I may add, with a smirk and a chuckle, knowing full well that a flower is the least likely metaphor friend or foe would use to describe this character and body of mine.
And yet just one hair…that’s all it takes…like the “Princess and the Pea”, I am thrown into discomfort and unrest. As a rogue stray makes its way down my shirtfront, or worse yet- down the back, my hands begin to clutch and claw.  It starts with a bit of fidgeting and tugging at my shirt. A quick glance about to see if anyone’s looking. I take a peek inside, quickly scanning the bosom area for the evil scratching at my fragile skin. Sometimes I get lucky and pluck it out.  Most often I do not. More than once I have been caught in the act, staring intently with one hand down my shirt front as a co-worker or my boss rounds the corner to ask me a question. “I’ve got a hair,” I say. Yes, I’m sure that explains it all. 


Two choices exist at that point- escape to a restroom stall to dismantle my clothing and search and destroy the lone hair that cuts like a dagger, causing welts where I scratch.
The second option is less correct in our society, yet desperate times call for desperate measures. Now I have the decency not to ask others to search my bosom, but if a hair has gotten down the back of my shirt, that’s a different thing entirely. Family, friends, co-workers; if I have known them more than a fortnight they are fair game! With panicked eyes and a pleading voice, “I have this hair…can you just look for me…”, I immodestly turn my back side to the poor soul.  If you are a man, and not related to me, you will probably be spared the sight of my bare back as I roll my shirt up to the bra strap. “Do you see it?!” I ask, as I squirm in distress.  “NO? Look here!” and I pull up my hair with one hand, draw out the neck on the back of my shirt and do my best, aged attempt at a back bend in order to provide my poor victim/rescuer with a good view.  If you are a close female friend or relative and you dare to say, “No…I don’t see anything”…as you pat, pat, pat on my back, I may usher you into better light to help you out.


Try though I might to act tough and strong, bold and brave…I am fragile. Delicate. Like a flower. My skin is thin and I feel much. A therapist once told me I was extremely “porous”. Soaking up the emotions of others. This link to a paper from Trinity University provides a description from Ernest Hartmann’s Boundaries in the Mind. “There are those with thin or porous boundaries, for whom the realities of dreams and wakefulness are blurry, whose feelings and thoughts run together, who have high empathy with others, and who sometimes are unsure who they are.” Another article about this, in the Psychology Today blog, also paraphrases Hartmann’s book and goes on to explain further. “People with thin boundaries appear to be somewhat unorganized and to operate spontaneously rather than according to a planned schedule.”  This is completely Just Only Judy. Creative people, artists and psychotics (that’s lovely) tend to fall into the porous category. However, they go on to say that less permeable people tend to be thick-skinned both emotionally and physically.  As though wearing a suit of armor.  But this is also Just Only Judy. 


 
Perhaps, having become saturated over the years, I developed the defensive technique of building not so much a suit of armor, but more of a castle and moat. Aha- the Princess is kept safely in the tower…sleeping on peas and spinning the golden hair that itches her back…oh sorry, that’s just me confusing dreams and reality again.


I dislike public displays of affection and handholding, which is apparently common among those with less porous, thicker boundaries.  I have forced myself to hug friends and family more often, having realized that the physical distance created emotional distance. I have been called 'hard' and 'distant'. But if I do not know you, or I am feeling tense, itchy or hot, please be so kind as to keep a couple of feet between us…keep your toes out of my moat damnit! Try though I might to protect my porosity in this manner…the real me comes sneaking out of the castle when the guards aren’t looking. It is visible when I cry for the hardships of people I have never met, rally the forces for friends in need and fight to protect our natural environment. Visible in the manifest metaphor of just one hair. The real me. Delicate. Like a flower, damnit.