2017: a return to myself

real generosity SOM

So this year was…a lot of things.

Trying to wrap my head around all the things I learned and did and endured and gained and lost. So many things.

So, I’ll just focus on the one thing I’m really glad is happening: being me again.

I’ve tweeted about this, so if you follow me on twitter, this will be a little repetitive.

It’s been a stressful year to say the least, mainly financial. And I’m exhausted from talking about it, let alone living it.

 

Being so poor and so obsessed with income really made me miserable and fucking humorless. I remember being in college and being so hilarious even as my family was falling apart and I was drowning in the darkness of clinical depression.

It was almost to mock the horrors going on in my life.

Fast forward 19 years and this year was so serious and so unfunny. It’s been a blur of activity and loss.

The one event that I really remember starting the shift that was someone tweeting an encouraging to me when I desperately needed it.

I was annoyed and tired over having my room flood. I was displaced to this other house they owned for two weeks. The owners promised me having rent be reduced for my trouble. I unfortunately didn’t have renters’ insurance (like I do now).

Here was the annoying rub: the conversation at the first of the month had a different message than I had had the previous month.

I needed to pay full rent. The reason was I didn’t live elsewhere and I had prevented them from renting the room–a room they offered to give me.

I had gotten about $60 bucks off or something like that. I was so pissed.

So I had tweeted out this grown over an astrological transit (“Ugh” was all I said), and they tweeted as if they exactly knew how the old me would want to hear it: pro-me and definitely, and defiantly, anti-stupid idiots.

That moment was a little bit like looking in the mirror of the plucky girl I used to be back in college. I needed that grit, with that steely edge of sardonic humor, which had all served me so well during my 20s.

For that moment, I’ll forever be grateful because it felt like a little bit of light was shoved into this box of darkness I was sitting in.

It was so great to have someone be on my side, and I didn’t have to explain anything.

Also this year, I also started being around friends with Aquarians, or people had strong Aquarian energy–like the two best friends I had in college.

I started laughing my ass off. I started laughing over stupid shit, like I used to.

And then, just this past month, I saw this woman, laughing crying over her life:

This would be me and my Aquarian best friend in college. I started laughing crying, too. We would call it “The Place” where we would just be kind of crazy and silly–basically in hysterics.

Watching that video, I knew that I was mostly back.

In between the time I had my room flood on January 30th and now, I’ve been able to have a sort of OK business for myself, and I have friends that I regularly talk to now. They may be geographically far away, but they exist, and we support each other–Aquarians and Pisceans, just like college.

The children of winter have kept me warm with heavy blankets of kindness and laughter.

But here’s where all the joy went–into chronic stress. Specifically, it’s the stress of not knowing how you’re going to pay for bills. It can erode any joy that you can have.

You get so laser-focused on applying for jobs, fundraising, dealing with the fallout of losing things and housing instability, there’s little room for fun, for laughs, for levity, for a breath. Even when you’re on vacation or away, it’s still in the back of your mind.

I have ping-ponged back and forth over the abyss of despair for years, and this summer, when I got my first two major clients, I was able to get some stability. And that was all due to a friend who was able to connect me to clients, along with other resources that I have barely tapped into.

Anytime I thank them, which is often, they reply, “No problem!”

I’m often blown away by the generosity of relative strangers. I’ve received crazy blessings that have left me speechless, amazing readings, wonderful advice, understanding, and support.

So although I was steering the ship back to the familiar shores of my laughter and mirth, I got a push back in March and then things just kept going in the right direction.

I’m almost ready to throw down my anchor and welcome myself back home.

So what’s ahead? Work-wise, the grind of marketing and prospecting. I feel like 2018 will bring some more stability to my financial life–and it will be because I worked hard for it (sounds like Capricorn season is in full swing!).

Today (December 22nd), I decided to take a long Twitter break because I feel like things are shifting energetically and I need to pay attention to the shift. I’ve seen three close friends leave that space in a matter of months. It’s given me a huge pause. I need to seek my life outside of that box–and let life seek me.

Everything else? The Universe has been incessantly bothering me about one thing for months, but there’s nothing I can do about it except to continue to seek guidance, to be grateful for the signs, and to be patient.

I hope you all say goodbye to 2017 in style, because it’s been one dumpster fire of a year. I hope that something went right this year, something that you’re proud of, something that gave you some hope, something that was good and nourishing to your soul.

It’s been so tough, but I’m so glad I’m still here.

Happy New Year! Thank you for reading!

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aimless in archer season ♐

It’s been a strange season as the sun rolls this party college town Sagittarius.  Besides that my birthday is coming up in 22 days, I haven’t been feeling that festive.

There’s a danger in this lull–or usually, there would be. The danger is to reach out for new experiences, at almost any cost. Especially in Sag season. Sag things are about accumulating experiences.

And besides that I have just been trying to survive for the past few years, I haven’t felt much drive to accumulate experiences.

Yet, despite my lack of luck in most areas of my life, I’ve been lucky with travel. This year, I visited Tampa for a short day trip in April. I’ve driven over 1000 miles from Miami to D.C. in May. In August, I went to St. Pete right before the solar eclipse. In September, I visited Chicago for almost two weeks to avoid Hurricane Irma. And, I will hopefully will travel again for my birthday.

Beyond that, though, with the upheaval at home that has been here since May, I don’t really have much drive to try to accomplish something big.

After grad school, I felt like I had come on earth to do what I had to do–write my memoir. It’s not published yet, and it probably won’t be until my parents are dead (don’t want to deal with the immigrant parent blowback).

It’s weird to feel done at age 36.

And then there’s been more life lived, a lot of it humiliating and harrowing. Just this summer, though, my life as a freelancing writer and editor has started to show some sort of stability. I really wasn’t planning to start my own business–even if astrologically and otherwise, it makes more sense to do that.

But here I am, with clients that are starting to look like permanent ones. I am grateful, so grateful. Twitter was a big part of finding that stability, through people and friends I’ve met just this year.

I’m now in expansive Sag season and I feel contracted. I feel stalled. I’m used to having visions and missions bigger than me, consuming me.

The one thing that’s left in my life that I want to do or experience, no one wants to engage me on, which I am taking as a sign to not talk about anymore. So, I’ll spare you, too–and spare myself the embarrassment of glazed-over eyes and silence.

Maybe because I have experienced so many things already–and a lot of them haven’t really been uplifting–I have a small fear of planning anything.

What would be the point of planning if the Universe is just going to do this?

https://giphy.com/embed/gqItoeqRWSBnavia GIPHY

My time here was supposed to be missional. I thought I was signing up for finding my people, my tribe. I got the “Everybody Hates Me” sign-up sheet by mistake.

Besides that Florida is just a tough state to live in, and that I was really awakened to my own proximity to white supremacy (you can never be that close to it before it tries to bleach you)–I still had some hope, some stupid, unflagging hope that this was my home.

Thankfully, and most mercifully, that hope is dead now.

But to be in the holiday season and not really feel anything, not the sense of wonder or the beginning bubbles of joy percolating–I don’t even feel any hatred toward it…it’s a little scary.

I’m used to feeling inspired and awakened to big things. But my life has gotten so small, I could fit it in a pocket.

I wasn’t created for a small life–only an ever-expanding one.

I’ve gone ’round and ’round with trying to create a community for myself here, but nothing takes. There are loved ones across the country and around the globe, but nothing for me here.

Maybe this is what “chop wood, carry water” looks like. It’s not scaling a mountain or fording a stream. It’s very unglamorous, building my business and rebuilding my life. But it’s worth it.

There are times that I see people doing fun, exciting things, and I think, I should be out there doing those kinds of things. But then I think, with whom?

When I was doing NaNoWriMo this year, I got jealous of my main characters. They were doing exactly what I want to do now, exactly what no one wants to hear about. They were having a lot of fun, a lot of fun that I was used to having.

Being stuck in a cycle of poverty, I just haven’t had the space for fun, for mirth, for frivolity, for silliness. But both cycles–of poverty and over mirthlessness, are coming to an end–thankfully and most mercifully.

Even now with this one thing that no one wants to hear about, I remember having people in my life who wanted to hear about that stuff. I remember having people wanting to fully engage with my life. I remember being so irreverent, laughing at my calamity and pain because I knew I would eventually conquer them.

Now I feel like a spinning top that has been at rest for a while. There’s a deep level of inertia that I can’t Capricorn my way out of. I can’t act upon myself. It’s almost comforting, because I don’t really know what I’m missing.

I’m waiting on the Universe for clarity, for these synchronicities that fly around my head like annoying gnats to come into form. I’m waiting for the neon “open for business” sign to click on. I see it flickering…

Maybe it’s not that I am not wanting anything. Maybe it’s that I want more, so much more than I have ever had. I want to be engulfed by something bigger than writing my memoir, than getting through grad school, than pure survival mode for years.

I want to drown in something new.

I know what that new thing is, but I don’t know how to get from here to there–safely. I don’t feel compelled to start shaking every tree and trying to figure out what I should be doing. That’s how I usually would do it.

If I have to use a big term like paradigm shift, then that’s what this ole sea goat will have to use.

It’s about receptivity. It’s about active waiting. These are cringey, uncomfortable things, because it looks like learned helplessness. It looks like depression. It looks like like I’ve given up.

But, I haven’t. I’ve probably doubled down more than anything.

It’s also about just connecting with the Universe and saying, “I’m tired. I don’t know what the fuck is going on or where I’m headed. I want this thing and I don’t know how to get it. Please help me get it.”

So maybe I’m not aimless in archer season. Maybe I’m just motionless. I’m at rest.

With astrology, planets travel through signs and the 12 houses that are in your natal chart. Right now, the sun is in Sagittarius, which is going through my 12th house of healing, intuition, secrets, dreams, and the subconscious mind. It’s like the basement of the soul, in my opinion.

It’s also a place of rest. If you’re into tarot, it’s like the 4 of Swords card to me. For Capricorns and Cap rising people, this is like the disco nap before the big birthday party. It’s very weird to be chill during Sag season when everyone else is getting their holiday party on.

There are twinges of sadness that come up when I feel waves of FOMO wash over me. But they never last. I finally have embraced that this, for now, is where I’m supposed to be. Trying to force things hasn’t worked (believe me, I tried, just last month–spectacular failure).

Even for what I want, I have an idea of what it’d be like. But who knows if I’m ready for it, or if what’s waiting for me is ready for me? There’s a lot I can’t see or know.

I don’t know how this will all turn out. A new faith is being forged and I’m flailing around with impatience.

Even though I know what I want, I am like this Camus quote above: she was waiting but she didn’t know for what.

At least I do know I want this, for me and for you:

 

08.12.12

some mysterious fractal

August 12, 2012 is when I finally made it to Florida to start grad school. It was on a Sunday. I was supposed to leave the day before, but the movers I hired were terrible and took too long. I guess I missed my flight? I couldn’t get a hold of any friends to crash with so I had to stay at this noisy airport hotel.

I had to stay with my cousin here for a couple of weeks because my stuff was being bounced around all over the east coast. Such a disreputable moving company.

I don’t even want to rehash all of that because it was horrible and I am tired of complaining about how horrible life has been down here. I think the horror magnifies with how hopeful I was to finally find my tribe, to make a real connection with a blood family member, to escape the cold and growing disappointments of Chicago.

Well, life had other plans for me.

It’s been very transformative spiritually. Going into year six of my life down here, I feel like I’ve unloaded a lot of emotional and spiritual baggage. I feel cleansed and unencumbered. But the journey to get to this very precious place has been very expensive: on my bank account, on my credit, on my body, on whatever I would call my social life.

Has it been worth it? I’m not entirely sure yet. This is a rather 7 of Pentacles moment right now. I’m looking at what I’ve grown so far and knowing there is more work to do.

Instead of regaling you with how shitty and disappointing and heartbreaking and humiliating and scary (and I’m pretty sure this blog has detailed a lot of that, so just peruse the archives for a good gasp, cry, or sigh), I’d rather just pivot from here and say that I’m done with this period of my life–or maybe my (very warranted) emotional response to it.

I’m not like Katrina and the Waves walking on sunshine yet, but I am tired of feeling like my life is one long, painful climb, even if that is the Capricorn way. Eventually, I want to be able to rest and enjoy the views up here…

 

The prolonged money and housing instability has been interesting to navigate as someone who is a Capricorn sun and rising with a Cancer moon. My sojourn in Florida has hit me where it hurts, over and over. That’s probably due to Pluto and his heavy demolition crew obliterating my 1st house of self, where my Capricorn sun and rising reside.

Who am I without a stellar reputation? Without stable housing? Without friends to lean on? Without a reliable stream of money?

What is my home? Who is my family?

I don’t really know what the answers to those rhetorical questions are. I believe I’m making it up as I go along–as we all do. I thought I knew those answers.

I didn’t realize how much I had relied on my plucky nature to get me out of jams, and how I have always had a strong community there for me to lift me up. Even with social media, I had both strong online and offline communities, where even both worlds would begin to meld. I met my last boyfriend in an MSN chat room and then we met in IRL–he lived in the same city and went to college with people I knew from my church.

It’s hard to have these stalwarts stripped away–sometimes very violently, and sometimes very slowly. But all the same, it’s left me very vulnerable and open–well, it’s easier to hear from Spirit in this way.

Looking back over these five years, I don’t have much gratitude for this stripping process yet. Still, because I want to change my attitude towards whatever has been unfolding in my life, I took myself out to dinner downtown.

As a sidenote, I do think it’s funny how some Americans will roll up into a nice restaurant and wear soccer jerseys or whatever else seems like casual attire.

My Cancer moon needed to be fed and nurtured. It felt so good to eat the (sometimes literal) fruits of my labor (I had a peach salad and a peach cobbler). As my current housing situation is driving me a lot batty,  it was also nice to not physically be here for three hours, to breathe healthier air in a different space, to not have the draining energy of this newest, inconsiderate boarder. I could at least afford to do this for myself, to celebrate my survival in a tough, unsympathetic state. That’s an accomplishment in it of itself.

But that’s the reframe right there: survival of losses, not just the losses. It’s what I’m good at. I do like to to triumph over circumstances. It may not be that I got to keep my car or my housing or my bank account at a consistent level. I have survived those losses. It seems right now the triumph is over death, over giving up, over having my spirit decimated.

I’m in a real spiritually desperate place right now. I am desperate for real, meaningful change; desperate to have Spirit move me–both literally and figuratively–to a place where I am nurtured and can be nurtured; to a place of deep fulfillment and appreciation; to a place where I can be fully myself again. I am desperate enough to not solely look to other people to help me. I am desperate enough to shut out the world and to look within for all the treasures that were hidden underneath all of the things I’ve lost. I am desperate enough to not look to myself first and then come to the end of myself–I want to look to Spirit first where there is no beginning and no end.

I’ll be going on a retreat this weekend and I hope that my desperation will be met with opportunities and answers and practical solutions, and maybe a little more patience and strength as I keep journeying from the “here” of discontent to the “there” of “finally!”

By the way, that’s a perpetual round trip we all make, from discontent to contentment.

As the solar eclipse comes closer, I know there’s more coming my way—actually good things, things I’ve been wanting for so long, like stability, like expansion, like love in all forms. Lately, it’s been wonderful to have things to look forward to, not just things to dread.

As I grow older and closer to the midpoint of my life, I feel the pressure of limited time and there’s so much I want to do with my life than just survive. I have to trust that all that I’ve gone through here was not in vain–that there’s a purpose that’s greater than my own soul growth and spiritual development, that the ripple effect will be wider than I will ever know.

It’s really easy to forget, that even within the chaos, there’s some order—even if we don’t understand it yet, like some mysterious fractal that begins to unfold.

I have to trust that this unfolding, albeit painful, is truly both beautiful and beneficial. Otherwise, my life has been utter madness without any method or reason. I’m not talented enough to invent reasons or methodology on my own.

So here I go, with another long trust fall with the Universe. Even as I squirm and question and fret, there’s still a knowing that I am following, that nothing is ever wasted, that at least some of this wild and wacky ride will make sense, soon.

we are in it

we are in it.

I created this image when I was feeling a little more hopeful about my life. But now, I feel just exhausted. I just wrote this post which details some of that exhaustion, and it kind of left off at some thoughts about faith.

First of all, Richard Rohr, OFM is my favorite living Christian. Maybe he’s my favorite Christian of all time. If more Christians were like him, we’d live in a much better world. I feel like the contemplative realm of Christianity is probably the best part of it. Anyway, Rohr’s writings really helped to shape my faith as a Christian, especially in his book, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer. The book beautifully details about how joy and suffering both belong in our lives.

But let me focus on this quote and be a little astrological about it. As you probably know I am a Capricorn sun and rising/ascendant. That means upon first meeting me, you’re like. “Yep, total Capricorn.” And then, as you get to know me, you’d also realize that yes, she is a Capricorn: workhorse, kinda bossy, weird sense of humor, loyal, stubborn.

Although the rest of my chart has a lot of fire and some water, with a little bit of air, I’m pretty earthy. I need to see things. I want contracts signed. I want instant communication. I want to see it, right now.

It’s a human trait, and we all share it, but faith isn’t really like that.

Also being a Capricorn, I want to just do it myself. I’ll start the conversation. I’ll shoot my shot. I’ll convince you to do x. I’ll “push the river” as it were. And all of that is about control–I’ll control my outcomes. I want to be safe. I want to feel secure. I’ll make it happen. And so much of life contains people and circumstances that we cannot control.

This isn’t to say that faith is about passivity. This river has kinetic energy. It is moving. It’s just that I am not the one moving the river. It just goes. And there is support as I am going along with the river. I am in it. I don’t have to make sure the river was turned on before I get in my canoe.

But hey, faith ain’t easy, right? No, it’s not. It’s not meant to be easy. It’s work.  It’s dedication. Sometimes, there’s the gift of faith, where we just know things will work out. It’s usually something we can hold for other people.

But most of the time, it’s a moment-by-moment experience. Sometimes, you’re just in your canoe, paddling, enjoying the scenery. Other times, you’re just trying to hold on for dear life. Right now, I have to believe that I’m even in a canoe and not just being thrown around in the rapids.

And, this has been my life, in very dramatic ways. My life story has been conquering the impossible over and over. There has been so much triumph and success–most of it hard fought. But, as I said, I’m just exhausted. And I wish I had written this post when I was traversing calmer waters, buoyed by more hope.

But the river is flowing. I am in it. We are in it. I have to trust in new ways, for bigger things, for scarier things. I have to trust in this very extensive life transformation that’s happening. I have to believe that the healing is coming, that the healing is already here and is already happening. I have to really embrace with gratitude the small, everyday joys that come my way so that I don’t become frozen in jaded ingratitude.

I have to. I have to.

I’m going to end with this song that is going to be obscure to even most white evangelical Christians, but it sums up how I feel.  I may be a tough warrior, seemingly implacable and unflappable. But deep inside this armor…

“The Warrior Is a Child” is a song I grew up with (it’s from 1984), written and sung by a woman who has created a lot of Christian worship songs that people still sing today.  This is a more modern version of the song and aptly has images depicting Joan of Arc.

May you remember that you are in the river. We are in it.

break

breaking

When everything falls apart, it is a good sign that everything is about to come together.

from Write It Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser

It’s been said that you should write from your scars, not from your wounds. Welp, this is a wound with a scab forming, and I don’t have time to wait for this to scar over.

Earlier this morning, after tossing some trash in the outside garbage bin, I walked down my now bare driveway and went to the mailbox–something I used to do every day before my car was taken back by the car lender. It was a daily way for me to stretch my legs which doesn’t happen enough for me as a writer.

It’s been raining almost daily. It’s rainy season in Florida and we desperately need the rain since we’ve had a severe drought and subsequent brush fires for months. Usually, the weather wouldn’t deter me from my daily little walk. But I haven’t been interested in getting the mail. Maybe it’s because I’m still little heartbroken.

Although the mailbox was closed, the mail was damp from all the humidity, which can reach full saturation (100%) especially in the mornings. One of the letters I received was from my now former awful car lender, telling me how much I still owe after the car was auctioned off. The amount is basically the interest of a high-interest loan, which would have been OK 9 months ago when I was working a full-time job with an employer. But that four-figure now just another drop in the ocean of debt that doesn’t even reach my shore much anymore. I live in the small lagoon of survival now.

This car situation has been a tough one to overcome, and it’s not because I no longer have reliable transportation. Sure, part of it is the pride of being a self-sustaining adult and not being able to hold onto what seems to be a basic necessity in a city that has some godawful public transportation.

Admittedly, though, when this first happened, I felt some instant relief. I no longer have to deal with this money drain for a vehicle I used like maybe 5 times a month? Based on what I make now, I can be just fine as I build my freelance writing and editing business, even with the occasional Lyft ride.

Through another bill that I’m actually fighting since I was not driving the car, my toll transponder told me when my car was taken: early in the morning, in the 1 o’clock hour. That night, I actually slept so well–how ironic.

Also, I’ve been here before, 2 years ago when I was teaching and making even less than what I make now. I could take as a moral issue in one of two ways. The first is a (self-)judgmental, (self-)blaming route–how can you have this happen to you again? You’re irresponsible with your money. The other route is just seeing the larger landscape of where I live right now. I’ve done the best I can in a shitty job market and lower income people are routinely taken advantage of. I’ll take route #2, because route #1 is a well-worn path that doesn’t head anywhere except to more heartache.

The heartbreak isn’t over the car, per se, but what my cries for help represent to me–only three people helped me: a total stranger and two friends.

My cries for help went unheard and unheeded.

There are so many reasons why: race, gender, the lack of a cult of personality online, the bootstrap mentality that isn’t applied equally. Not really here to dive into all of that, into the politics of what gets funded and why.

I’m also not here to make this about abundance, prosperity, believing enough (or not), manifestation, or any other things that many times just seem like American capitalism dressed up in spiritual garb, but has no semblance of compassion or empathy.

Over a month later, there’s quite a lot of resentment that I have to burn off or hand off to the Universe. As I try to gain a better perspective, I am accepting what is.

Simply put: no one likes being inconvenienced. That’s the ethos of America. It’s the heart of innovation, but it’s also the heart of our mores and social structure. It’s the mentality that tells you that asking for help is some sort of entitlement. Even the way Social Security is framed is as an entitlement vs. an investment that people make so that they had some income for their twilight years. How dare you ask for help for your basic needs! You should just get a job (or else you’re clearly just lazy and want a handout). There’s someone in the current administration who said just that about Medicaid recipients, millions of those being children. It’s a pervasive mindset, no matter your political leanings or religious beliefs.

What has been really hard but necessary to do is to not make this seeming failure be about me or my worth as a human being. Even knowing that culturally, there’s still a lot of shame in asking for help, this still stings, a lot. I’ve been helped in the past, so why am I feeling abandoned now?

How this all happened still marvels me, which makes me believe that something bigger is going on.

At the time I started to think about writing this particular post, I felt very broken. There are still parts of me that feel very shattered and irreplaceable. I was concerned that I was depressed–and if I was/am depressed, then of course, it makes sense after such a loss like losing reliable transportation.

Nothing seems to be going right and things seem to get worse as I spiritually grow leaps and bounds. There are synchronicities all over the place. I know that Spirit is moving in my life–and maybe it’s because of the destruction left in its wake.

Then I remembered a book that I read, Write It Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser (yes, it’s basically a book about manifestation–but there’s nothing wrong with writing down what you want and need and leaving it up to the Universe how it provides those things to do).

Klauser has a chapter aptly called, “Handling Breakdown.” It basically talks about how things may have manifested in a way you weren’t expecting; or, if your desires haven’t come to fruition yet, that you shouldn’t give up.

Two key quotes: “There is no failure, only a delay in results.” and  “There is no failure, only feedback.”

Why I remembered the book wasn’t for those quotes. It was because she talked about how when everything isn’t working out, that you are close to a breakthrough. She compared this to the process of childbirth, ten minutes before delivery which is called the “transition.” It’s the toughest part of labor.

I saw this happen recently with this reality TV star who filmed a special about her pregnancy. She wanted to have her baby at home, and while she was in labor, she hit a wall of exhaustion. She was just done, just through, no more. She got up to go to the bathroom, but before she and her midwives could leave to go to the hospital, she had the baby on the toilet!

So maybe I’m proverbially on the toilet right now, wanting to go to the hospital and have this baby of a profitable writer’s life. I know I need to keep pushing, even though I am exhausted.

So who is holding me up as I push? I do have a few good online friends that have been of great emotional support. But I have no one local like that in my life right now. Astrologically, I can easily blame this Pluto in Capricorn transit that is transforming me from the inside out, as it has run roughshod over my very essence and ethos.

This struggle is beyond the car now. Yet the car was a breaking point for me. Like what gives? I know I’m supposed to be a writer, to be a writer here. But I can’t connect to anyone permanently here. I lost my car twice. Grad school was a nightmare, so was life afterward. I’ve survived horrible living conditions–and I’m enduring one now. How many L’s can I take, and then take them like a champ?

What gives?

I’m not used to things being bad for this long, especially not with work. Eventually, I find the community, I find the better job, it all comes together. To have the reverse Midas touch is not my style. I always find help. I always Mentos commercial or MacGyver my way out of shit.

I’m super can-do-without-you, and that’s by necessity. For better and for worse, I grew up highly resilient, priding myself in not needing others. I’ve been humbled since I moved down here in 2012, realizing how I can’t be who I need to be without some help. And, for the most part, I’m actually quite OK with asking for help now, even as I face the fear of rejection.

So rejection has come and I am starting to be able to accept what is–I don’t really have the supportive community I need, not yet. I can also see the thin yet gleaming silver lining of this tough circumstance–I’m saving hundreds of dollars.

That brings me back to the spiritual support that I need to access. Yes, the loss of my car brought me to my knees. It was sad to repeat a loss like this, thinking that I would be better off this time around. Can I rejoice and be happy like Klauser says? Can I “count it all joy” like the writer James of the New Testament? Can I be grateful for my faith being tested and producing patience?

It’s really like holding onto a seedling, knowing one day it will be a tall tree. Depending on the day, the hour, the minute, I can hold onto this tiny hope or I can drop it and drown in despair.

At least in the spirit realm, I’m not alone. My cries for help were heard. I matter. To be able to really believe all of that, in the face of disappointment, of loneliness, of heartbreak–emotions I’ve felt often in my life–it takes some faith, faith at times I don’t have or want to conjure up, faith that something new is breaking through, something better that I could ever imagine.

So I have two choices. I either keep playing this shitty game of Tetris where I feel like none of the blocks are clearing, or I quit the game altogether.

The latter doesn’t even feel like a choice, so game on.

how to be your own mother

be on your own side1

I have been avoiding writing this for weeks. But maybe now, that’s because I didn’t have the end of the story.

I had a draft ready about self-parenting, and how important it is after having the latest phone call with my mom. I called to ask for money–this was back in March. She didn’t have any. I called also to check in, since she really hadn’t been checking to see how I was doing. After all, I’ve been in a financial bind for a few months.

I had come to accept that part, sort of–the parentification. Maybe not all the way, yet. But I’m approaching 40 and there isn’t much room for pitching a fit about how un-maternal my mother is.

Or so I thought.

The reason I was going to blog was about a bout of shame I had from my mom asking me about some creditor calling her house. I just told her to ignore it. She kept insisting. She asked if I had given her information to them–they had called her home phone and cell phone. I was so annoyed. Why would I do that? Why would you think I’d do that? And then I basically spat out, like I was shaking off a viper into the fire: hey, if you want them to stop calling, pray I get a better job. And then I hung up.

Self-Parenting: Being On Your Own Side

It took me a bit to recover from the accusation, or really–how she thought I couldn’t be trusted. In that moment, it felt like a deep betrayal. She couldn’t think that this awful car loan folks, so awful that the Better Business Bureau hasn’t given them the thumbs up, would be the enemy. No, I was. The truth of what she implied really gutted me, unexpectedly. It felt like everything was in stark relief.

My mother is not on my side.

Self-parenting is something I’ve had to do for a while, although maybe not as effectively as I want. I talked about parentification in the previous post, and that’s essentially when you parent your parents as a child. But self-parenting, being the parent that you needed and deserved but didn’t get, for whatever reason: alcoholism, mental illness, death–it’s kind of a burden, but who else is going to do it?

After that phone call, I realized that I really needed to effectively self-parent. I had also listened to a personal development podcast or two that had touched on this topic somewhat–parenting styles, attachment styles, being the dad who can cheer you on, stuff like that.

I looked up this blog post from Huffington Post on self-parenting and I wrote down these ten steps:

No, I will not…

Automatically take the other person’s side.
Assume the worst about me.
Hold myself as responsible and to blame for the way I feel and whatever has gone wrong.
Discredit my own feelings.
Talk to myself as if I do not matter.
Shame myself for what I am feeling.
Reject or ignore myself when I am upset.
Put myself last.
Terrorize myself with potential disasters.
Be mean to or bully myself.

And finally: No, I will not accept being treated this way — by me.

My mom had committed the first and second no-no’s. She automatically took the side of my creditors and she assumed the worst about me. She didn’t ask me what was going on, or if I was in trouble. She asked if I had given them her information. I don’t know why I was so surprised. Maybe my journey in reluctant self-employment has caused me to go soft. I’ve known this woman for almost 40 years, but that night, I really saw her. So I decided that no, I will not accept being treated this way, by me or anyone else.

The Great Awakening

On Easter Sunday, I was listening to yet another personal development podcast. When I listen to these podcasts, usually it’s like poco a poco, bit by bit, little nuggets and nibbles for the long journey head. Maybe it’s like grabbing a water while running a marathon–refreshing, keeps you going, but it’s just water. This podcast was about narcissistic mothers.

I was thinking, well, this isn’t going to be about my mother. I’m actually in the shower, washing my hair listening to this, and then there’s something about how narcissistic mothers will blame you for how their lives turned out. “I gave up my career for you…”

My mother had told me something like this years ago, and then when I called her out on it, she said she didn’t remember saying it. I had never been able to put a label towards my mother’s coldness towards me.

The podcast went on to say that narcissists may seem great to everyone else. They overcompensate. Finally, someone was able to explain, ever so deftly, how my mom was so well liked and loved by everyone else, but how when it came to me and my brother, we were burdens.

I remember one time calling her out on how unenthusiastic she would answer the phone when I called vs. when she answered the phone for anyone else. It was always like, “Oh, it’s just you.” How does a child, young or old, not internalize that?

Oh. It’s just you.

By the time the podcast was over, I was crying and raining on the inside, hailstorms of truth was ricocheting off the tin roof of my heart. I can’t remember if I actually cried. I felt relieved, but I also knew that I was entering a new stage of grief.

I had to grieve the life I could have had if my mom wasn’t narcissistic. All the healthy relationships I missed. All the jobs I could have gone for if I believed in myself more–if she believed in me more. And it’s funny–I knew my dad was one a long time ago. Somehow it’s so much more easier to forgive, or at least accept. But if your mother can’t look out for you, who can?

So last week was one of the toughest I have ever had. I’m sure I was depressed–although it’d be hard to tell on the outside, except that I had to push my work and deadlines as much as I could, to have space for the grief. A few days after I listened to that podcast tweeted more of my thoughts here.

Like I said two posts ago, I have had to put a pause on all of my relationships. I feel hyperaware of how I act and react. Am I trying too hard? Am I trying to make up for the middle ground of the other side, too?

I think what hurts worst right now is knowing that I will never know how much damage this relationship did to my future–especially with having a family of my own. I feel like I’ve been spared, and that I spared any kids I would have had. To have a family be the collateral damage of my own family of origin drama–the Universe knows that I want to minimize that as much as possible. So maybe, I’ll accept being…unseen…for now.

Knowing that I have to be my own mother, be the nurturing, compassionate woman who will never leave my side, who will always believe the best about me…it’s so much better going into any relationship now knowing how I’m emotionally gimpy, and how, albeit painful and heartbreaking, I can finally start to heal from all of this properly.

Sunday morning in the shower, I wasn’t really bargaining for a full-on awakening. All roads lead back to this initial wound, from my mother who didn’t even want to remember when I was born–even if it was because it was a scary birth. There was no, “Even though the childbirth was scary, you are my favorite and most precious Christmas gift.”

Even though she has never said that to me, and never while, even writing that, and reading that–that does something to me. It touches me. Like it makes me feel a little more human, a little more connected to others. Oh, it would have been nice to have a sentimental, caring, compassionate mom, not a narcissist who sucked the life and love out of me on demand. But having me be my own mom is definitely the next best thing.

By Friday, the pain–it was actually physical pain. I know what heartbreak feels like now–was gone. I’m not sure if I was spiritual about it. I hope I was. I hope the angels and archangels were close by.

Tonight, I sit in deep gratitude. Do you know what it’s like to have the biggest life question rattling around inside of you, guiding you into the most desolate and desperate places, making you do the most foolish and unseemly things? And then, all at once, on a sleepy Sunday morning, someone strings all the right words together, words you’ve heard before, but just not in that order…

Question answered. I’m not crazy. I’m not unlovable. I just had the bad luck of having two narcissists as my parents.

Even though I had been in therapy for most of my adulthood, my therapists and I were just walking around these caverns of loss, never really arriving anywhere–or so it seems. Maybe it was just the scavenger hunt to the real bounty that I found almost two week ago now.

Right now, though, it’s been hard to think that I’m not permanently damaged, that I won’t find the love that I really want and need in my life. Having a mom-sized hole in your heart is not easily filled. It feels abysmal, like a black hole sucking the life out of everything and everyone. But starting with self-parenting is at least a cement mixer of love that’s on the way.

And even though I may not need to, I’d like to say I’m sorry to everyone I’ve hurt while I was whirling around this gaping hole of sorrow that I couldn’t heal just yet. I was blind in pain, so blind that I’m not even sure how many people I’ve hurt, annoyed, pushed away, sucked dry…I’m just sorry.

And like I said before, I don’t know if I would have had the time to get this message if life hadn’t knocked me on my ass again with underemployment. This gift of freedom, of true self-love and self-acceptance…it’s really invaluable to me now. I feel like I have the key that can unlock all the doors to what I want.

All of this is still unraveling, and I want to keep myself safe, keep my feelings, dreams, and desires, all safe, all with me, like they matter. Like I matter. Whatever happens now, I know that I am on my own side, that I can be my own mother, and that is far better than how I was living before.

 

which way?

the right pathI’m going to try to be short since I’m hella behind here. I owe my readers three blog posts by tomorrow.

I haven’t been around because I’ve been busy–thank goodness. Although, I wish I was busy in a way where I could fully support myself. I’m slowly, very slowly, gaining new clients. And I’m grateful. But I’m not sure if I like this.

I think I do, though. I hate that my posture is being jacked up from sitting in my bed all the time, but I love not dealing with the disdain of working with white women in the workplace. I hate that I’m still behind on my car payments, but I love not commuting for hours a day to and from work. I hate that this has become such a journey of solitude, but I love having more control over my day.

Maybe the title of this blog post and the picture have had their own conversation: question and answer. But I’m not really happy with the answer. Today, I wrote about some scary steroids, and then I applied to a few jobs, including an administrative assistant job. Yet my freelance work is increasing.

I really don’t want to waste my time, period. If I knew which path to go down, I would just commit to it and go full speed ahead. But I don’t know. At least now, it’s not scary anymore. Now it’s just annoying as I see my credit score go down further the longer I’m on this path of being and becoming a writer. And yes, I am divorcing my self-worth from my credit score–out of sheer sanity’s sake.

I still wonder what I’m doing, what I’m doing here in Florida. Should be elsewhere? I don’t have the energy to explore every last option, even in writing. As I approach month #7 of underemployment, now I know that this is a little more permanent than I thought. And no one will save me from this.

So, this is the path, the “I don’t know what I’m doing but I am pleasing my clients” path, the “this is what my MFA is going towards? really?” path, the “I feel like I’m wasting my talents and am so unseen” path, the “I guess it’s just the Universe and me” path.

The path, the path, the path, the path, the path.

There are a few people that I met at a writers’ conference a few years ago. All of them are getting national press for their work. One won a national award. Another has a movie option. It’s wild what’s happened after four years, and how divergent my path is.

And in my throat right now is bubbling, choking emotion: the pain, the sadness, the jealousy, the WTFness of what my life has become.

But I know these two things 1) Those folks have oodles of support that I don’t have access to (sure I have angels, etc., but clearly the Universe has other things in mind. 2) Knowing that most people couldn’t walk my path helps me to hold my head up when there’s that shame of unrecognition and failure pressing down on me.

So, that’s all there is. The path. My path.

I had my phone cut off for about 10 days and I tried to fundraise for it. Nothing happened. So it was off. The thick silver lining was that the telemarketers stopped for a while. But I had to just be OK with my phone being off, with no help, even after asking for it over and over. I deserved the help but didn’t get it that time, or the time I wanted it in.

So that’s my path, and it’s not some lack of abundance consciousness–because really, who likes living hand to mouth? NO ONE. No one consciously chooses poverty–or even subconsciously.

Anyway, this dispatch from the path is that it’s almost kind of boring, but then I get little surprises, like when I got my first bonus for my writing, all $1.70 of it. It meant something. There’s a little glimmer of recognition.

I have to keep going, even when I missing a writing opportunity this morning, while I was still blurry on sleep; even when I got rejected quite quickly for another technical writing job from the worst recruiter I’ve ever spoken to; even when my sleep has been disrupted because my brain can’t turn off; even when anxiety tries to choke me out into the next life.

I guess I’m saying I’m more comfortable here now, the quotidian plodding along. It may be like this for a few months longer, and I think I’ll be OK with it.

If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s survival. I just hope that someday soon, I can try out thriving.