awareness · connection · fear · growth · love · parenting · risk · self-derision · self-love · vulnerability

parental advice

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Brene Brown talks a lot in her book Daring Greatly about parenting, about how to “dare greatly” in
parenting, which often means allowing yourself to feel, with all uncertainty and unpredictability, the full extent of your love. She talks about
the split-second after noticing her full love for her children the flood of constricting
and panicking thoughts about loss and impermanence and a terrible desire to control. To allow herself to
notice and accept her love so deeply, she’s also acutely aware of how tenuous
life is, and how she cannot protect her offspring from the world.
In the moment of greatest love is the moment of greatest
vulnerability.
She talks about trying to withstand and stand in that moment
of love as long as possible without giving in to the fear of the things we
cannot control.
The kinds of thoughts that enter immediately after hearing,
“You got the role.” God, I hope I don’t fuck it up. Or after “I love you.” Don’t betray me. Or “You’re a great friend.” Am
I doing enough?
Moments of connection are severed by fear when we insulate back inside ourselves around the thought: How can I control this?
We can’t.
In every effort we put forth to expand ourselves, we risk.
In every effort we make to control, we risk those
relationships that have brought us joy, including the one with ourselves. See:
I’ve gained some muscle working out, I better make sure I get to the gym even
more.
I hiked for an hour this week, I really should do that three times a
week.
I loved that novel I read, I should really be reading something
“worthwhile.”
Brown has written that we siphon off the top layer of risk and
innovation and spontaneity when we attach our interpretation of our efforts to
how they’ll be received – I believe this includes the efforts and risks we make
that are private, like those above: How are they received by ourselves?
Are the efforts we put toward joy, spontaneity, pushing our
own envelope supported internally, or hampered by voices of not good enough?
Sometimes both. Sometimes it depends on the minute of the
day.
I can experience the duplicity of knowing my acting is up to
par for this show, but my singing is not.
What I cannot hold is the self-derision that follows that
awareness.
As always, action is the antidote to anxiety and worry.
Voice lessons, music drills. Learning, learning learning.
This is a challenge. A challenge to show up authentically,
even if I don’t like or approve of what that sounds like at the moment. There is
vulnerability in showing up, but if, as happens frequently, I step on my own
efforts and try to hide the greatest risks, I won’t learn, I won’t grow, nor will I have any fun.
There’s a self-reparenting that is happening for me right now.
A re-training. In fact, several days this week, as I’ve sat up out of
bed, voices already chiding me for being sick and not being able to sing, for
not being as good as the others actors – I’ve literally had to stop myself and
insert a new voice, saying aloud – Yes, Moll, I know, and you’re working on it.
You’re doing the best you know how right now, and you are enough.
There is risk in allowing myself the “lenience” of
self-approval. There is the risk of abandoning control and constriction and self-flagellation. There is the risk that things won’t turn out “how I want,” how I want things to be, how
I want myself to be – Can’t you be better at something you’ve never done
before, the voice chides incessantly.
But I want a different reality. A different parenting. I
want to be able to look at myself and my efforts fully, with the full ache of
unknowing and the full pride of risk-taking.
I want to begin modeling this completely uncertain,
vulnerable, pulsating, spark-of-life parental love for myself, because I have
hope that one day I’ll need to employ it with children of my own.
And you can’t give to others what you can’t give yourself. 

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adventure · change · courage · fear · hope · isolation · love · recovery · relationships · risk · romance · safety · terror · trying

Changing Underpants

“It’s like he really likes me & I’m not running from
it,” is what I wrote in my journal this morning.
In fact, on Wednesday, I’ll be heading toward it, at 500 miles per hour.
I have my heels dug firmly into the ground below the plane
that will carry me there, and I have compassion for the terror and fear that
insists I stay in my cozy isolation.
It reminded me of a story I’d written in college (A Perverse Act of Gentility), although now,
many of the details have changed. Most importantly, the part where I’m actually attracted
to him, and that he’s never fallen into the deathly “friend zone.”
But, the final sentence of that story, about having
humiliation and disgust for someone who “held me like an angel” — that’s what
sparked the memory this morning. That I anticipate being held in the same way by the Boston Cupcake, but I that anticipate feeling in polar opposite to
how I did then. In fact, that I
already do.
The number of years I’ve spent avoiding true connection is vast. I’ve written extensively here about hiding from, running from, being
suspicious of love, but if you’re new to reading me, trust me: Intimacy … 
Well, here’s the vicious Catch-22 I’ve found myself in for
as many years:
I am terrified of being loved; and it is also the absolute
thing I hope most to be. It is where I know healing, change, elevation, joy, enlightenment, growth, revelation, and alchemy will occur. 
So, there is something different this time (no matter what
the “outcome”) with the Cupcake: I am
actually heading toward it. I’m not listening (wholly) to the fear. And, I feel
different. “Even in my underpants, I feel different,” to quote Elizabeth
Gilbert.
But, less in my underwear (though, yes…), and more in my chest cavity, in my guts, I feel different. At the same time that I have this electric fence
around my whole body, I have a magnet within it too. And one is fading.
I want to be loved
more than I want to hide, and I can feel the shift. I can feel tectonic plates,
long-ago formed in the tundra and tumult of my creation, beginning to ease. A
slight release in the tightness of my guts, and mostly, an excitement. Not just
the titillation and anticipation of getting to spend time with someone I really
like, but also, the opening of a door that for so long hung a sign that said,
Do Not Enter: Radioactive Waste.
Years ago, I wrote a poem about a dusty “Back in Five
Minutes” sign on the massive-shipping container that is my heart. About
brushing the caked dirt off it, but not needing to open it then, just being content
to know that it’s there, “secure, intact, existent.”
I think some of what is occurring is that I am finally opening up
that shipping container, and taking a look inside. That I’m allowing the door
to be open for a few minutes at a time. That I’m allowing myself to
dream about what it would be like to unpack it all, to discard the fallacies,
and engage and indulge in the luxuries.
Moreover, I’m letting myself do more than just dream about it,
and I think that’s where the true change is occurring. I am heading over a continent, through years of
flirtation, through a lifetime of resistance, toward possibility. There is a
willingness to step into the unknown that hasn’t been there before, and after the willingness is actual
action. Call it
cancer, call it recovery, call it straight-up flouting of boredom and
stagnancy.
I still am terrified, I know that. But I also feel
different. In my ribcage and in my underpants, I feel different. 

adulthood · adventure · chance · courage · crush · doubt · fear · passion · risk · romance

The Whatifs

Last month, I contacted my psychic to ask about this upcoming trip to visit the Boston Cupcake (as he shall henceforth be known).
I can get an emailed reading from her, and despite your and
my own doubts, I get pretty accurate and insightful results from her, via email
or by phone. I mean, I’ve met her and
all – but this isn’t about her. It’s about him. And me.
I’d panicked a little after we’d confirmed that I was going
to fly out, over the continent, to spend 4 days in his bed, arms, town, space.
As Shel Silverstein elegantly put it:
Last night, while I lay thinking
here,
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night
long
And sang their same old Whatif
song:
Whatif it’s awkward?
Whatif I can’t sleep?
Whatif I don’t come?
Whatif we ruin our friendship?
Whatif it’s good, but that’s the end of it?
Whatif it sucks in person, and we never text-flirt
again?
Whatif we do like each other?
Whatif we fall in love?
Whatif I’m too bruised to fall in love?
Whatif I have to move?
Whatif I move and it doesn’t work out?
Whatif we get married and have kids, and everything works out amazingly?
Whatif we get married and have kids, and struggle for money?
Whatif I have to leave the Bay Area?
Whatif I can’t afford to leave the Bay Area?
Whatif there’s no women’s spiritual community?
Whatif I never see my friends here again?
Whatif I hate the winter there?
Whatif he doesn’t like the way I laugh?
Whatif I don’t like the way he chews?
Whatif …
What if.

Va voy.

So, a few days before the deadline to purchase my flight, I
emailed my psychic to try to divine some answers. What are the implications of this
trip? Is this a good match? Is this a good thing, even if it’s not a match? What Is Going To Happen To Me???
Well, here’s what happened: She got sick, and emailed me
that she’d have to postpone my reading until the following week. Or, she could
just PayPal me back the funds and cancel the reading.
So, I thought about it. What was I really trying to get from
her and her answers, anyway? Assurance, Confirmation, Certainty.
Ah, yes. Certainty. If you can tell me with certainty that the
risk I’m about to take has the outcome that I want, then I’ll take it. If you
cannot tell me with certainty that it will be alright, then I am terrified to
risk it.
So, I went to her blog, to re-acquaint myself with her, to
see if I could divine my own answer, since I knew I was trying to get something
that no one else could really offer me. That life can never offer me.
And her most recent post was basically, if I remember
correctly, about taking chances. About putting your best effort forward, and
letting go; about allowing ourselves to try, and to know that whatever the
outcome, we’re cosmically safe.
Arghh…. Right. I am
safe, loved, assured, no matter what any outcome; but it is my responsibility
to try.
If nothing changes, nothing changes.
So, I emailed her back, and told her her blog helped me
realize that it was up to me to take this risk, to try without certainty to
allow adventure, intimacy, attraction, vulnerability into my life. That I would
take the refund from her, and go on this trip, and let all these unknowable
chips fall where they may.
Because, it all flows from what I was just saying yesterday,
about throwing my hat in the ring at work, professionally putting myself out
there, just for the esteem of it, not
knowing if it’ll “go my way,” but getting the benefits of trying anyway.
It’s all about what I’d quoted earlier this week, “You gotta
get in it, cuz it’s a day-by-day gig.”
If nothing changes, nothing changes.
I won’t know til I try. I won’t have certainty even when I am in it. None of us do, even with cohabitation, a ring, children, none of us know if this will “work out,” or if we’ll end up signing divorce papers, bankruptcy papers, restraining orders.

But, what I know for
certain is that I really am looking forward to this trip, to spending this time
with someone I admire, fancy, and enjoy. I really am so very happy that I am
taking a risk, stepping into the wide unknown, opening my arms and falling into
his, come what may.