“I’m lighting the long way home”

sia som

Last week, I did this values exercise for my myself and my business. It started off with a plethora of attributes, like accomplishment, service, justice, equity, power, and respect.

I started with 10 words, then ranked them, then came down to five. The first two surprised me, mainly because deep down, I didn’t think these were what I should ideally pick: freedom and financial stability.

This week, I have to come up with definitions for these five words, which may surprise me again.

I’ve been emotionally pushing against having very little freedom and not much financial stability. The thought that keeps stabbing me in my head is that I shouldn’t be here.

I should be living somewhere else, around my people…or off traveling, exploring new lands.

I think of the shut-in housemate who is retired and divorced and drives Uber and Lyft. He’s either driving or in his stinky room, lying on his bed without sheets, blankly staring out into nothing…

I am not in the twilight of my years yet, but I feel like him…just some unused sack of carbon, sitting around, doing nothing of importance.

I feel wasted.

I don’t feel free because financial instability has been plaguing me for the past two years, the two years where I’ve been struggling to create a real life for myself.

And I want to reframe this time period so badly, but all I can think is that this part of my life is marred by continual failure–and it’s all because I don’t have those two values or goals consistently flowing in my life.

I want to be proud of myself of believing in myself, of putting myself out there, of finding work. And some days, I am. Not everyone can be entrepreneurial. Hell, I’m not even sure if I can be. It’s not something just anyone can do. I’ve had people also come to me.

It’s taking time to redefine was success looks like, but I’m even impatient with that process.

It’s really of no comfort right now that I’ve been sidelined, let alone that I am not measuring up to my own ideas of basic self-sufficiency. It eats at my sense of self.

Who am I if I can’t pay my bills or feed myself?

(And what do I think of people who can’t do those things either? How come they receive compassion from me and I can’t give it to myself? Maybe we’re made of things that have nothing to do with money…)

I know something bigger than creating a successful business is being created in my life, but this whole poverty thing is a lot distracting–even though I know it’s temporary…

What’s trying to strangle me, in this period of waiting and wondering, is grief.


In my 30s, two big career  dreams have had to die.

The first was becoming a child psychiatrist. And although I’m happy to be a writer and editor, my passion for mental health can get really technical–and I love that (and uh…need to market that about myself).

I’ll always be a little sad that I won’t be able to help people in the way I had initially wanted–doubly.

Yesterday, someone I follow on Twitter had asked about whether they could cut seeing their psychiatrist since their appointments are usually brief. I told them that sadly, psychiatrists can’t bill for psychotherapy anymore, and now, all they can do is med monitoring, which is checking in to see how the meds one takes are performing. It’s important for them to keep track of how the meds are doing, but the appointments are 10 minutes at most.

And that would have been my life, even more frustratingly so with children.

Also, those dreams are from a woman who barely exists anymore…

At 17, I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to get married, have my first kid, and be done with my medical training by age 30.

But those goals seemed like inevitabilities. Why wouldn’t I be a doctor, married, and have a child?

I’m still a little sad that I disappointed my younger self. Even now, I still think that I really should have been traditionally successful, even with all the ridiculous challenges and obstacles which stood in my way.

What I wanted seemed like a given to happen. And maybe that had to do with how many people saw me as pretty darn great–especially academically.

I still see having a family happening, but the timeline is just jumbled up now. I can’t see that far anymore…

Who I was when I made that plan is not who I am now. And it’s funny that I thought who I was as a person would be so stable.

Maybe I should have seen these changes all along…

The way I started to see God and people and myself started changing in college, where I felt free, and even compelled, to question everything.

Who I would have married at age 30 would have been a completely different person than who I’d be open to marry now.

I’m happy about that. Very.

I’ve failed myself over and over in how I thought this whole life thing would turn out, and how little control I have over outcomes. That’s a grief that I’m still working through…or working through me.

Freedom and financial stability maybe maddingly elusive for now, but I’m really happy, proud, and even delighted about who I am as a person.

It just seems that I was wrong about would be around for this better me.


The second grief is over lost communities. The first one was lost after I left the Church. I’m mostly over that.

I’ve said on this blog often that I came down to Florida thinking I’d find these fellow writers that would be my community.

I’m finally the person I’m supposed to be now, choosing the career that I should have chosen decades ago.

So where is the parade and trophy and applause?

What I got instead was an intense and bewildering spiritual initiation that I’m still in the throes in.

It’s still taking time to heal from the betrayal and the rejection–both from myself and from others.

But as I said last week, I have to remind myself that I don’t really belong to most people. And I’d rather take solace in that truth instead of clinging to the lie that I’ve lived most of my life–that I am some everyperson.

When I embrace that prickly truth, though…I do get excited that there’s still hope that the home I find within myself will be found in other people, too.

My people are out there; they really are.

But a lot of my life has been about sifting through who is not for me. And that has been rough.

Last week, I talked about this friend who had come on Facebook, accusing me of ending our friendship when they had been really rude towards me, and yet there was no evidence of that terrible conversation–and that really freaked me out.

I thought we could work through our differences, to find a place of healing. But those missing messages let me know that they were trying to scrub away the dirty parts of our friendship, the part that actually caused it to end. And, well…I can’t someone who scrubs the only record of our friendship for years like that.

On Monday morning, I told them that we were done and that I was no longer going to read their messages.  I unfriended them and their partner. I barely looked at what they sent back.

“I am shocked…” is all I saw. I plan on deleting that whole thread sometime, but that message goes unread for now–as I had said it would.

If anyone had read our conversation, no one would be shocked about how things went down.

To cut off someone who I’ve known for most of my life but seems to be in some self-hating loop of how they are trying to be everything to everyone (the same thing I heard three years ago)… came from a place of finality and resolve.

I deserve friends who are trustworthy and honest with themselves.

The old me would have fought harder for our friendship. But just like three years ago, I realized that I had been trying too hard without many benefits.

And that’s one thing I told them–friendship doesn’t have to be this hard or complicated.

That made me quite sad for the next few days–unexpectedly. I had left things pretty much in their hands in 2016. I was done then. But to resuscitate this corpse of a relationship and then kill it again…it took its toll. I had to drag myself through my daily routine.

And it wasn’t just them. It was just the overall trend of people leaving or having to usher people out of my life this year.

It’s getting pretty old.


If I feel sad about how my life has turned out, I can give myself permission to feel that. And that’s been tough, to be honest with myself about how bad things have gone, about how much unfairness I’ve had to endure.

Sometimes I think those truths will crush me. I’m tired of trying to outrun them.

On the other hand…if there’s an opportunity that I can see coming on my horizon, I can give myself permission to feel a little hope.

Part of me–OK, most of me–wants to fast forward to this really crappy and disappointing part of my life.

Yet I keep marveling at how life continues to worsen and how I continue to become a better version of me.

This isn’t to glorify my suffering or anguish–or even to make sense of it. All I can do is endure it and hope it ends sooner than later.

I’d really like to be cruising on Easy Street right now. I’d really like to not have my character shaped and reshaped. I’d really like to not be growing so damn much spiritually.

But this is all I have, including my sadness and anger that this is all I have. To be able to embrace whatever I have in front of me, with some grace and dignity–that may be a better rubric to grade myself with than whether I have the freedom to take off and travel at a moment’s notice or even that I have “my people” around me.


I was trying to say this last week, but one thing that’s been bugging me is this idea and truth that you need others to have true and lasting success. No one is a self-made person.

Everything I’ve been trying to do with business seems to be dead, or at least dormant–in my eyes, anyway. I know there are signs of life starting to stir…but it doesn’t alleviate the nagging questions of how I will pay my bills every month. Every month since May, it’s been a mystery.

When those nagging financial pressures make me lose sleep and grind my teeth, it’s hard to have the patience that one needs to build something that will last.

Yet I’m growing a garden. I’ve planted a lot of seeds. And I just have to keep showing up, watering and weeding…and things will grow.

And yet every month, the mystery of the bills being paid gets solved. Somehow things work out–not the way I want to, usually, but they do work out.

I’m not homeless. That’s really the only rule I can use to show that things are OK.

But I’m ambitious! Darn this relentless ambition! And I see other people succeed, so I start to ponder–why not me? And why not now?

This meme (which looks like it’s from The 700 Club) is how I feel:

jesus

I’m in my garden with maybe a sprout or two peeking out from some rich soils of hope and desire…and that’s it.

I have this message ringing in my head, that I can’t be successful on my own. And then I have this isolation that isn’t really by my doing–it’s just what poverty does.

When I look around me, it’s that widening circle of people I’ve been feeling and seeing.

So if I haven’t found my peeps, and my business is dormant, then it’s my fault, right? This is what I think.

There must be a way to solve this. So what more can I do?

I frantically look for answers to improve marketing–and find the answers, and start implementing them…

Its fertilizer for the garden. But the growth still takes time.

I’ve practically given up socializing with others in person. That’s where I don’t feel aligned with Florida anymore. I don’t miss seeing anyone in town.

I just don’t have enough imagination to think about who my people are in that regard. And that’s OK. If I’m a moving target of a person right now, even though I definitely deserve love and support, then there’s no reason to pull anyone new into this maelstrom.

It seems what matters more now is focusing on my desires, on what I want (besides, well, other people along for the ride).


So maybe there’s another reason for this terrible feeling of stuckness. And I know, I know…I keep coming back to this place as if I haven’t been here before.

So as I’ve said this before…maybe I’m not supposed to be moving–leaving Florida, traveling, getting on with my life.

Maybe I’m not stuck at all.

Like I’ve said numerous times, this year has been about alignment, and I’ve been so misaligned…and, well, I hate being “wrong.” I hate feeling like I’m deficient or less than–especially in comparison to my own standards.

But that whole idea of trying to be more for people who aren’t even trying…that’s one thing in my life that has been getting some serious realignment–especially as I’m struggling. I have a standing invitation to put myself first a whole lot more.

Another persistent thought I have is how if everything was “OK,” all these old wounds wouldn’t be addressed, that I’m even looking at having very little money in the wrong way.

Again, I don’t want to glorify my suffering or suffering in general. Poverty really shouldn’t be, period.

I just know myself. When everything is OK, I’m not really paying attention to much spiritually. Life is lived a little more on the surface.

We usually reach out for spirituality and greater meaning because everything is not OK.


I just erased a rather depressing section of this post, but it was good to write out how I truly felt.

But this still won’t be that cheery…

TL; DR–As adolescent as this sounds, I really hate why my life is right now. But it’s my life, and I will continue to keep trying to change it for the better.

This seems to be the hump that I can’t get over. This is my life. And, it’s the only one I have. I don’t have few spare ones queued up like I’m playing some video game.

The last time I felt like this–helpless and stuck–I was an adolescent. I was 18, stuck at home on a forced gap year because my father was (and still is) mentally ill.

And of course, I had a huge spiritual growth spurt, probably one of the largest I’ve ever had.

I never really thought I’d be able to leave home, but then spring came and my dad’s unquiet mind changed. And I was freed.

The hump I can’t get over is that although this is my life, there’s a lot out of my control– just like when I couldn’t go to college “on time.”

I keep wrestling with what’s out of my control and the ghost of what more could be (and should be) under my control.

And I’m tired. This isn’t a fight I can really win.

And oh! How I wish I could be zen and just accept everything as is. I’m trying to write and think and pray and crawl my way there. But I keep getting lost…

My unwillingness to accept things as they are has kept me alive. It’s also made me miserable.

It’s hard to accept that I’m doing the best that I can and that it’s enough–because that means the way things are…well, how can I examine all those things, truly? There are so many variables, known and unknown, influencing me and my life.

In that grey space, in the unknown…there’s grace waiting for me. And I keep dodging her. I feel there has to be another way except through.

So, as I take grace’s hand, I know that I can’t keep waiting or hoping for things to get better.

This is my lifewith all the uncontrollable, pathetic, and shameful parts that I wish didn’t exist. And I don’t have to be strong all the time. I can cry, even if it’s just on the inside, over dead hopes, dreams, and relationships.

Maybe I can bury them, like compost, in my garden…

I’m a little too American to end this post without some sort of hope. The hope is that as I feel disconnected from mostly everyone, needed healing is taking place; great self-understanding is growing. And I can’t really see any other way for these things to have taken place in my life.

By the way–I don’t the Universe is taking me offline because I’m so toxically codependent. But I do think that as I am more whole and healed, I can have more whole and healed relationships.

In the meantime, I have to try to keep sane, because I still want to not live here, to move, to be free and financially stable. But, I’m not used it being this alone. I’m scared I’ll get used to it. And maybe I should get used to it, so I can be choosier about who is in my life now.

I need to use this forced solitude to my advantage.

So if I shut out what I think should be happening and what is happening with everyone else and embrace what is happening with me–both the glorious and the unbearable–then I feel I’ll be able to do this life thing a little bit better.

Sounds so easy to do, but that’s where grief comes in. I’m grieving an old way of living.

It’s funny and strange: every time I write about the state of my life, I feel my higher self trying to gently shake some sense into me. I feel so stupid that I don’t get this; it’s as if I don’t want to get it.

My hopes are indefatigable.


But right–that American ending that I promised.

I have been learning to savor the good things, like any conversation I have, a cup of tea or hot cocoa, a smooth falsetto voice from Roosevelt, or any meal I have.

Just last week, for the first time in a while, I thought about how I had finished a couple of assignments and got paid instantly, and was able to buy food for myself within an hour or so. It was all instantaneous and miraculous and beautiful–eating the literal fruits of my labor.

I have been able to be grateful in true and meaningful ways that come shooting up from deep and real parts of me, like geysers.

What really gets obnoxious is how despair (and poverty) can shade and color even the good things in the darkest and bleakest of blacks.

And this isn’t even taking in what’s going on in my state, country, and the world. Things are bad, and I’m aware, as navelgazing as this blog post is (and has to be).

I have to have a monk’s type of concentration to see the good. I definitely don’t have it right now, but it is being worked in me.

Last week I was playing this game where this character who turns into a dragon was being controlled by this woman. This older woman who worked for the woman told the man that to overcome the mind control, he had to look at the good in every situation, no matter what.

The character had his pet killed and his best friend betray him, and he was able to turn those situations around. He remember the pet as it was when it was alive, and he understood that his friend thought that he was doing what was best for his sister.

Granted, I can’t be terminally Pollyanna about my life right now (or ever), that really stuck with me.

But I am trying to see more of the good that is being created in this little tiny room that has become my life. Practically speaking I can at least say that I’ve learned how to pare down my life what I need.

Every second that ticks by, every breath I inhale and exhale without thinking, every electrical pulse that shoots through my brain–those are the seemingly inconsequential but essential building blocks of my life.

I have to savor as much of the good as I can.


I may have mentioned that this latest song by Sia, “I’m Still Here” is my anthem for 2018. I need to mention it again because this is the frame that I need.

It’s a song that I can easily listen to on repeat. She’s so great with anthems about endurance and resilience (“Titanium” by David Guetta comes to mind).

There are so many of us who are silently and secretly fighting battles. I hope this song brings your some comfort and strength.

Here’s the chorus:

Oh, the past it haunted me
Oh, the past it wanted me dead
Oh, the past tormented me
Oh, the past it wanted me dead
Oh, the past it haunted me
Oh, the past it wanted me dead
Oh, the past tormented me
But the battle was lost
‘Cause I’m still here

Well, thank Goddess: I’m still here, and I’m lighting the long way home.


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standing still in a widening circle

the path SOM

Last week, I didn’t write because I didn’t have much to say that isn’t more of the same.

I wish I had new adventures to write about, new people I’ve met…

So here’s 3000+ words…of probably more of the same!

I’m at a standstill in my life and it’s really beyond disappointing. I feel like I haven’t really done anything with my life worth mentioning. And sure, being middle-aged isn’t helped (these musings are par for the course).

But beyond getting through college and grad school–which were Herculean efforts because of issues and events outside of my control, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished that much.

A medal for surviving doesn’t really seem like much to me. I have barely begun to do what I came on earth to do. And this blog has been an attempt to get to that place of true beginning.

But it looks like there’s a bit more work to do before I really begin.

Forty years of throat clearing and preambling…

And then, I keep looking back at this year alone and I’m still horrified. So many people have left, and mostly it’s been all for the best (especially this guy). It really has brought into relief how much relationships mean to me (a heckuva lot).

And although I’m tired of talking about it (my life), at the same time–I’m still stunned. Most of the people I know have become distant acquaintances…or are just gone.

Me in the middle as everyone takes steps back and back and back…an ever-widening circle that I can’t even see anymore…

Most of that widening is because of me, changing for the better, becoming more loyal and true to myself. So as horrified and shocked as I am, I’m also proud and amazed at my resilience, a resilience that today at least, I no longer resent.


Yet with all my emotional turmoil and existential loneliness, one big thing I keep forgetting is about being gifted affects me and who I connect with–and pardon me if I wrote about this two weeks ago. It’s something that keeps coming up like a persistent burp, and I don’t write about it enough or keep top of mind for my own sanity.

I just looked this up from Paula Prober, a psychotherapist who specializes in gifted adults and parenting gifted children. Here’s what she has to say about how you can identify a gifted adult:

Look for more depth.

Look for more sensitivity.

Look for more complexity.

More anxiety, more questioning, more researching, more existential depression, more ideas, more reading, more thinking, more compassion, more loneliness, more talking, more perfectionism, more idealism, more imagining, more laughing, more angst, more empathy, more creativity, more answers, more crying.

More more-ness.

More more-ness….something I’ve fought against as others have fought against me for having it.

I have had this persistent thought about how I do not fit into American society, or this world, really…

There was a flicker of despair that came across my heart, but then it transformed into a lukewarm comfort.

I don’t have to try so hard to keep people in my life. The good ones stay. I haven’t met enough of the good ones yet.

And this isn’t meant to be some slow burn into negative thinking or “limiting beliefs”–but really, it’s not meant to be easy for me to be me, in a world that craves conformity and limits.

At least on an emotional level, being gifted for me is like this: when things are hard, they are excruciating; when things are going well, it’s ecstasy. You could say that makes me moody or that I have a wider range of emotional expression and experience.

I’m going to go with the second option.

There’s a steep price for conformity for me. Trying to minimize my feelings may make others comfortable only makes me feel miserable.


For example, I decided to part ways with my business coach at the end of the month because I felt she used my emotional honesty against me.

A lot of my business issues are emotional ones, particularly having the right mindset especially in this midst of challenges. All entrepreneurs go through the ups and downs of owning a business, and a lot of them don’t last.

As I started to be more candid about my emotions, we got in a bit of a tug-of-war about how I should see myself.

I had brought up how I needed to fire this client who wanted a lot more work for the same pay, and how it frightened me to look at the client’s reply over the last bit of work I had to do–we had a billing discrepancy, basically. I spent hours avoiding my email mainly because I had already lost trust in them.

Based on their recent behavior of work scope creep, I didn’t think they would be reasonable in my final request. And I hated the idea of having to deal with yet another disappointment this year..

But they actually were reasonable. Thank goodness.

Why I brought this up was that I didn’t want to waste time being afraid of emails with potentially. And yes, I’ve heard a lot of bad news in my life.

But considering that I am in this wide open space in my business by myself, it’s a coping mechanism that isn’t too terrible, in retrospect.

It’s OK to not be outwardly brave 24/7/365. It’s OK to admit the fear.

Before this, I had mentioned that I tend to cut people out of my life when things become untenable, when I think there can’t be a way to resolve the conflict, or if the relationship we have isn’t working anymore.

And this cutting isn’t some dramatic declaration of the end of a relationship. It’s letting things die a natural death. We just fade out of each other’s lives.

And if I recall correctly, she had brought this up as a similar pattern, which, again–considering what I’ve been through, it’s a coping mechanism that has served me well. There have been a lot of people who needed to be out of my life sooner than later.

But I admittedly have been working to wean myself off of it. I don’t want to be a surgeon and just cut, cut, cut. I want to be more preventative and not have to cut in the first place. I want to be able to better find the right clients the first time around–and yes, this can apply to friendships and relationships, too (I will get back to this later).

So she said this back to me in a way as if I didn’t fully grasp the severity of these traits of avoidance and self-preservation. It felt as if she was trying to make me feel like I wasn’t an expert about my own life. And maybe this is some “So what I heard you say was…” kind of active listening communication technique that I may have misunderstood, but it didn’t seem helpful at the time (honestly, it still doesn’t)/

Or maybe she was trying to make a connection between that coping mechanism of cutting and running–something I’m not resistant in changing by the way–and the case with this now former client.

What I felt like was that she was using my own wounds and shortcomings to slap me in the face with them to change.

In the context of that moment where I was sharing my heart and she was trying to get me to find answers I didn’t have, I felt attacked and accused–which is actually not something I feel often.

My vulnerability was rewarded with blame.

So then, I took 10 minutes or more to defend myself. From how she talked to me, I could see that she sees me as an embittered, brittle, hard person (in another coaching session, she asked me if I forgave easily, and I said no). And even if that were true–there was no compassion for me.

This tense dynamic had happened once or twice before. But in this moment, I really felt that I had been kicked while I was down. I felt really tight and hot in my chest in a way I usually don’t feel, even at my most anxious. She had been bringing up what I had mentioned as if I had no emotional awareness of what I was doing. Whether it was intentional or not, I felt insulted and not fully understood nor listened to.

Why? Because she already knew how I was feeling really beat up since four years ago around this time, I was semi-homeless. When I had first brought that up, she astutely saw that I may have some PTSD about that time.

Yet she’s a coach, not a therapist. She’s not trained to see me or my life history through a trauma lens. She basically was asking me to snap out of it. And it hurt.

So this is where my cut-and-run strategy will work again. I don’t want to invest time in training her how to talk to me. It’s not my job. I’ve learned what I needed–especially about myself and how I need to be treated.

And one thing about being gifted: being hypercritical of myself is something I need relief from, not a pile-on from someone who just met me in July.

This is where my “more more-ness” as a gifted adult definitely ends up being a wall instead of a bridge. I am emotionally expressive with my words and most people cannot handle it. And I’ve been upset and distraught over it long it.

I am not going to change who I am to accommodate people’s reticence to reach out to me. I deserve the same acceptance and love that I give to other people.

In the end, I need emotional support more than anything, and she’s not the right person to give it without it being some basic women’s empowerment stuff that isn’t really empowering.

I had started to dread our calls after that semi-confrontation, and I knew it was time to find better support.

After I decided to end this relationship (just three more sessions left), I didn’t want to have yet another person leave without at least a replacement. I reached out to another mentor in town who will give me advice on marketing next week. And, I’m already in a couple of Facebook groups about writing and owning a small business.


So back to choosing the right people the first time…

I don’t really feel rightly aligned to most people right now, and I feel that’s because I myself am being realigned.

I feel like I’ve been taken offline for upgrades and repairs and I’m just now realizing it.

The repairs and upgrades? I’m not really sure what’s happening there. I know there’s a greater process happening, of gaining deeper spiritual knowledge–but that’s about it. And I can only imagine that I’m being set up for something big because I’ve never had my life stall so badly before.

It’s taking a lot of time to realize that loss sometimes isn’t about me doing something wrong. As I’ve said here in the past, I’ve been tormenting myself about what’s wrong with me…and that isn’t really the issue.

The reframe of “loss as error” to “loss as realignment”–it doesn’t really make loss less painful. It’s just better understood.

Even when the losses are from my own hand…distancing myself from people who hurt me, firing clients, ending coaching relationships…it seems smacks of failure.

But that isn’t the complete truth. Failure sounds so final, but this isn’t about wins and losses. It’s about a process of maturation.

Sure, I’ve learned so much from the people who have entered and exited my life. And whether they have graced my life for brief or long moments–those instances have also been a necessary part of the realignment process.

Simply put–no one is sticking around right now because no one is supposed to (yet).

Temporarily, I know I’m in some crucible, the dross burning off with only pure metal left. But it’s a lonely process, and I’m done talking about those feelings.

But as a gifted person, knowing that as much as I want to connect with others but probably won’t–that’s a permanent feature that I have to continue to accept–and remember.

That’s really tough to swallow, because even though I have my own business, to be successful, it’s so important to have others supporting you. It’s hard to look at my income and think–my fates are tied to other people I haven’t met yet.

It’s frustrating to know that you deserve the support but yet haven’t received it in the way that you need and want it.

So, many times, I make do. But the “making do” looked a lot like accommodation and compromise so I could feel like I wasn’t alone.

I’ve waited around for too long. I’ve bent over backwards. I’ve continuously reached out.

But the reciprocity…

I’ve settled way too much for way too little. It’s a coping mechanism that has lost its efficacy.

But–good news! When coping mechanisms fail to work, that means you’ve grown and it’s time to choose healthier coping techniques.

This year brutally taught me that it’s better to be poor and alone than to be aligned with people who don’t have your best interest in mind.

I don’t have to settle. 

I feel like I’m starting completely over with this realignment.

Yet there are ghosts from the past coming to visit…


I’m currently trying to see if a long-time friendship can be salvaged. Years have passed and there is hurt on both sides, but I don’t know if true healing can take place.

I don’t know if trust can be restored between us.

I won’t go into too much detail about how things started to unravel, but three years ago, there was a miscommunication, and then subsequent assumptions made about me about being uncaring and imposing.

At least that miscommunication has been resolved. But how it was handled later, or just communication between us…it devolved into being scolded like a child like I didn’t know about adult priorities (marriage and work).

It was some smug married bullshit, something like my man and my job come first. But it seemed like something said desperation, in a feeble attempt to relieve to some work/life balance pressure.

I remember being the last person speaking maybe two years ago and just leaving it open-ended. Shockingly, even to me–I don’t dwell on most events. I only dwell on the outcomes.

(It’s driving me crazy that I don’t have evidence for this, because from our messages, it looks like I actually shouldn’t have any issues. It makes me feel like what happened didn’t happen, even though I know it did. I don’t know who deleted those messages, but I’ll say I seriously doubt that I did.)

Usually, people don’t even try to reconcile with me, or try to reach out. And on my end, it’s rare that I will go back through a closed door. I only tried to do that with my first boyfriend about three months after he broke up with me.

So this is a bit of an experiment for me, and an apt one for Libra season–to rehash, to retread, to possibly reconcile with someone who has hurt me.

Maybe I can turn over a new leaf? But more importantly–is this leaf worth turning over?

If there is hope, it is cautiously and warily held close to my chest. Even still, I know our friendship will never be the same, because even if that smug married stuff was said in anger and desperation…I feel like there’s still some truth behind those words that she needs to embrace and own.

What’s cool, though? I don’t have to figure this out today. Or even this month. I can observe and not see this as some threat to my wellbeing.

I can be curious. And I am safe.

Maybe she’ll stick around. Maybe she won’t. But there’s a greater trust and truth holding me together as everything around me falls apart…


I think because my life has become so unsatisfactory, I have to see it running on parallel tracks.

There’s the life I wanted on one track and there’s the life I have on the other.

Ultimately, all I have wanted is security and freedom. And that’s the opposite of what I have had living here in this house, especially this year.

And I’ve been resentful and despairing and fed the fuck up. But those emotions have been draining and demoralizing.

So I’ve decided to stop looking at that track for now.

What I have is a deeper sense of self and a slowly growing trust that the Universe really does have my back, that none of these losses I grieve over and come to accept will be wasted.

It doesn’t mean I’m doing high kicks of joy yet. But it does mean I’m almost done with the internal temper tantrum.

And here’s the kicker–a lot of suffering comes from that ever-persistent question of why. And yet I know there’s a big fat why that’s holding me–even though I don’t know its name or what it looks like.

None of what I’ve experienced is for nothing–and that’s not the Universe deciding that. I’m deciding that.

But the why…why is this happening? Why is this happening to me? Well usually, we don’t ever fully figure that out.

But it is happening. So what do you do?

You learn to deal and cope while you protect your dreams and goals, letting them evolve as you do.

As I am realigned, I know that I will make better choices with the people I allow into my life. I’ll be better about remembering that my “more-ness” is nothing to be ashamed of. I’ll continue to make sure that my circumstances don’t define who I am.

I will continue to focus on myself and what I need, trusting that somehow, I’ll be provided for.


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My 10 Least Popular Posts

hope work SOM

Last week I gave same shine to my 10 more popular post. This week, I wanted to give even more shine to my 10 least popular posts, between 1 to 3 views! Sacre bleu!

Granted, a lot of these posts were from 2016, when I wasn’t blogging as regularly. But there are some good thoughts in here about my life journey that are worth revisiting.

  1. an ode to OK Computer Radiohead’s OK Computer had a 20th anniversary last year, and I wrote about what this album meant to me and the time in my life I was listening to it heavily. I was really proud of this and was shocked that only one person viewed this piece.
  2. The roller coaster mystery – a short post on how I was trying to hang in there with the roller coaster of life.
  3. waiting on something decent and good – this was about a really dark time in Winter 2017.
  4. Mud walk – rough times right after my contract wasn’t renewed and coming back from home after Hurricane Matthew
  5. It’s all in the timing – Yeah, October 2016 sucked.
  6. “I accept that”/the lost tribe – Also March 2017 really sucked.
  7. Calling on the right ones – A lesson about asking the right people for help, which I’m still learning.
  8. When there’s nothing left to say – A post-birthday fuck you to 2016.
  9. a buyer’s market – A missive to my fellow straight women about dating men
  10. woo (hoo) woo The real first post of my blog post, but then my spiritual journey changed drastically as it sat in my drafts.

Postscript

It’s tough to look back on these posts, since a lot of how I feel hasn’t changed because a lot of my circumstances haven’t changed–they’ve even worsened!

It really hurts to feel like at times, I’m still walking in mud, that I’m still waiting on something decent and good, that I’m still holding on for dear life on the roller coaster mystery of life.

Today I pulled the 9 of Pentacles as my tarot card of the day, and I felt disheartened (yesterday’s card was 5 of Cups).

When is this rich, self-sufficient lady going to show up?

It’s sad when one of the card I typically would love to see comes up as encouragement, but right now, it feels like I’m being taunted.

One thing that has changed, though, is who is in my life. And that keeps changing–but it seems to be changing for the better.

I found out this month that two friends, one from the East Coast and one from the West Coast, had included me in their rituals for more money. And it’s seemed to have worked!

I’m still so touched know that although it’s still a very lonely existence here in Florida, there were two friends who thought of me and my wellbeing–and did something positive about it.

Even with my visit to the metaphysical store this past Friday, I wanted to see if the energetic shifts that I had made since the total solar eclipse last August and beyond had made any difference.

I had visited back in February and really hated the vibe. As a friend told me, usually people who are in those stores are looking for help, thus low vibes.

This time, I went and it was pleasant.

I had 3 candles fixed (candle fixing means adding herbs, spices and oils to a candle, usually a 7-day candle), and the woman who did it, she really was in tune with what I was thinking and feeling. Just getting the candles fixed was a supportive and healing experience.

And although one of the candles started as an oily, fiery, seething mess, two of them are burning now–one for love and one for money. And I can feel the difference.

But will it be enough? I really don’t know.

I know I want positive change, and that I’ve been working hard on this. My blog reflects on some of those efforts to go past surviving to thriving.

That sustained effort takes a little bit of hope.

And hope takes work. “Hope is a discipline.”

Hope is not like some feathery thing that floats in on the wind. Hope is something that I have to cultivate and grow, every single day.

I’m fed up enough to grow some real hope in my life. And as I burn these candles this week, I’ll think about all the steps I took for me to get here, and how I’m even more ready to write a new story for my life.

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happiness quite unshared

 

happiness quite unshared SOM

For the longest time, I’ve tried to adapt to the lack of human connection I’ve had while living in Florida. And for the longest time, I thought it was my “fault.”

Giftedness: The Plexiglas Wall

I had a mostly written blog post about how one of the burdens of being a gifted person is the existential loneliness that comes with not being able to connect with people. But it was the wrong path, for many reasons. So I’m starting afresh.

For one thing, it wasn’t a problem I had as a child, even up until high school. I felt loved by and connected with my friends. Friendship seemed to happen so easily.

But maybe the plexiglas wall of giftedness started to appear in high school, where I really wasn’t connecting with people. Being a teenager is tough anyway–you’re surrounded by people who want you to pledge loyalty while they don’t even know themselves yet.

I was bullied by my own friends near the end of my time there. So after the exclusion and isolation I experienced in high school, I moved over 900 miles away and went to college in Chicago where I found other gifted people.

I felt at home. I felt accepted. The plexiglass wall disappeared It was easy to share big ideas and the idiosyncrasies such as being intense about everything that the mainstream world deemed too weird to accept.

I thought the real world would be like this.

It wasn’t. It was tougher to keep and maintain relationships. Part of that is due to my giftedness, but part of that is what it’s like to be an adult. They don’t teach you how to create lasting friendships in high school and college–which is maybe why networking events feel so forced and inauthentic.

Lately I’ve been saying that I regret not getting my Mrs. degree because it would have been so much easier to find a like-minded man. The way my life transpired, there was no way I could have accomplished this (mainly financial woes and subsequent clinical depression), but I still feel like that.

Churched and Unchurched

During and after college, I belonged to a few faith communities in Chicago (six in over 15 years). But after reading Divided by Faith, I started my exit out of church

The book showed me showed me the toxic stew that I had been slowly boiling in as a black woman and that white evangelicalism had actually been eroding my sense of self for years, even back when I was a teenager.

So I left–and that’s what going to a Baptist church plus reading theology books will do to you. It’s a shift that I’m still getting used to. It’s not easy to just let it all go and to learn how to find friends outside of a church context.

Church has a baked-in social system, as probably most spiritual and faith communities have when you meet regularly together. That was all I knew, from birth until I was in my early 30s. I didn’t have to think about it. Through our faith, we could bond.

But white supremacy never really let that happen. There have been so many crazy episodes with people, mainly and especially in one church, and the real culprit is racism.

And even if it isn’t obtuse and obvious, it’s the subtle edging you out of opportunities, the gradual getting closer to others. It can make you think that it’s something you’re doing wrong.

Around this time, I learned a lot about giftedness from my friend who was in a master’s program for gifted education. I finally understood that my intensity about life wasn’t appreciated outside of my childhood and outside of college.

Before those conversations with my friend, because the church I was attending was so unhealthy and immature and rife with people who just want to get along to get along, I really thought I was going crazy, that there was something clinically wrong with me.

Clearly, all this feedback of rudeness, of attacks, of accusations of being needy and using others–clearly, that was all my fault.

Nope, that was white supremacy, and these incidents all involved white women. I had no problem with black women and other women of color.

So after many close friends moved south and west, I felt like I needed to the same and follow my passion for writing into grad school. It was time for a new scene.

Maybe I could shake up what seemed to be a growing isolation as people started to get married and have children.

A Dream Deferred

Moving to Florida has been the most disappointing and life-changing thing I have ever done. It was the spiritual growth spurt that I clearly needed, and it has come from a fertile yet fetid compost heap of loss.

It’s a story I keep repeating, because it was supposed to be a story of redemption, of triumph–and it is, just not in the way that I expected.

I came looking for a tribe. That’s how grad school is sold–these will be your people, forever and forever.

What I got instead was an education in how my proximity to whiteness was going to be obliterated. Even with the problems I had in church–which may have been the coming attractions for grad school–I thought that being armed with self-knowledge and an open mind would be enough.

Nope. I had never really learned that whiteness and white supremacy really weren’t things to be close to. My assimilation into dominant culture ended when I wasn’t friends with the main clique of my cohort. And then the subsequent ostracization was by my own hand, too–albeit accidentally.

Long story short: I had been blogging about my experiences in becoming a writer. I wrote about my classes and classmates. I posted them in an open Facebook group, which is the stupidest thing to have (ironic sidenote: this was a group of gifted people who seemingly aren’t that smart about basic things like privacy–I’m still kind of mad about this).

Classmates found out, read the hell out of my blog (and as a writer, it’s hard not to be a little proud of that). One wrote me a nasty, sanctimonious Facebook message that, in retrospect, was probably a bit racist.

What a boomerang of a bummer–I was ostracized from my cohort even more than I already was.

All through that excruciating time, Spirit/the Universe/God was speaking loudly through repeated numbers and this crazy twin flame situation with a guy in my program that began my second year (I kind of loathe that term, but that’s exactly what happened).

I can confidently say that I’m on the spiritual journey that I am on now. I know that if things had gone well, I don’t know if I would have reached the spiritual depths that I needed to for healing, for building a new personal foundation.

And even writing about that time, it’s just now dawning on me that I’ve been holding myself back because of the shame. Meanwhile, the same shit I was reporting about, the racism and sexism, mostly continued (though one guy did stop his talking over women!).

Still, all of these people went on with their lives. They weren’t held back by my words. I bet no one really learned anything from my experiences. Some did worse things than me and still enjoyed the fellowship of the cohort.

So why am I holding myself back? Why am I not forgiving myself? Yes, it’s wrapped up in the deferred dream of finding a writing community. That dream endured a painful death, and I’m still grieving it a bit.

Would I have really wanted to have that fellowship, besides how it would have helped academically?

Adventures in Instability

And after grad school, yes–more poverty and isolation along with my last experience in church, which was more of a last-ditch effort to get some help as I slipped into homelessness.

Yet it really drove home that even I go to church and am a member, I had to be at a certain level of stability that being an underemployed writer could not afford me. It even helped to send me into the arms of an abusive church member who raised the rent on me after my first week moving in with her. Even that was more like two friends were tired of me living with them rent-free because before that, I had been bouncing around Airbnb.

It was just domino after domino falling against me: lost thesis advisor, extended semester, lost job, lost home, lost car, couldn’t stay in the choir I was a part of, couldn’t hold onto the friends I made in church and at work.

And this was where my last blog post started, where I was looking back at all the people I had known, wondering why I couldn’t hold onto them.

I do forget about giftedness, about my intensity, about how most people are just not going to get it. I know that I tire most people out with all the thoughts I have, and with the intensity in which I express them.

But wow, I have been through it. And there are waves of self-compassion that have yet to reach my shore. But others, especially this year, have been able to extend life-changing grace, even if it’s just for a moment.

Yet the past still has some things to say.

Last week, this woman I knew in Chicago years, popped up on LinkedIn, hoping to connect. I was so annoyed with her as a person. She was this flaky, overly chatty person that somehow, people found charming.

And, it finally occurred to me that it was probably because she was white.

She and I were in the same Bible study and had the same close friends. She eventually moved away to North Carolina, where she still is–as some insurance person.

I never had really unpacked these feelings of resentment until I thought about this mutual friend we had, this cute ginger allergist, and how they would hang out–and how he and I would not.

I’m usually not “that woman” over men–well, especially lately because the current new cycle is a reminder. But there was a bit of a crush–nothing intense–for both of us, but somehow, he really liked hanging out with her. I was always mystified by the obvious answers evading me.

Why her? Why not me?

I recently vented to a friend about her, even though I thought I was just going to give more details of the subtweets I had made. It was revelatory and liberating.

Even though that has a lot to do with race and bias, it’s along the same lines of my frustration with my inability to authentically connecting with people–and maybe that’s why the now tended-to wound felt so fresh.

It’s like, what do I have to do, who do I have to be to have my human need for connection be met?

Too Broke to Care

With all I’ve gone through just in Florida–the horrible grad school experience, the subsequent poverty, the housing instability with its usurious rents and scary roommates, and the forced journey into freelancing–why can’t I cut myself some damn slack?

There were so many circumstances outside of my control that were not conducive to trying to put roots here, to finding people who made me feel safe, online or offline.

Those circumstances matter.

Even though 2017 hasn’t been that kind–my room flooded, I lost my car again, I am dealing with an inconsiderate housemate, and I have no consistent local friends–I’m now a little more financially stable enough to feel again, and that really only truly started happening in August–through a friend.

And by feel, I mean that I can feel a whole range of emotions besides anxiety and dread.

I can feel angry about a flaky woman who was buddies with someone who had no interest in being buds with me.

I can stop beating myself up for a mistake that happened years ago.

I can allow myself to be sad about a relationship that seems to have stalled or evaporated.

I can also be OK with desiring to have my own community again.

I’m not a social pariah nor undeserving nor too imperfect nor “too much” of anything to be fully emotionally supported by people.

All of that takes energy, even to say that, let alone feel that. When you are too stressed out with trying to work or finding work, your emotional landscape feels like a vacation home instead of your real home. It’s like you’ve shoved yourself into one corner of your being.

It’s easier to blame yourself because it’s easier to fix yourself than a culture that doesn’t really value longevity or discomfort–because for true relationships to thrive for a long time, you can’t avoid the discomfort of being human and fallible.

Happiness Truly Is Other People

I started to crawl out of this hole of self-blame and shame when I read this article from the New York Times, “Happiness Is Other People.”

A friend had shared that link on Twitter, a friend that I had a life-changing tarot reading from, marking a notable shift in my life. So after being caught in a whirlpool of self-doubt, that article was a lifeboat sent to rescue me.

Although it didn’t change my circumstances, it did change my perspective. It’s not that I’m (just) too much or somehow unworthy. American society is isolative and individualistic, and thus, inhumane.

Like me, like so many of us, I had been fighting against this tide. I kept reaching out and losing my grip on the people I cared about.

In the dance of relationship, it always takes two, but so many of us are not ready for that sort of intimacy, for that sort of accountability.

It seemed when my friend tweeted that link out, all the lights came on. Another friend had been saying similar things.

Yet another friend, who has been the MVP in my life lately, reminded me that the path of self-improvement is typically a lonely one, and that people–Americans–are typically self-absorbed or self-involved.

It was a confluence of answers, from three trusted women, all saying to me:

Baby, it’s not you.

All throughout my adult life, I’ve had to cut and run from so many people and places that have been harmful to me. It’s not that I wanted to. But things end, for a number of reasons, including abuse and neglect.

Sometimes, it’s just that people grow up and apart. Sometimes, the long fingers of time start to fray the bonds between us.

And then, we just slip from each other.

So as someone who has lost a lot of connections to others, it always, deep down, made me marvel when spiritual guru types talked about self-love and self-care outside of the realm of “other people.”

Yet, I really tried this approach during grad school, to be self-sustaining–which made it easier to write about all that was going wrong, including about the people who were making it go wrong.

I didn’t feel connected to them. I needed people to help support through grad school, but it wasn’t going to be them–which doubly crushed me.

Self-care itself isn’t about living in a vacuum. When I learned about self-care, it was as a social worker 13 years ago. It was to make sure you were not serving others from an empty well.

I would never choose the path I’m currently on. It is painful and humiliating and lonely a lot of the time.

So I, too, long for comfort and convenience. I’m American, after all.

But really, what I want is a launchpad, a home base–and a people with a shared history.

It helps, oh so much, to have people remind you of where you’ve come from, of where you’re going–especially when you get disoriented and lost in hopelessness and despair.

It’s also about sharing successes. When I got my first real contract as a freelancer, I took myself out to dinner. There was no one to celebrate that win with. There’s no one here who knows all the struggles I went through to get that contract, to get that deposit, to get that work.  My self-satisfaction felt empty and hollow without anyone, in person, to reverberate the joy and relief I was feeling.

On a spiritual level, it’s hard to create any sense of roots or stability when everyone is off creating their own inner journeys. As someone who is heavily introverted and reflective, eventually I want to share what I’ve learned and learn from others.

I want to freely share my happiness and sorrow, like I used to.

It’s still tough to fully accept that there isn’t much I can do except to keep looking, to lean more on the spiritual support I have–angels and spirit guides. Eventually, I will find all the people, places, and things I am seeking.

So as much as we try to love our whole selves, I believe it’s impossible to do so.

There are parts of ourselves that we can’t fully see or reach that we must see and reach for others. It’s like washing your back or having to be zipped up in a dress. It’s just so much easier to have someone exfoliate your back, your whole back, or to zip your dress up for you.

If we really didn’t need each other, then I wouldn’t be writing this blog post, and you wouldn’t be reading it.

And, as much shadow work we can do on our own, there is corporate work we must do, to liberate ourselves both individually and collectively.

It can be as simple as sharing a link from the New York Times.

So, as painful and as frustrating as it is, I have to keep reaching out, because that’s what humans do. Humans do need to affirm each other, to give each other approval and support. It’s supported by science.

Sure, I could do bad all by myself, but why should I?

We’re not created to be alone.

Into the Wild and All Alone

Chris McCandless was an adventurer who went into the Alaskan wilderness after college graduation and ended up dying alone in a rusted school bus. He wrote this in a book near his death:

happiness only real when shared

He also underlined this part of Dr. Zhivago:

And so it turned out that only a life similar to the life of those around us, merging with it without a ripple, is genuine life, and that an unshared happiness is not happiness…

Of course, so many people think his free-spirtedness is a source of inspiration. But he did eventually want to go back to civilization after being out in the Alaskan bush for almost 4 months by himself.

I don’t think McCandless was wayward, either. Who knows what was really in his mind besides the journals he had. He had barely lived at age 24. It’s been 25 years since his death.

What haunts me about the movie, Into the Wild, and his life is that he had to go to the edge of nothing and everything to find that he really did need people. Maybe that’s being too reductionist or essentialist. Bu it saddens me that he died so tragically to find an answer he didn’t have to leave the world behind to find.

So that’s where I am, where I always was. I could go off into the world alone to find new adventures and people and places and things, but what’s the point of it outside of my own self-satisfaction? It’s so much richer to have those experiences shared with people who I love and who love me.

I won’t be ashamed for being a social animal.

I won’t be ashamed for wanting connection.

I won’t be ashamed for reaching out.

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