the pushback

pushing through fear SOM

This is going to be a bit of an astrological post, but one that has been seven years in the making.

Today, I texted the owner of this house with a bit of exasperation. I have sent her daily texts, as I promised I would, about the creep who is smoking inside his room.

Currently, I have taped a towel over the vent, which thankfully isn’t blowing air because it’s too cold for the a/c. I have a towel under the door. My air filtration system sits by the door.

My first text to her, after she asked me about rent, was detailing how the creep was lowkey stalking me in my own house. That was on Sunday.

No response.

So I told her on Thursday about the smoke I was smelling and have probably been smelling for a while. This guy is just lazy and doesn’t want to go outside, which is why he was stalking me in the backyard in the first place.

I’ve texted daily about this smoking situation, as promised. So this is text #4 with no response. I’m using her millennial methods, and yet!

Maybe I’ll need to switch to Gen X methods. Right now, I don’t smell anything, so maybe she did get to him? He has no phone, so I don’t know how she would have contacted him. Maybe through the other tenant?

The stalking, actually, has stopped (at least for now). I’ve been using protective magic (yes, magic) every day and now even if I see him, neither of us shudder in fear. I just go about my business. But I rarely see him.

I bring all this up because it takes so long for me to get to a point of righteous anger, and it was bothering me. I didn’t know what to say to this woman to get her to act.

Should I just keep pestering her? Should I start insulting her? What is going to move her? I don’t like spending my precious time fighting over this, or pondering what to say.

But then I recall what was basically my first astrological reading from my friend–and this was back when I still used AIM!

It takes others trampling on your needs and boundaries to get you to stand up for them! That’s part of what’s been going on with your relationships. These conflicts are pushing you to a place where you will hopefully respect your own emotional needs.

This was about my sun and rising signs being in Capricorn, but my moon being in Cancer. They are opposite on the zodiac wheel. Capricorns are quite confident and competent, but on the inside, I’m a mushy, yet still kinda tough, crabby Cancer.

One things about Capricorns–they are very patient people. But once you have taken advantage of their graces, they are done with you, forever. I’d say that it’s same for Cancers as well. So my home situation is definitely reflective of this phenomenon. I’m patient until I’m not. And when I’m not, you will have hell to pay.

But it takes a lot for me to get there.

So here comes even more astrology. Uranus, the planet of disruption, innovation, instability, and sudden insights, has been impulsive and innovative Aries since March 11, 2011 (as of this writing, that will be seven years ago tomorrow!).

And honestly, until I had written the owner about how insane it was to live here, I didn’t really understand what Uranus was trying to do.

It’s been a nightmare.

I’ve called this transit, in my 4th house of home and family, a thug. Uranus in Aries has been bodying me this whole fucking time.

And why? Just to torture me?

I had so many people take advantage of me when I had to leave my apartment going on 5 years ago.

The classmate and her awful roommates.

The crazy Pisces lady with her ridiculously spoiled Capricorn daughter.

The paranoid, Capricorn attorney from church

And now here I am with these lazy, greedy owners.

Granted, I tried to stand up for myself (feebly?) in each occurrence, but it always seemed in vain. And that was triggering, and I talked about that in my last post.

wait that's it

But maybe Uranus in Aries in the 4th house–maybe that was part of the point. A lot of this instability has to do with poverty, so I don’t want to overspiritualize the financial, emotional, and social sacrifices to get my master’s degree.

But part of the point may very well have been to have been triggered. And in this case, I don’t think triggering is something to resist or avoid, but to lean into to obtain some overdue healing.

This goes back to being a highly competent Capricorn. Uranus really checked me about that. My needs to be respected and valued always seemed to take a backseat to others’ needs.

And this is a theme.

I don’t know if my parents really planned on being like this towards me, but sometime this month, it really dawned on me how I deserved to have parents who stuck up for me emotionally–and the sorrow and grief that comes with not having that.

My being tough all the time has been an effective but dated coping mechanism, and Uranus brought me low, to shameful levels of abasement.

I really needed help, a lot. And it’s been a journey to ask and accept that help.

And ironically, this need for help made me feel more isolated. It’s only been recently (*coughs* This past fall when Jupiter, the planet of expansion and MORE, moving into deeply intense Scorpio, which is in my 11th house of friends and community *coughs*) that I have felt like I am not my problems, that there isn’t this massive wall of poverty keeping me away from the life that I want.

Deeper still, though, has been the wound of not being heard, which, again, if I had to go the astrological route, that can be shown with my Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius placement in my 12th house of healing, secrets, and endings. It’s like screaming into the void, many times over.

Can you hear me? Do you even want to hear me?

I won’t even go into how having this communication chip on my shoulder warps every relationship I have. This is really about how the wound was formed and how I’ve really not fully dealt with it.

There’s this Capricorn tendency to be conservative, to not do things unless the ROI is at least 100%. That can turn into laziness, but also it can turn into fear and inertia.

My Mars retrograde in Leo in the 8th house can also contribute to this–am I going to be willing to risk it all, or risk at all? My friend and I were talking about this yesterday. Lots of profound insights about that placement…

So, texting this owner every day seems pointless. I didn’t want to do it. It’s not even about my reputation or standing in this house.

I know she’s checked out and doesn’t care–because that’s what her lack of action shows. She just wants rent. She wants to see herself as a nice person, not as someone who ignored her own clinical training as a licensed clinical social worker to let someone completely inappropriate live in her home.

She’s in denial, and I am the wake-up call she doesn’t want to take.

But, I have to keep calling.

Why? Because, as my therapist told me, I deserve to be a fierce advocate for myself, just like I was with my clients when I was a social worker.

This may end up nowhere, the texting which may lead to calling and emailing. I promised I’d text every day until this resolved.

Beyond the promise to her, there’s a promise I made to myself to keep sticking up for myself, even if this is all for naught. It’s hard for me to understand to do something like this out of principle.

It just keeps bringing up inside of me some screaming little infant who is not being picked up.

So Uranus keeps pushing me in the chest, trying to pick a fight, so I can address this very old wound, the one where I seemingly didn’t feel safe and wanted as a baby. It’s something that keeps coming up for me when I think of my relationship to my mother and how I still don’t feel bonded to her. I’ve been pondering about this lack of connection for years.

Me sticking up for myself is the needed pushback. And it takes so much. Yes, there’s the astrological explanation–people have to get through two layers of Capricorn for that emotionally deep Cancer gooey center.

But, there’s also just how I grew up. I’m a firstborn girl with two narcissists as parents–one of which is mentally ill–who had a younger child who is developmentally delayed. As another friend stated so eloquently, from an old saying: the cobbler’s children have no shoes.

Every day that I’m here in this house, I feel like Uranus is pushing, asking me–“Are you going to take this shit? You think you deserve this? You just want to keep the peace, huh? Can you hold still with this shit? Do you want to?”

No, no, no, no, no.

This is so painful, but it’s not debilitating. It’s just…frustrating, even when I know what part of the purpose is. It’s to toughen me up in the right way.

I shouldn’t be concerned about anyone’s feelings in this house except mine.

Out of frustration, I called out the owner’s lack of responsiveness today. It felt good, but it also was perplexing.

Why is she not taking care of this? Why is she slow with everything?

Why doesn’t she care about me?

And that question echoes back to my birth. It’s a nagging, rhetorical question that I have asked my whole life. And it’s a very sad one that no child, young or old, should ever ask.

I care about me. And that matters, a lot.

Back to the shame and abasement, though…I keep forgetting that I don’t have to stay there, that I can ask for and deserve divine assistance. The protection work I do every day has made me happier, so I am already tapping into it.

But I can do more, and I will.

I just keep forgetting to ask for help. This is a common Capricorn’s plight–helping others without thinking of ourselves enough.

Our own inner children are barefoot.

So that’s my call now–to continue to seek guidance and assistance from on high, as well as from within. To tend to my barefoot inner child. To make her some shoes.

Uranus in Aries, thankfully, isn’t going to last forever. It’ll leave Aries for luxurious, sensual Taurus on May 15th. But until then, I’ll try to learn whatever is left to learn in these last two months before the head-butting ram turns into the resting bull.

I’ll keep pushing back.

 

scooped out

clean up SOM

I’m not sure if I forgot to write last week, or if I didn’t have much to say, or both.

I’ve been writing a lot for work, which is a good thing, but it also short circuits my creative spark.

The only thing on my mind worth to talk about right now is that lingering fear that I’m not doing enough to make my life better.

Heavy weather, heavy shit.

I just talked this out with a friend today, and between that conversation and another conversation we had earlier this week, I feel like I’ve been emotionally scooped out, empty and clean.

My current housing situation is swirling down the drain of time. And that’s a good thing, even if looks scary and feels uncomfortable.

The creepy roommate that I didn’t think I’d write about again got creepier. All last week, as I was going out more and more for a number of reasons, he was always around on the porch, or lingering in the living room watching TV.

The climax was when I went outside to take pictures of the orange blossoms on the in the backyard. The scent is intoxicating, a heady perfume, and it’s amazing that this is the first time I’ve really smelled it.

I turned to go back to inside, and there he is, picking up cigarette butts from outside his open window.

(So this asshole is still smoking in his room. I’m sure I still smell it every once in a while. While looking outside my window one day, I saw smoke curl on the wind. We’re under a red flag advisory so I hope he doesn’t end up causing a fire with his errant ashes.)

When I walked back to the house, I said loudly, “You’re a CREEP!”

After the owner asked me for rent on Sunday, I told her about the stalking and that although I will give her the (undeserved) 30 days notice, living in this house was insane and that I would be looking for a new place to live.

That felt good and right to do. I needed to see myself say, this is insane. I need to leave.

I never heard back from her, just like last time, just like many times.

The effort to handhold someone to a path of decency and respect. Right now, I don’t have the strength. And I’m not sure if that’s conditioning or the conditions.

This old house has triggered so many old wounds I thought I had healed from childhood.

There’s something primal in me that didn’t get her needs met, something non-verbal, something like a newborn’s withering cry, still reverberating inside of me.

And then there’s the obvious parallel of living with someone who has an untreated mental illness, like I did for most of my childhood.

The repetition of being in the same old scary place of not being heeded and heard.

Why don’t I just leave? 

To where? And how?

There are some options that are popping up, and my finances are opening up.

But I’m still a bit stuck here.

I need a little more grease, a more monkey grease, a little more time…

A little more patience with myself, with the process, with the becoming…

I know that I have been called to call in my own power, to inculcate the idea in my being that I do have power, here. Now.

And surprisingly, that has helped.

The creeping has stopped…for now. I’ve had to improve my spiritual hygiene, do things on a daily basis that creates protection.

There are other things–well, really just one thing–forming that I wish I could publicly talking about. It’s been interesting to see how the Universe has been bodying me into this new place, a place that I don’t really want to go, but I am open to explore…

In the meantime, as I’m welcoming this new idea of place, I have been letting go of another idea, another one I really have wanted for over a year.

Or, at the very least, I’m putting it aside.

As things have improved in my life, I’m wondering if this was just a life preserver, not something permanent? I’d like for it to be permanent, but…so much in my life has not been permanent.

If I misunderstood things…well, I can’t take the disappointment right now.

Have you ever hedged your bets like this? Put off taking life-changing risks because the chance of failure is so great, you’re unsure you’ll be able to pick yourself up again? Or if you are able, it’ll take months to put yourself back together again, even with all the king’s horses and all the king’s men?

I’m strong in so many places, but I’m oh so fragile right here.

To have hopes dashed, again, in this desolate, barren place…

…now is not the time for a broken heart (is there really a good time for that? 🤣)

And it’s OK to wait until I’m OK to take the blow of defeat, or even to ride the waves fear and regret.

Although I was drowning in a lake of self-loathing over my loquaciousness, I’ve realized that I’m thinking more clearly lately.

It could just be that not being broke makes me less stressed out. But even when I was making more money, I was still stressed out. So as work satisfaction and financial stability are growing, my home life is soon to follow.

So as I ponder if I’m doing enough to improve my life, it seems easier to do, to examine myself more critically.

So here’s what I’ve come up with.

I haven’t left this house because there aren’t the right options open to me right now. And I’m trying to tie up things from my past which is tying up my money.

And all of that is OK. All of this is about getting to the life that I want.

It seems the climate and locale and people that life will be filled with–all of that is changing.

But there’s still a gap between what I am capable of, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and where I want and need to be.

And honestly, the bridge will be made of miracles.

‘Cause there’s only so much that I can do…

Here’s a song from Sia, from the Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack, “Deer in Headlights.”

It really sums up how I feel, especially since words are failing me now…

 

Hoping for a miracle
I’m not equipped for this
But I can’t move until I choose
I need a crystal ball
I’m falling apart
And I can’t take anymore
Standing at the crossroads
There’s no right answer
No one’s brain to pick
Under the spy
There’s no escaping, I’m a deer caught in headlights

I am hoping for a sign
Something bring me right here
Not in a drink, not in a drift
Please see me through metaphors in blue
I’m holding on for dear life

Ego, I am a slave to you
You’re running the show, my confidence is bruised
Dumbstruck, I’m falling for his act
Down a shame spiral, I am at the news

I am hoping for a sign
Something bring me right here
Not in a drink, not in a drift
Please see me through metaphors in blue
I’m holding on for dear life

Something bring me right here
I am dreaming, I’m in a drift
Please see me through metaphors in blue
I’m holding on for dear life

Spirit, please don’t abandon me

the red brita pitcher

November was a busy month, so much so I wasn’t paying to my normal routines. I was just going on automatic.

Wake up. Eat food. Make coffee. Write, write, write. Sleep. Rinse, repeat.

Last month, with its major boon of work, was a blessing and a curse. I needed the work, but so much of it was tedious. It took me away from NaNoWriMo — and I had to even finish that in a flurry last week.

I was busy for three weeks straight, just writing writing writing.

Then there was a bit of a break and things got back to normal i.e., not so busy I don’t pay attention to the world around me.

One morning a week or so ago, I went to the refrigerator and pulled out my red Brita pitcher of water to make some coffee. I noticed it was full and coated with white, hard water stains.

It suddenly dawned me that I hadn’t been filling this pitcher much at all.

I had a rhythm of filling it probably every other day, and I hadn’t for weeks.

Not by choice, but I live in the same house as a rather mentally unstable old man and another old man that I never see, whom I call the shut-in.

The unstable old man is a chronic smoker and has a horrible sense of boundaries, physical but mostly energetic and emotional.

He is a walking sack of bones and leathery skin. He doesn’t take good care of himself. He’s always having stomach issues, and I assume most of it is self-inflicted. One time, he randomly told me that he was fine. He had had some bad chicken that smelled bad.

Maybe I shouldn’t’ve have cooked it, he said.

Apparently, he must have gotten sick, but between noise-canceling headphones and earplugs at night, I didn’t hear anything. I have heard him get sick since.

These owners brought this man while I was away helping a friend move. Oh well, they get their money.

Meanwhile, I’ve had to be like a den mother without much mothering, because the kitchen was always a wreck. So many conversations about cleanliness. Even now, the kitchen has weird gnats (not fruit flies) that I can’t seem to get rid of.

Months ago, closer to when this unfortunate man arrived in May, the other old man and I had talked him about about getting his own Brita pitcher.

Oh yeah, I’ll go to Walmart and get one for myself, he says.

No pitcher showed up. Of course.

Instead, old plastic half-gallon bottles of milk have been used. Our water has a sulfurous smell. Brita is the minimum to have decent-tasting water. Getting fountain drinks around here can mean great soda soured by tap-water ice.

We had Hurricane Irma roll through in September. I left for Chicago because at this point, after 4 months of living with this man, with his chronic smoker’s cough, and an episode of him smoking in his room and in the house, the horrendous smells that come from his “cooking”–I just needed to get away.

I knew the power was going to go out (shitty power grid), and I didn’t want to be stuck with someone who was a bag of inconsideration and instability.

I told the two old men that they could use my pitcher, just in case that water wasn’t potable.

That must have opened a door in this man’s little crackpot mind…

Even though Hurricane Irma threatened to be devastating, by the time it got to our side of town, it was never that bad besides our home losing power for a week.

I was so glad to not be here for almost two weeks, hanging out with friends and working in Chicago. The ole bag o’ bones was like, and is like, this haunting spirit who drains people of their energy.

The shut-in brought me back from the airport where I learned that this energy vamp had been living in the woods near our neighborhood for twelve years.

12 years.

Maybe a couple of weeks before I noticed my stained pitcher, I had to have yet another conversation about taking the trash out more often–which is why the gnats are there in the first place.

I cleaned the trash can thoroughly. Doesn’t matter, though. The gnats are going to be around for a while until I ask for fumigation, which I will this month.

The other old man has given up on his cleaning duties–OK, he never does, because shut-in. But he doesn’t take out the trash either, because technically it was his time to do it.

Maybe these dudes switch months, I don’t know.

Whatever. Anyway. This conversation about taking the trash in a timely manner turned into a conversation about the nosy neighbor across the street because the woman living in the mother-in-law suite next door had been taken to the hospital via ambulance. Again. And again, we didn’t know about it.

The daughter of this woman had become friends with the nosy  neighbor, so somehow Energy Vamp had talked to her.

He told her, “You’re nosy, aren’t you?”

So yeah, it was actually a sane conversation. It was also revelatory, because he talked about his experiences of social rejection.

  • Apparently, the cops were called on him for allegedly saying the n-word at a local restaurant.
  • When he was riding his bike, someone called the cops, accusing him of theft.
  • Someone else accused him of theft and he spent six months in jail for it.

He went on to talk about how he knows he can get chatty but how people are basically repelled by it.

I could break here and talk about how his mental illness is preventing him from picking up on obvious social cues.

I could also talk about his feelings of oppression may be pointing to psychosis. He’s not working for a reason.

I could also talk about how this reminds me of living with my father during my last year at home–a forced gap year due to my dad’s own unwinding, unquiet mind.

I could talk about how all of this has been clearly triggering me and that I’m repeating some similar behaviors of survival. And hell, those behaviors worked the first time, and they seem to be working again.

But honestly–I’ve worked through most of that. It doesn’t matter to me why this is happening anymore. It is happening. It is draining. And I don’t need it to happen to me anymore.

I had a brief moment of compassion–it might have lasted days–about that, because we all deserve compassion and connection. It helped me heal some things with my father that I didn’t even think needed healing.

Those are big things. I don’t sneeze or sneer at them, at all. One day I may even be grateful for them.

But at the same time, even though in the past as a social worker, I worked with clients just like him, it’s much different living with someone who has a history of homelessness and is on SSDI.

To have my only interactions be about ADLs (activities of daily living) is a fucking drain–and if I even wanted to consider his feelings, then yes, it’s a drain on him, too. This guy is old enough to be my father, and yet, once again, I’m in the parent role.

It’s a fucking drain. It’s infuriating. I deserve better.

It’s a drain to live with someone who cannot have a presence of mind, period. He is not my relative and, even if he was, it is not my job to be his social worker.

So, I avoid him like the emotional plague that he chooses to be.

I’ve lived here going on three years. Although this address has been the most stable address I’ve had while living in Florida, it’s been the most unstable place I’ve lived in.

Somewhat batty owner. A/C outage in August that could have been fixed sooner. Stubborn pestilences. Change of ownership. Lazy owners. Flooding. Coughing roomie #1 (aka bag o’ mucus). Coughing roomie #2 (fka Mr. Cancer Sticks, now known as Energy Vamp). Smoke filling my room from Energy Vamp.

But somehow this red Brita pitcher, plus the weird gnat that keeps going back and forth in my room as I type this, was what woke me up.

And it’s not just waking up from my crazy November of work. And it’s not even that this guy decided to use my water pitcher without asking. I’ve had to talk to him about that, too, repeatedly. It’s not the white dude entitlement that this loser has.

It’s everything. It’s been years of everything, and as I approach the big 4-0, I’ve had enough of “everything.” And I think the Universe has had enough of everything, too.

This chapter of my life is rapidly closing…

But for now, the red Brita pitcher is in my room, and I’m happy about it, even if having to keep stuff in my room so fucked up.

But this is, as an old friend would say, a flea on a flea. It’s already pretty fucked up. It’s almost imperceptible to add on more to this situation, this chronically bad borne out of poverty nightmare situation.

But hey: the less time I have to interact with him, the more I can focus on me.

For now, though–I live in a land of abject absurdity, but I have been entirely too dour to laugh about it–until recently. The laughter has been starting its return which lets me know that I’m strong enough to leave, even if my history has been stained loss, even if that history seems like wildfires trapping me inside of this house.

To mix metaphors, these stains of instability are not permanent, just like those white water stains. They are starting to be wiped away, and my original, impregnable self is being unearthed again.

Work is improving, enough for me to possibly leave here, giving me the foundations of stability that I need so I can be a better adult for myself.

But now the question is, where to? I don’t know. Yet.

I know that Florida is rapidly filling my rearview mirror, but I’m just not sure where I’m headed to next.

And yeah, it’s a little weird, watching the ending credits of the horror movie I’ve been in for years–but also living in the cliffhanger of what happens to this plucky heroine.

But that’s OK, for now…

the greatest wound, the greatest healing

site of greatest wound SOM

The above quote is from a book I found yesterday called The Journey from Abandonment to Healing by Susan Anderson, a psychotherapist who specializes in abandonment, grief, loss, and trauma.

I was looking for something about this topic because I had felt stymied yesterday when I was trying to do this marketing homework for my business–writing an email series for potential and current clients to get to know me better. It was writing about my origin story–basically, how did I get in this biz of writing.

This month hasn’t been that fruitful, despite a lot of effort in connecting with prospects. Lots of “sure things” in terms of projects became very unsure. There’s been a steep and expensive learning curve with having my own business–let alone saying and really embracing that I have my own business.

But the issue wasn’t the lull in business, or even getting out of the lull. It was writing about this journey. It’s been hell, albeit a now stabilized version of hell. I hit a wall of deep shame when I tried to think about how I became a writer, let alone a freelance writer. It’s something I’m not really proud of yet.

As I sat in immobilizing emotional pain, I started to look back on just this year. One pattern that really started to emerge was how I had opened up deeply to so many people, but how most had bailed, mainly to tend their own shadow work and growth (and maybe I was a trigger for that impulse, too). But I took it personally–and still kind of do.

I then just started thinking about my whole adult life and looked at all the dropouts from my life. This was indeed a long-term pattern, and I was tired of it. As whiny and pouty as this may sound, I know I have helped a lot of people in the way I wish I could have been helped. But it really hasn’t been fully returned to me in the ways I needed, in the magnitude that I needed.

I felt, and still feel, that I have a blindspot when it comes to my relationships. It could probably be explained astrologically, or even in some Big Picture way about the journey I’m on and what I’m being prepared for in my future. But to make it even more brass tacks, as someone who has studied psychology formally, as well as someone who’s a bit into the “woo”–this seemed like something I was perpetuating, since it was cyclical. To borrow from a Caedmon’s Call’s song, I had a long line of leavers.

I’ve known about my fear of abandonment for some time and some events still stick out in my mind, like when my mom left me at school as a teenager and I sat there waiting for her for over an hour as dusk started to fall, not knowing why she hadn’t picked me up. And this was in the age before cell phones were widely used. The wondering as darkness fell, although my mom was very apologetic about it. It’s still a feeling of abandonment that I will never forget.

Years ago, I visited now former friends and going out to see the husband play with his band at a show. The wife was standing with me–and then she just wasn’t. I was an out-of-towner. I didn’t really know anyone except some members of the band and my friends, this couple.

After the show, my friend just disappeared and I was just standing there, in this sort of warehouse space, surrounded by people. I was in a panic, trying to look for her. I’m an introvert and I’m not one to just start chatting up random people.

It felt like an inhospitable act, ditching a friend who had come to visit you, not even telling her what she was doing or introducing her to people you knew. She had wanted to talk to other people but decided she didn’t want to bring me along.

I don’t remember what I did, but I did bring it up to my friend. She kind of blew it off–I don’t even remember her giving me an apology. But it was a bit traumatic for me. It was probably also a good sign that our friendship wasn’t as great as I thought. These same friends came to a theme park near me and never even mentioned being in town. Although that’s a pet peeve for me, this friendship was years long.

We had gone to church together, done Bible studies together, worshipped and sang together, had ridden out emotional upheaval (read: panic attacks), had long talks. These were not just friends but companions. Somehow, though, I had missed the signs of unraveling and just kept pushing forward, trying to be the friend I wanted (which apparently meant ignoring the actions of others).

This isn’t the first time I’ve had that happen, where I’ve been blown off and I’ve ignored the signs leading up to it. Another long-time friend, a woman I grew up with in church, blew me off when I decided to visit her for Thanksgiving almost two years ago. I had bought an expensive plane ticket to fly out to where she lived, which I had to cancel, and not in enough time to get a full refund. We had made plans in August and then she said almost near when I was going to fly out–oops, we’re visiting in-laws out of state, sorry. Also, no offer to cover the cancellation fee.

We had a long Facebook conversation about it which ended with her taking a rather hard line: my relationship and my job come first. And that was that. I told her that she knew what she had to do to restore the relationship, and that she’s chosen her path. We haven’t spoken since. Over 20 years of friendships came to an unexpected, but totally predictable, hard pause.

That event didn’t just come up out of the blue. I had been the one initiating a lot of our conversations and visits (she had never visited me). I said as much, that I had been holding a lot of the space for our friendship–and I owned it. That was on me and I should not have been doing that. I deserved reciprocity.

My tenacity and drive may work really well for overcoming obstacles, but it seems to overlook since of wear and tear in a relationship. It makes me wonder how I came to where I am this year, what I was ignoring and avoiding.

With the friends who have taken leave and have somewhat come back in my life, it’s been strange and strained. It’s not the same and it never will be. Something (beautiful and real) got lost in the interim and it’s most likely irretrievable. And I want to know what part I played in the demise of all these friendships.

My transparency, along with my almost chosen ignorance of how the other person really feels about me and the relationship through their actions, have become huge liabilities in terms of how I relate to myself and to others.

So how do I stop this cycle of prematurely undressing emotionally as well as holding onto dead things for too long?

I have to go back to the beginning.

When I think about my mother, I don’t feel anything. That’s another good sign of trauma. And trauma here isn’t about abuse, but about neglect. I may feel more of a motherly bond towards her, as if I’m her mother and I’m looking out for her, than the other way around.

This fear of abandonment goes back to my birth. My entry into the world was a rough one. My mom thinks we both nearly died thanks to a jonesing-for-a-malpractice-suit anesthesiologist. I just don’t think she and I really bonded.

I know when I was four years old, I got lost in a mall or shopping center. That may have been another traumatic incident, but I don’t remember it.

And not to get too psychological, but when a person doesn’t have a bond to their mother, that’s a big ole hill to climb in terms of developing one’s own sense of self. I don’t know if I have anyone to individuate from, or to mourn that they weren’t there. It’s eerie and unsettling, but that’s been my life.

So I am pretty darn sure I have repeated this dynamic by choosing people as friends and lovers who aren’t that interested in intimacy or I push them away somehow if they are. Yesterday, I hit what I hope is that final wall with that Sisyphean journey.

It is so exhausting to chase, to spurn and be spurned, to yearn and wonder, to leave and to be left.

Desperation is never an attractant.

I got all this from some homework that I didn’t feel ready to do (and still haven’t done– yet).

This is also to say: a trigger can be an invitation to healing, not something to avoid. I RSVPed yes yesterday and googled about abandonment and found Susan Anderson. And now I’m reading her book.

Today, I woke up to overcast skies, but later on in the morning, the skies became brilliantly clear. That transformation is how I feel about dealing with this core wound and my hope that it can be healed. There’s an alarming and amusing alacrity I have about it–like this time, I really am gonna get this right.

I’m sure it’s been hijacking my happiness, causing my business to be a bit halted, and has prevented me from being truly successful. It’s like being stuck in survival mode, no matter what the circumstances are. That is truly exhausting and not really living.

So as I heal, I will focus on the friends who aren’t leaving, and really work on my emotional self-reliance–and I won’t resent having to re-create it.

As Susan Anderson says in her book, a lot of our lives are lived alone. I don’t mean that in some dystopian, post-modern way. Even in community, we still have our own individual lives and journeys.

Through all of my harrowing circumstances, I’ve become a highly resilient person, but yesterday reminded me that I have to learn new, healthier ways of being, and loving, myself.

Coping mechanisms are just that–for coping. For thriving, we have to learn how to find our inner grit, to loosen the grip of codependence, and be fully ourselves as whole and healthy, interdependent people.

I don’t have to feel doomed with existential loneliness. I can now choose to learn differently so I can be a better friend to myself and others.

It’s time for this long line of leavers to end. It’s time for me, and for others to stick around.

sad songs really say so much

sad songs SOM

As a Cancer moon, I have been noticing lately how I’ve gotten a little addicted to sad songs. I’m not too much into the “name it and claim it” crowd, since that is a crowd I have been desperately trying to get away from. But I do believe words have power (hello? I’m a writer). I didn’t want to start some incantation of listening to sad songs.

This same predilection for possibly enjoying the sadness probably started in grad school, which was really difficult for multiple reasons. I was writing about my past, dealing with rejection, and feeling altogether misunderstood. I started watching kdramas as a way to feel emotion about someone else’s deeply emotional stories. Now, I don’t feel like I have the emotional space to watch them.

Music has been slowly making its way back into my life, although not yet in the creative sense. I was feeling a little uninspired about what’s been out there. And, as Mercury Retrograde has been showing its shadow since last Monday, I’ve been in some major nostalgia. I was remember how Belle & Sebastian meant and maybe still means a lot to my ex’s best friend. That’s still unfortunately my first memory of the Scottish band, even though I liked them way before I had met the ex and his friend.

Enough about them, though. I have been addicted to the song, “Winterbreak” by MUNA, and it was really upsetting me how much I love it, especially the chorus.

Oh, baby I think we both know
This is a love that we won’t get right
Still if you said that you wanted
I know I’ll always have one more try

I’ll say this much: there’s a situation that I feel where these lyrics may be true. But I’m not sure if I’m just in love with the song, or am also in love with the lyrics of the song that seem to sing my heart’s confusion and angst. I do know it relates to how I see my mother.

But, as Elton John sings, these songs are doing something for me.

Turn ’em on, turn ’em on
Turn on those sad songs
When all hope is gone
Why don’t you tune in and turn them on

They reach into your room, oh oh oh
Just feel their gentle touch (gentle touch)
When all hope is gone
Sad songs say so much

My fear of conjuring up the broken heart that hasn’t yet arrived may be premature. Yet, in a sense, as I wait for answers, my heart is already broken. Whatever was to take form as I wanted it to and when I wanted to has yet to be.

There’s a little sorrow when things don’t work out when and how you want them to. It doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. It may mean that I’ve been dodging my disappointment in a way that music is not allowing me to. It’s nudging me to be a little braver with my sadness, and maybe to usher in some healing, too.

Right now, my efforts in remaining positive feel like slowly deflating balloons.

Maybe it’s OK to let them pop completely…

Sometimes, there’s a little comfort and self-protection when you think the worst has come. At least you can plan for how you feel and how to move on. It seems a lot riskier to plan for joy, to plan for sunny days, for good weather.

What if you get caught in the rain of your disappointments?

This reminds me of a beautiful quote from Stephen Colbert.

Cynicism is not wisdom. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but cynicism is a self-imposed blindness. You put the blinders on yourself to protect yourself from a world that you think might hurt you or disappoint you. Be a fool. Believe things will be good. Better to be hurt.

How can I be more foolish? How can you?

In the meantime, as we gauge whether we should bring our sunglasses or our umbrellas, here’s a playlist of the songs I’ve been obsessed with. Some of these songs may not be really sad in the traditional sense, but I hope they bring you some comfort on some blissfully sad day.

coda

let go with love SOM

I have tweeted about my relationship with my mother before. I believed I deleted another thread from Easter when I realized that she was a narcissistic mother, but I did blog about it.

Maybe it’s through American pop culture, but I really wanted my mother to fight for me, for us–more than she has.

Our “ending” has been a little anti-climatic. I didn’t cry when I spoke to her this past week. I felt so in control, like a doctor giving a grave diagnosis and giving options to her patient.

As I summarized nearly 40 years of wanting and waiting, I had compassion for myself as I didn’t hear the responses I wanted: remorse; contrition; sadness.

I’m still wrestling with this a little bit, because this–waiting for her to show up emotionally–is at the heart of what has gone down between us for decades. What’s worse than hatred is apathy.

I can’t make her care about me in the way that I need. Her obstinacy to walking to the middle where reconciliation and restoration reside and flourish.

She only sees this as a right or wrong issue. The way she sees it is that she is emotionally available and she’s unwilling to change her behavior. It takes two, she said. Apparently, I’m still not doing enough. Enough of what? I don’t know.

You know that Rumi quote about meeting in that field beyond right and wrong? That’s where I am, but she decided not to meet me there.

My conversation with her last Thursday was really a coda to a swan song that started before I was born, where I was the scapegoat for the loss of her nursing career. By the way–if your mother or father blames you for ruining their lives, that’s a classic narcissist move.

What’s weird for me is how not-sad I feel. I feel whole and complete. I’m relieved. I don’t have to keep trying, like Capricorns are wont to do. We won’t give up until…is there an until, actually? Do we ever give up? That’s one of the dark sides of being stubborn sea goats. We need the discernment to know when to keep going and when to find a new path.

Any fires of sadness, grief, and anger were snuffed out by depriving it of the oxygen of my desire. Yet, I’m still sitting here, looking at the smoke rise to the heavens as she’s already left our campfire site.

So, that’s it.

One thing I’ve realized when relationships end, or at least drastically change course, is that I grieve the ending before it actually comes. So that conversation I had with my mother–she didn’t hear anything new except that I was done trying to make this work. We had been here before, many times.

I still love and care about her, as I told her twice on the phone.

I never heard those words back.

Right now, I feel unburdened. Clear. Clean. A gaping wound has finally sealed and healed. So, I’m grateful, because those kind of wounds tend to define a person until they are healed. Mother wounds may be some of the most stubborn to heal until you start to identify with you you are now.

When you learn how to be on your own side and be a good mother to yourself, the pain lessens and subsides. When you learn not to identify with the societal expectations of nuclear families and see yourself as someone who shouldn’t be ashamed but instead proud of having survived a loveless relationship, that’s the growth. That’s the “win” of being an adult child of a narcissistic parent.

Sadly, because we were never emotionally close, I don’t miss that much. I miss would might have been, what should have been.

That’s the only that may break me–knowing what I deserved vs. what I actually received. But what’s important is that I did deserve and will always deserve a mother who is openly proud of me, openly loves and supports me, is openly affectionate with me. I don’t have to beg for it. I don’t even need to ask for it.

Every child deserves to have parents who truly care about them without having to debase themselves to receive love. That is the tacit agreement parents and children make when children are brought into the world. Some of us are lucky to have that agreement to remain intact, while others of us have to recover from these agreements breaking.

And you can recover. Recovery–a new path to wholeness–is yours and waiting for you.

Now I can move on. I know the toxicity of this relationship has touched every relationship I have been in. Now I look forward to creating healthier relationships with people that are built on trust, reciprocity, respect, a genuine liking of each other, and, most of all, real love.

If you have a narcissistic parent, check out narcissisticmother.com. Also, this podcast from Terri Cole is what started me on this last leg of my healing journey regarding my mother.

a writer’s back

love yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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