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

There always had to be a fly…

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…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. 

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abundance · contentment · family · joy · laughter · love

Pumpktoberfest

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I’m sure I write about it every year, but as the wafts of
pumpkin spice glide out of my coffee mug, I’m moved to write about it again.
Fall. Fall on the East Coast. Growing up where Fall means a
certain smell of chill and decaying leaves. Kind of wet, sometimes, the piles
you’ve helped stuff into enormous black plastic bags that I’m sure are illegal in
California by now. And heaping them into the street, spilling off the curb, where you
and your little brother will take a bounding head-start and leap into the
center of the pile, the slightly moth-eaten leaves enveloping you up to your
shoulders, softening your fall and bathing you and your senses in its musty,
alive scent.
I noticed the leaves blowing last night, and here, they
sound different as they tumble across the pavement; they sound dry and tired,
each one brown and curled up on itself. Back East, they’re still half-alive
when they fall, some of them. So they lilt and are soft, and … colored. How
many people must write about the color of the leaves, the ombre fade of red and
orange and gold. There’s something about their display that radiates joy and
change and marks something miraculous, something that we, as humans, have the
unique privilege to recognize and admire.
Pumpkins start popping up on doorsteps. We hang Indian corn,
the same set of three tied to our front door for as long as memory serves, and three small palm-sized
pumpkins decorate our own stoop, before squirrels begin to bite chunks out of them, and a jack-o-lantern we’ve spent all day carving.
Fall begins the part of the year when I felt and feel most
loved and normal and inviting and, again, loved. It begins with
Halloween, and follows through Christmas (celebrated at my dad’s folks
house, who are/were vaguely Christian). The time of year when we feel swept up
in something, in something communal, town-wide, Jersey-wide.
We celebrated, we decorated, we invited, and we lit fires in
the fireplace, and ate my dad’s pumpkin pie. Our one time of year when my
family could gather together in a semblance of normality, and put on the most
average and happy face we could, and it was all decadent. The feeling of
it was.
The change of the season with its scent and sights, and the
length of the days, the incoming dusk approaching like a secret to encase you.
Creeping slowly closer and closer, but welcoming, the cool still amenable, coaxing and
gliding you home in the dim light, toward a mug of hot apple cider perhaps. Maybe
one of the gallons we’d picked up from our annual apple-picking trip, harvesting hoards of
apples, plucked in those wire basket poles that my brother and I would wave
menacingly at each other, slipping on fallen rotting apples in the
orchard, filling up woven wooden baskets we could barely carry out.
It’s the change of the light and the scent that’s been my
indicator these California days. It’s not the same as Back East, but there’s still the
aroma of crispness and an excitement.
I will begin to buy all things pumpkin, like the rest of
America. Like the pumpkin pancakes my friend treated me to yesterday, and the abomination
of flavored coffee that I’m drinking right now.
I will use the pumpkin ganache cookie recipe that was given
to me by a college roommate and make the pumpkin pie that my dad’s passed down
through trial and error – a recipe that would never, ever, include “Pumpkin Pie
Spice,” but itself includes about 8 individual spices, which I own expressly
for the pie’s creation.
Fall is a time of coming back to center, of reigning in the
resources. Of whittling down excess and getting the necessities done in the
light of day. It’s a time that rings with good memories, full, warm, joyous
memories. Fall reminds me of the earth, of how the natural world has shaped my
experience. And it tastes like the release of a constriction you’ve held the whole year, the exhale and inhale of a breath you haven’t dared relax to take. 
To me, Autumn tastes like love.

compassion · disappointment · family · self-care · self-preservation

Stay in Touch.

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I received a birthday card in the mail from my father the
other day.
On the front are printed all these large, cartoony instructions saying, “Daughter, Whatever you do, don’t open this card!”
On opening it, the message inside reads, “You still don’t do
as you’re told.”
And there’s a handwritten note, wishing me a happy birthday
and telling me to stay in touch.
It’s both funny and tragic. It’s funny, not for it’s printed
content, but for the fact that it continues my father’s understanding of me and
our relationship: He’s the good one, I’m the fuck-up. He makes the rules, and I don’t follow them. What a set-up. 
This is “funny,” because it’s sad. Because it’s continued
confirmation of how unrealistic our relationship is, and because it confirms
that this is not a person I want to be in communication with.
Lest you think me harsh to judge or condemn a relationship
based on one tin-eared card, believe me, this is the softest of these messages
I’ve received. And continue to receive from him.
On Saturday, I got the chance to talk to my mentor. We were
talking about amending relationships where there is discord, or where I simply
don’t feel at peace.
This, of course, is one of them.
But, my father was listed in a category of others, too:
People I’ve fallen out of touch with out of self-preservation.
I wanted to talk to my mentor about whether I’m in the
wrong… that still-lingering “good daughter” or “good friend” guilt. Shouldn’t
you show up no matter what? Isn’t that love? Or is that obligation? And does it
matter?
Isn’t it my job to adjust myself and meet these people where
they’re at, regardless of how they’re harming me?
Because as painful as it is to know how intractable the
situation with my dad is, I still lash myself with reproval.
I should be able to withstand my crazy aunt’s needling about
my family’s ills. I should be able to listen to her constant health complaints
and victim-laden phone calls. I should be able to because she’s family and because she’s alienated nearly everyone else
she’s related to.
I should be able to sit in a car with my manic friend, even
though I get quiet and withdrawn around that kind of unpredictable behavior. I
should be able to meet her level of enthusiasm and kookiness because that’s
cool, right? Why can’t I just be cool, like her?
I should be able to be in relationships with people I don’t
want to be in relationships with, because that’s what “good” people do, right? Because
that’s what we’re told good people do.
But, to quote that myopic card, I rarely do what I’m told. …
What my mentor offered me was there are some relationships that
are once or twice a year out-reaches. And that’s okay.
Send your aunt a birthday and holiday card, and call it a
day.
Allow your friend who makes you uncomfortable to have her
own experience, and you don’t have to be a part of it if you don’t like how you
feel around her.
Reply to your dad’s occasional emails, thank him for the
card. And leave it at that.
There are relationships that we invest more in and there are
those we invest less. It doesn’t mean that we don’t care for the person. It
doesn’t mean that they are bad, or that I am.
It just means that my self-exacting standard of
communication needs relaxing.
You don’t have to invest in relationships that cause you
pain.
Believe me, I’ve done enough work in trying to make these
particular ones work. To find common ground and compromise and a way of
communicating that is healthy, or at least not harmful. And unfortunately,
there isn’t one.
I wish and try and hope and beg Universes that they were,
particularly with my dad, because who wouldn’t? But, this is an intractable
situation. And I have bloodied my fists knocking on a closed door, trying to
break in through a side window, and torn fingernails trying to dig underneath
all the battle defenses that each of us have drawn to come to a relationship with him that I can be in.
But, when you come to the end of the line, it’s time to get off
the train. This one doesn’t go any farther, no matter how much I wish it did.
And I do. And I probably always will.
But in the reality of today, these relationships are not serving
either of us. I can’t demand someone to show up or behave how I want. I can
only adjust myself to what is. And allow myself the compassion to stop
haranguing myself for not being able to adjust them.
And I can do that by staying in touch. Just barely. 

anxiety · connection · family · honesty · love · self-care

Incoming!

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Enjoying my last moments of solitude in my studio apartment
before I pick my mom up from the airport this afternoon. Delighted though I am
that she’s coming to visit, I look forward to someday having an apartment where we both
have bedroom doors!
Also, my voice is going, a combination of sickness, rehearsal + yesterday’s voice lesson, when it really began to go. My voice
teacher advised that I avoid talking as best as I could during the next few days…
I replied, (Fat chance!) You know my mom’s coming into town, right? 
That woman and I could talk until all the stars burned out
and still have things to talk about that were interesting. It’s who and how we
are. How we’ve been. But, I need to “rest my voice,” as the teacher put it, so either my mom
will do the majority of talking, or she’ll get really good at lip-reading!
I’m excited to see her, to have her here. But, I also know
that it means three and a half days of mostly “up” energy, or at least engaged
energy, which is hard for me. Because it’s a “visit,” it means that we have a
lot to talk about, and a lot to try to “fit in” to three days, since we see one
another maybe once or twice a year. Oakland may be the Brooklyn of the Bay, but
it doesn’t mean I can get to her home of Manhattan by
the Q train.
What I realize is that I’m going to have to police myself
these few days, getting over a bad week of being sick still, but also, just for
general self-care.
My mom, whether it’s the New Yorker or the mania in her,
runs on an elevated frequency. As her child and a game partner, I tend to rise to
her level. Some people call that level anxiety(!), but as someone once said to
me, The difference between nervous and excited is breathing.
So, I’m going to have to remind myself to breathe, to take
time to be a little more still and not quite as participatory as perhaps I might be, and to also let her know that’s my intention. Also, I’m going to have to inwardly remember to un-constrict, to let her
vibrate at whatever frequency she wants to without feeling I have to meet her there. That’s my
part in this: she’s not asking me to be all abuzz with her;
I’m doing that myself.
It’s hard, as I’ve said, when people change the rules to a
game you’ve played for a long time; but I also don’t like partially dreading
spending compacted time with her. It’s a litt– a lot exhausting to try to
match that level of up-ness and on-ness, and, well, it’s why she’s the one with bipolar disorder, and not me.
There’s also a crash when you’re up that high.
I’ve tried to learn to moderate my own extroverted and
introverted behavior, balancing a few hours of out-ness with a few of
aloneness. It doesn’t have to be inside my home, away from the world; just
alone-ness is enough, on a walk, at a museum alone, at a movie alone. As much
as I thrive on connection and conversation, and could indeed talk to the end of
time, I’d be working on fumes by then.
Self-care will be the name of the game. I know that’s
changing the rules a little from how we’ve always been and always communicated, but if I let her know that I’ve introduced a new
rule to our relationship, at least for now—for even one hour out of the 16 we’ll
be spending conscious with one another—I think it will be respected and
absorbed.
It might not be a smooth transition into a different way of
“being together,” but I think in the long run, it will help us both to be
present with the other in a way that feels nurturing.
Which, I think is what a mother-daughter relationship is
supposed to be anyway.

connection · family · joy · theater

Hum a few bars?

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There’s a famous story in our nuclear family history:
My brother was maybe five years old. He swaggered into the
room. Feet planted, arms wide, he opened his lips and belted, “GOTTA
DANCE!… Gotta Dance, Gotta Dance, Got ta Daaance.”
This, friends, is a move from a song in Singin’ in the
Rain
. My family trades in musicals.
Broadway and movie musicals. On frequent rotation in our VCR were
Singin’
in the Rain
, Meet me in St. Louis, Calamity Jane, On The Town. Eventually,
there’d be
Chorus Line and Cabaret with their more “adult” themes; even Flying Down to Rio and Top Hat, from in the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers oeuvre. My mom, brother and I would trade lines like
currency, like code, and for us, they were.
All four of us together, with my dad, weren’t a family of
deep conversation. Instead, we’d throw these bones of reference to one another
as a note of connection and a wink. One commonly used phrase in our house was,
“What’s that from, again?” We were almost always speaking in movie lines, not just
musicals. Watching movies was what we were able to do together, to spend time
the 4 of us, without having to talk, but able to be in the same room at the
same task.
Unknown is what might have happened if we’d allowed my dad to
join in on the impromptu a cappela fun. We always cut him off, because he
couldn’t sing a bar; the trees weeped. But he could whistle, and play the harmonica,
and there’s even an old banjo lying around that apparently was his in his
younger days.
But, for the most part, it was me, mom and Ben. Trading
lines, lobbing tunes to one another, volleying them back, and joining in. So
much of my growing up, I see us, in and around the kitchen bursting into a
melody. Me, on the melody, actually, and Ben on the harmony. I never had quite
the ear for harmony, and he did; still does.
For my bat mitzvah party when I was 13, instead of the DJ
party most of my friends requested, I wanted to see a musical with my friends.
We lived a short drive from Manhattan, and many of my friends had never seen a
Broadway show.
We went to Phantom of the Opera. In a short party bus, about a dozen of us rode into
New York City
 with Nightmare Before Christmas playing on the thick, boxy t.v. screens, since it
was mid-October, right after my 13th birthday.
My mom and I’d created gift packages for my friends, little
heart shaped wicker boxes with a fake rose with a plastic water droplet on it;
a cassette tape of the soundtrack; and a mug with the Phantom mask on it that turned from black to white when you
filled the mug with something warm.
I was extraordinarily lucky to have been to some shows
already, my aunt, a stalwart New Yorker taking me to see Guys & Dolls and later, How to Succeed in Business
without Really Trying
starring the
inimitable Matthew Broderick (if you think him singing Twist & Shout in
Ferris Beuler was something… well, I assure you, this man has charisma. And talent.)
But the Phantom
theater was magnificent. There’s an enormous chandelier that crashes into the
stage during the middle of the play, and we were sitting right behind it, this
wide, gold, frail thing about to murder the ingénue. For a group of giddy,
hopped up tween girls, this was a pretty cool experience. Well, for me it was,
anyway 😉
Musicals are in my blood. I was raised on their fervor,
their simplicity, their saccharine lyrics. And I love them. I know they
can be cheesy and I know it “doesn’t make sense” that people bust into song all
the time. But, you see,
In my house, we did. 

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

My Own Private Fan Club.

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“I’m a fan of you, Molly Daniels, in your entirety,” he
wrote.
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.

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.