Start A Revolution From My Bed

Love, soulfood, social awareness

I’ve had that damn Oasis song stuck in my head for at least 4 months. It used to just be the final line that goes, “Don’t look back in anger I heard her say”. That got me through a lot of heart break.

In the past few weeks though it’s just been, “Start a revolution from my bed”, and a visual image of John and Yoko in that iconic bed pic with the peace sign. It would just pop up a few times a day randomly. I brushed it off, strange. You see, I’ve been on a hedonistic binge of self-pity. For the last two weeks of my daughter being out of town I just laid on the couch a shell of my former self. Trying to find the motivation to do literally anything. I would just try to not think. And then I would try to override my self judgement with the notion that it’s good for me to really feel into this grief, sorrow and depression, it will make me a more empathetic counselor one day. I’m probably right.

Except that my depression dissolved the moment my daughter walked back through the door. I wish Merck could come up with a SSRI that could do that.

Maybe it’s that even though finding breathable air in the itty bitty bubble that is my existence has felt like a full time job most days, I still hold my vision for a better world. I’m not one of these head in the clouds, fantasy land hippies that genuinely believes that I can sprinkle fairy dust on this very animalistic world and turn it all to rainbows and sunshine. I’ve seen far too much reality for all of that. I just really think in my heart of hearts that we can all do better. That we can decide to invest less time in hatred and negativity and give love a chance.

Okay, so the first live theater that I ever saw as a child was Hair. My first concert was Three Dog Night and I listened to The White Album a few thousand times before I turned 16. I was not born into these things, I discovered them. Made them mine. Held them as sacred.

I buried my dreams for peace in my heart and built a little fence around it. I trained my mind to sound articulate car alarms when someone intruded. I’ve been fierce. I’ve been merciless. I’ve been distraught. But I’ve also been silent.

Relationship to yourself and your moral compass is simply fluid. It evolves, devolves, and shape shifts. That doesn’t make me or anyone else disingenuous, it just means that we’re human. Human. Can’t think of any thing more scary.

I intended to write this about how much I miss living with my best friend on days like today. Days where hate takes center stage and forces us to look around and see this American life for what it is, indescribably beautiful but pocked with greed in all of its most nasty manifestations. I miss following up a grim CNN read with an intellectual and culturally informed conversation with a wise black man. I miss being able to messily process my array of emotions, in all of their unrefined ways out loud in front of someone who knew me as more than part of the problem. I miss having the vulnerable space to exchange tears and what the fucks in the name of young black men, in the honor of strong black women, in the hope for the biracial children that we would only ever dream of.

I was going to say that at the end of the days heavy with the murder of Mike Brown, the murder of Sandra Bland, the murder of Terence Crutcher, the poisoning of Flint, the Cleveland riots, the election of a bigot, at the end of all of those days I tucked my head into the chest of a black man and felt a little like in our own tiny way that we were healing the mistrust inherent in his willingness to love a white woman. He was home and our love was important.

Today at the end of what will become Charlottesville or maybe just UVA, instead of seeking refuge in that man, I took my daughter on an extra long walk. We talked about everything. Her mixed emotions about J being gone. About the time that her family made fun of her this summer and she hid in the closet.

She said I really thought that one of them would have came up and apologized. But no one did. I said, well what did you do then. Well eventually I came out and went down stairs, they were all just talking like nothing happened. They didn’t even apologize she reiterated. I said, yeah, baby, some times people don’t respond in the way that we hope they do. It’s hard when our expectations don’t get met. But that’s life.

We spend a lot of time talking about managing disappointment. The necessity of resiliency. It’s the most important thing that a parent  can teach their child. There’s no shortage of learning opportunities that’s for sure.

This life thing man.

Solid Advice

Love, soulfood, therapy

Sometimes the best advice is novice advice. Seriously. I’m in the business of counseling people. Counseling is actually a total misnomer. Really what you’re supposed to do is basically say nothing, and then just paraphrase everything that the person already said. Do not give advice. Do not tell antidotal stories. Do not interject from your own experience. Above all else do not tell them what to do. It is not how humans make change. Self-motivation is a real thing. In fact it is the only thing.

 

Hi my name is Reagon and I’m straight trippin’ over this man that I’m in emotional limbo with. We’re at that juncture where I carry my stomach in my sternum, my emotions and thoughts splayed out all over my insides like a broken mirror. Reflecting things that I wish weren’t there.

 

So, I start calling friends. It’s amazing how many people don’t answer on a Tuesday afternoon, it’s like you all have lives or something. But the truth is that the person who picked up the phone said exactly what I needed to hear. She tempered, “Sorry for playing the devils advocate but why are you doing this to yourself?” We talked about the reality that somewhere inside I feel unlovable. Undeserving. That I self-sabotage and project my shit on the other person.

 

Damn. Occasionally someone says something that pries back my eyelids to a reality that I haven’t even had the balls to admit to myself. Somewhere inside you feel unlovable. Fuck, there it is again.

 

That’s all of those deeply knotted familial roots. A household full of people, slated to love me unconditionally that told me that I wasn’t shit most days. Still ring my phone to remind me every now and again. My mother thought that she was keeping me humble. She didn’t want to see another beautiful girl acting like the world owed her something. Didn’t want to see another talented girl receiving gifts of veneration. Didn’t want to believe that things could be easy, different, promising for her own baby. Maybe it wasn’t a lack of faith but instead the narrowed perspective of trauma, the tunnel vision of overwhelm, the darkness of loneliness.

 

Either way who in the fuck does that? Sick people. I say that with a lot of understanding and love. Broken people work hard to create gravity. Misery loves company. And there I was absolutely splendid.

 

I bought that narrative. I became obsessed with perfection so that no one would see the truth. I excelled as a distraction to the shit show that was our home. I self-loathed. I gave sheepish consolations to people that told me that I had the world in my palm. That I could do anything. That I was enough. Okay, sure.

 

I have spent ten years de-programing myself. Replacing “you’re a piece of work” with you’ll have peace and it will work. Some days are easy. I look in the mirror and I see God. Some days I look in the mirror and dissect every part of my physical, emotional and mental visage. And those days mash up into one stream of life that I sail every damn day.

 

You see we get comfortable. Start believing that we’re fortified and over it. Grown and transformed. Only half braced for the bottom to fall out. For the man that steadily and sweetly reassembled the pieces of you that had been devastated by the natural disaster that is having a family and attempting to recreate that family.

 

That man. He pushed me every single day to chase my dreams and then come home in the evenings and enjoy the fruit of my labors. He was my fucking rock. Steadfast. My creative springboard. He was laughter, play, brutal honesty, and mostly the safe space that I needed to find myself. To love myself. And he’s gone. I’m loosening the grip on that heart cord but it’s hard.

 

It’s hard to stand up, really stand up, by yourself when you’re used to someone having their hand gently resting at the base of your spine. There for when you get tired, when you’re carrying too much and when you just need to relax.

 

I’m a fucking mess. A mess with good friends who understand all of it. Who have been there. Who remind me over and over, you are one of the strongest people that I know. You’ve got this.

 

She says, “It all boils down to spending time and enjoying the presence of another person. Simple.”

 

It is actually that simple. And sometimes I need someone to keep it real with me. To do the bad therapist thing and to tell you a story about herself, “There was a period of time where I told Jeff that I loved him and he wouldn’t say it back. I just had to hold that down for him for a while and trust that things would come around. He said, I have a lot of love for you I just can’t say that I love you yet. And you can’t do anything but have respect for that.”

 

That’s the mark of a strong woman. A fortress. A woman sculpted by the wind and the flow of failed relationships and broken hearts. Standing her ground in honesty and patience. Exactly the woman that I needed to talk to.

shot dead

Love, pretty things, soulfood, your body

In the eighth grade, I wrote this boy a note.
It said, “I don’t like you Brandon. Leave me alone.”

That came back to me today as I loaded the washer. I imagine now, that little boy just learning to stand in this world. Just letting the taste of love land on the tip of his tongue. Like all of us young and old no fucking idea about how to handle ourselves or to measure reciprocity when it comes to matters of the heart. Sitting there at the lunch table, breathing dreams of my adulation into the well pressed seams of my notebook paper. And there in jelly roll pen, my cold hard rejection.

Merciless.

That’s just who I am.

I learned that men turn their head and scan your body when you cross the street at the age of nine. I learned how to shut down a cat call with one side glance by the time I was ten. I learned that if you let them, boys and men will be so confused by the delicacy of your physiology, the charm of pheromones that silently radiate beyond your awareness and the safety of your smile, that they will think that they love you. And you them.

I let that boy walk me home from school. I let him drink my kool-aid. Hell I even let him think that I was his friend.

But when I don’t. I don’t. If that hurts well I’m sorry. I’m not the home for your bleeding heart. And I’m not the girl of your dreams.

Unless I am.

When I’m real sure, you’ll want to hold on. Maybe I’ll write it to you in a note. Or maybe I’ll spill my soul onto your lips. Drip respect over your collar bone. Curl amazement into your pelvis. Steadily showing you what it looks like when I love you back. Trust, you’ll know.

Don’t Worry I Did Eventually Call My Therapist

Love, therapy

I should go see my therapist but I don’t want to. Admittedly, I feel a little like a five year old digging her heals into the sandbox. I just don’t want to have to show up a month later and unpack the shit show that I have made of my life. Is it shame? Is it embarrassment? Probably both.

 

To have to be witnessed when you don’t even know what’s going on yourself sounds miserable. The alternative however, seems to be to lose your mind all alone. Maybe it’s best that way. Accountability at this juncture isn’t good for anyone especially me.

 

Grief, it does this thing that reminds me of that one really hard level of Donkey Kong in the second railroad world. It starts off with Donkey and Diddy in a tiny rail car, you have to go through this ominous abandoned coal mine with a broken track. You have to execute these breath-taking jumps from one broken bit to the next. If you don’t hit A and B in the right sequence, while traveling at the exact right velocity you’ll die. Just fall to the bottom of the screen. Snap, down one more life. And then almost cruelly it takes you back to the start to do it all over again.

 

It’s like that most days. Other days it feels like your big brother holding your head under water at the public pool everyone else frolicking about while you try to both not make a scene and not inhale two lungs full of chlorinated water. But still other times it feels like an underwater tea party with a couple of friends at the bottom of the pool. Air bubbles escaping through smiling teeth, count to ten, bob back to the surface. I’ve been having a lot of tea these days.

How To Be Single

Love, science says, therapy

If the word single reminds you of the number one, or an old sitcom from the 90’s, or a hot new Beyonce track then this post is not for you.
For the rest of us:
If the word single sounds like a metaphorical probation officer strapping your ankle with a bracelet of how in the hell do you portion a meal for one, piling the other side of the bed high with pillows so that sleep doesn’t feel so hollow and the constant impasse of dragging yourself out in public alone, again, then have a seat, let’s talk.

Singledom… singlehood … is a spectrum really. There are all kinds of ways to be single, maybe it’s working for you maybe it’s not. Single feels to me like skinny dipping on a pitch black night all alone. I’m not quite sure if it’s wholly exhilarating or if it feels like I might accidentally crack my head open on a rock and bleed to death right there next to the dock, fishermen stumbling over my corpse in the morning. (I thought about being less dramatic in that illustration, but it’s actually pretty accurate.)

Where ever you fall on the single spectrum here’s some advice, from a professional.

 

Step 1: Take Care of Yourself-

This means so many things. At the very least you need to maintain the status quo of standard of living, attention to hygiene, time in nature, amount of exercise that you were gifting yourself while you were still in a relationship. Derailing into a bowl of pity soup is not helpful. It is helpful to increase your self care from the tinniest things to the big ones. Those things are quite literally the antidote to depression. Think you’re above becoming depressed, well you’re wrong. Also, take some fish oil, it can’t hurt.

 

Step 2: Put Out the Word that You’re Single-

but also that you have a black belt in Karate and a ferocious guard dog. Your people might know their people. Seriously.

Gone are the days of the small hunter and gather community where one moment you’re gathering sticks for the fire and the next moment Fred Flintstone comes over and clubs you over the head drags you back to his cave and has his way with you. Not that any of us are upset about that. But what I’m tryin’ to say is that humans have not evolved to comprehend solitude. Our psyche, our physical bodies, our hormonal bodies were not wired for you to sit your ass on the couch and binge watch Game of Thrones every weekend. Neither can we make any sense of Tinder, isolation, self-loathing or the sinking sense of hope inching further and further away on a physiological level.

All of that is to say, do not allow yourself to be alone all of the time. Put some thing exciting on your calendar and…

 

Step 3: Go Out in Public-

Maybe your goal isn’t even to get into another relationship. That’s totally fine, great even. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek human contact. We are social creatures, surely you know that. Every single thing about life that matters in the end are the relationships that we created at this phenomenal meeting of place and time. Don’t miss a single day of the opportunity to be you in relationship. It’s the why.

 

Step 4: Make Friends Above All Else-

The wind might blow South one day and that guy or gal that you were ‘talking’ to, might just fade away. All of those pieces of yourself that you hooked into them, because you were grappling and any hand up would do. Those just get ripped out. And it will be fine, but it will be just you again. Well you and your friends. Make sure they’re there first.

 

There’s more, I’m just figuring those parts out still.

It was all so beautiful

pretty things, Love, soulfood, therapy

I met this boy with a big nose, a skateboard and a heart of gold. He asked me to be his girlfriend on a swing set. We would walk to the same pizza shop every afternoon that summer and then his mother would drive us in her old Saab to the movie theater. We were those kids in the back row groping each other’s bodies with the immediacy of learning sexual touch for the first time. It felt like Christmas morning and singing the hook from your favorite song too loudly at a stoplight. Every. Single. Time.

This boy and I. We didn’t know better. The only pertinent information was that we were both mild-mannered and utterly infatuated with each other. He would come to be my first great love. The one who would ruin it for every man to come.

What do you mean, men don’t buy you gifts just because it’s Tuesday? What do you mean, men don’t write whole albums of love songs for you yearly? What do you mean you don’t want to lie in bed with me all day exploring every bend and crevice in my body? What do you mean not every disagreement can be worked out be me batting my eyes and leaning in for a kiss? What do you mean?

Our love was sweet as pie and twice as nice. I lived in unadulterated young love bliss with that boy grown man, myself slowly losing my grip on girlhood, for five years.

I hope everyone knows at least once how it feels to be adored. What it means to wake up in the morning a fleshy temple for someone else’s devotion. The space between us, six inches, or six states, oozed with the divine nectar of love. Innocence. Joy.

What do you fucking mean it’s not going to be like that?

The past eleven years have felt like one long fall from that cliff. Hitting every boulder on my way down. Bruised, bloody, and gashed. You should never hike in sandals. Bring plenty of water. Tell your friends where you’re headed. It’s dangerous out there. It requires lots of perseverance. A steadfastness in exactly who you really are or you will be shaken. To your core.
Shaken.

In a crumpled pile at the base of that mountain again. I remember this place well. The rocks that at first looked ominous now glisten in the light. The little specks of mica call me to pull them in for a closer look. The dried pine needles can be gathered in around you, they make a descent enough bed.

Even that patch of cactus can be touched if you’re careful. There it is in all of its splendor, long lost hope for a heavy spring rain instead content with sipping from the morning dew.

 

Always been two

Love, soulfood

Sitting in my dimly lit living room, I can see the sun set between the slatted blinds. My sweet enormous dog it splayed on the cool tile floor, taking long slow pants. It’s been warm. I slowly inhale the end of a left over joint. Lauren Hill spills out of the pathetic speaker on my phone. I alternate between a trail guide book, Ram Dass’ Still Here and Alice Miller. Long slow pauses of nothing make time feel funny. I feel alone in my finger tips, the ligaments in my elbows. It’s so strange to not have you here to touch. To collapse on the couch next too. Or to even just be with. The oscillating fan brings short bursts of I need a jacket and then a slightly longer pause that welcomes in the rolling tide of heat that encourages you to breathe deeper. You’re breathing. That’s good.

My Honesty Poem

Love, soulfood

I fall in love
every single day with someone or something.
They’re rarely ever good for me
I like sweet things, good nature, and sentences laced with laughter.

I have the capacity to finely dice you into bits
I’ll julienne your confidence to little shreds
if provoked.
Really provoked though.

I’m growing soft in my old age
I let more and more things float on by me.
I see everything in its core truth,
you see I simply have a finite amount of energy
I must be compelled.

I have a body
a human body
perfect always,
intuitive,
finely woven fibers of magic
that I get to exist in for now.

This is evolving, always. Aren’t we.
For my boyfriend’s honest poem that will bring you to your knees:

Born of Fire

create, Love, save the whales, therapy

There’s this picture that my boyfriend took with his arm splayed out as far as he could stretch to fit our whole family in the frame. That photo, four wide smiles all piled on top of each other, that’s my life. Do you know that Jos Stone song, Spoiled? It’s that kind of love. And now he’s sick. I want just one person to tell me how I’m supposed to feel okay about that. In my heart of hearts I’m just so sad.

The Galapagos Islands are an active volcano hot bed. The islands move at rapid speeds, they survive for millions of years and then slowly prepare to die. As their land turns barren most of the native species leave to live on the other islands. But the problem is that some of them have evolved on that island. The Waved Albatross and Sea Lions still travel to the desolate seaside cliffs of Espanola’s  south side. The Waved Albatross, is a huge bird with an eight foot wingspan. They fly for six months to reach the island once a year. The way back to those cliffs is ancestral and instinctual.

These birds can live for up to fifty years and they pair for life. They will wait on the shore for days until their partner to arrive from another part of the world. Once a year the world’s entire population of Waved Albatross are on this island at once. A blanket of white dots stretched across the rocky terrain. When the mates find each other they start executing a dance of sorts where they clack their beaks together in a way that reminds me of the gentleness that takes over when playing swords with a kid, gentle but playful. They take turns incubating their egg, each one sitting for two weeks at a time. They raise the baby and then fly their separate ways. Until they meet again the following spring.

That’s what this love feels like. Like coming home. An old familiar home that I can feel in my bones. This is simply not our first spring together.

I would fly for six months without stopping to see you again.

I want to tell you

create, Love, soulfood, therapy

Once upon a time there was a little blue eyed baby born in Kansas.

Why the universe decided that this lifetime was to be spent with you people I may never understand.

It is probably for all of the right- hard- reasons
that with time will start looking more and more like a perfectly executed ballet

bad choices and consequences on point, stippling around all of the majestic parts, waving their arms.

I sit down and have breakfast with death every single morning.
It resides in the belly of a man who likes an over easy egg and a piece of toast.
I think about legacy, leaving one, mine, and what that even means.
It feels like the only why,

but then again Walt Disney turned out to be an asshole.

And somehow she lived happily ever after.

The End.