anger · disconnection · equanimity · family · love · self-abandonment · self-care

There always had to be a fly…

Normal
0
0
1
633
3613
30
7
4437
11.1287

0

0
0

…in the ointment.
If things were going well, there was always the knowledge
that my father’s parents were shut-ins and deleterious hoarders. Or that my mom
was manic-depressive. Or that my brother had a horrible stutter.
There was always the reminder that my clothing was bought at
discount stores, that my father had an awful temper, or that my mom’s parents
had died under circumstances that ripped her family apart and isolated us against them.
If things were going well, there was always a skeleton or two
to whisper in your ear about not believing good things were for you, about
being dragged down, about not being allowed to be happy.
Today, those long-quieted skeletons, imagined they’ve been
exorcised for years, have begun their murmurous palaver again.
Yesterday, I had a phone call with my mother. She is sick.
Again. It’s the same or similar cold/sinus infection she’s been struggling
against for over a year. And when it came up last year, when she didn’t know
why she kept getting sick, when doctors didn’t immediately know why either, I
called my psychic.
Because at the time, all roads led to cancer. Did she have
it? What was going on? What can I do?
No, said the woman on the phone. It’s not cancer, but
whatever it is, if she doesn’t deal with this, with what’s underlying it, it could be the beginning of a long road to the
end. This could be the thing that takes her out.
Whatever your thoughts about intuitives aside, I’d worked
with her enough that she knew of what she spoke. And from all indications since
that phone call over a year ago, it’s proving pretty accurate. My mom is still
sick. Healthier, Sick, Healthier Sick.
And I’m dragged immediately back into a curtain-drawn
bedroom where she’d curled up against the light, fighting another one of her
chronic migraines. I’m dragged immediately back into being a child taking care
of her mother, telling her to get out of bed. Leaving her there, and getting my
brother and I out the door for school.
My mother is a woman of chronic ailments. And this newest
one, whatever its cause, reason, purpose, is dragging me down again with her.
What is love, comes the question? What is equanimity? What
is detachment, enlightenment? Fate? What is the caustic, oxidizing rust that
others’ baggage leaches onto you and your own path?
And what is my responsibility in helping them through their
pain?
Especially if they don’t recognize it as such.
So much has come up lately about codependence versus
interdependence. About leaving others to their experiences and feelings, and
letting that not affect what I’m doing and how I’m feeling. Even something as
simple as the play, and trying to not let the audiences’ reactions sway my
mood.
I feel angry. I feel angry this feels like it’s happening
again. I feel angry that I’m powerless about how she cares for and treats her
body, about how she schedules her work in the 12-hour days without lunch
breaks. About how she spends her off days flattened, recuperating from her over-working.
I’ve had to do so much work on letting her have her
experiences, despite my opinions, and
yet. And yet. I’m human. And I love her, and I don’t want her to be in pain.
And I don’t want her to deteriorate.
And moreso, I don’t want her life to affect mine.
When does a child grow up? What is the role of a loved one?
How can you, and can you, let someone crawl along the bottom of their own
experience, while you make strides in the direction of your own fulfillment?
Because that’s what’s at stake here. Callous as it may sound, it doesn’t matter,
ultimately, what happens with my mom. What matters is what I take on about it. How
I allow it to affect me. And mostly, can I continue to make my life what I want
it to be when there are still murmuring
skeletons?
My whole life, I’ve been distracted by the flies. I’ve
allowed my attention to be derailed in fishing them out, or I’ve simply allowed
them to decree that I cannot be happy because they exist. That I cannot find
success because there are flaws in the tapestry of my surroundings.
Obviously, I write about it today because I’m upset and I
don’t have the answer to these
questions. Because I don’t know
how
to move forward when there are tendrils threatening to draw you back.
So, for today, I’ll leave it both as an open question, and
as evidence of a success. Because, today, I get to tell you about it. And
darkness can’t live in the light. 

Advertisements
authenticity · connection · disconnection · poetry · theater

"Person-To-Person"

Of course it is a pity that so much of all creative work is so closely related to the personality of the one who does it.

It is sad and embarrassing and unattractive that those emotions that stir him deeply enough to demand expression, and to charge their expression with some measure of light and power, are nearly all rooted, however changed in their surface, in the particular and sometimes peculiar concerns of the artist himself, that special world, the passions and images of it that each of us weaves about him from birth to death, a web of monstrous complexity, spun forth at a speed that is incalculable to a length beyond measure, from the spider mouth of his own singular perceptions.

It is a lonely idea, a lonely condition, so terrifying to think of that we usually don’t. And so we talk to each other, write and wire each other, call each other short and long distance across land and sea, clasp hands with each other at meeting and at parting, fight each other and even destroy each other because of this always somewhat thwarted effort to break through walls to each other. As a character in a play once said, “We’re all of us sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins.”

Personal lyricism is the outcry of prisoner to prisoner from the cell in solitary where each is confined for the duration of his life.

[…]

Of course I know that I have sometimes presumed too much upon corresponding sympathies and interest in those to whom I talk boldly, and this has led to rejections that were painful and costly enough to inspire more prudence. But when I weigh one thing against another, an easy liking against a hard respect, the balance always tips the same way, and whatever risk of being turned a cold shoulder, I still don’t want to talk to people only about the surface aspects of their lives, the sort of things that acquaintances laugh and chatter about on ordinary social occasions.

I feel that they get plenty of that, and heaven knows so do I, before and after the little interval of time in which I have their attention and say what I have to say to them. The discretion of social conversation, even among friends, is exceeded only by the discretion of “the deep six,” that grave wherein nothing is mentioned at all. Emily Dickinson, that lyrical spinster of Amherst, Massachusetts, who wore a strict and savage heart on a taffeta sleeve, commented wryly on that kind of posthumous discourse among friends in these lines:

       I died for beauty, but was scarce
       Adjusted in the tomb,
       When one who died for truth was lain
       In an adjoining room. 


       He questioned softly why I failed?
       “For beauty,” I replied. 
       “And I for truth,the two are one;
       We brethren are,” he said. 


       And so, as kinsmen met at night,
       We talked between the rooms,
       Until the moss had reached our lips,
       And covered up our names.

Meanwhile!I want to go on talking to you as freely and intimately about what we live and die for as if I knew you better than anyone else whom you know.

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, preface to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1955.

avoidance · community · connection · disconnection · equanimity · fear · isolation · love · relationships · synchronicity

Independence

Normal
0
0
1
644
3673
30
7
4510
11.1287

0

0
0

I was driving down to San Jose for the Queen concert the
other night by myself. I was meeting my friends who were coming from the city,
and we decided it was more time efficient if I drove from the East Bay myself.
I drove in traffic, behind, in front of, and next to other
people driving by themselves. No carpool lane for us. And I reflected on how in
this age of disconnection, where people seem to be lamenting the loss of
connection, community, and interdependence, we certainly do like to be alone a
lot.
Or, perhaps “like” is a strong word. We’re enabled in being alone a lot.
I live in a studio apartment alone with my cat. I drive
alone to work because public transportation to my job is not feasible. I can
spend entire days not connecting with another human being. Without hugging
another human being.
And then, like yesterday, I run into one of these human
beings at the farmer’s market, that I went to alone, and get a surprise hug and
get to share a moment of catch-up and a smile. A farmer’s market where I
finally know the bread vendor by name and he knows mine, so we can say hello
properly after a year of my buying the same whole wheat. Where I ran into one of
the families from my work and spoke with her and her son, who was running circles around a
tree again and again, asking me between breaths what I was doing there.
I was invited to go to dinner and the movies last night with two
girlfriends. I could have said, No, I have to pack for my camping trip, which
is so totally true, and imminent right now. And I literally asked myself which
was more important: going to the grocery store before it closed to get organic meat,
or spending time with a woman who’s moving to Nashville in two weeks.
I chose the friends. And I’ll be going to the store once it
opens before we hit the road.
Which is another one of these connection moves I made
recently. An awareness that I had recently: I miss hanging out with groups of
folks. I am great one-on-one with
people. I can talk and gab and get deep. But there’s something for me about
being with a few people that ignites a different side of my personality. I come
alive in a different way. A) it’s usually less intense and deep conversation
when it’s more than one person. But not always. I just like groups of folks.
I’m excellent at big and small talk, and I like people. –Well, some of them,
anyway!
So, I’m at the part in my healing work where I’m to make
amends in relationships that need mending. And this is one of them: recognizing
that I have a deficiency in my social life that affects my joy. And then doing
something about it.
Because of this awareness, I organized this camping trip.
Because of this desire to be with folks,
I am joining some of them to see
The Goonies for $5 movie night at the Paramount next week, and I
asked if we wanted to have dinner beforehand, and I made that reservation for us.
Because, independence is appropriate, as far as it goes. Not
needing people to do for me that which I can do for myself is independence. Not
needing someone to constantly bail me out financially is independence. Not depending on a substance to
make me feel normal or different or a version of “better” that is unattainable,
is independence.
But when it comes to human relationships, I like to strive
(these days, at least) for interdependence.
Not co-dependence, which is
not
the opposite of independence, by the way. But equanimity – a word I only
learned a few years ago, but has been a soft murmur in the back of my head
since then. To me, equanimity means not being emotionally tossed around by
others, and not tossing them around either. It means having boundaries for
myself and allowing others to have theirs. It means
creating, actively trying to build relationships with people
on a basis of trust, mutuality, empathy and shared values.
This is not always easy. In fact, it can get right messy,
and it has, for me in many of them, as we crawl our way out of strict
independence or co-dependence into interdependence. Relationships have
suffered; some have been lost, and others have been strengthened exponentially.
It takes work to give up independence, or, as I’m using it,
isolation.
For right now, I can claim independence from my need to
isolate. Because I am learning how to show up honestly, with boundaries and
without iron walls or punishing.
If I can do that, then there’s no reason not to be in community.
Happy Freedom from Bondage Day, Kids!! – Whatever that looks
like to you. 

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

The Facebooks.

Normal
0
0
1
563
3213
26
6
3945
11.1287

0

0
0

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. 

avoidance · community · connection · courage · disconnection · fear · laughter · life · love · meaning · messiness · purpose · vulnerability

"Scott, if your life had a face, I would punch it. I would punch your life in the face." Scott Pilgrim Vol 4

Normal
0
0
1
449
2560
21
5
3143
11.1287

0

0
0

As those of you who follow (or haven’t yet hidden) my
Facebook know by now, I’m actively looking for work. I have been, but some dam broke
this week, and I’ve pulled out more of the stops – those stops tend to look
like “fear of looking bad, desperate, needy.” However, SURPRISE! I feel those
things, so I guess if I look that way, then I’m just looking honest, huh?
I’ve been reading back into some of Brene Brown’s work
lately. I have her book The Gifts of Imperfection, and have been reading through the Amazon previews of her other two
books, most especially,
Daring Greatly, because it’s got her own biographical story at the beginning that includes the following exchange: 

      Therapist: What does it [vulnerability] feel like?
      Brene Brown: Like I’m coming out of my skin. Like I need to fix whatever’s happening and make it better.
      Th: And if you can’t?
      BB: Then I feel like punching someone in the face.
Nonetheless, what she goes on to discuss is the virulent necessity to
be vulnerable in order to achieve anything of worth, mainly love, connection,
and compassion.
People have commented to me often that what I write here is “so
honest.” Which I guess is another way of saying I allow myself to be vulnerable
here. Partly I do this because this is a protected forum. There are many layers
to getting here: You have to be my Facebook friend (or somehow have the link),
and then you have to click on it.
Well, two layers
then!
So, this is a bit of a more private club than public. And I
suppose that I feel brave enough to share this all with those of you who have
leaped those two “massive” hurdles toward connection with me. If you’re this
interested, or amused, then why shouldn’t
you get to see some of me? Which this blog always is: some of me. – It’s honest, but it’s
not my diary, nor my therapist. (Aren’t you grateful!)
I suppose that mostly what I feel about sharing here, and why I feel it’s “safe” vulnerability, is that
you’ve probably felt this way, too. I have heard that feedback many times from people from wildly different arenas of my life and backgrounds and
circumstances.
We all feel the same
way at times. Have felt that way, or simply “get” what it feels like to do so.
In short, we are an empathetic and compassionate community
just by my writing and your reading. We create connection, however zero’d and
one’d it is, in this exchange of ideas.
I suppose I write all this today to say– No, to remind myself that
I have great capacity for courage, authenticity and vulnerability. I don’t mind
telling you about the depths because you’ve been there, and can relate. I don’t
mind sharing my journey into and out of the chaos of my brain, because,
surprise, you all have brains, too!
In this time when things for me feel uncertain and
uncharted, this blog is a constant and a place for me where I know that I can do and
be well. Even when I’m vomiting on this page, and raging into and at it, I know
you’re here, smiling, waiting for me to pull through. Or nodding and saying, Me
too.
And. (Point):
If I have the balls to be as vulnerable and honest as I am
here behind these hurdles, then there is a significantly greater chance that I
can own my authenticity out in the “real” world.
Which I’m pretty sure is what all this mind-fucking job/meaning of life search is about, anyway.