There are only so many times that I can hear, you don’t matter, before I ask that person to please exit the box seats of my heart and find a spot way in the back. The nose bleeds are a perfect place for people like you. Suddenly, your opinion becomes more and more faint. I will never control what comes out of your mouth but those sounds now are just a whisper lost in the crowd of cheers. Your face just a pixilated blur and I’m tired of squinting to find you.
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.
bad choices and consequences on point, stippling around all of the majestic parts, waving their arms.
but then again Walt Disney turned out to be an asshole.
And somehow she lived happily ever after.
Since this year began I have been very much confronted with the reality that all of this, absolutely all of this, is the curriculum of life.
We have this sense that life happens along a timeline, that it’s linear at worst. The promise of an upward trajectory pinned to the lapel of every kindergartener in America, shoot for the stars lad.
Oh contraire said the universe. Life is at best a pendulum. The more that it reveals it’s truth to me I see that it works the exact same way that a slinky does in any sort of motion: unpredictably and likely to get into a miserable knot that will take you the whole car ride to Grandma’s house to undo. Despite everyone’s best efforts to pry, bend and mold you back to the shape that they think you should be you-I will always have those little bent parts that never go back together quite the same.
So, here we are just space and energy removed from our box marching down the stairs, bringing joy, innocence and the guarantee of frustration to the world. Things will get tangled and there you will be all bent out of shape, mastering your next move. Because that’s what you do- move.
Take a seat, let’s chat about this, it’s long over due.
One of my many muses Erin Brown posted a snippet from her most recent book about not being afraid to embody the word bitch because no one knows what it means any way.
I have had a very different experience with this word. The meaning is always contextual. And I’ve been called it a lot. It comes in two varieties, “You’re being a bitch” and, “You’re a bitch”.
Being a bitch typically comes from those around me who are more emotionally evolved. They distinguish being because they understand that I am a person with a myriad of ways of being, hats I wear, tasks I do, and conversations I have. What they unconsciously know is that being a bitch indicates a behavior or behavior pattern. We are not our behaviors, simple. Our behaviors are our personality, and our personalities are the vehicles for our souls.
Please consider this next time that you think someone is bitchy or a bitch. Actually they are acting in “that” way. It’s the “that“, that’s subjective.
[Sorry to nitpick the semantics, but words have power.]
So, let’s talk about that.
First we have to understand that our ways of being are adaptive to our environment. Personalities are the way that we have found that works for us to show up in the world and receive the feedback that we want and need. From this place we can unpack the bitchy behavior.
Yesterday, I was asked to conceptualize my family of origin as a square, and each person in it took up their own organic shape with their personalities (i.e., means to met needs) My shape (and your shape) is thus the negative space. Here’s a little drawing to help illustrate the point:
Today, I wanted to stretch this a little further. Imagine the box as our entire society. Now sprinkle in patriarchy, gender scripts, financial power, politics, our education system, opportunities, shame, sisterhood, joy, race, your neighborhood, your inner dialogue and every single interpersonal relationship that you’ve ever had. Dang that box is crowded.
And where are you? You’re (I’m) that squiggly blue bit trying to make sense of it all, integrating, wanting to be seen or not seen at all. We accommodate and respond to every single thing around us in a fraction of a second always! You might be going with the flow, you may be making waves and you might be chillin’ under the surface of the water. Or if you’re a human you flex in and out of doing all three.
These are usually unconscious decisions. We’ve laid down these patterns in early childhood, solidified them through our teenage years and are carrying those shells everywhere with us as adults. Seeing that can be insightful, it can be painful, but it can also be liberating.
Here’s what I know to be my truth. Sometimes people perceive me to be a bitch. And that’s their assessment of me that I’m not concerned with changing. Because I know all of me. I know the expansiveness of my soul. I know all of the roles that I step into on a given day and I hold loving space for each of those. So, when the environment is just so and I feel the impulse to express myself in a way that is strong and firmly rooted in what I believe to be true I do so. I step into my power. I’m not afraid of it and I’m not afraid of what “you’ll/they’ll” think of me when I do.
The goal in life is not to be liked by everyone. I have a laundry list of other goals that will always, always be vastly more important than this one.
Here’s the second part. Yes, we all wish that our childhoods were more ideal. Wish that our past and current situations demanded less
bitch power and more along for the ride. But, you can come to respect that those and this situation were not that.
Many members of my family worked doggedly to break me down. Strip me of my opinions. They were massively confrontational. I spent too many of those formative years at war, screaming, hitting, crying, fighting for my voice and space. Fighting to simply be in a way that aligned with my conscious.
In those early years I didn’t just learn to fight, I also learned to choose my battles. To be impeccably informed. To spit facts like fire out of my mouth. They taught me to tap into a deep well of inner strength. I also learned a lot of coping strategies that I’m actively dismantling. Yet I respect them, because they got me to where I am now, in tact.
The girl who you may call bitch, know that she is so much more. She is a fortress and a butterfly. She is who she needs her to be. She is perfect.
Maybe what you need right now is NOT a motivational speech. Maybe you don’t need an inspirational meme. Maybe you don’t need a Bible quote or the trusty, “Life only gives you as much as you can handle”. Maybe you just need to pat your self on the mofo back. Because: one-you got up this morning, two- you’re personal hygiene is on point, three- you cleaned your entire house today, four- you went to work, five- you read your child a bedtime story, six- you did your homework and, now seven- you’re writing this. That’s seven big things.
That’s a lot. Is it the most productive, the most together, the most thrilling that my life has been before or may be in the future? No.
But it’s honest, it’s good.
I’ve been seeking a lot of big answers lately. The ones that are slippery and elusive. Like why is this happening to me? Where do I go from here? Questioning the feeble nature of life itself. Those extra difficult questions that make you pray for ignorance, why am I behaving like this? What does loyalty mean? Can a selfless act go too far? Is it selfless? What actions will I look back on with pride, which ones will I regret? Can I ever actually know those things?
Today I was yet again pondering a big career question that I’ve been struggling with. For months I’ve reached a conclusion and then immediately reneged on it by the next day. Today, as I reran all of the scenarios I asked myself, is it good? Is it honest? Does it hurt anyone? Subsequently, I think so, yes, no. Litmus test passed.
Here’s the truth, [most] no one cares what you do with your life as long as you aren’t hurting yourself or others. Granted those lines are quite subjective. But if you can honestly answer those three questions satisfactorily, then you’re on the right track or you done good or somethin’. And I think that’s as much as we need to know about it. That is definitely as much as anyone else needs to know about it.
From the hamster wheel of devastating grief and day-to-day reality I have learned that today is day one. And tomorrow is day one. And the day after that: day one. Having these grandiose plans and worse slowing down long enough to realize that it’s ten years later and your plans are all muddled and still very much in progress isn’t serving anyone. Feeling like a failure, just makes you feel like a failure. Never once have I leapt out of bed thinking wow I’ve really derailed my life can’t wait for the next twelve hours of self-judgment and doubt. Or worse having to articulate those shortcomings to people who want to see something go right for me, or for me not to have to go through this.
Sometimes things are just fucked. Yes, perspective is everything. For instance objectively my life is pretty crappy but tonight I read Harry Potter to my baby and then played with her hair until she fell asleep. I was taken away to this divine place of knowing that this child was given to me so that I could know this love. So, that I would not be alone. Those are all very selfish reasons to have a baby, but I didn’t choose to have that baby. That baby choose me. There are those moments that pulse in your blood all day they keep you alive but they don’t change the fact that life is hard and unfair. Or the worst, beyond your control.
That’s why every day is day one. Because you-I- have to stop fighting it. Have to stop rationalizing it. Have to stop plotting the next move and just survive. Do your best. Pour a bowl of cheerios and thank God that the lights are still on. You just keep showing up and figuring out how to be good, honest and not hurt people today. Wash, rinse, repeat. Just let it be simple.
I sat at her table drinking a cheap glass of wine,
The sweet hum of laughter and old times in the air.
I said, he wrote the most beautiful thing,
Women on both sides of me transfixed by poetry, declarations of love, the promise of commitment
He said, I want to marry you, there is no game, let’s have children.
I watched the long lost sensation of being desired well up in their eyes.
And it was all for me, alas a man who sees clearly.
My best friend’s mother tempered, girl you’re not going to save him in the eleventh hour.
I swallowed that pit,
From which a sapling of love grew and twisted through my esophagus,
Peaked out of my throat,
Tickled my tongue and bloomed
Bore fruit for three years.
1,095 nights I feel asleep knowing that I deserved this,
1,095 morning of waking up, reaching, just out of grasp.
The eleventh hour comes with a cold bed and a mounting pile of medical bills,
We were in the car,
I recounted the inexplicable interactions of the past two days,
But he didn’t even want to have sex with me.
All of these months,
So much tension,
He called it getting to know you,
Not jumping in,
Being a gentleman.
My eyes shellacked rose, maybe this is just different?
Like a good different? Maybe? Please?
The red haired M.D. from the back seat reported a cold hard
Best case scenario someone lives for five years after starting dialysis.
Wow, what a fucking buzz kill.
But we were there to celebrate,
And I love a good party.
I rallied. Plastered smiles over my crumbling infrastructure.
This reality was best left on the back burner,
Simmering on low for as long as it lasts,
Turn the fire down, pray that the gas doesn’t go out.
This woman- this woman, she has great friends,
Friends that withstood the fire, simmer and boil,
Steadfast, a hand placed at the bottom of my spine,
Keep me upright,
Hold me together.
I called my soul’s fraternal twin,
A customary, Hi how are you, to be polite and then straight into,
There are no wrong decisions.
You can’t make a wrong choice. What makes sense today may not make sense tomorrow.
She clutters my inbox on every front,
Filled with musings, tangible love, firm advise and big questions.
The woman is a push when I’ve slowed down,
A corset of words lacing me together when my insides have fallen to the floor.
And one day it all clicked.
“In closing can we both- men and women- stop acting like the bare minimum,
being alive, not being fugly and not being abusive equates a good man.”
The next day, I sat in a restaurant, lap full of babies,
Over a bowl of soup a waitress named Jessica or Jenny maybe,
She said, I have two boys 3 and 6 and a boyfriend who’s basically a child.
I’m leaving here to go to my third job, thanks I’ll take your check.
And I just couldn’t fucking do it anymore.
I said, I see you hustling.
I said, I see you.
And I saw me.
The eleventh hour is a cold bed,
A well placed testimony of your strength,
A timely Instagram caption,
A woman refilling my breadbasket that I’ll probably never see again.
The eleventh hour is an internal hell,
Guilt and self-worth in the balance.
And I’m not going to save him,
I’m going to save me.
I’m a jacket with Velcro closures, stuffed into an over packed front load washer. A detergent of Do The Right Thing carefully measured, poured atop. Fabric softener skipped, we’re cutting back on household expenses.
This damn washer screams a piercing beeeeeeeeep, at the end of every cycle. Okay, okay, I hear you.
Pulled out, heaved in to the dryer above. Stuck to me- the sock, the scarf, all of the soft things. The tear of fibers enmeshed akin to nails on a chalk board. Torn apart, heaved and hung. I’ll dry out. I’ll keep you warm then.
And you’ll breath in the soothing scent of the freshly laundered made even sweeter, because you didn’t do the washing.
Today I was reminded that the spoken and written word are always open to interpretation. Try not to be too attached to them. Let them from your fingers and lips freely. Hush your ego when it want’s to jump to their defense. Those words are no longer yours, they live outside of you. Just observe.
What happens when all of your titles are stripped away? Titles, hats, roles, life purposes, they’re all synonymous. What’s left?
I pendulate between seeking answers and just letting it be- being. I’ve asked why hundreds of times lately. Is this question constructive? I can’t be sure. I often come up with new versions of old answers. But today a new one came to mind.
Why? Why am I choosing to sacrifice things that keep me comfortable? Those things in a nutshell, my job title, my role as a daughter, my role as a sister, my role as a family member, my role as a lover, my role as a romantic partner, my role in nearly every front except for that of mother.
An answer. Not THE answer, but what came this time:
This defines you. These things that so many of us cling to, relationships, worth, being needed, belonging, are not guaranteed. This is the time to get incredibly clear about who you are and most importantly what you deserve. Is that right?
Nothing is guaranteed, but we do create our reality. Maybe this is your chance for a do over. A blank slate.
A few weeks ago a classmate pondered, do we have to get to zero before we leave a relationship? How long can you hang on to ten percent? This stopped me in my tracks. I’m the ten percent queen. Here’s the problem with ten percent. When two many facets of life are subsisting on hope and prayer it becomes too much. Something has to give. Is it rock bottom, a launching point, or simply a different way of being?
My rock bottom looks a lot different than a lot of peoples, mine was/is shared with very few people. Mine has been managed through anxiety medications, extensive therapy and a heap of soul searching. Mine has to be managed because I refuse to let two things unravel: my daughter and school. Everything else though, when I stopped forcing them they all dissolved. Those have been excruciating decisions but they are clearing the slate. Space for new things that do work. Space for happiness. Space for new meaningful connection created in awareness and intention, two things that aren’t a birth right. A life build.
It’s not easy. It hasn’t been easy and it won’t be. Renovation always looks messy at first.
I’ve thought a thousand things today. Said a hundred. And then I sat.
I drove home tonight listening to My Sweet Lord, my personal anthem for the past few weeks. Hands at ten and two. Through the familiar dark streets, green light, green light, green light. At least I’m pretty sure they were all green. I feel myself hovering outside of myself, like I was watching the opening scene of a movie. Well one that’s actually quite boring I didn’t slide off of the road or come to a screeching halt. Just observing how incredibly blank that I was.
And then just this: Tough love.
I realized that this is what my therapist is referring to when he leans back in his seat and matter of fact-ly says, “Well sure given your history”, and, “Let’s not forget your history”. We spent three hours on said history, and tonight it all came crashing down in two words.
A week ago I made a visual representation of my sexual “blueprint”. I pinned it to the wall. I’ve been looking at it seeing if anything new comes up.
A couple of things did, one of them is this idea that we (women) seek out our fathers. In the broader sense that we seek to recreate our early attachment relationships. So what does that mean for a girl who never had a dad? Does it mean that we seek out our mothers?
In that case. I have sought out ambivalent attachment and a whopping dose of tough love. Mission accomplished.
For two hours tonight I tried to find words to put to what do you want?. I realized that I don’t have any idea. I want comfort I think. Security. But all of this is a big maybe. What is obvious, tactile, is that I want instability and that’s what I find every single time. First I make this very elaborate bed and now I lie. The rest isn’t great let me tell ya.
We stood in the middle of the room. Stared at each others eyes for 2 minuets. 1 minuet left. 30 seconds left. Okay stop you’re done.
What did you see?
Something, like, I can’t explain.
I think it’s seriousness.