lucky blooms ūüíź

late bloomer SOM

Well.

First of all, reading that from poet Sharon Olds immediately pierced me, with some hope.

I come here lacking gratitude for my opening buds, and especially for the buds that have yet to be formed.

But I’m feeling a little chastened. I usually don’t do this much throat clearing before I get into a post.

(This post is brought to you by the pre-mid-life crisis transit of Pluto square Pluto.)

I don’t feel so lucky. I feel tired. I feel late. I have been planning my life my whole life. Hear the travails and laments of a tortured double Capricorn.

I thought I had some wisdom about this post, about how things were supposed to happen. It seems to have escaped me. I’m sure I’ll find some new wisdom as I write.

Things are getting better. I feel 10 years late on that, though. If I were 29 and finally starting my own business, that seems right. Why did this take so long?

I know why. It’s a lot of stuff, and here’s the timeline:

family upheaval caused by untreated mental illness ‚ě°ÔłŹ¬†delay in attending and finishing college ‚ě°ÔłŹ¬†finding my own emotional equilibrium¬†‚ě°ÔłŹ¬†discovering I suck at college science ‚ě°ÔłŹreleasing medicine as a future profession¬†‚ě°ÔłŹ¬†picking up writing as a potential profession at age 30 or so¬†‚ě°ÔłŹ¬†finally getting to do it on my own as a legit business nine years.

But that’s how the story was supposed to go. Why? Because it happened that way. This was my timeline at age 17:

college ‚ě°ÔłŹ med school ‚ě°ÔłŹ¬†psychiatry residency ‚ě°ÔłŹ married and have my first kid by 30.

Look how tidy that is. I am pretty sure I was fretting about this with my 11th grade English teacher. Maybe deep down, I knew that this little neat timeline was not going to happen, which is why I was having legit panic about whether this was going to happen.

The delays, the diversions, the detours‚ÄĒat least I can say that it got me back to myself, to my first love of writing. I also thought that things like marriage and kids would just happen.

And, they haven’t.

I’ve gotten to this weird place of resignation that probably comes from going through very hard times for a very long time.

Sidenote: I hate that I have to care about this stuff as a woman, but I also hate that I hate that I care about any of this at all. Most men do not sit around fretting about marriage and kids. Maybe I thought like a dude for a little too long. Even beyond just stupid fertility, I’m socialized to want this thing that does not help ultimately make women happy.

I’m in this thing I can’t really speak of publicly, but it’s like this energetic holding pattern where I have to wait around to see what happens. In the back of my head, instead of anxiety, there’s just a knowing that things will work.

But the resignation makes me feel safer. I’m tired. Holding out hope for things you can’t control gets tiring.

And that’s probably the point, too, right? To let go already. There’s some weird alchemical thing that has to happen. You have to reach the end of yourself, to feel your fingertips to start slipping on the last threads of hope you have, and then something, Something, catches you, just in time.

I’m starting not to care anymore, though, like time’s run out. I should just be grateful that I can kinda be an adult that can take care of herself, that can see herself through crisis after crisis. And yet time probably hasn’t run out. Yet it’s easier to grieve and let go than to hold on. It’s doubly sad to think about. But hope is a very heavy thing and my arms are buckling…

And then the Universe will send a sign. It is not in agreement with me about giving up. It’s a cycle of despair and determination that I’ve gone through many times this year, not only with love, but just life in general. I’ve thought about how life would just be better if it stopped because the agony of living was not worth waking up to.

So, I was thankfully wrong about that.

Let’s go back to what Sharon said. Am I going to be one of the very lucky ones when it comes to love? I feel like my business had to be established before I’m released from whatever holding pattern I’m in. And maybe, you know, it’s not about me. It could be about the other person, it could be about other things that I had to go through that I don’t even realize yet. I’ve been told as much by probably tarot readers and astrologers. It’s hard to remember since the goons of poverty have been pummeling for a while now.

Patience. Oh, patience. I tire of you.

When I think about my friends who have all started families, looking at their curated pictures on Facebook, I stare back into the emptiness that engulfs me locally. Being down here so long, as I have said a few times here, I started to forget how to be human. In Libra season especially, it starts to look like something is wrong with me.

ūüó£Nothing is wrong with me.

Going back to Chicago this month to escape Hurricane Irma, I realized how easy it was to be myself there. I left a lot of heartache and betrayal there, too, but I laid it all to rest (almost 15 years of shit). When I move back, I don’t want to be thinking about any of that. This year, with a bevy of Aquarian friends, I’ve been able to find that wicked sense of humor that carried me through so much grief and loss, but also just made the room lighter.

Hey man, I’m back.

So looking into whatever *this* could be, it’s more than my 17-year-old self could have hoped for. That’s why I’m still kind of loitering in confusion. It would be worth waiting for, too, even this long, even as patience and temperance and perseverance try me.¬† That isn’t me holding onto hope, though. That’s me being curious about how things will work out, if at all.

Gosh, could it really be that good?

And here comes the grace…boy, it has been a time. I have had a time. Why would I expect anything good from people when I could write a series of books of all the heartache, betrayal, and just plain evil I’ve experienced? My track record with the human race is spotty. There have been some angels and demons, and then some people I can’t remember…

Scolding my skepticism seems silly now.

Despite wanting to join Facebook Nation and say, hey, I checked some other adulting things off of my to-do list, it’s the Pluto square Pluto thing (transiting Pluto is in my 1st house, and my Pluto is in my 10th house). I’ve been obsessed with legacy. What am I leaving behind when I die? I really hope it’s good people‚ÄĒmy (now future) kids.

Nothing seems good enough yet. I have barely begun.

But whatever. I’m a double Capricorn who can’t plan that much right now. I feel like I’ve been benched. Put me in, Coach? I’m ready to play? Today?

Yet it does feel weird to just think‚ÄĒif this were meant to happen, it would have happened already. It almost sounds logical, but my life is strewn with late blooms…

Oh well. You tried. Good effort. At least you survived. Count your lucky blooms, girl.

Consolation prize: your very breath. *sigh*

Did I mention I was tired? If anything,¬†if anything, this year, my ceiling was raised so high, it’s practically the sky. If I have to come back and try again, then I know what to aim for. And that would be a very big if at this point.

It’s also a sign of healing, though. Please let’s give myself some credit before I drag my sorry soul over more broken glass. My hierarchy of needs is not an inverted triangle anymore. Being able to support myself means I can support a relationship, and now I don’t feel as desperate for it anymore. And I’ve heard that desperation, shockingly enough, pushes things away.

During my years long time out with the Universe, I’ve watered and nurtured my spiritual roots. I’ve found amazing women that I am close with and love dearly. It’s the right ordering of things. As I told one friend: boys last. Always last.

But hey, it’s Libra season. I do care about the one-on-one, a lot. Where my Pluto is, also in Libra, also means I’m going to care about this topics in a big mushroom cloud sort of way. I don’t want to kid myself here.

I’m ready to live already. Unencumbered. I’ve waited for college, for grad school, for my career.¬† Even still, though: good news! The treacherous obstacle course of my life seems to be nearing completion. I’m not sure if this will be waiting at the end.

So I’m just going to close my eyes and run like hell to the finish line.

This song just came up in a Daily Mix I’m listening to. I hear you, Universe…

A Lenten Season of Self-Kindness

So I was gonna give up Twitter for Lent.

I never grew up with Lent being a part of my Christian faith journey. Non-denominational, evangelical churches are not about High Church/mainline church traditions, or the Christian calendar, except for Christmas and Easter. I was exposed to Lent while attending a Covenant church in Chicago. The Covenant Church–specifically the Evangelical Covenant Church–is a Swedish offshoot of the Lutheran church. Hello, mainline church.

One time, I gave up chocolate. It was the one year that my co-worker brought into the office Frango Mints chocolates from Marshall Fields. Assorted flavors. Yet I resisted. I have tried to give up cursing. That didn’t really work. I can’t remember how long I lasted. Although, I can say that it’s not necessarily about being successful. No, my inner perfectionist would love to wear a badge of honor that says that I made it through a chocolate-free Lent. From what I understand, it’s more about the forty-day journey of temptation and reliance on God’s power and strength while embracing one’s frailty and humanity.

Or something like that.

After a few years of giving up church of all kinds, I’m back in church, doing a bit of social media for an emerging not-church service on Saturday nights as well as the actual church. Oops. Probably can’t give up Twitter–’tis my (volunteer) job.

But I haven’t tweeted since Tuesday (Mardi Gras), which is fine, I guess. Right now, I’m working on some technical writing and I have¬†to learn about some technology and read pages and pages of text just to write one page of text. And right now, I would be twitter-bitching my way through this, without any sort of response from my followers.

And that’s actually what I want to give up, for good–this need for a response.

I’ve been on Twitter since 2008 (I think?) and it’s exposed some things about me. I have this human flaw, though: I want to connect with other human beings. I have another one: I want to share what’s going on with me. Twitter may or may not let those “flaws” flourish. Lately, I’d say it’s made my humanness feel like¬†it’s a flaw altogether. It’s not.

Within the past six months,¬†I have endured so¬†many excruciatingly painful, dehumanizing events, with increasing intensity and insanity. The cliche of “the dark night of the soul” doesn’t even come close to describing what’s gone on and goes on. It’s more like camping out in the valley of the shadow of death. I’ll be grateful when this indefinite camping trip is over, and I’ll be grateful about how I’m even stronger and more resilient. Oh, I can’t wait for the glory of hindsight. I can see many silver linings which are almost enough to distract me like a toddler is distracted by a shiny object from the godawfulness of life. But I cannot give anymore public dispatches from my time there. As immediately accessible Twitter has been for sharing these things, what has not been healthy for me is taking the abysmal silence that¬†my candor draws at all personally, or taking it at all.

This week, I read¬†an excellent article in the¬†The New York Times,¬†“How to Be a Friend in Deed,”¬†about how people are so godawful at helping people who are in crisis, and how not to be one of those godawful people. And there are so many people who suck at this, more than those who don’t. This confirmed what I experienced in grad school and afterwards. So maybe instead of insanely thinking that people will change their responses, I¬†can change. But I can only change so much.

As a writer, I was wondering why I couldn’t convey my suffering in some compelling, actionable way, even as I came to grips that I did need, and still need, help. It’s not just Twitter. It’s even meaningful Facebook groups that are created for this very type of support. I could deconstruct this, especially along racial lines, but there’s nothing that I can do about my melanin count. I could talk about the cult of personality, about popularity, about beauty¬†about how all of these inane things that I have no control over and have nothing to do with me. I continue to drop my bucket into an empty well and hope that somehow, some day, I’ll draw water.

What can I do about it? Share the suffering offline, with way fewer people–probably with as many people that I can count on one hand. I have that many people and I don’t need to expand that number. Keep taking one foot in front of the other, even though almost every day,¬†I¬†see absolutely no point in doing so. Be my own best cheerleader, and be OK with being my own¬†cheerleader, especially when I am alone.

So I’ll be back on Twitter in a bit, because I do need to to bitch about the minutiae and detritus about life, just not my actual life. The transparency that I’ve lead my life with has gotten me more enemies than friends. Transparency is valuable, but costly. And there really is nothing wrong with having a little more opacity, a little more mystery, a little more safety.

Social media can be the worst listener, the most inconsistent therapist, and the flakiest best friend. And it wasn’t always this way. I grew up with this medium throughout my whole adult life (since 1997). Throughout the past two decades, it’s grown increasingly fractured because there are more and more people using it. Sure, it’s an early adopter’s lament. ¬†Still, all that means is that I can use this goofy medium for what it is good for in my life right now: livetweeting shows, learning about all sorts of things, breaking news, watching celebrities self-immolate by their own words, and shooting the shit.

Adjusting those pesky expectations–or not having any at all: this would be my nirvana. Instead of abolishing Twitter for forty days, I can just let it be what it is. I can use Lent as a way to start something new and healthy for myself, as a season of self-inquiry. How can I keep and better value my depth for myself? How can I engender true and safe reciprocity of sharing in healthier ways with better kept boundaries? How can I vanquish the overshare demons? Not to sound like Gwyneth Paltrow, but how I can be more conscious online, instead of just mindlessly typing things?

The past few months have been a¬†long¬†lesson in learning how to be less severe with myself, and then, being less severe with others. And that is good, so very good. It is a goodness I hope to continue to be lead and purified by. This censoring isn’t a deprivation, but a necessary practice and celebration of self-kindness.

If you do practice Lent, I pray it’s one of new-found self-compassion, self-love, and boundless grace.