I found this in Chicago, and apparently it’s a little bit of a thing. I’ve come across pictures of other instances on Flickr, though none of the one I saw. I wish I’d snapped a phone pic of it, because I’m utterly infatuated with this concept.

I try to live my life in a state of love. Love without expectation of reward, love without demand, love without judgment. I fail abysmally at this in some ways, and I’m always trying to do better. Right? As it should be.

But there’s more. Love AND. Love and respect. Love and joy. Sometimes, love and pain.

I revel in being able to love as my heart chooses. Sometimes I may actually be a bit reckless with it, but I’ve never regretted it. Not once.

I came back from my little vacation with LOV& on my heart and on my skin. Maybe I should ink it permanently, somewhere small yet visible, as a constant reminder of what I live my life to do.

There’s a hole in my love bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza…

In chatting with a friend, I realized something that’s holding me back at times from being more authentic and free with my emotions. I want so badly to pour my love back into the world, and yet I keep running into situations where I struggle to find the resources.

That’s because there’s probably a hole in my love bucket, and I’m struggling to fill it effectively.

My partner is amazing. He works so hard to give me what I need, and as the sole provider of partner-centered emotional and romantic support in my life, he does a damned good job. Unfortunately, I’m a part of a rather full plate belonging to a partner who doesn’t naturally speak my love language, and it’s sometimes just not enough to refill what’s been spent.

In addition, I find that when I’m off-kilter or ill at ease, my bucket doesn’t stay full the same way. I can’t retain the energy I receive as long, and I have to keep coming back for more frequent refills. This is not uncommon, but it’s definitely a contributor to my struggles.

I depend so heavily on connection with people to recharge. I find the most fulfilling and useful source of emotional energy is spending time with one or more of a select handful of intimates, rather than larger crowds. This is why I still call my best friend from high school with troubles that don’t actually make sense to her, as she’s not at all poly or even terribly kinky: she accepts the fact that these things are a bit of a foreign concept for her, she accepts my descriptions and feelings without hesitation, and has years of experience in finding ways to support me and make me feel better.

My issue is that I’m struggling to get this filled locally, and I have seen too much of the bottom of the bucket of late.

Connecting with new people is consistently challenging for me. I’m not a particularly private soul – as mentioned in other writings, I don’t actually find discussing my life in all its ups and downs to be a terribly intimate act in and of itself. I do, however, find it a huge challenge to create that intimate feeling. It’s easy to tell a sad story and have someone reach out emotionally to me. It’s much more challenging to actually feel the ping come back and understand that the person I’m speaking to may actually have a deeper concern for my personal well-being, not just as a character in the story I’ve just told.

A fairly new acquaintance showed a radical talent for creating this intimate space for me, and I’m rather floored by how easily it seemed to appear. Perhaps this is from extensive practice, perhaps something else – I’m not entirely sure. What I do know is that after spending time in that space, I came back to my world with a renewed energy and wielding a full-to-the-brim bucket. This wasn’t a permanent state, and I can definitely feel it leaking a bit, but it was an amazing reminder that I CAN refill my bucket effectively. I just need to work harder at finding useful ways of doing so.

“Take the weakest thing in you / And then beat the bastards with it”

In case y’all couldn’t tell, I’ve been percolating on the concepts of attachment and investment lately, and that ties into how I process and express love in my life.

Stars is one of my favorite bands, and I’ve been listening to their two more recent albums at work of late. This song is from The North, and though I fell in love with it the first time I heard it I think it’s become even more relevant to my thoughts this week. I’m claiming it as my anthem.

“Take the weakest thing in you
And then beat the bastards with it
And always hold on when you get love
So you can let go when you give it”

There are two incredibly powerful concepts there that have been smacking me around a bit, and I think maybe writing them out could help me settle them down.

What is the weakest thing in me? Is it how much I crave connection? The sense that for a moment, I’m the only thing someone sees? Is it the horrible, sneering voice that still pops up sometimes to remind me that everything I have and everything I am could be taken away in an instant? Or is it my insecurities – the fear that I’m not actually the person I’m trying to be, that it’s just a farce and that someday the facade will crumble, showing the world the cold, lonely creature inside?

It doesn’t actually matter which one is my truest weak spot, because they’re all BULLSHIT. They’re natural cracks in the foundation, and we all have them. They’re real enough in that we have to deal with them, but as a general rule they’re not actually founded in reality. So why not turn these dark little monsters into weapons in their own war? Taking ownership of my fears, my insecurities, lets me wield them against each other to remind me how weak they are. For that sneering voice, the sweetest revenge is a life well lived, and I’m working towards that more each day.

Taking care of these insecurities makes it easier to practice the kind of love I strive to live. The cracks make it harder to accept love as genuinely given, and harder still to keep hold of it when it’s not actively being pushed at me. And seriously, if you’re like me and you’ve tried to love the world without being able to keep hold of some yourself, it doesn’t work very well.

I’m still working on those cracks. Found a couple tonight that needed tending, and it’s amazing the difference that a little maintenance can make. Taking care of them, though, lets me work on living as I desire: open, fearless, and with a bottomless well of love.

Clockwork Girl Seeks the Definition of Intimacy

I don’t write much. I always want to write more – I feel like I SHOULD write more – but I’m not exactly sure where that pressure originates.

Part of the issue is that I tend to float in and out of touch with the internet. Sometimes I feel like I have nothing of value to add to the conversation – not because what I feel isn’t important, but because sharing it adds nothing to the situation.

The other part is that I struggle to define what I hope to get out of sharing things. I could write for weeks and weeks on what I think, how I feel, what’s going through my mind, and I’m sure I’d get some comments. Maybe I’d even say something profound!

What’s the motivation, though? Is it validation? Parading my words in front of a crowd to hear the cheers of support, the laugh at a witty turn of phrase – it rings hollow for me. I don’t mind sharing my thoughts and feelings with people who genuinely want to know, but I don’t want to wave my traumas like a flag for attention.

Then again, there’s the catharsis. Letting it boil up and out and not caring who hears or sees, how ragged I look or how broken I am at that moment in time. Baring myself like that burns, but the healing is sweeter for it. Sometimes it brings new perspective, and sometimes those cheers of support are actually a balm.

I’ve started commenting more on things of late. I was pointed to a conversation where I think I had something relevant and hopefully insightful to contribute. And then I saw another, and another. I find myself sharing more and more about my life, and I don’t mind it – but I have to wonder where the “too intimate” line is and what might qualify as TMI.

I don’t actually consider sharing my life stories all that intimate. Telling others about the traumas in my life tends to shift the way people view me, and sometimes I don’t like that change. My skin crawls to think about the faces people make when I tell them about some of the more…pivotal moments. I don’t share my stories for pity. I share it for context, to give nuance to the puzzle that I am.

So I learned cut out the middle man, make it all for everybody, always. Everybody can’t turn around and tell everybody, everybody already knows, I told them. But this means there isn’t a place in my life for you or someone like you. Is it sad? Sure. But it’s a sadness I chose. – Childish Gambino, That Power

Not entirely relevant, but this always strikes me. Part of me wants to rip away the covering and let everybody see my gears at work, because then it’s all out and up to the world. Abdicating responsibility by dumping my life into the public eye and “Do as thou wilt.”

But that feels so incredibly selfish and arrogant to me. It’s screaming at everyone around me, forcing knowledge upon them without their consent. Does everyone need to know all the things all the time? Who am I to push my story to the eyes and ears of those who have no vested interest in me?

I am not a tragic figure, nor a powerful heroine. I am a creation, an awkwardly constructed framework with a personality built over and over again to try and connect with the world in a way that’s meaningful, that’s powerful. The world can already see what I am, who I am – it’s all there for those who take the time to investigate. Nothing stays hidden for long because everything’s shifting, always ticking away. Talk to me long enough and you’ll know all my secrets.

It’s not the sharing of them that’s the intimate part, though. It’s only intimate if you listen.