May

Oh, May
I would kiss your feet,
Had you any

Though perhaps,
I suppose, 
You might
Perhaps they are the roots
Of the trees
Bursting forth 
In your many
Shades of sacred green
I count them
As a kiss to you

Perhaps your fingers
Are the rivers and streams
Which run down 
From thawing mountain tops
With my bare feet,
I wade within them,
And close my eyes
To hear their cursive song
And sing it
As a kiss to you

Either which way
I wonder at your
Exquisite display
At your feet,
I delightedly fall,
And kiss your colors
I kiss them all

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take care, pt 2

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Yet another tool I’ve found on this Inner Quest is the Enneagram test. Now, I realize personality tests are merely human-made attempts at determining types of people, which can be limiting and problematic, but I really do love them. “The Color Code,” 16 Personalities/Myer’s Briggs, and “What Color is Your Aura?” have been immensely enlightening to me in terms of understanding myself, and especially in appreciating and making room for others to be what they are, instead of resisting and judging them or seeing their traits as threatening proof that I’m a useless garbage person.

(I’m a White/Blue in the Color Code, INFP-T in Myer’s Briggs, and have an aura of Lavender, if you wanted to know. Please don’t use this information against me.)

What I find uniquely useful about the Enneagram is the way it spells out in explicit detail your type’s shortcomings and unhealthy tendencies, and how to combat them. My friend Mallory had me take it when we were hanging out one night, and I have to admit the results were so accurate and poignant that I was somewhat emotionally thrown-off (aka: triggered and pathetically butt-hurt) for a week.

Months later, my friend Tizzy mentioned she’d been listening to videos about her type, and it had been helping her a lot. I was in a bit of a rut, and figured because the results had been somewhat triggering, it meant I most likely needed to revisit them and suss out what they had to tell me.

As it happens, I’m a Four – The Individualist. “The sensitive, withdrawn type: expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental.”

HA.

The dominant emotion of a Four is shame, which makes absolute sense. Shame is the feeling that something is inherently wrong with you, that you are deficient or broken. I have felt this way all of my life, and it has held me back in various ways.

To quote the website, “Fours attempt to control their shame by focusing on how unique and special their particular talents, feelings, and personal characteristics are. Fours highlight their individuality and creativity as a way of dealing with their shameful feelings, although Fours are the type most likely to succumb to feelings of inadequacy. Fours also manage their shame by cultivating a rich, romantic fantasy life in which they do not have to deal with whatever in their life seems drab or uninteresting to them.”

I spent quite a bit of time going over these results, and listened to a video I found quite helpful in which the host went through a list of basic recommendations for my type to live a healthy life. I ended up taking notes, and turned them into a letter to read to myself every morning. I’ve found the thoughts I think in the morning have great effects on my day, and life in general. I thought I’d share the letter here as well.

Hello Dear Self, and Good Morning,

I know that the morning has never been your best time, but remember once you wake up and get going, you always feel better and wish you had gotten an earlier start on your day. Your life is fantastic, and you have every reason to be excited about being alive today. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
 

There is no reason to be overwhelmed. You are an exceptionally capable person, which you have proven to yourself time and again. All you need to do right now is get up and do what needs to be done. Just show up for your life, do your best, and trust that it’s good enough. Trust that you are good enough. Trust that you are capable of far more than you can possibly conceive, and you will achieve so much more than you even dare imagine right now.

You are not inherently flawed. You know very well that is a lie your ego tells you in order to keep you victimized and “safe.” You know at your core you are much less interested in a safe and limiting cage than you are in having expansive adventures and achieving your destiny. 

You have a personality. You are lovable and perfectly acceptable, and you deserve to give yourself acceptance and love. You have a purpose. You can be present. Be mindful of the way you talk to yourself. Be kind to yourself in your own mind. Accept yourself completely, and be a true friend to yourself.

Do the mundane things. You are capable of them. You’re extremely creative and innovative, and you’ll always do things in your own way, but be sure to work consistently in the real world, not in the idealized world in your head. You must learn to bring your visions into the real world.

Your feelings are not always the best source of information for you. They are not facts. Let them come and go, like waves on the shore, and clouds in the sky. Don’t pay so much attention to them. Don’t equate your identity with them. You can set them aside and do what needs to be done in life.

Avoid putting things off until you’re in the right mood. Commit yourself to being productive, doing meaningful work, and making a contribution to others. Not just when you’re inspired, but on a daily basis.

You are at your best when you get lost in your work, and you have a lot of great and exciting work to do. You’re happiest when you’re working, even though you rarely feel like it at first. You know by now the only way forward for you is to throw yourself in. You are at your best when you lose your identity and just show up to life and do what needs to be done. Make a contribution. 

Remember, “Life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself.” You will not create yourself in a vacuum of daydreams. You create yourself through experience and connection. Your self-esteem and confidence and sense of identity develops through experiences, whether you believe you’re ready for them or not. You don’t need any more time. Stop putting your life on hold.

Practice self-discipline. Get sleep, exercise, be in a routine. This will give you more freedom. It’s the easel and the canvas through which you can express yourself.

Avoid lengthy conversations in your own imagination. I know this is difficult. But you know you can get better at anything with practice.

Remember to serve others. Refuse the tendency to dig up the past. Take nothing personally.

-Meg

 

take care, pt 1

Put your ear down close to your soul, and listen hard.”
-Anne Sexton

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One of my main interests and pursuits is self-discovery. It is at the heart of most of what I do. It is one of my truest desires to open every single door within my psyche, to examine with an open mind what each room holds, to heal, align, balance, and reclaim within myself that great big Everything we all hold.

I’ve decided to refuse to accept my life-long, ego-based belief that something is fundamentally wrong with me, that I’m simply deficient and broken. I’ve done enough work now to know that simply cannot be the case.

It feels important to document my progress, mostly for my own reference, but also because I know many people have the same struggles, and it never hurts to share what’s working.

I have learned to unabashedly love therapy. I see three different therapists now. Well, one is a psychologist, Dr. Southwick, who has helped me immensely with the physiological aspects that have been contributing to my Depression and Anxiety. I wanted to try everything before turning to medication (not that there is anything wrong with medication, this was just my own instinct on what I needed). She recommended these vitamins, and I never would have expected what a difference taking them regularly has made. I’m much more stable. After two months of taking them, my symptoms had improved by 50%. Compared to my past, this winter has been an absolute breeze as far as Seasonal Depression goes. I can’t recommend them, or her, enough.

I still see Connie Perrett at The Institute of Healing Arts for Emotional Processing or “Virtual Reality Therapy” about once a month. I’ve been doing this work with her regularly for about three years now because she’s the best facilitator out there.

It’s a powerful modality in which I’m able to heal my inner child, balance my ego, weed out the belief systems I’ve picked up in the past that no longer serve me, replace them with much more empowering and authentic ways of being and living, and essentially get in touch with my deep knowing, intuition, the part of myself that has everything I need. It’s changed my life in various and radical ways. It’s helped me develop my own ability to visualize and communicate with my subconscious. What I like most about it is it empowers you to be able to find your own answers, rather than spoon-feeding them to you like some other modalities and therapies tend to do.

I also recently started seeing Emily Thevenin at Honey Rose Haven. I talk to everyone about her lately. She feels like a missing piece, a presence and source of wisdom and knowledge I’ve been craving for many, many moons. Talking with her is like nothing I’ve ever experienced, a continuous flow of inspiration, nourishment and expansion.

Drew has joined me as well, because we wanted to find someone to help us address the way we’ve both evolved and changed so much in the past few years, how our roles have shifted, and how to negotiate such a shift while remaining both in integrity with ourselves and each other. It’s a complex process, one I think any couple married as young as us must work through. Who doesn’t change drastically from age 21 to 29? I’m impressed with how far we’ve gotten on our own, but we’ve wanted to make sure we’re going about it in the healthiest ways possible.

I am all too grateful to have a partner so willing to grow and evolve with me. But that’s an entire blog post of its own.

Emily has a gift for reading people, for quickly getting down to the root of things. At one point in a session, she said, “Meg, I get the impression that there is a part of you that wants to run away from what feels safe and secure. Because your childhood was somewhat chaotic, you associate chaos with love, and are therefore drawn to creating chaos in your life.”

I was stunned. It felt like she had opened up my heart and read it like a book. Ever since I was quite young, there has been a part of me that feels like a wild animal. It has caused me to feel uncomfortable, estranged and alienated in any setting that is conventional and supportive. When it rears its head, it makes me want to tear my clothes off, burn my life down, and run on my hands and knees as far away as my body will take me. Maybe Australia, though the ocean might get in the way. But I’ll figure that out later.

Then I wonder to myself, “Why am I thinking this? My life is wonderful. It’s better than I ever imagined it could be. What is wrong with me?” And so begins a cycle of shame I’ve never fully been able to find my way out of.

But I feel myself doing so now. What I’ve learned from Emily is this:

There is no single part of us that is bad or wrong. The way to a healthy life is through continuously realigning yourself with that truth. The way to truth is through healing. The way to healing is through integration – the purging of dichotomy, of this or that, black or white, absolutes, extremes. The way to integrate is to feel and welcome every single feeling and aspect of your psyche, ask it what it needs, and why it’s here rather than suppressing it, numbing it, avoiding it, saying with your every action that it isn’t welcome here and you don’t value the message it’s bringing or the part of you that it represents. The more you suppress it, the louder it will get, which can lead to extremely damaging behaviors and circumstances.

The way to integration is through reclamation.

I love my inner Wild. She is my fire, my vitality, my courage, creativity and strength. She’s simply had some things to say for a long time to which I haven’t been willing or able to listen. I can see now how this has contributed to mental illness, to self-sabotage, to low self-esteem. But I’m listening now.

reclamation

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fragmented girl,
you must let it go –
there are parts of yourself
you were never meant
to know
fragmented girl,
just let it be –
there are parts of yourself
we simply don’t need
to see
fragmented girl,
you must accept what is –
quit kicking against pricks
and have yourself
a few kids
fragmented girl,
my patience wears thin –
you were born to play this game;
you were
never
meant
to win //
RE
CLA
MA
TION

Vampires

I have often found myself considering of late, and have seen many examples of the way so many of us put up with treatment we don’t deserve. The way we allow ourselves to remain in situations that limit us, have us us abdicating what is rightfully ours to claim, due to low self-worth and a scarcity mindset.

We don’t speak the message of our hearts. We don’t stand our ground, or honor ourselves, all in order to maintain some status quo, some dastardly facade attempting to mimic our truest desires to keep us complacent. We’ve been bamboozled into believing we need this imposter which, in reality, we would be much better off without.

We are trapped in an illusion of scarcity, this notion that there isn’t enough of what we want and need, that we are therefore meant to accept the scraps, and subserviently kiss the hand which offers them. We’ve been trained to believe that if we articulate and set a standard for what we know in our deep knowing we deserve, we’ll be abandoned, exiled, forever an outcast left missing even the scraps.

This frustrates me in earnest, because I have learned through my own experience it is not a truth. It is a cruel simulation to which predatory creatures, as well as the the predatory aspects of our psyche, like to keep others enslaved, dependent upon. It is a means of manipulation, a way to keep these living parasites, these actual vampires, feeling justified. It is a mechanism of deflection, which, like a cloak, keeps them guarded against their deepest fear — that is, the knowledge and reality of their own reflection, and the responsibility which inevitably follows.

They use us, you see. They use the sensitive, the earnest, those of us who are so inclined to idealism, we are blind to the possible threats of depravity around us. Knowing we are one others can trust, we trust others. Blinded by the notion of the romantic, the idealistic, separated from the abundance of instincts our absent self-worth lends, we walk right into traps.

Too late do we come to see the shackles so cunningly placed around our limbs. Some of us choose never to see them, for it is a difficult thing to admit to ourselves we have been a complacent servant to a plot that has been actively working against our own well-being. In this way, we begin to become what we despise; our own cowardly vampire. It is a difficult and painful thing to acknowledge our own self-betrayal. And yet, it is only through this pain we can ever again be set free. It is only this spell of truth which holds the power to dissolve the curse of scarcity.

It is a lie, this scarcity. It is a boldfaced, blockheaded attempt at making us blind participants in a devious plot to keep every creature involved trapped in a low-vibrational, highly victimized state of being.

I do not mean to say that the ringleaders — whether manifested as an actual person, or a part of our inner landscape — of these unfortunate schemes are evil – for what is evil, truly? Merely open wounds. Give a wound the healing it needs, and eventually it ceases to be a source of any suffering or destruction. I only mean to say, the giving of our energy to any fellow creature or belief system which plays such a role is futile. It is a waste. It is not a responsibility to which we have any actual obligation.

Do not believe the scheming whispers of scarcity. Give no heed its subtle agenda of belittling and disempowering what is, in truth and by very nature, a source of power, meaning you. Do not accept, upon advocating for your own well-being, exile as your fate. Do not be afraid to cut away that which drains, that which undermines, that which devalues you. Do not be afraid to cut away that which steals your power. Do not believe any figure pontificating tales of your inevitable demise should you ever dare to do so. Call any bindle stiff proclaiming such fallacy just what they are – liar, coward, vampire, open and festering wound.

Do not be afraid, for it is only in the clearing of what never truly served that we make room to welcome our most earnest and ardent desires. Trust abundance. Trust that there is more, so much more waiting for you on the other side of fear than what injudicious scarcity has the capacity to conceive.

just as the trees shed their leaves

Something is happening to me, energetically, molecularly, if it is indeed possible for one to know or sense such things. I think it is. I think we are much more aware, and know much more about ourselves than we usually dare admit, or even know how to be conscious of. It’s difficult to describe, but suffice it to say, there has been a shift. It feels as though I am still in it, still en route, but this particular stage in my personal journey feels almost complete.

It feels like I’m finally, conclusively shedding a very old layer, just as the trees shed their leaves. It feels like breaking out of a prison, realizing I had the keys all along, or leaving behind an old demon who I sense has been with me almost from the beginning. The one that has always insisted that I tread lightly. The one that taught me to always be on alert, putting out codependent feelers to gauge which version of myself would be most acceptable and likable in any given situation, and adapt. Shape-shift. Betray myself for external approval and acceptance.

The thing about external approval and acceptance — It isn’t real. It is illusion, counterfeit, fallacy. This gift of acceptance of oneself cannot be received from outward sources. You will see, once you have it in your hands, the way it turns to dust.

It is written in our hearts just as it is written in the very stars: Self-acceptance is a gift we can only give to ourselves.

And I know, you’ve heard me talk about this before. That’s because this is a truth, a concept I’ve been working very hard for a long time to trust and accept. Essentially, myself, my wholeness, my true nature — that it is acceptable, and nothing I must fight against or betray; that the more I fight against it, the more trapped I will become; that others fighting against it is really them fighting against their own wholeness and true nature, and nothing I must take responsibility for.

It feels as though I’ve stepped into a new way of being where I say what I think, and trust my perspective and instincts over anyone else’s. I’m finally in a place where I value being in integrity with myself over being liked.

And, for me, that is really something. For me, it feels like reaching a goal I’ve been working toward, fighting for, focusing on, for many, many moons. There have been countless points where I felt it wasn’t possible, that I would never really get there.

There is still much work to be done. I still have many layers to shed, many battles to fight and many miles to go. But this feels like progress. It feels like a moment to celebrate a hard-won personal, internal victory.

I guess this is (was) July

Tizzy drives me to my dad’s after our night out. I’m grateful. Drew is out of town playing softball, and I get so unreasonably scared when I have to walk into our empty house at night. Except, it doesn’t feel unreasonable. Crazy things happen in this world. People do terrible things to other people, regularly. I’ve always been more aware of that than I want to be.

The night previous, I had sat in my car in the dark for many moments, paralyzed. I almost hadn’t been able to walk into our house at all.

Earlier that day, I had been to lunch with my dad, and half-jokingly told him I might be calling him late to come walk through the house with me, make sure there’s no monsters. He said, “Why don’t you just come crash at my place? You can sleep in your old room, I’ll make you coffee and bacon and eggs in the morning. I would love it, more than you know.”

And I think, how do I turn that down? The cat will be fine.

Tizz and I had been dancing in Salt Lake for Hailey’s birthday with her and Mason and Miles and some of their friends who I’ve seen on occasion. I realize I have a full-on complex now, about feeling old. I’m only 28, which really isn’t old. But being 28 around people younger than 23 has a way of showing you how much even just a year can count, how much it can hold, how much it does to you, opens or closes in you, changes you. Not that it makes me feel better or worse, but it’s new. It’s a new thing to get used to, I guess is all I’m saying. A new awareness, a new experience. And I’m sure I think about it, worry about it more than I need to. But that’s sort of my entire identity, so.

We dance and dance the way I only can with this little clan of people. Especially Tizz. It’s been sort of a pillar of our friendship from the beginning. It was one of the first major signs, the way we dance, that we are spiritual kin, members of the same tribe. It feels tribal to dance with her, mystical, conjuring. It feels better than most things.

Soul Siblings, is what they call it, her and Kenzy. That’s what we are. And it makes sense. They’ve always felt more like family than friends, the way we’ve loved and hated each other at different points. But at the end of the day, it’s clear. We know we belong together.

As we dance, I think about everything we’ve been through together through the years. It’s a strange feeling, to be able to say I’ve been friends with someone for 14 years. I moved a lot as a kid. That’s how old I was when I met them, 14.

It’s all so strange, growing up. It’s the strangest thing I’ve yet to experience.

It’s 3:30 a.m. when I arrive, and my dad is wide awake, watching a Bruce Lee movie with the volume at full-blast, because he’s hard of hearing just like I’m starting to be. Only it isn’t Bruce Lee, it’s Bruce Lee’s son playing Bruce Lee. A very “my dad” kind of movie. Of course, he knows the names of all of the actors and what year it was made. He always does. I don’t know how he always does. He had texted me earlier in the evening, around 11:30, “Meg, are you ok?” I responded that yes, I was, why? He said he was thinking of me and just wanted to make sure. I thought, how nice that is.

I walk in the door, and he’s stoked to see me. He always is. I think that I’m lucky to have parents who like me, who see who I am and let me know they accept and are proud of that person. I think a lot of people don’t really get to feel that way. I also have come to see that it’s a fair trade for all of the dysfunction.

I take off my boots and sit at his table while he warms up a noodle dish for me. It’s delicious. I always forget he can make pretty good food when it isn’t his tuna casserole. I scarf it down, not realizing how hungry I was.

I manage to wash my face and brush my teeth, and I pass out on his big, comfy couch with a million pillows and blankets as he continues watching Bruce Lee just a few feet away. It feels like sleeping in a cloud. I know it isn’t just the couch, it’s that I feel safe here. At home. Watched-over. Cared-for in the way only a daughter can feel from her dad. I didn’t realize how badly I needed that. I think to myself at some point that everyone should go have sleepovers at their parents house after they grow up, just every once in a while.

I wake up at 5 or so and move myself to my old room. I haven’t slept there in years. The window is open. He doesn’t like using the A/C, that’s the northern Californian in him. I panic a little at first, thinking that it’s too hot. Drew grew up sleeping in a basement, and likes to sleep cold. I’ve learned to like it as well. But then I remember this is how we used to sleep some of the time, my family, and that I enjoyed it.

When I was 11, we moved from the childhood dream of Richfield to this crappy little house in Orem. The AC wasn’t working yet, and it was mid-summer, very hot. I remember getting a towel wet, and wrapping it around my head before bed. It kept me cool enough to sleep. I remember having an odd sense of pride in finding a solution for myself. I got used to being adaptable, to learning the little tricks to things like sleeping in the heat. And anyway, my dad and I both like open windows, hearing the sounds of outside, feeling the fresh air. My fondest memories of him involve him insisting that we “Open up those windows!” whenever it was raining. I love feeling connected to that, and sleeping partly tangled under just a light sheet. There’s something about it. I suppose mostly it’s what I know, it’s what I came from. It feels good to be back in touch with that, for a fleeting moment.

I hate that part of growing up, the part where you have to give up your childhood in order to have adulthood. At some point, you have the leave your home, and you can’t come back again. Not in the same way. You can’t go back to being that person, that kid. You leave and, no matter how much you love your adulthood, there is some part of you that is bound to be a little homesick and heartbroken for the rest of your life. That’s the deal. That’s living, growing. That’s love, whatever that is.

I wake up later in the morning, and a trip across the hall to the bathroom shows me my dad ended up on the couch again. He seems half-awake. I want to keep sleeping. It’s so quiet and peaceful in this house. I didn’t always feel that way here, but I do now, and as I lay my head back down on the soft pillow, my heart is a warm little ball of gratitude.

I finally wake up again around 10:30. I don’t feel embarrassed for how late I slept, like I usually do when I sleep anywhere other than home. But I suppose that’s part of what home is about – having a place where you don’t need to feel embarrassed about the way you are, a place where things like that are just understood.

He’s already made coffee for me. I get myself a cup, and go back to sit on the couch. It’s a lovely sleepy summer Sunday morning with nowhere to be and nothing I must do. It feels right, like I’m in the right place. I love that feeling. It’s one of my very favorite feelings of all.

He asks, “Anything from mom?”

It’s always such a fraught subject. Mom. Such a big word. Such a black hole of feeling no amount of the heaviest cement could fill. I say, no, I haven’t heard anything. I knew she had tried to drive drunk, and that she was arrested last night. But that’s all. We move on to other subjects.

I like talking to my dad, and I like the way we don’t have to always be talking. He’s a really intelligent person, and has had an interesting life. I think I only just realized that a few years ago, which seems to be another part of adulthood, of your brain developing. That, oh, my parents are people. They existed before me, for, like, a while. Mind-blowing. I’ve started asking them both questions that I never used to think of or was too afraid to ask. It’s surprised me how much they enjoy answering. It’s surprised me how much I enjoy their answers. Life is surprising. I can certainly say that.

He gets up to go make me breakfast. How nice that is. I go into the kitchen for more coffee. We make eye contact, and both laugh. I don’t know why. I think we’re both excited inside that we’re just sort of hanging out, like friends. It’s fun to let go of the labels of what a child and parent are and just be people together. People who like being together. It’s cool. It’s weird. It’s sometimes awkward, but only when I think about it too hard. It’s just, when it comes down to it, I think my dad’s a pretty cool guy. I’m glad to belong to him.

Breakfast is swell. I eat it just as ravenously as last night’s noodles. I never used to like breakfast food, and am suddenly obsessed with it as of late. What is that?

We start watching My Father the Hero, which I’ve never seen before, and seems to oddly fit the theme of the present moment. We laugh a lot. It’s funny. There’s a part in it where the dad is trying to get his teenage daughter to come outside and look at the moon. He exclaims, “Look at the goddamn moon! It’s glorious!” I laughed really hard at that, because that’s how I always feel about the moon: Really! Excited! In an oddly angry! And aggressive way!

This reminds me of Tizz, of a video she took of me the weekend just before. In it, I am aghast, obnoxiously trying to get her attention. When I do, I point upward, to the moon. She somehow knew to be recording right at that moment. She’s good at that. It’s one of her witchy gifts, a manifestation of the way she sees people. She typed on the video, “She gets me,” referring to our shared Moon Love. I think about how much I love that, and that the previous night had been a lot of fun. Just pure, actual fun. What with mental illness, my inner Saboteur, I don’t have a lot of that. I look back on all of the photos I took, and revel in the feel and color that only being out at night in summertime can give.

I text Drew good morning, update him on what’s happening with my mom. I feel fine about it. But also I don’t. I don’t know how every feeling I have anymore is always double-sided. This, as well as that. One thing, as well as the exact opposite. I don’t know how it’s possible, but it is. There’s an anxious twinge in my stomach, but a peaceful warmth in my heart. There’s a lump in my throat, but a big stupid smile on my face. I don’t get it. I don’t know. But Drew is the only person I know who seems to fully see, understand and love that about me. I didn’t realize until we got together how badly I needed that. He is my life’s biggest gift, what I always wanted but could never articulate – a man every bit as glorious as the moon.

I think maybe I should go home, shower, get ready for the day. Be productive. Instead, I end up wandering back into my old room. I open up boxes my dad has put there, full of my old Breyer horse figurines. I find one I especially loved, pause as I look at it, and begin to cry.

I had forgotten this part of me that had been boxed up in an attic for decades. I hadn’t been to visit her in so long. I begin to feel a sense of buckling, under the weight of it all. All of the moments, feelings, memories, connections. How do we hold it all? How long can I continue on before I break or burst?

I hear my dad coming down the hall, and make myself stop crying. I wonder to myself why it is we instinctually hide our pain from each other, when what we need is to let it out, be seen and supported in it.

I realize I am suddenly having so many thoughts at once. I think I drank too much coffee. I think I need to lay down. I do lay down.

Just then, I get a phone call from my mom. She says she’s just walking out of jail. She asks if her new husband told me anything. I say, yes, he called and said you were pulling out of the driveway completely drunk and we didn’t know what to do other than let the police know. I had asked her earlier that day not to drive drunk. But when she gets in that state, she just can’t stop herself, from driving, from spitting white hot venom, from lashing out.

I worry about her constantly. Where she is, how she’s doing, What head space she’s in. I wish I didn’t. I wish that wasn’t how it always ends up. I wish that wasn’t seemingly the only way I know how to do love and life – through worry, anxiety. It’s crippling. It’s so heavy. I’ve done so much work to learn a new way, and sometimes I do well. But it’s always more work to stay there, and sometimes I don’t manage it. Sometimes I can’t.

She says she’s so sorry. I tell her I know, I’ve just been worried. She apologizes again, asks, “Why do I always do this?” And it’s sincere. I can tell. It’s one of those rare moments where she’s crystal clear, she’s all there, all her.

It’s hurting, I know. It always hurts her to be present. There’s too many open wounds in her soul for it not to. She needs healing, but it horrifies her. You can see it. You can easily tell in those rare moments in which she addresses it, or when it’s too built up and is making its way out of her, you can tell she’s scared to death. You can tell she thinks it might just kill her, to feel and face all of that pain. She’s only ever known to run away, numb, escape into oblivion again and again and again. It’s the only way she knows how to live.

And I’m grateful to know that, to have been able to come to see that truth in her. It’s a truth that has set me free from past anger and resentments. I don’t have to be mad at her anymore. All I have to do is love her.

I think about all of the things she’s been through. I don’t even know the half of them and I know it’s more than anyone should have to face. I think of how she protected me from them when I didn’t even realize it, how she was brave and honest with me so I wouldn’t have to make the same mistakes or feel the same pain. I think of how grateful I am to her for that. I think, when it really comes down to it, that it’s so much more than enough. It doesn’t matter that she’s still in it. Because she did everything she could to shield me from all of that horror.

Her love has always been so much more than enough.

“It’s okay mom,” I say, “I just love you, and I want you to be okay.” I wonder if we ever will be. I wonder if any of us will. But we have to keep trying, you know? We at least have to try.

I update my dad on what’s happened. I tell him it’s time for me to go home. I start doing the dishes, but he tells me to leave it. I stand in his kitchen, all of the dishes from breakfast scattered around, and I feel so at home. I feel at home in messes, in chaos. I think to myself, no wonder I’ve never been able to keep my room or car or purse clean. No wonder I seem to thrive when things are falling apart. I think to myself, my poor husband. How is it me he’s chosen?

I gather my things, say goodbye to my dad, get into my car. It always hurts, saying goodbye. I don’t know why. I know he lives just minutes away. I know he’ll answer any time I call. But whenever I pull out of that driveway, and see him standing there waving at me, there is a twinge, an ache. I have to swallow it down.

I then know in this moment the only thing to do is listen to Conor Oberst. “Next of Kin,” to be exact. This surprises me because that song has been one of the few of his I ever sometimes feel like skipping. It’s too real, too sobering for some moments. But this moment was exactly that. It also surprises me that I choose the one from Salutations, not Ruminations. I had always preferred the latter, the demo version, without the full band accompaniment. The first version of a song that I hear usually ends up being the one I love most. But I could suddenly see, feel the newer version in a way I never had before. It felt right, complete.

I turn up the stereo, but not as loud as usual. It feels like my thoughts need more space in the car today. I’m having so many of them. A download, Tizz & Kenz call that. I’m in a download, so I play it not as loud as usual. But still pretty loud. My windows are down. For some reason, I’m just in the mood to feel the heat, to love it for what it is, knowing that all too soon, it will be gone. I’m a mess. I haven’t showered or brushed my hair, which is blowing everywhere in the hot dry heat. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror above my steering wheel and feel more beautiful and alive and like myself than I have in many moons.

I pass people walking out of church buildings, I worry they feel irritated by my music. But I hope, in their cores, they could understand that in this moment I’m not trying to be irreverent. I’m doing my own worshiping, in my own way. I’m connecting to what feels like God to me, too. What has always felt like God to me – that combination of words and melody. Of poetry and song. How it fuels me, supports me, teaches me, challenges me, holds me, knows me. How it heals me.

I get home, and I write. I write and I write. I keep thinking, this download needs to end before I go to family dinner in a few hours. But it doesn’t stop. I take a shower, all the while randomly running to my phone to type out my thoughts. I hear a knock at the door. I see through the window that it’s Hailey and Mason. I think Mason is probably here to pick up his guitar gear, but then I see that Hailey is holding flowers. I open the door, and Hailey says they came to bring me these flowers because she read my post about my mom going to jail and wanted to make sure I was okay.

I hear myself asking for a hug. She obliges, and I feel myself start to cry. I say, “I’m okay, I’m really okay. Everything is fine.” They both nod, their faces a mixture of reassurance and concern, because we all know what I just said is both true and very much not true at the same time.

They come inside for a short while. I put the flowers in a jar because I can’t find a vase. Hailey says to me I’m not the only one who feels what I do, and compliments me on the way I can write about my feelings. It’s as if she somehow tapped into every little thing my heart needed that day. She’s good at that. It’s one of her gifts.

They leave, and in that moment I feel so cared for and loved and seen and supported and grateful and simultaneously more happy and more sad than I can ever remember.

Drew calls. Or I call him. I can’t remember. He’s about to leave St George. We tell each other about our days. I’m crying again, telling him that I am so in love with our life, but am so frustrated by the way I can’t seem to feel it, through all of the complication. Through the stress, the worry, the outside forces that always seem to hit me harder than I anticipate, throw me on my back. He listens, he’s there. He always is.

I go to family dinner at my brother’s house. I don’t mention my mom, it doesn’t feel right. My dad is there, I greet him and say, “Long time no see.” He laughs. I watch my brother and his wife be a family, and I feel warm. My three little angelic nieces seem to be able to sense from me that I’m open and raw, the way kids manage to be all of the time. Their big, bright eyes pierce my right to my heart.

I am requested by Elli and Emery to read them each a story before they go to sleep. I end up staying up on Elli’s top bunk, her laying next to me, Emery laying on my leg, for what felt like at least an hour. Our bedtime story sessions have never lasted so long before. Connecting to kids is usually so difficult for me. We start out reading stories, but end up just talking.

They tell me what life looks like through their 3 and 5-year-old eyes. I can’t stop thinking about how stunning, bright and pure they are. They know everything about each other’s lives. I remind myself, for the millionth time, to keep in mind never to overlook children. They feel and see just as much, if not much more, than adults do.

When I get home, Drew is home. I tell him that I know I have writing to do. That’s quite close to all I really know anymore.

deep deep deep/up up up

What I didn’t expect was the isolation, this strange and increasing sense of detachment; though I see it as a cost worth paying, a million times over, to live a life free and true.

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There are people who used to like me, who don’t anymore. Of course, it’s difficult to describe how I could know such a thing. No one has come out and explicitly said anything of the sort to me. But I think we all can tell this kind of thing, energetically, through interactions. Though, perhaps “like” isn’t the correct word. What I really mean is, there are people I used to feel I could connect easily to, who no longer feel available to me in that way. I see them, and we know. Something has shifted. Something has changed.

I don’t blame them. I do my best not to take it personally. I know everyone changes. I am no exception. I’ve changed, shifted over the past few years, and not insignificantly. I’ve changed a lot. And it sometimes bums me out, this disconnect. Of course it does. I want to be liked, approved of. I want the people I admire to admire me back, even if I struggle to meet the generally agreed-upon standards for conventional relationships at every turn.

I think I’ve figured out I’m not really capable of holding a relationship with someone who can’t gladly meet me where our paths might cross on our separate journeys, then freely continue on in their current, and free me to continue on in mine.

And you know what? It’s strange. Because the more I embrace what feels innate, natural, true for me, the less I feel able to relate to most of the people around me. The more I come to accept myself, the more alone I feel. But not in a negative way. It feels natural, somehow, like a necessary process on this road I feel bound to follow.

I’ve finally found the nerve, the trust and faith I always needed to throw myself into what I have always felt beckoned to. Taking my ideas seriously, trusting the energetic taps on my shoulder that say, “Write that story. Add this character, this dialogue, this scene. Play this melody, pound out this rhythm, really give yourself to it. Show up honestly. Do what comes naturally. That’s it. Just trust me. You’ll see.”

The more that I trust it, the more it gives to me. The more I listen, the louder it speaks. I never knew before, just how powerful trusting myself, my ideas, thoughts, feelings, instincts could be, where it could lead me. I had no idea what inner peace could be gained. I’ve been sorting through my doubt, slowly drawing it out of me, letting it go, making room for more trusting, more expanding, more creating.

It has taken so much of my energy and awareness. It has taken all of me. To such an extent, I scarcely have time to look around and see that the room I operate life from isn’t so full anymore. I didn’t expect it. It’s different than I thought, but as someone I admire recently wrote, “Nothing in life feels how you think it will feel.” (@nicolajsousa)

I don’t mean it as loneliness, per se. It isn’t that. It’s more a feeling of limbo, floating between two worlds. Like an odd disconnect from things that used to feel familiar, that I used to hold as part of my identity, including the need for other’s approval; and a sense of waiting to discover what’s next. And that would make sense, because I’ve been working hard for a long time now to discover and be my own power source, rather than seeking permission and power from others.

The thing is, I had a breakthrough recently, whilst listening to Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations. I mean, obviously. Of course. What more could we ever need than Oprah?

In a particular episode, she’s talking to Lynne Twist, who says, “When you actually pay attention to, nourish, love, and share what you already have, it expands. It’s the opposite of what we think… When people know that, it frees them from this chase of, ‘more, more, more,’ because there’s so much energy tied up in that in everybody’s life. The shorter way to say all that is, what you appreciate, appreciates.

And I thought to myself, “That is it.” I forget so often that our attention is our power, that what we choose to give our attention to grows, what we focus on expands.

I had felt for most of my life that what I needed was out THERE, somewhere ELSE, in some other place, in some other life I had failed to find or create for myself. I’d wake up every day feeling like I had missed the boat to my destiny. It would frustrate and discourage me to the point of exhaustion, depression, anxiety, all of those old saboteurs. But I know now, it is not so. I know now that is a lie, yet another illusion of the ego, well-meaning but misguided in its efforts.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in all of my work in therapy, reading, creating, in all of my work of the soul is this: I am exactly where I’m meant to be, and everything I need is already within me.

“Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” -Shaw

All of the answers, all of the love, capability, imagination, forgiveness, the potential for greatness – it’s already there. It was expertly built right into me. The key to accessing it is to take my focus away from the external, the “out there,” and plug it into the internal, to what I already have, which is a whole lot, which is more than I ever expected to have. The key is not to chase after the ever-elusive and insistent voice of, “More!” But to send my roots deep, deep, deep into the ground from whence I now stand, reach up, up, up to the nourishment of the sky, and expand. To start where I am, rather than remaining in the cycle, the comfort zone of stunted growth with thoughts of, “I would, if only….

I’ve finally decided to start where I am, to grow where I’m planted, as they say. It may seem like I’ve changed a lot, but I find the deeper truths of it is, I’ve only decided to unfold, show up, bloom as what I’ve always truly been. I’ve come to see that is, in reality, the only way forward. There is nothing to be gained from hiding ourselves. The trouble is, I spent so long thinking I was, or needed to be, something else.

The other day, Drew and I sat on a log under which ran a river. We dangled our feet over the water, enjoying some rare moments of peace in our always-absurd calendar. Rivers are great for moving energy, and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for each of us to release to the river something we wanted to let go of. I was somewhat surprised, but knew immediately mine was shame.

When you spend your entire life trying to be one thing, and suddenly realize you’re another, it is thrilling and liberating and affirming. It’s like coming home. But it is also complicated, and painful. For me, at least, it has been a big, messy adjustment, and not only for myself. It feels as if I was a flower bulb destined to grow into a lily, but thought all my life I was just an extremely dysfunctional and disfigured tulip. (And maybe that’s my worst metaphor ever. Anything is possible.) And as I emerge, grow, unfold, or, you might say, bloom, it becomes increasingly clear that I am not what I previously categorized myself as. And this shame was coming from how this process has affected my gardeners, the people who have helped to nourish and guide me. The people I love.

In that moment at the river, I visualized pulling out all of that energy of guilt I had been projecting onto the people around me. The guilt I felt for the disappointment I may have caused them, for the adjustments they’ve had to make in their lives due to the adjustments I’ve made in mine. It came out as soot – deep, dark, blackest of black, the color of fear, the color of intense feelings, repressed old emotions. The color of not understanding life’s lessons.

I sat with it a moment, looked at it from every angle I could. Because I know now that anything which has power over us, we have endowed with said power, I asked myself, “Why have I been carrying this? What does it give me?”

The answer was as the answer always is. If I’m busy projecting my insecurities onto other people, if I’m busy feeling guilty, playing the victim, the martyr, the part of the poor, dysfunctional sad girl, I get to stay comfortable. I don’t have to take responsibility. I can blame my malcontent and disappointments on others. I can stay in a state of convenient self-deception.

And as soon as I looked at it that way, I knew it was time. That holding shame wasn’t worth what it robs me of. And so I thanked it for its service, and, at last, let the river take it away.

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let go.

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It has always been unclear, has it not? Which of us is the parent, which is the child. Her with the criminal record, showing up plastered to movie dates. Me with the compensating Virgin Mary complex, always telling her to “Shhhhh!” and “Behave!

But I see now. It’s simple, really. Neither of us is one or the other. We’re both. Sometimes she’s the mom, sometimes I am. Sometimes she needs taken care of, sometimes I do. And that’s the way it seems we were destined to be, for us both to learn. I would go so far as to argue that’s what all of us are meant to be for each other – mirrors, teachers, rather than preconceived, limiting roles like “mother” or “daughter”. We all come from the same source. We’re all made of the same stuff.

I couldn’t see this before, couldn’t accept it, because it didn’t fit the mold of what a mother and child are “supposed” to be, of convention. But then, when have we ever? She and I. Our whole family. God knows we’ve tried.

Though I must say, now that I know just what convention truly is — a dagger through the heart of everything true and pure and worthwhile in this life — this is something I’ve grown proud of. The way we’ve never quite been able to make–ourselves–fit. The way she never really expected me to, even when our shame, that old liar, told us otherwise.

Where there is light, there is shadow. However deeply our joy delves, so follows pain. No one thing can exist without its polar opposite. And that’s why I think I understand now, what she’s always been teaching me– what it means to be everything to someone.

The part of my heart where she resides is positively fraught, practically made up of nerve endings. My parent, my child. My closest confidante, my worst enemy. My greatest muse, my biggest heartache. My hero, my villain. My teacher, my torturer. My laughter, my tears.

….My mother.

The trouble with loving an addict is you want to be their cure. You want to be a good enough reason for them to choose health and life. And that is where it gets dangerous, when you take it personally, when you make it about you. But it isn’t about you. It never has been. It’s just, when you’re in the state of childhood, you think everything is. You can’t help it.

But when you can remove yourself from the disease, when you can cease from attempting to be what no human ever can, that is, God, you begin to see. This grasping at the rope tying your life to theirs, it is useless. More so, it is damaging. It does neither of you any service. It keeps you from your journey, and robs them of theirs. It is not your battle to fight. And only then does it become clear: The only way forward is letting go.

There is a phrase in a Brand New song that I used to think described this perfectly:

“If I could, I would shrink myself,
Sink through your skin to your blood cells,
Remove whatever makes you hurt,
But I am too weak to be your cure.”

However, knowing what I know now, I would replace, “too weak” with “not meant or able.”

She moved to Montana recently, just before Christmas. It was painful, of course, saying goodbye. Christmas was somewhat hard, it being our family’s first ever without her there. But, at the same time, holidays have never really been our strong-suit, all those years of trying and failing to get through them without some kind of outburst or meltdown. That time of year has always felt less like something to be celebrated and more like an aggressive reminder of another ideal my family could never live up to, yet another mold we would never fit. More proof of our brokenness, as if we needed any.

We’ve always had our own ways of celebrating, like random dance parties in the living room. Back tickles. Dad’s extra-buttery popcorn and A Knight’s Tale. The ska band my brothers played in together. Mat started it with his cool high school friends, and he still wanted Clay to drum for them even though he was just 12 at the time. Making forts. Trips to Lagoon because we could never afford Disneyland. Cracking up together about how terrible the ward choir sounded that Sunday.

I always loved those so much more than any stuffy ideal force-fed to us through holiday advertisements. But I didn’t yet know I had permission not to care about the ideal, about fitting the mold. I didn’t know that breaking molds would become somewhat of my life’s passion.

But under that pain of missing my mom, of the gaping void her absence left, I knew it was right, somehow, for her to go. There was certainty I couldn’t explain, a deep knowing, the kind in your bones.

Thirty years of her breathing the same air in the same valley, driving the same roads, haunted by the same ghosts, of relapses and rehabs, of trying to be what we all expected, running back and forth from one extreme to the other. Thirty years of us holding our breath, wondering if she’s okay, if she’s sober, if she’s alive….suddenly, it was clear. It was time for her to breathe new air, get in touch with herself without all of us worrying, scrutinizing her every move, force-feeding all of our own ideals upon her.

It was time for her to go. More so, it was time for us to let her.

I knew I would miss her. And I do, every day. But I find the missing to be a thing of beauty, in the sense that it is merely evidence of love. And it is far better than wondering the second I wake up if she’s still alive. I don’t do that anymore. I know I was never meant to. She sends tales and photos of her long walks, of the new landscape, the animals she’s making friends with, of trees covered in snow. All of the things she taught me to love, just as I love her — endlessly, impossibly, entirely, maddeningly.

I’ve started catching glimpses of her in my reflection. Not all of the time. Only in odd moments, especially since I had my hair dyed dark and cut short, like hers has always been. I wonder now if I subconsciously chose such a hair style to feel closer to her. Who knows. Who can really say why anyone does anything.

I let myself laugh now. Big, ridiculous, strange sounds that boom and echo out. I laugh now the way she always has, the way that used to embarrass me. Because of the voice in my head saying, “Shhhh!” and “Behave!” Because of the part of me that spent what feels like my entire life going to extremes to avoid becoming her.

But I understand it now, how good it feels to let yourself out. I know that’s all she’s ever wanted me to do. Sometimes it startles me, when I open my mouth and hear her. But it’s become an unexpected comfort, almost like her way of being with me when she physically can’t. The more I let go of being her rescuer, her parent, her higher power, and embrace being just what I am, accepting her as she is, the more I learn to value and appreciate these parts of me that have always, inevitably, been her.

I took this photo of her last summer. It was the day I finally dared to ask her about what she had done all those months earlier. When she had wandered out into the snowy foothills with nothing but a bottle and pills and one plan: to fall through ice and finally give into that voice telling her to disappear.

There is a common misconception, I think, concerning people taking their own lives. Of course, as a friend or loved one, you see it as selfish. Their life is something you value, therefore, you see their choice to leave this world as them taking something valuable from you. But you must remember, from their perspective, it is a different matter entirely.

In my opinion, when a person is at this point, their opinion of themselves has become so low, so warped from shame, so filled with loathing that they truly see their disappearing as doing you a favor. If you’ve been anywhere near that state of mind, you understand just how powerful, how influential self-loathing can be. If you haven’t, stop judging and criticizing others for something you have absolutely no experience with. Not everyone has such an easy time with being alive. Some of us feel life more heavily than others. Nothing is without cause. Have compassion. Understand.

“Your life is not your own; keep your hands off it.” 

She never made it to the water. She thought instead she’d use the glass from the bottle, but after she broke it, it seemed to disappear. If that isn’t proof of guardian angels, I don’t know what is. I could hardly bear to imagine my mother, my heart, in such a horrific scene. I thought to myself, this is where co-dependency, the drive to put yourself between another person’s actions and the consequences of those actions, comes from. When you love someone more than they know how to. This is why loving yourself is the most essential gift you can give anyone you love.

After she told me, we held each other, we cried, covered in sweat and sunburns from a day of weeding. The goat-heads we attempted to tackle still plague my yard to this day, but it doesn’t matter. In that moment, I said what I meant, that I loved her so much, more than I knew how to express, that all I ever wanted was for her to be here with me, that my life is so much better with her in it.

And, you know what, saying those things, the things that we mean, but perhaps find it difficult to articulate, those are always more important than weeds. They’re more important than most anything.

I think that’s why it feels so oddly right, this letting go. Because I see now, this is what she needs in order to find the love for herself we’ve had for her all along. It feels more right than I ever thought it could, when I thought desperately holding on was the only way to love.

“Just go, out into the falling snow.
Just go, towards the white in the skyline.
Just go, past the trucks on the service road.
Just go, until you feel different.”
-Better Oblivion Community Center