in the way i could

It’s been a while since I answered questions. So, lucky you. 🙂

What are your nicknames? What do you prefer to be called?
There’s a childhood nickname that only a few people know and a couple nicknames from exes. And no, I won’t be sharing those. Almacita, Meeks, Ms. A, Almypants, Almagirl, Almond Joy, Alms, The Roomie, LS, Denver girl. A couple people call me Love. I have no preference on the nicknames. Alma’s nice.

What’s your favorite song right now?
This one.

What books on your shelf are begging to be read?
A bunch. The Body Keeps the Score, Heart Talk (Cleo Wade), The Righteous Mind (Jonathan Haidt), Present over Perfect (Shauna Niequist), Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (Neil deGrasse Tyson), Autobiography of a Yogi (Parammahansa Yogananda), Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist (Sunil Yapa), Story Engineering (Larry Brooks), Evicted (Matthew Desmond), Finding God Through Sex (David Deida), Mind over Medicine (Lissa Rankin), Hold Still (Sally Mann), Raw.Vegan. Not Gross. (Laura Miller), A Super Upsetting Cookbook about Sandwiches (Tyler Kord), The Illusion of Separateness (Simon Van Booy), We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Shirley Jackson). I literally could go on and on.

How often do you doodle? What do your doodles look like?
Usually when extremely bored. Dot patterns. Line art. Faces. Cats. Oddly, bio lab helped me be a better doodler.

What do you do if you can’t sleep at night? Do you count sheep? Toss and Turn? Try to get up and do something productive?
I answer questions on the Internet. 🙂 Or watch TV. Or watch Instagram stories. Or do stuff on Pinterest. Or work. I can’t just be in bed for hours. That’s my worst nightmare. I usually watch tv, though, because that makes me fall asleep, every time.

How many days could you last in solitary confinement? How would you do it?
It depends on if there was something to do. If it was literally just me and a blank wall, I would probably not do so well. That would be a couple days. If I had books or a notepad or the Internet in any capacity, I could live my whole life in solitary. My Mama was right about me when she used to brag that I could entertain myself for hours with just a simple piece of paper. I don’t need much.

Do you save old greeting cards and letters? Throw them away?
I’m a sentimental soul. I save all the cards and letters from special people. And never throw them away, thought I sort of want to. I still have letters from all my exes. I do get rid of emails, but not the handwritten stuff. I’ve even been known to save ticket stubs. That’s how sentimental I am. I didn’t save much from my Mama, though. A few things, but there was so much paper–so I had to be selective there.

Who is the biggest pack rat you know?
Probably my roommate, though he will deny it and blame me.

When making an entrance in to a party, do you make your presence known? Do you slip in and look for someone you know? Do you sneak in quietly and find a safe spot to roost?
I usually will say hi to the host to let them know I showed up and then will find a dog or cat to talk to and/or people watch until I get my fill and run away outside somewhere.

What is your strongest sense? If you had to give one up, which would it be?
My strongest sense is probably taste. I can pick out flavors pretty easily and have a good palate. If I had to give one up, maybe smell–though that affects taste too and I’d be sad about not being able to smell flowers. But it would probably be the least difficult to live with.

How many times a day do you look at yourself in the mirror?
If I’m out, never–unless I’m driving. At home, maybe 2-3x a day–mostly to see if my cat’s scratches actually left a mark.

What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?
I don’t know that what I believed was strange. I was terrified of Ouiji boards, though, and thought they invited bad luck. I kind of still believe that. I’m a little superstitious.

What is one guilty pleasure you enjoy too much to give up?
Probably cheese and sugar. I’ve had a hard time with a lot of diets I’ve been recommended to manage my thyroid because they usually cut out sugar and dairy. I’m doing slow carb precisely because I am allowed anything one day a week. Completely eliminating things isn’t good for me.

Who performs the most random acts of kindness out of everyone you know?
I don’t know that my friends are people who tell others what they do in this regard. They just do it. But if I had to guess, I’d say definitely me because I do quite a lot on a daily basis–and I don’t think that’s normal for most folks. I don’t even think about it and rarely share that I do it. I love anonymous giving. That’s my favorite.

How often do you read the newspaper? Which paper? Which sections?
Oh, man. I haven’t read an actual newspaper in YEARS–probably since the Rocky shut down. I loved that paper. 😦 When I used to read newspapers, I always read comics, then the advertisements (if it was a Sunday), the lifestyle section, horoscopes, crossword, and then the crime shit. I rarely read national news. Now, I mostly read shit on Twitter.

Which animals scare you most? Why?
Animals that are unpredictable freak me the fuck out. Like mice. I am also not a fan of most bugs or snakes. I was also really freaked out by buffalo in Yellowstone because they came right up to our car, and they were HUGE. I don’t trust a wild animal that close to me. Birds also really freak me out. I think it’s because peacocks chased me at the zoo every time I visited. Peacocks are bitches. I can appreciate all of these creatures from afar and respect their beauty–but please keep them away from me. 😉

Are you more likely to avoid conflict or engage it head-on?
It depends on what it is and who is involved. I try to choose my battles. I used to be a major conflict avoider, and could be pretty passive aggressive, but I learned my lesson after being in relationships with really passive aggressive people. It was like shining a big spotlight on myself, and I worked really hard to not be like that anymore. On the other end of the spectrum, since my Mama died, I can be pretty confrontational if the circumstances are right–if the thing in question hits a nerve or a deeply held value. It’s like a lightning rod. With people who are closer to me, I probably engage conflict head-on more regularly because I don’t like small things festering and want to be clean on my end. Having been with big-time avoiders, I’ve seen really small things blow up and actually end relationships. With work stuff, I will express my needs and be pretty honest, but in a diplomatic way to the degree it’s effective. If I see that it’s falling on deaf ears, I will just remove myself from the situation rather than belabor the point because that just angers me and makes me really frustrated. I don’t believe in ever being unkind, so just because I confront, it doesn’t mean it’s a negative thing.

What was the most recent compliment you’ve received and savored?
I don’t know that I ever savor other people’s opinions of me. I also don’t get too bothered when the words aren’t compliments–for the same reasons. It’s all just some random person’s opinion. I’m the one who has to live in this skin and accept this life, so my opinion is what matters–and their opinions…while reflecting some amounts of truth…are not nearly as important as what I think. I get told a lot of random things, all the time, because that’s what it’s like to be a woman. We are constantly receiving comments about our looks and who we are as women. If I listened to all of it, I’d be insane–completely unable to comprehend the litany of contradictions.

I guess–if I had to pick out a compliment that I get a lot–that’s usually genuine–I would say that since moving to California, I’m often met with shock and awe that I’m 39 and will be 40 (gasp) in August. I think, to the people here, 40 is still some death sentence of haggery and non-consequence. I just don’t subscribe to it at all. They always tell me how I can’t possibly be over 29. I don’t know that I actually do look younger. I don’t think I look 39, but I don’t think I look 29 either. Nor would I really want to look 29. I think so much of age and people’s perception of age is your mindset. My energy is very different from my peers. I’m not married. I don’t have kids. A lot of my concerns are the concerns my peers had in their late 20s. Because–in many ways–when my Mama died–I was robbed of that time period. So, now, I’m finally living the life I would have had if things had been normal. I spent a long time–until I moved to California–in this grief cocoon of just finding my way out of the shit tunnel. Figuring out who I was–who I wanted to be–what I needed–where I needed to be. California has been a lot of emerging from that comfortable, difficult space. So, I feel a bit reborn and there’s an energy to me–a kinetic something of pushing for change in my own life. I think that’s palpable when people meet me now. I don’t think my weariness is readily apparent. People in CA are very surface. They get my surface a lot–but I’m a person of many layers. I also don’t put a lot of effort into my appearance like the women out here. I don’t usually wear makeup. No contouring or bronzing here. I stay out of the sun. I’m very no fuss, no muss. The women here look very made-up and artificial to me–even when they’re dressed down. In Colorado, my way of being is just normal–so it’s not as jarring there. But I stick out like a sore thumb out here for just that reason. So I think that’s a big reason why people are so shocked by my age. I’m not hiding myself.

What annoys you about humanity?
Oh so much. The way cruelty has been normalized and is really just a reflection of massive self-loathing. The obsession with superficiality, status, and appearance that American culture seems so quick to embrace as valuable. Here’s a hint: if you loathe yourself, all the plastic surgery in the world won’t fix the gaping hole inside you. You deserve nothing. Any amount of wealth and your ability to buy expensive toys is all deeply connected to the fucked-up-ness of our world and the toxic masculinity we deal with on the daily–so stop congratulating yourself for being born a white man. How big of a cliche is the middle-aged white guy in the sportscar? Yea–they can be fun for a moment or two, but they are not the things that make a good life. They are products of ego and extraneous bullshit meant to numb and deflect. Those who buy into such lifestyles probably are running from themselves or so full of society’s bullshit that they probably have no sense of self left. Here’s an idea–rent a sportscar if you want to have fun and buy several homeless dudes a meal for a year instead. You’ll feel much better about who you are in this world, and you can still pretend you’re 20 and have a big dick. The purest form of happiness doesn’t come from things or appearances. A little–okay, big–rant, but something I witness on the daily here in the capital of vapid self-interest.

What is something about yourself that you hope will change, but probably never will?
There are parts of me that trauma changed–that I can reclaim as mine and accept as me–but they’re always going to be there. How I cope with those things changes and gets better. But they’re part of me now. You just learn to walk with those parts of you that are still sharp and jagged.

Are you a creature of habit?
I can be, but then I can be so random and so spontaneous. It’s hard to predict. I like routine and habit. I think there’s a part of me that craves that. But there’s also another part of me that’s always seeking and wants new things. Exploration rarely meshes well with strict habits.

Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?
Totally a gatherer. I’m pretty squeamish and kinda lazy.

What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
Not locking the steering wheel accidentally while getting into the car. Fixing my mirrors because they’re always messed up. Locking my doors. Seatbelt. Radio station. And then driving, of course. Freaking out about probably being lost. I am also always taking photos (when not moving) and singing along to the radio.

What’s your favorite ’90s jam?
Probably something by PM Dawn.

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back to center

This day has flown by, which is such a departure from what’s been typical for the last few weeks.  The weekends have been feeling luxuriously long (somehow), and work has been approaching almost manageable.  Well, up until Friday when my plate got unexpectedly full again.

A lot has been happening in the last month.  This year has felt so abrasive and isolating, but I finally feel like I’m moving forward by leaps and bounds.  Of course, it’s not without its obstacles. I reinjured my knee somehow and have generally been feeling awful for the last week.  But that just sort of confirmed a lot of things and fueled the change I was already pushing forward.

I did a lot of soul searching about my job in the last few weeks.  I did a few interviews and turned down a few offers. I gained some valuable insight that led me to reconsider where I am.  I’m now up for a promotion, on the cusp of a raise, and am being considered for something outside of my current job–that would use different skills and help me get out of the pigeonhole of doing something for so long.

But I’ve still been really torn about the bigger purpose of my life.  While I know writing is the big thing for me, I still feel really pulled toward helping professions–namely, counseling.  I’ve had doubts about it–thinking that my interest in it was more about me being a fixer and my past patterns.  I even talked extensively about it with my therapist.  She saw my points, but also felt that counseling as a profession might be perfect for me–if I did the work to get there and if I was really careful about what my focus would be.  I also just happened to fall in absolute love with a school in Santa Barbara, so that was a big tug.  If I had more money, I probably would have TFA’d the shit out of that.  (TFAing the shit out of that meaning–applied in a rush of inspiration without really thinking the whole thing through…as I’m apt to do).  The lack of money–while supremely frustrating–was actually a good thing.  It meant I couldn’t jump.  I really had to consider it and save for it if I wanted to do it.

I did decide to go back to grad school.  My target is specifically finishing something.  Clearing my plate so to speak.  But in the course of doing that–I found a nifty degree program where you basically do you.  I think school is good for me.  I always have.  Probably why I have so many degrees.  If I do this indy degree program, I basically get to pick and choose what I want to study. So, nothing will be wasted–even if I don’t transfer it somewhere for a formal program.  It would also let me go at my own pace rather than a prescribed plan–something that really appeals to me.  And is good since I tend to be a bit of a person who changes her mind.  🙂

I had another bit of an epiphany this weekend.  (A lot of those lately).  Oddly, it was while reading about the “lost” children that Health & Human Services has abused and neglected.  Years ago, when I started the whole mess that was TFA–and after–when I first started thinking about being a counselor–it was children that pushed me forward.  Children like me.  Today, I thought of these lost children–these kids being traumatized and taken from everything they’ve known–and that part of me that pushed me to apply that day back in 200-?–well, there it was again.  And I realized something kinda huge.  I’ve always been an advocate.  Since before my father died.  I was the girl who stood up.  It wasn’t about fixing.  It was about being me.  I realized today that I am my absolute best around children.  Whether I’m in a classroom or pushing them on swings…the thing in me that wants to be a mother–that my mother saw as a mother–well–that’s just me.  And it’s also me to want to hear stories and to want to transform them into something that heals.  Writing–film-making–photography–it’s all rooted in story.  And counseling is, too.  Helping people see that they have a right to be heard.  Giving them a soft place to land.  That is what I’ve always done.  And that is not part of a pattern.  That is who I am.  And that is why that school in Santa Barbara feels like mine.  That is why my face lights up when a child tells me their secrets.  That is where I belong.

So, yea.  I want to be a counselor.  I want to work with children.  I want to hear those stories and nurture those stories and help facilitate change.  Create revolutions inside those minds.  Show them the light at the end of the tunnel.  And ferry them through–like my father does now in some place I can only dream about.

It’s not about responsibility.  It’s not about fixing.  It’s about healing.  Them and me.  And finding the light that’s always been inside me.

But this will still be a journey.  Money, of course.  Time.  Responsibilities.

I don’t have a timeline, really.  My next goal is to just make more money and to not be stuck in the same-same I’ve endured for over a year.  Things are moving in that direction.  So, we’ll see.  But I’ve decided something rather big.  No matter what happens with this job as far as promotions and transfers and yadda yadda–I’m going to start using my gifts more and trying to actually be paid for it.  Yea–I am going to teach myself design and blah blah blah…because I do still think that’s a good method for achieving what I want financially.  But I think it’s time I create art and actually get paid to do it.  Maybe I’ll reopen my Etsy shop.  Maybe I’ll sell photos somewhere.  Maybe I’ll self-publish some stuff.  I’ve always avoided such things because I hate selling myself–especially my creative force.  But if it’ll pay for grad school–it might be worth it.

Of course, I’m also looking at other things to reduce costs–namely moving somewhere dirt cheap at some point.  I’ve got some leads–places I never thought I’d consider.  Some are obvious. Others are cross-country.  The good news is the program in Santa Barbara is low-residency, so I can live anywhere.  Again–no timeline. Just an intention and some goals.

Self-care has been good lately.  I cooked this weekend.  I’ve been doing Hungryroot, which I am probably not going to do much longer.  Delivery issues made the whole thing start off bad.  But the food is good.  It is a bit bland and monotonous.  They don’t have a ton of variety, and most of the food seems like something I could whip up without thinking much.  Which is good.  I like that it’s simple and I like that most of it is prepared and ready to go.  The meals last a while in the fridge since it’s non-dairy and all veggies.  But for that price point, I’d rather just cook the same stuff myself and buy it from Lunardi’s.  Which is what I’ll be doing next week.

My energy levels are still pretty shitty, but they are slightly better.  I think eating better will definitely help that and I have other plans up my sleeve to help with that.  Mostly, I need to wrangle this thyroid and just take a lot better care of myself.

Hope you have a beautiful weekend, friends.

we’re the same

Remember a few days ago–how I wrote about a dark entity that attached itself to me when my parents’ died and how I finally felt like it was time to send it on its way?  That?

Well, on Friday, my therapist and I started working on all of that stuff.  First, I caught her up and all the ups and downs, career-wise, that I’ve had over the last couple months.  I let her know about my decision to return to school–which was such a spontaneous and crazy move.  I explained all of these things to her–thinking she’d think I was absolutely insane for all of the shit I was deciding. But she was actually really supportive–saying she saw the thought pattern and that it sounded like I have a real sense of myself and that I’m doing a fantastic job of parenting myself through some big emotions and needs.

Then, we decided to talk about the stuff I shared in my email–namely my epiphanies.  To refresh your memory, these things included:

  • Feeling like I’m on the right path.
  • Feeling like the old me, more and more.
  • Not hating CA as much as I used to.
  • A keen understanding that part of me has been throwing a tantrum in the grocery aisle of the store that is my life–mostly because that part of me doesn’t want to change. So, the reason everything has felt so incredibly hard has been because I’ve been dragging a mini me around every step of the way.
  • That part of me can’t believe I survived, and she didn’t.
  • I’ve been resisting change because part of me wish I died with her while the other parts of me fight like hell to live.
  • This battle has fueled so much suffering inside me, and it’s caused me to resist everything good in my life–in a big way.
  • Then came a bigger realization that whatever this self-destructive thing is–it’s not me.  Maybe it never was me.  Maybe it was some invading thing that attached to me.  The only way I can describe it?  It feels like a grief monster.  Like heavy dark smoke.  Like a dark raincloud.

For whatever reason, I felt like this was not me.  Maybe, it IS me and it’s a part of my self that I’m deeply disassociated from. But that was not my sense.  In normal therapy, we would do some inner child work and then rescue that part of me and put her in my heart.  This felt different.  I distinctly felt like I needed to release whatever this was–and that I was finally strong enough to do it.

We did some body scanning and breathing to help me feel more in touch with my body–which is what we always do because I’m someone who lives in her head.  I noted how content I felt and also cold.  All my extremities were freezing.  It’s really strange for me to feel content. There’s usually something going on with my body.

Then she asked me to say more about this darkness.  And I started talking about a lot of things. Auras and dreams of my dead father. Of all these ghosts that seem to be around me, all the time. That this feels a bit like that–but different.  We talked more and decided this was going to be a big thing–requiring lots of unpacking–but we’d basically do some exploring and see what came up.  We decided that both of my parents were involved–so both would be needed to deal with this.  But maybe it wasn’t time for my Mama. We’ve never brought her forward before.

So, we did the whole inner child thing where I brought forth my functional self.  I then brought forth my father.  This is always a hugely healing thing for me.  Every time I’ve done it, it’s brought me tremendous peace and a sense of the love I truly have for him.  On Friday, he was there to support me.  And he did–in ways he never was capable of when I was a child.  My therapist decided to push me because I was handling it all so well.  So, then we tried to bring forth my Mama.  But when I did, she was behind a glass window.  Like something in a museum.  Just seeing her was extremely painful, and I started sobbing immediately.  Not because she was there–but because I felt like she was so far away and this is what I’ve felt since my Mama died.  Like there was this separation and like our relationship–which was always so incredibly close–was now forever cursed to be distant and disassociated.

My father kept telling me I just needed to break the window.  That it was there because I decided to put it there.  Eventually, with his help, we opened the window.  But then, something really surprising happened.  Not only did we open the window together, we pulled my Mama through the window.  Except she wasn’t an adult now.  She was a child.  I felt like I was saving her.  And I wanted to let her play with the child I was when my father died–the child I rescued months ago who lives in my heart.

Now, I don’t know why the child version of my mother was what I connected with. Maybe because my Mama always felt like a child to me.  Maybe because that was a less painful version of her for me.  But the thing that really struck me and really really loosened some things: I had this overwhelming feeling that we’re the same.  My child-Mama was the same as me at six year old.  We unpacked that, of course.  And what I said–well–it kind of knocked me on my ass.  We come from the same source.  We are different expressions of the same thing.  And then–a HUGE epiphany.  There is no such thing as death.  My mother never went anywhere.  I chose to wall her off because it hurt too much to keep her in my heart.  We’re the same, so that same light in her still exists in me, and my Mama didn’t die–not really.  It’s that hokey thing that the light never dies–but holy shit.

I felt silly.  All these years–I didn’t realize that my Mama was right there. That all I had to do was pull her through the window and let her into my heart.  That all I had to do was see we were–are–the same.  We put my Mama in the room in my heart where she can play and live with the child I rescued.  The child I tend to.  In a room full of houses and flowers where big windows open up to let the breeze in.  With a big bathtub in the corner and endless days of play and books.  I can visit her any time I want.  And the child I was can have her mother back again.  Only not in a form that she has to care for.  As a peer to love and play with.

On Saturday, I just sort of mulled that over.  But it honestly felt like EVERYTHING had changed.  The black smoke is still there, but it’s less.  I have a new contentment and peace I’ve never had before.  I feel very connected to my mother for the first time in years, and finally, taking care of myself feels easier.

Sunday night, I had this huge urge to organize and plan a bunch.  I came up with a theme for the next chapter of my life: heal.  Then I came up with five areas of focus: nourishment, movement, rest, support, and release.  I went through and asked myself what I wanted to nourish/etc.  Then I asked how I could parent myself through it, and then I wrote a list of actions to support me.  Things like setting boundaries with myself and others.  Things like tracking emotions and doing a lot of homework on things.  I’m even going to read some parenting books–for myself–ha! And I’m going to look at my mother a lot more closely–studying her and her life and the mother she was for me.  I’m also going to look at my functional self–what did she get from her parents that I didn’t?  Once I compile all of that, I can better understand a) the parent I’ve been to myself, b) my weaknesses and strengths; and c) who I want to be.  More than anything, though? It’s giving me a lot more compassion for myself.  I learned how to take care of myself from how my mother took care of me and how she took care of herself.  And she learned from her mother and so on.  This is generational bullshit–so of course–it’s going to be difficult to change!  Just acknowledging that is HUGE.

I feel a lot more empowered.  I feel like a switch has been flicked.  There’s a lot more to do.  But this work has been incredible.

follow-through

I think I just made a rather big decision.  It’s something that I don’t take lightly–that will likely be an emotional rollercoaster and will definitely dominate my life.  This, coupled with other big changes I’m chasing, might make me a little insane.

A couple of years ago, I found myself in an unusual spot for me.  I was in the midst of a self-worth spiral.  I felt paralyzed and utterly incompetent–even though I KNEW I was competent.  In any event, after a few attempts to make it work and failing utterly–I finally decided I just didn’t want to make it work anymore and decided to say uncle.  It was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life, mostly because it felt like I was out of integrity.  So much of who I am is that girl who sticks with shit, at all costs, and I knew the person I was growing up would have toughed this shit out.  It was completely doable, but my paralysis was about grief and shame–not the work itself.  I gave up, essentially, because I knew I didn’t have it in me at that moment.  I left the door open and promised myself that, when the time was right, I’d look at it again and consider finishing.

For the last two years, I’ve felt good about that choice.  I knew it was not something I was capable of devoting myself to at that moment.  I was trying to move out here.  It was a lot of emotional shit.  But moving out here and making the strides I’ve made have helped me feel better about my ability to see this thing through. The only thing holding me back?  Money and energy levels.  Things may be getting better with the money shit and if I start saving now, it’s totally doable.  Especially if the work changes happen.  Time–well, that’s another story.

Still, tonight, as I was playing some Harry Potter game, I realized how utterly bored I am with my life as it is now.  I think it is part of what feeds my exhaustion and occasional bouts of depression.  I don’t have something to strive for.  I am passionate about my job, sure, but it feels a little pointless.  Now, this thing I’d be doing–I don’t have any goals for it–really–but it would give me more options.  Options are a huge part of everything I’ve worked towards having in my life.  I don’t like being stuck.  I want to be free to say–I can go here and there–without worrying I haven’t paid my dues.  And it annoys me to no end that I didn’t finish this one thing that I worked so hard for.

I’m more grounded inside myself now.  I’m not nearly as ambitious as I used to be–which is actually how I know I’m ready to take this on.  Because that fucking ambition is how I self-sabotage, often.

The biggest thing driving me?  I want to be clean.  I’ve worked so hard to be clean in all areas of my life, and I have a ways to go in many areas, but this one is one I can fix relatively easily.  And it’ll give me something to care about instead of myself, for a while. Something that isn’t my stupid job or my sick cat or being single and homesick.  I think it’ll give me the momentum I need to keep running toward the other goals–even if they feel impossible.

So, I emailed them. Pretty spontaneously. This thought didn’t exist in my head until 9 pm tonight.  Worst case scenario?  I fail again.  But at least I’ll know for sure that this thing isn’t mine if I do.

healing in mid-air

This week was a blur, truly, with lots of good and some bad thrown in.  Mostly, forward motion, with some hefty reminders of the past thrown in just to make life interesting.

I had a couple of phone interviews this week. One was with my current employer for a project manager role internally that would take me away from what I’ve been doing for most of my life–into a role that uses all of my skills and takes it up a notch.  It would honor my introvert-y self and allow me to be a teacher and guide.  I would still work from home.  I have no idea what it pays, but I’m sure it pays more than what I make now–and it’s a management level role without actually having to manage people…which I enjoy.  Anyway, the phone interview went great.  I’m slated to talk to the hiring manager next week. Oddly, it was with someone I have never interacted with here, but I knew the name.  It was bugging me, so I looked her up.  Lo and behold, she was my senior manager on a job i took back in 2014.  At the time, I was desperate to get away from my old employer because our client was bananas.  An old work colleague had contacted me because he had an opening on his team and they recruited me over.  I was there all of 1 1/2 months before they laid me off due to budget cuts. I was the last hired, so it had to be me–especially since I never had time to do much.  Anyway, she was the one who called me.  I have emails from her. I went right back to my old job.  I’ve never listed it on my resume because it was just this odd 5 week gig.  I don’t even remember her.  Like I can’t recall anything about her.  I’m wondering if she remembers me.  There’s a good chance she doesn’t.  But who knows?  Anyway, it’s an odd coincidence, especially since she joined our company the month I joined and I’ve worked with nearly everyone here except her.  But she has to know my name–right? I mean I was #1 in the company for a long time.

Anyway, that job excites me and I hope I get it. But I kinda hope I don’t, too.  It’s weird.  I’ve been struggling quite a bit with this new client, but my managers’ efforts to help us get our runaway train level of projects under control is starting to work.  I’m finally having time to breathe and do shit the way I do shit.  This was the first week since November where I wasn’t in panic mode.  It’s still A LOT, but it’s getting way better–and I’m doing great things.  I had my performance review yesterday and got high marks, even though I scored myself much lower.  My manager was keen about telling me what a great job I’m doing and listening to my concerns.  It was actually great.  I felt heard and seen–which is why I’m torn about leaving now.  This account has the ability to be what I want.  It’s a lot, but it’s my wheelhouse, and I have the best team ever.  These people are my good friends, and I’d hate to go, but I’ve been so miserable.

The other job was with the employer I used to work for before I came here.  It’s a remote job, but I’d likely have to visit the client since they’re here in SJ. Probably not too often, mostly to just meet and build relationships.  It’s a straight up tech focused job–which I’ve done a lot of, but don’t entirely enjoy–with a really high profile client.  It would be a big challenge, for sure.  Pay is more than where I am with the ability to earn commissions, and it’s for a different wing of my old employer–so not the same BS.  I don’t know, though. I didn’t love the recruiter, and I don’t really like doing on-site things unless I’m actually on-site all the time.  It’s an odd sort of relationship.  It’s also low pay for this kind of job, out here.  Yea–I’d get to work from home most days–but at about 30K less than what others pay for the same role.  I don’t know.  I’m leaning towards staying where I am–though I really do need to make more money if I want to go back to school.  Or I need to find a side job or cut costs, somehow.  But I live pretty lean already.

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Okay–sorry for the career babble.  I didn’t mean to devote that much space to it, but I guess I needed to babble about it for a while.  Ha.

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about was yesterday.  I had a really good day.  It started out rough and frustrating, but redeemed itself.  Mostly because I took steps to redeem it.  I went for a drive in the middle of the day and got coffee and lunch.  Then I spent the remaining part of my day working poolside from our leasing office.  It was one of the nicest days I’ve had since moving here.  It actually made me want to cry because life has not been fun lately.  I think it was because the pressure was finally a little less.

Anyway, long story short–I had a bunch of realizations, in rapid succession, which all made me bawl instantly.  It was a hard kick in the ass, and something that really felt important.  So, afterwards, when I could breathe again, I emailed my therapist.  Here’s what I wrote to her:

It was the nicest day I’ve had in a while, and I just sort of thought–I think California is finally growing on me.  And then, I started thinking about my first day in SJ and how I immediately texted my friend to tell him I was definitely not staying in CA and wanted to move back home immediately.  I remember he said it took him two full years to actually even like living in Denver after he moved there from St. Louis.
Anyway, I remembered that conversation and thought, “Oh, man. He was right.”  Then, I started trying to understand why.  And that’s when it hit me.
I was like–today was the first day in years that I felt like the person I was before my mother got sick.  And then I just had this overwhelming feeling that I am on the right path–whatever the Hell path that is.  But that part of me has been kicking and screaming–refusing to let go of the past.  Refusing to like any place I am that isn’t where I was.  Basically having a tantrum in the middle of the grocery aisle–only the grocery store is my life.  So, to move forward, not only have I had to do the tough part of deciding and then changing, but I’ve had to pull this human being along behind me.  Then I wrote this down:
It’s the part of me that can’t believe I survived and she didn’t.
And that’s when whatever wall that I erected inside me just crumbled and the sobbing started.  Then, I wrote:
So much of why everything has been hard has been my own resistance to change because part of me wishes I died with her. And the other part is fighting so hard to live.
I feel like that’s the crux of everything…my hatred of CA, my fear of change, my flip-flopping on career paths, my paralysis and self-doubt (intimately connected to worth), and even my struggle with weight.  I’ve literally been carrying the weight of another human being on my back to keep myself from living the life I deserve to live because there’s a part of me that wanted to die with them.  But that part of me is not who I am anymore.  It’s who I was.  I don’t feel like she’s even me.  I feel like she’s the grief that took over my identity when my parents died.  I feel like maybe I’m ready to send her on her way.  I don’t know if there’s a way to do that or if I’m even right.  But my instincts are telling me I need to somehow send her to the light so she can be with them?  I feel like that’s what I need to do.
I know it’s really big because it’s making me cry just writing this.  At the same time, I feel really peaceful–like this has been a message the Universe has trying to get me to hear for a really long time that I was just too deaf to receive.
I finally heard the message, and life has felt better ever since yesterday.  I slept way better.  Self-care has been on-point.  I went out and got breakfast.  I stopped slacking on shit and signed up for a vegan meal service that honors me and will help me with my slow carb transition.  For the first time in maybe 20 years, I don’t feel lost.  I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and it’s really hitting me for a loop–in a good way.  I’ve laughed more in the last day than I have in the last five months.  I’ve sang more and danced more.  There’s a peace that’s been really elusive, and my heart is right here–waiting for me–not in hiding–not in shame.  Steadily beating and being vulnerable.
My focus now is really on me.  I decided to opt out of the Mother’s Day tea the motherless daughters folks were having in SF.  I felt like someone else needed it more than I did, and I just didn’t want to wade in grief anymore.  That’s not to say the grief isn’t there, as it always is, but I don’t need to do anything with it.  I just need to feel it and let it go.  That feels a little evolved.  For me, anyway.
I had some revelations about forgiveness last night, too.  I realized that severing ties with my ex was really a self-care thing, but it was also because–even though I thought I’d forgiven him–I don’t really.  And that’s okay.  I may never forgive him.  And that’s okay.  But I have forgiven me.  That’s what matters.  This made me realize something else–that my exes who keep their distance are likely still in a place of non-forgiveness.  Either with themselves or me.  Even if they say they have forgiven me.  And it’s not my job to care about that.  Mostly because that’s their work to do.  All I can do is keep myself clean–and I’ve done that.  It’s not about me.  I know that now.  It’s not about my badness or my unforgivability.  It’s about their healing, which is completely not my business anymore.  And that will help me heal that part of my identity that still cares too much about what they believe and think.  That will allow me to open my heart wider.  But, at the same time, I am noticing that I don’t want to invite more in right now.  I want to clean up my own house.  I want to make my life better for me and then I can share it, but until then, I don’t have any interest in dating or love.  I really don’t.
I also realized today, at the bagel shop, that a lot of my current frustrations are about shit I can’t control.  Things like money and timeframes and plans.  But it sort of hit me.  “Um, you don’t need a graduate program to write, Alma.  You don’t need money to learn, Alma.  You have everything you need right now to express yourself.  You’re just making excuses because you’re afraid.”
So, what am I afraid of?  That–I’m still mulling over.  But I think it must have something to do with the rest of it.  For now, I’m going to sit on it for a while and just try to be good to myself this weekend.
Hope you’re all well, wherever you are, whatever your struggle.