45 days past

times som

So over six weeks ago, I took a long break from social media. I was really busy with work and needed to focus on it. But also, I wanted to avoid all the holiday hubbub that had absolutely nothing to do with me, even with a Christmas birthday.

Bah humbug, basically. It does make me wonder if Scrooge was a Capricorn.

Ultimately, this has been something I’ve been wrestling with for years–what is social media’s use to me, besides making me feel like I’m not enough and too much?

I’ve reckoned with the looming fact that as much as I have been online for my entire adult life, I don’t really understand social media anymore. And maybe I never did.

It makes me feel competitive and jealous over appeared differences, and that makes me feel ill–mainly the humblebrag that isn’t humble, just bragging. I imagine if I was in a face-to-face conversation with someone, telling me about great their life is…well, no one wants to hang with that person, and very rarely do people talk like that. But on social media, it’s totally OK!

Recently, I was reading posts like this on Instagram and Facebook and it made me punchy. It’s not that I begrudge anyone of their successes, nor their celebration of them–even if for me, 2018’s only true success was that I SURVIVED. It’s just…I don’t know how this discourse became so braggadocious.

And maybe posts like that inspires or heartens others. And sure, I’m definitely in a place in my life that could use some inspiration and uplift. But somehow, when it’s said on social media, it doesn’t feel inclusive. It feels very impersonal, and like we’re competing for some unattainable prize of most awesome.

If you have even one modicum of dissatisfaction in your life, social media will exploit it. 


Anyway, it’s nothing new, right? We’ve all felt less than after reading someone’s post about how fucking amazing their lives are. And then the winter holidays make those albeit natural but very weighty feelings even more heavy. I felt both like Scrooge and Tiny Tim at the same time, even before Thanksgiving.

So, I mercifully logged off, because no one needs to feel even more alone during the holidays while watching people celebrate with friends and family (as they edit out all the tough conversations and heartache and grief), and you are a party of one–which there should be no shame in. 

So while I was away, I finally decided not to be ashamed of my life, which goes beyond the holidays. It’s not easy to not compare your life to someone else’s when you’re online, even when you know that so much of this fake or at least not the whole story. So logging off solved that. It may be something I do every year, no matter how awesome or awful my life is, because it really fucks with your head and your sense of worth, even if everything is OK.

What if life could be better? Why aren’t you having people around that love you? Why aren’t you financially successful? Why are you hashtag blessed? 

Well, the messy and complicated answer to these almost ridiculous questions is–well, there are a lot of reasons–many of them you can’t control, and some of them you will never be able to ascertain or perceive. 

I believe, I hope, I filled all those heart-holes that social media is always trying to widen and fill with resentment. It’s probably going to be a process because part of me is like, whoa, how did I get here? I used to not give a flying fuck about this stuff. And in that way, social media isn’t necessary the root of that problem. That’s just my life sucking. 

But here’s the difference for me–I remember back in the 90s turning to social media when my life was sucking. I found a lot of amazing people to be friends with. There was no competition or bragging or curating or branding or selling. It was just people talking about each other’s lives.

So back then, social media was a savior and a beacon during a long bout of clinical depression. But now, social media has become completely the opposite. And I’m not even talking about harassment. That’s a whole separate topic, which thankfully, for now, I have rarely experienced. 

Whatever deeper connections I was looking for online, like I found in my youth, I don’t really believe they are there like that…anymore, like ripened fruit dropping from trees. Now, I tend to just luck upon them, and even then they don’t last very long.


So one of the biggest things I’ve had to come to peace with is the age that I live in now. It’s not the 90s or the 20th century anymore. We are well within this millennium and century and decade, and for me, it’s too impersonal and transactional for me.

Also, there’s a generational shift. I’m not millennial enough to get this social landscape anymore (although it’s arguable that some Gen Xers created this mess we’re). And although there are probably plenty of Gen Xers killing this game…well, that’s the thing. This has never been some game for me. If social media is just a popularity contest, then I will always lose. I’m fine with that since I understand that is a game. In 1997, it was just me talking to people about stuff. Now it’s commerce and buying fake followers and YouTube views. 

This has been the longest time I haven’t been on social media, and I finally feel like I fell out of step with the emotional tone of this…place. For example, I was lurking a couple of days ago, seeing people I know and love rage-tweet about something that just didn’t seem to be worth the energy. If I had been on there all the time, I may have been more into this, but it just seemed almost like a privilege to sit around and bitch. I could be wrong about the topic, which I will not mention, but it was something that wouldn’t really directly affect me. 

And maybe that’s something I should digger deeper in, too. Maybe I get caught up in rage storms just because I’m there, like I’m a piece of driftwood. It’s not like what matters to me is rage tweeted by others, either.

That speaks to the cult of personality that I have never been into or never will be. My personality doesn’t really invoke a following, but that’s how you make it in the world today–which, whatever, I’m opting out.

So I suck at this, hardcore. And yet, I didn’t used to. The landscape has changed. And I’m tired of being frustrated about it because that’s what social media now is designed to do. It’s like one long commercial provoking you to hate yourself and other people. It feels dirty and gross.

I mean, clearly–it’s not the only way social media works. At least one of you reading this right now found me through social media. So I’m not completely terrible at it. But in a numbers game? After 10 years, there should be more to show for it. Allegedly. And I don’t even need to invoke quantity vs. quality here. Twitter, for example, is a very transient place. Lots of people I knew who were on more regularly have gone.

Still, being myself, being “authentic” doesn’t work in the way I’ve “marketed” myself as a brand. What “value” am I adding? Who the fuck knows?

All those truisms work for some people, but not everyone. Yet everyone gets on this mindless treadmill to get to this unreachable place of popularity because that’s what all those stupid likes and retweets force us to do to be allegedly relevant.

To that end, if you haven’t watched the holiday special Aggretsuko: We Wish You a Metal Christmas on Netflix, you should (here’s a review from io9). 


My “game” has always been to connect and I saw the internet as a way to connect to people I otherwise wouldn’t AND as a way to keep in touch with people I rarely saw. But, at least on a metric level, I just can’t do this here. I can barely stand that it’s OK to tweet to someone and not reply–and this person can be your friend. I still find that to be rude because there’s no way that would fly offline (although it’s happened to me offline, too). Yet somehow, if we’re online, it’s OK to (pretend to) be distracted.

It makes me just ask: so…why are you actually here? 

It’s not to say that I still don’t have some good people in my life from the internet. And the internet IS IRL. More and more, our lives are being reliant to being online. I couldn’t work without the internet. But it’s more that my offline life isn’t being augmented by my online life–like it used to be.

So maybe if I made connecting offline more of a priority in all ways, I can find what I used to find back in the happy, shiny 90s. Even connecting with myself more these past six weeks has been great, dare I say a necessity. I loved this story from over the holidays where this woman logged off for a week and tried to read 30 books in this time. She read 12, but good for her.

And, while I was away, I’d be remiss to not mention all the ridiculous news re: Facebook and how it handed our data on a silver platter to companies. Social media is a gotdamn shitshow.

Oh, one last rant about online life and then I’ll update you on my offline activities–people suck at email. For example, I’ve been trying to write a few stories and talk to my sources. I know it’s still kind of the holidays but seriously?! Maybe I should have taken off some more time.

I really don’t feel like I was made for these times. Maybe I was born too late, but that would make me an insufferable Baby Boomer. Ugh.


Anyway, so I’m back online now. And I feel like I’ve changed a lot, which I will write about later. It could be coincidental to having lived a life where I wasn’t curating my thoughts online, but I doubt it.

Here’s the running list of things I had to say while I was away:

  1. The Pet Shop Boys are perfection. I believe I started listening to them in earnest because I was listening to a lot of Robbie Williams, whom I also love and adore. He did a cover of their cover of “We’re the Pet Shop Boys” so I was intrigued. I listened to their whole discography and pretty much liked everything. It was great to listen to while I worked, but then I would get distracted. I really want this book by Neil Tennant One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem which is on my Christmas Birthday Wishlist if you want to get it for me. *wink wink*
  2. Australians have given us a lot of slang. The word “selfie” is an Aussie word. I learned that from this side work I did which took up a lot of the time while I was away from social media.
  3. Motown really is amazing. Another thing I learned from my sidework. I watched In the Shadow of Motown later and learned about the greatest bassist who ever lived, James Jamerson. I wrote about that for my patrons on Patreon if you want to read it. 
  4. I’m from Alabama and had no idea that Muscle Shoals was a thing at all. I watched the music doc Muscle Shoals and had no idea that Helen Keller, Sam Phillips, and W.C. Handy were from there. I also had no idea about the music studios and producers that helped to create iconic albums from the 60s and 70s. I honestly thought it was in southern Alabama, too, not northern Alabama. I once had a friend who lived in Florence, which is a part of that area. So basically, I had no idea where she lived.
  5. I listened to the top 2018 songs on Spotify and it all sounds the same. I decided on New Year’s Eve to listen to Spotify’s playlist and it was just variations of The Hamsterdance Song. I really wasn’t missing out on much except maybe the Black Panther soundtrack. My ears bled otherwise.
  6. OMG, the Chicago Bears are doing well! WTF? I really missed Twitter when the Bears were playing. They freaking beat the Green Bay Packers. And then I watched them play the Minnesota Vikings and win. I cannot believe we’re headed to the playoffs!
  7. The is macabre, but the Catherine wheel should have been one of those times God flood the earth again. I was listening to a Crowded House album, one of the deluxe versions with outtakes and demos, and they had some lovely song about the Catherine wheel, which I never knew what it was. I knew it was some 90s band that I never listened. It was a medieval torture and killing device which I still don’t even understand because it was so ghastly. I’m not even going to write about it, but man–Europeans have some fucking issues, and that is putting it mildly. That would have been an epic tweetstorm, but alas, I was offline. 

Anyway, that’s just a few of the things I almost wish I was online to talk about.


I tend to want to come to complete answers and solutions quickly, but my relationship with social media is more of an ongoing conversation. The conversation has changed over the past decade. So while I was offline, I mourned that this virtual place has become a place of longing and not lasting connection. It’s an early adopter issue, for sure.

So basically, I don’t know how to be a healthy, connected human on here like I’m used to. I can only do that by being on here less. I put way too much of my heart and emotions into something that has given my diminishing returns. That insanity ended last year. 

I just can’t take this place as seriously anymore, even though there are clearly serious ramifications from being online.

So when it comes to disseminating my own thoughts and feelings about anything online, I realized I was mainly speaking in a cold, dark room with very little light. Or, like a few years ago in grad school through a Facebook and blogging mishap, I was speaking to people who were insecure (just like I was). So at the very least, I’ll speak to people who want to listen.

If social media had helped me with my immediate needs, with poverty and loneliness, I’d be a lot more grateful. But really, a big lesson from this sabbatical was that I had to learn to deal with this stuff myself–at least this time, that’s what was required. And I’m really proud that I dug myself out of this hole. I feel less anxious, abandoned, and ashamed. I feel more like myself, more expansive, more like a real person with real emotional needs.

Social media isn’t really about my relationship to the rest of the world or American society, though–it just pretends to be that conduit. Yet it can be a very powerful distortion that unfortunately starts to affect society and the people in it. The past few weeks, I had to remind myself I had more control of how I feel and how I communicate with others–if at all.

This isn’t a zero-sum game. And it’s not even a game I have to play at all.

So my hope is that my life will look a lot more like it was in the early aughts than it does now–more balanced, more with people I love and who love me, and less concerned about people I may never meet offline.

This may be real life, being online, but it doesn’t have to be my whole life any longer.


If you liked what you’ve read, I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. I blog about things that I don’t post here.

If you want to give a one-time gift or monthly gift, hit me up on Paypal. Also if you’re feeling generous this holiday season, here’s my Amazon Wishlist.

Thanks for your support! Happy Holidays! 💘

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a sign?

Love your neighbor

I saw this sign on Friday afternoon.

FYI–this blog post is going to be extra short because I’m stewing in some disappointment and dread, and I don’t really feel like sharing (for once!).

This sign was really comforting to see, that in this house, this person at least professes to have the same ideals as me.

I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. I blog about things that I don’t post here and you can have access to those things for $10/month.

Back to the disappointment and dread that I don’t want to talk about…

I’m not sure if I’ve been misreading signs for a while, or what I’m being lead towards anymore. It’s been a bit confusing to say the least.

I’m really just trying to do the best that I can, to heed and interpret the messages and signals and signs.

But really, sometimes, it’s just shit.

Thankfully, the last few days have not been completely FUBAR.

I’ve really marveled at how I can hold such pain and hope, peace and doom, at the same time, with the same hands, within the same mind, heart, and body.

I’m usually not both/and with my feelings.

Anyway…this is a sign…of something…amongst a couple of other more clear-cut signs I’ve seen lately. I just have to keep taking it step by step and trust that I’m not being lead astray.

Faith and all that.

If you liked what you’ve read, I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. 

If you want to give a one-time gift or monthly gift, hit me up on Paypal.

Thanks for your support! 💘

fear as a gift

I can't watch this

Pretty sure this happened when one of the ladies was going to try to kiss the bachelor. It was totally cringeworthy.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching The Bachelor. I watch the whole cursed franchise because it’s a way to have a virtual weekly date with my friend.

She loves the show, and I love her. But, I think it’s pretty stupid. I just use it as a hangout time.

At least these contestants get to go to some really cool places across the world. And, there’s the catty, nighttime soap drummed-up by the producers drama that’s kind of fun to watch.

I admit, too: I thought I liked this season’s bachelor. I mean, he’s a looker.  But, he’s also a cheeseball. So, I regained my senses during this episode. He’s probably a bit sleazy which I took as attentive and kind at first.

really need to get out more often.

Anyway, I saw two contestants practically lose their shit on their dates with the bachelor, and both got eliminated on the spot instead of at the rose ceremony.

This happens on occasion, but how they did themselves in reminded me of how my intuition went crazy years ago right before I was fired.

A Runaway Motormouth

One contestant was on a date in Napa Valley. Lovely scenery, plus swilling wine should help with romantic vibes. But one of the many blonde Laurens on this show just kept freaking out.

She was so nervous and really had reason to be–she kept telling the viewers that in her little interviews. She felt like she couldn’t control herself. I agreed, no reason to be nervous.

She kept nervously talking and talking about everything and nothing. She just could not shut up. The bachelor let her go for the silliest reason–apparently, she loves her family too much to be here. He may have been trying to let her down easy because I don’t even think he let her go because of her incessant babbling.

“The Human Anxiety Attack”

The other woman who got let go, Vulture calls her “the human anxiety attack,” and for a good reason. This show gets a little silly, because it takes mundane instances in our lives and blows them up on TV.

So let me preface this to say that yes, it’s important to get some physical chemistry with your love interest, but usually these are internal or private conversations. It is so weird to have them outside of yourself and to tell millions of strangers these sorts of machinations.

This lady, who I was rooting for and find to be probably too sensitive for a TV game show where the prize is an engagement, was freaking out about not having yet kissed the bachelor.

So she tried to get some one-on-one time with him before the rose ceremony to make it happen, and he says, nah.

I hate to be reductive here, but from my experience any time a straight guy turns down a kiss or sex, something is gravely wrong.

She tries again, and he sends her home.

Smoke Breaks Saved Me a Day of Dignity

These freakouts reminded me about when I was working as a legal assistant at a law firm and one Friday, I couldn’t stop freaking out about getting fired. I just knew.

I didn’t think I wasn’t doing my job well, but the two law firm partners reminded me of my parents. One was aloof and the other was certifiable and had been banned from certain court rooms.

The irrational one thought I was lazy. In retrospect, it was probably racism and sexism involved, since my two other colleagues were white males doing the same amount and kind of work.

Everyone thought I was freaking out for nothing.

The next Monday morning, I was laid off. Apparently, it would have been Friday, but they couldn’t find me to fire me. I was a smoker at the time, so I think I was nervously taking a lot of smoke breaks outside.

So what do these three incidents have in common? A woman’s intuition.

Fear and Intuition

As I was watching The Bachelor, I told my friend that those two women knew this wasn’t going to work out with the bachelor, but at the same time, their minds didn’t really know. Instead started to bargain or cling onto this guy through their meltdowns.

With blonde Lauren, the incessant babbling to me was a sign that they were not connecting. She was trying to fill in the silences and make up for what the bachelor was not giving. As Vulture pointed out, the guy was so checked out, he started eating during dinner.

I have been there, many times, and it is a horrible feeling–to not feel connected to someone when you are so trying to make it happen.

With the anxious lady, there’s of course the time pressure–there’s the rose ceremony where you get chosen, or not chosen–but there’s also the knowing she clearly had. When would you otherwise try to force a kiss to happen with a man? Never.

And as sleazy and cheesy as this guy is, she knew it should have happened already. She was trying to force things to happen. But, and maybe graciously, she hastened her elimination and went home before the rose ceremony.

I’m not exactly sure why these two incidents stood out to me, but I have been fed up with how people in the spiritual community talk about fear. Fear is bad–and that’s it. It’s very dualistic thinking, and the the older I get, I see more of life as a gradient than two black and white choices for everything.

The Gift of Fear

As research for this blog post, I just started reading The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. His book is more about preventing violence. So, for these three examples, it’s outside of the scope of this post.

I’m still going to read the book because even though it was written in 1997, with mass shootings happening so often (just today, there was a shooting at a Kentucky school where one person was kill and multiple people were wounded), it’s important to know how to use fear as a gift, as a tool to protect you.

You have more brain cells than there are grains of sand on your favorite beach, and you have cleverness, dexterity, and creativity–all of which powerfully combine when you are at risk–if you listen to your intuition.

Still, what if those women had listened to themselves, to their bodies? If they knew why they were freaking out, maybe they could have saved a little face and left the show without having the bachelor eliminate them. Both women were disappointed and sad, but at least they would have had more control of what happened to them.

For my situation, which happened 17 years ago, I really didn’t want to be unemployed, so I don’t think it could have been avoided. I don’t think it would have made sense to go up to my boss and say, fire me because I have uneasy vibes.

There’s so much focus in the personal development world on positive thinking, which I a lot of it has to do with positive psychology.  Positive psychology isn’t bad. But I do think it can mislead people to not listen to themselves when fear arises.

Mind you, I do not include chronic anxiety in this. That could be due to trauma or brain chemistry or both. If you listened to that all day, you’d be exhausted, especially since most of it is misinformation.

What I’m talking about are those uneasy vibes that won’t go away.

Fear as a Messenger

So what do you do when fear arises? Do you dismiss it as negative thinking? Or do you pay attention to it?

Beyond that the fact that fear can save your life from violence, it could also prevent some embarrassment. It can end a relationship that has long since grown stale. It can give you some insight on how to handle the future when you feel an ending coming (like losing a job).

Fear is not bad. Rage is not bad. Anger is not bad. Sadness is not bad. Even pain is not bad.

Emotions are really neutral messengers that we must heed–whether we’re on some stupid game show, or at our places of work, or at home, or out and about.

Emotions aren’t optional.

Of course, any emotion in excess can be bad. But, to me, fear gets such a bad rep, and needlessly so. It’s almost like Westerners have a meta-fear–a fear about fear.

Maybe for those two eliminated game contestants, it’s just that their nerves got the best of them. But I still think it was really because they both had a foretelling, a foreboding, of an end coming. And neither of them wanted that end to occur.

So, if you have really acute, exaggerated reactions to people, places, or things–pay attention to them. Don’t dismiss them.

Your intuition knows.

If you liked what you’ve read, I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. 

If you want to give a one-time gift or monthly gift, hit me up on Paypal.

Thanks for your support! 💘

 

a writer’s back

love yourself

Working from home, from my bed, I do not have the best posture.  The bed I sleep on is not my own, and it’s hard to sleep on. I sleep on all sides of my body throughout the night, and recently, my left shoulder started to hurt again after many years of being healthy and whole, after tons of physical therapy.

My shoulder was just aching and throbbing, even with meds. Then it started with my right shoulder. It wasn’t just the pain; it was how I was holding myself: stooped forward, my left shoulder pushing forward. Not a good look.

Because this pain wasn’t really going away on its own, I decided to get a massage, just at a chain place near my house. I wasn’t seeing this as a treat. It was necessary. I was in pain, distracting pain, and I need to start healing my shoulders and god knows what else.

The last time I had a massage was on my 35th birthday, on a beach in Key West in a little hut, a dream realized. It was so relaxing and felt luxurious, but it was not therapeutic.

Even further back, maybe another 5 years, I got a free massage after I was done with physical therapy for my knee. Again, relaxing, but not therapeutic.

Even further back than that, probably another 5 years, I got free chair massages from a massage therapist who came to give massages for our employees. That’s where I also learned that masseuse was a passe term and that I should the proper term massage therapist. I also learned how knotty my shoulders could be.

All those other times, I had been carrying a lot of weight with heavy bags and purses. Also, like a lot of people I’m sure that I carry tension in my shoulders. Now I don’t do much of that except sit in bed and write. I knew my back would also be a mess, after hours of bending over at my computer.

I arrive at the massage place (shop? facility?) and was there 30 minute early (that never happens). It’s a benign, bright place of wood and gleaming white surfaces, located in a glorified strip mall. I wasn’t expecting to be seen quickly, but I filled out my health history on an iPad and as I was done, my massage therapist walks through the door.

 

Good handshake, good energy, big blue eyes (oh hey, he’s kinda cute). Also, I just feel so weird and vulnerable. It’s been so long…

Also, to add to all of this, I’m on the rag. Ugh.

After passing this dark brown waiting room that was in stark contrast to the light and bright waiting area out by the front desk, we walk down this dark brown hall of many doors and we go into the room.

This guy is very…quiet. Of course, this is a quiet place–it has to be. But can I imagine him jumping up and down cheering his favorite basketball team? Or yelling at a rock concert? And then those eyes are just taking so much in…it’s like his whole being is doing that, in a quiet way. Maybe his inner serenity is just so easily coming out…at the glorified strip mall.

It doesn’t scare me, though, even though I may be writing like this. It’s not creepy. It’s just subtly intense, the attention. Maybe I’m realizing that he’s good at being present while I tend to live in my head all the time. It’s a bit like someone opening the car door while I’m driving.

I’m also going to be present with this dude for 90 minutes, and it’s just going to be about me. The last time that happened, I was in therapy. Last summer. That isn’t happening often at all anymore.

We’re both standing, and it feels so awkward. Why am I standing? Should I be sitting down? I talk about my injuries. My whole left side, from shoulder to ankle, is basically jacked up that’s what I wanted him to focus on.

He leaves so I can change down to my granny black period underwear. I get on the table face down, under the sheet and blanket. The room is Florida cool, a little too cool. Soon afterward, I hear a soft knock on the door. I tell him to come in, my voice muffled by the headrest of the table.

At first, he starts with the sheet over me. I believe he’s using the heel of his hand and just starts compressing my back, straight down.

I’m frantically thinking, “Dude, is this some chaste version of massage? I came for hands all over me, not this youth group version of a massage.”

It was just a technique, and it didn’t last long.

My mind was even more active that it would be during meditation. I had to internally tell myself to shut up a few times. But the thoughts weren’t necessarily that bad.

As he started tending to (maybe more like deconstructing) my back, I wondered when was the last time someone had affectionately touched me. It had been probably over two months, back when I went to D.C. and that saddened me. It saddens me still. And this massage didn’t count.

As someone who lives in her mind more than anywhere else, it can get really frustrating when trying to live in a physical world. “The life of the mind” is the tagline of my alma mater–boy, do they have me pegged. Yet I can see now, too, the massage gave me time to reflect, so all those thoughts zipping out were also a part of the release. Mainly the thoughts were about deserving to be worshiped, needing this to happen more often so I’m not having so many back issues in the future, feeling good, feeling sad that it’s been so long, and other thoughts I’ll keep to myself. 😈

So many knots. He went after it and I didn’t complain once. I barely spoke to him. I’m sure he used his elbow on my back many times. It was so strange to hear the friction of skin on skin. I could hear his arm hair over my back. All of these sounds are soft, even in this quiet room playing some soft New Agey music.

One time, I heard the loud clatter of rain pound on the roof and cursed that I didn’t bring an umbrella. I was glad I didn’t chat him up–I usually try to have small talk with folks, even though I don’t generally like to do it. It’s usually important, to have some point of connection. But basically, we already had that.

Another time I spoke, it was because he had moved to my arms and I had my watch on, which had been buzzing with a gazillion alerts. I wish I had turned the DND on. Embarrassing.

Here’s a funny unexpected thing that happened: to deal with my shoulder, he had to go through my armpit, many times. It was a little bit stubbly. In all my time with massage and physical therapy, I have never had anyone work through my armpits before. 😂

So all my limbs got a rubdown, with my back, shoulders, and neck getting the most attention. There is something humbling for me to get my hands and feet massaged, like really thoroughly. It definitely felt luxurious, but then I felt him tending to my right forearm and I was taken aback at how junky it was in there. 😫 It’s sore right now.

So after getting the most thorough massage of my life, which I didn’t want to end, he asked how I was feeling. Dammit, it’s over. I told him rather sheepishly and almost with embarrassment that I felt good.  It’s weird to be on your back half naked with a sheet around you and answering that question.

He left so I could get dressed. He came back and brought me a glass of water and I asked him how often should I come back. He said at least once a month. Right now, I can afford it, and I can’t afford to be in pain as I was before. My shoulders are now pain-free and I like to keep them that way.

It was funny, we’re in the hallway and I had no idea how busy it was, but it was probably because it was at the top of the hour. People kept excusing themselves as they passed us by, but we didn’t decide to go back in the room. He told me I needed to stretch more, which I actually did right after I had put my clothes on. I have an app for this, and if I can’t exercise in this heat or at a gym, stretching is the least I can do.

I signed up for a monthly plan and I’ll go back right before I have this retreat in St. Pete that week. I tweeted later that I was going to marry him. I felt really invigorated instead of relaxed. But that was about it, right then anyway.

I went to Target and picked up a few things. Even that ride back was interesting. Long story short: the lady who picked me up had just been sideswiped by a hit-and-run driver, so we talked about accidents, car insurance, injuries, work, wages, housing, racial discrimination. She gave me a tip for the neighborhood that I want to live in. I may need to take a little excursion out there soon.

But back to that tweet about marrying my massage therapist, though–that’s usually how I am, but I haven’t been in a long, long time. Effusive, bubbly, silly, goofy, a little surly and flirty. Comically hyperbolic. I have only begun to rediscover her as new friends enter my life. My life is a little more stable now, so that could also be a part of it. For once, I feel like I’m not nearly as defined by all my losses.

And then, even deeper: I had read a tweet about a particularly watery astrological transit that I had been backstroking in, and then I realized that yesterday was the anniversary of the best/worst date I had been on, and how it had hurt me so deeply while leaving me wanting this dude who literally abandoned me in the dark. This was all at the beach, too.

What I realized was that I was healed from that humiliating experience. Sometimes, things are so traumatic and awful, you don’t have time to process it all. I never got to mad with that guy–just wondering how someone so seemingly great could be such a dick and just leave. Me.

But the real news is that this wound has closed and healed. The scar is fading. My self-worth is in no way tied to that mysterious, rude disappearance.

The body remembers and stores these old stories, both the painful and the pleasurable. It’s possible that the massage helped me realize that this particular excruciating story of loss and rejection didn’t need to be reviewed anymore. It didn’t even need to be re-written. I could put the story back on the shelf.

Body work is important for physical health reasons. I’m also more aware of my body now. It’s interesting how having someone work on it, especially while you’re in a vulnerable state, makes you hyperaware of everything, of everything outside of  your interior world. That massage probably has opened me up in ways that I have yet to discover and in ways that I didn’t know I needed, like realizing that I was (already!) healed from a traumatic experience.

Afterward, I was thinking I’d feel like rubber, like really relaxed. Instead, I felt more confident and open. I felt taken care of. I felt deserving. Not even being melodramatic here: I felt like I had a reason to live. It had been way too long that I hadn’t felt that good.

But I didn’t want to show it. While I was getting a massage, I was trying to have a poker face, no matter what was going on in my head. I didn’t want to break out in a shit-eating grin or that something felt uncomfortable or whatever was speeding and careening through my mind at that point. Maybe I see sharing my emotions as a sign of intimacy…

Yet one thing I’ve been noticing since Thursday is how my emotions have been more intense and more earnest–like not covered in shame or embarrassment. Unadorned. Raw. Powerful. I’m trying to think of a specific example right now. I just feel like some masks and costumes that I was wearing fell off during that session.

This massage wasn’t a treat. This was mandatory for my well-being as a human being, especially since I haven’t formed the in-person friendships and relationships that I am still seeking and calling in. It literally puts me in touch with another person, and that’s a big deal to me. I pray the Universe continues to provide so that I can continue to go…

The power of human touch is really underestimated–especially in my life. I’m very much into and live for some good hugs, but I am not typically a huggy/affectionate person.

So I am torn. There’s this moat of uncomfortability with my own vulnerability. I must create a drawbridge to cross over the moat so I can get to and receive the care that I need. Getting a massage once a month can be one way to start walking over the bridge.

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it’s just a wave 🌊

kill the shark1

I’m writing as a way to avoid some other writing. But I am a week behind here, so it makes sense to write here, too.

[The quote in the image is more aspirational than anything (You’ll see. Not there yet).]

Yesterday, I seemed to have a light bulb fire on about my life purpose with spirituality. If you want to read the poorly threaded tweets, start here. It’s an essay unto itself, but not worth regurgitating here–not yet, anyway.

Also, yesterday, I did a lot of energy work. Energy work is like body work, but, um, with energy and with your spirit? Reiki is the closest mainstream manifestation of it. I also was doing a bit of Access Consciousness stuff–and that could also be its own essay, because like with everything, there’s some stuff I agree with, and some stuff where I go–yes, the pursuit of spirituality is a human endeavor and I cannot expect everyone to get it right.

And actually, my tweetstorm last night is connected to listening/watching a bunch of YouTube videos one of the co-creators of Access, and he talks a lot about changing the world. And, through his work, I’m sure he does.

Anyway, back to avoidance. Access Consciousness is energy work, too, and I’ve never paid for any of it (it can be pricey). But I kind of forgot that it was energy work. I was just listening all day and night and then today, I got a little triggered.

I was planning on writing a lot today, doing some social media content tomorrow, and then finally, finally, working on my freelancing strategy on Tuesday. I headed out on a beautiful morning to the pharmacy to pick up some meds on sale. On my way back, I am turning into my driving and I see a white tow truck parked across the street.

That was part of the trigger. The other part was that on this fine Easter morning, my apparently disreputable car lender had called and left two voicemails, after I had written them not to do so.

I had to give up my car two years ago because I was barely making any money as an adjunct English professor and a part-time technical writer. It doesn’t sting as much anymore, but it was shame I carried around for a long time. Failing at self-sufficiency post-grad school is an albatross that seems to strangle me from time to time.

Today was one of those times.

Logically, I know that I’m not as far behind as I was back in grad school. But the lender, who has class action lawsuits against it for these harassing calls–those calls plunged my planned productive day into a deep well of anxiety that I am now just climbing out.

And what bitter irony. The very thing that would help me stay on top of my bills, working, is the very thing those calls helped to derail. And the tow truck–I can rationalize that it’s not just waiting for me. I could even used it as motivation for writing.

So, I filed a complaint because I was over this. I didn’t deserve this sort of harassment. Still, I was drowning in my anxious thoughts, thoughts don’t even have words. It was just dark and gray, full of doom and fright.

I tried to climb out of this whirlpool of fear. I had the websites opened for the first article I needed to write–a 500 word piece on posture–and then I went into pulling tarot and oracle cards for the week, playing some video games, tweeting, and listening to a podcast that plunged me deeper into my emotions.

The podcast was on daughters dealing with narcissistic mothers. I never really thought of my mother as a narcissist–a term that’s been thrown around a lot. I know my father is one (I’m sure there are plenty of Leos who are narcissists)–that was always very clear.

The podcaster is a psychotherapist, so she was clinically painting a horrible picture that I suddenly recognized. The thing is, my mom is so nice to everyone. She’s very giving and kind. But the Pisces that she is, she can get up on her cross and be a martyr every once in a while. But when this woman described some of my mother’s behaviors, I was shocked. It was hard to believe that this nice person was so…selfish.

I had just been telling a friend yesterday that I didn’t think my parents should have been parents. They should have been DINKs (dual income, no kids). But I was probably conceived 40 years ago this week. Not kidding, this week. I always thought I came a little too early for my parents’ brand new marriage, being married in a new, profoundly racist country.

So after being thrown under that revelatory rogue wave, I had to stop myself from listening to more personal development podcasts. I have a lot to sit with, between the Access stuff, the other energy work, and dealing with the truth of my mother.

Whew.

As I sip my honey vanilla chamomile tea–tea that I should drink a lot more often and a lot sooner–I think about, and have been thinking about, the strain of financial pressure and the now clear purpose of this underemployment.

Besides that I’m learning some scary, fierce radical trust in the Universe, I’m starting to realize that there’s no way I could have had all these revelations if I was working a 9 to 5, busy with friends and a relationship–you know, having what I would call a healthy adult life.

My life has been stripped down to the essentials. My world is so small.

What I’m going through is a bit like surgery. The cuts need to be made to get in there and repair those tears, or to remove the malignancies. I have been focusing on the initial incisions–not working full-time–and not what’s been happening while I’ve been under. Sometimes it feels like I am only given some whiskey and a bit of leather to bite while I’m surgery.

Yet I know that I know that I know: this is necessary, no matter what type of spiritual anesthesia I’m under. The accumulation of trauma and loss is most likely not letting me actually have that healthy adult life anyway. Just the narcissistic parents alone–that’s enough for me to take a pause, examine those gangrenous wounds, get them treated and healed once for all.

I deserve the pause. I deserve the healing. I deserve to be whole.

Last week, I was telling another friend that I was unsure if I was in a place of allowance–that this is happening whether I like or not, that I’m clearly in a season of lean, and that fighting against it is not smart–or, that I’m suffering from learned helplessness. I learned about this in college during my psychology studies.

In animal studies, which I can say in retrospect, this sounds really cruel to do–after an animal keeps getting zapped trying to reach for food or whatever else it’s trying to do, the animal stops trying. The animal study I had learned about was some rat or mouse in some water who just stopped trying to swim.

This phenomenon is a marker of clinical depression and other mental health issues. It’s like your soul becomes catatonic. What’s the point of trying, of fighting? I’ll just get zapped by Life again anyway. It can be a coping mechanism, but it’s not one anyone would want to use long-term.

Learned helplessness, ultimately, is a death sentence. Maybe literally, but definitely more figuratively. In relating to my friend, I had been scared that I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t sure if this had all taken its toll and I wasn’t even treading water anymore. It’d make sense if my mental health has taken a beating.

And then, serendipitously, all this work was coming to me, the work that I am currently avoiding, work that I probably won’t touch until tomorrow.

So the title of this post. One of my musical problematic faves is John Mayer. He and Norah Jones, who is not problematic, are like my version of easy listening–music my dad loved to listen to after classical music and some folk music.

I can listen to this type of coffeehouse music and not have to think. It’s well-crafted, decent, inoffensive music. It’s like drinking a bunch of Coronas while sitting on the beach. You could do it all day and it wouldn’t be a big deal, although you should probably be drinking something with a little more flavor.

Anyway, Mayer has this new song called “Emoji of a Wave.” I’ve been listening to the “Wave 2” part of this album a lot, which I don’t really do with music. It’s been soothing, inoffensive, easy.

I don’t want to feel sorry for a rich white dude, but I feel like he’s so aware to the point that he abstracts and obliterates any sort of gotdamn good sense and proper self-awareness (I’m glad he’s in therapy, though–everyone should go to therapy). And, since he’s a Libra, I think he drink his own Kool-Aid a little too much and is charmed by his own words. And, he may be trying too to hard to be earnest. He has had some cringe-worthy, almost unforgivable moments.

Oh well, back to this song. The song has the lyrics “It’s just a wave; it’s just a wave.” and it has one of the Beach Boys, Al Jardine, along with his son, Matt, singing some beautiful background vocals (Mayer had David Crosby and Graham Nash singing BGVs on his earlier album, Born and Raised). The story of how that came about is pretty cool.

So today, I wiped out on some emotional waves, some really irrational shit with the car payments. My mind knows that it’s not real, that I am safe and fine. But my mushy Cancer moon knows that it’s connected to how my childhood became more and more erratic and unstable. I survived it “just fine”–but these things have a way of catching up with you.

And, so, my emotions have called a work strike. I don’t blame them. With all that I’ve been processing lately, I deserve to take a break during this holiday. Maybe it’s OK to be kinder to myself.

I don’t think I’m recreating those unsure moments now to feel comfortable, but I am a little tired of being comfortable with the low-grade fever of anxiety that I’ve lived with for years down here, riding these undulating waves of chaos and panic. But as I keep telling myself and others–I signed up for this. This is me, following my dream of becoming a writer, almost 30 years too late, but right on time nonetheless.

It’s been fucking scary. Shit. And expensive. Capricorns don’t allow themselves to be scared, but the situations I had been since I moved down here? I didn’t think I signed up for all of that. Could that all have been a part of this healing process? Looking back, I can shake an 8-ball and read: Most Likely.

But it’s nowhere near as bad now.

I’m not as behind on my car payments as I had been in grad school. Somehow, the Universe keeps giving me just enough, even though I’d rather be Scrooge McDuck diving into a vault, filled with gold coins. I can’t wait to be utterly bored by stability.

So, I repeat to myself that it’s just a wave, it’s just a wave, and that I need to hold on until I can finally wash up on shore and take a real breath. I know I’m close.

Earlier today, I reached out for a tarot reading since I still feel like I’m not doing enough–even if Spirit almost screams at me that I am not blocked. Reaching out for help while I’m a lowkey panic is OK (I’m saying this more for my benefit and edification). And it always seems the act of reaching out is more important than the reading itself.

And even before I did that today, before I had my little internal collapse, I felt like if there was any learned helplessness, that it was starting to abate.

I do feel like this is temporary. I do feel like things will get better. I do feel like that I will have that so-called healthy, adult life.

Holding out hope like that feels a little less dangerous now. I just wish I could relax into the spiritual practice of living moment by moment, day by day, not anguishing over whether I will be able to pay my bills.

And it’s a lot to ask of a feeble human: to trust in supernatural beings to take care of earthly needs.

But it’s in those emoji wave wipeouts, the near drownings in bottomless wells of anxiety–

faith…

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Thanks for your support! 💘

 

 

It’s just a wave; it’s just a wave.