Thursday, September 15, 2016
There's a shift happening. The weather is changing and I've been kind of sensing a shift in consciousness, as I've worked through a lot of the things I've lived through. Day by day I've put in the work, made mindful decisions that facilitate healing.. and there just seems to be a subtle theme surrounding everything. It's that I need to let go of the things and people that aren't for me anymore. It doesn't have to be a dramatic severance, although I am finding that it can be. It can also be the allowance of a drift, a nod to an understood cue to not call again.
I'm going to be burning my wedding dress this weekend. In the time that has elapsed since I decided to burn it and the now looming event, the act has taken on this more well rounded meaning. The dress not only represents my marriage, but whatever else is stagnant in my life. Resentments, patterns of thinking, maladaptive defense mechanisms, chaos and secrets and not being true to what I know to be right. With that gauzy white sheath of naivete, I will release those elements from my life. I am letting go of anything dragging me down on my path of growth and elevated living.
I am hopeful for what lies ahead. I am making room in my life, heart and mind for the things I've been asking for but have hardly dared to believe were possible. Even if nothing comes to fruition, or if things take unexpected turns, these are cleansing and healing things that are ultimately necessary for my well being. Relentless self awareness. I realized that many of my kneejerk reactions to situations and potential vulnerabilities were based in fear. Once I knew, I couldn't un-know. So.. time to recalibrate. No good comes from decisions made in fear. Act in good faith and be open. That is my intent. Be soft, be trusting, and remember that if things should result in pain or disappointment, I have the tools to be okay. I've done it before. I can do it again.
I was once a stoic, stony faced teenager, wondering if there was something wrong with me because I was unable to cry at the loss of a family pet. I'd intellectualized the whole thing but even after immersing myself in sad thoughts, no tears fell. Then a few years later I said "okay, I'm gonna let myself feel all the things" and dove headfirst into what became a 6.5 year slog of undeserved commitment and abuse. And then I thought... how foolish of me. I was better off an impervious and reason-driven teenager than what felt like a war-torn veteran of domestic violence.
But I can't live my life based on fear-driven foundations. So. I am going to be brave and vulnerable and let go of the reminders of all the ways those things bit me in the past. Because that was then, and the only thing I need to take from them is the wisdom I gained. Everything else is dead weight.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
In vino veritas.
In recent years I'd come to believe that a way of life that incorporates teamwork and partnership didn't really exist for me. I told myself that it wasn't possible, that nobody would be able to match my efforts and meet me at my level. I don't mean that in an arrogant way, necessarily, but I know what I have to offer and all I've known when hoping for a match was disappointment. I've reached a level of independence that affords me the refusal to settle. I'd rather go it alone than settle for sub par companionship.
It's easy to renounce the idea of finding a partner when you operate under the assumption that such a thing doesn't exist. It makes for a nice clean life, one with plans and desires that can be achieved by oneself alone. It would be silly to sit around pining for, say, the ability to fly when you know darn well its not a thing you'll ever be able to do. So you just go on walking and running and jumping and living in the realm of possibility.
I was happily cruising along in my understood realm of possibility, enjoying the fruits of my labor and making plans and setting goals that I could accomplish myself.
And then I was proven wrong.
Turns out, just 'cause you've never seen something, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. And then when you find out it exists, it throws your understanding of reality and possibility into a tailspin and makes some of those self-achievable goals look like a consolation prize.
I get why the catholic church was resistant to Galileo's paradigm shift. It's really quite uncomfortable to have to assimilate a new understanding of reality into your tidy and carefully curated life. But now that you know, you can't un-know. God damnit.
I don't like to want things that depend on someone else. I don't usually seek that which can be taken from me or walk away. I don't like to give anyone the opportunity to let me down. I don't like to depend on anyone for basically anything. Its risky and uncertain.
But here I am. Wanting.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
It's a double edged sword, however. As I lay awake listening to the birds outside and quietly waiting for the others to wake, I replayed the night in my head. I recounted all the side conversations and noteworthy moments, analyzing my behavior, my choice of words, wondering what kind of impression I'd given these new acquaintances. Was I too loud? Was I obnoxious? Did I embarrass the person who invited me? What must they think of me, getting completely drunk the first weekend they meet me, they probably think I have a problem.
I think this is partially normal hangover stuff. Maybe.. I don't know if the delayed social anxiety kicks in with everyone else's hangovers. I think it's also a product of various times I'd been shamed and chastised after a night of drinking, my then husband telling me I'd embarrassed him at the family dinner with his cousin from out of town, but not remembering anything of the sort. It's not that I blacked out.. I didn't. I just remembered the night differently. I remembered everyone having a great time, and getting along wonderfully with his cousin's wife, everyone laughing and enjoying themselves. He ended up getting into a debate with another member of the group about something like whether garbage is public or private property. I asked someone who was there if I'd acted out of character or done anything obnoxious, and to please be honest. She insisted I hadn't and thought it strange that he'd suggest that. Other times we'd be out at a bar and I'd end up having a conversation with someone that seemed to me to go well, and he'd later tell me I'd made a fool of myself. Little instances of gaslighting that I hardly thought anything of.
I caught myself this morning along that line of thinking. Enough times being told I'd been behaving poorly when I remembered doing nothing of the sort got filed somewhere under ways to berate myself in my psyche. Even if you think and remember everything went fine, it probably didn't and everyone probably thinks you're the worst. I recognized this morning, though, that the criticisms in my head were in his voice. It didn't necessarily make all the shitty feelings go away, but it took away some of their power and allowed a foothold for the pro-me side of my internal debate.
I inquired in an attempt to not sound insecure or like someone with a problem would sound asking if I'd been an embarrassment. I tried not to think that the answer (no) was out of politeness. I reminded myself that everyone was right there with me drinking and socializing. I told myself that if these people had a problem with what I remembered to be perfectly reasonable behavior, then maybe they're not my people. I had fun, and all is well.
Monday, July 11, 2016
In moments of wavering self worth and confidence, I find myself fearfully grasping for reassurance and validation. Seems pretty normal, but I can see how in the past, I'd misdirected that inclination towards people who weren't properly vetted sources of stability or comfort. I had appraised my value so minimally and assumed a superiority in others that was false and a product of whatever misstep I'd made. Its that perfectionism thing again. Any point of perceived failure acts as a chisel to the pillar of my confidence.
Really though, what I should be doing (and have begun practicing) in those moments is acknowledging the discomfort of imperfection, affording myself the grace and leeway I give to literally anyone else, and finding the strength to buoy myself without relying on an ill equipped and poorly chosen confidant to lift me up (or leave me where I lay, as was sometimes the case).
The old practice, I can see now, was a product of fear and an attempt to find the emotional support that I lacked as a child. "Maybe this one will have what I need." In addition to giving away my power and burdening a bystander, its a detriment to my personal brand. So much of our externally perceived value is defined by how we value ourselves. We teach the people around us how to see us and how to treat us by the way to talk about and treat ourselves, as well as what we're willing to accept. A low self valuation results in accepting a low valuation from others and therefore potentially poorer treatment.
I will have setbacks. I will make mistakes, I will stumble and have bad hair days and make bad judgement calls once in a while. I will have failures. Try as I might to be perfect, I can't be. However, my value is not malleable and my standards are not negotiable. Those things aren't invalidated by my being human. I can stand with my head held high and despite my imperfection, expect excellence from others and dismiss where the bar isn't met.
It's not easy to forge new habits of thought and action, but it's necessary for growth. Nothing changes if you don't.
Friday, July 8, 2016
I married a man I thought I could fix. His family thought I'd gone a long way towards fixing him too. Everyone commended my valiant efforts and nobody thought to mention that the idea of fixing your partner is very, very flawed. I tried everything I could to fix him. He was severely depressed and was disinterested in doing anything to fix himself, which, I understood, was common for people with depression. On more than one occasion I dumped all the alcohol down the drain, engaged in screaming matches, begged and cried for him to try to do something. I secretly dosed him with St John's wort extract. I was down the rabbit hole of codependency, trying to control all the variables and stuck on an emotional rollercoaster as my efforts were shown to be futile, time and again.
I learned, from my time with him that you can't fix people. You can't really hope for them to change, either. That's not to say that people can't change. They certainly can but it has to be their change, their desire to fix themselves and not for anyone else. But.. the safest bet is to take people at face value and then evaluate whether you want them in your life.
I'm no longer interested in trying to fix people. I don't have a career in psychology, and I am thoroughly disenchanted with the notion of being a hero and saving the day by putting the pieces back together of some broken person. That is not my role, and I'm not interested in trying. Fix yourself if you see fit, and take responsibility for it. I nearly became broken trying to fix the cracks in others. No more.
Thursday, June 30, 2016
I've taken advantage of the community pool, swimming on the hottest days like I'm a kid again. I'm harvesting oodles of tomatoes and squash and making juicy salads, savoring the ripeness of market nectarines, letting the sun kiss my shoulders bronze and the evening breeze tug at my dress.
I feel like I'm in a really good place to truly appreciate all the little magical offerings this year, because for as long as I can remember, there was a struggle. For the first time now, there isn't. Life is gloriously peaceful and delightfully fun. Funny how easy things are when you remove the sources of conflict in life. I realize it's usually not that simple, and truth be told, the journey here was wrought with heartache, but it was so so worth it.
Enjoy the literal and proverbial peaches.