Hot PenguinDoes anyone else out there hate summer? I can’t stand it. Once the temperature gets above 75°F, if there’s not a cool breeze blowing, my brain starts to feel all fuzzy and my body just doesn’t seem to function well. I get light-headed. I don’t understand the fascination with saunas or steam rooms, either. To be honest, I don’t know the difference between the two. They both seem to be made of the same brand of suffocation torture. I can’t put more than my feet in a hot tub unless it’s outside and it’s actively snowing on my head. Even then, I have to take frequent breaks. And hot yoga just seems like a heart attack waiting to happen.

We’re having a heat wave here in the pacific northwest and every sales clerk or stranger you pass on the street makes a comment about the beautiful weather while I daydream about having the power to make it rain on their parade. That’s not even satisfying because rain would only add mugginess to my misery at this point, not relief. What I really want is a nice, cool, cool breeze to blow throughout the land.

There’s not a sensory thing with heat so far as I know. Full disclosure, I didn’t look it up or anything. It’s too hot out for that kind of effort.

It’s probably part of touch. Or maybe interoception, and means I have trouble regulating my temperature. It makes sense that it would be, as I was the only kid in my Colorado high school who would show up in shorts for Hawaiian day in mid-January. Either way, Mama’s not happy with the mid-80º highs predicted for the foreseeable future.

People are supposed to like heat, right? We’re supposed to like summer. No school in the summer, every kid’s dream. Picnics and baseball and swimming. I actually like the swimming part: it’s cooler in the water. To be honest, I have fond memories of lightening bugs and guessing cloud shapes as a kid. Shelling purple hull peas with my grandmother and biting into a slice of homegrown watermelon so juicy it felt like my entire body was covered in red deliciousness.

But I also remember trying to help with yard work and breaking out in a sweat just picking up a rake. My mother insisting I lay out in the sun to get a tan while I counted the minutes until I could go back inside the house. I was supposed to want to be tan. And I remember visiting Texas last summer, the only member of my family not outside enjoying the pool mid-day because walking out in the sun for even a minute made it feel as if I were going to evaporate.

So, I’m supposed to like the heat, but I don’t.

That reminds me of an angry letter I sent to someone more than twenty years ago. (I know, seems like a stretch, but bear with me…) Talking about it with my therapist recently prompted me to go looking for the copy I made before sending it.

I was flabbergasted to find it didn’t say what I’d thought it said. Oh, the anger was all there, but the things I wrote that I was angry about were all wrong. It was all about actions I thought were missing from the relationship. I was right about some, wrong about others, but that doesn’t really matter because not one of the actions I cited would have made me happy. They were all things I thought were supposed to go on in that sort of relationship, but they weren’t what I really wanted.

Looking back, no wonder it confused the hell out of the recipient.

I’d written about how I thought I was supposed to be treated. And in a superficial way, at that. What I was angry about was how I was treated and how it made me feel.

MrGWarmingI felt small and insignificant, weak and useless.

It was an abusive relationship, though I didn’t have the distance to characterize it as such then.

Part of the reason I couldn’t see it that way was I thought that was how I was supposed to be treated. I thought what was missing was the superficial, showy stuff.

I realize now that those things would only have suffocated my spirit faster. I needed to feel loved, but instead I felt intimidated and afraid. Afraid of being a disappointment; afraid of being the object of contempt and ridicule; afraid of never earning the approval, respect, and love I so desperately craved.

To hell with supposed to. Feel what you feel and ask for what you need, not what you think you deserve or think you’ve earned or think you’re supposed to want.

Cooled PenguinRight now, what I’m supposed to want is sunshine, but what I need is that cool, cool breeze. And a margarita.