compartmentalization & things

I’m having a hard time writing this entry because I feel like I have too much to say–and some of it–I’m not sure I should share.  That’s how I am with a lot of things–always tiptoeing across a tightrope of vulnerability and distance.  I struggle with it, truly.

The other day, I wrote about not wanting to share personal things on this blog anymore.  Because that’s how I felt.  Sometimes, I feel like I say too much.  Other times, I find it hard to say what I mean.  But, when I do, I know it means something.  Maybe just to me.

I’m a writer.  Always have been.  It’s how I think.  It’s how I make sense of my world–of myself.  I do it for me, but I do it for others too.  I’ve been so helped by people who’ve been brave enough to share their stories.  I know my story has helped people, too.  Which is why I struggle with the idea of blogging and oversharing.

I watched something with Brene Brown the other day wherein she basically said that you shouldn’t share your stories with just anyone.  That you have to vet your audience.  But, with blogging, that’s difficult.  Hell, that’s true of any writing we do.  You can write to an audience in your head, but you have no real control over who reads it or who’s affected by it.

I hate not having control of things.  And yet, it’s one of my favorite things about writing…how people end up with things you never intended.  The interactive dance between writer and reader, to me, is when writing becomes the most powerful.  It’s the thing that transforms everything.

I consider myself a good communicator.  So, when I struggle to communicate with people, it bothers me.  I think, sometimes, that happens here.  Or, at least, my communication isn’t received the way I want it to be received–the way I *expect* it to be received.  It’s hard to keep going, for me, when I think it’s been received and yet isn’t.  Yesterday, I had a fight with a friend that ended up in a good conversation and insights into some stuff I haven’t really realized about myself.

It seems I often communicate things out into the world–usually things about my needs and desires–my expectations–but I don’t listen for the response…for confirmation of receipt.  I just assume it’s been received.  But, often, noise gets in the way of its receipt.  So, I’m left annoyed or disappointed.  And it makes others feel discounted.  All because I’m too impatient to wait.  All because I’m off somewhere else instead of here.

I learned last night that it’s not about the transaction, necessarily.  It’s about being there–and making sure who you are and what you need come across.  It’s also about being there for the people you care about and staying with them–especially when you flat-out don’t understand.

The person I was fighting with last night is one of those people who frustrate and confuse me.  I rarely fight with people on a regular basis, but the two of us butt heads all the time.  I used to think of him as a difficult person.  I used to think we fought because he was too sensitive and judgmental.  As I’ve learned more about how to be his friend, I’ve learned that I’m a little too sensitive and judgmental.  That my behavior often stops me from being there for him and unintentionally causes him pain–that I have no idea I’ve caused.  When he brings up things that bother him, he tends to do it in ways that upset me.  I get caught up in that reaction rather than hearing him sometimes.  Often, he just wants me to listen to him and hear what he’s trying to tell me.  Being me, though?  The minute he tells me I’ve done something that hurt him, I’m mystified.  I can’t imagine where it’s coming from–which means I go inside my head.  I’m such an INFP sometimes.  I isolate because I need to figure it out.  I need to avoid the conflict and fix it.  My scientific background and ability to detach doesn’t help.  I’ll come up with solutions to problems I don’t quite understand–not because I can’t, but simply because I failed to be present.  Communication is a two way street, and it’s filled with so much noise.  Sometimes, the noise is inside you.

For the most part, I think I’m a good listener.  But sometimes, I truly struggle with it.  I have to be careful when my perfectionist/control freak tendencies are triggered.  Sometimes, I think my friend and I were meant to know each other because we trigger the things we both most need help with.  And while we drive each other absolutely crazy, we know we can work through our crap together.  Even if it’s difficult.

Last night’s conversation also brought up many other topics.  Giving freely came up.  Compartmentalization did too.  Both things reminded me of this blog.  I came to blogging with the purest of intentions, but somewhere along the way, it became more about being heard than about just giving freely.  Instead of being present and just doing it out of love, it became another way to feel shitty about people.  Another way to hide in plain sight.  I realized that I still compartmentalize, and my decision about avoiding personal subjects here was probably part of that.  Vulnerability is hard for me…maybe harder than it is for most people.  And it’s a lot harder to be vulnerable when I’m not going through massive amounts of shit.  Being vulnerable when life is just life takes a lot of work.  Vulnerability absolutely is a practice.  I still struggle to be the exact same person in all settings.  I change to fit my audience.  And that’s exhausting.  I guess I still don’t know how to stop being a chameleon.  Maybe because I just don’t feel safe being 100% me all the time…though I’m a lot better than I was.

So, I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with this blog.  My thought is to be a better curator of my life–to only blog things when I really want to share them…to only blog things that truly move me and reflect who I am.

We’ll see.

###

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future lately.  The birthday thing sparked a lot of that.  I just got clear about what’s important to me.  That’s what this year has been about: getting clear and then clearing out the debris from all that other crap.  I’ve had some pretty major things happen to me.  After being pretty stable for a few years, things got real unstable.  But in a way that was still safe.  I found myself in a position that was super uncomfortable for me, but I knew I had done everything I could and made the only decision I could…namely, to move on.

Now, I wish (so much) that I had done it in some graceful manner.  But I am, often, awkward and abrupt.  I do lots of things based on gut reactions, and I tend to make big decisions spontaneously–often in a violent manner where everything comes crashing down because I just CAN’T anymore.  Or something happens in my life that supports the thing I’m too afraid to do.  Which is why I often act so impulsively.  Because if I don’t disengage, it’ll probably end up blindsiding me.

When I’m unhealthy, this is me avoiding abandonment…the whole “I’ll leave you before you leave me.”  And sometimes, I think all those external forces that act against me are really just reactions to my own self-sabotage.

The bottom line is this: I often engage things that do not work for me.  Things that are unwise.  Things that make me miserable.  And I do this because I really, really want them to work out.  I fall in love with people and ideas.  I make them into things they aren’t.  And my hopeful side believes too much.  Only this is me with my arms up–disengaged and seeking solutions to problems I don’t quite understand.  And this means I’m often the girl with rose-colored glasses super-glued to her face.  Only, eventually, you get soaked by a water gun and the glue starts falling off.

I’ve never ever been able to deny the feeling of not right.  I am a pro at swallowing it down, at pretending–but I always know it doesn’t fit.  Which makes me work harder to make it fit–all the while bitching and being miserable.  And sabotaging.  Until I can’t take it anymore and things have to change.

I hit that point this summer.  In one case, I was too optimistic and naive to realize something–and then had a rude awakening that I couldn’t do a damn thing about.  And then I just got really mad at myself for wasting so many resources and so much time on all those wrong damn things, over the years.  I had to go through all of that to grow up, but the situation I got into kinda forced my hand and made me stop something that kinda broke my heart.  It meant I’d have to find other ways to do what I’ve known I’ve needed to do for years.  I made wrong choices when it came to critical timing–but I was too naive to realize it.  It was pretty soul-crushing and made me want to give up.  Around the same time, I ended up doing things I just didn’t want to do–with people who were kind of awful.  It was at a critical time for me, too, when my threshold for dealing with awful was at an all-time low.  Suddenly, I wasn’t going to deal with crap I didn’t need to deal with.  It was empowering, but it made me super-impatient…which didn’t help much of anything.

Which all led me to this bizarro summer.  I needed everything this summer gave me, but I wouldn’t have chosen any of it had I known things would occur the way they did.

Life has a way of supporting the things that need to happen to you.  As a recovering control freak, this drives me nuts.  I can plan out my life so very carefully only to have it all ripped to shreds by my emotions.  Or a random thing that happens that changes everything else.  Sometimes, it’s amazing–and you can’t believe how lucky you are.  Because you just couldn’t have imagined it happening that way.  Other times, what happens is so painful and you learn lessons about yourself that you’d be okay not knowing.  I’ve learned to love all of it and to really try to be grateful for anything.  To trust that it’ll be alright.  I did that all summer.  And yesterday, I got news about something I’d totally written off.  And now, life is totally different than it was a day ago.

###

I guess my big goal lately has been independence.  Poor health really illuminated how important this is in my life.  While I’ve always thought of myself as independent, being sick really changed that.  There were days when I couldn’t tie my own shoes or walk from the car to my apartment–when people had to check on me because I wasn’t breathing.  This latest development supports that goal and is one more step (of many) that I’ve been taking to reclaim things I’ve lost (intentionally or not so much).  I was shocked it came when it did because I’d pretty much given up on it happening soon.  I just sort of stopped worrying about it.  And I guess that’s been the key: I’m a little less high strung than I used to be.  (Just a little).  I used to see this as resignation, but now, it feels more like trusting myself and others.  The world can be a scary place, but MY world doesn’t have to be.

I’m redefining the idea of independence for myself now.  Old me?  She thought independence was not needing anyone.  Which is just ridiculous because–remember that convo from the first few paragraphs–communication is a shared thing.  Connection?  Relationship?  Shared.  You can’t do everything by yourself, and–Good God–why would you want to?

Welp.  I totally thought I could.  For years and years and years.  And then I started learning that I needed to need people–only I had no idea how to do that.  Which is silly because it’s not really something you do.  It’s something you surrender into.  You can’t control it, and for a long time, I tried.  Which only fostered co-dependence…and a fake one at that.  Because I was still me–controlling everything–tricking myself into thinking I was allowing others to care about (and for) me.  When, really, I was gaming the whole thing and alienating people at the same time.

I’m getting better at stuff.  Still struggling with stuff.  But I do feel braver.  More open.  Stronger.  More me.

And as that grows, of course, crazy control freak me wants to micromanage the Hell out of this life.  I tell myself I’m just setting goals, when–really–I’m trying to stop the world.

Today, while doing things to pass the time (because I was waiting on paperwork), I started looking into co-working options.  Because I’m bored as Hell by myself all day, and knowing that the next little jaunt of life will be mostly spent at home (what with working from home and my favorite places being completely inaccessible).  The idea of this was painful.  While I welcomed the quiet and isolation of this summer, I really just want to go outside and meet new people right now.  I’ve hibernated long enough.  I feel like a caged animal.

For some reason, big decisions in my life tend to be prompted in my life by random things I end up doing unintentionally.  Someone I know posted something about a program expanding, and I ended up clicking on the link.  While reading, I realized they had a co-working space.  My roomie has done some stuff with this organization in the past, so I knew about them to some degree but had no idea they did co-working spaces.  It ended up being a bit of a wash as their options (like most Denver options) were too expensive.  It would only make sense if I did it every single day, and that probably would be too much.  I do like alone time sometime.

In any case, it reminded me of a program they sponsor that I actually wanted to apply to months ago–but didn’t–because (again) I thought it was cost-prohibitive.  Basically, you give them 6 months of your life.  They teach you to be a developer and then help you get a job.

The program really intrigued me.  I’m exposed to it a lot through my roomie, and I’m always thinking of app ideas.  I’m always thinking more women need to be in tech.  And the pay sure beats what I’m doing now.

But I always felt cautious.  Where would I come up with the time and the money to do that?  If I’m being honest, I was intimidated too.  Am I smart enough?  Would I fit into that tech scene?  My feelings could get hurt.  Maybe I’d be disappointed.  Remember the last big career change I made?  That was the ultimate disaster, yea?

For the last several months–years even–I’ve played it safe.  With my illness–I didn’t go to the doctor because I really didn’t want to know if it was serious.  I just wanted to pretend that I knew the answers and could fix it.  I didn’t want the truth.  I wanted my solution.  I wanted to believe in it.  I entered into impossible relationships–the last one being with a guy I liked but didn’t quite love (though I thought I did for a while).  I knew he loved me, and I knew he couldn’t really hurt me.  I spent so much time trying not to hurt him.  With work, I’ve done what was easy–what would keep me stable.

There’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s even understandable given how incredibly crazy the last few years have been.  I needed a stable thing to keep standing.  But I let it go on too long.  I got comfortable.  Getting sick was my wake-up call…my rude awakening that you can’t bury your head in the sand.  And, let’s face it: I don’t want to.

Today’s news is another safe thing.  It’s good news and will benefit me, sure.  But it’s a temporary fix and one that won’t really fix me.

I guess that’s why I read about the program again.  As it turns out, there are payment plans.  Plus, they’ve added other areas.  That’s when the wheels started turning.  Pursuing this would mean trusting that the job market holds out for this field.  It would mean trusting that this program would prepare me adequately.  It would mean quitting my full-time job and living on savings for six months.  It would mean saving up.  And applying–and trusting that I’ll get in.  It also means trusting–knowing–that, even if it doesn’t work out, life will be okay.  I’ll be okay.

I think I’m going to do it.  The truth is–to do what I want to do?  I need to make more money.  As much as money has never meant much to me, it does give you a certain amount of freedom.  The field I’d be going into is pretty lucrative and recession-proof.  The one I’m in now is not.  In fact, we get hit first when shit hits the fan.  In the field I’m in now, I feel like I have to be a certain person–like I have to compromise…and it’s very hard to take care of myself.  With this new thing?  What matters is the work.  And this new thing would allow me to be creative, build my skills in psychology, and be myself.  And it’s nice that I won’t be low-balled or discounted.  It’s also something I could do freelance and something that would support me while I’m getting my PsyD.  I’ve worried for a long time about how I might do that.  I can’t have a 9-5 job and do internships.  But I have to work–and make decent money–to even get there in the first place. I could enroll in a local college and study it, but I’d have to fund it all on my own–which is a lot more expensive and time consuming.  Plus, it wouldn’t give me the networking opportunities or the working knowledge of this program.

Luckily, I can take leaves from my current employer without burning bridges.  So, I could go do this, see what happens, and then go back if it doesn’t work out.  It might be a little rough, but if I plan ahead and make sure I save enough, it’s probably not going to be a big deal.

It’s time to chase those dreams.  If I don’t do something big soon, who knows when my PsyD will even be an option?  And I just need something new.

The program is really competitive.  So, I may not get in.  But that was true for other things I’ve done in my life, too.  I might as well try, yea?

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