change · connection · fear · growth · love · self-abandonment · self-support

Doctor of Philosophy

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If you have read my blog for any period of time, you may be
aware by now that I seem to have a knack for interpreting the human species and
their actions. I observe, report, make conclusions, and sometimes adjust my own
behavior to meet the findings of what “healthy” or “happy” people seem to be
doing.
Philosophically speaking, in all my deep-cover research on
human behavior, I may well have earned myself a doctorate in human behavior.
However for every inner tube of polymer, there is a flat of
pavement, and it is where the rubber meets the road that I become hesitant.
It is all well and good to observe, predict, and theorize,
to take note of actions of others and even of myself as a predictor and indicator
of action’s next steps. However, there is also the parable about the monk who
spent 20 years in a cave becoming enlightened, and upon emerging decked the
first guy he had a disagreement with.
It is only in practice that we actually learn. (Though, I do
submit that research and reflection help.)
When my mom came to visit a few weeks ago, we began to discuss my romantic life. (Unworried, as she said she was, that I would have any trouble when I was finally ready. She’s not the “where are my grandchildren” type, she said.) I told her a
little about my extra layer of protection around my castle wall metaphor. I
told her that my work currently is about coming to trust myself and my boundaries
enough to let people close enough to know me.
I told her my doubts about feeling capable of a) letting
those guards down, and b) evaluating approachers in a level-headed way. I told
her that I am scared to learn to trust myself, because I’m scared that I can’t.
She responded with a story of her own. She’d taken issue,
herself, with the word “trust.” The airy and elusive nature of that word. And
she’s replaced it with the word, “rely.”
Several years ago, she signed up to be a part of a tour
group that would travel to Scotland to see the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Her
friend asked her if she was nervous to go by herself, with no-one she knew? My
mom replied, No. She knew that she could rely on her own effusive and collegial
personality, and that she’d make friends.
She didn’t say that she could trust herself to do this; she
said that she knew she could rely on
herself. That she had her own back, basically.
And she invited me to think about it this way instead: Can I
rely on myself? Do I have my own back?
… Well, judging by a very long history of self-abandoning
actions, it’s hard to answer that with a complete affirmative. But, when
pressed, I know that it is true—that it is true now: I am here for myself, even when things are hard…
and even when things are great.
My own pattern of looking the other way, of procrastinating,
of dismissing myself has begun to lessen. If I look at it honestly.
And so, can I rely on myself? Well, I think I can.
And, here’s the rubber/road test: If I do think I can rely on myself, support myself, be
compassionate and encouraging and honest with myself… Then… it means I’m going
to have to allow the sentries around my castle to stand down, and let
my natural boundaries do their job.
I’m going to have to trust myself (word disparity aside) and
take actions that are indicative of a woman who trusts herself, inviting in
those who are supportive but also challenge me to be my best self, and inviting to leave those who
are not.
I’m going to have to have my back.
And I’m going to have to let go of the reigns. My reigns
have become most like bonds, and not the fun kind.
I am scared to try this new way of being out “in the field.”
But I am also scared to continue limiting my connections with people. (And
again, if you’ve read me for any length of time, you know that, mostly, I’m
addressing the case of chronic single-hood I’ve managed to carry for as long as
I’ve been of dating age. Chronic single-hood is most like being Typhoid Mary.
You feel fine, but no one wants to be near you.)
I know that I can’t (and don’t want to) go on the way I have. I’m too young to
be a spinster, and too old to be a bachelorette.
In the observational reality of modern relationships, I may
be deft at cataloguing and quantifying. But my absence of field research also
means that all of my assumptions about my own viability, accessibility, and
health are purely theoretical. 

change · fear · growth · health · voice

Slings and Arrows

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Hamlet questions whether it is better to “suffer the slings
and arrows of outrageous fortune,” or to “take arms against a sea of troubles”
and end them (with suicide).
Outrageous fortune. Could be good, could be “bad,” but we have to show up to find out.
In Louise Hay’s book on the relationship between emotions
and body symptoms, the throat is listed as the “avenue of expression.” Troubles
with the throat are interpreted as a fear of expressing oneself and stifled
creativity.
I’ve felt it coming on this week, and today, my throat is
officially red and sore. Color me not surprised.
As I’ve been mentioning this week, the idea of being loud,
louder, more full, more powerful has been a hard one for me to grapple with.
And so, this morning, tender in my throat, I went into meditation to “ask”
what’s going on here, and how I can help.
Forgive me if this gets too “woo-woo” for you, but…
It was like Fantastic Voyage – I “went” inside my throat, to my tonsils, to my
vocal cords, and inside there on both sides, at each tonsil, someone, a
girl, a child choking them, shushing them. Telling them to
Be Quiet!
I went and asked her what she was really trying to
accomplish here, what is the objective, why be quiet?
Because then you’ll be safe, she railed. I’m trying to keep you safe.
I told her that I already am, that I am safe without this
strangling. I put my arms around her, and told her she was safe, and in real
life I began to tear up a little. With relief, with grief, with acknowledgment of
pain long suffered and finally being addressed and hopefully cleared – in
time.
With a mother with chronic migraines and a father apt to
turn rageful, I learned very early that to be quiet, unseen, simple, need-less,
and self-sufficient was to be safe. I aroused negative emotions in others when I
expressed the needs a child might have, and so I learned to deny them.
This hasn’t worked out too well as I’ve grown up, and at
another deeper level, I’m again being called to address the fallacy of these
childhood interpretations. Someone not able to care for my needs is not the same as “my needs are too much.”
The important change here is to allow myself to understand,
feel, acknowledge, and melt into the present, into the changes that I have made
around and within myself to establish a life that is safe, loving, encouraging
and open.
It is hard to remember these things in my throat.
I remember them in my head, but it is going to take time for
the little girl who strangles and shushes me to understand, like most children,
that something has changed.
It is safe to be heard. It is safe to speak up for myself.
It is safe to be creative.
I have a host of supporters, internal and external, who tell
me that indeed, Yes, it is better to suffer the slings and arrows than to shut
down. That it is better to show up and be seen and find out what outrageous
fortune has to offer than to escape.
I am safe, I am heard.
These are not mutually exclusive. 

alcoholism · change · choice · community · despair · recovery

The Bomb Squad.

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Paying rent is a choice, she told me.
Um, What?
Sure. You can choose to pay your rent or not. If you choose
not to pay rent, you face those results. If you choose to pay, that has
different results. But it’s still a choice; you do have power here: where would you
rather spend your money?
I was about 2 years into actively looking at my numbers and
money, and back at the beginning of some work around my relationship to money,
being broke, struggling, restrict & binging (aka depriving & then overspending).
The pattern that I would fall into was like clock-work.
Every year and a half into a job that I didn’t enjoy, I would begin to feel
frantic. Trapped. Manic. Suicidal. How can I make it stop?, I’d
wail.
With no tools or guide, I
would do what I thought made sense: Quit the job.
With no tools or guide, that didn’t really accomplish
much. Except send me back into a different kind of mania and frenzy – now I
had nothing, no savings, no job, and no plan. Three times in the last 8 years,
I ended up with less than $5.00 in my bank account.
Each time, “miraculously,” I would land another job just in
the nick of time. But it would be one job same as the other job same as the
other job.
I had no idea how to break this cycle. I thought I was being
diligent. I would reach out to people before I would quit. I would do
informational interviews, and send out tentative resumes. I would look on
craigslist for “creative” jobs, but would somehow end up at an ad posted by a foot fetishist…
Anything. Anything to
not sit in front of a computer all day, I thought. – Well,
almost anything.
And so about 3 years ago, in despair, I went near bawling to a meeting of
folks who are trying to claw their way out of the pit of debt, financial worry,
self-abandonment. Because, in the end, I’ve learned, it’s a function of self-worth.
So, I began working with a new mentor about a year ago. She
had hopes for me I couldn’t imagine at all. Buying a car to get me to auditions
and band practice, being a big one. Not me. Not people like me. I’m a fuck-up.
I ruin things. I’m broke. Hello?!
But, she held out hope for an idea I could never have
conceived of. And 6 months later, I put a down payment on a car.
A car that takes me to auditions and band practice.
However, it’s not the
rosy scene it seems.
About two months ago or so, the itch arose again, the heat turned up. I
gotta get outta this job
. I’m dying here! GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!
And along with that struggle and pain and fury and anguish
again arose the suicidal ideation, because how else can I get out of this
pattern. I am doing all this work, I have a car now, I’m doing shit, but I HATE
MY JOB. I will never end this cycle, and I can’t quit again.
I can’t quit again.
I can’t quit again.
Quitting, for me, is equivalent to relapse. It’s insane to
think it would be different this time. It’s insane to throw myself back into
the cycle. IT’S NOT THE SAME. IT CAN’T BE THE SAME. I don’t have to be the same…
And that’s where the change happened.
I reached out every single fucking day during that period,
texting and calling friends in TEARS, unable to see out of this hole. Telling
them, please please PLEASE help me not to quit today. That I see the insanity of this. That I can’t go down that path
again. That I don’t want to detonate my life again.
I don’t want to detonate my life again.
I like stability. I like the freedom of knowing how I’m going to fill my
fridge and my gas tank. That
doesn’t
mean that I have to do the kind of work I’m doing for the rest of my life, but
for
right now! for this minute!,
it does.
And please dear god, help me not nuke my life again.
And, you know – I didn’t. 
Because I didn’t, because I sat through some of the most
uncomfortable feelings I’ve ever had, through that pain and frustration and ire
and hopelessness and despair, because others told me that it would pass, because they told me to read the chapter on Withdrawal, because they told me they believed that I could find another way if I just held
tight…. I got the chance to drive a car with a tank of gas and belly full of
food to an audition and land a role. I got to show up for the things that give me zest and zeal
and love and joy.
I get to do that today, because I sat through some of the
worst anguish I know. And I came to the other side of it.
This does not mean that I love my job. It doesn’t mean I
don’t want to do different work. It doesn’t mean I enjoy my job any more than I
did. But it means that it’s not my whole world. And by allowing myself to sit
still, I am available for the other things that feed me. Like groceries.
I have never come to this side of that struggle before, so I
don’t really know what will come on the other side. Except, today, play with my band, tomorrow theater rehearsal, and Monday, a photo shoot.
If I had quit, I couldn’t show up, because I’d be in despair
of not having any money and a frenzy of trying to find work. I don’t like that I have to show up and adjust margins for a
goddamn living.
But by not nuking my life, I get to have a life. 

amends · avoidance · change · father · fear · healing · health · isolation · relationships · self-support · truth

Excising a Lily-Liver

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As part of my personal work, I am called to amend
relationships in my life that are in need of clarity and repair.
As part of that work, I broke down my list of these people
into three categories: People I fall out of touch with; Men I intrigue with;
and My dad.
I’ve begun the work on those I’ve fallen out of touch with –
it’s usually out of a habitual belief that I’m not good enough to show up for
relationships and I self-prophesize that by allowing relationships that I value
fall away. These are relatively easy to repair, and by doing so, I get to
challenge these false and long-held beliefs by being consistent, responsible, and focused on the truth.
Amending my relationships with the second set of humans is
more … well, I was going to say more difficult, but it’s not more “difficult,”
it’s just harder because I have more invested in those. If you don’t know what
intriguing is, it’s those little flirtations, vaguely flirtatious texts or
conversations, or over-active “likings” of someone else’s Facebook page in a “winking” kinda way. It’s, for
me, engaging in flirtatious behavior with people I don’t want to go any further
with, and sometimes with people I have no interest in, but who I know I can reach out
to when my self-esteem meter is low for a little infusion of “See, I have value:
he wants me,” and a little hit of adrenaline from the oblique exchange.
This is a very old habit. And it’s excruciatingly unfair to
both the men and to myself, especially any of those who think there’s still a
shot. It’s unfair to me, because I continue to feed the delusion that my
self-esteem comes from others, and to crowd the field of actual potential
partners with distractions – albeit often very handsome, talented and
hilarious distractions.
Since the time that I wrote down the half dozen or so names
of those with whom I was actively engaging in this behavior, about half have
simply fallen away through circumstance and lack of my engaging. They’re
intrigues, not relationships usually, so they don’t require some big
conversation like, “Hey, I’m trying to be more clear in my relationships, and I
just want to say that I really appreciate you as a friend, and that I see us just being friends in the future.”
The funny thing about saying this is that, when I’ve given that speech in the past, usually the response is, “Yeah, totally! I don’t even know what
you’re talking about.” Which is fine. I
love you and your egos, and I will help preserve them too; I’m not here to bust
your balls. I’m just here to offer us both some clarity and let us both off the
carousel of “Will we/Won’t we” so that we can get on with our lives.
But. For some of the people on my current list, that
conversation is necessary, and in a truncated, “light” version, I
had that talk with one of these men recently. And the backlash from it was … well,
people don’t like when you change the rules in the middle of the game. And I’m
having to show up for the fall-out of that, even though I just want to avoid
it. I participated in the game, I should participate in the dénouement.—Oh, but
how much easier to Cut & Run!! Oh, old M.O., how I love you! … and miss you.
Because I don’t really do or want to do that anymore. See:
first subset of humans: retracting from relationships because I don’t believe I
can show up.
It’s the same underlying belief in this second category. 
More will be revealed, and I have some writing to do and a conversation to have
with some for whom I’ve changed the rules. It’s not comfortable, but neither
is predicating a relationship on false hope.
The final category, I see now, has its foundation in the
self-same belief that I can’t show up for relationships. In this case, with my
dad, I’m being asked to be honest with him in a way that frightens the shit out
of me.
I would LOVE to lie,
avoid, detach, retreat, and retract. But each and every day since the
invitation to his wedding came in over the phone, I’ve been called to take a
different course. Because, I
have been using the above mechanisms for how to
manage this relationship. I’ve
been
detached and retracted, and avoidant. And, much like with the men, I’ve created a
game that I don’t want to play. One in which my dad thinks I want or can have a
relationship with him.
To tangent:
This morning, I will get an ultrasound of my liver to confirm or disconfirm cirrhosis. About
two months ago, my liver enzymes came up elevated, and although I simply think
it’s my body’s reparation from 6 months of chemo a bit more than a year ago, I
am also very aware that in Chinese medicine, the liver is the seat of anger.
And two months ago, I was very angry. For a long time. And this dad stuff only
serves to aggravate it.
I was at my therapist’s last Wednesday, and I told her that
I would really love to be able to forgive him, but I am not able to do that.
I’m terrified that my lack of forgiveness for him is perpetuating the problems
in my life, and creating holes in the foundation of my life and relationships
and happiness — and my health.
I told her, it’s astonishing to me that I can have
forgiveness for my rapists, but not have any for him. Compassion, I have in
crateloads. I know how this person came to be, and it’s a sad state of affairs.
But, no matter what modes of self repair I try, I can’t find my way to
forgiving him, and I feel that I need to
in order to move on with my life.
She said something critically important: You can’t
manufacture forgiveness.
If I’m not there, then I’m not there.
“But what about that he’s getting older, and what if he dies
and this is unresolved?”
You can’t manufacture forgiveness.
I can’t bully or force myself into a feeling that I don’t
have. She said that I have some word she couldn’t place that indicates deep disappointment. And betrayal. And this is true.
And I would love to “get over it.” But I’m not there yet,
and beating myself up for not being at a place where I’m not doesn’t help me
get there quicker.
I honestly don’t know if I’ll get to this place this
lifetime. The very last time I was vulnerable to him and depended on him, he
used it as a later opportunity to shame me for not being the daughter he wants. This
is a Catch-22 relationship.
But. It’s not.
The catch is that I have to be willing to show up with my
truth, which, like my friends and like those men, is that I don’t like who I’m
being in this relationship, and it’s harming me. I don’t like to show up in a
falsetto range “happy” conversation with him, when that’s not at all true for
me, and so I avoid the conversations. But, he’s pressing now, and there’s a
deadline.
The truth will out, as Shakespeare wrote. The work on my part
will be to get ready to deliver it. To get ready by remembering I’m acting in
an esteemable way by showing up for my part of the relationship. I’m also
working on steadying myself for the fallout, of which I anticipate there will
be much.
Again, people don’t like when you change the rules in the
middle of the game.
But this was a game I started playing when I was a child.
The rules have changed. It’s time for me
to let the other players know. 

To let them know I’ve stopped playing. 

abundance · aspiration · change · ease · energy · possibility · self-care · self-love

Fulcrum

(No, sorry, this has nothing to with the group of evil spies on the t.v. show Chuck.)

Ever since I listened to this podcast on the development of energy efficiency, I’ve been thinking about developing a process to create more while expending less.

In “olden times,” the podcast said, a day’s work could earn you an hour, maybe, of candlelight. Imagine having to work an entire day, just to get one hour of power to your iPhone, let alone your refrigerator or car.

In contrast, through scientific achievement we now, through a day’s work, earn a whole lot more power through our effort.

… I can’t remember how many days it reported precisely, but to give perspective to it: I pay on average $12 a month for my PG&E bill. (Granted I have most of my stuff attached to power strips I turn off before I leave, and never leave things plugged in that I don’t have to.) But, if I earn more than that per hour of my work, I’ve earned myself over a month of power in 60 minutes.

The point is, science has created a system whereby we work less to produce more. Our efforts are magnified through efficiency — we don’t have to work as much or as hard to get what we need. Science created a fulcrum, a point on which we can pivot our efforts to enhance them exponentially.

In my life, I am in a process and a pattern where I work a lot, like most of us, and what I earn from that pay supports a life that is getting by. I’m not saving much. I’m not spending much. I’m pretty much working to get by.

And I’ve decided I’d like a fulcrum.

To be specific, I’d like to work less and earn more. (Wouldn’t we all? But yes, isn’t that the point — perhaps we can.)

I did some calculating this weekend, and I can earn what I’d like to be earning (more than a “getting by” amount) by working half the time, 20 hours a week, if I triple my hourly wage. Sounds far fetched perhaps. But stranger things have happened. And the rate I’d need to earn isn’t outrageous. It’s actually pretty attainable for a skilled service.

The question now is, what will the service, my fulcrum, be?

At various times, I’ve teased the idea of throwing caution and (my own) morality to the wind and thought of prostitution. I’m sure I could earn there, but at what other cost? Result: rejected.

Other thoughts:
Consulting — in what?
Counseling — perhaps — more schooling then?
Coaching — maybe — more schooling, too.

But, we’re back to the point of the fulcrum — I can expend energy now in creating my fulcrum. It’ll likely take time and effort, but boy howdy! The results!

I don’t know yet what the outcome of this line of thinking will produce, but I like that I’m thinking this way, out of the box of where I usually look. Instead of looking again at the job sites I always look at to get a higher paying job but work the same number of hours, I’m realizing I need a different way.

Because I need to be available to the projects that ignite me, and I have to give myself the time and space to do that. … Without being a starving artist — I simply refuse to struggle more than I have to. It’s not fair to me anymore, when I know there can be another way.

So, if I can find a kind of steady-ish, scheduled-ish vocation that allows me to produce more while expending less, … well, as Archimedes said when demonstrating the lever:

“Give me the place to stand, and I shall move the earth.”

adulthood · anger · change · family · love · recovery

Wilderness Survival

So, here’s a funny.

Remember when I posted that blog about finding equanimity in my relationships? About not being thrown by others emotions (or even my own)? Yeah, that one I posted on Friday… three days ago?

Well, guess what I’ve been given the opportunity to practice these last three days?

Bingo!

To be respectful, I will simply say that I saw many chances to retaliate and behave how I used to — particularly, by being curt, punishing, and seethingly silent. If I behave that way, you, of course, will apologize for your behavior, and change in the way that I want you to, right?

Unfortunately, or fortunately, I really noticed how I wanted to react, my first reaction. How my disappointment wanted to come out as being mean. Instead, I tried to my best to “let it go.” I had that silly Frozen song in my head a lot this weekend!

How others are choosing to behave is none of my business. As it affects me, it is my business. But it’s up to me to choose how I want that to be expressed.

Let’s just say that I was pissed, so much so that I was on the phone while driving, and got pulled over by a cop before I even left San Francisco.

Luckily I was let off with a warning (and I know how much those tickets cost!), but it gave me the opportunity to pause and look at why I was behaving in the way I was — in a way that wasn’t good for me.

The whole weekend ended up, for me, being an exercise in letting other people have their emotions and their actions, and not being drawn into that drama. It’s camping. It’s supposed to be light, fun, and not particularly insightful, except maybe the insight and rest and joy that comes from being in the silence of the forest. Which, is never actually that silent, once you get quiet enough. That’s one of the things I love about it. To hear the rustle of the trees, the little animals, the little noises. How this tree sounds as it sways in the wind as opposed to that tree.

Luckily, I was able to ask for some of that time for myself, so that I could get my stillness in.

I am no saint, and I am no angel, and I have no business judging others, or assuming that they should be any way other than they are. But I do get to ask for what I need, and I do get to behave in a way that is in alignment with how I want to be. Despite that my brain gremlins are momentarily eviscerating you.

Upon arrival home to Oakland, I get a phone call. It’s my dad.

Really?

I let it go to voicemail. I’m emptying out the cooler in my bathtub. It rings again.

Now I think it’s an emergency. Nope: After a decade of being engaged to the same woman, he’s finally getting married.

The last weekend of the play I’m playing the lead in.

I was *informed* I should see if they can get the understudy to do that weekend. I wasn’t asked what play it was. I wasn’t told congratulations. I was told, in the voice of force only my father knows how to invoke, that I should be there.

I told him I’d ask about the understudy.

I called my brother, who’d left me a voicemail about this earlier that day. If the invitations were going out the next week, it was clear that this plan was in place quite some time ago, no? Could be that I could have been informed a little earlier, no?

I was virulently reminded of when I was sick with cancer, and my father told me that he could only call me after dark, when I was exhausted from my days of chemo, that “This is how it works.” This is what he told me about not being able to call me earlier. “This is how it works.”

After I got off the phone with him yesterday, I remembered that. This occasion, this insistence that I be there, despite whatever (SUCCESS) is going on in my life, is part of his pattern of demand, and selfishness.

And, an inability to say something like: You know, Molly, it would mean a lot to me if you could be there.

I told my brother when we were discussing the viability of my coming out, plane tickets, and where to stay, things that my dad has obviously not thought of. … that I would talk to my network. That I would look at my numbers. Maybe ask him to pay for half the plane ticket out, since I’m not in a position to go back east again right now.

But then, I do know how awful it is to ask for money from him.

So, I will talk to my network. I will repeat “Let it go” in my head, and I will remember the thing I usually forget when I feel made small by him: I am awesome.

My being in a play IS a big deal. My getting a lead role IS a big deal. I’m doing a brave and new thing. I am taking chances to be greater in my life. And the exercise in equanimity is to allow and remember and embrace and be bolstered by these facts.

It is not a surprise that the weekend I claim that I’ve moving “beyond” being thrown by others, I’m given several (immediate!) chances to practice what I preached.

A mentor once told me that our “character defects” (or, outmoded coping mechanisms) aren’t relieved from us. They aren’t removed. Instead, we’re given opportunities to either pick them up again, or to act a different way.

I haven’t known what that other way is, until I’m given the chance to try something else. If I only reach for what I know, I do the same thing. It’s not that I feel relieved of being thrown by others’ emotions. I just feel more able to deal with what that brings up for me, and how I choose to engage with that.

What will happen with my friend? Change.

What will happen with my father? I can only hope: Change.

change · connection · disconnection · envy · friends · friendship · health · relationships · scarcity · self-care

The Facebooks.

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Yesterday, I saw another of those articles posted by a
friend on Facebook about the rose-colored facade that Facebook allows us to put out to the
world. About how we only see photos of grand trips and lattes with foam hearts drawn in
them and that uber cute one of you and your partner looking so darn happy.
This article and those I’ve seen like it tell one side of
the truth, but not all of it.
I didn’t comment on my friend’s article, as his friends were aggro-commenting about Falsebook and how pissed it makes them that we don’t see the “whole” picture of others’ lives. I didn’t want the agida
of the notifications if I put my thoughts there, so, I’ll “post” my comment here:
Facebook saves my life.
When I was first diagnosed with cancer in an ER and led
right upstairs to start intensive chemo treatment, there was no packing of
stuff, no notifying loved ones or having some hippie prayer circle. I called my
mom, and then I called one of my best friends and asked her to do the major
task of letting Facebook know, because that is – whatever feelings we all may
have about modernity, technology, and disconnection – where my friends “are.”
Because she did that for me, my friends knew where to find
me, and what to bring me, and how to get in touch with me.
A few weekends ago, an acquaintance – someone I’ve met only a
few times, someone I could say “hi” to “in real life” but
wouldn’t call “in real life,” aka a Facebook friend – put up a call to go to a local lake for a
lazy Sunday afternoon. I had no plans that day, I’d never been to that lake,
and I took a chance at spending time with someone I barely knew by letting her
know, via the Facebooks, that I would love to go with her.
We did, and I made other new (Facebook) friends. I had a
wonderful and, for me, an adventurous afternoon.
When I got frustrated with my job search recently, I threw my resume
up on my “wall,” and two people have given me actual live leads for work, and
two have contacted me to offer me help on my resume. I’ve looked at this thing
so many times, I see only dot matrix anymore.
When I couldn’t stand that I don’t know if I’ll get to go
camping this summer once rehearsals start, I let the Facebooks know I wanted to
go, and now will be going into the wilderness with “real” friends, having a respite from this
social network thing that brought this trip to fruition in the first place.
I get to see that my college roommates aren’t dead, what
state they live in, how many kids they have. I get to see friends from my high
school musical days launching and thriving in their artistic careers. I get to
read the witticisms, intrigues, and slush that my friends post, and I get to
feel that I know they’re safe.
I have learned about friends’ weddings, deaths, job changes,
moves, births, divorces, successes, struggles, and banalities. And they get to
learn about mine.
I won’t say Facebook is a benevolent entity, wanting us to
all feel connected in a disconnect era. I won’t say that this is the “best” way
of keeping in touch with people you’ve lost contact with, or moved a few zip
codes from. But it does work.
I can also see it from the side of the aggro-commenters, lambasting the system for creating a culture of constant “less than.”
I can admit that just the other day, I Facestalked a
crush’s ex, and felt the creeping compare/despair that I see so many of those
Facebook “expose” articles lament. But, what I did as I felt that gnaw of “not
as pretty, funky, cool, yoga-y, artistic, traveled, fun, witty” creep
up was not to skewer Facebook for allowing her to present an awesome and curated
face to the world. What I did was LEAVE HER PAGE.
For the love, peoples. It’s certainly not that I don’t also fall prey
to that depraved inclination and curiosity. I’ve Facestalked ex’s new
girlfriends (or wives), and I’ve Facestalked crushes exes. I’ve kept tabs on who’s “talking” to who and leaving little digital roses on one another’s doorstep. But, what I’ve
learned to do by now is to remember that a Facebook wall is NOT the whole story, but EVEN IF IT IS, it’s NOMB (none of my business).
Other people are allowed to have happy lives, curated,
sappy, enviable. And the choice I get to make is whether I want to engage with
envy, not with Facebook. 

band · change · family · fear · hope · job · scarcity · self-care · theater

Stay to Play.

I’m at my new Monday morning desk-trade shift at my gym (unlimited classes in exchange for checking people in…. at 5:30am), so I don’t know how extemporaneous I feel while techno music blares in the background, and my pulse finds center again… so perhaps this’ll just be an “update-y” kinda blog:

The play I’ve been cast in (Queen of the Amazons…!) begins rehearsals at the end of July, to perform over weekends around Labor Day. I haven’t actually opened my script since our first table reading… but I continue to take it places with me, in a good intention to read it.

In the meantime, I went to play bass yesterday with a friend and his friend — it was super fun. My poor un-practiced fingertips are a little swollen, but … man, just to be back in the loud, the beat, the fun. It was so much fun. (Did I mention it was fun?!) We’re looking at playing a date in October, and are meeting up again next Sunday. I feel… like myself, having this in my life again; being a bassist again.

My dad didn’t actually receive the Father’s Day card I sent, since he’s moved back up to New Jersey from Florida for the summer. I still haven’t returned his return voicemail, but now that I got the card back in the mail, “unable to forward,” I suppose I should find out what their “Summer” address is. And also endeavor to keep my bile and perhaps envy to a minimum.

In an exasperated flurry, last week, I sent my photos to some modeling agencies in SF, and heard back from one they’d like to see me this week. … Then I looked them up on Yelp — and if there are worse reviews on that website, I haven’t seen them! So I’m going to gauge whether that’ll be worth my time to meet with them, just for the experience, if not for the professional service of them.

I’m also in conversation with two professional leads for actual work, one I’m meeting this week, another I hope to. Both are in the “helping/teaching” professions. And I haven’t quit my job yet — YAY!!

That’s honestly been the biggest success of this whole time, for me. I am unhappy, but I’m not cut-n-running. Which is my M.O.  — In jobs and in relationships.

Granted, in both, I tend to get into them without much thought as to whether I want to be in them, get through the “honeymoon phase,” look around and say, Uh… is this really where I want to be? And that is when the cutting and running happens.

It’s not that leaving is not the appropriate move, but in jobs at least, doing so without a safety net is a recipe for desperation, low-self esteem, and the tendency to get into the same situation.

So, this “sitting on my hands” that I’ve been able to do (with the *enormous* help of friends) has been a really new thing. And, like a cigarette craving, it seems to be waning.

The more I stay in this place of active looking and active staying, … I don’t feel my throat constricting every single minute as I have in these past few weeks. That feeling of crawling out of my skin, of needing to do SOMEthing ANYthing to make this feeling stop.

The “some”thing I’m doing right now is not running. That’s been my only move before. A one-trick pony: Uncomfortable? Run!

Instead, I’ve been asking for major help from friends in helping me not to do that. And during that time, I’ve discovered … been forced to discover … other modes of action. For example, actively seeking work, finally sending out my photos to agencies, and just showing up for the rest of my life anyway.

Even though I’m unhappy, I don’t have to be unhappy.

There’s this picture I drew once in response to an exercise in a self-help book last year. It’s called “Creating a Life Worth Living” (and now sits in my Kindle, unread past Chapter 2!). But it asked us to draw a picture of how we see our life being a year from then.

In it, I drew several things, including the back of a curly-haired head facing a computer, a phone looming large near it. The only thing you see is the computer. Me staring at it.

It’s the most depressing image!

So, what would I like to change about the image, the prompt asked me? Well, I’d like that experience to fade. To fade in importance. To not be so activated and aggrieved by it.

The longer that I “sit on my [active] hands,” the less running seems like the right option for me. I like having a job while I look for other work, while I “figure out” my life. I like not feeling panicked about how I’m going to pay my rent.

But mostly what happens when I quit a job is that I cut back all the things that are fun in my life.

I can’t be a volunteer usher, because I don’t have a job. I can’t come play bass with you, because I need to be sending out my resume. I can’t laugh, because I’m in scarcity.

Staying in a place that is not ideal is not ideal, of course, but I feel like I’m developing alternative ways of dealing with that, ways that include having fun, even as it’s hard.

change · childhood · compassion · growth · healing · health · joy · pain · past · recovery · truth

Not Knot.

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Last night, I listened to a woman share her intense pain and
entanglement with her past. In listening to her, I realized something crucial for myself: I don’t actually feel that way anymore.
Despite the trailing tendrils and my habitual gnawing back
at it, my past and I are actually not so enmeshed anymore – at least, as I
listened to her, not nearly as much as we were. No. That’s not accurate. We’re
just not. It’s there. I poke at it, like a plate of live octopus bits, still
wriggling on the plate, long after everyone’d finished jamming them into hot
sauce and tried to chew and swallow before they attached to the inside of your
gullet. (Uh… See: My years living in South Korea for reference!)
But, I poke at it, and if I do, it’ll squirm. But for the
most part, my past isn’t a thing crawling toward and suffocating me anymore.
Listening to this woman, hearing her say that she can’t seem
to get under her past, I realized very
clearly that I have. Again, it’s there, but it’s not a shackle around my ankle anymore; it’s
just some dust I can kick off my shoe.
(Apparently, this’ll be a metaphor-heavy blog!)
I have liked to think
that my past is something I’m still slogging through, carrying around behind me
like a behemoth, its hot putrid breath at my neck asking me how it feels,
whether I am able to ignore it now, How ‘bout now, Now?
I’ve liked to think that my past is still a quicksand pit
I’m wading through, slow as molasses, fetid and shoes lost.
But, something about having this woman’s story as comparison
(not better or worse, simply different), I got to see into a mirror that I haven’t been able to
hold up for myself.
I am not
there anymore
. I am under my past. I’ve excavated, charted, spelunked
and had more than one canary die down there with me.
But, in the end, in the now, we’re kind of done there.
There’s a cave we’ve dug down into, we’ve opened the land around it, we’ve
cared and cleansed and ameliorated the land. We’ve begun to forget that it was
a horrid, dark, and dismal place, now in the open space that we’ve created from
it, and we’ve used that dank soil to plant new things. Exposed to the sun, it’s
something new, now.
(I do like me my extended metaphors!)
(Though, actually, I’ve done this exact work in
visualization meditation over many years, opening the cave of my pain and my past, exploring, mourning, and later watching flowers begin to sprout where there was only hurt. I’ve done this work of opening my past and my pain up. It’s
finished, or as finished as it can be.)
So, I got to see something yesterday that I haven’t been
able to see yet: The truth.
As I listened with compassion to this woman tell us, tearful
and anguished, that she is so knotted with her past she can’t see her way out,
I wrote in my notebook:
           
My past is really not that knotted anymore.
                       
Actually.

change · childhood · despair · empathy · family · father · fear · forgiveness · loneliness · love · recovery · sorrow

1 + 1 = Forgiveness?

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Because he was an electrical engineer and adept with numbers, it was always my father I went to with math homework.
This near-nightly escapade always took the same tired route:
My dad trying to explain to me a concept that was assumed, understood, and so
ingrained for him by now that he couldn’t
explain it properly, and his getting frustrated when I couldn’t understand what
for him was plain and evident.
I would get frustrated at his impatience, and the fact that
I had to do this homework so I had to sit with him. And eventually, we’d become locked
in a battle of wills so contentious, we’d end up screaming at each other.
We call this 4th grade.
My brother told me a little more than a year ago, when I was
going through chemo treatment and my dad was unable to show up for me, that
what I was asking my dad to do (show up emotionally) was like asking a crippled
person to walk: It’s impossible. It’s unfair, and it’s presumptive.
The same assumption that my dad had about teaching me math
concepts, the ease and obviousness and facility he had with numbers, I have about emotional matters. I simply assume that because this is something so damned simple and easy for me, even
when it’s painful, that
everyone
should be able to do this.
I am making the exact same mistake he did with me: I am
shaming someone for something they are not able to do.
So, when I contemplate following up my dad’s return
voicemail from Father’s Day, I have found that I want to do what I always want
to do: Hash it out. EXPLAIN to him what
is so obvious to me: I needed you to show up for me, and you didn’t. In fact,
you blamed me for not being attentive to your needs. And you threw in my face every time
I’ve failed in my life as if that would manipulate me into realizing, once
again, you’re the savior and I’m the fuck-up.
I want to tell him this, of course, in a gentle, loving way,
because then, of course, he’ll be able to hear it and understand it.
If I explain it really  s l o w l y  as if to a child, my dad can’t possibly not
understand that his behavior across the years has been abominable at many times,
and that I don’t like to be in touch with him because of it. That I don’t trust
him because of it.
However. I’m simply expecting what he expected of me back
then: Comprehension.
No Comprende, Mamasita. He don’t get it. He won’t get it. And you can sit with as many graphing
calculators and pie charts of his behavior and your feelings of hurt and
betrayal as you choose. You can even make a PowerPoint presentation about how
his increased anger and violence was inversely proportionate to your trust of
him.
However. I’d be wasting my breath. And do people even use
Powerpoint anymore?
I still remember concepts my dad taught me about math. I
used the one to figure out a percentage this morning. Somewhere between the
yelling and the tears and the slammed books and doors, I did learn something.
But what was the price of that education?
My dad was not a teacher. And my dad is not an empathetic
person. It just is. Just as a paraplegic, my asking him to do what he is
mentally, emotionally, and spiritually unable to do is unfair of me. My expectations on him won’t make him walk.
I hate relearning this lesson. It too ends in tears most
times. But, today, I do have a choice between struggling to opening his mind, or to simply let him be a cripple and relate to him as such. Because it seems like the person who
needs to learn something is not my dad (someone I have no control over). The
person who needs to learn empathy here, soy yo.