Day 63: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

In every journey there are course corrections. A step to the left, two to the right… and sometimes you fall flat on your face. Sometimes when you’re falling, you are still making progress. Sometimes it is the fall that inspires action, boundaries, the forcing of self love because the alternative is to completely stop.

I had a panic attack this morning. There was no reason for it that I can immediately identify. Usually there is. It caught me off guard, the racing heart, the pressure in the chest, the fragility of needing to fall apart for a second. The feeling lasted about 30 minutes. Really fucking long…. and all day I have felt off and on guard.

While not a pleasant experience, it tells me a few things.

  1. I have nothing to give to anyone but myself right now.
  2. I am about at the end of my rope and cannot tolerate anything in my life that will distract me from getting back to myself.

It also enabled me to say no. To set some boundaries.

I have no words of advice. Those situations really fucking suck, but they do provide a perspective that cannot be ignored and in many ways forces a change in path.

So I leave you with this quote by Ruby Dhal:

“Be brave enough to be alone.

By alone, I mean only depending on yourself for your happiness and your comfort. I mean dreaming of a future where your goals rely on you, and only you, to achieve them.

By alone, I mean strolling down a beach with the sand between your feet and hugging yourself as the wind brushes your bare arms. I mean taking yourself on a date to your favorite cafe with a book, a coffee, and yourself for company and watching the sun rise and fall back down again, feeling nothing but comfort in that moment.

By alone, I mean listening to your own thoughts, being your best friend, and cherishing the solitude that you find yourself in. I mean being okay with not having a partner and still feeling loved. I mean being comfortable in the presence of those that do. I mean being happy when those you grew up with fold themselves in the arms of relationships, jobs, children, and new countries while you are on a journey to find whom you truly are.

Be brave enough to love yourself.

By love, I mean wrapping strength around your wrists as you bunch your hands into tight fists for anyone who dares to treat you badly and letting your heart rest inside your chest rather than carrying it on your sleeve for people who will never see it for what it is worth.

I mean loving yourself enough to walk away, enough to say when you have endured too much, enough to smile at your reflection in the mirror when life feels grim, enough to put yourself first and not let anyone take you for granted.

By love, I mean hugging yourself when you feel empty, pouring all the tenderness that you give to others inside yourself, where it belongs. I mean given and giving to your heart until you fill your empty bucket with enough love to last you a lifetime. I mean cherishing your soul, comforting yourself, and never letting yourself go astray again.

Be brave enough to become the right person for yourself.

Because if you are brave enough to do what is right for your heart, then promising you, you will never feel lonely when you are alone.” ❤ ❤

Image by kordula vahle from Pixabay

Day 59: A Prelude to Happiness

I think there is something that happens when you grow up in an environment where you are not loved in a way that you need to be loved. I think you don’t learn what love is supposed to be and when the only thing you know is fear and insecurity you adapt and figure out how to live there quite successfully. When you have adapted to any situation it starts to feel normal. Then, at some point in your 30s you realize you want to know what happiness feels like.

It seems like it should be an easy thing to do, find things that make you happy and then embrace it.

For me, that is not my experience. I could find things that made me happy for a split second, but it was as if there was something preventing that feeling from traveling to my heart. I knew I was happy in those moments but I didn’t FEEL happy.

Then I learned about love. I learned that love can be the most overwhelmingly beautiful experience and also one of the darkest parts of living. Love can heal and destroy. I thought true love would be this nirvana, and I still think it can be, but I think that real love comes in layers. Once there are enough layers of experience and disagreements and sticking around love settles in for the long haul. This to me is true love. Love that stays.

My love experience has been a rocky one the last few months. I have no clue where my future will end up, what man I will end up with, if I will even find a partner. But I do know that I am loved, very very deeply. When that love isn’t around I feel really sad.

I used to think that the depth of anguish I felt was in direct proportion to how much I loved someone. It turns out that depth of pain is really a reflection of how strong I am and how much I can handle. In an effort to feel something, sometimes I will amplify that pain to the point of near breaking. It expands that boundary of what I am capable of feeling. I am really well versed in expanding the pain and it is and has been, where I have lived for many many years.

This morning for a second I felt a glimmer of happiness in my heart and I immediately squashed it. Didn’t I remember I was supposed to be mourning the loss of Mr. X in my life (in the capacity I wanted him anyways)? The feeling came again for a second and again I thought, aren’t I supposed to be sad?

What is the prelude to happiness? For me, it was giving myself permission to feel happy.

I was driving down the road repeating to myself, “It’s okay to be happy. ” It is okay to be happy in the middle of sadness. That pain isn’t gone, it just released and moved around a little. It is okay to experience happiness even though your heart is breaking. It is okay to feel happiness during mourning.

After repeating these things a few times, the guilt started to dissipate. I remembered that another thing love is to me is wanting the person you love to be happy, whatever that looks like. In that moment I knew that Mr. X would be happy that I was happy. Happy that I was smiling in spite of the pain, happy that I was moving forward without him.

So I chose to smile, to sing a little in my car, to embrace the feeling and let it plant a seed in my heart. The next time it comes to bloom I will welcome it with arms open a little wider. ❤ ❤

Day 55: The Fear of Not Belonging

I think, at a core level, all of us have a fear of not belonging.

It makes complete biological sense. In ancient civilizations being an outcast meant certain death. Even in modern times we see this play out with the LBGTQ community and various other “factions.” As a society we are becoming more accepting overall with pockets of increased polarization. The more people express their differences, the more often they tend to find people with the same qualities or interests and a tribe can be formed.

And then there are the people like me who aren’t exceedingly “different” by traditional standards but have never fit in. As a young child I remember thinking that I didn’t have a family and certainly didn’t belong in the one that I was dropped into. I remember longing for someone to come tell me that I was adopted because I felt so different. I was not one of those people who made themselves fit in socially, I am far too introverted for that and so easily exhausted around “faking” things and groups of people. What I did to fit in was learn to read people, anticipate needs and give them everything that I could so that, maybe, they would reciprocate love. I wanted so badly to feel like I belonged… somewhere. Belonging to me equaled love.

I learned really quickly how to show up, for men mostly. I knew their fears, their insecurities and how to make them feel loved. That’s the thing about me, I love masculine energy. I think it is so often squashed in our society. I think a lot of times men are confused on how to act and what to say and think and feel. We all want to feel powerful and I meet few men who truly feel that in themselves. I see that energy and that power and that capacity and I love to help bring that out. And I am pretty good at it. It has gotten to a point in my life though where it is almost second nature. This isn’t a bad thing, except that I often point my energy into situations where men are feeling particularly vulnerable or unappreciated and this takes a fair amount of energy for me to do. Sometimes I pull from my reserves to help boost them, often times I don’t even realize I am doing it. As I write this it makes me wonder if my boosting them up leaves me hoping they will be the knight in shining armor that I am looking for who will save me from this world and show me a place where I feel loved.

What I have failed to do in this life though, is show up for myself. I am always saving someone. People are drawn to me, they like to be vulnerable, tell me their story, lean in for support, and while I think, ultimately, that is my gift in this world, I have depleted myself so much in unhealthy ways that I cannot even find the capacity to show up like I need to. I have completely neglected showing up for me. I have traded myself for the hope that I would fit in somewhere, with someone.

I did this with Mr. X. I’m having a really tough go of the emotional processing today.

I have heard this from many men “I didn’t ask you to do all of that for me.” It is usually followed by “I don’t need your support, I don’t need anyone.” To hear those words coming from the mouth of Mr. X was heart wrenching. He is different and elevated in so many ways, but those lines, those I have heard before. It isn’t untrue. These men don’t ask for me to do things for them, but they do love how it feels and keep coming back for more. And it is also true that once they are boosted they don’t need my support, but hearing how that is said to me, I immediately translate that to “I don’t want you anymore, you’re not worthy of being in my life.” Then I take that in, I place it in my heart, I go back through all of the conversations and scenarios and I sweep up all of the blame for myself. I play the martyr card and the victim card in the hopes that they will grab the knight card and play it one last time. I am still waiting for someone to save me. When what I really need is to save myself. I need to stop waiting to fit in and just own my weirdo place in this world. I need to accept that I have something to offer that other people don’t. I have to realize that I am special and I don’t need HUGE dramatic acts of sacrifice from other people on my behalf to see what is special about me. These interactions, while well-intentioned most of the time, are toxic and do not allow a person’s real power to be expressed. I do it to the men in my life, they do it to me. It is a spin cycle. I find men that need healing and need to feel like a hero then I allow myself to be the victim. It’s toxic and dysfunctional. Things with Mr. X were not far off that script. The difference lies in the fact that he took less than he could have,he is making room for me in his life and he always supports me in my growth even if it means he gets hurt in the process. For me the difference is that I am trying not to walk away from a love that isn’t showing up like I want it to. I am really good at walking. We are both encouraging the other to be better. We both love each other deeply. And we will figure out a way to exist together. This is not always pretty and it certainly isn’t easy. Sometimes it means really strict, difficult to swallow boundaries and a trust that I am not sure I am even capable of having.

It feels incredibly scary to think that I have lost him. With him, I belong. I feel like I am home. I feel… entitled to him because of how we show up for each other. But the truth is, I am not entitled to anything, any more than he is entitled to any part of me. We are our own people. We belong to ourselves individually. We show up for us. We answer to ourselves. We do things by our own code of ethics. Mr. X is fabulous at showing up for him. He does so brutally at times. Me, I am still learning. I have to remind myself that I haven’t lost him. I just have to adjust my expectations of our relationship. I do this repeatedly on a loop, second after second. I am still waiting for it to sink in enough that it feels true. The empowering and also shit thing is that it is really up to me. I know he will be there. I know he wants me in his life. It is all up to me to get over my shit that decides whether I lose him or whether I gain a friend. It is a battle royale between head and heart right now.

I spend a lot of nights looking up at the stars. Sometimes I drop into a meditative state and travel around the galaxy. When I come back to earth I always think to myself, I can’t wait to be home.

The thing is though, everything on this earth is made of the same energy. “Going home” simply means being devoured back into the eternal soup that creates all life on this earth. It means that we lose the separation from that soup that allows us to experience this human life. If we are brave enough to look around we can see that we are connected to everything and everyone. We are all from the same blueprint. Logically I know this, even viscerally I know this, but it doesn’t take away from the deep well of isolation that I feel. To be connected to someone, to feel their heart beating next to yours, to feel their gentle breath on the back of your neck, this… this is bliss to me. This is home. This is belonging.

The tricky thing is that one has to belong to themselves first before they can fully relax and enjoy the fruits of belonging with another. ❤ ❤

Image by Patricia Alexandre from Pixabay

Day 54: Letting Go

Two simple words. Let. Go. Open your hands, your heart, your mind and let the energy flow. In and out, up and down. Letting go means not trying to dictate scenarios. It means trusting that things will work out. It means setting something down and walking away knowing that you gave it the right amount of soil and water and sun needed for growth.

Letting go can be really fucking hard. The more you want it, the more elusive it will be. The more you resist the pain and anger and energy, the more it will hold on. One has only to step back, create some space from the thoughts and emotions and let them be. Process them in the time that it takes, and only then will there be freedom.

Nature is amazing at letting go. A tree blooms in summer’s glory and as fall approaches and the leaves wither and die they are released easily into the wind. The tree goes dormant for the winter all the while preparing itself for the next cycle. We, as humans, struggle so much with the expiration, the detachment, the trusting that life will restore itself.

Letting go can be very, very scary. Especially when talking about a relationship or another person. It requires trusting that there is enough soil there for the flower to bloom again. It is trusting that that person loves you enough to come back, because words are just meaningless capsules filled in with context. Letting go requires walking into an abyss where steps are not lit and there’s no way to know what lies at your feet. Letting go means trusting that there is something worthwhile once you have traversed the darkness of the unknown.

It doesn’t seem like it should be hard to let go. Everything that has happened in my life, the things I have let go of, have all worked out. I haven’t regretted those decisions and the people that were meant to be in my life are in it. All of the lessons learned have brought me to the place I am today which is an elevation from where I started so there has been a continual upward trend. Letting go of the one person who opened your heart, who showed you it was okay to just be you, who loved you with all he was capable at the time, that… that is not easy.

But…. the situation is out of my control. Playing back all of the past conversations does me no good and only serves to confuse my heart and my mind even more. Letting go is releasing what you hoped so hard that the outcome would be. It is creating space for a new beginning.

Letting go can’t be rushed, and the words alone aren’t enough. One has to actually feel as though they have let go before the space can be created for something else.

Letting go means choosing perspectives that are beneficial to us. It means accepting that things won’t always work out as desired but knowing that they will work out. Letting go means processing energy and not letting it stagnate. It means ending the cycle of wishing and wanting and just learning to accept what is. Letting go is forgiving all parties, including yourself and wrapping yourself in so much love that there is no choice but to be okay and keep moving.

What does this all mean in practical steps?

Letting go is moving your body. It’s journaling or crying or boxing or running. It’s sitting with you and allowing your thoughts to come and correcting the ones that are trying to tell you your self worth is tied to that person or that situation. It means accepting that you alone are enough. It means taking care of yourself and gently ushering yourself through the stages of grief. It is remembering all of the good and putting that love in your heart for later use. Letting go means to keep moving, especially when all you want to do is curl up in the dirt and hibernate for the rest of eternity. Letting go is knowing that every storm runs out of rain. Letting go is focusing on the moment you are in, and then the next and then the next, even if it is just a second at a time. It is staying present when you want to run back to the past. It is being in your body and mind and loving all of you. It means knowing you showed up the best that you knew how and now that you know better you can show up differently.

Letting go means walking away and knowing the flower will bloom if it is meant to. ❤ ❤

Image by Wow Phochiangrak from Pixabay

Day 52: The Energetic Door Slam

Okay, technically it’s day 53. I didn’t write last night. I was in the throes of emotional agony and firmly adhered to my bathroom floor.

I am fascinated by my Myers-Briggs type right now. I am not sure why this is coming up, likely because I am still trying to find all these little pieces of me that have been scattered about my life. I wrote about my “personality type” here.

Anyways…. I have always been a runner. Nope, not physical runner though I did do that for a time, but I mean a runner in life. When things get “bad” in one place I pack up and go and start over again. This is a repeat pattern for me. I realized a while ago that running and not dealing with things means I find myself in the same situations. Maybe I’ll write more about this tomorrow. As I was reading about the INFJ personality type I came across this article about the INFJ door slam. What is a door slam? Basically it’s shutting someone out of your life, there are some that think INFJs are more likely to door slam and do it harsher than other personality types, some think there is no difference. I can only speak from personal experience and for me I am well versed in cutting people off emotionally.

In my life, love takes a long time to die, it’s a really long road, but once I reach the end it’s really hard to come back. The door shuts, firmly. There are times when the door shuts and there is no amount of knocking that will ever open it again, and then there are times the emotional door shuts but I keep in contact with the person in question. What happens to that love? I like to think each person has their own container, labeled for them. Some have a HUGE container, some have a teenie tiny one. The love that is in those containers doesn’t ever die. It can’t really, but the flow can be cut off totally so there is not even a shred of outgoing light and that love can be redirected.

It’s an interesting phenomenon too because INFJs, in general, are super sensitive and feel really really deeply, which means that things said can cut deep and have a lasting impact. Often times the person who is making the cuts doesn’t realize the damage that is being done and then when the door shuts they can find themselves confused about what happened or why it happened. I am experiencing this with my mother actually. She has asked me to tell her what she did wrong to elicit me setting boundaries. The truth is she hasn’t done one big thing, it’s more a series of small indiscretions for decades that have resulted in an avalanche of emotional shit between us. The reason the door is even cracked at this point is because she doesn’t know how her behavior effected me and my job as an introvert and as just… a decent human… is to communicate when there are issues. Of course, as a child in an abusive home, these are not conversations that happen. It would be so easy for me to close this door, and a few others in my life. And I will to those that become too toxic to tolerate, but this isn’t something that can or should be done lightly.

The thing that I am struggling with at the moment is how to maintain boundaries and still forgive people. I have this warped sense of forgiveness and this fear that to forgive someone means to open your entire heart to them. I haven’t figured out how to manage giving acceptably sized chunks of my heart, it is kind of all or nothing, and I haven’t figured out how to shift the relationship to something different. Fundamentally, I think people are doing the best with the knowledge they have and they make decisions and take the best actions with all of the information and wisdom that they possess. This doesn’t excuse bad behavior but it does take into account all of the warped conditioning people are subject to, the lies they tell themselves and all of the other fucked up cognitive distortions they have. We all do the best we can.

Sometimes the door needs to be closed temporarily. Sometimes it is like there is a tune up that is needed. The door needs to shut to close off all of the noise and confusion and to reset the relationship. This does not feel good. For me or for the other person, but it is in those painful decisions that a healthier set point can be obtained (I think…. I’ve never actually successfully navigated this but… I find myself trying).

That’s where I am at with Mr. X. For as much as we love each other and as much of an amazing connection that we have, love alone isn’t enough. When one person is so profoundly in love with another the switch to friendship can be a very long road. Right now my heart hurts deeper than I ever knew it could. It is a panicked, gut wrenching, not hungry, can’t sleep feeling, but the door needs to stay shut, until a time when I can open it with my heart in check and those feelings in a box. I don’t know if or when it will happen, and all I can do right now is process this situation. It is a death and rebirth all at the same time. Each step taken, not knowing if the next will be under my feet.

Sophocles wrote ” One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: the word is love.” When love with another causes that pain the only thing one can do is look inward. Find the love that exists in the heart, bring it to the surface and shower yourself with it. Realize that the pain is taking you somewhere. Somewhere different, somewhere clearer and ultimately somewhere better.

Hearts are the most painful thing to break, and they take the longest to heal.

Stay strong, friends. Shower yourself with your love, you’re worth it. ❤ ❤

Day 50: To All of the Difficult Ones

My dog is resting. He had his tests today. So far a couple abnormalities that we are looking into.

He is currently curled up underneath a faux fur blanket, he can barely be roused. The puppy is trying her hardest to get his attention but he is so groggy. His hind end is very weak and he is so doped up right now he could hardly figure out how to eat. I had him lay down and I fed him by hand. I had to wipe little food particles from his nose with a moist wash cloth. He looks so ….. old. I know he isn’t and I know he will be fine tomorrow but in this moment he looks so mortal. He is letting me take care of him, which is not something he usually does. This dog is all go. Sitting still or being coddled is not on his agenda, ever. He also hates needles, hates the vet’s office, hates restraint. Once he figures out someone’s trick to get a shot in him they will never be able to use it again. I seriously worry about what will happen if he ever has a true medical crisis. He is not a dog that would do well in hospital. He is stubborn and strong and delicate at the same time. He also requires enough drugs to stun an elephant for us to be able to do a full workup on him. He had that today and will be sleeping it off most of the day tomorrow too. For now he will remain curled up next to me, letting me wipe his droopy eyes and rearrange him so he is more comfortable. These are tender moments that will never leave my heart.

He is difficult to say the least. Difficult to love, no, not at all. Not for me. He is unique and intelligent and so strong willed. And I love that about him. I also love that when he is feeling crappy all he wants is me. It feels good to feel needed sometimes.

He mirrors the men that I bring into my life. Strong, independent, intelligent, protective, loving…. difficult.

It is in the difficulty though that is where the genius lives. It is in the refusal to pander to expectation, the reluctance to slow down … it is in the knowing that once I have their heart they will be loyal to me because it won’t have been easily earned, that makes me love them so fiercely. These are animals that are not submissive. They will do things only because they want to. Sometimes there is a conversation about it and paths are adjusted and sometimes there is nothing that will persuade them from a particular journey. When they let their super powers down around me, that connection is like none other, be it a man or a dog, that bond is solid and difficult to replicate.

I don’t love easy things. I never have. Things that came easily were often boring. It is a curse sometimes to want the puzzles, to want the difficulty, the passion, the struggle, but the end result, the connection of the heart… it’s priceless.

I remind myself on this eve of further heart breaking that I do this to myself. I am not satisfied with passive energy. I like passion and fire, and with those things comes heat and destruction at times. It is all a matter of knowing when to push and when to pull and when to walk away. Nature really does have it all figured out for us if we are just open to seeing the lessons.

I like the difficult ones, because I am difficult myself. I am not for everyone. In fact I am for a very few. I am for the ones that love fire and can handle the heat. For the first time in my life, I am okay with that, because when my love finds a place to settle, I know that that place is truly… home. ❤ ❤

Day 49: The Complexities of Relationships

Relationships are really fucking hard.

Especially when it feels like words and actions aren’t aligning. Even when the other person probably has a bigger picture view and you realize that. After all, everyone is compelled by their own wants and needs. They may love you, a lot. But at the end of the day they want what they want and I want what I want and those things do not always match up.

Relationships are a complicated dance. A dance of compromise, of love, of sacrifice sometimes.

Sometimes relationships need to be excised.

Sometimes they need the door to be closed for a while so they can be refreshed and renewed.

And sometimes they need to be fought for tooth and nail because that person is the best person that has ever come into your life.

Sometimes fighting for someone means shutting the door for a while so that both parties can have space for their hearts to heal. As much as a person can want to be in a different stage of a relationship, that shit takes time and can only bloom when both people are in the same heart space.

Every relationship brings ups and downs, reveals things about people that they would never otherwise see, and they all require growth of some sort. Relationships are humbling. Some days feel like an ecstatic triumph and others feel like one sucker punch after another. And sometimes you feel hit one too many times and it is revealed that what you have been fighting for so hard no longer exists. It’s heart breaking for the pieces of that person that you never want to let go of, but necessary sometimes to get back pieces of yourself.

Truly loving someone, opening your heart to them… for some people it is easy. For me… it is the hardest thing I have ever done. So tonight my heart is closing for a while, because it has been open and vulnerable and taken a few hits more than my delicate love can take. It will be repaired in that space, alone. It will come out stronger than before, smarter than before, with an unwillingness to compromise itself again at the hands of another person, no matter how amazing that person is.

Goodnight friends. May you close the doors that need to close, leave the ones cracked that bring you happiness and swing open those ones that fill your heart. The world needs more love in it, but tonight, it’s not getting one more speck from me. ❤ ❤

Image by SeaReeds from Pixabay