resisting emotional erosion

feels.gif

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

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

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

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

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

This is how Lind describes emotional overexcitability:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

I cared too much.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve been bloody miserable.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#SmartThingsASuperScorpioTaughtMe


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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, here’s my Amazon Wishlist.

Thanks for your support! 💘

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.


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.

Thanks for your support! 💘

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.

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! 💘