So this is 30

soulfood, therapy

Every year for the past 7 years I have sat down on my birthday and written a blog post. If I cared more I would go back and find them and laugh at my naiveté but I don’t . The posts have a formula: nostalgia and pledges to seize the coming year. And well, this year is no different except that I’m angry and for once I’m going to just come right at you and tell you what’s up without hiding behind grammatical flourishes or metaphors. In this post you will find: why my boyfriend and I broke up, why my best friend and I broke up and why my mom and I broke up. You just have to read a whole bunch of pseudo-new-age-self-help-bs first. You’re welcome.

 

Yesterday I was brushing up on some counseling theory and somewhere in the midst of a Solutions Focused lecture some lady in a suit said, “Anger is the energy for setting boundaries”. I underlined that a few dozen times in my notes. Not that this is news. But it is my current curriculum

 

Every few days recently some new interpersonal issue pops up and demands to be examined. Why is this happening to me???? is usually where I like to spend most of my energy. Why is this an anxious persons favorite question? I could indulge myself on the injustice in all of it for literally hours. Nothing like putting 200 megahertz of brainpower behind a perpetually looping unanswerable question. But it’s comfortable.

 

Really the question should be what are you gonna do about it? Sometime the answer is nothing. Time, energy, space, the perpetuity of the universe, the motion set forth by another person, those are always at play. I’m just an itty bitty entity in the confluence of determining factors. Some times the answer is to build a wall. Sometimes it is to be rational and exert myself in a diplomatic way. Sometimes the answer is to cry. And sometimes the answer is to burn some shit down.

 

Last night I was sitting atop a bed of burnt bridges, half numb and half curious. I talked it out to the sunset. I said things like, ”If you look in the mirror and you don’t like who you see, then stay the fuck away from me”….. well unless we’re in a professional relationship, and then I can help you with that, come over! THIS IS THE DUALITY THAT I EXIST IN.

 

Here’s the problem with unpacking your own shit, over and over and over. Once you understand the difference between healthy relationships and destructive ones you get better and better at calling a spade a spade. As most of us do, I grew up being spoon-fed dysfunction. Insecurity’s other name is Mama. I knocked elbows with ego and short temper at the dinner table. Being part of a family can be pure bliss and it can also be an indescribable wound. These are not mutually exclusive.

 

One day I woke up (okay it actually took me over a year to wake up) and I was 29 years old. That 29 year old was surrounded by people that in their own right are absolutely magnificent. But in relationship to me were total shit. I say this with (mostly) no judgment. Because this is what humans in this bizarre modern experiment do, we attract people who are complementary to our own motivations, needs, attachments, and propensities. I have for most of my life entered into relationship with people based on my unmet needs that were all lying just under the surface. Each need valid in its own right, just not a stable foundation for friendship and love once I realized that I needed more totality.

 

Buzz word. This is where I segue into a whole other rant about how the total solar eclipse of the moon made me do it. WHICH IT DID, FOR THE RECORD.

 

Yesterday was a really intense day. I’m not prepared to call it good or bad yet, it was just a lot. I walked my dog around the park 300 times, gawking at the incredible New Mexico sky, ping ponging between sobs and infuriated slurs of profanity…. Who me??? Between all of the attempts to both treat myself and to create the safe space for myself to freak the fuck out it dawned on me. None of this has anything to do with me anyway. Obviously it was the eclipse.

 

Okay, technically the total solar eclipse and full moon in Leo, my sun sign, the day before my 30th birthday. That’s a lot of quinky dinks. Naturally, like any informed renaissance woman I googled, why did the solar eclipse make me lose my shit? After a few dozen rabbit holes I found this article that seemed to explain everything.

 

https://www.astrologyzone.com/all-about-eclipses-a-guide-for-coping-with-them/

 

 

“ Eclipses are dramatic ‘wild cards’ in our horoscopes. They are some of the most dramatic tools that the universe uses to get us to pay attention to areas in our life that need to change. They uproot us, surprise us, and get us moving. They shake us out of our feelings of compliancy so that we can move from one level of maturity to another, to a higher plane, and they work very rapidly. Eclipses want us to change, and change we do! Take any message you hear from an eclipse as a non-negotiable and firm.”

-Susan Miller

 

See, I wash my hands of this.

Well not exactly, it’s all still my shit. I’m just becoming more and more free of it.

 

Raise your hand if you want me to stop beating around the bush and tell you what’s up. Before I put everyone on blast (keep reading) let me say this. I had a distinct moment of clarity yesterday about something that I almost did a week ago when I heard a rumor about me that at the moment felt untrue. The rumor was that my former best friend and I are no longer best friends because my now ex boyfriend was really shitty to me and I wouldn’t heed her advice and leave him and that frustrated her beyond belief. Thus we’re no longer friends. And look at that, she must have been right because that romantic relationship has since imploded.

 

Last week I felt compelled to say something publically about how this game of telephone had really gotten it’s wires crossed and none of that was even remotely true. For the record, it’s still not true. But my perception of it has changed.

 

What is true [at this moment, truth is subjective always, I’ve tried to be clear about that]:

My ex-boyfriend and I broke up. He moved out a couple of months ago. It has easily been one of the most emotionally confusing periods of my life. EASILY. Why? Because, like all romantic long-term relationships, ours was indescribably complicated. I couldn’t explain the nuance of feelings if I had a whole novel to do so in. We were together for three and a half years. A lot of shit happened over that course of time, good, bad, healing, painful. On the whole I’m going to give our relationship a B+. That’s not bad. Two people building a family together is inherently complicated. Two people who just barely agreed on what that family looked like got thrust into the management of a chronic illness and it was MAJORLY FUCKED UP for the last 9 months of it. Again, even within all of the fuckedupness it was dotted with pure sweetness. Even though it nearly crushed my soul (this is not an exaggeration) it was still 9 months of sharing a life with one of my soul mates.

 

There has never been a question in my mind that J and I’s paths on this wild ride called life intersected because of divine intervention. We had and have work to do together. I don’t know that I’m going to reincarnate as a more enlightened being because of it, but I do know that we are critically important cast members in each other’s life stories. The older I get the less and less I believe in fairytales, this was a made for TV movie. One of those semi crushing love stories that Ann Hathaway would co-star in. Like you’d never Netflix and chill to that shit because it would make you ugly cry and destroy your optimism about love, but at the end of it you say, damn that’s powerful and feel a twinge of superiority about your lot in life.

 

We’re currently in negotiations about how we want to continue to show up in each others lives in a productive way. As soon as I know, you’ll know… well maybe.

 

Next, my ex-best friend:

That feels really silly. Can you actually break up with a friend? I don’t know. Here’s the thing, few things are more complex than a relationship that you’ve been in for 17 years. She’s not just some girl that I can discard or lump into a paragraph. She’s a person that I have leaned on, crawled through the mud with, stood on mountain tops with, and cry laughed until we peed our pants together. Together. We’re both in our own shit, and in our own processes. Growth is really hard when the person who knows you the best, only knows who you used to be. That’s not a one sided statement for either of us.

 

I will say that to the very best of my knowledge, we did not become un-friends because of the dynamics between J and I. Though, to her credit, she did steadfastly love, support and listen to me wail and wish wash about how in the hell I was going to handle it nonstop for months and months. J and her got along fine. There wasn’t animosity there. And it most definitely was not the reason for us breaking up.

 

Here’s what shifted in my perception of said rumor yesterday. I’m considering that the people who were genuinely concerned for me first and foremost, did see the situation more clearly than I could then or even now. There are a laundry list of ways and scenarios in J and I’s relationship that were manipulative and coercive. I didn’t handle those times, or that trend in general, with as much self-love and assertiveness as I should have.

 

We make really fucked up decisions too much of the time in matters of love. There’s always a lot at play and we’re rarely rational. It’s easy to be rooted in judgment when it’s not your own shit. Hi, my name is Reagon I’m totally guilty.

 

Naturally this brings us to my Mother:

You may have noticed my absence at her wedding. You may have noticed my absence in her entire life for a number of months. At its hearts of hearts that just about two people trying to figure out a functional way to coexist. For the record we’ve been trying to figure this out for 30 years. We’ve both made crappy decisions in every facet of our lives. She’s in the midst of what I perceive to be a monumental one. One that I am choosing to not participate in. Why? Because I’m grown as fuck and I decided to not invite crazy into my life. Self-protection in this arena has been a series of excruciating decisions. Those may very well change, but I’m in no hurry.

 

What else do you want to know? Same fucking baby daddy drama as always. At least that’s consistent… My grandpa made it through surgery well, so that’s a glaringly bright spot in my life right now, there was a lot of karma that I leveraged on that bet. I’m simultaneously building three businesses, going to graduate school and raising an eight year old. My photography business and Lime Light are sooooo filling my cup I can’t even describe how amazing that it is to be doing work that I love for once. So ya know I’ve got a couple of things going for me. I’ve taken a lot of time this summer to be a wreck, having that space has been an incredible privilege that I have not lost sight of. I’m beyond grateful for all of the joy and love in my life and the infinite possibility that exists in following my heart and chasing my dreams.

 

So, here I am. The first day of 30. Having napalmed all of my most important foundational relationships in the past year. Frequently with too little grace or patience. But I did so because I deserve better. I need to be surrounded by people who are on my level or even better doing the damn thing way better than me.

Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.

 

Don’t worry, I’m never alone. Just upgrading the company. You wanna watch me or do you wanna join me?

 

xoxoxo
-Reg

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.

Alright

create, soulfood

I’m learning how to make
coffee for one.
Three cups instead of six.

How to ask for help
from people who haven’t promised
to love me.

How to look in the mirror and see promise,
instead of the steeled look of
resilience
and the hollowness of failed aspirations.

I’m learning the balance between
woman and fear
woman and trust
woman and vulnerability.

So much to learn in a world set up for twos.

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:

Bandstand 

soulfood, therapy

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. 

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.