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.

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.

Altruism

Love, social awareness, soulfood

This is the part of the year where I start posting revised class work on my blog, #sorrynotsorry. In a rather elementary yet still somehow tear jerking fashion I was asked to answer this question yesterday:

What is altruism? 

I am so far detached from myself right now- well recently- that I can barely define anything for myself. I’ve been lending my words, my expression, these things my essence to the that which I already know. The past lessons, long learned. These new experiences- my version of reality, yes as I perceive it- those are still zapping through my mind. Zapping like little sparks of static electricity when the night has fallen and the bed is made. The sheets tearing apart. Is it liveliness? Is it clinging? I don’t know. But I do see and feel a show of instantaneous sparks of fire. A fire that won’t catch. Doesn’t hurt. But you feel it still and you kind of wish it would happen again.

That’s the only conclusion that my writing has come to lately. I’m back at this place again. Again. Home. Inner-childhood. Deeply ingrained, damn it girl you weren’t careful enough. The undertow of the ocean that was my life for 26 years. Chaos. Pain. And now I have to loose my breath and be thrown back to sea. Again.

Focus Reg- what is altruism to you? Doing good.
What is doing good?

It’s like a little strip of rainbow in the clouds. Not rainy clouds but clear beautiful sky clouds. Despite the fact that you are going through the motions of life- stressful, mundane, thrilling- your eye keeps going back to that spot. Because you don’t want to loose it. It’s magic. And it must have been put just there in your path so that you can experience it or- it you.

Doing good is a default state for me. Sometimes I consciously go out of my way to do extra and that is rewarding. But altruism- externally- is who I am. Who I strive to be. Who I have to make more space for.

Internal altruism that wax and wanes. That is work. That is the first thing to get axed on the priority list. That’s the hole in my wellbeing at the moment. The hole that is leaking anxiety, grief, regret, mis-steps, miss-words, missed opportunities, into my life.

Altruism is both automatic and my never ending task for the day, moment, for forever. It can’t wait.

The Fear of Change

create, science says, social awareness, your body

Good golly. I really can’t say this in a brief way.

In a nutshell: I’ve been studying Existential Therapy and Carl Jung before that and have essentially called to question every single aspect of my reality in the past three weeks. (Which is not separate from LIFE that keeps happening to me…. that I keep attracting/creating). Part of this process has been creating art work that explains the concepts. What a beautiful challenge.

So yesterday I realized that social media is a giant crutch/addiction/detriment to my self-actualization so I’m on a indefinite Facebook hiatus. And then I started looking at the WHYs behind my use of Instagram because I don’t want to give that up aka I’m extremely resistant to that change and wasn’t sure if it was even something that I wanted to potentially ever put on the cutting block.

Long story short my response was to create a new Instagram called @reallifereg that only has pictures from my trash bins. This was a huge wakeup call about my own lingering body image issues and self depreciating beliefs about my own appearance plus called into question the WHY was that picture not good enough. I explain in each caption why I chose to delete the photo.


I created a one image representation of all of this :

____________________________________________________________

Here’s the more polished explanation with references if you wanna geek out:

My piece is the most succinct visual representation of a rather convoluted but powerful experience that I had considering James Bugental’s contribution to existential psychotherapy. In Corey’s explanation of Bugental’s approach to resistance on page 144 he shares that, “Forms of resistance include intellectualizing, being argumentative, always seeking to please, and any other life-limiting pattern.” I have been processing that one line for over a week because of my constant employment of those tactics that I had never viewed as self-limiting before.

After researching Bugental’s explanation of resistance which included reading a powerful article entitled, A Fate Worst Than Death: The Fear of Changing (1984) I sat with why I am resistant to a career change. That boiled down to perfectionism and always seeking to please. From there I explored all of the myriad of ways that I am a perfectionist and what that means to my self actualization as well as my short and long term goals. This lead to re-evaluating my use of social media, specifically the visual perfection that I have curated on Instagram that serves my public persona but does absolutely nothing for my internal self.

After deleting my Facebook account I created a new public Instagram feed that has only has pictures that I had previously deleted found in my trash bin on my phone. In each caption I wrote the reason why I chose not to post the photo and delete it. In this very revealing exercise I realized that so many of my deleted pictures were “selfies” and how intertwined those deletions were with my ego, being self-conscious, old patterns of body dysmorphia and a general malaise with the changes in my face as the result of aging. The large piece that I printed encapsulates that entire process of self-exploration in one image. Referencing a time in my life where I was extensively studying anatomy and had a very different relationship to all bodies, mine included. My piece is an ode to a real, non-resistant, surrendered acceptance of my self entirely and the necessity to be honest about that process.