grayscale photo of bare tree

I Can Be Your Friend, Baby…

I don't know what you 
Think I am,
You look at me
Like a lion looks 
At a lamb.
I can be your friend, baby
But you can't be my man,
I don't know just
What you think I am.

I said you can hold on
But you can't hold onto me,
You can shoot me 
That sweet half-smile
But you won't shake my tree.
You can hold on, Honey,
But I won't let you hold onto me
I am all burnt out
But I still have my dignity. 

You set me on your knee
But you should have set me free.
You put your thumbs thru
My belt loops and stood 
Right behind me.
You set me up and 
Knocked me down
Put on a disguise
To hide the clown
That lied and broke
And cruelly cheated me. 

Somewhere down the road
There is a song
Lost amongst the waves
And trees and gone
Out to find a nest
Away from the one
That I loved best
And now it's ghost 
Grows pale and 
Thin and worn.

I've lost my substance
And I've lost my form.
My heart seems to 
Have turned to 
Light and stone.
I might let you carry it
If you promise not to
Try and marry it
I have no love left
To sell or loan. 

I think this is what
I always should have been:
Cold and hardened
I don't need you
You don't need me. 
A case of the blues
A road map soul,
My lucky ace -
Love took it's toll.
You can hold on
But you can't 
Hold onto me. 

Hang the stars back 
In the sky.
I am too old 
To try and 
Try and try.
Their light used to 
Bother me
But now accept 
Romantic remedies
Are but shadows
Of moonbeams
In the eye. 

Do you think that
Life has been sweet
And grand?
Your sweetness is 
Too late to try
An' hold my hand.
I could be your friend, baby
But you can't be my man.
I don't know just
What you think I am....


      1. Ariana

        I get it. Me too! I landed in that place not too long ago, and I found myself thinking it would have been fabulous if I made it there sooner. I’m going to go do all of those things I wanted to do when I was younger but didn’t because I wasn’t in that place yet mentally… sometime after the new year, I’m going to go get my belly button pierced. For me. Because I want to. I know the skin on my tummy is a wreck after what was required to bring my sweet Hannah safely into the world… And so many people are happy to tell me that I should keep that hidden and covered up, and that I certainly shouldn’t adorn it with a bauble, and indeed I have no intention of being exhibitionist about it. But it isn’t for anyone’s gaze but mine. I’m going to be happy seeing it, me, when I practice belly dancing, when I’m standing in the bathroom brushing my teeth… just an example. Sometimes not giving a fuck is a great place to live in ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‡

      2. Ariana

        All of my ear piercings took a long time to heal too. When I got my nose pierced, it didn’t go through as many rounds of infection as some of my ear piercings. I had to take the nose ring out when I joined our former Church, and that piercing healed closed, probably because of how moist the nasal passages are and how vascular. None of my ear piercings did so I happily put those back in when I resigned my membership. I chose not to get my nose re-pierced when we left because things were still a little more physical with Tony, but I’m probably going to get that re-pierced too now that things are calming down a bit there. I always liked a small gem there …so I am expecting infection is a possibility. But my days are giving birth to my own children are certainly over, and the skin on my tummy can’t possibly be any more wrecked than it is. When I was younger I let people’s comments about my weight and size make me self-conscious about getting it, although our former Church would have required me to take that out too. Their leadership has a serious issue with undue control. But I made the choice to be there, so that is not something I can entirely blame them for. But I have wanted one for decades, and it will make me happy still, so get one I will ๐Ÿ˜ I hope you are also able to find something to enjoy ๐Ÿ’œ

      3. Ariana

        I am absolutely not going to disagree with your comments about organized religion. I get it. My former church is profoundly judgmental, profoundly. And I didn’t know that at the time I joined. I joined because of a dream I had that indicated that it would be important for my future marriage. My background meant that in my early twenties I was not an easy person to partner with, and I needed an extremely gentle partner. I felt like it was a path I needed to be on to find my mate, but it was a hard path to be on after the first few years. Resigning came with both complete happiness and intense heartbreak, because while I finally had a freedom from a system I had been wanting for a few years, I also went through a shunning when I resigned. When I do show up to a place of worship now, it’s someplace that I feel very comfortable and unjudged and it has a very open and affirming platform. I don’t actually have a specific set of religious beliefs at this point, just that I want to see everyone else’s beliefs respected. I don’t ever want to have to sit in a sermon where another group is disparaged that way, I even sent the former pastor for one of the places I go and email when he got a little too critical of my former Church during a sermon, because I felt like it wouldn’t help anything. It’s become too easy for us to throw stones at one another. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of very critical things to say about my former Church, but I still think it is important to be respectful of the members and their right to believe a certain way. In general, I don’t know that I’m ever going to feel comfortable enough to join another church. I show up to the places I show up because they have great outreach programs for groups that really matter to me. First church UCC has an extensive program with those experiencing homelessness and immigrants, both of which I help support. In the process of showing up for those things, I’ve made a couple friends and that has enriched my life. But that is as far as it goes… I want to have the freedom to believe and think my own way without having anyone tell me that I have to accept the dogmatic position I don’t agree with ever again.

      4. The Paltry Sum: Detroit Richards

        That sounds moderate, Christian and loving. I don’t believe God gives a shit about us anymore. He has gone. Left the building. I also don’t believe Jesus was his son, or the messiach. I do, however believe in respecting other peoples faith and belief as long as it does not hurt or impose their paradigm on others. Abortion is not the business of anyone other than the woman involved, for instance. The awful Westboro lot and their protesting funerals and thei robsession with gay sex is disgusting. Not their business. I would be happy if people ‘did them’ and let other be who they are.

      5. Ariana

        Well, I don’t believe in Jesus as the literal Messiah either. I think of him as a gifted spiritual teacher who taught some good principals in terms of living one’s life, but I don’t actually identify as Christian even. There’s only a couple of places I am willing to show up when it comes to religious organizations (the unitarians and First Church UCC), and it is because their platforms are built around helping and respecting others, they support marriage equality and many other aspects of social activism that matters to me. One gentleman I was talking to at First Church a couple of weeks ago described it as more of a social club compared to other churches, and I would agree with that.

        They are aware of my views, and they don’t care. They are aware I don’t want to join, and they don’t care. They have seen all the types of eyeshadow I show up in, and they just compliment it instead of raising eyebrows. They’ve met Tony and treated him like a person, and so few people do that. I showed up in sugar skull leggings a couple weeks ago…and nobody batted an eyelash. That is why I prefer to go their over the local UU’s, though my internal beliefs are more in line with that because I am not Christian at this point, it is simply a less formal environment where I feel like every aspect of me is accepted. If anything ever happened to Andy, and I showed up with a woman I was dating, nobody would care. Don’t get me wrong, I think Tony’s situation would make me incredibly undatable…that is merely a hypothetical to explain why my comfort level is where it is. Because assuming I felt like I was in a position where I wanted to date or could date, I’d be open to any gender and I am never again going to want to sit in a pulpit that will try to make me feel badly about that.

        Many religious groups use their influence to harm and hurt. It is an awful thing. The church I resigned from is hardly without blame in that regard. They have done much to contribute to dialogues of oppression. I can never regret my family, and that was how it came together, but I will never stop apologizing for giving that organization any legitimacy by being a member.

        I respect your rights to believe any way you want to, and I don’t even have a clearly defined spiritual belief to contrast it to anyways, only that I want to see everyone loved and respected <3

      6. Ariana

        It was traumatic. It ripped my heart out all over again, really. I had already lost plenty of friends because they didn’t find Tony’s situation compatible for them, and I wasn’t even asking those people to be involved! I’m mentally going to have to break my fingers to keep from ranting about the shunning, both hard and soft. I knew there were going to be some people who distanced themselves and walked away, because even though shunning isn’t an official doctrine for that group, it is often what happens because that church teaches that anyone who leaves has chosen absolute evil, but it ended up being worse than it was. I had one person who would only say hi to me in public if we were with a member of our therapy team. Another person who went to pretending she didn’t know me even if we had a therapist with us. Text messages from people while they were at church telling me they missed me but refusing any other contact and turning down invitations to visit. There’s more, and some of it involves things that targeted Hannah and I won’t speak of it without her permission. It was heartbreaking and two years of pure hell emotionally. So, I went through a couple of years where I really didn’t want to talk to new people because of it, but I have been slowly coming out of that (obviously).

        And no, I didn’t really feel accepted in our former church. They have a very strong anti-LGBT+ position. There was a lot of drama between me and church members, situations over me wearing pants to church, being asked if I was using steroids’ because I as a woman build muscle easily, just a lot of things. I already rant a lot here…so it’s probably not a subject to get me too started on, because I can go off an a long hike down the road of verbosity when it comes to either one of those topics.

        Let’s just say I can understand why anybody would never want to walk through another church door ever again. But, I didn’t want to be scarred in ways that controlled my behavior that way, because then I felt like they would have won. And I will never give them that, I am trying to have as healthy of a relationship as I can with religious groups that I can feel good about. Take good care of yourself, and thank you for commiserating a bit with me <3

      7. The Paltry Sum: Detroit Richards

        You were judged and bullied and also your child bullied by the sounds of it, in the very place you should have been loved and protected. That is a devastating betrayal. I am so very sorry that happened to you and your family. It sounds about right to me – harsh, judgemental, superiority complex-ridden, cruel and unloving. It must have really hurt you. The shunning aspect – losing your friends and family must have hurt so badly. I don’t know you very well, but I do know you are a sweet and kind and sensitive soul and it would have hurt all the more.
        If you ever need to talk about stuff you know where I am. Have you ever had a relationship with a woman? Did you feel unsafe because of that within the church?
        The people who have been most cruel to me and my children were Christians, and put me and them in a lot of danger….now don’t get me started, or I will start ranting with you!

      8. Ariana

        Ms. Sum, some of the actions I described were done by people who were some of my closest friends at the time. It’s been nearly 3 years, and I’m still struggling not to cry just even saying that into my microphone for this comment. One of the women, I had been friends with for 19 years. It was devastating. There sometimes feels like there is no limit to the depth of breaking heart can do. But it was a price I was willing to pay to be free and live the values I believe in. I try my best to remember that they are a product of the system and the teachings of that church. They really believe that I am spiritually dangerous to them now, and that too much contact with me could impact their eternal salvation and afterlife. And perhaps some of them recognize that if they actually asked me why it could put them in a position to know things that could make them want to leave too, which can be socially very devastating.

        Among the many things that I can say about myself but that I rarely choose to discuss publicly, I can unfortunately say that I am an incest survivor. By the time I left my parents house, I went through period of time where I didn’t really want anybody to touch me that way. By the time I had been through enough counseling to be a comfortable and mostly whole partner for somebody, I was already a member of that church and you better believe that was not an option to have a relationship with anybody but a man. Now at 45, I am very comfortable with all aspects of healthy sexuality (and in many ways I have Andy and his gentleness and understanding and respect for my boundaries when I still struggled with flashbacks early in our relationship) and all aspects of who I am attracted to, but I wasn’t as a young woman. And my desire to protect myself from other predators was so strong I kept everybody away from me in that respect, and I didn’t know how to frame my sexuality because it wasn’t really much discussed when I was growing up. You were either gay or you weren’t. And I’ve known since elementary school I was attracted to both, so I didn’t know what box in the eyes of others that put me in at the time I was struggling to come to grips with all of this, I just knew I didn’t want to be fetishized or seen as an accessory for a man’s sexual fantasies because I could be just as into that. My walls were pretty thick. One of Andy’s friends had cautioned him against dating me, I had known him for a couple years before we started dating. The friend felt I was too reserved, and that was accurate at the time. I didn’t let many people get genuinely in because I didn’t want to until I felt like I had learned enough healthy skills that I could be the kind of person that someone capable of having a healthy relationship would want.

        And thank you for your offer, it means the world to me ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ

      9. Ariana

        And, it’s okay. You can rant anytime ๐Ÿ’œ I have found that judgmental people can be found on many paths, but unfortunately, it is very common especially amongst conservative Christians… But you can find some genuinely loving people in that space also.

      10. The Paltry Sum: Detroit Richards

        I don’t see where your last comment has gone! I just wanted to say that I am so very sorry to hear you were abused in that way, and I hear you, and see you and recognize your suffering. Ill write properly later…just got a few chores to do. Solidarity x

      11. Ariana

        Those experiences don’t define who I am. They impacted me, of course, and I can’t get past that. But, there are people who go through worse things than I did, and I know it. I had a therapist once who told me I should stop saying that because she felt like I was using it to invalidate my pain, among other things, I’m not really going to repeat the rest of what she said because I don’t want anyone to feel any sorrier for me, and it’s a telling statement in some ways. But, I don’t invalidate my pain. And I don’t excuse what happened. Yet, I recognize I had and continue to have it better than some, and my heart will always be turned that way. Thank you for caring <3

      12. The Paltry Sum: Detroit Richards

        I am a survivor. I get it. I don’t know your pain, but I know mine and I know how hard it is to survive it. You are valid, and so is what you feel. I hear you, sweetie. You matter. What happened to you matters, and what it did to your soul and psyche was awful.

      13. Ariana

        Truly, I only feel privileged that you have given up some of your own valuable time to chat with me. I appreciate your kindness ๐Ÿ’œ

      14. The Paltry Sum: Detroit Richards

        I am not being kind, sweetie, I care. It is important for those of us who survived to say “I hear and see you and you are valid”. I really do care. I am so sorry you got hurt, and so very sorry you lost your brother too. All my love and respect..

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