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.

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.

Unsolicited dating advice from a girl who barely knows what she’s talking about

Love, soulfood

This week a couple that I loved to observe broke up. It was hard on me 🙂 … partially because the endless sea of material for my snarky remarks I made to J about the romantic gesture deficit in our relationship dried up and because though throughly jaded I am a hopeless romantic (emphasis on hopeless). You can read more about this relationship here.

Full disclosure I experienced equal parts empathy and gawking like a 3D live theater performance of The Real World that I got paid to watch. Judge not my friend.

After the final hammer fell (I am acutely aware that the first 3 breakups don’t stick, and won’t be even remotely surprised if I show up to work tomorrow and their carrying on like Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks) I sent this message to my boyfriend:

It may be funny but it wasn’t a joke.

Why marriage? Why in a passive aggressive text on a Thursday morning?

Well, because it creeps up on me like a runners stitch. Just a dull pain until I start gaining speed and momentum. It doesn’t stop me but it rears its head and shows it teeth. I focus on my breath. Rationalize that it’s just my diaphragm trying its best to hold in my heart. The urge to pause and attend to it will subside. The last thing that I want is to be that guy in the gym drawing attention to myself. Looking needy. Acting presumptuous that I’m worthy of another’s life long commitment…. oh yeah this was supposed to be a metaphor. I push, finish the mile. Stretch. Assured that the next time that I hit my stride it’ll be back and there I’ll be squashing my instinct to fold over.

Is marriage instinctual? Biology says yes, on both sides of the gender line. Is it strategic for the modern age? Depends on who you ask. For the sake of love? No ring or vow could make me love him more. For pomp and circumstance? Well I’d hate for my kin folk and the church to know that I’ve been blowin in sin. For the security? Yes.

Are we supposed to say that? Probably not. In my case it’s not financial security, clearly I’m independently wealthy. It’s not physical security, I’ve got a dog for that. It’s not that I fear infidelity. It’s emotional security. The reassurance that someone has the balls enough to publicly decree that they are your partner and you agree. Is the desire to be married selfish? Yeah. To love is not for the sake of the beloved it is for the self.

Do I think that the sanctity of marriage is alive and well? No. Is it important to me that there’s a tactile event that celebrates and validates my love and relationship? Sure is.

All of that is to say that the proposition of marriage shouldn’t be a carrot to the horse. It needs to be a rational, responsible agreement ( so much for romance, huh). Mostly, you should be absolutely positively sure that this is your person.

The proverbial,”When/how did you know that such and such was the one” has always rung hallow with me. Primarily because I have never believed in there being a the one.  I also don’t believe in the Holy Trinity or a magic bullet that killed Kennedy. I’m no fun, I know.

Until (in the first regard) this moment that I couldn’t explain then and can only begin to wrap my head around now. In the past nine months I’ve developed a new sensibility with the Devine. A new respect for the unspoken plan, interconnectedness, the oneness of the universe and the principles of manifesting your thoughts and energy into real tangible life-ness. I can’t explain it to you, or me for that mater. It is experiential.

In my new astute spiritual awakening I have a whole renewed sense of awe over the man that I have the privilege of sharing my existence with. A new compartment to file all of my past romantic hardships in, one that I can open and peruse through without all of my emotions spilling out. The buckets of tears, the dispaire, the anguish over lost love reveals its self anew. Just another lesson learned in time– girl.

Let me take a moment to throw some metaphorical salt over my shoulder and pound on the nearest wood. Mostly let me be clear with myself and the powers that be. I am happy. Don’t take this from me. I am invested in flexing all of my cognitive muscles to keep S.S. Julius and Reagon afloat.

This is new. Not because I haven’t been madly in love before. Not because I haven’t felt like I was in too deep to turn around before but because I can say out loud and even more loudly in my soul that he is my destiny. That even despite curried tacos for dinner, piles of bills, opposing work shifts and all of the turbulence that is inevitable I will always admire him. Lust after him. Long for him to just hold me at the beginning, middle and end of every day.

This morning after my real boyfriend left for work I spent an hour with my old boyfriend. His words couldn’t be more honest. This poem says exactly what I’ve always known about J. (If you have a second to spare this is seriously one of the most beautiful poems that I have ever read)

“See, last night, I had a dream. And in this particular dream, I died in my dreams, woke not knowing I was still sleeping, decided to walk. You see that night, I walked in my sleep, I slept in my walk, I walked backwards until I saw you for the first time, and I could barely muster the courage to introduce myself all over again. You see, I’ve been trying to find the right words. I’ve been trying to take the right steps for what seems to me like thousands of years, but something always seems to go wrong between us.

We lived in Egypt, I was the Pharaoh’s slave, you were his daughter. Loving you led to my death, they claimed that I seduced you, and after they stole my life, I was resurrected as a mason. I made the foundation for your house. We met eyes for two seconds, you left, and I didn’t see you again until I died. I came back as a caterpillar. I turned into a butterfly, I landed in the palm of your hands, you brushed me away, and the rejection killed me. When I awoke, I was a kick drum, you were a snare, we were both owned by this drummer named Cozy Cole, and when he died, so did we.

But I came back just to look for you. I left notes in random places, hoping that you would stumble across them. I carved our names in trees, and then prayed that it would jog your memory. I whispered your name in the wind, hoping somehow, maybe some way, my voice would reach you, but it didn’t, and I died. I died early. I died young with breadcrumbs in my hand just hoping that you would find me, but you never did, so they buried me.

And when they buried me, they put these coins over my eyes, and I used them as bus fare to get back to Earth, just so I can look for you. That’s why sometimes, when we hold hands, ever so often, I tend to hold on a little too tight, and I’m sorry. I just don’t want to lose you again. “

-Rudy Francisco 

I don’t want to let go.

Ohh yes I was going to offer relationship advice and not just gush about my jackpot of a man and blubber on about why he doesn’t want to marry my fine behind.

Here goes: You were wrong. I say this lovingly. In fact I referred to myself the other day as the breakup queen. A sash that I’m not too excited to wear, but I do. You see I too have been wrong, so very wrong. Here’s why I own it. Because it’s my story. My journey. I’ve tried to burry it, I’ve let it out to air but most profoundly I’ve made peace with it. You and the universe have a contract. A law of attraction if you will. Groblling, being angry and feeling slighted though easier, is a waste of your life.

I hate to interject about the coming environmental apocalypse (as I like to do just when someone thinks that things couldn’t be worse) at a time like this. But our time here is precious. Respect that. Be mindful of how you’re expending your energy. I’m definitely trying to.

Love

-Reg

like a horse and carriage

Love

*J made me promise to never show anyone that picture, I think it captures our essence, scary…. see below*

I’m more or less the queen of over sharing. You may love or hate it. Probably less so if you’re a daily participant in my life, or heaven forbid my significant other.

What a loaded title.

So, in the spirit of myself here I go. For the record J was fully aware that I have a HUGE mouth when he got involved with me, it’s just part of the territory. Wanna be friends?

I’ve been really quite lately. Externally. I have a really hard time “being myself” when my personal life is all fucked up. If you know anything about me you know that, that’s usually the case. Jelly?

But why? How could that be, you’re so: beautiful, charming, intelligent, driven, devine. Ha. Today I did get called a Goddess so I’m going to tuck that into my pocket for a rainy day. The reality is that in my down time when I’m not being a TOTAL Goddess… I’m busy being highly opinionated, discontent, OCD, the overly lenient mother of a spoiled brat (I don’t suppose that those two things have any thing to do with one another), and I’m pretty flippin’ needy. I stopped just short of saying insane and bitch as a act of self-love. Really, I think I’m pretty great just a little broken like all of us.

This crazy conglomeration of who I am coexists with an even crazier (we have the who’s more crazy debate a lot, it’s our pillow talk) and completely amazing man that I want to kill on a semi-regular basis. I think that’s what they call love.

The other day a friend silenced my loosely structured pity party with simply, “Relationships are hard, I know I’ve been in a lot of failed ones”. That latched it’s self onto the other sound pieces of advice spewed over the same dish pit: “There are no guarantees in life” and “What is meant to happen, will happen”. I have good friends.

He and I are the perfect storm. Somedays it’s perfect, others a storm. Everyday we try to find our footing. We try to figure out how to love someone that we are too much alike.

“Frantic and serene, vigilant and calm, wrung-out and fortified, explosive and sedate—love commands a vast army of moods. Hoping for victory, limping from the latest skirmish, lovers enter the arena once again. Sitting still, we are as daring as gladiators.”
― Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of Love

Sometimes when I’m driving. Or when I’m looking at my reflection in his shinny head :).  Or when  I’m reorganizing the dishwasher because he can’t get the bowl lean just right I think about this totally Jim and Pam (that’s a The Office reference Mom) moment that I had unbeknownst to him at our old work place. He was shouting some entirely too personal details about his life over a couple of cubicles at me and I said, “No way me too.” Despite the Barbie Dream House reaction inside a completely surreal wave of realization, “You are supposed to know him” washed over me. I had no idea what that meant or how it would manifest. But it did. And how.

This was weeks after I had dubbed him my boyfriend (a thing that I secretly do to every hypothetical man that I actually wouldn’t pursue or have a chance with…. I think that normal people call that a crush or a long shot). Weeks after I’d fallen in love with the way that he throws his head back as he laughs. Weeks into studying all of his beauty. The way moves his hands. Weeks into being sucked into the depths of his personality. I am supposed to know him. 

Somedays the supposed feels like the weight of the world. Somedays it feels futile. Most days it’s the force that keeps my soul rooted in reality. It’s my security. It’s my reason to come home, he is home. We choose to love each other every day. Sometimes it takes six days of heated debate to reassure both of us that it’s still our choice.

love1

We chase each other. I don’t know if either one of us are the type to be caught. It’s good when it’s fun and devastating when it’s not. But what ‘cha gonna do. We’re hard to get and we’re hard to be had. A match made on Earth.

“We think of it as a sort of traffic accident of the heart. It is an emotion that scares us more than cruelty, more than violence, more than hatred. We allow ourselves to be foiled by the vagueness of the word. After all, love requires the utmost vulnerability. We equip someone with freshly sharpened knives; strip naked; then invite him to stand close. What could be scarier?”
― Diane Ackerman

“You’ve gotta stop sneaking up on me dude.”
“I’m not sneaking up on you, I just walked past you”.

give ’em hell

Love

You will always attract the kind of person you believe you deserve.

A few weeks ago I was blaring the Dirty Heads Pandora station whilst showering. White guys singing reggae is always good in my book. Then out of the speakers and into my enraged heart came this song.  Following are the lyrics from Best of Us by the Dirty Heads.

She takes my shoes off when I pass out in the morning

Dead asleep from a night out with the boys

If she came with us I’d have to send a warning:

She can drink with the best of us

She can smoke and she can drink as much as I can

She made me food and rolled a joint when I broke my hand

Fightin’ with her older brother, showed him I’m a man

And she’s as cool as the best of us

She doesn’t get mad when I’m out of control

When I’m blacked out drunk, at the top of my lungs

Man she just laughs and rolls

She’s my lady, baby I know this is always true

I see you yellin’ at your girlfriend,

Mine’s the shit, well how ’bout you?

Givin’ head and we were driving down the freeway

Comin’ home from San on a friday

We were laughin’ ‘cuz her body was in my way

She’s as cool as the best of us

Well she can rock and she can move it with me slowly

Nobody told me she can move it like that

I didn’t see it, didn’t buy it ’till she showed me

That she can drink with the best of us

Well she don’t get mad when I’m out of control

When I’m blacked out drunk, at the top of my lungs

Man she just laughs and rolls

She’s my lady, baby I know this is always true

I see you yellin’ at your girlfriend,

Mine’s the shit, well how ’bout you?

She likes the way I smell when I come home late

She tells me ‘give em hell’ before I come on stage

She likes her beer real cold and her whiskey straight

Stayin’ up all night and then we sleep all day

But if the sun comes steppin’ in early

And I’m waitin’ for my wallet to be empty

‘Cuz last night the stack’s level I was off my lead

I can still look at her with no anxiety because

She don’t get mad when I’m out of control

When I’m blacked out drunk, at the top of my lungs

Man she just laughs and rolls

Well she’s my lady, baby I know this is always true

I see you yellin’ at your girlfriend,

Mine’s the shit, well how ’bout you?

She don’t get mad when I’m out of control

When I’m blacked out drunk, at the top of my lungs

Man she just laughs and rolls

She’s my lady, baby I know this is always true

I see you yellin’ at your girlfriend,

Mine’s the shit, well how ’bout you?

I’m hoping that I don’t have to explain to the masses all of the ways that this song is degrading to women. It speaks for itself. I am worried because this seems to be the way of the future. Too many boys are given few if any expectations. Positive adult male role models that treat women respectfully are more and more a rarity. And have been for dare I say, ever?  And then shit like this comes out of their mouths and into popculture.

This isn’t necessarily the norm coming out of the radio. Though I am particularly fond of the musical masterpiece Talk Dirty primarily because of this golden line: Got her saved in my phone under ‘big booty’.  That pops out of the radio on the trek to preschool far too often. The absurdity makes me smile.  But the reality that we humans are merely monkeys imitating our dominant males, is frightening.

For the record: as a woman, as a mother and of the proud owner of a big booty, none of this rhetoric is getting anyone anywhere. It’s detrimental to the state of… humanity, love, relationships, feminism and decency.  It’s just for entertainment, you say. I can give you that for dance party remixes but a love song going on and on about how your girl doesn’t get mad when you get drunk as a skunk and are ‘at the top of your lungs’.  Oh, no sir.

Here’s the conversation that we should be having, why are you conducting yourself like this in the first place? Sure that’s your prerogative. But do so, in a manner that isn’t disrespectful to your lady. I get that it’s such a relief to have a woman who isn’t nagging you to be a responsible adult. Who doesn’t impose any expectations on you. Maybe at this juncture of your life that’s what you need, a good time, an ugly fist fight and someone to roll you a j and make you some munchies.
But let’s let your situation be yours and not flex, “Mine’s the shit, well how ‘bout yours”, on all of your listeners. Especially because your demographic isn’t exactly the most wholesome bunch. I know I’ve dated them. As the voice of their ex, current and future girlfriends: ohhhh hell no. We’re mad, we aren’t going to just laugh and roll. We need you to be a fucking man. Yes, I realize that the concept of that is ephemeral and may have completely disintegrated. If Best of Us encapsulates your fantasy then please pull together the pieces of reality and get a clue. If that’s beyond your capacity than stay the fuck away from me and mine. We aren’t that girl and we’re disgusted.

Within hours of each other I heard that song and read some article probably entitled, How To Find Your One True Love or some shit like that.

And, per usual I’m trying to teach myself how to love and be loved.  So I read it: manifest destiny, knowledge is power, curiosity killed the cat. Ha. My mind.

I didn’t write the following. I pasted it from somewhere. In my haste I forgot the citation. Or you know even a really broad reference. Bet my pinterest knows. Lo siento.

“The truth is that we all come with some sort of a price tag. We rely on so many superficial things to measure our value and our worth by: appearance, intelligence, success. But no matter how you choose to calculate it, your price tag is determined by one thing and one thing alone: Yourself.

I wish someone could have told me that you get to determine the price that you will place upon yourself. But more so, I wish I would have known the reality that the price I choose is also the price at which I’ll be purchased. I spent so much of my life undervaluing my worth, thinking I wasn’t good enough, smart enough or cute enough. I made decisions based on what I believed I deserved, and my inability to see my true worth took me down some roads I wish I never would have traveled.”

Most importantly: Ladies: Yes, it seems that the spineless roll over and laugh sort of girls are all the rage. But they’re wrong. And they’re only right if we allow them to be. I won’t stand for it. I may stand-alone as a consequence. But, at least I’m standing up.