Milo sat gingerly on the edge of his seat, staring off into space. Patience, his friends in the Circling Community had advised this morning when he told them about the text message exchanges he had had with Phillip this week. You don’t have to have it all figured out right now. Milo had asked for support as he was recognizing the need to begin emotionally preparing for Phillip’s visit next month. Without the whole context, Phillip’s text messages would likely sound scandalous to the average person, but Milo’s friends continued to demonstrate the capacity to really get it, and for that, Milo was very grateful. “Okay, I can try. Slow down,” he whispered to himself. Breathing in, Milo observed his breath for five beats. Breathing out, Milo observed his breath for seven beats, allowing a few beats in between. A flashback of a time with Kari intruded into his thoughts as he kept attempting to center himself with his breath in the present moment. Tears arose at the back of his eyes. He refused to let them fall. He just wasn’t in the mood. I know it’s not weak to have emotions but right now in this very moment I’m resisting them on purpose. A few squeaked out the sides anyway. Not surprising, he thought with a wry smile. Powerless over that too.
Milo was in the trenches these days. Although the Others seemed to understand what he was going through, Milo knew he’d have to continue reaching outside of his internal committee in order to continue growing in a direction reflective of his true North. Milo had been exuberant during a recent SLAA meeting when the Lead Speaker described something that he knew deep down but had been unable to accept as a possibility before hearing someone else share the difficulty. The Speaker in the meeting had shared about the ways in which childhood conditioning through trauma had led to split off parts of his intimacy capabilities with each gender. The Speaker shared that the particular dynamics of his family of origin had led to a form of disorganized attachment within which the Speaker experienced sexual attraction in his body toward one gender while experiencing emotional repulsion toward that same gender. The Speaker also shared that the reverse occurred to him as his experience as well: emotional attraction toward one gender while experiencing sexual repulsion/phobic response toward that same gender. Milo was still trying to figure out how to describe this or talk about this and how to explain it to himself or others. I should find that Speaker and reach out to him, Milo thought. But so far Milo had been too chicken for that.
It’s only a pointer, Milo thought, reassuring himself and bringing himself back to the present moment. It doesn’t matter if anyone else understands right now. What matters most is that I am starting to understand it, he let out a birthday candle blowing breath in an attempt to increase the messaging to his parasympathetic nervous system.
Milo thought more about his current experience in the greasy grief trough he found himself in lately. He felt proud of himself for relying on his Higher Power more often and more consistently. He felt proud also of having completed eleven days straight of trading Miracle Lists with his long-time friend who had joined him as a fellow traveler in Codependents Anonymous soon after Kari left. Most of all, Milo felt proud of his willingness to experience the Zoom call that was now planned to take place at 4:30 pm CST today. The Zoom call he had agreed to have. With. A. Boy.
The boy - Phillip - wasn’t really a boy anymore except in Milo’s imagined fantasy which was actually really a memory. Milo paused for a moment to contemplate the fascination he experienced whenever he attempted to pull apart fantasy from reality, dreams for waking life, imagination from the sensory experience of the present moment. The boy Phillip was now the same chronological age as Dr. Flo; therefore, the boy Phillip was really a man. Milo swallowed hard and put his hands on his chest near his heart, reminding himself to have compassion for himself and the Others, “I am alright right now. I am alright right now,” he repeated the mantra he had learned in yoga class to slow his breathing and self-soothe. Wait a minute, Milo thought! I’m not sure this memory of the boy Phillip is mine. “Chop?” Milo called out, “Chop, are you around?” He waited. He heard nothing. He wasn’t surprised. He wished he could run and hide from these sensations; he certainly couldn’t blame Chop for deciding to do so. Eventually he would have to consult Chop on this one though. He had a feeling that he and Chop were going to be spending a lot more time together in the upcoming months.
Milo closed his eyes, allowing himself to access the memory that truly was Chop’s. He could see through Chop’s eyes as she looked through the thin glass portion of the door that led into Chop’s seventh grade home room class. The door to the classroom was heavy, but Chop was just glad she had made it on time. It was her first day of seventh grade, and she felt so grown up at her new school where all the students seventh grade and beyond were required to switch classrooms throughout the day. Responsible for getting herself to each class for the first time, she felt emboldened as she sat down in a chair toward the back of the room, sliding her backpack down in front of her. It wasn’t until she had situated herself, her books, her notebook, and her freshly sharpened pencil that she allowed herself to look up and inspect the rest of the room. That was the first time she saw him. Sitting a few seats down to her left. The boy Phillip. Blonde hair, blue eyes, a Southern twang, and most noticeably a soft, warm, comfortable grin. He was one of a few boys that caught Chop’s eye that day, and she continued to watch him throughout that year in her seventh grade home room which ironically just happened to be Bible class. Chop’s crush on Phillip grew throughout the year and continued to grow over the summer before eighth grade when Chop read a fiction book about a girl her age who began dating a boy who happened to be named Phillip. Chop spent a lot of time fantasizing that summer about becoming that girl in the story book. Chop’s fantasy life about Philip was brought to a screeching halt about half way through her eighth grade year when Chop’s best girl friend Tracey actually began living Chop’s fantasy with Phillip. Once that happened, Chop couldn’t tell who she felt more jealous and envious toward…Phillip or Tracey. Back then Chop thought it was either/or. More likely it was both/and.
Milo was pulled from his reverie by a tug on his sleeve. He opened his eyes and found that Chop had chosen not to hide after all. She looked up at him and beckoned toward his lap, doing her best to ask for what she needed. Milo pulled Chop up into his lap, holding her tightly, stroking her hair. He let the tears fall as they held each other.
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