acceptance · humility · recovery · self-acceptance · work

“Finding His Way”




Today will be my first day of training for women’s clothing
sales at Neiman Marcus.
I never imagined I’d write that, but I’m not ashamed of it
either. Nervous? Yes. Worried I will have to be aggressive to make sales?
Yes. A little trepidatious at having to learn all new things about brands and
quotas and sales targets? Yes.
Grateful? You bet.
An interesting thing happened the other day. I was asking a
friend about a guy we both know, who I’d just met: What does he do for a living?
“He’s a server. He dropped out of law school. He’s finding
his way.”
Aren’t we all, I replied.
And I noticed something. Although I still believe that
pursuing our passions and earning a
livable wage are ideals for me in my own life and in the life of a potential
romantic partner, when I heard what this notably attractive man did for a
living, I accepted it.
This, is new for me. Call me a snob, and perhaps I have
been, but because of my own vicious drive to “do something” worthy in my
lifetime, because of my own aching need to “move the needle of human progress
forward” through my employment, I have been judgmental of my own jobs. And of
But I noticed that I didn’t have that same snobbery come up when
told about this guy’s job. Perhaps, I have gained – or been brought down to – a
level of humility around what people are doing in and with their lives.
Which means, perhaps I am finding that same compassion and
acceptance for myself. Perhaps. Maybe. Surprisingly.
Do I still want to do work that enlivens me and helps others
on their own path? Yes. But I am accepting where I am today for the first time
in a long time.
Partly, it’s because I’m taking action outside of my
“regular work hours” to engage in activities like acting, and singing, and
getting ready to make this video-ask to help get an art studio. Perhaps now,
for reasons unknown to me, I am beginning to call those other hours worthy,
enough, more than enough. And they begin to settle the aching gnaw of “WHAT ARE
YOU GOING TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE???” that dogs my every step.
Perhaps, although this new work could be considered
not “high” employment (working toward a greater good and utilizing my skills
and talents), perhaps I’ve just become grateful to have any employment at all.
Or at the very least, employment that doesn’t sit me behind a computer screen
40 hours a week.
I am delighted and surprised at this internal shift. This loosening
of the noose around myself and others’ over how they pay their rent. Obviously,
it’s none of my business what others do for work, but it’s a question we all
seem to ask nonetheless. And in its answering, we begin to categorize and label
people according to a caste system.
Maybe it’s realizing I’m part of the caste of people who are
bright, creative, and longing. I am one of those “finding his way.”
I have found a compassion and acceptance of this place.
(Though the shrewd part of me wonders if that means I’ll now move into the “found”
category because of my new “achievement/enlightenment”… And I can offer a wry smile to that “never good enough” part of myself.)
To finding our way, be we server or CEO – Humans, all. 

acceptance · boundaries · disappointment · family · father · recovery · sadness · self-love · truth · vulnerability

My Own Private Fan Club.




“I’m a fan of you, Molly Daniels, in your entirety,” he
Granted we later slept together. But I digress.
I had the good fortune to spend time last night with several
women I admire. I shared with them what’s going on with my father and my
having to make the decision to attend his wedding in lieu of performing in the
play in which I’m cast.
One of them reflected: “I’m sorry your dad is not able to
see you.”
And when I listen to this more deeply and clearly, it is a
bell of truth.
The fantasy and illusion I’ve abided by for years has been
that if I am a good daughter, a good girl, a devoted and doting woman, then I
will be seen. The delusion is that my people-pleasing will make him see me. But. This is false.
I have tried many times, this path of behaving. And I’ve
tried its opposite, being a wanton, crazed, rebellious teen and young adult, in
order to be seen.
But what struck me this morning was this image: You know
when someone has a lazy eye, and you’re not really sure where to look, so
sometimes you just look at their forehead? Or if you’re trying to avoid
someone’s eye for another reason, you focus somewhere else that sort of looks like you’re looking at them, but you’re not?
That’s how I feel with my dad. That he never actually looks
directly at me, which is why I’ve tried to make the trappings around me so much
larger or different or “approvable” or “disapprovable.” If you can’t see me,
maybe you’ll see the life I’ve built that meets with your military/engineer’s strict
sense of correct.
If I have the job you can brag about, … but that’s not me. I
am not my job.
If I have the relationship with you you can brag about, …
but that’s not me. We don’t know each other.
If I have the life you can brag about, … but I’ve tried
that. You threw my own failings in my face.
I have tried to make the external parts of me approvable
enough for you. But even those periphery trappings (and they are “trappings”)
have not been enough to hone your focus onto the all of me. Me in my entirety.
I didn’t know that was what I’ve been seeking until my
friend told me he saw me. I didn’t know that was what I’ve been missing,
and making a pretzel out of my life and myself in order to make happen.
If I want to please my father so he sees me, what do I think
will happen if he sees me, “in my entirety?” … I don’t think I can answer that.
Except to say he’d love me, in a way that I could feel.
Because here’s the thing: If he’s looking around me, and not at me, he’ll never love me in a way that
I feel. He may “love” or approve
of the things around me, the life I meticulously and back-bendingly try to
arrange around myself. But that’s still not me.
This is a system, a relationship in which I am not seen. The
one thing I want to glean from it is the one thing I cannot have.
In reading Brene Brown so voraciously right now, I can know
this: He’s not able to be vulnerable enough to do that.
To see me, is to expose himself, is to open himself to being
vulnerable, and for him, that is not an
option. His whole life has been built on a foundation, a faulty one (well, in
my own estimation), that precludes true connection, because he is unable to
look at and love himself. I know how this formed, and I can only presume the
pain that’s caused, because he’s never shown it. (Except in these indirect ways.)
Brene writes that men deal with vulnerability in one of two
ways: Rage or shut-down. (She also writes about those who find ways
out of that dichotomy, but those are the go-to’s without the tools to do
anything differently. And surely, those aren’t the only means to deal, but it’s her
research, not mine!)
I know that when I told my dad that I might not be able to
come to his wedding because I’ll be in a play that weekend, when he put on his “I insist” voice, that was his way of hiding his vulnerability, his
disappointment and hurt. I know that this was rage to mask actual feelings. I
know that this rage was to protect and prevent of moment of true connection, in
which something different might have been said like, “I’d really love for you
to be here. It would mean a lot to me.”
That directness is too vulnerable.
To look me in the eye and say that is too vulnerable.
To see us both as humans doing a dance of having a
relationship, instead of as a master and a servant, a “father” and a “daughter,”
is too vulnerable.
If I can’t squash it or approve of it, I can’t deal with it.
I “get” this. I get and have compassion for and understand
this dilemma for him. Also, this is a dilemma that I’ve prescribed for him; true or
not, it’s only my interpretation.
But, like I said before, it’s my choice how I want to engage
in this “relationship.” Because for as long as I can remember, I’ve been waving
my arms in an effort to start one. An effort in vain. And my arms are tired.
Brene writes that shame is countered by self-love, and that
shame resilience is a practice, not a diploma.
“I’m a fan of you, Molly Daniels, in your entirety.”
I’m going to have to say this phrase to myself, repeatedly.
To truth-test the thoughts of “not good enough” – especially “not good enough daughter” – as this future unfolds.
I’m going to have to truth-test my fantasies around this
relationship versus the reality, and I’m going to have to accept, even for a
minute at a time, that this relationship is the way it is, and that my father
is the way he is.
I’ve heard many times that “acceptance is not the same as
approval.” No, this isn’t ideal. But turning my life into a pretzel to garner a
connection I will never (or not today) have, is the worse fate.

acceptance · adulthood · beauty · faith · intimacy · letting go · loss · love · relationships · self-love

Because I’m your Mother, That’s Why.




The last song on Anticipate Thisthe mix CD I’d made for him, is Dave Matthews’ Say
Goodbye. It includes the refrain, “For tonight let’s be lovers, and tomorrow go
back to being friends.”
The line from Alanis’ Thank You has been repeating in my head: “Thank you, Disillusionment.”
And, finally, if I was “craving cupcakes,” well, a cupcake
isn’t a sustainable meal, is it? It’s never actually intended to be, and so you’ve got to enjoy it while it is there, savor, relish, cherish it, and then you let it
go. Then you move on.
We had a “debrief” conversation last night, during which most of the
above sentiments where shared by us both. Acknowledging the loveliness, the heights, the
calm, the titillation. And yet, that it was what it was. That it was a moment
in time that we’d both signed up for, participated in, and get to let go, get
to allow its sanctity, without marring it with all those Whatifs that spun in (both) our heads.
To allow the sanctity of beauty, to allow it its singularity
is a challenge and a lesson of adulthood. To be disillusioned, to know that
moving isn’t right for either of us, that fantasy can overtake reality and
crumble it. To have had the hard-won experience of knowing that selfishness and
possessiveness can suffocate a beautiful thing, is perhaps not “romance” as we
think of it. But it is, in itself, a mercy.
Relinquishing the ties to future, to “meaning,” to purpose,
we can allow it the simplicity and integrity of its joy.
I wrote a poem once about trapping a moment away in a mason
jar, locking it deep inside for fear that the moment would get marred by time
and eventuality. But the problem was that I forgot what that moment smelled like anyway; in my possessiveness and fear of losing it, I forgot what
made that moment so precious to begin with.
The same is true here. And, smartly, maturely, rightly, and a little wistfully, we both, or at least I, have to allow the experience its
autonomy and “string”lessness.
I called my mom yesterday. I’d spoken to several friends
about my conflictedness, and my sadness in letting the moment go. In knowing,
surely and deeply, that I would have to. This knowledge all the more
painful since it was such a thing of beauty, since it was, for me, a lesson in
intimacy, vulnerability, and ease that I haven’t felt with anyone in my past.
As we spoke, I told my mom it was like tasting ice cream in a shop
for the first time, and having to realize that ice cream is available
elsewhere, all over the place, in fact. That I don’t have to go to this one
place to experience it. That I’d be missing out if I thought this was the only
wellspring of deliciousness.
Part of the beauty of it at all, is that I get to see that
ice cream is in fact available to me.
(Ice cream! Cupcakes! Sheesh, can you tell I don’t really eat this stuff
But, I did. I got to experience, savor, relish, and cherish,
and I get to decide to believe—DECIDE TO BELIEVE—that I can have similar dishes elsewhere. Somewhere a little less
My mom told me that of course it was available to me. That we all deserve to have the kind of love
we want in the world. That we all are worthy of finding it, searching for, letting
the non-fits go, and working toward creating in ourselves a person deserving of the highest order this life offers.
Why? I asked her.
Why? Why is that so? Where is the cosmic contract we’ve all
signed that says that we’ll get that kind of love? Where is the agreement that we
sign as humans that says, Work and open and heal and (for)give, and you shall receive?
Really, honestly, who the fuck says that any of us get any of that?
It was important for me to play my own Devil’s Advocate. I’m the one with all the woo-woo affirmations posted
around my apartment about abundance and light and love and serenity and
security and radiance. I’m the one who’d easily and believingly tell a friend that
things work out. I’m the asshole who believes all this muck.
And for once, I needed someone else to tell me it. I needed
to be the petulant asshole who says, “Yeah, Says You.” I needed to allow my
disillusionment of that kind, too. I needed to allow that it sucks and hurts,
and is disappointing, and hard fucking work, and that we (I) do this with
absolutely no promises whatsoever of any kind of “reward,” or change.
There is no rule that says, Thou Shalt Not Toil Until Death.
There isn’t.
So, I need, sometimes, someone else to tell me. Because,
truly, somewhere (a little out of reach at the moment), I believe that we all
do deserve the precious and gorgeous things in life. I believe that none of us are meant to toil and suffer and be beaten by
life. I truly, somewhere, have a faith that is unalterable. A
place inside me that has never known fear or scarcity or sorrow.
But, despite my friends’ ears and wisdom and empathy, I
simply needed my mom, former Miss Cynic of the Universe, to tell me, Molly, It’s
going to be alright. There is ice cream
elsewhere. There is love, abundant and resplendent. Not that it isn’t without
its own challenges and lessons and compromises, but there is love, and I am
worthy of it. That I “deserve” it.
Despite the “adultness” of letting go and loving detachment
and equanimity and allowing what is… in these moments, in this one, I simply needed
the maternal “all knowing” assurance of that which I actually believe.
Dear Egregiously Gorgeous Moment in Time: Thank you.  

acceptance · change · community · love · trauma · truth

Over the past two weeks, I’ve had occasion to sit with two
friends who shared with me about trauma in their past, as well as reading an article by a
sexual abuse survivor about the upswing of the Dylan Farrow case.
A little less than a year ago, after I completed chemo, I started reading a book
about healing that kind of trauma. As you may remember/know, it’s my
understanding that disease can be a function of underlying emotional or
spiritual dis-ease, and after my bought with cancer, I was (and still am)
determined to do all I can to root out causes and dis-ease that may underlie
the causation of cancer. The book suggested that before you really begin, you collect your army of support
because the work would be intense. So, I sought out a somatic therapist, as the
book suggested, and saw her a few times. I wasn’t a good fit, and I soon
stopped seeing her, and soon stopped reading the book, maybe a chapter or two
However, this morning, I was toodling around on my phone,
compulsively checking my email for the rehearsal schedule for the play in which
I’ve been cast(!), and I clicked on the “Notes” app I have on there, wondering
if there wasn’t some old “to do” list that may have good ideas for me.
Instead, I found a series of quotations from that book. A
series of words that struck me, applied to me, and offered me compassion,
understanding, and hope.
I … don’t really want to do this. Read that, re-read that.
Tell you here. But, my friends, it is all related. Don’t worry, I won’t get
specific here—it’s not appropriate, and not necessary—except to say my abuse
was not incest or young child abuse, but simply a series of events from a youngish age into my 20s when I didn’t
understand what No was, how to stop things, how to not
go along.
But, apparently, several things in my current life are
pointing me back at looking in that direction. And, from my own understanding
and cosmology, the “Universe” tends to bring things up when you’re ready to
deal with them. … And, if you don’t, you’ll be given occasion to deal with them
later, we promise.
One of the quotes in my app says something about moving out of
isolation into relationships. Va voy, if that’s not what I’ve been trying to do. And
here is a hiccup I didn’t see coming. A gentle nudge from the Universe saying,
Hey, there are these unresolved things. I know they’re hard, but you’re not
alone, and we’ve already pointed some support structures your way, if you want
to work on this now.
I may say, Fuck you. I don’t wanna.
I may call on the language I read once that said, Stop
Identifying With Your Trauma. Don’t use it as a shield and a sword to say, LOOK
I could call on that language and say, see, I need to not look at this, because then I’m just wallowing in my
past, instead of moving out of it.
See…. but the thing is. I haven’t wallowed. I’ve avoided.
Partly because “it wasn’t that bad.” Partly because it’s
so damned fucking common
. Heartbreakingly.
Partly because there have been other fish to fry.
And mostly because it’s really really hard.
I have some Louise Hay “Affirmation Cards” over my kitchen
sink, so I can look at them when I’m doing my despised dishes. The one that
calls to me about this reads, “All these changes are easy to make.” These
patterns are easy to heal and change. Maybe. Maybe this is easier than I fear.
The big boogey man with a flashlight projecting himself on the wall much larger
than he really is.
It’s happened before.
I know it’s a heavy thing to lay out to you here, but I also
know some of you are there, were there, get it, and are curious, like me, on how to go
through this stage of healing. As always, I write this for us.

acceptance · acting · change · dating · growth · joy · trying


So, what is happening
with the boy (in real life, not in my brain)?
Well, instead of sending my crazy text on Saturday morning,
I sent instead, “Brunch tomorrow?” Luckily my journal, you, and my friends get
the brunt of the crazy, so by the time I get into interacting with human
beings unaware of my brain functions, they get something resembling “normal.”
So, there was brunch on Sunday. During the course of
conversation, without blasting a fire extinguisher of mania at him, he said of his own accord, “We’re dating; that’s what we’re doing.” Oh, Okay. Good to know.
So, then… Dating. There’s another one planned for this
Saturday evening. And, I am unsure if there will be more, and unsure if I want
there to be, but want there to be this one, at least, so I can figure that out
– that’s the whole point of the dating thing, isn’t it? To spend enough time
with someone to figure out if you want to spend your time exclusively with
them? (Not like all your time, just your romancy time.) I’m honestly not sold,
which is as it should be – we’ve been on three dates. Not enough to know much, except we have relatively good
conversation, I am still a little stiff and breath-holdy around him (though I measurably relaxed once he said, “We’re dating”), and really
enjoy his roaming hands. If there’s more than the roaming hands that I enjoy,
only time can tell.
So, that’s the story. I am honestly still tempted to “put on
my love light” and get back in the ring (to mix metaphors). I don’t know the
strength of this one dating situation, so why preclude myself from others. What
that will mean to “get back out there,” I don’t know at all. Maybe just a frame
of mind. I am still single after all,
and I’m not racing to lock it down with this one dude, cuz I’m not sure yet.
Seems … mature, maybe? Realistic? Appropriate?
In much other news, I have an audition on Monday for a
staged reading. I have a role suggested to me for my monologue by the
25 y.o., but haven’t yet read the play – this all means, … I’m not prepared,
and unlikely to have something memorized by Monday. I need a contemporary 1-2
minute dramatic monologue, and all I have/own in my head is the Shakespeare
piece I did the other weekend. So, … if, lord help me, I need to use notes for
this, then I will. It’s just information, it’s just trying. I know now that I
need to have/own more than one piece if I want to be in this auditioning game,
which may one day, who knows,
how-much-easier-to-let-go-of-the-results-of-this-than-dating, lead to the acting
part – the part I actually want.
It’s interesting to me, getting to compare the way I was
clinging to certainty around dating, and am pretty much just joyful to show up
around acting. I actually did a fist pump when I left my audition the other
week! Not because I thought I did awesome, but because I showed up. THAT’S awesome.
Of course, you know I’m going to say something like, “Now,
if I can just allow the fluidity, joy, presence, confidence and love of self I
hold around auditioning flow into the dating world, I’ll be much happier, and
indeed, much more myself.”
Yes, I would say something like that, wouldn’t I?

acceptance · change · dating · internet dating · trying


One guy’s profile on Tinder read, “Let’s just tell people we met in line at a coffee
shop, and I said something charming.”
Because (forgive me if you did) who wants to say, We met
My dad met his fiancé online. My mom met her boyfriend
online. My coworker is happily married to a man she met online. To name a few. 
So, what’s the big deal? Will this stigma end? Is it a
stigma, or is it just me and my highfalutin ideas of how people should act and
meet and love?…
So, how did me and the 25-year old meet? Well, according to
my highfalutin idea that I would “meet someone on the way to meeting
myself,” in fact. Amazingly.
We met at the Theater Bay Area auditions last Sunday. He was an auditor (i.e. some kind of representative of a theater company who watched all the auditions–casting director, director, who knew), I was a volunteer.
We repeatedly caught one another’s eye during the day, but the day passed without a word and was ending. I didn’t want to let the opportunity to meet him pass by, because either he’s
someone in the theater world I’d like to meet, or he’s just a cute boy I’d like
to meet.
Everyone milled in the lobby at day’s end, and I simply
walked up to him and said, “Hi, We’ve been glancing at one another all day, and
I just wanted to introduce myself.” He replied that it was the red I was
wearing that caught his eye. And, that I was very beautiful.
We chatted, we laughed a little, and in the end, I gave him
my card, utterly ambiguous to either of us whether our intentions were personal or professional.
Then, his email later in the week, and the ambiguous Saturday afternoon meeting
that turned into half a date. And last night into a full one. 
His beard hid the fact he’s 7 years younger than me, could have been anywhere around 30, til I asked on Saturday outright.
The agony I poured into my friends’ text messages yesterday
morning about the age gap! “He was in diapers when the Challenger blew up.” “He
doesn’t know Corey Feldman before rehab.” “He didn’t suffer neon like the rest of
us.” Though born in the 80s, his earliest memories begin in the 90s. This is a Millenial. 
My friends’ resounding response was: Just go on a second date,
You don’t even know if you like one another yet; stop
manufacturing reasons to make this a no.
One friend in particular had good insight about the
generational gap. About the desire for aligned frames of childhood reference. Her husband is from
Germany, arrived in the States in 1995. His American pop-culture references
only go back that far, even though he’s of similar age. She said she walks down
memory lane with her friends. And that’s enough.
What are the need to haves; what are the nice to haves?
What about the “He’s employed, attractive, intelligent, ambitious,
Jewish, tall” part of the equation?
Then again. Your 20s are so much different than your 30s or
any other years (that I’ve lived so far). There is a certainty about the world
and your place in it that you have in your 20s that completely shifts by your
30s. There is a hubris about your knowledge. The development of those few years
is drastic. I know. I’ve lived it, and
watch others live it. I know that people who are 40 look at me and how I think
I fit in the world, and smile good-naturedly at my naïveté.
Though, perhaps it’s my own hubris that I can know where
another person is on their developmental path.
There is no definite here, there’s only exploration. More
opening, more meeting, more laughing and softening. The part where you (I) feel
comfortable enough to be silly–if that part even comes to pass. You
can’t even know yet if you like one another, and so all the questions about how
you met, about generational alignment, about maturity and Back to the
references AREN’T EVEN RELEVANT yet.
For now, I, said doofus, went on the second date. And this
one was unambiguous. 

acceptance · adulthood · anger · art · faith · frustration · gratitude · progress · recovery


About a month ago, I was diagnosed with Leukemia. And my
whole life changed.
I don’t know what this change is, was, will be, but I know
that I am in several ways entirely different than I was. The way, at least
right now, that I see things are entirely new. And profoundly grateful. I
almost died. And yet, I didn’t.
We each get this each day – I got this each day, prior to this happening. I got the chance to
understand that life was precious, but I didn’t, really. I
understood it,
but to really
feel it? Well, it’s
different now,
and it brings up a host of other questions. Am I allowed to still watch Ben Stiller movies? Am I allowed to spend a day on the couch? Will
I now stop stopping myself short on all my varied art projects, and allow
myself to follow through on anything
that I’ve started? I have no idea.
I’d like to think that part of this “change” – for lack of a
better term for “life altering sudden tragic happening” – will indeed move me
toward being more in my art, more in my life. I’d like to believe that part of
this whole thing is a very nasty kick-upside-the-head lesson in not living for
tomorrow. That I’m being given the chance to very acutely see that life is
short and tenuous, and so I ought to embrace the talents that I have, and finally
let myself explore them fully so that I might share them with you.
I’d like to believe that there are lessons here. Otherwise,
what the fuck.
I’d like to believe that the Universe or my Higher Power
couldn’t — for some reason completely unknown to me – send me a postcard, or a
dream, or a message on Facebook. That
for some reason this lesson had to be learned hard, and fast, and
therefore more gentle methods of smoothing a rock down to its shiny parts were
not available to this massive Power.
I’ve been out of the hospital for a week now, and I will go
back in next Monday for another round of chemo. This will be the 2nd
in a series of, likely, 5 treatments. The words that I’ve had to learn over
this month scare the crap out of me. I don’t want to use words like chemo,
nausea, pain meds, pneumonia. I don’t want to hear “How bad is the pain on a
scale of 1 to 10,” or, “It’s time for your shot,” or “Well, we expect this.”
I’ve oscillated since I’ve been out of the hospital between
those few stages of grief – anger, grief, acceptance. Often within the same
minute. When I was in the hospital, there wasn’t time for anything except acceptance. This is happening. Period. Go with it. And, despite
what you may think, it’s really f’ing busy in the hospital with people coming
in and out at all hours of the day and night, throwing information or
medication at you. There’s not really time to process, space to absorb and
consolidate what has been happening to me.
And so, being home now, I’m getting the chance to experience
what I couldn’t while basically holding my breath for 3 weeks. I’m getting to
realize the enormity of what happened. The slow, marinating, seeping
reality – I almost died. The nurse told me that I had 49% leukemic cells in my
blood when I came into the hospital – WITH STREP THROAT – and that if I hadn’t
come in, I would have died within two weeks. I would have gotten a bleed,
likely in my brain, and I would have just died. No one would have known – no one would have known why. Relapse?
Suicide? Understanding this fact has begun to lead me to know that I need help
in holding the space for all this – and yesterday I contacted a cancer support
AND, I have to tell you, I don’t want to be someone who needs a cancer support group – I shouldn’t have
motherfucking cancer in order to
need such a group. A month ago, this was unfathomable.
This morning, I read my last Morning Pages entry from the week
before I went into the hospital. I haven’t written morning pages since then, I
was too sick, and then too hospitalized. And so I read them, and I see myself
talking about how my throat really is starting to hurt. About how I went to the
art store Flax and got new pens and a notebook and talked to the woman in the
back about different types of pressed paper – hot press versus cold, what would
be good for the art I want to do. About the café I’d emailed with the month
before about putting up a show in their space, and how he wanted to do
November, but I simply wasn’t ready, as it was the end of September at the
I’d written about the clothing I’d bought for cheap at good
thrift shops, and the flying lesson I was scheduled for, which ended up being
the day I went into the ER. I wrote about being excited, about art that I would
make. About missing my family, and wanting to go home for Thanksgiving to see
In some ways, it feels like reading a journal from junior
high, it feels so long ago. And yet, it’s all still me. And that’s something
that I want to take away from this too. This process is going to be HARD, challenging, painful, difficult, and yet, I’m still
me. As I was writing my first Morning Pages this morning since that last entry,
I was inwardly elated to see my handwriting hadn’t changed. That major facts of
who I am have not changed. That things that were important to me then, “before
cancer,” are still things that are important to me now. – art, family,
I’ve been blasted with some of the nastiest chemicals, shorn down
to the barest slices of my body … but my handwriting is still the same.
I could go into the ways in which gratitude has become this
sort of well of tears behind my eyes at all times. I could talk about how just
waking up this morning feels like a gift. But I don’t want to today, really. I could
list the thanks and the inundation of love and support and care, but that’s not
what this blog is about this morning, at least. It’s not a love fest, it’s just
a truth fest. About where I am this very day, at this very time, arguing and
stamping and shaking a fist at the sky with WHY in the m’f’in hell couldn’t you
have made this a little bit of a gentler lesson? About how I feel like I’m some
sort of icon now, with people telling me all the time what an inspiration
you are
, when I’ve had diarrhea for 3 out
of the last 4 weeks. I’ve asked people what on earth that even
means, an inspiration to what? What have I inspired in
you? What am I inspiring you to do?
I haven’t done anything except lived.
I get to be bitter about it. And I get to be amazingly
thankful to get to be bitter about it –
to be alive enough to have emotions enough to get to scorn about it.
It is surely true, the love and support I’ve gotten. And
yet, there’s a part of me that feels angry that I even have a situation in
which to receive such love and support.
I know people love me. Couldn’t I have had my 31st birthday at a
restaurant with them, instead of in a hospital bed? Couldn’t I have learned to
get out of the way of my own creativity and drive and lust for life in a
different, gentler way? Couldn’t I have gotten to see my family by flying East
for Thanksgiving, instead of them flying West to hold my hand while my hair
falls out?
I’m grateful for this blog – this tempestuous blog that
gives me the chance to be honest in every way. Which I want to use to
springboard to something else, to write in another venue, maybe one that’s
paid. I’m glad that I get to write here, as someone told me, as I speak – that if I
write the way I talk, they said, I’m surely a great writer. I don’t know how much that is
true, but somehow the cancer lets me see it a little more clearly. And perhaps begin to accept it. I want to explore my talent more – because there simply is
more there. I want to push into it, and I want to share it.
I swear I would have gotten there without this whole cancer
thing, but I guess I really didn’t have a choice in this one. 

acceptance · adulthood · family · fear · generosity · recovery · relationships · the middle way · truth

People are Not Projects.

Damnit. There goes my favorite hobby. What will I do with my
afternoons, now?
I’ve heard the phrase before, and it recurred to me this
morning. My mom sent me an email back on Monday, qualifying why she’d replied
so “vehemently” on Friday that she wanted me under NO circumstances to tell her
whether I had the genome for Alzheimer’s, if I were to get the genetic mapping
thing I said I was maybe possibly going to do someday.
Even before she emailed me on Monday, I got the chance to
work through some of my anger at her refusal for clarity, her refusal to do things the
way I’d do them, or the way I’d want her to do them.
I even got to see that there is perhaps a part of me that is
in fear that she will have it. Watching what she went through with her mom, I can’t imagine it. Though I know I’d have the resources internal and external to do the best I could, if she does.
On Monday, she wrote me back and said, as I knew, that her mom was
around the same age my mom is now when she began to show signs of it, and that
she’s “very frightened.” I was amazed that my mother could let herself admit
I wrote her back that, of course, I understand, and will respect
her feelings and wishes around this. Obviously.
And so, I’m reminded that people are not projects. She is
not on this earth, this lifetime, for me to fix her. As I’m also reminded
often, people are not broken, and I don’t need to fix them. She isn’t broken.
She is human, like me, like you. I have faults and assets, she has faults and
assets. Mainly, those faults are just calcified fears and defense mechanisms.
And it’s not up to me to fix them. They
are not “problems.” They just are. They are part of the map that is my mom.
They are part of the challenges and opportunities she has in this lifetime. And
it is part of my own challenge this lifetime to leave her be.
This is new behavior. Not alien, but new. We, I, grew up
enmeshed with her, her feelings were my own, and I tended to and acquiesced to
and modified myself in order to attend to her feelings. It was my own defense
mechanism. And, it was also in some ways what was needed. She was an
undiagnosed manic depressive, self-medicating with prescription and non-prescription tranquilizers
and uppers. Her feelings and mood swings were uncontainable, palpable, and able to wash a small
child overboard the ship of normalcy. So, I learned how to stand by the
rigging. I learned how to read the waves, to anticipate them, to ensure that
things were precisely as they needed to be. I learned to ensure life was easier
for her when she was in her clinical depression by not having or voicing or
owning my needs. I learned to ensure that she not retreat into that state by
allowing her manic times free reign, and stand tensely in the wings of her
life, egging her on – because mania meant some more of her, but not really. It
just meant she moved more quickly in her neuroses. And was hard to be around
That was probably harder. It was like a live wire. Every
vibrantly theatrical gesture and every squeal of delight was like a hammer to my heart, knowing
that it was inauthentic, fleeting, and often, embarrassing. More than the
typical teen angsty, my parents are lame kind. More like, this person isn’t aware of herself and how big she can be, and I’m sorry she’s hijacked your conversation/this movie theather/…our vacation.
I went on a trip with her a few years ago to Sedona. I’d
begun to heal some of my own self-destructive patterns, and this was one of the
first times she and I were getting to spend any significant time together. It
didn’t go well.
Diagnosed, and newly (doctor prescribed) medicated as she
now was, she is/was still my mom. Even today, even though the swings have
lessened, the grooves in the thought patterns and behaviors are still there,
engrained over a lifetime, and I’ll suddenly find myself talking to a weepy child where a minute before stood a fierce New Yorker. But, in Sedona, we decided to do one of those Pink
Jeep tours, where they take you out in a jeep into the gorgeous red rock
My mom had to be the entertainment. There were maybe 6 of us
in the back of the jeep, and as my mom continued to make herself more and more
“heard” and “seen” by this group of strangers, as she put on her mask of entertainer
– witty, loud, invasive – I began to feel myself shrinking in her wake. I began
to notice that I was doing what I’d always done, and detach from the dramatic
entrance of my mom’s persona. I didn’t like it.
I didn’t like that I was reacting that way, and so instead,
I began to get sullen and angry. She
picked up on the anger. And she couldn’t understand why – she’d been being who
she’d always been, acting (double meaning intended) as she always had, why was
I mad with her? I didn’t answer her. I didn’t know what was the “right” way to
answer that in my new recovery language – I simply said that it had more to do
with me than with her, and that was about it. She didn’t like this answer; I
knew it was true, but I didn’t like it either. We’re a “processy” – or we had
been – kind of pair. (She is a shrink, after all…) And I wasn’t going to or able to process this with her.
What is there to process? You’re not being the mom I want
you to be? You’re behaving so falsely, and invading these folks’ space? THIS
No, I couldn’t say those things. There is and was the truth
that it does have more to do with me
than with her. How able I am to accept and love my mom as and who she is
without trying to change her. Without needing to be right. And without pitying her.
There is the truth that people are not projects, and that
she is not broken. There is also the magnanimous truth that my mother is also
brilliant, witty, stylish, and bold. Yes, she is also desperately scared of
everything, self-defeatest, and paralytically despairing. She is all of these
things. (She’s also a Gemini, if that helps.)
My mother is a human, with places she falls short of the
ideal, like me, like you; places where she excels, like me, like you. And, in
the end, just wants to feel loved, and at peace. Like me. And like you. 
acceptance · dating · fantasy · fear · finances · growth · maturity · progress · relationships · romance · sobriety

"Love as Burrito" or "This, or Something Better"

Grateful to my friends who gave me feedback, I texted the okJew yesterday morning
that I was a fan of getting to know someone before getting physical (I couldn’t
help but hear Olivia Newton-John as I typed it), and if that was something he
was interested in, then I’d love to continue getting to know him, and if not,
no hard feelings. He texted back to say that, in fact, he was looking for
something else, and didn’t know how that fit in with me or not.
So, I got to sit with that. Tall, attractive, well-built
Jew? What’s not to like? Oh, unavailable.
And, I did sit, I questioned, I turned inward for a few minutes to test that
option, and ultimately, gratefully, I said I was looking for something less
tenuous, and good luck.
Then …
I sat and stared at a wall of books.
I was shocked, honestly, at how “air out of a balloon” I
felt, without all that funny noise it makes. It made me realize that I still do
have some work to do. I identified very clearly the feeling of a crash after a
high. I could almost smell the cigarette smog and late 90s radio.
Hm. Love as Drug. Huey Lewis has a song about it. And, duh,
it’s not “love” as in Love. It was intrigue. Oh, Intrigue!! – when’s the next
text, what do I wear, how flirty do I be, funny do I be, do I invite him in,
scheduling plans, etc…etc…etc… Something to think about, and then the plug was
pulled yesterday mid morning, and I sat deflated and comatose for a few minutes
on and off till lunchtime.
When I went and bought a burrito. My friend texted me to say
that it’s normal to feel feelings, and we get to let them pass. I said my feelings now
feel like a burrito in my belly ~ Real feelings TBA. And that much was true. How
much easier it is to feel full, or to
buy something to feel better – not better, to just feel different. My burrito
accomplished both of those. Better to eat, feel full (and mildly grossed out
that I ate a pound of tofu and salsa flesh), and to get the thrill that I spent
money on lunch when I had a perfectly decent one in the fridge at work.
Cuz, what do I feel when I’m not caught up in the nonsense?
Fear. I feel fear about money and work and job applications and
directionlessness. Who the hell wants to feel that?? No one. But, better to feel those feelings, and
get into action around
them, than to stuff them with something else, and continue avoiding the
elephant in my psyche.
There’s another okJew who I’ve been talking to – and I’m not
entirely sure that I want to pursue it at the moment. I met up with some of my
new “relationship/emotional intimacy” folks last night after work, which was a
very good use of my time. I’m so glad
I’ve chosen to fall in with them – and they were talking about dating, and
showing up, and boundaries, and desires, and how to be honest. These are things
I want. I
want to have desires –
I have no … desire… to be celibate, or nunnish. I am a hot-blooded woman with
hot-blooded needs, and a great big bag of tools that don’t work.
That said, I obviously do have more tools than I used to (burrito
coma aside) – because I did let this dude know what I was available for, and he
said he was glad we got that worked out early – and it’s true. I know plenty of
times when I’ve let my “fear of looking needy” keep me from speaking up about
my discomfort at the level of murk in a relationship or sexytime companionship.
Once, it took me almost a month, and when I finally broached the subject with
the dude, he said he wasn’t available or looking for more. So, I said, great,
and was glad to know, and left his house feeling better and confident in my
ability to state my needs, and let go of the results.
Sure, I didn’t “get what I want” in that situation – who doesn’t want the person to say, of course, I’d love to
continue to get to know you and see if there’s something substantial that can
come from this. But … as my “sugar crash” yesterday proved to me, there’s more
work to be done. It’s not at all fair to place that amount of expectation on
anyone – because they’re not really being asked to be themselves, they’re being
asked to fill something in me, or distract something in me, or fix something in
me. And, that, my dears, is an inside job.
When I said a few days ago, that if relationships are
Miracle-Gro for your character defects, then surely they are/must be for your
spiritual growth – this is why. My defect here being the desire to run away
from the reality of my professional and financial situation – and when someone
says they can’t be that for me, I’m left simply with my situation all over again, like
the ugly step-sister you lock in the attic. Still here.
So what do I do? Well, firstly, I meet up with folks and I
ask for help. Done, and will continue to do. Secondly, I continue to work on
the job front. I was invited to go camping this weekend, and had accepted, as I
love to camp, and getting out of dodge sounded so very nice. But last night, as
I was compiling job listings into an email draft so I could take a look at them
in my spare moments at work… it occurred to me that perhaps going camping was
not the best use of my time at the moment.
This temp job will likely end in the next week or two, and
after that is a blank horizon. It’s time for me to assist in coloring it in.
Lastly, I offer myself kudos. I made my intentions known,
quickly. I listened honestly to what another person was telling me about their
intentions. Which I didn’t take personally at all (a thought, I recognize, is
also huge progress, but seems so “of course” now). I can try to treat myself
kindly with how I treat my body and not go food coma on myself.
I showed up. I got in the ring. I made out. And, I can be
confident that what’s available for me is “This, or something better.”

acceptance · adulthood · change · commitment · direction · faith · maturity · progress

Turn Left.

Feels like another “toodling along” day. I actually don’t
know if that’s a known phrase or word, or if my mom made it up – but,
generally, I suppose people know what I mean if it’s not. Or, for all I know,
it’s a well-known high-fallutin’ word. … Yeah, I just wanted to write
Feeling generally optimistic today, or rather a lack of
pessimism, so that’s a good start, and a decent change. I’ve been presented
with the opportunity to think about choice, a few times in the last 24-48 hours
or so. Particularly, the idea that I have the opportunity to choose my
perspective. And more than that, I have the choice to do a lot of damn things.
Basically, I’ve been given the power of choice, and I’m
recognizing what might be better ways of using that grand choice. That
privilege of choice.
I was talking with a friend yesterday, and she was telling
me about some places where she was feeling hopeless, and I offered that she
does have a choice here. That we are indeed at places where we both can choose
to turn right, and go down the all too familiar well worn path of despair,
crumbs, victimhood – all the way back to the dry well. Well is dry. It always
has been. But sometimes I, and she, like to see if maybe today there’s just one
drop I can squeeze out from it. Nope. That well is dry, but I have a choice to still go there if I want.
Or… I can choose a different way. A different way to look,
approach, feel, be. Think. I believe part of this is owning that mantle of
adulthood – recognizing that we have the power of choice, and are in some ways
the steward of our own fates. Sure, Fate sometimes intervenes, Divine
intervention happens, and sometimes we are stripped of choice, but, for the
most part, nearly everything in my life at the moment, and how I choose to see
or hold it, is a choice. I have chosen to engage in despair. I have chosen to
stay small. I have chosen to reject responsibility, and then I get to complain
about my meager finances. Or romances.
It’s not all as simple as turning on a light switch, but
sort of, sometimes, it is. It needn’t be some massive, monolithic effort, or
commitment; sometimes, it seems to me now, it’s just a simple shrug, and a turn
left. Not so heavy, or burdensome. Not so daunting or scary. Just a left turn.
Toward something … not new. It’s not new – I mean, it is and it isn’t. I don’t
quite know (obviously) all that’s down a path of Left, but I’m familiar enough
with occasionally taking that route that I do know some of the milemarkers.
Peace. Calm. A sense of well-being. These are quite obvious
particularly in contrast to the milemarkers on the way to the dry well.
Today, I can choose. I have a choice to see myself roundly,
to see my life roundly. I can choose today to notice the assets, to notice
where I have a choice – a choice to write my teaching resume. A choice to send
it. A choice to decide whether I want to do some live drawing modeling
tomorrow, or if I’m feeling a little too tender for that.
I have a choice to buy eggs, instead of eat popcorn for
dinner. I have a choice to make a nutritious meal – like the one I’m eating
now 😉 I have a choice to dress properly today, in a way that makes me feel
professional, but myself – not a drone or clone, but not defiant. That may
seem like a “silly” thing to think of as a choice, but it’s not.
Last Tuesday, to my second day back to the temp job, I dressed in all black, with my black leather
jacket and my fuck you attitude of, I can’t believe that I have to do this work
in this office, sitting for all these hours… yadda yadda, fuck you, I’m wearing
black. ! Yes, That was a choice. Luckily, that was also the same day I had my
wonderful conversation with a friend about whether or not I want to be an
So, today, I can wear something that says, I’m still me,
with my quirks and style, but yes, I respect this workplace, and am grateful to
be here.
I also have the choice to pack my lunch instead of buy it. To meet my friends
later instead of isolate. And to remember to breathe.
I have a lot of choices today. And the well is still dry.