sorry i laughed

So, I’ve had a DAY today. I was on the phone literally from 7 am to 6 pm with maybe a 1/2 hour break all day. I’m an introvert, so that is basically my nightmare of a day. I wrapped up my day, so exhausted that I immediately took a nap. I woke up to feed and medicate the cats, then Rilly promptly barfed everywhere. And I realized I literally hadn’t eaten all day.

I decided to go get some fried chicken because I need more fried chicken in my life. I didn’t realize that tonight was Night Market, so there were all kinds of people just sorta wandering about.

I get my chicken and am waiting at the driveway to turn out onto the street to go home. There’s a bunch of traffic, though, so I have to wait a while. A guy is crossing the street and wants to go down the street where I am. I realize I’m blocking him, so I zip into reverse and move out of the way. As I’m doing that, I immediately start rolling my window up–which is unfortunate because it’s at the exact same moment as he opens his mouth to say something to me–so it LOOKS like I am purposefully trying to avoid speaking to him. And my window is doing that automatic thing so I can’t stop it immediately, and then I kinda have a people pleaser/INFP freakout because I can see I’ve offended him.

OH GOD. This is my nightmare. So, he kinda yells at me that he was trying to talk to me. And in my awkward INFP way, I start LAUGHING because I am that goddamn awkward when in uncomfortable situations! I then feel even worse, so really can’t deal with the situation appropriately, and he says something about how he was going to compliment me or something.

I see an exit and run away as soon as I can. But as I’m driving away, I’m conflicted.

I ask myself: Why did I pull up my window automatically after seeing a man walking towards my car?

I realize that–absolutely–had this been a woman, I would not have touched my window. Had it been an elderly man–it would have stayed down. But, because it was a 30ish year old man, and sorta late in the evening, I was protecting myself. No question. Automatically, without thinking twice.

Now, if you know me, this may come as a surprise–because mostly I try to be really fair and open to humans. I drive around all the time with my windows down so I can interact with humans better. So, I’m not behind some window, hiding my humanity. And that was what was bothering me here.

I have all kinds of stories about strangers. Literally hundreds of them, and I cherish these stories and the openness to humans that exists in me. But I also realized that the reason I have this protective instinct is because that openness gets me in trouble quite a bit. I also have a million and one stories about strange encounters with people–about strangers putting me in really uncomfortable situations–and sadly, tons of men behaving badly stories. Being that open, people can sense it, and unfortunately, it makes me a target for crap a lot of the time.

I thought about what that guy must’ve felt like, and I felt genuinely bad and wanted to fix it–but knew I couldn’t. But then I also felt like–as a guy–he maybe should try to understand that the male presence is often something that makes women–especially in certain instances–feel unsafe. It made me sad that we live in a world where we both feel misunderstood and where our humanity is blocked by toxic masculinity.

This guy wasn’t doing anything wrong, necessarily, and maybe I missed out on a genuine opportunity to connect. Maybe this is why I’m single! Ha. However, it also reminds me about boundaries.

I was watching something last night about how it’s okay–as women who could be targeted (and have been targeted)–to prejudge people who are capable of causing us harm. That wishy washy boundaries are what often makes us targets because that’s what toxic masculinity and rape culture promotes. I’ve always struggled with boundaries. So, maybe that reminder is needed–that it’s okay to use my past experiences to justify strong NOs to block behavior that may seem innocent, but puts me in difficult situations. Maybe I need to have even stronger boundaries–even with strangers. I now have the awareness and ability to predict when a NO might be needed–so maybe I should trust that instinct.
Perhaps, I’m completely okay in doing so–though maybe laughing at the guy was a bit much.

Sigh. I’m sorry I laughed. I’m awkward. But I still feel conflicted about saying NO. And that probably means I still need to work on my boundaries.

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the ‘whelmed life

A friend of mine recently recommended a book by Dr. Aviva Romm to me.  About 10 years ago, a random physical exam that I took for TFA clearance alerted me to the fact that I was hypothyroid.  I had long suspected there was something wrong with me, but no doctor ever really listened, and I honestly thought being the type of exhausted I lived with every day for my entire life was just a product of being an overachiever.  The only reason I was tested was because, after years of not seeing doctors for more than the most basic things, the doctor’s office closest to me happened to be a thyroid and diabetes specialist.  In my insurance booklet, it was listed as internal medicine.  To be seen by the doctor, they did basic tests for thyroid and diabetes, automatically, and that’s when I was diagnosed.

Unfortunately, that doctor was pretty terrible and basically thought handing out thyroid meds with no instruction was a good idea.  They didn’t monitor me and didn’t educate me.  And the result was a really bad spiral that fucked my entire body.  Where I had been asymptomatic, suddenly I wasn’t anymore.  I gained a lot of weight in a short time and felt crazy.  Literally because this “magic” pill that was supposed to fix me completely disrupted my entire balance.  My hormones were running the show, and it wasn’t pretty.

I had always had some issues and symptoms that were thyroid related–like I was always cold and gained weight easily if I ate poorly.  For me to lose weight, I had to be very strict about everything and exercise a lot–almost to the point of me suspecting I was heading towards an eating disorder.  I had been VERY overweight when I was younger and then lost a ton of weight in short order by being obsessive about clean eating and exercising too much.  It was successful, but unsustainable.  So, I stopped that and then struggled to find balance.

My thyroid diagnosis came at a really crazy time in my life–probably one of the most stressful times I’ve ever had.  I was fairly newly orphaned.  I almost moved to a big city and then abruptly changed my mind.  I joined TFA and had my heart broken by that experience.  And then, an important relationship crumbled.  I am also an emotional eater, so all those things sort of piled on and my body was caught in this avalanche of shit.

Little did I know then, but all that crap eventually caused me to lose my gall bladder in a very dramatic, emergent event.  It’s funny that it happened on Easter, mostly because that was a resurrecting event in my life if ever there was one.

Since then, my entire attitude about health and wellness–about diet and exercise–and mental health has been transformed.  And I’ve struggled quite a bit.  My body has never been the same since that thyroid diagnosis and the irresponsible care I received.

But I am much more body aware and much more in tune with what my body needs.  However, it’s been a rollercoaster of weight gain, loss, constant illness, major fatigue, and nonstop stress.  My crazy life doesn’t help any of that.  And Western doctors suck.  A lot.  Especially on issues related to women’s health. And thyroid shit is that.

Since that original diagnosis, I’ve also been diagnosed with PCOS and adrenal fatigue.  It literally affects everything I do on a daily basis.  A lot of times people think I’m being a hermit because of my introversion, but really, it’s because I don’t have the gas to do anything except rest.

The hardest part of any of this is that I’ve always been a fully functioning human.  I’ve always had multiple jobs and gone to school full-time.  It’s only been recently that I haven’t.  I’ve taken the last six months to rest and just focus on 1 job.  That job, though, is a big stressor for me and something I need to change.  Over the next six months, I’m working with a business coach to try to get some things off the ground that–hopefully–will make my life a lot more pleasant.  But anything I do is going to take a lot of energy and time.

The biggest part of living with three chronic illnesses (I also have asthma, which continually gets worse as the other shit is worse) is accepting that you’re sick.

Up until recently, I had not accepted that.  At all.  I just kept being me and kept doing the too much that I always do.  I don’t know how to half-ass shit.  I’m either full ass or no ass.  And that’s a problem when you have chronic illness.  I also don’t look sick, so people don’t give me free passes.  I’m expected to perform the way I perform when I feel good.  Except I haven’t felt as good as I seem to feel to others in more than a decade.  I feel like my body has been hijacked, honestly.  Sleep doesn’t fix the exhaustion.

To explain it–it’s like you haven’t been able to sleep for 20+ years of your life.  People struggle when they miss a day of sleep.  What would you do if that was how you felt every day for 20+ years?  Food feels like my enemy.  I can’t just enjoy something without there being consequences.  I can diet and still gain weight–even though the math works out.  When your body betrays you, it’s hard to not say fuck it and eat whatever.  My body treats healthy food the same as fast food.  I’m at greater risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar.  Which means heart disease.  So, I have to be so strict about all of it–but it doesn’t really matter because my body does whatever it wants anyway.

I’m always uncomfortable.  Freezing cold or hot all the time.  Aches and pains that never go away.  Acne that doesn’t respond to any treatments.  Irregular periods that are painful and come with nasty mood swings.  High anxiety and bouts of depression.  I’m easily startled.  Extra sensitivity to environmental change.  I’m allergic to life, essentially.

And since moving to California, I’m now getting really dry skin–which is apparently a sign that my shit is probably autoimmune in nature–though I’ve had testing for Hashis that said I was negative.  I’ve had the worst medical care of my entire life here in California, so I’ve literally decided to just stop the insanity of Western medicine and start over.  So, I’m off my thyroid meds and have been for a few months–and while I’m still struggling, my hair isn’t falling out anymore, and I feel slightly better.  The thyroid meds I was on weren’t helping, and yea–it might be dumb to not treat it at all–but I’m suffering regardless and would rather just start over with more knowledge.

I am going to try Western medicine again, soon, as soon as I find a doctor that listens to patients and treats symptoms–but it won’t be my main care.  Because that’s a tall order in this land of conservative medicine, and I don’t trust them.  Yea–that’s right–the Bay Area is a wasteland for such things.  Narrow-minded, sexist medicine at its worst.  I’m also looking for a naturopath to be my primary doctor because Western medicine isn’t equipped and has done nothing except hurt my health in the last decade.  Eastern medicine and naturopathic medicine is the only reason I’m functioning as well as I am right now.

Anyway, that’s a rant for another time.  My focus, while playing medical Goldilocks, has been on self-care.  Getting more sleep.  Being kinder to myself.  Investing in mental health.  But it’s definitely not enough.  I want to know the root cause of this shit.  And this book by Dr. Romm has been really helpful in figuring that out.

I took a bunch of quizzes, and determined that I am definitely in SOS mode.  Survival mode.  My body thinks it’s about to die.  And it’s probably right.  There’s two types of survival modes identified by Romm: overdrive and exhaustion.  I have both (lucky me!).  But my primary–overwhelmingly–is overdrive.  To be in overdrive, you have to score a 3 or higher.  I was at 24 out of 26 data points.  What does this mean?  I’m overwhelmed with bullshit.  Literally.  My body is in a state of emergency and has been for basically my entire life.

How did this happen?  I think it was my childhood.  From the moment I was born.  I was born into an environment where people were avoiding life.  Addiction was heavy.  Poverty and actual fear of starvation was a regular part of my childhood.  I never learned how to cope with it.  I learned to be afraid.  To constantly worry and to hide my emotions about my fear and worry.  I was taught to hustle and to survive.  Is it any wonder my body thinks it’s dying?

Survival was my focus for 20+ years of my life, and now that I’m not poor and on the verge of starvation, my brain doesn’t know how to process that.  Which is why I’m all or nothing.  I am constantly exceeding every goal and expectation because I have no off switch and my body and brain is fucking tired.

Not only that–but couple that whole mess with poor diet from growing up as a starving child and all the psychological crap that comes with that–and behavioral patterns–welp…I’m a mess.

I also have the Exhaustion type of SOS.  But I only scored a 12 there.  (Yay?).  Again, the threshold was 3.

So, based on all the quizzes, there is something chemically wrong with my body that predisposes it to hypothyroid and adrenal issues. That’s clear.  That’s something that pills should help.  That Western doctors can help.  But not the standard bullshit they sling at you.  So, I need labs.  Labs most doctors won’t order.  So, I get to either find a naturopath who will or order them my goddamn self.  Which is expensive, but worth it IMHO.  I need to know where my imbalances are so I can change them.

Literally every root cause of thyroid and adrenal issues are areas of concern for me.  I scored highest in food triggers.  So, there are probably either sensitivities happening (I’m already aware of my shellfish allergy) or I’m malnourished in some way (yay, missing gallbladder).  I scored a 20 there, which was basically every symptom you could have.  Next up was stress.  Shocking.  I scored a 19.  I’ve known for a long time that my job was toxic to me, but here’s the proof.  Not only that, but my living situation is a big toxic mess for me, so that needs to change.  Which is funny because I knew both of those things and have been trying to change both of them–hence the business coach.  I suspect living in the Bay Area isn’t a help there either.  Which is why I’ve fully decided that I’m definitely leaving the Bay Area within the next 2 years–hopefully sooner.  Again–something I’ll be working on with my business coach.  My hope is that I’ll be able to leave next year.  I’m wanting a slower pace of life, and right now, Asheville, NC and Iowa City, IA (yes, really) are my top picks.  But I may just do Airstream life for a while and then move to one of those places.

Gut disruption, with a score of 17, was my next issue–which I think feeds so many of the other issues!  It’s a big problem for me since losing my gallbladder and one I seriously need to deal with.  I scored more moderately (ha! but still way more than the normal score of 3) for inconsistent blood sugar levels (12–meaning I don’t eat consistently or have spikes because I use sugar and caffeine as fuel), environmental toxins (11–still high considering I switched to all non-toxic cleaning products a couple years ago…apparently, I need to look closer at beauty and skincare products) and stop living in a polluted shithole of a city.  Stealth infection was also a possibility–which I’ve wondered about–but it’s as close to normal as I got with a score of 5.

So, based on all of this, I have a roadmap for where I should focus.  I can do all of it at once and follow the full protocol Romm outlines in her book–or I can focus on the worst things first and then make my way down.

For me, I think it’s probably better to do steps rather than a whole enchilada reset.  So, I’m going to start by focusing on stress.  While it’s not my greatest core cause, it feeds all the other ones.  I’m an emotional eater.  I use food to fuel me when my body can’t do it on its own.  And it’s something I’ve been trying to reduce for a while, so I won’t have to do a lot of major shifts to accomplish more results.

My big goal is to make my work life a lot more manageable.  And that means getting more control over how I work–because it IS mostly in my control.  I also need to slow down and be okay with not producing at the levels I normal work at.  It’s going to be a rude awakening to my bosses, but I think it will be okay because I know I can get the same outcomes without all the activity I push ahead with every day.  I’m also going to take a hard look at all the shit that stresses me out at work and try to change those things head-on.

The other stress factor in my life is my home environment and where I live.  Again–going to really evaluate where the stress is coming from and take steps to either change it or limit my contact with it.  Some things, like roommate behavior, aren’t things I can change–but I can come up with better ways to deal with it or be proactive in having it affect me less.  But, really, I just need to live alone and the faster I can make that happen–the better.  More than any of those things, I think, is finding ways to cope with stress better.  So, leaning into play and things that make me happy.  And limiting shit that makes me unhappy.

So that will be a big focus for a month or so and then I’m really going to focus on food and my gut issues.  I already mostly know what to do for my gut issues.  I’m just not great about doing them.  Unfortunately, I do feel like I’m going to need to do a big elimination diet–that is recommended by Romm–that’s even more restrictive than Whole 30.  But it’s only for 3-4 weeks.  After that, I can start introducing things back in and see how I feel.  Some things, I already know–but it’ll be good to see how my body reacts without a lot of these things influencing.

The environmental toxin stuff is a harder thing for me to tackle.  I’m pretty non-toxic as far as cleaning products go.  I maybe have 1 item that I use to clean the toilet because I haven’t found a good nontoxic kind.  I do still use a lot of perfumes and lotions and whatnot.  So, maybe switching to essential oils and nontoxic beauty would be a good plan.  However, a big environmental toxin for me–that I can’t do much about–is related to my roommates and their smoking.  They don’t do it inside, and our apartment is pretty large–but they do reek of smoke–which makes the entire house smell like smoke constantly.  I have two air purifiers running all the time, but I can constantly smell this smoke and I’m very allergic to it.  It’s probably contributing a lot to my current allergic to life status, and I know it makes me sick because I felt so much better when they were gone for a week.

But I can’t really tell them to stop smoking because they’re making me sick, ya know?  Clearly, I just need to move the fuck out.  This living situation is toxic for many more reasons, so it’s not that difficult a decision.  But I am stuck here till I can afford to move.  I don’t know.  Maybe I could put an air purifier in our living room.  Something has to give here.  For example, I felt fine until my roommates got up and now I have a raging headache from the smoke coming off their bodies and the chemicals in their artificially flavored coffee.

(I know that sounds super bitchy, but they make me sick–no question.  And no–asking them to change what they do is not an option.  They will not change).

Beyond that, I need to be more cognizant of when I’m driving.  So, paying attention to pollutant levels and avoiding high traffic times.  I need to avoid midday drivers to maintain my sanity, too.

Anyway, that’s my plan for taking back my health.  I’m not really excited about it, but I know I need to do it.  Mostly not excited because I already know I’m going to probably have to give up dairy eventually.  Or at least really limit it.  That makes me sad.

I love cheese.

🙂

how to cope when life is unfair

Yesterday, a friend of mine asked her FB family how to cope when life is unfair.  She mentioned how she had so much to be grateful for, but that she kept struggling with this emotion, in light of several misfortunes.  At around 2:20 am, I was woken up by a train horn that was blaring from 4-5 blocks away for a good 20 minutes with no end.  This has been happening 2-3x a night for the last 6 months–and is something my entire neighborhood is furious about.  (Union Pacific–btw, for the record–is an organization of assholes–truly an evil organization that gives crap diddly about human beings they’re affecting.  I can’t wait for the City of San Jose to sue the fucking crap out of them–which is coming soon–and yes–I’ve joined a cause in my neighborhood).  I was furious because–even though I’m a good distance away–I could hear it like it was outside my window and I know there are tons of people whose homes actually shake and who are much closer to the tracks that go through our neighborhood.  I was furious because the train conductors are doing this maliciously because of our fighting of night trains.  It all seems so unfair and like we’re fighting this crazy epic battle against evil.  So, when I woke up and got up to file another noise complaint with the FRA–my friend’s post struck a bit of a chord.  So, I responded, and this morning, one of her friends said I should share what I wrote when I was in a dead stupor/rage-filled coma.  She felt it might help someone.  So, of course, I will share it–and write a little more, now that I’m more awake–though bleary from allergies (yay, flowers).

###

Fairness is something that I’ve been struggling with for the last two years, since moving to the Bay Area–mostly because–on a daily basis–I am confronted by how drastically unfair basically everything is. It feels so violating, sometimes, that people who are just awful are rewarded while others struggle so desperately. I’ve always struggled with this–because of how I grew up–and it’s been something I’ve been working on quite a bit in therapy…mostly because that SAME feeling I have also makes me quite bitchy and judgmental toward people I don’t even know. It makes me assume things. And it blocks my ability to embrace abundance. In my brain–if you’re a privileged person, you’re an asshole. But I’m a privileged person, too–even though my brain doesn’t fully get that. It’s still stuck in 1984 Alma’s life.

The thing that has helped me has been to focus less on other people and what they’re doing and more on myself and what I’m doing. When I feel especially angry at the privilege I see and how poorly people are treated here, I lean into that anger and use it to fuel kindness. I don’t make even half of what I’m worth in my job, but I can afford to buy someone dinner. I can make care packages out of stuff I don’t use much or need. I can treat people like human beings and try to get to know them. Even the ones I think I know. I lean into my gratitude and appreciate the things I have–the joy I have–because I know I’m lucky and I don’t waste it. It feels disrespectful to me. I can tell people’s stories and call out bullshit when I’m witnessing it. I can be an advocate.

But–sometimes–that just doesn’t work. Sometimes, shit is just too unfair, and there’s nothing you can do. For me, in those moments, I rage. I bitch on Twitter. I write. I kick the shit out of things. I allow myself to feel all the shit fully–but only for a certain amount of time. Usually, for me, there’s a turning point in every one of these moments where letting it out only makes it expand. Because that’s just who I am. So, at that point, I try to reign things in and then go back to life.

The biggest thing–beyond all of this–I’ve had to accept that there are things in this world I will never understand. That–despite my core belief in the goodness of people–people are often their worst selves and we have to give them the grace to be messed up humans. No one’s perfect. We all have lessons to learn. I have to acknowledge that and then try to connect that to the feelings I’ve had when I was my worst self–and that finally allows me to find some degree of empathy and forgiveness. Usually, the unfair stuff is happening inside me because of something I’m doing to myself that I’ve not yet forgiven–and the reason that something is so triggering for me is because it reflects the violence I’m inflicting on myself.

I’m not sure if any of that makes sense. I work on this every day.

###

I want to expand on this a bit more.  And give some back story.

My feelings about life being unfair started at a very young age.  And they were pivotal to me because not only was I taught to be on guard for unfairness–to protect myself from it–but I was taught I was a savior.  That I was responsible for fixing the unfairness in the world.  That I had an obligation to be a squeaky wheel–for myself and for others.  I was also born into the world of codependents and addicts.  Where literally everything was unfair.  All of that, including me being a savior? Fucking unfair.

All of this made me very other oriented.  I became an observer.  But I was also always an advocate.  I was always trying my best to make things better.  To comfort people who were hurting.  To swoop in and be the voice for people who were weaker than me–even though I was just a little girl.  I found all kinds of ways to do both of those things–beyond the obvious.  I firmly believe that’s why I’m so good at my job now.  It’s also why I was good at teaching and why little kids felt safe with me.  It’s why–my entire life–I’ve had people come up to me, sharing the most vulnerable parts of themselves.  It’s why I’m a storyteller.  And I cherish that.  I love that about myself.  But there is a dark side to it.  A pouty, whiny, bitchy part of me that is raging about how unfair literally everything is–including the fact that I feel like I have to save everyone and that I can never quite seem to save myself.

On really bad days, it gets ugly.  I can be incredibly mean in my judgments of situations.  I can say things I absolutely mean–in ways I never would normally say them–with an edge that cuts through everything because I know exactly how to maim someone because I see it all.  I recently listened to something about Leos and how–because we often are so sensitive–we know exactly what hurts others.  And sometimes, we just roar out–in our irritation and anger–hitting them right in that hurt.  Yes–this is me.

It’s not that what I say is wrong, necessarily.  It usually needs to be said, and it is usually insightful and ultimately helpful for the person to know–but there’s a velocity and an unkindness to how it’s said that’s more about me than the person it’s targeted to.  It’s like my frustration with myself for BEING frustrated slaps us both.  Usually, I see the error of my ways quickly, and of course, swoop in to fix it–because I truly don’t want to hurt anyone.  I just don’t always have full control over what comes out of my mouth.  I’m still learning tact–something my mother never had–and something I was not born with.

The unfairness shit was alive and well in my childhood.  Poverty makes you rage.  It creates us versus them in very real ways.  People don’t realize that privilege is violent.  The institutions that create this inequity bodyslam you into a life you don’t deserve or choose.  You just have to deal with it, and it feels like nothing you’ll ever do will change it.  Once you’re in that cycle, you’re constantly spinning from the trauma.

And death–well, that’s the ultimate unfair everything.  There’s nothing fair about a kid losing her dad at age 6.  Or a woman losing her mother at 26.  There’s nothing fair about a war hero drinking himself to death.  Or a woman who lost 2 kids and lived in poverty her entire life and worked backbreaking labor her whole life–dying in 2 months at 67–in a really painful, scary way that took everything from her.  And me.

There are so many things the world just drops on us.  So many people deal with crap no one deserves.  It can feel random and unreal.  And meanwhile, the worst human beings in the world get piles of money and never ever get touched by anything that actually hurts them.  And some people, the pile-up of crap never fucking ends.  As much as I believe in karma, it doesn’t really exist here on Earth, does it?

I would make a phenomenal mother.  It’s all my mother wanted for me.  It took me a really long time to want it.  And now, it’s basically all I want: to have a family–to have the thing I never had.  I suspect it’s something I need to do to heal parts of myself.  But I’ve not been able to figure out the love thing–mostly because of all the shit piled on me in my childhood.  I’ve chosen the wrong people for me.  And now it’s probably too late, and maybe it was never even an option.  I wrangle with that type of unfairness quite a bit, these days–as a woman about 2 months from 41–the year my mother birthed me.

And every day, I see depths of inequality and bullshit that makes me feel helpless.  And I know I’m often a shitty person for how much I hate strangers.

###

Therapy has helped me with recognizing and coping with my triggers.  But more importantly, it has helped me target the parts of me that are being triggered.  And the rage I have is rarely about the other person or the thing I’m witnessing.  It’s all jumbled up in unfelt grief over things happening in my life.  It’s all pointing to the unkindness I inflict on myself for whatever shit that thing represents.  It’s like trying to decode some crazy puzzle that no one has ever solved before.

One thing that I’ve found is truly helpful, in those moments of finally being aware that–hey–this isn’t about them–is to meditate and bear witness.  You have to acknowledge that feeling–as uncomfortable and shitty as it is–or you WILL keep feeling it.  For me, though, feeling and expressing the feeling tends to make it escalate.  I work myself up.  Mostly because it’s never about just that one thing.  It’s this vast, interconnected mess of all the things that have frustrated me since the beginning of my existence.  It’s a lot, and that’s why there’s a velocity to it when it finally comes out.  The more you do it, though, the less violent it is.  The more you can control it.  But you have to realize when it’s escalating into more than just expressing and becoming violent itself.  And in that moment, when you are self-aware to know you have to get that shit in check–you can turn to an awareness that is what I call witnessing.

I was reading this book (The Untethered Soul) years ago, when I was doing a juice cleanse.  Juice cleanses have been really helpful for me in dealing with my emotions–mostly because I’m an emotional eater.  I was taught to control my emotions by burying them, and food was my method of choice.  When that is stripped away, I get very triggered.  Specifically, I’ll not be hungry or in need of anything, but my brain will start mad craving shit because the emotion I’m feeling is being felt.  It took me a long time to even be aware of this, and when it started happening, it was like, “Whoa. What do I do?”

Mostly because I realized how damaging that whole script in my head was.  If I could better understand it, I might be better at dealing with the root causes of my bullshit.  So, I turned to the book and took note of some of the things proposed.  When I would have a craving, I’d acknowledge that thing was happening and was real.  But I would sort of sit back and, instead of acting on the emotion, I would just observe the crazy.  A funny thing would happen, though.  As long as I acknowledged it fully and honestly, it would go away without me doing anything.  This felt like some kind of miracle.

In my life, I’ve learned that you can’t surgically excise your bullshit.  You just learn how to carry it better.  The parts of you that come up and are problematic are not things you can banish from your existence.  Like it or not, they’re you and they fuel a lot of the good parts of you.  You’re stuck with you.  The key is to not shame yourself for it, to feel whatever it is, and to try to be curious about it.  And if you don’t like it, realize you are powerful.  You can be different.  It may take time and effort, but you can control what you’re doing and why and how.  But none of that happens without empathy, forgiveness, and vulnerability.  And you are usually the person you need to forgive.  So, when people are triggering the shit out of you, ask yourself what parts of yourself need to be healed in that moment–because it’s almost always about you.

Anyway, that’s my word vomit for today.  I’m going to go cuddle some kitties.

shedding westwood

Today has been a day of weird dreams–dreams I actually sorta remember.  This rarely happens, so I think it needs processing. Especially the second one.

The first dream was about me and this guy.  We’re on what I think is a college campus.  There are white buildings sort of stacked together with this big lounge area of white concrete benches in front of it–where people can sit.  In front of that is a parking lot with a sparse population of cars.  There are people everywhere.

I don’t know this guy, but I have a feeling this is a date or something.  Anyway, we are sitting on one of these benches, just talking–not sure what about–and these men are just sort of walking by.  And one of them catches my eye, and I just–prepare–for something.  And then he spits on me.  At first, I think he missed because the thing he spit at me separates into two landings.  The first is benign and hits the concrete bench beside me.  I’m relieved and disgusted, but then realize it did hit me as I notice a phlegm ball on my hand.  I’m so horrified that anyone would do this.  The man I’m with looks on in horror, too, but before we can do anything, there’s people screaming because some other guy is throwing things at them from the buildings.  Then, a man in a security outfit starts setting off tear-gas bombs.  It’s very Batman-Joker-like–in fact, the man in the security outfit reminds me of Heath Ledger’s version.  Before I know it, me and the guy are running in the parking lot–telling each other we’d grab whoever’s car as quickly as possible.  But we’re having trouble finding them and there are men in the lot, messing with cars.  And then I wake up.

In the second dream, there’s this woman and her daughter.  The woman, I think, is me.  I don’t know who the daughter is or where she came from.  But she’s a little girl.  And the woman has no car. She’s getting on a bus by a gas station, and suddenly, she’s in my old neighborhood.  The little girl hasn’t come with her.  And then she’s walking through the back alley.  And this other girl–maybe in her teens–Middle Eastern and covered–tells her something.  That detail is jarbled, but I think she is asking if she’s moving in–and the woman says, “No–just visiting.”  There’s this desperate feeling of needing to be in the house–my house–my mother’s house.  She unlocks the back door and walks inside.  And starts to walk through it.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been in this house in my dreams.  But it always looks different.  This time, it is full of our things–Mama’s things.  It’s as if someone had moved them out and then brought them back.  Everything is slightly askew and in the sorta right place–but not really.  All is okay until we walk up the stairs–and suddenly–there are all these people–people stealing things like mattresses.  Looters.  They’re drinking and doing blow upstairs in my old bedroom.  The woman is walking up the stairs and tells them to get out of her fucking house.  And they tell her the house is for sale and everything has to go–so why can’t they take it?  She doesn’t negotiate with them. She just tells them to leave–that she has to do this for her mother.  So, they do.  In the interaction, the feeling is that the woman’s mother is alive, and that she just sold the house.  But she knows it’s a lie.  And I do, too.  I know the mother is gone, and that the woman is trespassing in this old life and home.  The cops come and they are telling her something–but they never comes inside.

The woman then goes from room to room–grabbing things.  I can’t remember it now, but I’m sorta shocked by how my brain had recorded every single item that existed in every room of Mama’s house.  She rescues Daddy’s pink blanket and the picture frames.  Some of the things I discarded and then regretted leaving behind.  She has no way to get home with them, but that doesn’t seem to matter.  She’s just methodically reclaiming parts of that life. And then I woke up.

###

When I had dream #1, I thought it must be some psychic dream of some kind of terrorist event.  I’ve had these dreams before.  When I was in my teens, I used to dream of planes running into buildings.  I actually predicted 9/11 when I was a senior in high school.  I remember crafting a political campaign for my ideal version of a presidential candidate.  I had to make a platform for her, and one of my top issues was airline safety.  I remember saying that things were too lax.  I specifically remember saying–anyone could steal a plane and do terrible things.  I remember my teacher thinking I was crazy.  Five years later, it happened.

I’ve had a lot of these dreams in my own life, too.  I dreamt about my Dad’s death and knew he was dead before anyone told me.  I also dreamt something terrible about an ex who lived with me, some kind of betrayal–and we broke up days later, out of the blue.

So, dreams make me nervous.  I always remember the ones where it’s something big like a death coming or some predicting impersonal thing.  But I forget almost all my dreams–I’m certain.  Sometimes, I have upsetting Mama dreams–but this was different.  Maybe that’s why it stuck.

It was an odd dream because, while it felt familiar, it was like someone else’s story.  And maybe that’s why the woman had a daughter.  It was interesting how she was going back to collect certain pieces of a life.  How it all seemed to be specially delivered for retrieval.  That she wasn’t moving back in–but she was rescuing these things from the looters–even though she was actually a looter.

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with place.  I went on another roadtrip last weekend.  Parts of it weren’t so bad.  Other parts were downright scary.  And the end feeling of that trip was actually regret.  I got to stick my toes in sand–a bucket list item for me in California–but the net result of that trip felt very symbolic to me.  While the beach I finally found was gorgeous, it was lonely and not suitable for playing.  It was something you could look at from a distance.  There was a violence to the water.  It was unwelcoming.  It was a place you’d never be able to know or live at.

The process of getting there, too, was full of bullshit.  Lots of detours.  Lots of people in the way.  Lots of people recklessly trying to prove how big their tiny dicks were.  And mistakes–like forgetting to turn the emergency brake off and then driving downhill for four scary miles–while my car was smoking.

I walked away with this:

  • You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.  No matter how many people bully you or how egregious it is–you can simply ignore them, and they can deal with it.  On this roadtrip, I defiantly yelled at a guy who kept riding my ass to “go around if your dick is that small. Endanger your own fucking life.  I’m going the speed limit.”  I don’t do that, by the way.  I’m a pretty calm, peaceful driver, but after miles and miles of this–in already stressful areas, I was over being bullied. You decide the speed of your journey–no one else.  They have choices, but so do you.
  • I just don’t like or enjoy the Bay area.  The same feeling I have driving around San Jose is the same feeling I have in the middle of nowhere.  Even in the middle of nowhere, in the fucking national forest–for fuck sake–ego and entitlement are king.  There is no grace here.  No empathy.  No appreciation or pause for anything.  There is just what’s next and what can I show off and what can I bully.  That is the entire vibe of the Bay Area.  And it’s dominated by white, middle-aged tech bros who drive through family farm areas at 100+ mph–just to show they’re them.  It’s maddening and disgusting and makes every single roadtrip here just really unpleasant.  And I don’t want to do it anymore.  I don’t want to go to one of the beaches that are only beautiful in theory and from afar.  I want a beach that’s quiet.  Where I don’t have to walk for miles to get there.  Where I don’t have to pay $20 for the privilege of parking in dirt.  Where no one has littered the beach.  Where there is wildlife and people leave the wildlife alone. I don’t want to feel like I’m going to die the entire way there and back.
  • I’ve learned the hard way that I need to be very intentional about my roadtrips here or I’m going to pay dearly for them.  And my lesson is that–unlike Colorado–going to nearby places needs to not be a thing.  Spontaneous isn’t a thing here either.  The costs are too high.  When I’m spontaneous, I get caught by construction detours and forced to experience the same and then ever spiraling worse versions of the same.
  • The problem here is too many people, too much entitlement, too much indulgence, and not enough value to deal with the bad.  Don’t get me wrong–it can be hard to deal with traffic in CO, too.  But it’s not this bad.  And the end result makes it all okay.  Here–not so much.
  • If I go places, from now on–it’s going to be far away.  Like Oregon.  Or LA or San Diego.  Places that are actually fun and worth the hassle of getting there.  Or maybe I’ll just fly there.  Because driving here is full of smoke and mirrors.

###

Last night, I had a little adventure.  It had been an awful day.  Just shitty in all respects, and I had this really terrible outing for lunch earlier that almost made me cry.  It was so typically Bay area bullshit.  And I swear I wanted to move away as quickly as possible after that.  I vowed never to leave the house.  But at 8:30 pm, I finally said, “Fuck it. I need food.”

One of the few things I adore about the Bay Area is the abundance of flowering everything in the spring and summer.  It’s been brutally hot here–one day was 101 degrees–and that seems to have just fueled it after all the rain we had earlier.  The magnolia trees have been blooming.  And there are rows of jasmine and roses at every shopping center lot in the area.  But new this week is the big purple trees.  I don’t know what they’re called, but they are beyond gorgeous.  We’re talking deep lavender color with petals that blanket the sides of the road.  It’s my very favorite color, and since we don’t seem to get much lilacs (which are a childhood miracle for me), it was as close as I was going to get.  There has also been these magenta bushes popping up, and the two of them combined are just magical.  As I was driving out to get my salad yesterday, I kept seeing street after street of them that just made me so happy.  I wanted to take some photos–especially since it was approaching sunset.  But I was in the wrong lane to pull over, so decided to do it on my way back.  Of course, being the Bay Area, it took 3x as long to get that salad because the person in front of me was an entitled asshole.

But I swear–I couldn’t be bothered to get pissed at this very annoying woman.  I was just obsessed with getting back to my trees.  Finally, she stopped her demands and I got my food and drove over to the tree.  I parked and took pictures–and though it was no longer golden hour, in the dusk, it was just so magical.  And I sat there thinking, “Even in all the loathing you have for this city, if this can make you happy, this is proof you can be happy fucking anywhere.”

It just clicked then that happiness is inside me.  It’s like a soul.  It’s not optional.  It’s there at any time for me to decide to embrace.  And all the noise of the world?  It’s just shit to ignore.  I need to focus on what I want–not the shit that I don’t want.

I think living here is teaching me that there is good and bad in everything.  That we can hold onto our treasures and gems.  That they don’t have to be lost when we reject the whole.  I’ve given myself permission to hate this place, but I’ve also given myself permission to love the things worth saving.  This isn’t my home, and I don’t know how long I’ll live here, but that has made being here a little less frustrating.

I think that first dream was about me feeling like I need to stop allowing people to spit on me.  When I see the person I know has ill intent, I need to stop being their target–because it really is a terrorist action.  I think that dream was about the terrorism we just accept–that we fear and run from–instead of confronting it and stopping it.

Giving them the satisfaction of my disgust and fear and anger is a type of terrorism–and one I experience daily here.  What would change if I stopped letting it affect me?

I think the second dream was actually very much related to the first in that–my childhood–that home–is where I learned to accept bullshit.  It’s interesting that the things I chose to keep were things I associate with safety and faith.  Things that represented humility and transformation.  And it’s interesting to me that–in this intimidating place of robbers–all I had to do was say no.

I didn’t negotiate with the terrorists.  I just kept to my mission and didn’t let anyone stop me.  Not even a cop.  I wasn’t afraid.

This year’s intention was twofold: to shed and to invest.  I feel like the first six months of this year has been a lot of shedding.  And these dreams really reflect that.  I just signed a six month contract with my new business coach yesterday–truly investing in my life and my dreams.  I’m ready to stop being afraid of bullies–to stop letting people and things steal my joy.  I’m chasing the purple trees from here on out.

jumping cats/dreamscapes

I’ve basically had a nonstop sinus infection for months now.  I slept a lot this past weekend and on my day off yesterday.  Last night, I tried to sleep, but Rilly kept using me as a trampoline.  That started around 4 am, while I was apparently still asleep and dreaming some awful dream that continued while Rilly jumped on me.

I don’t dream all that often, and I actually remembered this one probably only because I was sort of awake.  Well, I very well may dream, but normally, I never remember my dreams.  The exceptions are horribly painful/bizarre dreams about my dead parents.

This wasn’t that dream, thank God–but it was a bizarre dream.  So, one of my exes is a writer and has written books.  I think he was writing a book when we broke up–at least that’s what I remember.  I haven’t read any of his stuff since the break-up because…well…it’s weird to read your ex’s books after you break up.  I have a vague notion of what it’s about, from what I recall, but I don’t think he was that far along with it when the break-up happened.

Anyway.

So, in my dream, for some reason, I was reading parts of that book out loud–and there was specifically a poetry section that was basically awful poetry that was written about me and what an awful girlfriend I was.

Totally weird.  I mean, my ex sometimes wrote poetry, but it was not really a thing for him.  And to just have it smack dab in some fiction book was a bit odd.  And well, considering he never really publicly acknowledged the relationship, from the get-go, that would definitely never happen.  I think the closest he came to it was a random blurb in his old blog that a friend mentioned…though I don’t remember it being all that mean–just sorta whatever.  And that was probably the extent of the relationship for him as well.  Anyway, it was all quite strange, and then I woke up…not upset, really, just like: WTF was that?

And why?  I haven’t thought about him in a while.

Gotta love weird brain shit.

###

Today is the anniversary of scattering my Mama’s ashes at Never Summer.  It’s been almost three years since I’ve been there–since I left Colorado.  Facebook reminded me of this today and also reminded me that today tends to be an active awful Mama dream day.  I took a nap a few minutes ago and definitely dreamed about something–but it wasn’t Mama or ex related–thankfully–and I can’t remember what it was.

I mentioned earlier this week that I spoke with my new business coach for the first time this week.  I’m still processing that meeting, but one thing did happen that–I dunno–struck me.

When I was telling her about my goals, eventually, I had to bring up stuff about my life…my past…and the fact that both of my parents are gone.  Over the years, telling people about the fact that I no longer have living parents has been something I’ve done quickly–to rip off the Band-Aid, so to speak.  In dating, I often would tell the entire story of her ordeal right away–to just get it out there–so that we could get it out of the way and move on.  But, since moving to California and not easily connecting with people here, I’ve held it in a more sacred place.  Maybe because the day-to-day pain of living that story isn’t so present for me anymore.  I rarely cry these days, and most of the time, I’m pretty good.  I do sometimes feel shit, but I’m not actively grieving anymore.  I don’t know what to call it, really, but it’s this peaceful acceptance of what happened and this commitment to live now.  But you never really escape it–having to tell the story, I mean.  Whenever I see a new doctor or therapist or whatever–whenever I meet a potential good friend.  I’ve mostly kept it to myself at work–except for the work BFFs because they’re actual friends.  And it’s always felt dishonest, but I just–couldn’t do it.  After all these years, telling that story, again and again, feels like such emotional labor.  Even though it’s so easy to tell.  Even though I spent years writing about it.  Bleeding in public.

Anyway.  I don’t tell the stories anymore unless I absolutely have to.  And it’s always this awkward thing for me.  I think my new coach sensed that it wasn’t easy for me.  And it’s weird because–while I’ve told that story so many times–and it’s such a familiar story–this time–telling it was emotional–it meant something.  And I’m not exactly sure why.

I remember telling my last ex about it.  I remember telling him my parents had died.  Mostly because he noticed I never mentioned family.  And instead of just telling him the story, I actually asked him, “Do you want to hear about it?”  I guess it was my way of maybe getting out of having to share it.  Because I didn’t want to.  I mean–I did–because I wanted to be open about it and myself–but I also just didn’t want to go back there.  I didn’t want to endure his reaction or have to decipher his response.  And of course he was going to say yes–it wasn’t really a question, was it?  Only an asshole would say no, right?  But when I told him, I immediately wished he had said no.  Because he really didn’t have much to say.  And that was a lot of that relationship.  Me, bleeding out, and him having not much to say.  It’s taken me a long time to realize that.

Sometimes, I really just want to stop sharing the story.  Not to pretend it doesn’t exist, but just to stop having to endure the reactions of other people and to stop having to fix their reaction to my pain.

I’ve often wondered if maybe the only partner I’ll ever feel okay with will be another person who has lost both people.  Sorta like growing up in poverty.  There’s a shorthand and a recognition there that doesn’t exist otherwise.  People try very hard to understand and are usually so loving and supportive–or at least, they want to be.  But even if you’ve lost one parent or a close friend–losing both of your parents before the age of 40 is a different experience.  It’s hard to explain–even to yourself–and no amount of anyone loving you will ever allow that person to truly get it.  When I was less healthy, I used to try to express that idea to my exes.  But it always came out in ways that pushed people away.  Because that’s what I knew how to do.  It’s not that.  It’s just a simple acknowledgement that you really don’t understand the loss of losing both people who made you until it’s yours to process.  It’s such a lonely path, and I’m very lucky because I sorta knew what I was in for.  I know there are so many people who go through these types of things and can’t really process it for years and years–until trauma is a very real thing in their lives.

It’s just an exhausting thing…explaining all of that to people who just can’t understand–or even fathom–what your life is now like.  Not that it’s bad.  My life is great in many ways–even though I’m constantly trying so hard to be better.  It’s just different and it’s hard to even explain what that means to someone who has never gone through it.  Even if they were right there with you.

I’m hoping June will be less eventful than May.  May just was tough in ways I never anticipated.  Early summer tends to hold a lot of new love memories for me and mid-summer tends to hold heartbreak.  So, I’m feeling a bit quiet, emotionally, and maybe sad.  I kinda just want to hole up somewhere and not have cats jumping on me.