questions for the new year
So, I have a confession…I wrote half of a blog (which ended up being pretty long) and then never finished it or posted it. I meant to. But I didn’t. It was so long, I needed a break as I’ve been ill this week–like whoa, ill. And also dealing with a wisdom tooth that is not so nice. Did I mention I cracked my wisdom tooth and never got it fixed? I meant to, but the appointment got postponed. A few times. But don’t worry–I will fix it semi-soon. Of course, such things are not exactly one appointment fixes. So, we’ll see.
I was prattling on about a bunch of things…the health yuckies, how my new year went and how I’m not feeling good about this year…and then my anxiety about Fogg showed up, and I was in full PTSD trigger mode. When I came back to finish the entry, I realized it was a PTSD ramble, and I needed to let it stay where it was. So, I won’t be finishing that blog post, and if you’re curious about what it contained…ask.
So lots of stuff going down this week. Lots of intentioning for the new year too. And yes–I have a really terrible stomach bug that doesn’t want to go away. And yes, my face is a giant throbbing lump of hellface. Oh, and work is basically still crazy and might get worse soon. And oh, I have about four projects due this week, and a malfunctioning email. So, yep.
This weekend starts with a half day tomorrow. I’m also helping a friend with some writing stuff, looking into grad school requirements for that MFA, doing some practical work for planning out my life, and finally cooking. And lots of lazing, I’m sure.
I will write a blog post eventually on my intentions for this year. I really will. But I need to grab more clarity and start DOING things before I share what I’m doing. It’s a momentum thing. One of the things I will share is that I think I’m finally going to work more on a new blogging adventure that’s more health related. For me, health is about a lot of things. It’s not just physical or emotional. So, while that topic seems narrow, it’s actually not. I’ll share a lot of stuff I’m reading about, things I’m going through, but also recipes, different adventures, my photography, and lots of stuff related to spirituality and just living a good life. I am going to expand these things and kind of make it a one-stop shop for all things me, including my work and my interests–but for now–it will be my focus. Of course, I’m a perfectionist and busy–so it’ll be a while. I probably will still write here–but the bulk of it will be there, once I start it up. Don’t worry, I’ll share once it’s all ready.
A friend of mine recently sent out a short list of questions to a bunch of the female friends she admired who were over 35 and asked us to share our wisdom with her, since she’s been going through some life changes. It was an interesting surprise, though I don’t know if what I have to share is exactly wisdom. But–hey–I figured my ramblings might help others too–so I’m sharing them here with you as well. Feel free to do the same, if you so choose.
- What are your thoughts on Singlehood, Couplehood, Parenthood, Solitude?
You mean I can’t just experience them? I have to have opinions on them, too? I actually do have many opinions about them, but I may not be able to articulate all of them…or maybe I won’t want to when push comes to shove…but okay…I’ll try.
I think all of these things are important to varying degrees and all of these things define us to varying degrees, depending on our willingness to surrender to them. Sometimes, that can feel like a cage. As I grow older, I feel like I get better at realizing the cage is of my own creation.
All of these things, like anything, come with unique lessons, wounding events, and moments of joy. So, they’re all alike in that way–in that you kinda have to surrender to them–or they will cause you some damn pain. At the same time, I feel like all of these things help us be the people we were meant to be and all of these things feed the others.
I’ve mostly been single during my life. I identify strongly as a single girl, and I think it’s pretty healthy to be an independent person. I don’t need anyone, really. Which can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. I think it’s very hard to be happy in relationship with other people if you can’t be happy on your own. I had a convo earlier this year with a near miss who, in retrospect, was just kind of a mess and not really in a good place to be with anyone. He was in a wounding pattern and definitely wounded me for a bit. Unfortunately, I kinda fell for him a little too quickly before I realized that, and he ended up dumping his immaturity on me during a not so great time in my life. I tried very hard to be his friend, but one convo with him really highlighted for me why I had dodged a real bullet and also sort of highlighted why we maybe couldn’t be friends.
We were talking about the dodgy situation related to a relationship he entered when he was still seeing me, and then we somehow got onto the topic of how he had never been single very long. He saw absolutely no problem with that and admitted he found singlehood to be the most painful thing in the world. That he basically jumped from a marriage to a relationship without any grieving period at all. And got his kids involved in the muck. It became clear to me that he had no idea who he was, and that his behavior with me came about because he couldn’t be alone–and I couldn’t guarantee he’d be in couplehood with me…so he found someone just as damaged to fill the void. He’s had three relationships in less than a year now, all of whom were involved in his kids’ lives–and we are decidedly not friends. And won’t ever be.
I think any life stage can be intolerable if you are not fully committed to knowing yourself first and if your self-care button is off. Which leads me to ramble about couplehood.
I was always taught to take care of the people I love. But that sense of taking care of someone was kinda broken in that I had role models who were self-destructive, manipulative, self-sacrificing, and not very affectionate. I’ve had some really great relationships in the past, and I’ve known a lot of love. But the things I was taught as a kid have made me not feel very loved; made me unable to show love; and have allowed me to sacrifice in unfair ways that caused resentment. I recently had a BIG a-ha moment while reading a Brene Brown interview (can she be any smarter?) about who I have always been in relationships with and the pattern I’ve been involved in–that my mates were also involved in. She talked about how people try to hotwire connection. Oh, Lord. I am so, so, so guilty. And I actually took some pride in it. How passionate I was. It’s basically recognizing some glint of something shared with someone and racing to the finish line. Maybe because you’re too afraid to really look at it. Maybe because you’re afraid to lose it. Maybe because you’re worried it’s so ugly, it won’t last. All I know is that it makes for a love life that is magical in a lot of ways, but also destructive and uber painful. Where all the dysfunction comes out to play, and you have nothing to build on to redeem any of it. I’ve loved every man I’ve ever been with. Love wasn’t the problem. It was the foundation of that love. The actual relationship. Knowing that person has your back. Knowing that they won’t betray you. Knowing you know them.
I think I realized that–on a less deeper scale–a while ago when I started taking dating slow. And a funny thing happened? I was single a lot more because the unhealthy people I attracted didn’t have the patience for the work that is a relationship. They wanted the fairy tale and the adrenaline. Which can still be there. But that impatience told me I could wait a while longer. That I’d be better off alone than with them–no matter how good those moments felt.
I spend far too much time alone, and because of my introversion, I love it. But I am prone to always taking things too far and, for me, isolation is a big deal. I’m in a state of that, currently, and trying real hard to climb my way out of it. I’m too comfortable with myself and too content by myself. I love myself–which is amazing–and hard won. But I am so much better with other people. I push myself harder. I am more loving. I learn more. And even though I AM an introvert, I do love people. Just not crowds of them. I think you really have to be careful about things that feel too comfortable. Comfort is not always your friend.
I miss being in a relationship. I really really want to be married and have kids. But time is clicking away, and on one hand, that’s scary. On another hand, it’s not at all. It’s just adjusting to life and giving up our illusions of control…allowing ourselves to find the path we need rather than the one we think we want. Obviously, I can’t control if I’ll meet the man of my dreams or if I’ll be fertile enough to bear a kid. Or if I’ll even see 50. We make all these plans not knowing, really. At some point, you have to just make peace with that–keep chugging away on our dreams–but accept what comes with grace and humility. I’m an expert at making lemonade.
Regardless of if I find a guy or if I have a kid, I can have the things those things represent. But that may take a lot of facing the truth and a lot of being uncomfortable to get there. A lot of rethinking what’s okay for me. A lot of being in the moment I’m in. Not tomorrow or yesterday.
But–God–I so understand now why my Mama wanted me so much. I am so much her daughter, it aches.
- What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself, so far?
I have nothing to prove. I don’t need to prove I am worthy. I don’t need to do anything. It’s enough to just live. This is a very hard lesson I learned because I was always under this impression that I had to make my parents’ lives mean something. That I had to redeem what happened to them as some sort of payment for not being perfect enough to save them. I worked so hard for so long and was so so so tired. I was so tired of being what everyone else wanted. I was so sad and angry. And then one day, I just woke up and stopped giving a shit. I started being very clear that I owed nothing to anyone and that this life was mine. That it was about me. That other people’s thoughts about me meant nothing–even if I loved them. I still apologize, at times, but I am working on it. There is no lesson that is learned. Every lesson is the tip of the iceberg and you relearn it over and over again for the person you are that needs that lesson, again and again.
- What is the most profound thing you have come to understand about your identity as a woman and as a person?
As a person, it’s that my existence on this planet matters and that I am powerful–even if I often feel like a speck in the galaxy. I never ever can really understand my impact, so in a way, it’s pointless to manipulate that. You can only really be true to yourself and, if you do that, you will affect those who need to be affected by your existence.
As a woman, I have come to understand that I am a motherfucking warrior. I am far stronger than any man in all kinds of ways–but that doesn’t always make me superior. Just different. I’ve also learned to redefine what “warrior” means in feminine terms.
- What is most important to you, now?
I feel like I’ve been on a path of healing for almost all of my life, and that never really ends when you have soul wounds. It just doesn’t. We all have our own to bear. But we can transform them, and how we are able to do that differs for each of us. For me, the biggest thing is just finding the connections I can find and being myself–the person I was meant to be–not some reaction to trauma. I’m really wanting to find a place of strength in my body that I’ve never quite had while also really sharing who I am with people in a way that I’ve never been able to do because of being stuck by the past.
- What are the most distinct changes you have noticed in yourself and your perceptions over time?
I get younger as I get older. Very few people believe I’m 38. I don’t look like it, and I don’t act like it. This is good and bad. I am more open-minded than I ever was, but I have to sort of fight that world weariness that comes with trauma and bullshit. I am loyal still and still hate myself for it–but I’m also oddly proud of that forgiving nature. I never really give up on people. Even when I want to. I have been pretty amazed by what my body and mind is capable of. A lot of my shit is fear and shame based. I am far less afraid than I used to be.
- What is it that you wished you knew earlier? Never knew at all? Still want to know.
I want to know everything–well, except for the shitty painful stuff. Oh, heck–I want to know that, too. I’ve always been too nosy in the book as Mama would say. I don’t know that I’d want to never know something. I think you need that shitty pain to live life and that the first step to healing is knowing what things are. I’d always rather know than not know. A big part of the pain I had with exes was because they withheld information from me about their experience of our relationship–and what really happened. It was pretty cruel–though unintentional, I think–and kept me stuck for a long time–just because my way of healing is to try to understand. If I can understand–or at least have the information–I can make peace with it. I specifically remember an email an ex sent after years of no-contact that finally sort of broke the ice–and I was so grateful for that because it allowed me to forgive him and move forward in a way I couldn’t before that. But I don’t know that I’d want to know things earlier. I kinda needed that journey and that battle with my own impatience.
I guess the only thing I’d want to know earlier was that people loved me just so I could maximize that love and savor it. Or that people were going to be ill or that they would die–just so I could’ve been smarter about how I spent my time. When my mother died, I was so mad at myself for spending so much time with my ex-fiance who later treated me terribly and just was–and kinda still is–a total asshole. I wish I had spent that time with my mother–loving the Hell out of her–and making the most of that last year. But, of course, all those things made me who I am now–and now I can help others make better choices.
- What questions continue to challenge you, plague you, inspire you?
Hah. All kinds. Like how the Hell do my roommates create so much trash and so many dishes? Practical shit like how to best clean the carpet. You should just go read that section of my old OKStupid profile, okay?
- How do you feel about your female relationships?
Oddly, work has really helped me here. I’ve met some wonderful women who are becoming great friends, and I’m grateful for it. But I still struggle with women, quite a lot. I wish I had sisters, but I don’t.
- What sustains you?
Absolute stubbornness. And a really dark sense of humor. Cats, too. Maybe pie.
- What advice do you have for me and others?
No advice. Well, except to look inward and trust yourself. Easier said than done.