friendship · goals · isolation

The Buddy System

9.20.18.jpegWhile many actions I’m taking are to strengthen the net around moving toward my goals, it’s become clear that plain “accountability” isn’t enough for me in some cases.

Would you believe, even following that blog about the importance of music in my life, that I bought tickets to a concert last Friday and didn’t even attend?  It was the evening after Back to School night, so with the delayed homecoming it was a very short night of sleep and a long day.  But still.  I discovered, as I checked in by phone with my Action Partner (and admitted to her that in just a few hours I “should” be going to a concert), that just buying a seat doesn’t get me to that seat.

As I looked at my list of actions for yesterday, I had 2 competing tasks: “Find Opera Buddy” and… “Call Opera to Sell Back 2nd Ticket.”

Now, I’m not as dense as I look;P so I can extrapolate from last Friday’s experience to know, pretty deeply, that if I sell back my 2nd ticket, I have a much less likely chance of actually making it to the show.  And that’s just sad, because I was so excited to buy this package of tickets and go to the opera.

(I’m not traditionally a huge opera person, but I’ve gotten into a few over the last couple of years, so I bought a small, teacher-discounted set that includes Tosca, which I’ve seen and loved, and It’s a Wonderful Life, which seems like it’ll be a totally cool and unique opera experience.)

So.  I need a buddy.  It’s funny: 2 coworkers and myself bought tickets to see this simulcast of Macbeth last year at a movie theater — one of them had to cancel because of a work commitment and one got violently ill in the middle of the day!… So, you guessed it!  I didn’t go either.

There are plenty of activities for which I don’t require a buddy, but it seems the list of things for which I do are any events requiring I leave my 5-block radius once I’m home from work!

In the age of last-minute flaking, made so much easier because of texting, I find that I am flaking out on myself.

Part of my vision/goals for myself is to form new friendships and to strengthen those I have.  If that’s the case, then it follows that maintaining fidelity the first of those action items (“Find Opera Buddy”) will generate more dividends than going (or not going) alone.

 

Advertisements
anger · community · isolation · recovery · trauma · truth · uncertainty

The Look-Good.

I was with a group of close friends on Friday night, celebrating one of their “not getting drunk and sleeping with strangers” anniversaries. These are women I’ve known for nearly my whole 8 years of not doing the same, and who know me and have seen me through my best and worst. 
And I couldn’t tell them the truth. 
It wasn’t until the assembled group was about to close that I got up, walked to the podium at the front of the room and said, “This is the place you’re supposed to tell the hard things. And, things are really bad.”
I began to sob. I eeked out that 5 months ago, I burned my life down, and I’m exhausted and isolated. I told the group that I realized I had to say something when, tonight, I couldn’t hold eye contact with my friends over our dinner. That the closest women I have in my life, I couldn’t look at for too long, because if I did… they would see… and I would break down crying. 
And I didn’t want to do that. 
Because it doesn’t feel like there’s anything to do. So, why talk about it?
I told them about being an expert at looking good on the outside, and feeling like dog shit on the inside. Now, the thing about the “look good” is that, sure, who doesn’t want to look good? Especially when you are feeling crappy, sometimes it’s nice to say, Well, at least I can still pull myself together. At least I can assemble an outfit, put on a little makeup, and … look good. 
However, the other thing about the “look good” is that generally, if you look good, people assume you feel good. And that’s part of the guise of it, of course; that’s part of its purpose… is to fool people. Because if no one asks, you don’t have to tell. 
It’s a pretty little prison we wrap ourselves up in, in an effort to try to do it alone. Because, again, what else is there to do?
In my case, I’m going on interviews, auditions, tours of school, taking tests, ordering physics books. I’m going about the wildest flurry of activity, the other day, I called it a blizzard. 
All this manic pushing to get out of my current situation that I feel ashamed I got into again. Molly, quitting another job without a plan. Molly, struggling to find work, again. Molly looking into a hundred different career paths, and feeling like a strung-out shell of a person through it all. 
Because, as I said earlier: Things are really bad. 
There’s a lot of crying, a lot of hopelessness, a lot of just trying to make it through these extended, exhausting retail days. 
A co-worker I’ve been sharing some of my, “Someone get me out of here” activities with said yesterday that shouldn’t this (the retail job) feel laughable in comparison to what I’ve been through? (She knows about the cancer.) And I said, No. 
Instead, it feels like, “Haven’t I been through enough that I shouldn’t have to deal with this fucking bullshit?” That’s how it feels. 
It feels like I push and try and explore and push and try and explore, and nothing moves. 
I feel like the hamster on the wheel, working so fucking hard, and getting no where. 
I will say that this new idea to pursue teaching feels like the first thing that makes real and doable sense in all my career lily-pad hopping. So, that feels like a win, and progress, and hope. 
And in the center of that remains the fact that my feet and legs ache, right now, I’m earning half what I did when I was at my office job, I have a dwindling savings account that was really fucking hard-earned, and I have no back-up.
So. What? Why do you talk to anyone about that anyway? No one really has anything to tell you of use, except, “We love you and you’ll get through this.” … And take that to the bank. 
But, no. It’s fabulous that I have people around me, and I know there’s something to telling the truth, and so I did. When I realized I couldn’t look my best friends in the eye for fear they might see the truth of what’s happening beyond the “look good,” it was time to say something. (Though, perhaps earlier could have been better, too.)
Did they particularly have anything that shorn through the bleakness in which I find myself, again? Not really. No magic bullets. No words of enlightenment. Just simple suggestions like, Go to a meeting everyday with people who actually know you, and share about this. 
And so, I am. 
I hate it. I feel vulnerable, and I want everybody to not talk to me about it afterward — but there’s no controlling people. 
Because here’s the undercurrent of all this surface nonsense, all this struggle to stay and get afloat and to try to believe that things will change and get better if I keep doing “the next right thing,” that life will even out, that I’ll be okay…: 


The undercurrent is: I. Don’t. Know. That. (None of us do, surely.)


But, specifically, I’m talking cancer. I have a lot of cancer grief to go through, and I don’t know how. 
Partly I don’t talk about it because I feel it’s so dramatic to talk about, because I’m scared people will roll their eyes, and think, “Sheesh, enough with the cancer already; you lived, didn’t you? Move on!” 
I don’t know how to share with people about how angry, betrayed, and every day still terrified — with every cough, or sleepless night, or strange headache — about a recurrence I feel. 
I don’t know how to begin to put faith back into a universe and a universal law that arbitrarily may decide to kill you “just cuz.” How to “come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to wholeness” when everything solid was ripped from under me in an instant. 
And that’s what I’m being asked to do. I’m at the point, again, where I’m supposed to contemplate my idea of a “higher power,” and I want everybody to take their, “It’s the cycle of life and death,” it’s love, it’s community, and shove it with red hot poker down their own throats. 
Because: Fuck. You. (non-cancer having people, she mumbles mentally.)
I am going at all this activity pretty much on my own, without the guidance and space of meditation, without a wisp of a belief in the goodness of the world, or in the belief that efforts bring results. 
And it’s really hurting me. 
There’s a lot of work I’m going to have to do on this, and I feel SO TIRED. I’m so tired. Have you fought cancer and then had to go about the daily business of living, getting parking tickets and paying bills you can’t afford? And are you now being asked to reconcile that traumatizing experience with a belief in goodness or constancy in the universe in order to stay sober and not kill yourself?
Few of us have. And I don’t know how to do it, because I don’t know who to turn to. 
And so, I’m doing this — or have been trying to do this — all alone, in many ways. Sure, I’m reaching out, and the shell of isolation is cracking, and I imagine “good” things will come of it. But for now, I’m just so tired. 
So that’s what’s beyond the “Look-Good,” friends. It’s not pretty, or happy, or palatable for many, including myself. It’s sad and raw and real and really fucking painful to be where I am right now. 
And… if one of you tells me “this too shall pass” or “everybody dies sometime,” i’ll shove an iron through your cranium.

(Because it is small comfort, even though it’s true.)
fear · finances · insanity · isolation · recovery · relapse

Without Defense

In the summer, I’d texted friends nearly daily, asking them to help me not quit my desk job. I wrote to them that quitting my job without a plan would be just like an alcoholic taking a drink: Disastrous. Painful. An uncharted trip through hell. 
But. I wasn’t connected to the things I knew to do. Few meetings, no sponsor, stuck in the middle of step work I’d started months before. 
And so, I drank. Metaphorically. 
In the fall, I quit my job, without a plan. I felt elated, relieved, free. Exactly like taking a drink. 
And now, I am living the consequences of that decision. 
Yesterday, as I walked back to my apartment after more than 8 hours on my feet and little to show for it, I catalogued all the things I missed about my old job. 
The short commute, with no bridges or tunnels involved. The normal hours. The flexible hours, when I could take off to go to Trader Joes at lunch, or walk around the gorgeous suburban landscape, or nap at a nearby friend’s before rehearsal. The co-workers I could have conversations with about things that were intelligent or fun or informative.

The kids. The chickens. The pianos.
The sitting. 
For all I wailed about wanting a job that didn’t require me to sit in front of a computer for 40 hours a week (and granted I still don’t) the ability to actually sit at all during the day sounds vastly luxurious. 
And as I walked home, the catalogue ever increasing, I said aloud, “I made a mistake.”
It was a mistake to quit my job the way I had, without a plan. I knew and had catalogued all the ephemeral perks of that job countless times, knowing what a cush place it was. But I was antsy, restless, hopeless and defiant. And I made a decision to leave. 
Now, in the school of life that I’ve come through, I hear much about “not regretting the past,” and true, through the interim period without work, I befriended another unemployed bright person who suggested a crowd funding campaign to pay off my back-rent cancer debt. The campaign was wildly successful, and a check is in the mail this week. In addition, because the goal was quickly reached, a very generous family gave me a donation insisting I spend it on “something fun,” which is how and why I have this fancy new laptop to replace the dinosaur I’d had. 
But… other than that? I mean, couldn’t those goals have been accomplished anyway? A campaign have been suggested another time? 
Look, I know this retail job I’m in now is temporary. I am trying my best to stave off the Stockholm Syndrome that seems to have engulfed everyone who works there, or anywhere in retail, into thinking that the paltry, hiccuping pay-scale, weak health insurance, and unpredictable schedule is acceptable. 
Today, I am trying to forgive the faulty thinking of mine that sent me on this fool’s errand in the first place, comparing it to how I did behave when I was drinking: It’s not cuz I was an awful person that I did what I did, it was because I didn’t know any better, and I didn’t have any tools to combat my insane thinking. 
I have to offer myself compassion for the misguided, instant-gratification seeking decision I made. I was not using the tools I knew to use. I was disconnected from the community that helps me not make insane decisions, financial and otherwise. 
I do feel, however, that admitting that I made a mistake in quitting that job without a plan is a good first step for me. I am not immune to my own thoughts. I am not solved from throwing myself into the abyss because I think my house is on fire. 
I have decades’-driven ruts and habits that I fell over into. And I did not have the diligence or connection to haul me out before I burned my life down instead. 
That’s okay. 

I mean, it has to be. Right? 
dating · fear · isolation · love · recovery

"I want to go to there." Good thing I am.

Where there is smoke, there is fire. And where there is fire, we take off our knitted gloves and hold our hands to it. 
It’s not that bad. This work. It’s tragic and awful, and would certainly raise eyebrows in most circles. I just got through chronicling the years from high school through, “Then I got sober.” 


The phrase “shit show” comes to mind. 
And yet, I remind myself, in small, calm handwriting at the end of each of these morning writing sessions that I am not that person anymore. That I have been shaped by her experiences, surely, but that the shape and essence of who I am can’t and couldn’t be eroded. 
Someone commented yesterday that I am courageous. And as I go through and into this work on healing my relationship to relationships and love, I know that I am. 
Not (only) because I’ve chosen (or been “forced” by fate) to do this work at all, but because of all that has come before that hasn’t broken me. 
Injured, scarred, frightened me. Sure. But I sit here today, in my sweats, a space heater licking my calves, half-philz half-trader joes coffee in my mug, and I’m not broken. 
I have been through things and experienced them in a way that makes me cautious to the point of isolation against romantic relationships, but that doesn’t make me broken. That makes me habituated to a way of being. 
It all comes, for me, down to safety. With others, in my body, in relationship, in intimacy and authenticity. To slowly peel back the traumas and defenses and reveal that there’s nothing to be scared of anymore. Nothing that can harm me the way my high school/college/post-college years did. 
I won’t say that my love life in sobriety has been a cake walk or the pinnacle of wise. It used to have a lot of the same patterns as my drinking days. But it doesn’t anymore. 
However, there’s a middle ground, I know, between wanton and nunnery. 
I want to go to there. 
I want to go to the place where I am safe, even in exposing myself. Not because other people are so trustworthy, but because I am. Because my spidey-sense is coming back, and I want to get to a place where I trust it. I don’t have to tap out of the dating game entirely. I just have to listen when the alarms go off, and act accordingly. Take action accordingly. 
In previous iterations of my love-life, I have pressed the override button so forcibly, for moments, I did break. 
But, I’m not that girl-woman anymore. As I said, I’ve been shaped and molded by her experiences. But I also have my own inherent grace, fortitude, and hope. 

And so, where there has been smoke (read: my love life), I have sought the fire (read: my fearful heart). And it will be there that I remove my (boxing) gloves. And learn to love and trust my own self. 
awareness · dating · fear · isolation · safety · self-preservation

“I Hate to See You Go, But I…”

Normal
0
0
1
559
3189
26
6
3916
11.1287

0

0
0

I will never stick around long enough to watch you leave.
Like a forest animal who senses the seismic shift before an earthquake, I will
run to high ground before you even know there’s trouble a’comin. Where’d she
go?
I heard that a lot in my drinking days: Where did you go last night anyway?
I was always leaving. I left because I was antsy or bored or
horny or wasted. I left because I could sense the swell of the evening had
reached its peak, and I don’t stick around for the lull. I left because I knew
you couldn’t give me anything more, and so I went elsewhere to seek it.
It was a different kind of dragon I chased, but one
nonetheless: The perpetually up moment. The height of hilarity and connection.
In relationship, I am becoming aware, I do the same thing.
Because relationships are never “Safety Guaranteed,” I try to figure it out:
Will this “work” / will this not “work?” I will look at the barometer and try
to figure out if we’ve reached our peak, and if it’s time for me to bail.
Before I do, however, I will engage in a lovely sequence of
emotional aerobics: If I am standoffish, will you chase me and thereby prove
you like me, and I’m safe? If I am more attached, will you reciprocate and,
here, prove that you like me, and therefore I am safe?
Somewhere in the distance between initial connection and
“the end,” I have attached my personal safety to this “working” or to my
assurance that it won’t. Either way, certainty, I have believed, will keep me
safe.
And if, through all my calculations, I still cannot devise
whether this will work or not, or if I begin to spidey-sense that your interest in me has reached its apex, I will high-tail it so fast, you
won’t remember the color of my eyes.
What a lonely way of being.
Particularly, because I won’t just leave: in order to
ensure that I am doing the “right”
thing, that I am following our projected course, simply in a truncated fashion,
I will likely nuke the relationship first. This way, I know there will be no
questions, and no “What ifs?” because it’s dead. I killed it. Hard.
And therefore, I am safe. Because I have certainty about
things. About everything.
The horrible variable in this equation is humanity. The
uncertainty principle.
Human relationships are not quantifiable by my fear-brain.
The flaw in it, too, is that I have attached, long ago, my
feeling of safety to assurance in relationships.
I know where this cycle comes from. I know that having a
formative environment that was unstable is not the foundation on which to build
ideas of safety and trust. I know what it feels like to love, and have that
love turn, viciously and swiftly.
And so, I have learned to turn first.
If I can only figure out the exact moment when we’ve reached
our groundswell, I can outrun your abandoning me.
But sometimes, dear self, rain is just rain, and it doesn’t
mean anything more. Sometimes you stay in the shallows while it storms, because
after it passes, you’re witness to god’s great rainbow. Sometimes when you stay
put, you learn how to sway in the storm instead of to rail against it or
crumble beneath it.
I don’t learn these things if I leave first.
I want to. Believe me. In the simplest of encounters, like a
phone call even, I want to be the one gone first. Because then I’m safe.
But, as I posited in “Safety Guanteed(?),” perhaps I can
begin (again) to test the theory that “I am not in control, and I am safe.”
Perhaps I can begin to root my personal sense of safety
somewhere within, instead of without, and then I never have to try to figure
others out, manipulate my behavior, or believe I’ve predicted an end. If I can
seat my personal safety in trust of myself, maybe I’ll become willing to see
what happens when I stick around.
Because maybe the party isn’t over after all. 

acting · action · commitment · community · fear · help · isolation · perseverance · scarcity · self-doubt · self-support · singing · trying

Doing Sh*t

Normal
0
0
1
444
2534
21
5
3111
11.1287

0

0
0

On my way into my first audition last Saturday, a good
friend texted me support, saying:
“You’re DOING SHIT!”
This is in stark (pfft, get it?) contrast to one of my most
read blogs, Magical Accidental Orgasm (and I can tell from the stats list that
many people find it by searching “Accidental Orgasm” on Google!). The blog was
about my realization that I was waiting for someone to come along and prescribe for me my life, my bliss, my path without me doing much of anything. I was waiting for someone to (metaphorically!) “give me orgasms,” as I cribbed from The Vagina Monologues.
But today, two years later, I am no longer waiting. Today, I am doing shit.

This morning I woke up and practiced
the bass line for the set my band is playing on Saturday.
Tomorrow, I’m going to take my first voice lesson from someone who comes with
great recommendations. And Sunday, I will start rehearsal for Addam’s
Family: The Musical
(which still just gets
such the kick out of me!).

(Side-bar: Coincidentally, when I was in 4th or 5th grade, I dressed as
Wednesday Addams for Halloween. So I guess it’s appropriate that 20 years
later, I play her mother!)
Doing shit. Despite my thinking – always
despite my thinking – I continue to put good things in my path. I honestly don’t
remember how I found that audition call.
But, I do remember finally having coffee with a
friend/acting mentor last Sunday to help me in my newbie, greenness. She is the
one who suggested the song I sang for my auditions, and who recommended this voice
teacher. She invited me to come over last Wednesday and practice my monologue in front of her.
And last Friday, I invited a woman to coffee who is making a
go of the “life as singer” life to ask her how I could get out of my bubble
of not being seen. She had many great suggestions, just to get me out and
singing. Like choruses, and meet-ups, and this piano bar I didn’t know about
that’s here in the East Bay.
I don’t want to do
shit. Doing shit is
scary!! But I
also don’t want to wait for someone else to press play on my life, because that
person is not coming. I don’t want to wait for the trumpet blast or starting gun or treasure map or even Ed McMahon, because they’re not coming.
This doesn’t mean that I move any quicker, but despite my fears,
doubts, self-derision, scarcity mind, I continue to ask for help and put myself
in the path of … shit.
That’s how all these things have happened. I ran
into a friend and jokingly said if you need a second bassist, and in fact, he
was just trying to put back together this side project, but thought I wasn’t
doing music anymore. Well, now! Yes, please! And so, here we are, about to play
a show.
I like the responsibility and accountability it gives me to
myself and to my dreams, not to mention to others. Having to show up with other
people means that I can’t flake out. I have to wake up and practice, or I’ll be
disappointed and disappointing. I have to make audition dates, or I’ll languish
in “someday” and “wouldn’t it be nice.” I have to take voice lessons, show up
at piano bars, take suggestions, or I will continue to say, “Not good enough,
not really, not me.”
If wishes were horses… Apparently, I’d ride. 

anxiety · body · connection · dating · fear · isolation · love · relationships · vulnerability

Disarming.

Normal
0
0
1
379
2162
18
4
2655
11.1287

0

0
0

I am having a languid, delightful time getting to know someone.
A man.
The same someone who inspired me to look at how much I don’t want to let a romantic interest get to know me. And,
for whatever this is or will be, it’s really, really nice.
I described to a friend what it felt like to be held – not spooning, or even the enjoyable resting of your head on the guy’s
chest – but simply standing, holding one another, like the kind of extended hug that
someone forces around you until you relax. Until they can feel your shoulders drop,
and your lungs start to inhale again. Until you feel safe enough to breathe.
It’s like that, only without the imperative insistence of the
extended hug. This feels, to me, mutual, natural, like we both are relieved
just to stand there, heads tucked, arms wrapped, bodies together, and breathe
for a minute, guileless. It’s similar to the feeling I sometimes have when I realize that
I’ve been holding my breath or breathing shallowly for too long, and I finally
take a nice deep breath into my belly. Filling out my whole body with awareness, instead of constriction.
It’s a feeling that you didn’t know how stressed or armored
or anxious you were, until it falls away so fucking naturally and quickly,
that it almost makes you dizzy. And suddenly, you’re just two people, two
hearts, unaware you were looking for relief and comfort and ease, until now
you’re experiencing it.
It’s benevolent, and it’s grace.
For me, it’s also an awareness, I think, of how lonely and
body-starved I’ve been. Not for sex, though sure, but for that kind of holding.
To be held. It’s actually, now that I think of it, what I came to at the
conclusion of my meditation retreat in January. I concluded that this year, I
wanted to learn to let myself be held.
I almost always hold my breath, as I’ve written about before. Even in the safety and constance of my own home. I am always on guard,
protecting myself from something. And it’s just so tiring, but I don’t realize
it – didn’t realize it, until in this togetherness, I find it fall from around
me, and experience feeling unburdened and relieved of that something. 
I am not Fate’s author, I am only the scribe. So, I can only
report to you what I know, and share with you how I feel in the moment, today.
As everything changes so quickly.
But recognizing for myself that there’s another way of
being, that there’s an open way to be, that in fact that way of being feels
like its own ecstasy, I think I’m learning that my armor is not as useful as it
once was. And that being held, without that shield, is more healing, joyful,
and filling than I could have predicted.