After six weeks of hard hustling and work, I’m taking ten days off of work. That’s one way to start #CapricornSeason! 😉 But sometimes all that free time freaks me out, especially after working so much for so long.
It reminds me that I don’t really have anyone to spend that time with.
It’s two days before my birthday, what the rest of you call Christmas, and all I have planned is to read a romance novel and eating chocolate cake…and possibly listening to Christmas music.
This year, it hurts a lot to listen to Christmas music. I have a lot of it. But I don’t feel very merry, even though it’s finally gotten cold in the Sunshine State, and…I’m not broke, for once. I’m deeply grateful for both of those things.
But I will be here, in my room, alone. And, I feel like I’ve let myself down–and not just for Christmas. But with everything. And sure, I’m entirely too hard on myself, but maybe it’s a reckoning of how much I don’t have in my control while discovering what I actually do have in my control.
Things, things in my life, should look better and brighter than they do.
And, somehow, by committing to being a writer instead of…I don’t know what else, really besides being a doctor…I’ve dug myself into this hole that I can’t seem to get myself out of. It’s a bit of a miserable, dingy hole, but it is my hole. At least I can be honest with myself in this hole.
So this week, I won’t be painting on smiles and hanging out with people I can’t stand. And most of my adult life, I’ve spent Christmases with other people. As I get older, I’m spending more Christmases by myself. I was doing this before it was cool to do–and it’s still apparently not cool to do, as I read about people dealing with relatives they can’t stand.
All it took was one bad Christmas at home after I came back from my first quarter at college to make sure I wouldn’t come back often.
Even if I may sound tough and hardened, it still feels pathetic and awful, especially since it’s my birthday. Society compounds those feelings.
But this is my choice. I just haven’t found anything else worth choosing more than solitude.
And this spills out more from just the holidays, although the holidays make it more acute and painful (unless you decide that Tuesday is just another day that you get to be alive).
It’s time to crank out the old refrain again: this year has been one of grief and loss, one that I can scarcely believe that I lived. Some crazy ass highs and some fathomless lows.
At the beginning of the year, I said mainly to myself, but also to others, that I wanted to be more aligned this year. But I had no idea how misaligned I was when I said it. And how much it would take to become more aligned.
And aligned to what? Well, to what’s best for me.
My constant refrain has been about all the people I’ve lost, people I thought would be around for a long time…I’m frankly still in shock about it.
So when I think about trying to meet new people next year, I feel incredibly gunshy–for once. I’m scared there will be more leaving and abandonment, more rejection, more misunderstanding. And that’s really tiresome, even though that’s a big part of life. In this moment, I don’t feel up for the risk.
I recently joined another community of people who are more like me, and I just couldn’t bear to write some introductory post.
I was catching up with the TV show “A Million Little Things” and I burst into sobs as one character, who is so beautifully open with his feelings, was celebrating his first year of remission from breast cancer. But his friend had committed suicide a few weeks before (kind of the premise of the whole show) and he was livid that he wasn’t alive. It was so raw and real, the anger and sorrow. I understood it so well. And it felt good to cry over similar losses.
My unending shock about people taking a hike from my life is not about this year alone–I think it’s about 40 years of living, loving, and losing. It’s all caught up with me, and it feels heavy and unbearable.
Last night, I had a dream about a former friend. We hugged so tightly, it hurt. I don’t think I’ve ever hugged someone that hard in my life.
And as I was letting go, they held onto me. So I hugged back longer. That’s never happened to me, either. I always hold on too long…
It felt so normal and then when I woke up, it took a while for me to realize that was a dream and not a memory…and that I had dreamed about that person, again.
Grief is weird.
I had written a friend this amazing email this month and it hasn’t been responded to. I seriously doubt it will be. I am so tempted to publish it because it was so good.
I did feel afraid, after the fact, that I was being so honest about how I felt about myself, about how I saw life, that I had said so much so passionately. Maybe it was a premonition. And then I felt so much shame, like I wasn’t taking care of myself, like I was open to someone who maybe hadn’t earned it. Maybe I misread…
But it felt so good to be really, unabashedly me, yet I was afraid I wouldn’t get a response–and then, my fears were realized.
And hey, I could be wrong. It’s the holidays now. But as soon as I sent it, it felt like too much–even if it was right for me. But I have no regrets in what I wrote.
What was unexpected was what happened next. This brought up old (self-inflicted) wounds from high school, where I wrote a lot of letters. Although I don’t think about this a lot, I’m still ashamed of this part of me, how epistolary I was.
There was one guy I had a crush on that I wrote and he never wrote back. I quite stupidly pestered him and he just kept blowing me off. Wow, this actually happened with two guys. I couldn’t even tell you what I felt so impo
I keep wondering…this part of me hasn’t changed in over 20 years. Is being this open and honest a good thing for me or not? Should I be choosier? Are these people all swine, and are my words pearls?
I keep hearing about how being yourself really pays off. But it feels like I haven’t hit paydirt yet.
Boy, this sounds snobby, but remember…or, um, let me let you in on a little secret: I’m the weirdo here–the levels of honesty and candor that I have are higher than most and most people are just not cut out for that level of transparency. For me, this came from living in a house where people weren’t honest or open with each other. My life has been an outright rebellion against silence and hiding.
And yet, I still have many levels of opacity, too. I’m not as clear as a newly-washed window. None of us are.
I admit that sometimes I’ve used the transparency as a way to blind people and push them away. But I don’t do that anymore.
Also, I keep repeating the parental dynamics I grew up with (spoiler alert–we all do). That dude from high school might as well be my mother.
My parents weren’t very cuddly or hands-on with me, and so I developed a talent of drawing in people who were on the outside. I thought it was because I felt on the outside, too. And I’m sure that was a part of it.
But it just seems to be me that I have been trying to connect with people who aren’t actually that interested in me (like my parents). Because it’s a challenge to convert the unconvertible. And then, when you do succeed, you get extra special gold stars. Or something like your parents’ love and affection.
(Pssst. You don’t get anything close to that.)
And that’s just a part of it. The other part is my expansiveness. It’s like a flood of information and feelings, and it can come without warning. I’ve seen it perplex people into silence and laughter.
And that’s when I don’t really feel like I get how to be human, here and now. I know it can be a turn-off to most, because most people like hiding. That includes me sometimes.
But I realize, as I sit in the alleged ash heap of my allegedly ruined life, I can’t stop being me. I refuse to retool this part of me any longer, especially since I’ve spent most of my life trying to bundle this up and keep it hidden. If (I think that) this is the worst thing about me, then I know that there are so many worse things to be.
This isn’t the worst thing to be.
It’s a bit of a vicious feedback loop, though–the buds of rejection from others can bloom into self-rejection.
Earlier this year, in one of the last times I talked to this rather dreamy person, I remember them encouraging me to keep talking and how I could barely handle that encouragement. And it was so genuine…*inwardly swoons*
I was so used to not hearing any encouragement like that, I just kept going with the same song and dance that I was terrible and annoying for being so talkative and opinionated. And interestingly, my encouragement of them was somewhat rebuffed in the same way (which is actually why I stopped talking to them–because there was way too much ghosting).
And this is just a sidenote, but one worth mentioning: handling each other’s wounds, even if you’re a gentle as a dove, it can still feel like a serpent’s bite. It helps to have some self-compassion and compassion for others if the grace you offer to extend doesn’t get received well. Most of the time, it’s not about the giver, but the receiver. The pain can be too overwhelming to see that relief is near and available.
Being myself is so costly. There are no parades or parties being thrown in my honor.
Congratulations, you’re a loquacious person with big, scary feelings that you express with aplomb and with extra vigor, and that overwhelms most people! You’re so open about how you feel, people are scared to fall into the abyss of you! You make space for other people’s feelings but it’s not being well reciprocated! Well done with this being a human thing! You are killing it.
So this is me, embracing the suck of being me.
But instead of being neurotic about how I am with other people, I can be more comfortable with my uncomfortableness, with my awkwardness, with my loneliness, with my big scary, feelings, with all the lack–and then find my inherent value in my essence, and not in any of these things that I or society deem to be terrible.
I can embrace that I try really hard to make people comfortable, that I’m super effusive over people I really like, that I overshare because I see my life and my feelings as gifts and lessons to share. And when people do the same, I feel like I’m being gifted with something really precious and wonderful.
I can maybe even start to laugh when people predictably react to who I am. Oh boy, we have another runner! Buh bye, buddy, buh bye!
And actually, I used to be a lot more laugh at my calamity type when I was in my 20s. But I think it was because 1) I was less serious and 2) I felt like eventually things would work out, that I had time for things to work out. But turning 40 was like an uh-oh moment…I haven’t gotten to “eventually.” I don’t like these “things” and I’m still not sure they will work out.
Of course, if I tell this to someone who was 70, they’d maybe say I have a lot more time than I think…
Look. I know that I’m not for everyone, and I’m ultimately glad that people who have left have left–but it’s hard not to have this erode one’s sense of self or self-esteem, because I don’t live in a vacuum (unfortunately). And then you read stuff like this and think…well, I could have written this.
If people keep leaving, there’s something wrong with me…right?
I have to stop seeing myself as some problem to solve. I have to stop seeing people as challenges to win (hello, I’m a double Capricorn).
I must start appreciating my fearlessness about love, even if it has yet to be appreciated by anyone else for very long.
Something I said in that long and glorious unanswered email to my friend was how I couldn’t understand how two men in my life this year were so afraid of whatever we were creating (and me) that they both imploded in a fit of self-sabotage. And yes one of them was the dreamy person I was writing about earlier.
I don’t really understand how you can be afraid of love.
And maybe that’s because growing up without it for so long, when you really experience it, there’s no way you can take it for granted. There’s no way you’d be willing to settle for anything else.
So knowing what life and love that I could have, I’m deeply sad and disappointed that I don’t really have that love in my life right now. I feel like I’m at least a decade late in receiving it and being able to give it without thinking I’m the unlovable weirdo. It’s very bizarre to me, to be living this life, instead of the one I envisioned when I was 17.
So as the holidays are great at magnifying, I’m sad and actually disturbed that I don’t have a family of my own, that I can’t seem to find my step or stride here in Florida, that I had take some job I didn’t want to take to stop being poor, that I feel washed up and yet completely unused and unseen at almost 41 and I haven’t accomplished anything of worth to me except survival.
At the same time, I’m supremely proud of myself that I have survived, that I didn’t succumb to the darkness that was swirling around me, that I even banished darkness and evil from this house, that I do have money in the bank, that I have work to do, that I still have a chance to get all the things I still want.
I know this year was taking the harder road (which feels like it chose me more than I chose it) the more-worthwhile-in-the-end road, the one that’s beyond goals and even self-fulfillment.
I can see how I’ve reached to the core of me, to that part of me that is indestructible…
It’s interesting how when you lose so much, you start to realize what you really want. You don’t get the luxury of being cute or coy or arch about it. The desperation and the desolation are ungraceful but true.
I want to belong to someone who can match or exceed my fearlessness. I want to pass down that fearlessness to my children. I want to be a part of a loving community that works to create a better world for everyone. I want to work with people that value me, my work, and my time. I want to see more of the world, as much of it as I can. I want to create music that I’m proud of. I want to write for people who like what I write.
And I have to be OK with not getting any of this, because none of it is guaranteed. But I have to keep working towards it anyway, even if every day that passes and my arms remain empty, it seems to strongly suggest that I don’t deserve it.
Even if I choose to be alone during the holidays, I don’t deserve to be lonely. But I also don’t deserve to be with the wrong people for the sake of temporarily shoving aside my loneliness. That has been my Christmas credo since I was 19, and I’m glad I’ve stuck to it pretty mercilessly.
One last thing, because I plan on not talking about this year of disappointment and grief here anymore–not because I’m done grieving, but I’m just bored with the topic and have been for months…
When you’re just stuck with just yourself (as we always are), there’s an open invitation to learn how you treat yourself and how to treat yourself better. Long periods of solitude and aloneness make this invitation almost impossible to pass up.
There’s still so much more room for self-love here, which again…this is a little impossible without some help from others (I just downloaded a worksheet on this).
This year, I really have had to lean more on my spiritual side than I’m used to. And yet, there’s still so much more I could be doing that doesn’t involve nitpicking myself to death.
So yeah, I did fail my 17-year-old self, but she had no idea that she wasn’t going to be this evangelical, myopic, Bible thumper anymore, which usually means you’d partner with the same kind of person. She got something far better than the societal inevitability of domestic “bliss” and a secure job.
What she instead was a truer, more expansive version of herself–a lot more than what she bargained for. It’s not as glamorous or cuddly or polished as I’d like for me to be, but this version of me is real–wrapped up in big, scary feelings, loquaciousness, and unyielding intensity.
I am worth the continued search for people that can support me in reaching the things I want as I support them in doing the same. It’s exhausting, scary, and sometimes humiliating, but just like it is with love, it is always worth going full tilt, balls to the wall (which is a term from the United States Air Force about flying and nothing about testicles, I might add), unbridled.
So a lot of people bailed this year. OK. But that isn’t who I am. It’s just things that have happened to me. What’s more important is that I never bailed on me. And there are still people around, even if they aren’t close by or people I talk to often.
There are close to eight billion people, and I won’t even meet most of them. But I’ve met some wonderful people in the past and I can meet great ones again–especially now, since I’ve grown so much and I’m much more aligned than I was a year ago.
You and I, we live in this neverending tension, between being true to ourselves and doing what’s good for the group. It really comes up during the holidays, and it can be quite painful. But I hope that we both learn that by choosing ourselves first every time, we end up doing what’s best for the group, too.
I’ve been so afraid I have a terrible people picker–and that may be true. But I haven’t been choosing myself enough. My hope is that by choosing myself more, that I will choose better people to be in my life and not just reaching out to anyone because I’m blind with desperation.
So. This feels like the end, and that’s because it is.
It’s the end of feel ashamed of how my life is and isn’t. It’s the end of trying to contort myself into something that can be packaged. It’s the end of being self-identified by my unfulfilled desires and dreams.
It’s the beginning of embracing the suck as well as the the not-so-sucky. That includes my frustrations, my impatience, my envy, my disgust…as well as my gratitude, my resilience, my wisdom, my fortitude, my creativity, and my self-love.
There’s room for it all.
If you’re celebrating my birthday also known as Christmas this week, I hope that you’re with people you love–and that includes yourself if you’re not around loved ones.
The great thing about Capricorn season is that it marks the slow march back into the light. The Winter Solstice may be the shortest day of the year, but every day after that, we gain back a little more light.
This holiday season, I hope you’re able to gain some new light, whether it’s from within or without.
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