“I’m lighting the long way home”

sia som

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I feel wasted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe I should have seen these changes all along…

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

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

I’m happy about that. Very.

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

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

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


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

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

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

So where is the parade and trophy and applause?

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

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

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

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

My people are out there; they really are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I deserve friends who are trustworthy and honest with themselves.

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

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

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

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

It’s getting pretty old.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Maybe I’m not stuck at all.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

But this still won’t be that cheery…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I need to use this forced solitude to my advantage.

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

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

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

My hopes are indefatigable.


But right–that American ending that I promised.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Here’s the chorus:

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

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


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remembering where I’m headed

It’s Virgo season, which means a lot of us are examining and scrutinizing the details of our lives, seeing where we can enhance and improve.

And sometimes, that can be quite annoying without the right perspective.

Personally, I had a very needed reminder from the full moon in Cancer, New Year’s Day, 2017, of who I’ve become and where I’m headed.

And I only thought of this because I got a little sidetracked in a brief moment of sadness and longing.

This morning, I childhood friend of mine had posted this beautiful picture of a frittata that she had made for her and one of her best friends for her bachelorette getaway. This childhood friend is a newlywed herself.

First of all, she’s a great cook (and has her sun in Cancer), but she’s also just a great nurturing friend–one that I had to leave when we moved back when I was eight years old.

So seeing her Instagram post doubly stung. We’d never be that close because I had moved. But also, someone was getting married. Usually, I don’t care about people getting married. I had been pretty OK with being a singleton lately.

But I think the combo of a lovely family friend and her closer friend and the early morning made me more vulnerable and fragile than usual.

Back to last year…I had been frustrated on my practically non-existent dating life, but I had this revelation about where I had been for most of my life. I had been a staunch evangelical and if I had settled down and married years ago, I’d be looking at some divorce.

It’s almost as if the Universe knew I’d be someone else entirely different–someone much more like myself.

I know this blog has been about that very transition, from evangelical to, I guess, spiritualist. But it’s been a very Virgo time–it’s been about the minutia and details of what’s been going on.

Specificity is great for story, but then what is the bigger story being told here?

So after that reflex of pain that I had looking on Instagram, I had to remind myself of who I am now and what the real story is about.

Yes, most of my suffering has been financial. This month in particular is a trigger. Four years ago, I was sent packing after not being able to pay rent and losing my job. I went on a month-long adventure across the metro area via airbnb.

Sidenote: I started this blog right before I had to leave, so it’s been a record of meandering and instability. You could say that all these troubles have been an initiation.

Although I’m mostly healed from that experience of leaving a crazy home and being quasi-homeless, it’s not something I want to go through again.

This year is the first year where I even remembered that terrible time. And it’s also the first time in years that I’ve really felt unsettled and, frankly, scared of what’s going to happen to me.

At the same time, this blog hasn’t just been about all the suffering over my misfortune, heartache, and betrayals. It’s been about:

growth

And as I said last time, things are better, but it’s still really scary. I got a call today that I didn’t answer about a bill that’s past due. It put me in the worst mood, like it 2014 again, except I’m carless. So it took a lot–although it was really just listening to music–to not spiral into a catastrophizing fit.

And sometimes, spiraling is a way to cope. But it’s not a coping mechanism that was helping me today.

The dark fantasy: I will be homeless and ruined.

The stark reality: the bill will probably get paid this week and in the next two weeks, things will be stable again.

And here’s the thing about poverty–it limits your focus and your gaze. You’re reduced to worrying about things that may never happen, having Sophie’s choices over bills and your wellbeing, and being a walking a ledger sheet of money coming in and going out.

So yeah, I have a lot of compassion for myself here. Even when I look at this blog, I see the uncarryable weight of not having enough money and not having local people around to support me. And I’ve seen how I keep fighting to not have this myopic view, even if I sound terribly whiny and bratty.

Well, fuck it–I don’t care anymore about how I sound or how I may seem to others. This is my journey, my fight, my life. And I thank you for bearing witness to it, week after week.

But what’s beyond all this? *makes wild gesticulations*

If I don’t spiritually bypass or somehow make sense all the terrible shit I’ve been through, I can simply say that I really am where I need to be, as a complete person.

I can say that the things I want and need–I may not be fully ready for them.

Yes, I want to have a bunch of girlfriends to celebrate an upcoming wedding with, but if I really had to be honest with myself, I’ve been transformed.

The woman who left to go on a journey of housing instability is now someone who is even more intentional about creating what she wants. She is someone who isn’t going to wait for circumstances to be right to start following my bliss.

And that took some big disappointments for me to get here.

So yeah, I have these major goals: I want to move out of state, grow my business, find my tribe, find my person, and explore the world. But right now, the way hasn’t been opened yet…although I can see a sliver of light on the darkened horizon…a way will be shown for those desires to come to fruition.

But then there’s an even bigger story: the journey of becoming and unfolding who I am. I pulled this card in a read from the Energy Oracle Card deck by Sandra Anne Taylor:

screenshot_20180909-121812_energy8828607193942416168.jpg

And this card signifies the spiritual journey I’m on. I’m going in the right direction and this place–the garden and the temple–this is where I’m headed. The lights are the spiritual support I have here on earth and beyond the veil.

The winding path has been what I’ve been focused on for so long, every little pebble and brick and weed growing in the cracks. But really, if I only lifted my head once in a while, I’d see where I was going–and how beautiful it is.

Yes, life is about the journey, not the destination. And I have been so tired of thinking about my soul’s growth–but this could also be about positioning.

That can be so tough to hear when you’re in a holding pattern. The stuckness may not be even a consequence of your actions.

It really could be that you’re on the right path. That yes, it’ll all make sense later.

Even though seeing a pretty egg dish post made me sad about where I am right now, it doesn’t mean I don’t deserve that dish, a friend to make that dish, or a celebration where that dish would be made.

It just means that if I’m here, then I’m supposed to be here.

And again–this can be, and for me has been, so hard to stomach and accept, but even five years ago, if I could see where I would be now–talking to you about astrology and tarot, about my soul’s growth, about oracle cards, about telepathy and kinds of connections with others, about all the synchronicities I see and keep seeing…there’s no way I could have known that this would happen–especially because of what I had gone through.

I had only reached out to other spiritual people–people who worked with crystals and angels and oracle cards–because I desperately needed help.

But truly–this life is what I wanted and needed.

Even though there’s a very bitter struggle just to support myself, I’m dwelling in this lush garden of me. Right now, there’s nothing and no one distracting me from hearing myself.

I’m creating businesses from practically nothing.

the magician

I still struggle to be grateful for it all because I feel like there could be so much more that I could be doing or being as a person.

One day, I’ll learn that surrender is so much easier than resistance.

But I was given a lot to heal from and sort through, including how I was raised. It never ceases to amaze me how much more parental stuff I have to work through because it’s warping how I see myself and the world. That’s part of the winding path I’m on.

So sure, where I’m headed are those goals I previously mentioned. Great goals, beautiful goals. But I’m also headed to a place where I can be more myself–more myself in ways I didn’t even know was possible or could ever even imagine.

I feel like I’m just babbling right now, but if I could sum up how I feel about it all, it’d be this in this fortune:

Everything serves to further

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My 10 Least Popular Posts

hope work SOM

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

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

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

Postscript

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This time, I went and it was pleasant.

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

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

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

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

That sustained effort takes a little bit of hope.

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

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

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

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This Is My Time

miracles SOM

This morning, the thought came to me: this is my time. I’ve waited long enough to live the life that I want.

I’m fed up.

The last straw was extending grace and compassion to the racist, actively psychotic, and downright selfish and cruel tenant that rents a room next to mine. His current and perpetual sins are that he probably has attracted rats to this house (he’s nicer to the stray cat that he leaves food out for) and continuously smokes in his room.

I had hoped when he had a psychotic break in January and cursed me out that he would voluntarily hospitalize him–but, he didn’t. In fact, he became much worse afterward, mainly with the smoking.

And I’m really mad at the owners of this home. They keep giving themselves slack for being non-confrontational about their own home.

“I’m learning as a I go,” I heard in April.

“This is uncharted territory,” I heard last week.

I have been complaining about this guy since last fall.

So when do you actually learn how to manage a property and the people living there? They bought this place in October 2015.

Thankfully, after much shaming and cajoling on my part, the owners have terminated the lease of the human ashtray. He will be leaving by the end of the month.

I’m fed up because my act of kindness was weaponized as cruelty and neglect towards me. I really thought I had found the middle.

What I found was that I was kind of trapped in a circle of betrayal.

Well, wake-up call received.

And the call said: indiscriminate grace can actually make things worse for everyone.

Be brave, be wise.

Let people learn the lessons they need to learn on their own.

Sometimes, suffering can’t be avoided.

But this propensity started long ago, probably as soon as my brother was born. I’ve often stepped aside for others to be first, while I tended to others and neglected myself.

My brother has developmental delays. And I, being the gifted and older child, was relied upon to be OK. I didn’t need to be as fussed over or given as much attention. I had an oddly autonomous yet very restricted life.

My parents didn’t even do that great with my brother, but since he was seen as the problem, he automatically got more of the attention.

This happens often.

I’m glad that my brother is the way he is–even with his emotional challenges now, he has a very pure, loving heart. Yet my parents really didn’t protect or guide him as much as they could because they are narcissists. It’s heartbreaking, because you can see how their selfishness affected him, decades later.

And this narcissism really affected me.

A lot of this is cultural, as the eldest daughter of Ghanaian parents. I didn’t even know that being the third parent or second wife was really a cultural expectation. And why would I? I was born and raised in America, not in Ghana.

As a kid and teen, I really didn’t get to fully be…a kid, myself. There were a lot of opportunities that were either delayed or denied, and there were no good reasons for it.

I’m still trying to deal with those delays and denials now, over two decades later. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about them here, but the six that come to mind are:

  1. Starting piano lessons. I asked for four years, starting at age 8.
  2. Taking a trip to New Orleans with the French Club at school.
  3. Taking a trip to Paris with the French Club.
  4. Ending piano lessons after 4 years because my father thought I wasn’t serious enough (I had just one my first paying competition the day he axed my lessons).
  5. Not going to a slumber party where all my friends from church were. I don’t think I’ve actually been to a slumber party.
  6. Taking a missions trip with my youth group, right before our beloved youth pastor was going to leave for another church (my mom decided to go to Ghana for the first time, and it was assumed I’d stay home and be the lady of the house (which I really didn’t need to do).

I hate how whiny this sounds–and whether you think this sounds whiny, I don’t care about that much at all.

It’s more that even though I know why most of this happened–narcissistic parents, a father falling further into the depths of untreated bipolar disorder, and unspoken cultural expectations–it’s really hard to let this and other things go.

It wasn’t that my parents couldn’t afford any of this stuff. My dad was an ER doctor. It’s just that they simply withheld these things, things that would have enriched my life.

And this is all relative, too, because you could be reading this and not have had access to these opportunities like it I did. I definitely don’t want this to sound like poor little upper-middle-class girl. It’s what the denials and delays represented.

I’ve already told my parents multiple times how I felt about their parenting job. Of course, they weren’t thrilled to hear my side of things. They were defensive. I’m alive, educated, had a roof over my head, clothes on my back–mission accomplished! They only could see that they didn’t give me as much attention as they gave to my brother.

I told my mom recently that she didn’t really give much attention to my emotional life as a kid and she really was taken aback by that.  She did not agree at all.

But I don’t really have anything to prove to them any longer. My truth is my truth. Whether they agree with it or not doesn’t matter to me anymore.

So, I’m not bitter. Anymore. Hours of therapy and prayer…and just, time…have done the work.

I’m just sad.

I was a really good kid. I never really got into trouble, did well in school. But you couldn’t tell the way my parents treated me. Hypercritical, withdrawing, yet relying on me to hear about their lives while never asking about mine.

Whether I was good or bad really was about whether I inconvenienced my family or not. I got no praise for the good, and got a lot of attention for the bad. I’m lucky that I wasn’t so desperate for attention, that I just started getting into trouble to get attention. I never wanted them to just interact with me because something was wrong.

Although they gave me many gifts, such as my intelligence and musical acumen, their obsession with blind obedience didn’t really help me to be an independent person. I had to learn independence in a piecemeal way–and it’s something I’m still learning, especially when it comes to what I can change and cannot change in my life.

All these events created grooves into my life, grooves where I actually kept putting other people first, like with this terrible creep tenant.

And it really pisses me off. I know this stuff, but it’s so hard to get out of the groove of self-abandonment.

These imprints are working on me on so many levels. There’s a pallor of grief that’s hard to wipe away. And the grief is over who I could have been if my parents hadn’t been so caught up in their own lives. I had to climb over extra obstacles to get to some semblance of sanity.

And then, as I tried to escape them, I dragged all this extra weight into college–which I had to wait an extra year for because my father was even more mentally ill–which broke me while I was struggling to pay for college.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression a couple of months after I had turned 21. all those delays and denials finally caught up to me.

Then waiting for 3 years to go back to college after I couldn’t pay. A miracle of debt forgiveness got me back in and I graduated at 26.

Then, my life continued to center around the church. I was putting up with shitty, probably racist friends in the name of community and Christ.

Little did I know that Jesus didn’t need me to do that kind of martyrdom work.

You know, maybe the greater good includes me, too?

There’s been a lot that’s been out of my control and I’ve just had to roll with it, and learning how to be flexible and accommodating is a gift–I’m grateful that it’s a part of my resilience arsenal.

But then there’s the time when you’re growing older and there are a lot more things under your control, where you’re not at the mercy of circumstance, where you don’t have to be reactive–but proactive.

I’m not under the thumb of my parents anymore.

And I can tell you, as I’ve probably said before here, that there have been a lot of repetitive events and lessons–especially in this house, mainly passivity and enabling bad behavior.

So I’m 40 now. When is all of this going to be over, then?

I’m pretty sure I’ve learned the lessons I need to learn here in Florida, right?

Can I declare that today, I will no longer put up with people’s selfishness and stick up for myself the way I’ve stuck up for other people?

I can and I will.

There’s so much of my life where I have been trying to catch up to where I should have been years ago. And if there are any little burps of anger from the past that come up, it’s around how my youth wasted on people I don’t even give a fuck about anymore and probably never gave a fuck about me.

So much wasted time and energy–and in the name of what?

There are all these Christian and spiritual platitudes about being selfless and putting others first, and, I don’t care if this sounds haughty–I was going to do that anyway.

I didn’t need some higher power telling me to be kind to others. I see the importance of kindness and selflessness.

But that innate propensity has been exploited for years and years, and I’m super big mad about it.

Also, I’m really hurt at these good intentions here in this house have backfired and made my life worse. I put someone utterly vile and contemptuous, just because he is mentally ill, first.

That was really fucking stupid.

And I didn’t do that to be a martyr or to become a saint or to get any praise or even to feel good about myself.

I did it because I thought it was the right thing to do.

But the right thing to do from now on is to be a lot choosier about who I put first–which, for now, will be me.

It’s been too long. So much waiting for my life to begin, to catch my breath, to create life, to expand outside of these four smoke-filled walls.

Maybe circumstantially, I still have to ride these waves that I can’t control.

But spiritually and energetically, today I can bring the pendulum of love in my life back to center.

I can draw a line with indelible marker and say here, look, take notice, remember, beware: I’m not putting up with shitty people or the cruel mistreatment of others any longer. They can find their own redemption on their own journeys–without me.

My journey is to be extra kind and gracious to myself–just like how I’ve been to others and have barely received it in return.

My journey is to make it up to that younger woman, who was full of promise and wonder and fire and warmth, to get back into music again, to go to Paris, to go to New Orleans again, to find friends that aren’t fickle or fairweather.

To not be someone’s extra parent or spouse. To really be my own person.

My journey is to be even more zealous with the healing of my past.

It pains me to keep bringing up old shit. I don’t want to be defined as the girl who was deprived and neglected.

I want to be the woman who was able to overcome all those things and really live, really love–even if she was barely taught how. And that is miraculous. I want to revel and dance in the glory of that bright and shining miracle…of me.

The time of enduring and waiting and overlooking and second-guessing and hoping and merely holding on is coming to a quick close.

Even if I have to will it to end, it will end.

This is my time. This is my time to embrace how whole I’ve been this whole time. And no one is going to get in the way of my joy and fulfillment ever again.

This is my time.

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! 💘

 

Five Ways to Get from Here to There

harmony and peace SOM

I’ve written a lot in the past week, and if you’re a patron of my blog, then you read about the adventure I took last week. That’s all to say, I’m a little written out (and yet, I’m sure I’ll find the words for this week’s blog post!).

The original goal of this blog was to chronicle all the supernatural and spiritual phenomena that happens to me. That would have been a daily blog, honestly–it’s been too much to keep up with. And I feel very fortunate to say that. I was telling a friend the other day that I’ve gotten used to daily signs, so I’d be afraid if I suddenly wasn’t getting any signs.

One thing I’ve been learning while I’ve been seemingly stuck in a house with two older white men who are not in the best health, mentally or otherwise, is how to healthily detach from unhealthy situations.

That wasn’t really the goal, though.

Usually, my goal in a tough circumstance, is to get out of it ASAP. I think that’s how most people are. But a lot of times, we can’t, for whatever reasons.

A lot of times, we’re in transition from an undesirable place to a more desirable place.

So what should you do while you make this journey from here to there?

The very first thing to do is to accept where you’re at. And maybe this is where the somewhat annoying and inaccurate adage, “Suffering is optional” actually makes sense.

So much of life is really undefined, and lived on the way to somewhere. We get a glimpse ahead, and that’s about it. Only a step or two is illuminated ahead.

As you journey through life, trying to get to a more palatable place, there’s a point that complaining about where you’re currently at only drains and further depresses you. It only makes you feel more stuck.

Wishing you were somewhere else doesn’t get you to somewhere else any quicker.

Accepting where you’re at is also a way to assess things more rationally.

Sometimes acceptance involves a lot of investigation.

Have I done all I can within these circumstances? Are these barriers systemic? Is it worth the energy to pursue this path?

While I was away, I had a convo with my friend about my housing situation, and it just dawned on me how white culture of keeping up appearances is why things haven’t changed around here, after months of complaints.

The landlady and the other guy I call the shut-in–they both have told me that they want the creep gone. But if you saw their interactions with him, you’d never know it. They are chipper and cheerful, accommodating and welcoming.

Ultimately, they enable someone who is a narcissist, with poor boundaries and entitlement issues, actively psychotic, and, ultimately–just an unkind and selfish person.

So really, that’s really something I can’t fight against–at least by myself. Really, the only remedy is to leave–which is exactly what I was working on last week, and for the past few months.

Once you accept where you’re at, then you can make plans for change.

Now that you have a better sense of where you’re at, what you’re capable of, what your resources are, then planning for change is a lot easier. But even then, there could be bigger things going on than you can see or perceive.

Like, you know…your spiritual growth. No, really.

Financially, I always have just enough to stay here and pay my bills. It’s madness, because my expenses are very low. Like I know how to make money…or so I thought.

I don’t want to get into the woo-woo/metaphysics about why I’m a bit stuck, because that involves, in my opinion, a lot of self-blame. And I think a lot of it just doesn’t take into consideration societal influences. It assumes a lot of white privilege.

Some of the stuckness has happened because that freelancing is hard, period. I keep kind of saying this plaintively (it’s pretty whiny), that I didn’t sign up for the freelance life. But I’ve realized that whether I signed up for it or not, I need to start treating it as something that isn’t going to go away for a while.

So I may as well make the best of it.

Making the best of it involves ridding myself of ignorance. Freelancing is a business. I have my own business now. So I’ve been learning the business side more in the past few weeks. I’ve had to be patient with myself because I want to rush ahead and get to the better place–not only because I learn quickly, but because–well, poverty sucks.

And some of it is just bad luck–I lost a major client a few weeks ago, and things haven’t improved since then, which brings me back to the first point: freelancing is hard.

And there’s just the obvious barriers that I don’t even think about–race and gender. I don’t think about them much at all since they aren’t things I can change. But I know they play into this mess a lot.

Because of the stuckness and a real lack of momentum, I’ve had to dig deep spiritually. I hate to use the cliché, “grow where you’re planted,” but…ta da, that’s me.

I still don’t feel like I’ve gotten where I need to be spiritually. I’m closer, though…

When you accept where you’re at, you’re better able to see what you can push back against and what you need to work around.

When I came back from my adventure last week, I had already discovered that all my clothes reeked of cigarette smoke, so I wasn’t surprised that my room smelled terribly of cigarette smoke. It’s something I will eventually mention to this lazy landlady.

I was so disgusted that I also decided to investigate and see if legal action was an option. And as I had suspected, really, it’d be so much cheaper and easier to move.

Through all of that, I didn’t feel as anxious as I usually would. Even though absolutely nothing has changed circumstantially, I have some deep, (hopefully) lasting peace.

So when things don’t change circumstantially, after taking more traditional courses of actions, usually that means there’s something bigger here to learn or grow in/through/beyond. 

I’m not happy to be here, nor am I happy to learn these lessons in this way. But at the very least, knowing that there’s something bigger and better happening here, it makes it easier to not GAF about whatever the creep is doing or not doing.

It’s easier to not take this personally. It’s easier to focus on what makes me happy, right now.

And then it’s easier to use the energy I’d use fretting and internally raging to focus on where I want to go next.

As I make that shift in my perspective, I’m really tired emotionally. And I have to figure out what will fill me back up. I caught up TV shows like The Good Fight and The Americans. I haven’t had much space for emotionally intense dramas. TV really isn’t an escape when it only reminds you how hard your own life is.

It’s also shifting focus, from survival mode to…”You know what? I am capable of leaving here, with my sanity and dignity in tact.”

And that takes time.

Even what I’m listing out here, I wouldn’t call it a linear process. Acceptance is not a one-shot deal. It’s a daily practice. Assessing your situation happens on a continual basis.

Even if you’re in some unbearable holding pattern, you have to have faith that things will change. Whether it’s by your own hand, or divine intervention (it’s usually a combination of the two), change is coming.

Change is always coming.

It’s hard to keep the faith when you feel emotionally tapped, but you have to start to look at what’s going on around you. There are signs.

For example, the more spiritual practices that I do, it seemed like things actually got worse here. The worsening wasn’t some sign to stop doing what I was doing. To me, it was a sign to keep going.

It’s like in a video game, when you’re trying to beat the boss, and right before he dies, he gets really desperate and will try everything to stop you from beating him. It can be almost wildly dangerous right before they are beaten.

Things got worse here when I asserted boundaries. They continued to worsen as I kept asserting my boundaries.

But I’m not going to stop. Having healthy boundaries is great and necessary.

And that part, to me, is done. There’s not much else that is going to change unless the creep decides to leave out of his own free will.

There’s no more reason to push, to be attached to these people.

Now I have to look forward.

Maybe the deliverance will be conventional–I’ll find a client that pays more than the former one. Or I’ll find a new full-time job.

Or maybe it’ll be unconventional. I’ll get an invitation to do something or to go somewhere.

Or it could a mix of both. Who knows?

What helps here is to get curious about what happens next.

Doom and despair can leave you feeling like the road stretched out before you never ends, never changes. It’s the seemingly never-ending hellscape scenery.

But, it’s not really true. And this isn’t even me talking about having some gratitude exercise or appreciate every good thing in life.

Sometimes, we just don’t have the space for that. So, maybe, you can just think: I wonder how tomorrow will be different. Who will I talk to? What will I learn? What will I experience?

This practice of curiosity has kept me alive. As a writer, I see myself in this story, as the main character, and I want to know what happens next to me.

When will she finally get out of this house? What job lead is going to pan out? Will she ever get her HEA? Who is she going to meet this year?

How will she be different a month from now? Six months? A year? Five years?

I keep picturing myself like some spiritual Houdini, like I’ve put myself in a straitjacket, hung myself upside down, in a water tank. The water is rising and I’m just wriggling, wriggling, wriggling, trying to free myself.

No pressure. ALL PRESSURE.

So. I’m here, with three people, including the grandmother who lives in the mother-in-law suite next door.

They are all living the twilight of their lives. Probably the next place they will live is in a nursing home…or hospice.

And that’s when I feel the doom and the hopelessness starting to rise. It’s scary to think that nothing will change, that I will be stuck here in this de facto old folks’ home, barely scraping by. They are so much closer to the end of it all. And I feel like I just started, at age 40.

Spiritually, I feel like I have endured and fought so much fucking nonsense to get to this space of…I get it. I finally get it.

I know what matters to me. I know what I’m about. I know what kind of people I want around me. I know what I’d want my family to look like. I know where I want to live and grow and thrive.  I know how to keep better boundaries.

I know. I know. I know. And life is so short. I feel like I’ve wasted so much time…waiting, fighting, longing…

And I’m ready to apply this knowledge, to leave what so many call “God’s Waiting Room.”

My time has not yet come.

So sometimes, the suffering comes from feeling like there is so much more out there for me, and that these old folks are somehow in the way of my happiness.

It’s so easy to be angry, hurt, and sad–for very practical reasons. This housing situation is frighteningly and unreasonably absurd.

But then again, it’s also just the way it is. I can accept and even embrace the absurdity of living with someone who looks like the grim reaper.

Ultimately, the real question is this: do I want to give these people any power over me?

And the real answer is: no.

Eventually, I just have to say, and repeatedly say to myself, these people don’t matter, at all. What matters is me and my happiness.

The only harmony and peace found here will be within my own heart.

And that journey, even before I leave here, is the most important one I need to take right now.

So acceptance, assessment, allowing growth, planning, and curiosity…those are the things that are finally sustaining me as I journey to a better place. And I hope they will sustain you, as you travel from here to there.

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!  💘