Tag: looking forward

The Final Accounting for 2013

winter trees

This must be done.  Every year.

What I’m letting go of:

  • People who I have given the benefit of the doubt to repeatedly against all evidence that suggested I shouldn’t.  People who have consistently behaved like selfish assholes to those they should care for or at the very least show some respect to but never do.
  • My mom almost dying twice.  Her whole hospitalization.  All the fears that this experience brought up for me.
  • The last 7 years of trauma and misfortune and mistakes and pain and shame and fear and trying to fly while simultaneously cutting my own wings off.
  • The plants I left behind and wish were in my garden here because they are part of people I miss and love and left behind in Oregon and other places.
  • Things I can’t force or fit in the spaces I have allotted them.
  • The rotten self loathing I have been swimming in since I broke my hip.  That I have allowed to grow into a dangerous gangrenous shadow.
  • The network of routines and habits that are holding me hostage to that same spirit-swallowing rotting shadow.
  • The Shoulds, the would’ves, and the can’ts.

What I’m celebrating:

  • All the incredible people who, beyond any reasonable expectation that they should, have stood up with me and my loved ones to help us through the toughest times.  All my friends and family who have held my hand and loved me even when I hated myself.  All the people in my life who shine their light for me in the dark when my own light has run out of batteries.  I’m celebrating this great network of people who have made me laugh and hope and joined me in so many adventures.  More than that – I am recharging my batteries so that when it’s dark for you I can be your light the way you’ve done for me.
  • I’m celebrating that my mom is not just alive but continuing to regain her strength and her confidence and her sense of fun.  No amount of pain or fear I can feel around her trauma can equal what she has felt going through it.  I am also celebrating that this awful even came with unforeseen blessings in the shape of my sister who had to abandon her summer plans to be with us and who did it with such love and support and without hesitation.  I think my mom could not have come through this ordeal as well without Tara.  It gave me a chance to spend a lot of intense time with my sister and as a consequence I have never felt so close to her.  That is a true gift that I treasure.
  • So many wonderful and important things have happened in the past 7 years that outweigh the narrative of our misfortune.  It doesn’t matter, really, how we get to where we are right this minute, it’s a gift to have this minute at all and all the things we have experienced have led us here.  I have often said that I was living the perfect life for me right before it went completely off the rails but the truth is that one of the things I’ve always known I was supposed to be doing (writing novels) was something I wasn’t doing in that “perfect” life.  I hadn’t broken through the fiction barrier yet and what it took was to have my perfect life shaken up and turned upside down.  Eight years later and once again I’m starting to live the life I want to be living and there’s nothing perfect about it.  So the narrative of our misfortune also happens to be the narrative of our success.

(I was purposely matching up the things I’m letting go of with the things I’m celebrating as a reflection of how everything I’m letting go of is also something I’m celebrating, but I’m going off point for a second.  It bothers my OCD to have my points out of synch but this is me embracing how things don’t synch up comfortably that often in real life…)

  1. I fucking published my own novel and people are reading it and enjoying it!!!  I’m just going to sit here for a moment and enjoy this wild point I’ve been reaching for since I was a kid.  So far I think only 20 people have read it but it’s a beautiful 20.  It’s just the starting point and I’m allowed to be excited about it.
  • I have a new small garden to start over with and I wasn’t sure I would for half of this year.  Now I can gather seeds and cuttings from my friends all over again and start fresh.
  • I’m celebrating that those things that don’t fit in the spaces I have allotted them in my life don’t belong in it and letting them go makes room for the things that naturally fit into it.  Life is constantly shape-shifting and what fits into it changes too.  It never works to force things.  Let it all come together organically and it won’t break so easily.
  • The hip-breaking was a real watershed but self loathing isn’t all I grew from it.  I also became a lot more raw and connected to myself in a physical way – I have done a lot to destroy my body but I also have spent a lot more time IN IT, truly feeling it in a way I never did before.  There is room now for a deeper level of self respect than I was capable of before.  It’s going to be a long road back out from under that gangrenous shadow of self loathing – but I recognize in this the same opportunity for rebirth that I seized just before I turned 18 and told my self-harming spirit to choose either life or death, that I couldn’t live forever in the purgatory of neither being alive nor being dead.  I chose life.  For the second time in my life I recognize this same opportunity to choose to live or to die.  I’m choosing to live again.
  • I’m celebrating that the same aspect of my personality that allows routines to become dangerous and self-harming also allows me to change them into habits of health and greater mental stability.  Making the changes is hard but they are also self-perpetuating.  I CAN do this because I’m good at latching onto routines.  I did it 26 years ago.  And then refined my routine changes 24 years ago the first time I quit smoking and quit hanging out with toxic people and lived completely on my own and recreated my whole narrative and learned to laugh by myself and nurture myself as I had not previously known how to do.  I CAN do this.
  • I never dwell in the shoulds which are about other people forming expectations of you or making you believe that their yardstick for success is better than your own.  I let this go as a daily practice.  The minute I feel a should coming on I shatter it.

So many people I love are consumed by the sense of what they should want, what they should strive for, how they should behave, who they should love, what they should be doing, what they should be capable of, how they should look, what their lives should be like, and who they should be.  It’s all crap.  I’m asking all of you to shove the shoulds in the trash where they belong.  You’re the only one who gets to measure your success and happiness and if it looks totally different from everyone else’s – it’s okay.  Let go of how other people are seeing you or how they might be judging you.  Live the life YOU want to live.

It is not my practice to hang onto regrets but I have to admit that I have spent too much time in the last 7 years dwelling on the woulds and would’ves.  I have a lot of friends who spend way too much time dwelling on them too.  It doesn’t get us even a milimeter closer to our goals and dreams or happiness.  Regret is not a good tool for growth.  Everyone feels it, but we have to let it go quickly or it takes root and drives us into walls.  It doesn’t matter what would’ve happened if only we’d made a different choices than the ones we made.  Don’t dwell in that space.  It’s not important how things would’ve been different if…  The only thing that’s important when we make mistakes is to ask ourselves what we WILL do the next time we’re faced with a similar situation.  So let’s crush those would’ves in our bare hands and refuse to let them become the anthem of our lives.

The can’ts are something I work hard at not indulging in.  I have a habit of dreaming big.  The blessing in this is that there isn’t much I tell myself I can’t do.  I CAN become a career novelist.  I CAN become a better mother.  I CAN become a better friend.  I CAN listen to people.  I CAN move beyond my pain.  I CAN make most things I set my mind to.  But sometimes I come across a barrier so big I feel defeated before I have even raised a hammer to try to break it down.  I have learned to ask for help.  I have learned to chip away at barriers even when it seems to make no dent or change.  I fall down, I get up, I fall down, I get up again.  Sometimes my friends help me get back up again because they believe I CAN even when I don’t.  So, my friends who are staring down the great wall of can’ts – listen to those people around you who are telling you that you CAN.  They aren’t lying to you.  They aren’t making empty promises.  They aren’t blowing wind out their asses for a lark.  They see things in you that you don’t always see in yourself.  Let’s celebrate all that we CAN do together.

Dammit.  I totally ruined the whole perfectly sequential points that I thought I cleverly fixed with the addition of the one numbered point by separating the last item into three.  Errrrrrgh!  I’m not changing it.  It will just have to be jacked up because I can’t take any of it back just to keep order.  You probably don’t even know what I’m talking about since my order is generally off-kilter anyway.

I’m halfway through the last day of the year, my favorite day of the year, and I feel peaceful, hopeful, and happy.  I want the same for all of you too!  I wish this feeling was a communicable disease.  I’d infect you all mercilessly!  I’d love to know what you’re letting go of and what you’re celebrating from 2013 before we say goodbye.  But only if you feel like sharing.


I Believe In New Beginnings

I didn’t mean to spend half of today writing a heavy post about rape and gender.  It took me close to five hours to write that post.  I am tempted to say I wish I was the kind of person who could set these issues aside, that I didn’t have a pit bull mind crushing a hundred pounds of pressure on the questions that meet my teeth, but I can’t because I don’t wish for an easier mind.  I have come to value what gifts I have and if they make me dark at times, if they cast shadows against your light I can’t apologize for it.  I have always been willing to pay the consequences for my curiosity, for my anger, for my accusations, for pointing uncomfortable questions in everyone’s direction.

I have paid dearly and it’s still worth it.

It’s exquisitely uncomfortable having an obsessive mind and one that will not toe the social line.

I have rarely spared myself.  I try to always be human in my exploration of this world we share.  I know I’m not always right.  I have always been willing to recognize this publicly.  I have always been willing to listen to other people even when it hurts to do so.  And I have always trusted myself enough to know when it’s time to step away or shut someone out who isn’t interested in arriving at a mutual truth.

This mind of mine is something I will take with all its traps and dark corners because it also encourages me to find arcs of healing light.

There are only three things I want to change about myself and that’s my body size, how much alcohol I drink, and that I cry.  All terribly private and destructive sources of self loathing.  I want to hurt myself for having gotten so fat.  I want to hurt myself  for letting my drinking get out of control (though it’s self fulfilling as the drinking itself is very damaging).  And I want to hurt myself viciously every time I cry in front of another human being.  I know this is not healthy.  I want to rip my skin open every time I expose my vulnerability to others.*

I was exhausted after writing the heavy today.  So I’m up now that the whole house is asleep and I have watched a few reruns of SNL on Netflix and cleaned my office and set up my inspiration doors and done dishes and taken out recycling and here I am.  It’s 2am.  Officially the last day of the year.  My favorite day of the year.  Even more than my birthday.  More than thanksgiving.  More than the first day when summer air gives way to the vague chill of autumn.

Winter is open today.

My season is TODAY.  My time is NOW.

I am a pragmatic person and know that calenders are the imagination and organization of time by humankind.  I know that the New Year is just a symbolic turning of the page – a pretend point at which the days are reset – I know that nothing really changes.  I know that resolutions are illusions and that time marches on exactly the same as it has every other day of the year.  Still…

I believe in new beginnings.

I believe in fresh starts.

I believe in clean slates.

I don’t believe in deities or devils or voodoo or magic wands or fairies or goblins or fountains of youth.

I have no use for such things.

But I can always use a new beginning.  I feel it every time I move house.  I feel it every time I end a destructive relationship.  I feel it every time I start a new project.  I feel it every time I press a fresh hope against my skull.  I feel it every time I look at my son and see what old mores he’s shedding – what new humor he’s exploring.

The curse of the obsessive mind is that it doesn’t let go of anything and doesn’t distinguish between positive and negative – it just grips everything with equal strength and endurance.

The blessing of the obsessive mind is that it never gives up hope.  Never.  I am essentially an alcoholic**.  I am obese.  After 25 years of promising not to hurt myself again I am still fighting the urge nearly every day.  I am such a fucking mess of a person.  But I believe that I can heal, that I can change, that I can fix myself on MY TERMS.

The blessing of the obsessive mind is that as assiduously as it grips the negative – it grips the positive.

I can’t let go of hope.  I hold onto it every single day because it’s what has kept me alive.  It’s what has allowed my life to bloom with gifts of love and support and laughter.  It’s what has given me the strength to become a better person all the time.  I’m not calcifying as a middle aged person because my obsessive brain won’t let me.

I’m about to drop a little more heavy but only in the service of the light I seek as my spirit season opens.  I am a winter girl.  I like the dark days, I feel alive as temperatures drop, I am awake and alive and this is the most regenerative time of year for me.

I am a snow bird.

This has been a long fucking year.  It has held terrors for me and truths that have choked my airways.  It featured the douche-brothers and the first suicidal ideation I have experienced since I was 26 years old.  The dark has been like chloroform.  It’s time for a list to burn:

  • This year started by finding out we finally got approved for the Hamp loan which was supposed to help us hang onto our house in McMinnville.  We paid one month’s new mortgage (barely a relief from the original mortgage) before I saw my husband come home broken- spirited and realized that it was imperative that we get out of McMinnville.
  • I hadn’t admitted to Philip that I had already been fantasizing about dying for months before we agreed to move.  Because I wasn’t going to be the crazy-ass reason we abandoned the second house we owned in McMinnville.  I wasn’t going to open the closet of horrors.
  • When Philip admitted he had looked at job listings in the Bay Area I told him that he needed to decide that that’s what he wanted or not because once the door was open to move back home I was not going to be able to shut it.
  • Max had one of the toughest school years ever at the Charter School.  Certain things had improved but in so many ways his behaviors disintegrated and his health was weakened by anxieties.
  • Once Philip opened the door to moving home I let all my bitterness and heartache and loneliness and suicidal feelings generated by McMinnville flood out of my heart onto my carpet which no amount of spray could cleanse or erase.  It was visceral and toxic and dangerous.
  • There were months of Philip secretly looking for work.  I couldn’t share.  I couldn’t breath my own desperate pleas to the universe to give Philip a good job with benefits.  It wore us both down.  But Philip’s morale could not have been worse.  There are not so many jobs out there for graphic artists, what with this awful depression we’ve been in the middle of for years.
  • Philip moved to California without us.  I have not been separated from Philip for more than 10 days in the course of our 19 years of marriage.  He moved with a truckload of shit.  He left me in the town that made me want to die.  It needed to be.  I HAD to be.
  • The last month before our move was a hell.  A complete and devastating HELL.  I started drinking so much that even Russian alcoholics would be impressed with how much beer it would take to make me even a little tipsy.  I ate cheese by the block and gained all the weight  back I had previously lost.  Every single day I just did what I had to to not fall apart.
  • I still mostly fell apart.  My bowels pretty much staged a revolution and I haven’t been the same since.  It’s been so profound that I developed internal hemorrhoids which was only officially diagnosed last week after my first ever rectal exam accompanied by the most humiliating panic attack I’ve had in a decade in front of the doctor.
  • It took medals of honor from all our friends and family to get us back home and I am still thanking and blessing and wishing gold glitter on everyone who helped us achieve the impossible.

We have been home six months.  Philip loves his job.  We love my mom and aunt’s house that we’re living in.  Max is thriving in school for the moment and I feel so much support and love from my friends here.  I just spent Christmas morning with my guys and my mom and it was cozy and comfortable and happy.  Then we went south to my dad’s house and partied with family and family friends and it felt so good to be at my dad’s again.  Jews throw the BEST Christmas parties, in case you didn’t know.

Tonight I have finished unpacking.  Completely.  It was important to get it done so that this new year is completely fresh and unsullied by the business of this past year.

I am happy.

Other than those three things I hate about myself.

I believe in new beginnings.

I believe in fresh starts.

I believe in clean slates.

As flawed as I am, I have enough power to believe in them for you too.

*I am giving you the polite version of my feelings and the level of self harm I am inspired to inflict.  It is testament to my self control that I DON’T rip my skin open and haven’t since I was 17 years old.

**In most things I am open to discussion and your opinions – in this matter I am not open at all.  I only share this because I feel I need to be honest right now and say the truth.  “Alcoholic” is a dangerous term in my opinion.  I know what most Americans think about it – that it is an unfixable condition.  That once an alcoholic – always and alcoholic.  I refuse to subscribe to this.  I need to find my own way and in my own time.  I have been protective of myself in this regard until today.  I have alluded but not admitted my problem outright  because I don’t want to give any of you the power to crush me, to destroy my hope, to preach, to proselytize, to harp on me.  I have my own journey in this way and it is unacceptable to me to never drink alcohol again in my life.  If this is, in fact, the way it ends up needing to be – I’m going to get there because I see it for myself.  This is one of the rare times I am unwilling to listen to any of you if you think I can’t do this my way.  So criticize or moralize at your own peril.  I am feeling very protective of myself even in having opened up enough to admit my problem out loud.