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.

 

Some shit is just gonna fuck you up

silly goose

I used to think that I knew things
that I could figure things out.

I’m beginning to understand that life can’t be rushed,
that grief feels like being in the middle of a thunderstorm some days
and the dead of winter the next.
So cold you can see your own breath.

Someone said once that they thought that I hated being alone,
easy, that’s what’s wrong with you.
Maybe you’re right. Alone is the fucking worst.

I’ve started doing all of this extra stuff for my dog,
like hide treats in her dog food and taking her on midnight strolls.
I don’t even care that she naps on all of my new pillows.

That’s why you obsessive dog people are like that,
everyone want’s somebody to love.
Ohhh we just need somebody to love.

 

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.

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.

You’re Rubber I’m Glue

domestication, soulfood, therapy

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.