a thread on abandonment recovery

reality SOM

This is a short yet rather long post, and depending on how I feel next week, I may count this as a double-header.

It’s because I need to focus on more reading than writing. Writers write and read, and typically, writers should be reading more than they write.

So, I haven’t been reading enough and if I actually want to start editing/finish writing my romance novel, I need to start reading some. How fun! 😉😈 I may find that it’s not actually a romance novel, but we’ll see. I’ll probably blog about this soon.

Topically, I may have also exhausted what I can write on grief and loss, which is a good thing! You’ll find no complaints from me here. 

And it’s not as if my circumstances have changed. I feel like, especially financially, things have been just as challenging as they were two years ago.

But at least right now, today, I feel like I have a lot less worry and a lot more ease. There’s still a lot of uncertainty, but I at least know that worrying about it has served its purpose. 

Somehow things work out the way they should. I’m learning to trust in that truth more every day.

This journey to wholeness and stability isn’t over, but I feel like I’m a less cranky traveler now. 

So, along those lines, this past week, I read and livetweeted a book on recovering from being abandoned.

It’s over 8000 words in length, so feel free to get cozy (although it should read quickly). It also comes with some screenshots from the book and some fun GIFs.

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1095006897437057024.html

I highly recommend the book if you’ve ever experienced anyone leave you or have been excluded in any way. It really helped me to piece some parts of my life back together. I’ve written about abandonment before, so you can revisit those posts this week, too.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a great week ahead. 💖


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resisting emotional erosion

feels.gif

The GIF above demonstrates my internal feeling state. I’ve always just assumed that this is how I’ll always be, that it’s as persistent as a personality trait. But lately I’ve been questioning that belief.

“Highly sensitive” is one way to describe this phenomenon. Empathic is another. Yet another is emotional overexcitability.

“Overexcitability” is a giftedness term. The following is from an article on overexcitabilities by Sharon Lind, a gifted education expert, consultant, and speaker:

Overexcitabilities (OEs) are inborn, heightened abilities to receive and respond to stimuli. They are expressed in increased sensitivity, awareness, and intensity. Each form of overexcitability points to a higher than average sensitivity of its receptors.

And I need to take a little side trip here: when it comes to hearing the term “gifted,” most people are familiar with the intellectual OE. But there are four others: emotional, imaginational, psychomotor, and sensual.

This is how Lind describes emotional overexcitability:

Emotional OE is […] is reflected in heightened, intense feelings, extremes of complex emotions, identification with others’ feelings, and strong affective expression (Piechowski, 1991). […] Emotionally overexcitable people have a remarkable capacity for deep relationships; they show strong emotional attachments to people, places, and things (Dabrowski & Piechowski, 1977). They have compassion, empathy, and sensitivity in relationships. This sensitivity may lead to interpersonal conflict about the depth, or lack of depth, in a relationship.

Astrological sidenote: Astrologically, I can explain the phenomenon of being emotional overexcitability as having a full moon in Cancer conjoined with a Jupiter retrograde in Cancer. Big, internalized feels.

The moon represents our emotions and our core, primal needs. Jupiter is an expansive planet, which can also pertain to big ideas (see: religion and philosophy). But for the sake of this post, consider it as an intensifier or expander.

The moon rules Cancer, and the moon transits through each sign every 2.5 days or so. So if you want to understand why your Cancer friends are moody, they’re experiencing personality shifts (of sorts), 12 times every month!

A full moon in Cancer is probably as moony as you could get, with maybe full moon in Taurus could be more, since the moon is exalted, or an honored guest, in Taurus.

I haven’t really felt like I could control how I feel about certain things, or for how long. Cancerian folks are known to remember everything, and that includes hurts and slights. But it also can be the more pleasant experiences in life.

But the holding onto hurts, frankly, has gotten annoying in my older age. There’s only so much brain space and heart space that I have. I don’t want to hold onto to old, dead things that cannot be revived or changed.


Although this month has brought a lot of inner peace and stability, even though my circumstances are still unstable, I haven’t wanted to go along for the ride anymore.

I’ve been playing this game online with others, and I kinda got thrown under the bus because I refused to do something stupid – even though everyone was asking me to do it. I watched as this dude was talking to these other people who were not a part of our group about me, but not by name.

That did piss me off and I vented to a friend about it. He wanted me to talk to the group about it. I’m probably going to leave because it’s a bit of an unorganized shitshow, but I was so annoyed earlier that I was dreaming about it. 

I wanted to play a game to have fun, not dream about the terrible group dynamics.

I cared too much.

So instead of confront thing guy talk shit to virtual stranges, I decided to just at vent for a limited amount of time because I was really heated. I really like winning.

At the same time, I could have left after this incident, but I feel intensely loyal. Yet it hasn’t even been two weeks – which is a great reason to leave, actually.

That was three days ago. Now I feel alright. I’m still on the fence about leaving, but I’m not dreaming about the gameplay or seething in anger. By the end of the that day, I was fine. And that choice – to vent for a little bit and then leave it alone – never seemed possible to me before until recently.


Another moment that took me off guard was seeing social media updates from a few friends about romantic relationships that I had no idea about or that I barely knew about and still didn’t know about.

There was an initial pang of sadness that I didn’t know, but then it melted into resolve, into that newer aphorism of “whatever is meant for you will not pass you by.”

The sadness comes from being closer once upon a time and now knowing that I was primarily close to these people because I continuously reached out. And that is exhausting.

Cancer moon folks really love to nurture and to serve, and I overextended that part of myself, not just with these people, but with everyone. And although I really love to serve, I do deserve to get as good as I give.

It does really suck that I’m not as close as I want to be with these folks, but at the same time, no one is really reaching out to me. But life goes on and the spaces that have become open can be filled with folks who do reach out, people I don’t have to be so open so soon with.

Before, seeing those updates would have rolled me into a major avalanche of sorrow and shame. It wasn’t even that I’m still single and they’re not anymore – thank goodness, because that’s another level of hell I need to spare myself from. It was just that the connection had faded from something strong and steady to practically non-existent.

But for the most part, I was the one carrying the current, ensuring that the line stayed open. Now, that energy that was moving towards them can return back to me.


Strong emotional attachments to people…it’s a heavy torch to carry, and I have never questioned that it was the right thing to do until last year. The way I was reacting to how awful 2018 was for me, it was making things worse, in a way that made life intolerable to live.

Taking a long social media break was the hard reset I needed. I needed to face, and embrace, that most people are never going to care about me as much or as deeply as I care about them. That still stings, to admit that to myself and to you mostly anonymous but valued readers. But it’s the truth, a truth that comes with choices.

So if most people aren’t going to care that much, if at all, then I get to choose who I give all this caring to. 

Some longtime mutual follower on Twitter unfollowed me this week and I was faced with a choice. Am I going to wallow in self-introspection, wondering which tweet of mine pissed her off enough to unfollow? Or am I just going to unfollow back, feel a little sad about it, and move on? I chose option #2.

I can’t just say, “it’s just social media” or “it’s just the internet”. There are real people who are at the end of these pixels, people with real feelings and desires. The internet is a powerful way to connect with people just like you.

As I was trying to explain two posts ago, I know that I’ve tried to make everyone close to me. It’s not a bug, though – it’s a feature of someone whose moon is in her 7th house of partnership.

But I don’t have to apply this feature to every single person I find likable. 


With the people who have gone last year, you may be wondering why I’m not trying to reconnect with anyone. I know from reading MWF Seeking BFF that friendship does involve a lot of initiating, which is something that comes and goes with me.

But with all the people who have faded or disappeared, I was a different person choosing then. In 2018, I could see myself catch up to the changes I had wanted to make in myself. And that could be why a lot of people left. Transition does that, causes relationships to shift or just plain ol’ die.

So ultimately, it all comes down to what I value in myself and in others. If I value myself, then I value my feelings, as broad and plenteous as they are.

But I don’t have to be swamped by my feelings. I can choose to engage in the swirling eddies, and I can jump out when it becomes too much.

In her article, Lind goes on to say that folks with emotional OEs need to accept all feelings as is, regardless of intensity. And that’s something that society has been trying to force me not to do since I’ve been alive.

And I’ve been helping in that effort to suppress my feelings. I’ve been biting my tongue. I’ve been holding space. I’ve been over-intuiting. I’ve been “anticipating needs”.

I’ve been bloody miserable.


It’s hard to interrupt automatic processes until something or someone else does. For me, it was the hellscape that was 2018. The way I was coping, self-berating which lead into abject hopelessness…well, if I was actually interested in living, this was not a way to live.

I made a lot of things that weren’t really about me about me.

And now that 2018 is over, and I’ve made a real concerted effort to not take 2018 with me into this year, I have more of a bird’s-eye view of my life. And that view gives me a better sense of control over how I see it. Being immersed in the everyday highs and lows can feel overwhelming.

But really, a lot of this stuff just isn’t that serious. And that’s a welcomed relief.

I don’t have to keep reacting in the same ways to the same people. But it can be so hard to break lifelong patterns. There’s a comfort in the ordinary lives we make for ourselves, even if they’re seeping with things we don’t necessarily need or even like.

I know, trust, and believe that the people who have left are not the only ones in the world for me to know and love. There are people who aren’t going to be weirded out by my emotional intensity, people who, in fact, love and will revel in it.

I don’t have to be so desperate. I don’t have to seek my ultimate security within relationships, even my natal chart is like…um, yeah, girl, that’s how you roll. I feel like I’ve been able to seek it within, more and more.

That isn’t to say that I haven’t been wanting to be a part of something close. I honor those pangs of longing, but I don’t have them dictate my identity anymore. I just let them inform me as to what I’m valuing at the time.

I’ve been choosing poorly because I haven’t valued my journey enough, and a lot of it is marked by abandonment.


I’ve been revisiting a book on recovering from abandonment, and it’s not that even feel that abandoned anymore…but I have in the past, and I want to lick this wound so I don’t make bad choices in the future. If you’ve ever had a bad breakup you can’t seem to get over, then I highly recommend that book and any others by Susan Anderson.

One thing the book talks about is how feelings of abandonment aren’t meant to be feared, even though they are at the core of all of us. We can better handle when people unexpectedly leave us. We don’t have to haunt the graveyards of our past relationships forever. We can return to the land of the living.


I’m still on my The Divine Comedy kick, and this song, “Love What You Do” has become a bit of an anthem. The band/Neil Hannon doesn’t usually sounds like this (but I tell you, that look he has circa 2001 is still somehow the aesthetic I prefer! 🤣). It’s a lot more orchestral and lush. He’d be a great lounge singer, and I mean that with all respect and affection.

Musical sidenote: This sound is Nigel Godrich’s doing, the famous producer who has worked with Radiohead and Thom Yorke’s solo work. And if this sounds like Kid A and Amnesiac, then you have a good ear, because this album, Regeneration, was created right after those two.

Fangirling for foreign boys and the lovely bass groove of the song aside, it’s the lyrics that stick with me.

Hannon can get very clever and literary with his lyrics (e.g., he has one song just listing out a bunch of authors). But this is pretty straightforward, maybe even too straightforward for his arch lyrical style:

If you want it, you can have it
If you need it, go and get it
Whatever it is you’ve got to love it

That’s the chorus. The song is basically like: live your life, don’t let yourself get in your own way, and don’t settle for shit that you don’t love.

It’s interesting how strangers can sometimes give us permission do to the things we need to do, like live a life that isn’t steeped in misery and heartache. Like wow, there’s a different choice I can make here.

This song somehow became a permission slip to embrace the beautiful parts of life, however brief – and that includes feeling good and thinking about the people who allow me to be my full, “too much”, loquacious, overly sensitive, multi-faceted self.

And, I don’t need to wait to be open to the good and to express those feelings. I don’t have to keep fixing myself to be acceptable. 

#SmartThingsASuperScorpioTaughtMe


So what do I want and need? To let go. I choose to hope for things to get better – however cautiously I’m doing that right now.

I want and need to let these intense feelings rise, crest, and fall. I choose to not let the feelings carve into me like some sort of wearying tidal emotional erosion.

I want and need to be separate from my feelings, for these messengers to not be little tyrants I try to stuff down and hide, controlling me from the inside.

Even more so, despite that I’ve had to separate myself from mostly everyone (and vice versa), I want and need the right people to be around me. And I don’t have to try to contort myself to be overly accommodating, patient, and sometimes obsequious. I can be patient with myself, with the unfolding of ourselves.

I can look at being alone and be content while still desiring community and a partner that finds all of this ever so charming, not something to be withstood or tolerated.

Separation and loss and isolation: all of that can still feel bad and at sometimes excruciating, but that doesn’t have to be my complete story, as it has been for the past few years.

I want and need to lay down the resentment, shame, and bitterness of this decade, of this life. And based on how I feel right now, it looks like I’ve gotten closer to getting those wants and needs met.


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waiting is never passive

allow yourself SOM

It’s a somewhat chilly Monday morning, with brightly leadened skies. The heater is blasting as it’s almost 60 degrees. That probably sounds balmy to you if you’ve endured the latest polar vortex, but Floridian homes are created to breathe not insulate. So it can get very drafty and damp. The cold seems to get in your bones, making you unable to get warm.

So it’s a new month and a new moon in Aquarius becoming exact this afternoon. 

A new moon, a new work week, a new month, and I don’t really know what’s coming or what I’m doing next.

Except that I kinda do.

And now, I want to shift back to how I wanted this blog to be besides a log of the struggles and trials I’ve been through.

I want to talk about the spiritual shit more than the psychological shit. It all belongs, but I haven’t really been talking about this much. And that’s mainly because I have put that part of my life on ice.

Or, a more generous perspective: life’s circumstances caused me to focus on the daily practical parts of my life.

So within the past week I’ve had two tarot readings, and they’ve repeated what I have known I’ve needed to do, but I haven’t given myself permission to do:

Chill the fuck out.

No hustling. No grinding. That’s over.

I should be glad, but I’m a bit terrified, as one of my tarot readers and friend thought I would be.

It’s not only that I need to chill. It’s that things are going to get better. Unsurprisingly, I’m wary of that because I don’t feel like I’ve worked hard enough to get there right now. And that working hard could be some overcompensation of feeling undeserving.

Could good things just come to me?

Besides that, my work desk is cleared. There are only three people I want to follow up with, which I will do tomorrow.

But beyond that, it’s just me, celebrating and resting (as I have been invited to do by my latest tarot reading), which automatically sounds like laziness. 

But it’s not. Within this waiting period, for the good to come, I want to respond to things I’m only thrilled about doing.

The last project I worked on was basically for an audience like myself, so that was fun and pretty easy to do. 

And that project came to me, through my business website.

What I’ve realized is that when projects come to me, they’re pretty easy to do. Most of what I did last year, for better and for worse, came to me.

So even though I’ve heard twice – that by relaxing, I’ll be able to get what I need and then some – it’s a struggle to relax.

I’m actually getting some supplemental help because my Capricornian nature basically needs to be forced to relax. I’ll let you all know how that goes.

I’ve written about how I see all this space opening up. Having lost some business at the end of last month is a part of that opening up.

And this is what I want, new and better things to come to me. I just thought it’d be more of a hand-off, like a relay, from one project to the next. Not, as what has been foreseen, a couple of weeks of rest and relaxation.

Of course, the worry is mainly about money, and that’s primarily what the readings had concerns about, but even more largely: what’s next?

What one of the tarot readings showed that I’ll be doing something which combines everything I’ve done in the past, but that there isn’t necessarily a word or label for it yet. And that aligns with how I feel right now, and what I’ve been trying to accomplish for the past few years but have been unable to fully bring into being.

Or, you could say that all my attempts will be realized soon.

I can’t remember who mentioned to me that I’d be going into coaching and speaking –maybe another intuitive – but that almost fit. I’ve heard it before that I’d be a speaker. But that sounds like a lifetime ago.

Simply put, I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking for or waiting on. I just know that I can’t take on projects just because I think I can do them and because I need the money. 

If there has ever been a lesson I’ve learned in the past few years is that although I can’t necessarily control the circumstances where I’m desperate, when you are desperate, you tend to make piss poor choices, whether it’s with the friends you keep or the jobs you take or the items your purchase or how you market yourself to potential clients and employers.

Desperation clouds sound decision making.

(While I was looking at Twitter, an astrologer friend said the same thing about desperation. As the kids say: energy! (I have no idea what this means.))

So as the skies have now cleared and the sun is now shining…

Even though I’m not supposed to grind and hustle, I want to be drawn towards the people, places, and situations from a place of inner stability.

Another word for inner stability: confidence. I had an astrological reading with another friend before the two tarot readings, and confidence came up. It came up in the first of the two tarot readings as well.

If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, it’s no surprise that my confidence, especially after last year, had been shaken.

Where I shakily am right now is…I don’t want to do anything stupid.

But there are things I want to do which I feel like are stupid to do right now…because if I’m not searching for another gig or client, then I’m not doing my part in the survival and thrival of me.

Thin, cottony clouds have gathered again and the sunshine is bright and pale.

While writing this, I just reached out to four people that I want to work with or have worked with (couldn’t wait until tomorrow). But that’s the energy I want to follow, evolving from a sense of duty and forced ability to desire and easy, breezy joy.

So what “stupid” things do I want to do? Right now, just two things, but they’re lengthy.

I want to read these two books on indie rock bands that I’ve received over my Christmas birthdays. I want to work on my novel. 

One more thing that isn’t so stupid to me: write like how I used to in grad school. I feel my writing is stalling or crystallizing in a way that shows that it’s prematurely finished.

I feel like I haven’t done enough creatively with it. It’s going on five years since I graduated from grad school…

I try to capture words and then they scatter like a flock of pigeons. I feel like I write something solid and bordering on really good and it only gets two views…

The skies have cleared again and the sun is mercilessly shining on me.

I know this time alone is precious, oh so precious…but sometimes it still feels like it’s some cosmic punishment. And I know I’ve said this before.

There will be a time when I look back upon this fumbling around and wish I had that space again, to explore, to fuck up, to try again, and to follow my gut. 

Doing very little of what I’m used to doing – calling, writing, chasing, scoping, fretting – it’s really terrifying.

I’m a doer, not a receiver. I’m not a go-by-her-gut’er, not a rester.

Can I trust myself and the guidance I’ve repeatedly received?

I was reading this blog post, which has a podcast and transcript about a blogger who writes about waiting. There’s been a lot of waiting already, for my whole adult life.

But waiting is never passive.

And so much of having work and having money is being able to live the life I want, but all of that has been stalled. And in a capitalist society, it’s hard to have meaningful relationships with having some money, which is really sad to say.

Even still, I’m trying (a forum here, a game alliance there), and the results have been mostly mixed.

But that’s OK. I have to keep reminding myself that relying on school and church as my primary social gatherings will take time to unlearn, that it’s OK just to get out there and try…and fail…and try again. It doesn’t make me less of a human for being sometimes lonely and mostly alone. It makes me even more human to reach out and to continue to reach out, even through tears of disappointment and rejection.

It’s tough to read articles like this one, which is something I’ve been waiting on, too. But also, I’ve been forcing this to happen for years, this type of close friendship – on almost everyone, on too many people.

Intimacy does take some intention and follow-through, but it also takes ready and willing partners. It takes time for people to get to know one another. And sometimes, it just takes the right timing, for all the stars to align.

That’s a thing I want, that I’ve always wanted, but I can at least say that isn’t stupid. It’s just fucking elusive.

The sun has ducked under some stratus clouds, but it’s still quite bright. It will set in a couple of hours.

But eventually, I know I’ll be in a place where I will be truly loved and cared for, where I can give that love and care in return without feeling depleted or misunderstood. And it’s good albeit humbling to be open about that…

Like with my current musical crush, The Divine Comedy. In my last blog, I put a song of theirs at the end.

Their (or really his because it’s basically this one dude, Neil Hannon) latest album, Foreverland, is unabashedly about love and about his significant other (an Irish singer/songwriter whom you can hear on a couple of the tracks). He says as much somewhere (wish I could find it). 

The Divine Comedy is an orchestral pop outfit (which may be my favorite genre of music, right up there with house and indie rock), and he’s/they’re quite funny, sometimes a little baudy, artful, and, in that latest album, disarmingly sincere. That sincerity can be found on other songs, too.

I’ve been listening to this group for the past few days and it’s been an aural delight. It’s all because I listened to this song by Robbie Williams and Hannon sang “goodbye” with a sonorous baritone voice,  and I always liked that part but never knew who sang it.

Also! Neil Tennant from Pet Shop Boys sings the other background vocal and I went on a Pet Shop Boys listening binge late last year, too. So yeah, that song has spawn three listening binges, and it’s one of my favorite Robbie Williams songs. And come to think of it, all three of these dudes have some very distinctive voices…

Behind trees and thin cirrus clouds, the sun starts its setting motion and the golden hour will begin soon.

One of the things brought up in my latest tarot reading was love, like the mushy romantic type, and I believe I finally feel ready for it. And oddly (in a timely fashion), listening to The Divine Comedy has pushed me head first into these dizzying pools of emotion.

Although, when the card came up (The Lovers), I thought, cool, I need to make a choice! That’s one of the common interpretations. And I actually default to that now because my incurably romantic side always defaulted to romantic love. 

I’ll keep the rest of this to myself, but even though I feel ready, it doesn’t make it any less scary, and that’s because this person isn’t new (I’ll say that much, which is too much). And that would confirm all the messages I have received about them recently.

But really, I just feel like…whatever I’m going to be doing with this person is a big part of what’s next – OK, that’s my hope.

No matter who it’s with, I feel like there’s not much left to do except that, but “that” is a very big that. And that is really strange to say, as some go-get-’em Capricorn, to start engine braking instead of hitting the gas; to coast instead of accelerate; to let gravity and entropy have their way. 

Could it really be that I’ve done enough?

It’s strange when you’re used to years of digging, toiling, pulling, pushing…and then something just gives way.

You see sunlight. You hit that vein of gold. You find that hidden reservoir. 

You can rest now.

I’ve dug and toiled and pulled and pushed. And there isn’t much left around me.

This whole space clearing goes beyond career, and even beyond this person. Dare I be prophetic about it, or at least intentional: it’s going to be a whole new life. And this life that I live now has prepared me for it.

But it was be markedly different, to the point that this part, this unsatisfying, painful, bitter part, will seem like someone else lived that life.

And that’s what I want. That’s what I’ve worked towards. That’s what I’ve called in, prayed for, cried over, written about for years…

The sun will set in 27 minutes. I can’t see the sun anymore, though. Just waning light filtering through some clouds…

I should be excited, right? A job/gig that will incorporate all that I’ve done and being with someone that I don’t have to try so hard with.

But where’s the certainty? Where are the reassurances?  Where’s the security that life often will not give me but I seek anyway?

Where’s the proof? Where are the receipts? Where is the money-back guarantee? Where’s the insurance? What are the plans B through Z?

Everything comes down to faith and trust, no matter if I coat it with a Joel Osteen evangelical sheen or bedazzle it with rose quartz crystals.

And, well, that sucks.

I could go to a 100 tarot readers and they would all say the same thing. For example, I had my annual birthday tarot reading with a friend and The Lovers came up, for love not a choice.

So yes, reassurances have been made. Good things are coming. Soon. 

Yay?

But shit happens, you know? Unexpected shit. And shit has happened. Lots of shit. But I’m done with this shit, especially the shit that is planning for the rainy day, the disaster, the unmitigated tragedy, the skinned knees, and the broken hearts.

It’s the occupational hazards of being a human being. And this month, I have to let my heart lead the way, through the jungles of doubts and past hurts and disappointments.

I have to believe that I know what I’m doing, even if it seems crazy to me.

I have to keep the faith in the goodness waiting for me just around the bend…

The sun set about five minutes ago. The golden hour ends and the blue hour begins. I see the sun’s orange-pink reflections in some puffy clouds out to the west.

I was going to end this with a song from The Divine Comedy (this one). But I will end with some Tom Petty, since I’m heading this way anyway…

You can consider this chorus as a prayer for you and for me.

And I know that look that’s on your face
There’s somethin’ lucky about this place
There’s somethin’ good comin’
For you and me
Somethin’ good comin’
There has to be


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booster rockets

rocket som

For years, I’ve been thinking about the concept of booster rockets as metaphors for personal and spiritual development – but in the most depressing and isolating way.

This may sound self-indulgent and self-piteous and haughty all at once. That isn’t an apology. Just a heads up.

2019 has been a pretty chill year so far until Friday night. And even that isn’t disastrous. Just inopportune. But even that assessment is a (blessed) shift in perspective.

It’s been chill because there is barely anyone in my life right now–at least anyone constant. It’s very empty.

My relationships with people have been like booster rockets. They’re intense, fiery, and then they drop off and I’m a million miles away from where we started.

And, I’ve been feeling guilty about it. That has never been my intention. I feel like I use people, but in retrospect, it’s typically mutually beneficial.

It goes back to the idea of me being a catalyst in people’s lives and how I don’t like it anymore.

Last year, when so many people dropped away or were cut off, it was really jarring because it was the exact opposite of what I (thought I) needed.

And it’s not just been last year. It’s been years and years of having these really short, intense encounters with people and then the encounter abruptly ending.

And although it would be lovely to go into detail here, I don’t want to, really–and that’s a story in it of itself. It feels tender to try to probe into this space. 

I’ll try a little, though.


I think (I hope) I’m finally over the incredulity of what happened with my love life last year. It was so absurd and I feel separate from it now. That was another lifetime ago.

And maybe last year has made me able to finally write about this constant loss of people. People were either lost in conflict or lost through consistent absence. Both felt pretty violent.

Now, there’s silence and space. And relief, that the fighting is over and that the battle wounds are healing.

And…there’s a nagging fear that life will always be this way. And another fear: that I will get used to it and become the Capricorn I’ve always wanted to be: independent and needing no one.

But as I’ve watched another perfectly good relationship drop into the ocean and I keep heading towards space, I wonder:

Where am I actually headed?


Maybe there’s no real purpose to all of this, to how I relate to people. Maybe this period of solitude just is.

I know there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with me. There are tons of people who are complete assholes who have more people in their lives, people who actually care about them and actively love them.

But there does seem to be a purpose, at least right now. And that’s what I feel guilty about. Although, again, as a catalyst, I know I’m serving the same purpose.

I’ve grown so much from last year through learning about myself, what I’m good at and what I’m not good at. And it feels like those lessons have started to stabilized within me.

I’m still here. I’m not dead in any way. I no longer feel brokenhearted. I’m further along.

Also, this time alone has made me realize how much energy and effort I put into relationships and how a lot of times, that energy isn’t returned. It can be the most casual relationship to the most intimate – I am grinding. And frankly, that’s just wasteful.

Part of me is just wired to care for others. But writing this, in my head I sound like a martyr. But that’s definitely not what I want, a cross to be up on and people to pity.

I nurture, I guide, I help to heal. But last year, I saw my efforts hilariously and spectacularly fail and flail.

Even this past weekend, I reached out to a couple of people and they don’t actually need my support in the way that I want to give it – booster rocket style.

Although I’m at peace and am feeling better about my life, I’m no Happy Cappy…at least if I compare myself to what everyone else is doing.

I don’t have friends I text or call often – or really, at all. And that’s really weird to me.

But what’s even weirder: I can’t really think of anyone where we’d talk even every week on the phone or via text and it’d feel natural. I don’t think I’ve met those people yet.

And that’s OK. In fact, it’s encouraging. They’re still out there.

I only start to feel like a complete loser when I look around, I think – wow, if this is it, this is really bad. This is not good. I may have always had some existential loneliness, but prolonging this would be bad. 

It’s not good to be so disconnected.

A big part of this experience has to deal with poverty, which basically makes me a shut-in. But then if I had more money beyond basic expenses and had more the time to be out there again…it’s exhausting to think about.

I have been balls to the wall about people since I got here on Earth and I have very little to show for it except, wow, I know humanity pretty well and I’ve discovered that we don’t vibe that well together. Yay?

I was a lot happier as a misanthrope, back in my 20s. Maybe it’s time to bring that bitch back!

But having all this space now, I can appreciate the good times without resenting they ended. Yet I’m still quite bewildered by where I am now, at my age. And as it is Aquarius season, I feel extra alien and unrelatable.

But who gives a shit? Who really gives a shit?

I do. Thank god, I do.


And, I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this here or for my patrons, being so exhausted in giving, there needs to be a break, a shift, a disruption in this cycle of outflow and barren reception.

So as I take this rocket ship to nowhere, I believe one of two things will happen, or possibly both.

I will get used to people just popping in and out of my life and just be surprised if someone sticks around longer than a year. Or, more people will stick around longer than a year.

The thing is, too – out of all the people who have ghosted or left or have been cut out by me, I only miss one of them, but it’s not even in a painful way. It’s more like…well, it’d be nice if you returned. But I’m not going to put anymore effort into it because yowsa.

Too. Much.


To pull back with a wider lens: I live in a society with rampant loneliness, with fragmented relationships, with companies that throw people away like yesterday’s garbage, in a country that has immigrant children in concentration camps.

I live in a land that barely values me as a person with full citizenship – and I mean that in a personhood sense.

So honestly, it’s a miracle, a remarkable miracle, that any love gets to me, or any of us, at all. 

Even though my life looks like a wasteland of used up people, a wasteland of me being used up, somehow, I have some optimism that this will all make sense later. 

For now, I feel like I need to put this nurturing impulse to better use. That doesn’t mean I have to change who I am. The times are just different now and I need to find out what “better use” means – without rushing it.


Before I started writing this, I thought, what if I became the object of all this nurturing and care? It’s something I’ve been doing lately, but as I reach out to others and don’t have that effort reciprocated, I need to continue to focus on myself, as awkward and sad as that can feel.

There’s nothing wrong with the path of least resistance. And there’s nothing wrong with learning how to shift my focus towards myself for a while. I need to heal up from the losses, losses and abuses that go all the way back to high school, or even further back than that.

And it’s not that I’m reliving and ruminating over the past. The exhaustion is cumulative.

I swear I’ve written about this before, about how sometimes this feels like this is some cosmic punishment. 

Here is what I hear the Universe say to me (but I am completely mishearing them):

You’re too much for people and We’re putting you on an indefinite time out! Sit here and be alone until you’re ready to play well with others!

🥺


Some of these experiences, I really don’t understand what it’s for. And maybe it’s as simple as that I’m incredibly unlucky.

But I will not pathologize myself any longer. There’s enough pain with loss without making it all about me and how wrong I allegedly am.

Last summer, there was one person who left kept telling me, as he was leaving me, before it got ugly: “You’re such a lovely person.”

But. (one of his favorite words, by the way)

It was like it couldn’t be that it couldn’t work between us because I wasn’t an asshole. So he became the asshole.

It wasn’t me. It was him. And we both know that.

He’s not the person that I still miss, either.


My path is strange and there’s still a lot of shame around it. I’m not doing what I consider to be adult mature things that I expect for myself, like traveling, hanging out with friends, being with someone who knows I’m a lovely person and didn’t commit self-sabotage seppuku (actually, yeah, that’s pretty adult, so I guess I’m adulting).

I’ve done all of those things before.

Instead, I’m super isolated. And now I’m mostly fine with it. 

I guess I wish my life wasn’t so weird and unrelatable. It makes it hard to be a writer if no one understands what you’re experiencing (or at least openly says so).

But hey, I feel less crappy about not having anyone local around who cares because I sure as hell fucking tried, for years, to connect.

And as I was trying, I was evolving.

The gazillion dollar question: I really like who I am now, but did it come at the cost of all these people who aren’t in my life anymore?

It’s probably more true that the changes that I went through couldn’t be held within the relationships I’ve had with people. Or the people I was in relationship with were also changing beyond the scope of how we related.

And that is OK. I just want it to fucking stop eventually.

And maybe I finally know and believe that I won’t be poor forever. I know I’ll find the people who will stick around.

But right now, for once, mercifully…I’m really reluctant to open up and get to know anyone new – at least the way that I do it, which is a deep sea dive into one’s soul. I feel like that’s a healthy response! I’m not running headlong into anything, great or godawful. 

There’s just me and for now, that’s all I need. But I look forward to when I have the strength, and the means, and the heart, to open up again, whether it’s to someone new or someone from the past.

So thank you to all the former friends who help me get to this place of emotional self-sufficiency. I literally couldn’t have done it with you.

All through my life there have been
Many rare and precious things
I have tried to call mine
But I just cannot seem
To keep hold of anything
For more than a short time


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January 28, 1986

masterson som

This was one of the first things I wrote about in grad school almost seven years ago. It was in response to a prompt about a moment in history that deeply affected me. This is mine. I’ve edited it quite a bit.

Before the Challenger disaster, I had moved to Alabama with my family on December 30, 1985. I had just had my eighth birthday five days before. 

We were now in a bigger house with a large yard in a mostly Black middle-class neighborhood that had gone through some white flight. My mom said that when we arrived that night, my younger brother and I ran around the basement in excitement. It would seem just by that anecdote, I was happy for the move.

But starting school the following month was a rough time for me.

Although I loved school back then and considered it my happy place, I didn’t have the most uplifting of starts this time around. I had spent the first day of school crying for no reason, something even at age eight I don’t remember being wont to do.

Ms. Stricklin, my second grade teacher, had her arm around my chair in the back of the classroom as she quizzed me on my timetables. We were sitting by a window, off to the side of the classroom.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“I don’t know.” I wiped my hands on my face as my trembling lips tried to hold back my whimpering. I remember feeling strange that I didn’t know why I was crying. All I knew was that I didn’t want to be there at school that day. 

Apparently, this was still a time where I cried openly. I was still feeling traumatized from the move.

What’s strange about this time of my life is that I only remember the first day of school in Alabama and January 28th. I can vaguely remember second grade in Nashville, basically one spelling test where I spelled the word “visit” wrong. And that’s it.

I can’t help but think that the trauma of moving, along with watching the explosion erased any other memories I had of being eight.


On that day, a Tuesday, the skies were leaden and flat with stratus clouds, just like the first day at my new school.

But this time, instead of crying, I was excited.

This morning, we were going to go to the library and watch on the big TV the space shuttle, Challenger, take off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Our school was courtyard style, so my fellow second graders and I all walked, jumped, hopped, skipped, and danced outside, single file, to the library on the other side of the school. Other classes sat in there with us – some of us seated at tables, some of us on the floor.

We were all so excited, watching the astronauts waving to the crowd and entering the shuttle:

Francis R. Scobee – Mission Commander

Michael J. Smith – Pilot

Ellison S. Onizuka – Mission Specialist 1

Judith A. Resnik – Mission Specialist 2

Ronald E. McNair – Mission Specialist 3

Christa McAuliffe – Payload Specialist 1

Gregory B. Jarvis – Payload Specialist 2

It makes me wonder how many millions more kids were watching in their libraries and classroom. One New York Times poll found that around half of nine to thirteen year olds watched the shuttle launch.

This was a special event for children because a New Hampshire school teacher, Christa McAuliffe, only six months to the day younger than my mom, was one of the seven astronauts. NASA TV was made available to schools to watch the launch. So more children watched the launch than adults, because CNN was the only one broadcasting the launch live. 

Although the skies looked bright grey in Alabama, the skies were spectacularly clear and cerulean at Cape Canaveral. In Alabama, we had had a low of 12 degrees Fahrenheit the night before, and Cape Canaveral had a low of 18 degrees – both unusually low temperatures for the South.

If it even approaches freezing in Florida, meteorologists will make a big deal because of the citrus crops which can be damaged by freezing temps. And because most people don’t have heavy coats here, these days meteorologists will even tell you how to dress yourself and your kids. The densest outwear you’ll see anyone wear around here is a big sweatshirt. 

So for the shuttle launch, I was sitting on brown carpeted floor, watching with everyone, the countdown to liftoff. The library erupted in cheers as Challenger’s thrusters roar to life and the shuttle lifts off, with the deep blue Atlantic Ocean as the backdrop. We were chattering with each other, clapping and smiling, but our eyes were glued on the TV.

Then, as the Challenger is rising into the sky, a minute later, I see that flash of orange under the external tank, caused by strong wind shears, coming from the right solid rocket booster. Those O-rings that I would hear so much afterward had been replaced by a temporary oxide seal, which the wind shear had shattered, causing flames to rush through the joint. Had it held together, the Challenger seven would have made it safely up to space.

That image of the orange flame and the consequent explosion was burned into my memory. Then came what I call the Mickey Mouse explosion, of the shuttle and fuel tank, with the two solid rocket boosters flying off as the ears. This is where my memory tape starts to slow down. 

I looked at the TV and I ask Ms. Stricklin, “They made it out, right?”, over and over I’m asking – to her and to myself. I’m hoping that they safely plop in the ocean and we get to see Christa McAuliffe again.

I don’t remember what she said, if anything. I only remember her standing by the TV, looking.

As I’m watching the explosion, McAuliffe’s parents, her students, and the other families of the astronauts are starting to discover what happen. Recently, I watched a video of the raw footage of the crowd. You can see the crowd slowly learning of the astronauts’ fates.

The camera focuses on McAuliffe’s parents and I can’t tell if they know yet or not. Some people were crying. People started leave the stands, with stunned looks on their faces.

We must’ve stayed there in the library for a while, hushed, whispering, waiting – or maybe I’m still waiting to see that they are OK.

Part of me never left the library. I’m still there, waiting.


I read later that some of the astronauts were able to survive the initial explosion, and I saw a picture of the crew cabin in one of the rays of smoke and fire. But they were hurtling towards the ocean at such a speed, at approximately 207 mph.

With over 200 g forces as they are decelerating, they will not survive.

And maybe eight-year-old me knew that, deep down, but just couldn’t face the magnitude of loss I had just witnessed.

The NASA lead accident investigator and astronaut Robert Overmyer said, “Scob [Dick Scobee, the shuttle commander] fought for any and every edge to survive. He flew that ship without wings all the way down….they were alive.”

And that may be true. Maybe some of the astronauts were conscious, and maybe some were not. But it was concluded that the explosion itself didn’t cause their deaths.

I could go on and on about the historic speech Reagan gave on the day he was supposed to be giving the State of the Union address; about the intensive, repetitive, possibly traumatizing, media coverage of the Challenger disaster; the many years of covering up about the O-rings in the joints of the solid rocket boosters that lead up to this tragedy; about the engineers’ ignored warnings, about how it was way too cold to fly the shuttle that day; about the many delays of the mission launch; about how, after the disaster, the shuttle program was on hiatus for almost three years; about the Rogers Commission that investigated the disaster, which included astronaut Sally Ride; about the Congressional hearings; about the redesign of the solid rocket boosters, the schools named after the Challenger and Christa McAuliffe, the tributes and memorials…

But all I can think about is Christa. Is it because I love learning so much, that her death—unlike the ones who died upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere in the Columbia in 2003, or even her fellow crew members—hurts me so?

My heart and eyes found those buried rivers of saline as I saw the footage again, which had been frozen under time and innocence. Preventable tragedies are never easy for anyone to understand, let alone children.

And she was born in the same year of my mother. Is it like my mother dying?…maybe not my mother, but a mother, or nurturer, of young minds that she helped to shape and mold in her classroom every day.

She was one of us – someone who worked really hard to become an astronaut through the Teachers in Space Project.

And she was so young, at age 37.

It could also be that I tried to stubbornly hold onto some semblance of innocence that day, hurtling into an ocean of denial, until my grown-up self could reckon with the depth of the loss.

We go back to places of injury, seeking healing and understanding. But I’m scared to read anymore analysis or watch anymore footage.

It hurts enough. I know enough.

Christa’s gone. Those seven astronauts are all gone, never to return.

There was no way to escape.

And the year I was born, those O-rings were already fated to be lethal. So much time to prevent this from happening, eight years…

And what of the other people my age now? What do they think and feel? Did they burst into tears? Were they frozen, too, like me? Does it hurt just as bad as it did on that frozen day in January?

We must be carrying this generational psychic wound together. Has it been bound and cleansed—or forgotten?

The American Journal of Psychiatry conducted a study of children who watched the Challenger explosion and concluded that a significant number of children experienced PTSD-like symptoms, even more so for the schoolchildren who watched it live and were on the East Coast compared to children on the West Coast.


Now, I live about an hour’s drive from the Space Coast and the shuttle program ended on August 31, 2011, a year before I moved down here. I have yet to go to Space Coast to see any launches made by SpaceX  or any of the heavy-lift launches.

Down here in Florida, there are license plates for the Challenger and Columbia disasters, but even people here have started to forget.

I remember in fifth grade drawing a picture of a shuttle, it may have been Discovery. I believe it was for some contest. When I was drawing it, I don’t recall remembering what happened to the Challenger. I was very excited to draw the space shuttle. So had I already forgotten, too, just three years later? 

Not too far me now is a street called Challenger, a road I have driven down many times in grad school. I never made the connection to the shuttle until years later.

When I started writing this, it was 2012. Now it’s 2019, 33 years since the disaster. Today, I watched the videos again, of the launch, the explosion, the shock and grief of the people in the VIP stands. And I got teary.

Today online, there are a lot of remembrance tweets and posts, but I wonder if over time, we’ll all stop remembering what a harrowing day it was for America and many of its children.


After the Columbia disaster in 2003, priorities began to shift to other space programs and eventually, to commercial space flight. But that remains to be fully realized by companies such as SpaceX.

But that doesn’t mean all space exploration has ceased. Even before the shuttle program’s retirement, there have been amazing space explorations occurring. There are currently over 40 space missions going on right now.

But to me, it’s not the same as sending people out into space.

The glory of the space race (which was mainly with Russia) from the 1960s through the 2000s seems to be a gilded age of time. 

Although SpaceX has had some successes and innovations with their rockets, to me it doesn’t feel the same as when the space shuttle would be launched – mainly because there were astronauts aboard.

Other countries are also exploring space. For example, this month, China landed a robot on a moon and even had a plant sprout there (but it’s already dead). There’s also a joint mission to Mercury between the EU and Japan.

The wonder of space still continues to inspire and enthrall us.

And yet.


I never really talked about this much with anyone after the Challenger exploded. I had read a version of this essay at a public reading and afterward, I spoke with classmates around my age talk about it. It was interesting to swap stories of what we could and could not remember. Some people remembered crying. Some people remembered parents coming to pick up their children or school closing earlier that day.

On another level, I can imagine it’s similar for how Millennials feel about 9/11, although the magnitude of terror is larger and yet more targeted.

Watching people die on television, in real time – and later, repeatedly on the news – is something no one should be subjected to, including and especially children. But both Gen X and Millennials have been scarred by tragedy through television. 

Knowing how traumatizing it was for me to watch 9/11 events on repeat for days, I wonder how many Gen Xers still have PTSD from the Challenger disaster. I wonder how they’re all doing now. It seems this man was able to remember a lot more than I was, and he was a year behind me in school.

How did we cope with such a brutal loss of innocence?

It’s hard to tell how traumatized I was, but the memory failure seems to be one of the symptoms – and probably, it is a merciful one. I have no idea what kind of fallout happened to me emotionally, or if it affected my grades, or if it affected anything else in my life, like my relationships to my parents or my brother or my friends.

But it’s OK that I don’t remember or recall, although I am curious about how not only I, but the rest of my classmates dealt with that day. Maybe one day 1986 will open back up for me, but for now, it remains closed.

I am grateful for what these seven brave souls did for the space program, for science, and for humankind. But I am still so devastated at the cost.

I’m sure they inspired to take an astrophysics class in college, which was much too hard for me with my depression-addled brain.

But before the class started to dig deep into the very difficult calculations of the distances between planets (which caused me to drop the class), I was able to go on the roof of our classroom building and look through a telescope and see planets like Jupiter. This planet wasn’t just bright stars in the sky. I could see the multi-colored bands of gaseous clouds which swirled on Jupiter.

It’s still one of the best moments of my life.

Eventually, there will be human travel to space again (besides the trips to the International Space Station), and hopefully the management issues which caused the failures with the Challenger and Columbia have been addressed and resolved.

And when that next space mission happens, I wonder if I’ll be able to be excited…or will some dormant fears will be reactivated. I’m not sure.

But I do look forward to when the U.S. – whether it’s through NASA or some commercial entity – is able to try again and is successful.

And I hope that all who have suffered from that day, the families of the astronauts, the schoolchildren of McAuliffe, the schoolchildren and adults who all watched with me – I hope we can all find healing and peace.


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