resistance training

resistance SOM

I can’t remember where the thought came, but it was probably one of those fleeting existential thoughts I have every day.

Why are things so hard? 

Why do I feel stuck?

Will things ever get easier?

Things here were allegedly going to clear up yesterday, with the human trashbag taking himself out (with the supervision of someone here), since his lease was not renewed. It’s strange, but I kept hearing that wasn’t going to happen until Sunday.

The human chimney is still here.

I wouldn’t really care if it wasn’t for the stupid smoking inside, and the scary decompensation/manbaby temper tantrum that last about 21 hours near the full moon.

And he’s just a symptom. It’s the landlady who is currently in Canada doing fuck-all. She won’t be back on the 12th.

I’m not even going to check on this, because these are the constants I have. It’s not my house. The only thing I’ve vowed is that I will fight this spiritually now.

At the very least, I’m not afraid of anyone anymore. That took all year to get that place of internal solidity.

But something broke.

Like a true Capricorn, I have a (somewhat) janky knee. This month about 11 years ago, I had knee surgery. For two weeks, as the cartilage in my knee healed, I wasn’t allowed to put weight on my leg. It’s amazing what two weeks will do to a muscle. My thigh muscles atrophied.

After those two weeks, I had months and months of physical therapy to build my muscles back up.

One of the exercises I had to do was crab walk with resistance bands, like the ones in the image above. I’m sure I did a lot of other resistance band exercises. Somewhere in storage, I have a ton of them. They were exercises I wasn’t supposed to ever stop, really. But I did.

This week, I’ve been pondering about what I should be doing with my career as a writer. I’ve been feeling like I’m not going in the right direction because everything has been so hard. I haven’t been making connections to the clients I want.

Everything feels like a struggle, one I’m not willing to fight through. It feels like I’m going to hit a dead end any moment now.

And this whole blog has been one long sad song of life is has been so hard, for so long.

Those pained words are real, and for so many years, even before this blog, it’s the only true song I’ve known.

But I’m tired of this dirge-as-life refrain.

But practically speaking, I didn’t want to keep thinking that I was wrong. That I’m someone who needs to be fixed.

So on July 1st, I definitely felt like a different person.

Before that Twitter thread, on June 29th, I had such a mind-blowing experience, talking to an intuitive, and I know I’m being guided to do different things. Like read tarot and astrological charts professionally.

But also, to lean into my creativity more and write more creatively. Again, someone has told me that I should write books, and I’d love to–but I’d also like to eat.

Interestingly, I did a tarot reading for a friend. She’s also a writer, leaving behind a different career.

The reading basically was this: you’re stopping and assessing what’s going on. You need to embrace this transformation and stop procrastinating.

Great. 😩

I definitely took that as a free reading for me. She and I are on similar tracks, and that reading really resonated.

My Services page went up yesterday, and it felt…like the right thing to do. I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t expecting a lot of fanfare from anyone–I’ve gotten a few supportive messages from closer friends, which has been surprising and encouraging.

My Twitter presence seems muted at times, even though I know a lot of tarot readers and astrologers.

But that’s something I’ll be working on, marketing to the right people.

Something that keeps coming up for me lately, but has always been nagging at me–the feeling that I am not even closer to what I should be doing.

My mom told me when I was 15 or so that I wasn’t really living up to my potential. In high school, I didn’t really have the best work ethic. I silently agreed with her. And 25 years later, I still do.

And not to get back on the weepy-go-round of grief, but I have always felt held back or encumbered by things that I can’t control.

It’s always something…

Even now, because that terrible housemate is going through some stupid depressive spiral and chain-smoking in his room, I’m breathing smoke right now, for the umpteenth day.

And there’s nothing else I can do about it.

And last week, I got really sick of feeling helpless about it.

But here’s the reality: I am on my own with this–physically, anyway. I will have to wait this out (who knows for how long?), or figure this out spiritually.

I’ve had to dig deep to find spiritual resources because there aren’t any others around me.

And that’s how it’s been for a while.

So since there are no saviors here, then there’s only amor fati left–a love of fate. Loving, embracing what is, right now.

And that’s what broke–my resistance to this experience.

Yet resistance creates strength.

And that’s the thought that came to me this week, that all this resistance has created an incredible strength that I could not have possessed otherwise.

So many people remark on my strength, but this isn’t because I signed up for this (no matter what spiritual teachings that say otherwise). This isn’t some spiritual circuit training course.

It’s always been out of necessity.

And. The recurrent thoughts I have about how bad things are, they’re out of necessity, too:

I’m not going through all this shit for nothing.

There’s a greater purpose for this struggle.

This has to be used for the greater good.

Although today was allegedly going to be an Independence Day from this trash person, there was a mightier independence declared earlier.

I’m not going to be defined by my circumstances, by the lack of respect, by the lack of help, by the lack of it all.

I’m still here, unharmed. I am full of an ever-expanding ocean of self-respect, a raging wildfire of righteousness, and gale-force winds of determination.

I am supported by loved ones who have passed on and protected by angelic beings.

And there are some online friends who have been there for me, and I’m ever so grateful…but it’s not the same as being here.

Oh, another old refrain that’s not even worth dredging up again

So maybe most of my life has been me, thinking I was supposed to be walking normally, but instead, the resistance was doing some work for me, on me.

I can’t say this without thinking of all the crazy resistance bands that are thrown on marginalized people.

Why do we have to be strong when the occupants of dominant culture crumble at the paper cuts of life?

But I really can speak of my own journey. Being treated cruelly when I’ve given kindness–that isn’t my karma is it? I thought if you’re to be kind to those who are unkind to you, then things will transform.

Says the former chump. Says also a lot of well-meaning white people.

I don’t know…this all made sense when I was briefly thinking about it: the persistent circumstances that have been clipping my wings, that have kept me in this suboptimal holding pattern. And I thought it was me not trying.

Even when my mom said that to me about my potential at age 15, I was living with a frighteningly emotionally distant mother, a father who was becoming more and more mentally ill, and a brother who had his own scary behavioral issues.

Yeah. Not really the potting soil for “living up for my potential.”

So, 40 years later, and life is still pretty disappointing. So now what?

Until “then,” until conditions are more optimal, when will I start living, right here, right now?

Waiting out the smoke monster is a waste of my time, of my life. It’s no way to live.

Fuck this and fuck him.

I’m strong enough to really live, instead of mourning and grieving the life that I felt I was meant to live (and this thought came up today right before I had a Reiki session).

So yes, the life I was meant to live was never alive. It was always dead. But the life I can live now, even in this dump of a home, can be real, can be full of joy, can teem with healing and hope.

I don’t have to wait. I don’t have to resist. I don’t have to settle. I don’t have to merely cope.

And this is probably why the practice of gratitude has been so hard for me. How can you tell a perpetually grieving person–a person who had high hopes for herself, who had those high hopes continuously dashed–to focus on what she does have, not what she doesn’t have?

Grief has been silently strangling for so long. It came up today during a Reiki session.  I wasn’t surprised.

But I am tired of grieving what wasn’t, what should have been.

This is the life that I’ve been given, for better and for worse. So many bitter things, I’ve had to choke down and swallow, more than the normal amount.

And my heart…goes out…to all experiences.

But herein lies…hope.

I still have so many chances to make this miraculous life into something that will last beyond my earthly body.

Right now. Because that’s all I have.

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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. 

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scooped out

clean up SOM

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

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

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

Heavy weather, heavy shit.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why don’t I just leave? 

To where? And how?

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

But I’m still a bit stuck here.

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

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

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

And surprisingly, that has helped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here’s what I’ve come up with.

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

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

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

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

And honestly, the bridge will be made of miracles.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Spirit, please don’t abandon me

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happiness quite unshared

 

happiness quite unshared SOM

For the longest time, I’ve tried to adapt to the lack of human connection I’ve had while living in Florida. And for the longest time, I thought it was my “fault.”

Giftedness: The Plexiglas Wall

I had a mostly written blog post about how one of the burdens of being a gifted person is the existential loneliness that comes with not being able to connect with people. But it was the wrong path, for many reasons. So I’m starting afresh.

For one thing, it wasn’t a problem I had as a child, even up until high school. I felt loved by and connected with my friends. Friendship seemed to happen so easily.

But maybe the plexiglas wall of giftedness started to appear in high school, where I really wasn’t connecting with people. Being a teenager is tough anyway–you’re surrounded by people who want you to pledge loyalty while they don’t even know themselves yet.

I was bullied by my own friends near the end of my time there. So after the exclusion and isolation I experienced in high school, I moved over 900 miles away and went to college in Chicago where I found other gifted people.

I felt at home. I felt accepted. The plexiglass wall disappeared It was easy to share big ideas and the idiosyncrasies such as being intense about everything that the mainstream world deemed too weird to accept.

I thought the real world would be like this.

It wasn’t. It was tougher to keep and maintain relationships. Part of that is due to my giftedness, but part of that is what it’s like to be an adult. They don’t teach you how to create lasting friendships in high school and college–which is maybe why networking events feel so forced and inauthentic.

Lately I’ve been saying that I regret not getting my Mrs. degree because it would have been so much easier to find a like-minded man. The way my life transpired, there was no way I could have accomplished this (mainly financial woes and subsequent clinical depression), but I still feel like that.

Churched and Unchurched

During and after college, I belonged to a few faith communities in Chicago (six in over 15 years). But after reading Divided by Faith, I started my exit out of church

The book showed me showed me the toxic stew that I had been slowly boiling in as a black woman and that white evangelicalism had actually been eroding my sense of self for years, even back when I was a teenager.

So I left–and that’s what going to a Baptist church plus reading theology books will do to you. It’s a shift that I’m still getting used to. It’s not easy to just let it all go and to learn how to find friends outside of a church context.

Church has a baked-in social system, as probably most spiritual and faith communities have when you meet regularly together. That was all I knew, from birth until I was in my early 30s. I didn’t have to think about it. Through our faith, we could bond.

But white supremacy never really let that happen. There have been so many crazy episodes with people, mainly and especially in one church, and the real culprit is racism.

And even if it isn’t obtuse and obvious, it’s the subtle edging you out of opportunities, the gradual getting closer to others. It can make you think that it’s something you’re doing wrong.

Around this time, I learned a lot about giftedness from my friend who was in a master’s program for gifted education. I finally understood that my intensity about life wasn’t appreciated outside of my childhood and outside of college.

Before those conversations with my friend, because the church I was attending was so unhealthy and immature and rife with people who just want to get along to get along, I really thought I was going crazy, that there was something clinically wrong with me.

Clearly, all this feedback of rudeness, of attacks, of accusations of being needy and using others–clearly, that was all my fault.

Nope, that was white supremacy, and these incidents all involved white women. I had no problem with black women and other women of color.

So after many close friends moved south and west, I felt like I needed to the same and follow my passion for writing into grad school. It was time for a new scene.

Maybe I could shake up what seemed to be a growing isolation as people started to get married and have children.

A Dream Deferred

Moving to Florida has been the most disappointing and life-changing thing I have ever done. It was the spiritual growth spurt that I clearly needed, and it has come from a fertile yet fetid compost heap of loss.

It’s a story I keep repeating, because it was supposed to be a story of redemption, of triumph–and it is, just not in the way that I expected.

I came looking for a tribe. That’s how grad school is sold–these will be your people, forever and forever.

What I got instead was an education in how my proximity to whiteness was going to be obliterated. Even with the problems I had in church–which may have been the coming attractions for grad school–I thought that being armed with self-knowledge and an open mind would be enough.

Nope. I had never really learned that whiteness and white supremacy really weren’t things to be close to. My assimilation into dominant culture ended when I wasn’t friends with the main clique of my cohort. And then the subsequent ostracization was by my own hand, too–albeit accidentally.

Long story short: I had been blogging about my experiences in becoming a writer. I wrote about my classes and classmates. I posted them in an open Facebook group, which is the stupidest thing to have (ironic sidenote: this was a group of gifted people who seemingly aren’t that smart about basic things like privacy–I’m still kind of mad about this).

Classmates found out, read the hell out of my blog (and as a writer, it’s hard not to be a little proud of that). One wrote me a nasty, sanctimonious Facebook message that, in retrospect, was probably a bit racist.

What a boomerang of a bummer–I was ostracized from my cohort even more than I already was.

All through that excruciating time, Spirit/the Universe/God was speaking loudly through repeated numbers and this crazy twin flame situation with a guy in my program that began my second year (I kind of loathe that term, but that’s exactly what happened).

I can confidently say that I’m on the spiritual journey that I am on now. I know that if things had gone well, I don’t know if I would have reached the spiritual depths that I needed to for healing, for building a new personal foundation.

And even writing about that time, it’s just now dawning on me that I’ve been holding myself back because of the shame. Meanwhile, the same shit I was reporting about, the racism and sexism, mostly continued (though one guy did stop his talking over women!).

Still, all of these people went on with their lives. They weren’t held back by my words. I bet no one really learned anything from my experiences. Some did worse things than me and still enjoyed the fellowship of the cohort.

So why am I holding myself back? Why am I not forgiving myself? Yes, it’s wrapped up in the deferred dream of finding a writing community. That dream endured a painful death, and I’m still grieving it a bit.

Would I have really wanted to have that fellowship, besides how it would have helped academically?

Adventures in Instability

And after grad school, yes–more poverty and isolation along with my last experience in church, which was more of a last-ditch effort to get some help as I slipped into homelessness.

Yet it really drove home that even I go to church and am a member, I had to be at a certain level of stability that being an underemployed writer could not afford me. It even helped to send me into the arms of an abusive church member who raised the rent on me after my first week moving in with her. Even that was more like two friends were tired of me living with them rent-free because before that, I had been bouncing around Airbnb.

It was just domino after domino falling against me: lost thesis advisor, extended semester, lost job, lost home, lost car, couldn’t stay in the choir I was a part of, couldn’t hold onto the friends I made in church and at work.

And this was where my last blog post started, where I was looking back at all the people I had known, wondering why I couldn’t hold onto them.

I do forget about giftedness, about my intensity, about how most people are just not going to get it. I know that I tire most people out with all the thoughts I have, and with the intensity in which I express them.

But wow, I have been through it. And there are waves of self-compassion that have yet to reach my shore. But others, especially this year, have been able to extend life-changing grace, even if it’s just for a moment.

Yet the past still has some things to say.

Last week, this woman I knew in Chicago years, popped up on LinkedIn, hoping to connect. I was so annoyed with her as a person. She was this flaky, overly chatty person that somehow, people found charming.

And, it finally occurred to me that it was probably because she was white.

She and I were in the same Bible study and had the same close friends. She eventually moved away to North Carolina, where she still is–as some insurance person.

I never had really unpacked these feelings of resentment until I thought about this mutual friend we had, this cute ginger allergist, and how they would hang out–and how he and I would not.

I’m usually not “that woman” over men–well, especially lately because the current new cycle is a reminder. But there was a bit of a crush–nothing intense–for both of us, but somehow, he really liked hanging out with her. I was always mystified by the obvious answers evading me.

Why her? Why not me?

I recently vented to a friend about her, even though I thought I was just going to give more details of the subtweets I had made. It was revelatory and liberating.

Even though that has a lot to do with race and bias, it’s along the same lines of my frustration with my inability to authentically connecting with people–and maybe that’s why the now tended-to wound felt so fresh.

It’s like, what do I have to do, who do I have to be to have my human need for connection be met?

Too Broke to Care

With all I’ve gone through just in Florida–the horrible grad school experience, the subsequent poverty, the housing instability with its usurious rents and scary roommates, and the forced journey into freelancing–why can’t I cut myself some damn slack?

There were so many circumstances outside of my control that were not conducive to trying to put roots here, to finding people who made me feel safe, online or offline.

Those circumstances matter.

Even though 2017 hasn’t been that kind–my room flooded, I lost my car again, I am dealing with an inconsiderate housemate, and I have no consistent local friends–I’m now a little more financially stable enough to feel again, and that really only truly started happening in August–through a friend.

And by feel, I mean that I can feel a whole range of emotions besides anxiety and dread.

I can feel angry about a flaky woman who was buddies with someone who had no interest in being buds with me.

I can stop beating myself up for a mistake that happened years ago.

I can allow myself to be sad about a relationship that seems to have stalled or evaporated.

I can also be OK with desiring to have my own community again.

I’m not a social pariah nor undeserving nor too imperfect nor “too much” of anything to be fully emotionally supported by people.

All of that takes energy, even to say that, let alone feel that. When you are too stressed out with trying to work or finding work, your emotional landscape feels like a vacation home instead of your real home. It’s like you’ve shoved yourself into one corner of your being.

It’s easier to blame yourself because it’s easier to fix yourself than a culture that doesn’t really value longevity or discomfort–because for true relationships to thrive for a long time, you can’t avoid the discomfort of being human and fallible.

Happiness Truly Is Other People

I started to crawl out of this hole of self-blame and shame when I read this article from the New York Times, “Happiness Is Other People.”

A friend had shared that link on Twitter, a friend that I had a life-changing tarot reading from, marking a notable shift in my life. So after being caught in a whirlpool of self-doubt, that article was a lifeboat sent to rescue me.

Although it didn’t change my circumstances, it did change my perspective. It’s not that I’m (just) too much or somehow unworthy. American society is isolative and individualistic, and thus, inhumane.

Like me, like so many of us, I had been fighting against this tide. I kept reaching out and losing my grip on the people I cared about.

In the dance of relationship, it always takes two, but so many of us are not ready for that sort of intimacy, for that sort of accountability.

It seemed when my friend tweeted that link out, all the lights came on. Another friend had been saying similar things.

Yet another friend, who has been the MVP in my life lately, reminded me that the path of self-improvement is typically a lonely one, and that people–Americans–are typically self-absorbed or self-involved.

It was a confluence of answers, from three trusted women, all saying to me:

Baby, it’s not you.

All throughout my adult life, I’ve had to cut and run from so many people and places that have been harmful to me. It’s not that I wanted to. But things end, for a number of reasons, including abuse and neglect.

Sometimes, it’s just that people grow up and apart. Sometimes, the long fingers of time start to fray the bonds between us.

And then, we just slip from each other.

So as someone who has lost a lot of connections to others, it always, deep down, made me marvel when spiritual guru types talked about self-love and self-care outside of the realm of “other people.”

Yet, I really tried this approach during grad school, to be self-sustaining–which made it easier to write about all that was going wrong, including about the people who were making it go wrong.

I didn’t feel connected to them. I needed people to help support through grad school, but it wasn’t going to be them–which doubly crushed me.

Self-care itself isn’t about living in a vacuum. When I learned about self-care, it was as a social worker 13 years ago. It was to make sure you were not serving others from an empty well.

I would never choose the path I’m currently on. It is painful and humiliating and lonely a lot of the time.

So I, too, long for comfort and convenience. I’m American, after all.

But really, what I want is a launchpad, a home base–and a people with a shared history.

It helps, oh so much, to have people remind you of where you’ve come from, of where you’re going–especially when you get disoriented and lost in hopelessness and despair.

It’s also about sharing successes. When I got my first real contract as a freelancer, I took myself out to dinner. There was no one to celebrate that win with. There’s no one here who knows all the struggles I went through to get that contract, to get that deposit, to get that work.  My self-satisfaction felt empty and hollow without anyone, in person, to reverberate the joy and relief I was feeling.

On a spiritual level, it’s hard to create any sense of roots or stability when everyone is off creating their own inner journeys. As someone who is heavily introverted and reflective, eventually I want to share what I’ve learned and learn from others.

I want to freely share my happiness and sorrow, like I used to.

It’s still tough to fully accept that there isn’t much I can do except to keep looking, to lean more on the spiritual support I have–angels and spirit guides. Eventually, I will find all the people, places, and things I am seeking.

So as much as we try to love our whole selves, I believe it’s impossible to do so.

There are parts of ourselves that we can’t fully see or reach that we must see and reach for others. It’s like washing your back or having to be zipped up in a dress. It’s just so much easier to have someone exfoliate your back, your whole back, or to zip your dress up for you.

If we really didn’t need each other, then I wouldn’t be writing this blog post, and you wouldn’t be reading it.

And, as much shadow work we can do on our own, there is corporate work we must do, to liberate ourselves both individually and collectively.

It can be as simple as sharing a link from the New York Times.

So, as painful and as frustrating as it is, I have to keep reaching out, because that’s what humans do. Humans do need to affirm each other, to give each other approval and support. It’s supported by science.

Sure, I could do bad all by myself, but why should I?

We’re not created to be alone.

Into the Wild and All Alone

Chris McCandless was an adventurer who went into the Alaskan wilderness after college graduation and ended up dying alone in a rusted school bus. He wrote this in a book near his death:

happiness only real when shared

He also underlined this part of Dr. Zhivago:

And so it turned out that only a life similar to the life of those around us, merging with it without a ripple, is genuine life, and that an unshared happiness is not happiness…

Of course, so many people think his free-spirtedness is a source of inspiration. But he did eventually want to go back to civilization after being out in the Alaskan bush for almost 4 months by himself.

I don’t think McCandless was wayward, either. Who knows what was really in his mind besides the journals he had. He had barely lived at age 24. It’s been 25 years since his death.

What haunts me about the movie, Into the Wild, and his life is that he had to go to the edge of nothing and everything to find that he really did need people. Maybe that’s being too reductionist or essentialist. Bu it saddens me that he died so tragically to find an answer he didn’t have to leave the world behind to find.

So that’s where I am, where I always was. I could go off into the world alone to find new adventures and people and places and things, but what’s the point of it outside of my own self-satisfaction? It’s so much richer to have those experiences shared with people who I love and who love me.

I won’t be ashamed for being a social animal.

I won’t be ashamed for wanting connection.

I won’t be ashamed for reaching out.

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