Autumn has finally come to Central Florida. And frankly, it’s a little late. Usually by mid-October, the swamplands have finally cooled off to more spring-like temperatures without the oppressive humidity.
I woke up this morning to a low of 56F without the heater on (it’s not consistently cold enough to switch over yet). The skies are brilliantly clear and the humidity that seems to visibly hang in the air has been swept away.
I haven’t stepped out to enjoy the weather yet. I will tomorrow when I mail my ballot in for the midterm elections.
Currently, I’m happily wearing a sweater.
And I feel…better…?
Just like the skies, whatever haze and doom that has clouded me has cleared up…for now.
And I’m really grateful for this change of seasons and weather…externally and internally.
There’s something about continually showing up, to your own life.
Even when you want to quit. Even if you have to drag yourself through your day. Even when there’s no one around to encourage you. And that’s what I did this month especially.
And then, a little relief started to trickle in. Relief like work and solid prospective clients. Relief came from within, too. I found some newfound solidity within myself that no one could give me.
It’s a new level of resiliency that I didn’t know I could kick up into.
And I really shouldn’t have to, in theory. And that’s something I’ve talked at length about here–the power and necessity of community and how isolated I feel.
It’s a little strange, to have gone through this phase of being needy and destitute, asking for help and sometimes receiving it, to go back to going it alone…to go back and to go deeper into the journey of solitude.
What I feel was a journey to learn more about interdependence was actually a revelation that the people I chose to depend on weren’t the right fit, to put it mildly. And it came in two different flavors.
There’s the flavor of seeing me as forever needy, which is actually new for me personally. But there’s a power dynamic that develops when you’re sharing your woes with friends, and your woes are really terrible and even terrifying.
I’m a comforting cautionary tale. At least I’m not like her.
But I have to stay in that place. God help me if I decide to become an equal again, whether through circumstances or spiritual growth or both.
Then the power dynamic, along with the relationship, is broken.
The second flavor is being the one who is always there. Here I am with my unflagging support and love and devotion and care.
The reciprocity, though, is never found. So, I leave.
Either way, for all my life, most of my relationships have flavored with one or both of those unpalatable flavors. Sometimes, the flavorings of imbalance are imperceptible. But over time, there’s a cumulative effect. Things go from oh-so-sweet to ruh-roh-sour.
Other times, it’s just obviously wrong, but I’m in a tough place. I just reach out, indiscriminately. And then the relationship is poorly structured from the beginning and it implodes at the first sign of stress.
As much as it’s hurt, taking a timeout from people seems to be necessary. I’m the lowest common denominator here.
I need to use better discernment in choosing my people. And I need to be more whole to do that.
So I’ve accepted that this is where I’m at–going solo. I’ve been relying on my spiritual teams (guides and angels). But business-wise, I can’t take such a hiatus. I must continue to reach out.
But even with business, these same dynamics are at play. So as I continue to heal, I can choose better clients and partners.
As I take a break from relationshipping, there’s some comfort and ease that comes along with it.
I don’t have to deal with anyone else’s emotional burdens or heartaches. As someone who is deeply empathic, I had no idea how much of a toll it was, to keep the tally of what’s going on with someone else as I know this isn’t being reciprocated neither in quantity nor in quality.
I didn’t realize how other-oriented I was until all the others left or I made them leave. There was a constant background noise of the fluttering of other people’s lives–whether I cared about them or not–that was part of the soundtrack of my life.
Why am I doing all the work here? So I can feel connected? So I can feel needed? What am I getting out of it besides tired?
I could tune out my own deep pains. I could narrowly escape the sneering shame and grief nipping at my heels when I focused on others.
And even if I was candid and long-winded about my own struggles, it took decades to realize that no one was taking up my burdens the way I took up theirs.
And I deeply resented that.
But here’s the thing I have to keep reminding myself of: everyone is not me. Most people are just not bent to be that empathetic.
And that’s OK. It’s just another invitation to create better boundaries for myself.
So now, with all this aloneness, I can fully focus on my own burdens and lightening my load.
And it’s about time.
Oh, this time…this is a sacred time that I’ve resented. I’ve resented because I really didn’t understand what was going on.
But that’s how it usually goes. You figure out the path along the way. You acquire wisdom and hindsight along the way. You find peace within yourself…along the way.
As I have about two months left in this year of 40, I can see that this year was going to be big for me–just not in the ways that I thought.
I thought it was all going to come together in this beautiful, easy way, like waking up on Christmas morning and finding the big red bow on top of a new car.
Finally! Here’s my American happy ending to my French tragic movie. I worked so hard to get here–all this inner work, the therapy, the spiritual teachings, the prayers, the spells, the fixed candles, the sigils…
All that fucking work. It wasn’t not in vain, but there were things I explicitly worked on would spectacularly backfire.
Candles for more money? I got poorer. A fixed candle about restoring communication with someone? I’d break off contact never to speak to them again.
I thought I’d have the big love and the big business. Yeah, these are basic ass desires, I know.
Still, I have neither. I have the big clean-up instead.
It’s clean-up that has to happen, and it’s not only because there’s decades of stuff that I haven’t had time to really dig in and sort through. It’s not only making room for the big love and the big business. But it also about the big healing.
It’s like taking that storage room of stuff that you’ve reorganized, labeled and itemized, but you really need to empty the room, as much as you can.
Yet even knowing how important this still time is, it’s still a little hard to let go of the idea that I’m failing (myself).
There’s a big disappointment that my adulting looks like…not very much is going on except death, loss, and the subsequent grief that comes with it.
And yes, this is a refrain that I’m tired of, but I have some compassion for the woman with fierce ambitions and dreams…the woman with empty arms, standing still, who keeps singing this same sad song…
The constant drone of this refrain is a part of grieving itself. But it seems like every time I sing this dirge, I’m singing a different verse.
The verses are moving me through the changing landscape of my own heart.
Another thing: I’m still individuating myself from life’s current circumstances. It’s really messy, figuring out who is me and what is just stuff happening, but the dividing line is this:
I am doing the best that I can.
Maybe the past few years has been me doggedly and repeatedly trying to move on, but being dragged down by the specters of old hurts and shame.
And then when people stepped back…it wasn’t because I was damaged or unworthy. It was to give me the needed space to conquer the past’s demons, finally.
But it did look and feel like abandonment.
There’s really nothing else here to deal with except me. But that was really overwhelming, especially this month. It felt like I was surrounded by neverending silence and darkness.
I was really concerned that depression had come back. And who would blame me for being depressed if I was? I sure as hell wouldn’t.
Have I mentioned how much this year has sucked? 🙃
I still shake my head and marvel at how bad things have been relationally for me–and how I survived it.
People let me down. I let people down. Such is life, but this year felt like a hot poker to my heart–so acutely personal and painful.
And one thing that has saved me from depression and despair has been depersonalization: giving people back their actions and intentions, good or bad; letting them prove their loyalty to me instead of just blithely giving it to them in good faith.
Simply put: if you continue to not show up or to be a selfish asshole, you’re not my people. Expecting otherwise is where suffering comes in. And I’d rather not suffer.
Even in the cooling waters of depersonalization, I’m still left with the pain of realization.
You’ve left me. I need you to leave.
Compound that with the struggles of creating a sustainable business for myself, and I’ve got white-hot misery.
But here’s what I keep forgetting. I can choose to try to alleviate my misery, as healthily as I can.
When you’re going through it, then…you need even more support and care, even if you’re the only source of that respite.
I know this, so well. And I can preach this to anyone else, all day, every day.
And yet, I don’t really treat myself as kindly as I treat others–even others who hate and disrespect me.
I don’t think it’s some deep seated self-hatred. I think I’m pretty alright. But I do think it’s a couple of things that are intertwined.
It’s what I’ve said before–I’m not receiving what I’m giving. So that sends a subtle message to me that I don’t need it. I may not even deserve such compassion.
It’s great to talk about self-care and self-love…but the conversation in Western society seems to be in a vacuum.
Who teaches us how to take care of ourselves, to love ourselves? Parents and caregivers are the first teachers. You can’t just know how to love yourself on your own.
With self-love and self-care, I’ve treated myself a little too coolly, like a detached nurse who knows how to do their tasks technically, but without any milk of human kindness flowing through them.
But my parents treated me just as coolly. I’m just doing what I know. And even knowing better…there’s a bridge to cross from knowing better to doing better. And I’m still making my way on the bridge.
Still, I ask myself: don’t I deserve a little loving kindness, some tenderness, some inner respite?
But this never actively comes to mind. It’s a subtle but lethal form of self-abandonment.
I’m withholding the good stuff–the self-nurturing, the self-compassion, the kindness, the respite from shame and sorrow– from my life for a better time.
But the better time is now; it’s always now.
I meander and wander in the lonely land of shoulds. The shoulds are so heavy to walk with.
You should be reaching out to more prospective clients.
You should be doing more spiritual work.
You should be reading more.
But none of that was fun.
I wondered: could I find a little space for fun without feeling guilty?
Another thing that has saved me from this terrible month was bringing in a little more fun through something not very complicated.
It wasn’t more outwardly spiritual.
It was pretty simple. I played more.
The last couple of weeks, I played more games–specifically story-based games (and, well, the Candy Crush realm).
Focusing on something else than how miserable I was feeling helped me feel better, even if nothing had changed.
But as I thought, while I kept showing up–doing marketing blitzes, learning more about business, doing the work I was assigned to do, kept waking up every day…
And yeah, that sounds small–waking up…but when despair tries to choke you out every day, waking up is one surefire way to keep despair at bay. Waking up means I’m curious about how this whole life thing will work out for me today.
Maybe today will be different.
And this week especially is different. This week is actually full of tangible promise. Three meetings with people about potential business. That’s unprecedented, and I hope it continues. I’m so grateful.
And this was what I was hoping for…could I find some way to find some inner joy and peace that wasn’t centered on making everyone happy or being “perfect” or even “good”?
I’ve talked about this holy grail, of finding internal contentment which isn’t based on external circumstances. And I keep getting closer to finding it. I get glimpses of it…
The reason why I search for this inner stability isn’t just because I don’t want to suffer. The power of that impenetrable internal state is that it starts to change things around you. And yeah, it’s a little about a perspective shift, but it’s also a little alchemical.
I don’t fully understand the relationship I have with my environment, how much I have control over it. Right now, it seems like my magical hands are tied…or they are bringing me things that I need but I definitely don’t want.
And I’m torn here. I am not a cheery person. I don’t think preternaturally happy people should have it all. There’s an obsession with happiness that seems like emotional manipulative and controlling, even if hedonic psychology came from a good place–to counterpoint the obsession with psychopathology.
But I do know that stress makes you stupid. You make poor decisions that don’t really help you out in the long run. So, at the very least, besides not having my physical health tank, I want to be able to look at life with clarity and sobriety, without the stress beer goggles which distort.
And I don’t mean to blame people who are buffeted by their circumstances. Being broke and alone, such as yours truly, is almost impossible to overcome in your feeling state.
And of course, I’d want everyone to have enough, to have access to great healthcare, for no one to be marginalized in the world. And that’s something to work towards.
But until that reality comes into being, we have to figure out how to cope.
You never really know what you identify with until it’s taken away. And my sense of self-reliance was something I really prided myself. My relationships with others was another thing.
And both have been thwarted or taken away or transformed.
So that means I’m being transformed. Duh.
If I could end this with any hope at all is that I know and can feel that I am stronger through all these terrible times. I don’t feel as fragile and broken. I don’t think it can get any worse. I certainly hope it doesn’t.
I do feel wiser in choosing who can share life with me. I don’t feel beholden to just pick anyone who is just around me, assuming that just because they’re around, that means they’re for me.
Even in a restricted, smaller life, I still have agency and choice. It may not be the amount of agency or wealth of choice I desire or am used to, but I still have it.
So I’ll end here with a prayer. That’s as hopeful as I can get.
My prayer for myself is that I treat myself with more grace, more care, more patience, more compassion, and more love, that I remember to treat myself well period.
May I remember that I am being supported and helped, even when I feel like life is too excruciating for words or too painful to bear.
May I be truly grateful for every good thing that comes my way.
May I see this time as sacred and special and continually unburden myself from the shackles of resentment.
May I take ownership of my life while discerning what I can and cannot control.
May I no longer suffer.
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