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The first time someone hurled a racial slur at me and meant it playfully. I was confused, unsure whether to feel insulted or to laugh.

The first time someone hurled a racial slur at me and meant it hatefully.

The first time I accepted being called derogatory names…and even joked about it.

When my mother found and read my private journal and threw it at me when I arrived home, furious, calling me a whore and slut. I stopped writing for years.

When my father got falling-down drunk and talked to me candidly, as an adult and as an equal, about my mother.

The first time extraordinarily beautiful music emerged, silky and sensuous, from my clarinet. I remember the scene vividly: a simple challenge in the band room, yet my interpretation stilled the room.  Even the director had to “take a moment.” I was trembling, overcome with emotion, as the last note sounded.

My first standing ovation, flushed, hot, pumped, proud that my music had touched others, loving the thrill of performing solo.

The first time my brother threatened me and all I did was cry and acquiesce, scared by the menace on his face.

The first time my brother touched me and I didn’t say no. I didn’t even beg or plead. I just disappeared into myself.

The first time I had sex.  I wondered if I could enjoy physical play absent coercion. I could. I did.

The first time I made love, late into adulthood. Until then, I’d had affectionate sex, caring sex, even loving sex…but it was not making love and I refused to call it that until it really happened.

When my sons were born, inhaling their wonderful baby scent, eyes closed and dreamy, loving the feel of them, the weight of them, lying so warm and trustingly in my arms.

When the plane landed and a beautiful baby girl, smiling, bright-eyed, cheery, was carried out to meet us, to join our family.

The phone call to let me know my father was dying. The sadness knowing he had barely lived, so controlled was he.

Finding the strength to walk away from a bad first marriage. Striking out on my own with nothing but optimism and faith in myself.

The moment my second marriage died in my heart, long ago, too long ago. I overstayed my welcome by about 10 years. I should have trusted my instincts.

The moment my second marriage died officially, sitting alone in a judge’s chamber with a box of tissues placed before me. I felt nothing. Not sadness, not happiness, not relief. Nothing. No tears, no tissues required. Dead. I was emotionally dead.

Coming back to life post-divorce, giving my heart, completely and forever, to someone, trusting his earnest words that he would care for it – and me – tenderly and always.

Reeling my heart back in, terribly slowly, painfully, and in teeny-tiny pieces when he no longer wanted it.

The first time yoga brought me peace and then awfully close to bliss.

The first time I overcame my horrific fear of public speaking to share my love for yoga.

Owning my first home with no co-signer, no fall back person, no safety net. I had vaguely expected bells and confetti with the stroke of my pen. What I’ve gotten, however, are bells and confetti everyday, wrapping me in the joy of having a place to call my own.

Discovering being alone is pretty darned wonderful. It’s far better than being alone in a relationship. And the covers are the perfect weight, warm, enveloping, just the way I like them.

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