Love is Messy / Dirty Thirty

Shortly after my father’s suicide I was afforded the opportunity to work in a small “love based” co-op preschool as an aide to a teacher with a powerful gift. I admired her self-assured style and her ability to wrangle, motivate and inspire 30 people with underdeveloped impulse control. Essential were my mornings of singing, laughing, dirt and the continuous cycle of genuine affection. I would return home to an expensive but weirdly hostile condo where I spent a great deal of time in séance with my father over vodka and sci-fi movies. Despite the split screen to my days, those bright and authentic relationships I had in the school pushed me forward. “Whatever floats your boat” took on new meaning. Babies and vodka kept my boat from sinking.  Miss A was an absorbing super-star to these children and I supported her with admiration, beaming each time she whipped out one of her favorite routines. When she was feeling it, often when she or a child were having a bad day, she would ask the class, “Do you think so and so needs some crazy love?”


We would all circle up and she would instruct us to pull out our imaginary crazy  love. “What color would you like?” She would ask the recipient. They would shyly or exuberantly answer and we would all pretend to paint our gifts. “Would you like some glitter?” The answer was always yes and we would get out our “glue” and then poor Miss A would make a whole mess and exclaim over it, “How messy! But that’s okay because…..”


The whole class would chant.

“Now what is (kiddo’s) job?”

“To receive it!” We’d reply.

“Open your arms,” she would command, “Are you ready? Pull it back, back, back a little more,” sling shots ready………….



16-29 I allowed people in to my life who never asked or considered what color I would like or whether or not I might want glitter. I thought I had something to learn from their self assured stomping, I thought it was some worldliness I lacked. I’d even call over the grown ass person picking scabs, pouting in the corner and refusing to play, on the auspices that they would be moved to consideration through some act of spiritual osmosis. “I care about their feelings so hard! Soon they will care about mine.” In denial I hadn’t realized I was even thinking that second sentence.

They don’t, they won’t. And while most of us are slinging crazy love, my openness allowed just plain crazy to bulldoze right through all of it. Can I be over that?

Before his death my dad made amends. He made amends a few times, prompting my mom to guffaw, “Is he okay?! I know I’m laughing but I’m serious. He has never apologized for anything!”

I think we were in his kitchen. “How did you do this, Abby? How did you transform so quickly?”

He was very proud of my yoga teacher status.

“Good people. Yoga. Psychedelic plant medicines,” I only thought to say after his death.

“I’m not sure,” was all that manifested.

He admired my “by my bootstraps” grit he told me.

“You never bitch,” declared the man who 9 years early had unsuccessfully attempted to have me diagnosed with Obstinate Defiant Disorder because I bitched so hard.

At 16,  I realized suicide was icky no matter what. It spewed black.  And you never really know who will be affected how because we don’t usually tell each other those things. It’s rare to attend your own funeral. “I’m so naked and defeated, I’ll probably always be suicidal,” I’d self-flagellate. “This world isn’t for people like me,” I’d say in my mind, both aggrandizing and punishing my false sense of self. “I can do the most good by staying back.” Fall asleep at the wheel though? So I thought I’d go on some sort of inner journey of ego-suicide, the kind we hear preached in religion. I believed my purpose was to just “love everybody” but I excluded my own inner being out of fear of losing love. My fear created a toxic passive oozing through life. My healthy ego withered. Yin as all get out.
Psychologist call it co-dependence.  I just thought that by yielding to other’s unconscious needs and obvious wants that I was being good and nice.

Ew. Sick. Nast.

When you make the decision to love and nurture yourself and when you allow yourself to be seen (vulnerability is the word!) you will be called brave or stupid.


That feedback is all I need to know just who is worth getting dirty for.

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