On the Fall of Language, Morosely

I found this in my drafts….I’m posting this from four years ago without cross-referencing the links and without adding anything. Fingers crossed that the links still work….

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/23/opinion/sunday/the-decline-and-fall-of-the-english-major.html

shrinking words http://phys.org/news/2012-03-words-dying-added-languages-digital.html

I’ve always loved books. My friend Katie has too. Today, we were discussing how frustrating it is that books are no longer the same sources of refuge and information that they once were. She blames e-readers. I blame capitalism.

On Everything, Moderately un-Terribly

My best friend and I used have to a running joke – it was during our initial (and ironic) over-embrace of hashtags that #everythingisterrible was born, but it stuck, and we loved it. (I still love it. It makes everything so much less terrible.)

I recently got an email from an old friend, Thanksgiving always makes me think of him and sometimes my blog depresses him. He hopes I’m well.

I thought about it, and then realized that yes, it appears that my days of sassily commenting on anything and everything are gone, and much like a sophomore album, I’ve become overly aware of everything that I put into the world, so much so that I’ve lost my magic touch of willy-nilly commentary, and instead, settled for the pedantic prose that comprises the highs and lows of life, without even attempting to describe or relate via text the in-between.

Ah, the in-between.

It’s not even the pedantic parts that I’ve neglected lately; it’s the everything. I’ve not been writing. Not writing is not a good thing for me. Coincidentally, perhaps, my everything has been falling apart lately, shedding bits of legitimacy left and right, pixelated shards flying off at warp speed. (Imagine the scene where the Death Star blows up, first becoming pieces, then an all-engulfing ball of flame, exploding outward into the void….it’s like that.)

Instead of the calm that comes from the meditative movement of my fingers over computer keys, I’ve been anxiously assessing life at the speed of my mind, which is in perpetual overdrive, warp speed ad nauseam. Of course, add a pinch of stress and some emotional upset, and you’ve got a recipe for free falling disaster.

The world has turned upside down lately. It’s been dark and dreary, full of nightmares and fits of tears. It was an abrupt return to places I thought I would not again revisit, and yet, found that the oddly familiar comforts of flailing still fit quite well, like an old pair of jeans.

Feelings, those stupidly beautiful emotions that somehow manage to knit my perception of my experiences into the rich life that it is. When it’s beautiful, it’s the best, soaring and sweet, and when it’s dark, it’s the darkest, four am in the dead of winter, sharp and threatening.

At times, I’m overly empathic, ever so much to my detriment. I realized that there were a few specific energy-draining situations in my life, and since one of them is an every day sort of deal, it was a huge revelation for me. I immediately set to work reframing and noticed marked improvement within two days. Ah yes, captain of my own ship, dammit, and a tiny tyrant cannot shape my worldview, despite all efforts to the contrary.

It’s not all doom and gloom, I promise. It can’t be. Even the longest winters must come to an end. Life is like that, I suppose, pedantic in its own right, the natural swaying of states to be expected, and ultimately, hopefully, adapted to, little markers of growth and change, progression and progress.

Grieving is hard. Lots of grief lately. Change is something I hate, and I have a really hard time accepting that I can’t understand everything, or know everything, or fix everything. It’s a thing I’ll be working on until I die. Somethings must be left undone, unfinished, unmended, and that’s okay. (Yeah, I said it. It’s okay. But easier said than done, much like a most things.)

I lost my steel son, Simon, in a remarkably random accident. Mechanical failure took him from me 3000 miles before we would have celebrated our 100,000 mile anniversary, and even though I cried so hard while I was unscrewing his license plates in the back lot of my mechanic’s garage in 13 degree weather (much to the amusement of the staff), I am unscathed, well compensated, and in possession of something that very nearly resembles a vehicle. (Kidding, mostly.) The aptly named Millennium Falcon has nearly 250,000 miles on it, and even though its handling is exactly what I imagine flying its namesake must be like, it is the car in which I learned how to drive; it has carried me safely a million places; parallel parking it doesn’t suck that much; and it will do just fine, minus the fact that it has no/little heat. Layers. Layers. Layers.

I always joke that my guardian angel pin (the one that my mom got me when I was 16 that lives in my car) is the Usain Bolt of guardian angels, but honestly, the universe was looking out for me. In that flash of moment where the steel settled, connected now to concrete and I sat, still and uncertain, I realized that whatever reason I’m here hasn’t unreasoned itself yet, and I might still be needed somewhere to do a thing at some point. Which was a funny way to receive the message, but trust me, it was received loud and clear…I was three inches from hurtling headlong into the back of a giant pickup truck at nearly 40 miles per hour, and in the scratches on the road where my everything fell apart, you see a nearly perfect bell curve come around the truck and into the empty space where the bits (wheel, etc.) fell away and my car collided with just the cement of the high curb. Magic. Or my own magical reflexes, which based on my DOTA gameplay, I can tell you with certainty that it’s definitely not my reflexes, mostly. (Although I am a fantastically defensive/assertive/not tremendously aggressive driver. I’m quick and aware, like a deer.)

I’ve allowed myself to muddle along in the muck for long enough, feeling the bad things all over again in a new and different way (there may be a thousand ways to leave your lover, but did you know that there are at least that many ways to rehash/revisit all your life traumas? Because I didn’t, until recently), and finally, sick of that, I’m taking stock of lessons learned/relearned and I’m hitching up my big girl pants; I’m finally (dear god, finally couldn’t come soon enough) ready to head back into the light.

The funny thing is that these dark spells often signal the coming of something wonderful, opportunity and outreach. The first hints of forward progress came quietly, the beginning of the dawn. Joy is not so elusive; it’s just sometimes hard to see through all the bullshit.

For one thing, I have a very exciting new work announcement coming soon! I’m thrilled, ecstatic, overjoyed. It was such an organic opportunity, and it’s one that I’m hoping will be really fruitful and magical. It’s something I’m feeling incredibly confident about and something that I hope to be able to expand, nurture, and grow.

Also, as I’m so often reminded, I have the best village of people in my life. My village people are wonderful. They’re strange, of course, an odd assortment of randomly skilled human beings with kind hearts, good sense, and killer dance moves. But to be surrounded by love, and to be able to reach out for it when you need it feels really good. I didn’t cry alone this time. I was held and cared for; reasoned at (because everyone knows you can’t reason with me…I’m immune); catered to – did you know you can have people make you things/get you things/bring you tea in the bathtub? I did not. This is a new revelation. I will be taking advantage of this; understood; and mostly, most importantly, heard.

It’s odd, to fall down a little bit when you’re stronger than you were the last time shit went down. It’s odd because you have a new threshold for no more bullshit. My therapist always used to tell me that I have a really uncharacteristically unreasonably high tolerance for crazy, and also a level of optimism that someone with my past shouldn’t actually have, and that those things get me into trouble, because they can’t co-exist together without some really weird things happening. (True.)

But also, somewhere along the way, I picked up on that whole idea of self love (or at the very least became beautifully aware of my own sentience in relation to the rest of the world). I’ve realized that I really do have a breaking point. I also realized that I matter to myself a lot more than I thought. I don’t know how to explain that. But to be able to realize that you’re owning your actions, doing that whole acting with integrity and truth thing, and then accepting responsibility for your shit is a really empowering big deal. Realizing that you are okay and that you get to choose to find that light sometimes gives you that last boost of oomph that helps you climb out of that damn hole of darkness.

But I digress…

In light of choosing to channel all this scattered, nervous energy into new and beautiful endeavors, I have decided that my word of 2017 will be “intention.” With that, my first intention is to breathe. Because dammit, I’m going to learn how to meditate. And if I intend about it now, then I’m bound by my own obligations to myself. It’s hopefully foolproof! I’m going to still myself. I’m going to hold onto singularity. I’m going to spend time in my sphere/cube of universe that I found last year while doing the intense heavy forgiveness meditating and I’m going to love it. I’m going to breathe about all the things, engulfed my own happiest place,which is an odd blend of sparkling darkness, warm watery places, and the distance between the sky and grass. Hopefully it’ll be all right. Or at least still.

 

 

On “Enough,” Certainly

“Enough” is a funny word.

The dictionary defines “enough” as: “as much or as many as required.”

Is there ever such a thing as “enough?” Are you ever really “enough” of …… anything?

I wasn’t “enough” for a recent boyfriend. We dated for six months. He was a decade older than me, and I imagined that he might be wiser. I had a key to his house. He made me space: dresser space, drawer space, closet space. I had the requisite shower space, too – a toothbrush, conditioner, razor, the hair dryer tucked into a closet spot. We made a little life together, however briefly.

But at the end of the day, no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t “enough.”

I wasn’t feminine “enough,” fancy “enough,” together “enough,” tan “enough.” I was too opinionated, too “resistant,” too loud. I was too gangly, too skin-picky, too anxious, too poor, too uncertain, too messy, too much.

And you know what? At the end of the day, I didn’t care.

But that’s stupid. Because I cared. For a while. Until I didn’t. Until I couldn’t any longer. Until the weight of the trying to lose myself became too unbearable.

For a long time, I wanted to be “enough.” I wanted to be tan, sweet, feminine, kind, and ultimately, “enough” for him. I wanted to be the wife he wanted, the future wife that he saw in me.

But I wasn’t ever “enough.” I never could have been. I was too much me, which was never “enough” of the “right” thing. It never worked and it wasn’t going to, and yet for a long time, I wanted so desperately to belong. I wanted to fit into his world, to be his person, to make his life the things that he wanted them to be. I wanted to fit into his ideal of what it was to be “enough;” I wanted to wake up in his arms and roll over and have him validate me, to tell me that I mattered to him, and that I was “enough.”

It didn’t start like that. I came into it enough.

There was so much of that. There were mornings where I felt “enough,” like the first time we showered together, and he washed my feet and held my legs ceremoniously, and I felt pure and clean and perfect. Worth washing, worth the soap.

And eventually, it became about him. It wasn’t me. It was his routine, his lifestyle that I was leading. I let go of who I was at the beginning, and I attempted to become the person that I thought he wanted me to be. I was still kind, of course, still accommodating and sweet, but I stopped being sassy and sharp, and started being him.

He made me oatmeal every day before I went to work. I pushed for more fruit in the oatmeal; eventually I learned how to make his oatmeal, except I made it in a way that made me happy. I thought in those moments that it was a compromise that would work. We had made communally acceptable oatmeal, and dammit, we were going to make it. Naivete, Katie, naivete. So stupid and pure, your soul. Dumb, deaf, and blind to the reality of the whole thing. Dumb, deaf, and blind with hope.

I would make the oatmeal, and take it to work with me, and I’d eat a part of it, sort of, and then throw the rest away. I hated the nuts. I worked for the fruit. I ate through the oatmeal for the fruit. And the rest, I’d dump into the trash can. I’d proudly take the empty container home at the end of the day, a sordid continuation of an empty charade.

I guess I should have known earlier. I didn’t. One night, we were all at Red Rocks with friends, and I was happily hopped up on things, and he was stone sober. We ran into friends. Months later, after it all fell apart, a friend told me that he had known it wasn’t going to work at that moment: me, loving everything, and him, sober, the two of us on different planets. The friend was right.

I don’t belong. I have never felt as though I belong in his world, the contradictory connected moments few and far between. I never have. I couldn’t have ever existed in his world, particularly not in that situation. I didn’t play by his rules; I didn’t subscribe to his beliefs; I didn’t play the world the way he does.

For him, I wasn’t enough.

But…I am enough.

Not “enough,” but enough. In my own right. On some other level. Unequivocally enough, somehow, somewhere. That’s the hope, right?

We spend the majority of our lives attempting to live by some unspoken set of rules. We attempt to find truth and meaning in our experiences, in our attempts, and in our ways of attributing all of that to society.

There is, in society, nothing and everything. It is such that the benefits are rooted in survival of the fittest, the most adept at acclimation. There is financial gain, to be certain, but that comes at the expense of our time – we mingle and -monger in the ways that benefit us the most, but at the end of the day, we have become indebted to a structure that is unsustainable. At some point, all that we have is ourselves, and I think that’s the most sobering reality of the whole endeavor.

If and when our business ventures fail, when we are no longer successful or fancy or en vogue, we lose the things that connected us to those people in the first place. And then what? The struggle for the sham that is societal validation stagnates. We are left with nothing but the ongoing attempts to verify and validate and recreate in order to remain relevant.

I don’t play by those rules.

And so I lose.

I lost that man. That was okay. The story I tell you here is not one of longing, or hope that someday we’ll find each other in the stars. Hah. It’s the stark opposite. I’m attempting to explain to you what it means to be “enough.” I knew it then, even through the convenient neglect of that glaring fact, and I’m attempting to explain how and why the broken parts of my soul saw the broken parts of his soul, and thought that finally, I had arrived at something that was “enough.” I was wrong.

Life has a funny way of giving you everything that you need, in a way that is the absolute worst. Sometimes it seems the best, but even then, you have to be cautious, because good is uncertain, unsustainable, and incredible. Incredible is a funny word, almost as funny as “enough,” but that’s another story.

You can never trust the incredible. You can (and should) feel it. Feel it fully, as the NLP tapes say. Feel that shit fully, and incredibly, and let it settle into you in a way that stirs you straight through to your curdled, clammy soul. But don’t you dare try to hold onto it, because with a flash, it’s all gone. Milk and clumpy flour through your fingertips, cold and wet and intangible.

When the end happened, as was inevitable, and could have been foretold by anyone and everyone (and was), I wasn’t upset, hurt, or devastated. I was free. Free from someone else’s version of what it meant to be “enough.” I was hopeful, happy, and free to resume rampant gluten consumption. Which I did.

I was alone, and I was okay, and I was enough.

It’s funny; last night I was at a thing with some people and I was talking with this incredible woman and we were commiserating about things, and I explained that situation, briefly, and she was shocked. She asked me if I knew another of his exes, whom I know well and love deeply, and she told me that they’ve had more than several conversations since the two of them (this man, and this ex whom I love) briefly dated about what it means to be “enough.” She said that he had scarred her in ways that I was also now regurgitating. I laughed, only because the sudden realization landed that in spite of being free and sweet and kind and resilient, whatever it was that happened did set loose some sort of internal stirring, a shaking unsettling of the self.

It was as though so much that had been done had been undone, unintentionally, but certainly. The questioning resurfaced, and those stupid long-buried thoughts still linger, like unwanted guests, long after the table has been cleared and the curtains let down to guard against the dark.

I knew before that I was “enough,” whatever that means, that my bright weird soul shines, even if it doesn’t always shine in socially sanctioned situations. I knew that I was okay, that my opinions mattered, that my sense of self worth was tenuous but tangible, and that I am, in some way, valuable. I must be.

I know that we all get those moments of choice, where we get to choose who and what we are, and I know that sometimes, most of the time, we let our emotions run everything in a less than desirable way. I know that because that’s what I am, that tangled emotionally-driven hot mess of a human. That’s what human is, the unbearable heavy weight of feeling. It’s all bullshit, but that’s the essence of our experience. We can’t be without that drive, we can’t ignore that inner guide, especially when it’s screaming about something or other.

Yesterday, the five year old that I nanny for asked me “anxiety” meant. We were on the way to pick up his siblings, and his little voice reached out from the back seat and asked that beautiful question. I told him it just meant being nervous and worried, on guard, sometimes for no reason at all, usually detrimentally so. They’ve traced a lot of that to childhood experiences, you know, that consistent stirring of panic, the result of years of uncertain situations with uncertain outcomes, the constant evaluation of any number of consequences arising from any given action, inaction, reaction.

Enough.

I’ve had enough of the uncertainty, enough of the panic, enough of the unsettling. I’ve had enough of being enough but not enough-enough.

This morning, I talked a mother through a divorce.

I hold so much for other people, and I love that it. I love being there for people. I love holding people. I love explaining election results to children in an understandable manner. I love holding my six year old before I leave because she loves me and one hug just isn’t enough. I love the demands that I come jump on the trampoline with the kids, because they don’t want to jump alone. I love answering the phone for my crazy ex-boyfriend when he has no one else to call.

It means that I matter, but I don’t do any of it to be needed. I do it because I know what it’s like to be alone, and uncertain, and to feel stupidly unloved. That feeling resonates, in a very real way. I am anxiety incarnate, the eventual expulsion of the nervous energy that was my upbringing.

I was forceful about it – I told a dude, in no uncertain terms, that I hadn’t been enough for my ex-boyfriend, and that if I wasn’t enough for him, that wasn’t my problem, it was his.

Dear god, that felt good, the silly verbal assertion that I was enough. It stuck. It felt warm and true.

Goddammit, I’m enough. I’m a lot; I’m aware that sometimes I’m too much, but at least I’m me and not someone else’s version of what they wanted me to be. I own my shit, I understand my panic, and I feel too much. There are certain things that just can’t be taken away, that don’t meld into the normal. Those things aren’t always pretty, but at least they’re real. Intangible but manageable.

Ha, maybe that’ll be the title of my memoir, “Intangible but Manageable.”

 

On Seeking, Truthfully

Lately, I’ve been all sorts of tangled-swirling inside – the kind of storm that’s slow-building yet electric. It’s a heavy late-summer thunderstorm: thick, dark rolling clouds and unending pulses of lightning, creeping with overshadowing intent.

Part of it is self-made – I’ve been procrastinating “real life” now for six months, and I’m ridiculously happy with that. I’ve been ignoring my household duties (my room looks like the aftermath of a fashion show, everything strewn everywhere, much to my dismay – but no one should be remotely shocked about that; it’s a constant battle), and I’ve been enjoying putting off the hell that is cubicle chasing. I love that.

I’ve been living without taking frequent stock of any given situation, mostly on a weekly “what is my schedule going to be now?” sort of basis. It’s been freeing, honestly, in a way that I can’t attempt to describe. While I’m clearly not killing it on a financial level, I’m static in an “I can pay the bills” sort of way, and I’m making about what I made at my last job with fewer hours worked and significantly less stress.

I’m still searching, and I’m not afraid to admit that. I know that I have written quite a bit about how I imagined my life would be (hah, younger Katie, you’re so naive), and how I had always thought that I would someday stumble upon the perfect career path. This summer taught me a lot about what a sad facade the ideal is, and in that, I’ve let go of a lot of assumptions/presumptions (same meaning, one’s sexier) about what it is that I want to be.

Instead, I’m settling into me, at long last, stilling the reckless pursuit of perfect and ruminating on the resoluteness that is my own true self. It’s silly how circular it seems to be, and yet, there’s nothing necessarily cyclical about it.

I was hit over the head with art recently, in a way that was a clear reminder that I cannot go without creating. I cannot not write – it calms my soul, heals me, and provides an outlet no amount of yoga ever could. I cannot not do weird things – I recently partook in a music video shoot where I bound a man and water boarded him. With milk. And so much flour. (He later told me I have a very calming presence, so that was comforting in a quiet but certain way.) It reminded me of that Friends episode with Ross and the leather pants – “They’ve made a paste!”

The past few weeks have been unsettling, in a way that’s not unfamiliar, but feels like those blurry parts of life when you’re caught up in the moment, completely encased in the now. I’ve let go of “what will be” and am attempting to embrace what is and is not, and in that, I’m feeling the sort of freedom that I’ve been chasing wholeheartedly since I was a college freshman on the brink of something better.

I had happy hour tonight with a longtime friend who’s stood by me through everything, and whom I love dearly, and in that, we were discussing dating. I laughed, and described my current situation, much to her dismay. She laughed, though, as I told her that I think I’ve been trying to hard to find that ideal instead of my ideal, and she suggested that I’m just looking for my own Mickey Avalon. Yep. College all over again.

I told her that I have recently come to understand, innately, my own odd. I am a part of this earth, and yet I’m not. I’ve never felt like I am a part of a thing; I’ve always felt slightly at odds, somehow indifferent to and hyperaware of that “thing” that everyone else understands, and yet lately, I’m in a sort of place that demands exploration and understanding.

Who are we if not the sum of our experiences, the culmination of a hundred and twelve thousand adventures, a story to be told to our children, if we should be so lucky to make them?

I am a four on the Enneagram, so bear with me on that deep level of narcissistic internalization, but understand that for me, the beauty is the experience, the reflection, the resonance of adventure. My soul seeks to be understood, to be heard and valued and cherished, and without that, I don’t know what else to do. When the drums of the heart call, I can’t not answer them, because I am nothing if not the most romantically inclined human being on this planet. It’s insane. I hate it, and yet, I relish it, because with each and every interaction, I see the humanity that plagues us. I feel it, so ridiculously deeply, and it hurts and it’s horrible and it’s simultaneously the most beautiful gift I could have been given.

To love deeply, and to want to do that, is the hardest task we’ve been assigned. It’s easy to ignore it, to turn that blind eye to complacency, and yet, when those floodgates open, the call has sounded and I refuse to let it go unheeded. Hubris, mostly; solace, ultimately; and everything catastrophic that lies in the in between. It is perhaps the searching that hurts the most, the moments of naked truth that cut the deepest, and those fraught moments in the middle that matter the most.

I am still lost, read a t-shirt. I laughed, that’s dumb. But it’s not at all. It is everything, exactly, summed up into four words, one sweetly succinct phrase. It is my rallying cry at the moment, and I am leaping in with both feet, determined to drown in the process or rise to the challenge, drifting determinedly to the place we were told we could never have.

I want it. I will find it. And if I don’t, at least I’ll have one hundred and twelve thousand stories to tell about the greatest-ever undertaking that is my own adventure.

On the Self, and Love, Actually

Some of us are blessed with the ability to fall in love at an alarming rate; take me for example, I fall in love 60% of the time, every time (but really, just mostly every time). But over the course of my life,  I’ve come to learn that there’s something slightly more difficult about real love.

Fluff love – the stuff of rom coms, complete with the brief rise of butterflies – doesn’t count as real love, and even though we all chase that fleeting feeling, we’re chasing the wrong thing.

Being able to sustain something is where the real work begins, or rather, where the fluff love ends and the real love begins. Part of the problem is the whole actually finding the right thing thing, because the fluff of love is ubiquitous, if you want it, but it is truly rare to find a sustainable connection, the kind that burns warm and comfortable even after the glittering newness has faded. It requires a lot: finesse, dedication, truly aligned values and goals, but honestly (and my old therapist will be so happy that this landed), it’s all about acceptance.

At first, you’re okay with the exterior compatibility stuff – you both love fine wine, hooray!; you love fantasy football (or at least need a fantasy consultant at least once a week to sustain a moderate league ranking), oh joy!; you both attended private kindergartens in the Northwest, woohoo! – but at the end of that, you need the long term compatibility stuff – are we similar enough people to do actually do this life together?  To do this when things aren’t fuzzy and bubbly with champagne tingles, when you’ve realized that they’ve left the damn cabinets open again for the 8th time this week and you might want to murder them, or when they’re tired and grumpy and are trying to talk you into eating takeout for the third night in a row.

I can only hope that I’ve gotten better at discerning the good ones as time has gone on. Because good, honest connection is worth everything, and worth waiting for, cultivating, and nurturing. And after quite a few detours, I’m finally back to a place where I’m dating with intention, but this time, the intention is from within.

I recently attempted to explain to a friend – who was concerned that her new relationship didn’t mean as much to the her partner because he’s one of those “in love a lot” guys – that for those of us who fall in love over and over again with the agility, grace, and speed of an Olympic hurdler, the whole falling in love thing feels new every single time. It’s definitely not as thrilling as when you’re fourteen and exchanging love notes after math class, but it’s undeniably….much better, although scarier, and certainly still exciting enough to entice that sweetly radiant secret smile that you save for those blissful moments (think women eating chocolate in a chocolate commercial. That’s the smile).

I’m a lot more realistic than I was when I was younger. I’ve learned a lot, too. Some of the lessons were hard (character building, as my mom says) – for example, if he doesn’t make you a priority, you’re certainly not one now and you’re never going to be one. Other lessons were random, like rap music; how to make a mean Manhattan; how to to snowboard; and how to love Marilyn Manson.

I’ve learned a lot about myself, too. The whole inspiration for this post was an article I was reading where a woman was discussing female power, and in that, she hit on one of the things that I know I overlooked for far too long: stop trying to embody someone else’s ideal of who and what you should be. It’s not sustainable in the long term, and it’s certainly not doing you or anyone else any favors. It weakens the core of who you are, and the struggle of the attempt is exhausting. The push for authenticity is far more realistic, attainable, and satisfying.

What I came to realize was not so much that I had been trying to fit into what the man wanted (which is absolutely what was happening, too), but even more so that I had been trying to compose the idea of what I imagined that I wanted to become, or the idea of this woman that I would be, all while trying to meet continually changing expectations.

It wasn’t me at all, and the parts of everything that had been me had slipped so much over time that at the end of it when I came back into myself, it was like jumping into an ice cold lake. I abhorred certain aspects of the person that I was becoming, and yet, I felt compelled to continue, despite the lingering pull of my true self begging me not to give those parts up.

Sudden was the big whoosh of revitalization; the acclimation back into myself was swift and certain, and suddenly the world was bright again.

The takeaway, the big lesson worth learning, and learning well: Your own Nude Suit is the only suit that is suitable for the search for searing connection. Be yourself. I mean, be your best self, for sure, but be honest. There’s nothing better than honesty, openness, and a little bit of laughter, because who you are at your core doesn’t change.

The fleeting beginnings of fluff love are fun, but impermanent. But then again, I sometimes wonder if everything is impermanent – that’s a lesson that I’m attempting to learn, but the whole living-in-the-moment lesson is a post for another day.

 

 

On Summer, Perfectly Beautifully

The universe seems to have a pretty good sense of humor.

It also tends to make up for it with the sort of beautiful things that remind you why it’s good to be alive.

The past few months have brought a significant number of changes to my life, and as I look back on the summer, I’m feeling incredibly at peace with how things have unfolded. I’m looking forward to the future, and I’m optimistic. For the first time in a long time, I have a plan!

Nothing is forever, and I think that this summer has been a nice reminder of that for me. Nearly everything that was at this time last year is no longer – that’s not a bad thing.

My little brother moved to Dallas to be with his wonderful girlfriend; I got a roommate whom I adore. Our energies balance out pretty well, and so far, we’re off to a very compatible start. I worked with her for a year and a half at my last job, so we’ve been through a lot together. It’s nice to have someone who’s seen you at your most stressed agree to live with you.

She even puts up with Carlos, who senses that despite her allergies, she’s a sucker and will feed him. It’s pretty cute, actually. He curls up at her feet when she’s on the couch, and sits with her on the front porch. He’s playing us now, begging for food even if he’s already been fed, pretending he’s a starving animal and really hamming up the pathetic cat vibes. It usually works, unless I’ve been forewarned that he’s already eaten.

I quit my job at the end of May, with the original intention of wandering for a while and then waiting until after Burning Man to find a real job. I had just hit the wall where it didn’t make sense any longer – the high stress, low pay, and general environment was no longer sustainable. I knew that it was going to happen eventually, but after doing the Journey and letting go of some things, I wasn’t afraid to leap into the universe without a solid plan. It sounds silly, but it’s not. Because here I am, three months later, still “funemployed” (ish…I actually work a lot, doing odd jobs – I pulled weeds for a whole day for cash one day this summer!) – babysitting, marketing, the usual) and living the semblance of the dream.

There’s always that straw that breaks your camelback (ha, hiking joke), and for me, it was a phone conversation with the VP of the company where I spent ten minutes explaining a very elementary distinction between two different kinds of decisions. In that moment, I realized that there was no hope that my job would ever be anything but exactly what it was in that moment, and I felt something inside of me snap. The parts of me that wanted to fix everything, to lead, to be there to support my co-workers, to assist my clients, to fight the state the very best I could each day – they all fell away. Suddenly, there wasn’t any excuse that I could give myself for why I needed to go back to work. I felt free, light, and calm.

Alas, the wandering was the very best decision, as I’ve reduced the amount of stress and simplified my life in very wonderful ways. I’ve found myself again, my weird, my radiance.

There was a breakup, the changing of so much of what had become my routines, and in that, I was given exactly what I needed. To wake up and realize how far you’ve gotten off-track down someone else’s path that is not at all your own is indeed a very abrupt transition, but I think it’s best that way. Upon reflection, you have a few of those, “Holy shit,” moments where everything falls into place in a very different way and you’ve reset your context and suddenly it’s all so much more clear. It’s the most necessary, like stinging cold water on your face after a hot shower. You emerge radiant and with smaller pores. From this, I have emerged radiant and capable of making a Manhattan. So at least I’ve got that going for me.

My beloved therapist, nicknamed Tobias, moved out of state for a real job. I was heartbroken, and immediately demanded that in our final two sessions, he preemptively “therapize” me for anything that might ever happen. I told him I expected note cards in alphabetical situational order. Instead, I ended up being accidentally a half an hour late for our final session and tearily telling him how much he means to me. He ended by giving me his recap of our five years and reminding me how wonderful I am. It wasn’t the worst ending by any means, and I am so grateful to have had his sense of humor (and his enthusiastic appreciation of mine) for the last five years.

I learned a lot this year: about what I am and am not willing to tolerate; about what I want; about what I care about; about what I want to do with my life; about how to create meaning in life. I learned about respect, integrity, and staying true to your own inner voice. I have learned so much, been exposed to so many things, and can honestly say that I am content. Also, I’ll pick ribeye every time.

I have a very exciting plan for the future, and I’m eager (actually eager) to get to work on it. I have a feeling that all of the change and cleaning of space and soul that this year has brought will unfurl into a lush, fruitful future. It must.

This plan actually expands on a plan I had a long time ago, the plan that emerged from the darkness, the plan that was going to be both healing and helpful. And it can be all of that, but it’s also going to utilize all of my skills – the talking, and the writing, and the intense love of knowing things. But it’s still early, and I’m not telling you more in case my hopes and dreams are dashed and I’m forced to punt again on another oddly-assembled life plan. So cross your fingers and tell the universe that I’m onto something, and wish me courage to leap into even more of the unknown.

“Your dreams are not what you thought they’d be,” is the truest quote I’ve ever heard, the one I quote the most often, and the one that resonates with me the most (which is probably why I think it’s the truest and it’s my most quoted. Funny how that works). Life is never at all as I have planned it, or even imagined it, and yet, it seems to be the very best thing. From adventure to adventure, I’m very rarely bored.

Highlights from this summer include: Chicago over Memorial Day weekend — the brunch spot we adopted was so delicious we went back twice; driving to Montana for the first time to go to Flathead Lake (I’m so buying a summer house there when I am even slightly wealthier – in money, because banks don’t let you use your unsinkable spirit as collateral for a second home loan); summer evenings spent on the front porch with my roommate; boating; all of the shows I saw at Red Rocks; Pretty Lights at Red Rocks; the babysitting – I’m seriously in love with children; the playdate and the three hours of beautiful connection with a mom that made my soul smile; and the “me” moments that made it all feel like it was unfolding exactly as it needed to.

I know I sound suspiciously happy, like I’ve been secretly sneaking sniffs of nitrous, but that’s not it at all.

It’s not all happy. Not at all. But it’s all perfect.

On Internet Correspondence, Cordially

We play with words when we are hurting, seeking comfort, seeking peace.
Without them, we are nothing, lost souls without relief.
It is the words that bring us healing, in defiance of conceit.
A ray of hope, burgeoning before expected actions bring us peace,
That self-confessional concession, a regretful admission of defeat.

In the swift response of continued silence,
The waiting game begins. And continues.
Not wholly, but momentarily,
We stop and take stock.

Of our past loves, our future selves,
Our hurts, our joys, our pains.
We seek solitude,
To lick our wounds,
And secretly, to breathe:

The sigh of victory, hard fought but not quite won;
The loss of positioning, in a relationship sought but never certain;
The grief of guilt, the pangs of which comes in waves;
The regrets, ever-building, increasing by the day.

What does it come down to?

When one party refuses to play,
The other is left at a loss,
Uncertainties can only be held at bay
For so long, before they swirl up
Like dust mites in a dust storm.

What is the admission, if at the end of the day,
It means nothing,
Just a placating platitude,
An email lost in the fray?

To some there is no calming,
Nothing before the storm.
It is just that which erupts,
Engulfing all emotion,
A reminder that nothing is certain,
Despite all serious attempts to draw the curtain
Closed on the argument, to bring the horrible act to a close.

And in the end, the waiting is.
And is, and is, and is.
The momentum of the panic building,
A horrible tower of hell
In the wishing-it-could-be-quiet mind.

Mindfulness has long left this place,
Replaced by hurt and pain.
The seeking of comfort that can’t be,
The wishing for things that won’t be,
The aching for things that once were.

There is no single solution.
Only hope.
All fingers and toes crossed, dutifully,
The expectation pregnant in the air.

A text! The notification blaring,
A phone set to volume level high.
And yet, it brings more patience,
Nothing certain, no hope,
An empty note.

And here, I sit.
Awaiting the resolution,
Of my thoughtful provocation.
My dreams, my hopes, my love.

It is the loss
That I am expecting.
Of that which will arrive,
Soon enough through email,
A letter I’ll attempt to swallow and survive.

I imagine the end of this drama
Will soon be at my door,
And yet, in my heart,
I hope it’s the beginning of something more.

On “The Journey,” Triumphantly

It’s timely, because here we are again, exploring another rape, another assault, another gray area – this story about a CNN anchor, Ashleigh Banfield, who read the majority of the letter from victim of sexual assault during the sentencing of her attacker, filled me with hope – not because of the rape, of course, but because of the content of the letter itself.

This woman, this victim, this beautifully articulate human being, writes so purely and so beautifully – it was exactly the feeling that I felt, and exactly the feeling that I feel, continuously, onwardly, to this very day. This woman’s brave statement, and the willingness of the anchor who read that statement out loud to the public – and the network, which isn’t always known for their dedication to true journalism, is a testament to the ongoing negative effects of sexual assault, a testament to the fact that lives are changed, to the fact that sleep is lost, to the fact that everything is upsetting, to the fact that life is never the same. It is a testament to the fact that forgiveness does not come easily, to the fact that the hurt cuts deep, to the fact that the actions of another can shape your future in ways that you never imagined.

I never got the chance to write that letter, and yet, I am so grateful to this woman for writing the letter that she wrote. For me, it is much of what I never got to say, and it is a beautiful rendering of pain, reflection, and request for justice, which she will not get. But….I hope so much that people hear her words and are moved. This is beautiful. This hurts, but in the best way. It feels like solidarity. It feels like understanding. It feels like progress, even if it’s only progress because she was heard.

***

We are what we are; we are what we have experienced. We are what we choose to be. Lately, I’ve been floating on a cloud of bliss brought on by the beautiful lightness of letting go. I am choosing to be free.

A few weeks ago, boyfriend and I went to a meditative healing seminar called, “The Journey.” When he first told me about it, I was skeptical, as one is. I agreed to go, not because I thought I’d find healing, but because I was curious, or at least because certain circumstances had led me to believe that there might be something there. I had thought of situations that I knew of that were similar to the one described by the author of the book, “The Journey,” and the ever-skeptical part of me, or perhaps the ever-hopeful part, was swayed. It wasn’t until I ended up in the ER with the ovarian cyst that I thought, ah, maybe, and consented to the weekend seminar.

Even as we approached it, I thought to myself, this is ridiculous; what am I getting myself into? And I knew, because I had read the book, that there was healing and self-introspection involved, and so I had created fake issues that might need to be discovered, just on the off chance that I found myself needing to have resolved some issues, because I didn’t want to be put on the spot, panicked and nervous because I didn’t have the right answer.

Alas, it was nothing like that. Nothing like that at all. It was the best thing ever.

Despite some early resistance – which occurred even in spite of my somewhat resigned determination to be open-minded – I ended up being open-minded and enjoying the hell out of myself. I felt the feelings fully, I met new people, I even made friends. So it wasn’t so bad.

The first morning, I was nervous, shaking hands with people I didn’t know and putting on the name tag and feeling silly for having begged boyfriend to bring me paper so that I could take notes, if necessary.

We jumped into it, and I felt awkward and alone. And yet, the curious part of me who loves to learn was intrigued, and so I allowed myself to open up into it, and found myself feeling layers of feelings. I had thought about New York (my past sexual assault and work situation), but had brushed it aside thinking it wasn’t the time or place…and yet…here I was, 10:30 on the first morning of a three-day seminar, feeling layers of feelings about it.

I was ready, almost.

I felt the hurt, the anguish, the shame, and then I dropped below that and I felt a rage I didn’t know was there. I felt it deeply in my core, my lower abdomen burning with anger. I hadn’t realized that under everything, I was angry. I knew that I had accepted what had happened; I knew that I had allowed myself to feel all of the general hurt and upset, but prior to that Saturday morning, I hadn’t realized how much rage was below. And so I felt the rage. I felt it through me. I felt it rising up inside of me and throughout me, and I let it be. I accepted it. And then we broke for lunch.

After lunch, we did our first Journey process, and by that point, I had nothing. I could not, for the life of me, feel what I had felt earlier. I wanted to feel that rage, to address it, but I couldn’t. I was out, empty. I limped along, not able to conjure up the feelings that I had felt earlier, feeling like a total fraud. I guided another woman through her own process, watching tears of realization come to her face, feeling jealous that I couldn’t feel that.

I went home that night, slightly annoyed, but now more curious than ever. Not that I had been expecting an outcome, but because I had honestly felt truly deep feelings that I hadn’t been able to explore. I was determined, as I get, and the next day dawned beautifully with boyfriend and I teaching acrobatic yoga to a couple that we’d met at the seminar the day before (and whom we’d absolutely loved).

And so we did more Journey work, and in that, I went through a process known as the Physical Journey – I opened myself, and let my mind wander and my body tell me what it knew. I went to my fingertips. There, I felt them hot and swollen, dirty. I remembered the first time I had felt that way, in middle school, when I started picking at my skin, my scalp, searching for imperfections and nervously grounding myself with contact. They felt that way when I didn’t have time to wash them after recess and returned to class. I felt that time, snapshots of childhood coming up and playing out. I went back there, and my process was amazing. I felt my younger self, I loved her, I communicated with her. I forgave her for not being perfect. It was a last-minute revisiting, and in that, I found a wisdom I’d never felt, something I’d never even seen. I forgave my younger self for not being perfect; for not keeping everything together (despite her best efforts); for falling apart with no one watching closely and for not crying out for help.

I came out of that Journey feeling a quiet in my hands that I haven’t felt in ages. I felt this quiet all through my core. My body was calm. My body is never calm. Boyfriend noticed immediately. “What did you do?” he asked me. “You feel different.”

I did feel different. I felt light. I felt solid. I felt still. Still. To feel still is such a fantastic feeling. My fingers didn’t find my skin to pinch at it for the rest of the day, or for several days after that. (Actually, they haven’t been as curious as they usually are since then….my face has improved immensely, as has the rest of me. I am not tearing at myself with the same fervor as before, and I am thrilled, grateful, and peaceful.)

The next day, I called in sick to work to stay for the intensive part of the course. I’m so glad that I did.

We did several more processes, and I found myself connecting as a giver – I was able to feel and read people to whom I was “giving” the process, and in doing so, I felt so rewarded. One man exclaimed, “Holy shit you’re good!” in a very crowded, very quiet room. I was secretly thrilled.

So of course, when the afternoon came, and we were to try all of our new skills, I thought to myself, let’s do this! Let’s give up New York! And so I tried.

Oh man, did I try. I brought my old boss to this campfire of forgiveness, where you examine and converse and ultimately, forgive. And I was blocked. I couldn’t do it. I tried, and I tried, and I made it so that there was forgiveness, but it wasn’t right. I told boyfriend after (because he knew what I was up to, he’d seen the gleam in my eye), that I’d let my old boss off on a technicality. He knew I was unsettled; he was right.

On the way home, I shut down. I curled up into a tight ball and became unresponsive. Boyfriend was kind and gentle, but he knew I wasn’t all right; I knew it, too. We got home, and I took his house key and ran into the bedroom and threw myself on the bed and screamed into the pillows as though that might abate the pain that was swirling inside of me.

Boyfriend offered to do another Journey with me. Actually, he said that he knew I wasn’t done, and we both knew (“knew,” but on a deeper level of knowing) that I was ready and not done and ready — I wanted it so bad; I wanted to let go. I didn’t want to carry New York with me anymore.

And so we did. We leapt – our Journey process was nothing like the script they’d given us – it was three hours long (although for me, there was no time. It felt like a half an hour, maybe). Boyfriend held me while he guided me through a meditation that I led – he later told me that it’s a good thing he lives in a separate house and not a condo, because of my screaming and wailing, the police absolutely would have been called.

I let out my pain. I screamed; I shut down; I brought the emotion back; I held onto it. I imagined, and I re-lived, and I did the most amazing things. I cloned myself; I brought someone I had not expected to my campfire – my body knew, the wiser parts of me knew exactly what it was that I was holding onto – I ranted, raved, hated, threatened, felt, understood, cloned, felt, acknowledged, and finally, I let go, just a little bit. I burned everything. I cleansed myself in a healing firefall (which is exactly what it sounds like, a waterfall of fire – it was the water/firefall from the dream I had in February, and when I blissed through the peaceful layers to my hammock of water, it was that same water, but all water this time and no fire).

I ate a sandwich, in the middle of it, in the middle of my meditation I visited the cafe in my old office building and the woman there and her son made me a BLT (not a real sandwich, perhaps this one was just some soul food). My village – everyone who loves me, plus the cat – was there to hold me and be with me and help guide me.

Boyfriend held me through the whole thing. That, my friends, is love. That shit was not fun, nor was it easy. Might I remind you that I’m a hideous crier, so this wasn’t even slightly adorable. It was like Macbeth and Hamlet slammed together with an audio book of the Boondocks Saints – a lot of crazy shit happened, and a lot of rage. My body shook, my eyes welled and overflowed a hundred times; I screamed, I cried, I whispered, I whimpered; I begged, I conversed, I understood. And ultimately, I forgave, just a little bit. A teensy, tiny bit. 1%. Per day. For 100 days. Stupid, but doable, because I am a stubborn woman and I was not budging on the forgiveness part of it. But then I remembered I’m not a horrible person, and that I have a beautiful life, and as I let the gratitude parts of me overwhelm the desire to keep harboring the hate, the kindness won.

In the end, I was calm. In the end, I was secure. In the end, I felt peace. A thousand times peace. Safety. Warmth. Comfort. Security. Rocked gently in my dream water, my safe green space, warm and buoyant. Reassured. Cared for. Understood. Loved. Held.

I woke up the next day, and that feeling was still there. Grounded and still. I had realized what I had been holding on to, which wasn’t actually who I thought it was, and I let it go, a little bit.

I cannot explain to you the lightness that I felt, that I continue to feel. I can’t tell you how hard it was, or how wonderful, or the immense gratitude that swirls through me now. I want to, and I want to bring this gift to everyone who needs it. I want people to have the moments that I had, so that they can feel the letting go and the healing. I want people to fall asleep full, rather than full of rage. I want to share in that relief, that ecstasy, that peace. There is nothing that I want for the world than to feel that swell of hope and joy. I want to be able to give that to others, because I finally feel free of that horrible burden I’ve been carrying for so long, and I am at peace.

It feels fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. Now I can direct my energy elsewhere, and I am finally, finally, gratefully, powerfully, blissfully free.

So I’m going to start practicing – if you’re curious, or you’d like to help me practice doing these Journey processes, send me an email, a text, a call, a fb message, carrier pigeon, whatever. I’d so love to share my excitement and see if I can help with this peace-bringing business. It’s totally not as insane as mine was – you can do 30 minutes and forgive that guy for cutting you off in traffic yesterday or understand why you’re so jealous of Becky with the good hair, or whatever. I just like to go big or go home, and in this case, I managed to do both.

 

 

 

On Vulnerability, Preachily and Openly

“And you can’t feel nothing small…”

I radiate my feelings outward, the intensity of my energy palpable and present. Of course, as things are prone to equal and opposite reactions, I also feel very deeply the external – the energy of a room, the weight of a situation, the heavy meaning of a storyline.

I wonder if it is that sensitivity – the continuous consciousness of emotions – that has enabled me to exercise vulnerability as a means of connection, or rather, if it was merely foisted upon me an ultimatum of existence: either you utilize the vulnerability as a means of connection, or you can masquerade through life, choosing isolation over engagement, which to me seems a wholly distasteful option.

I’ve chosen to live a vulnerable life – one of openness and honesty, partly because I can’t help but live any other way, and partly because I feel as though eschewing vulnerability as a way of being leads to nothing but superficiality, stunting relationships and intimacy. This was a choice made a long time ago, but that said, it isn’t easy to always live that way, especially in times of insecurity.

I’ve never felt comfortable pretending to be someone I’m not; finding and acting from a place of authenticity came about some time during later adolescence/early adulthood, and I’ve found that my greatest joys, successes, and bliss all stem from moments when I was nothing but myself. Granted, it’s not always popular, or prudent, to be so much yourself, but I find that if you’d like to find the depths of the human experience, you have to dig in a bit. Thankfully, I’m also incredibly stubborn.

So what is vulnerability, exactly? The dictionary defines it being open to injury, which is exactly what it is, but also, it’s not that at all. Yes, it’s about what can happen when you lower your defenses, bringing down your walls to let other people in. For me, it’s a willingness to share feelings or experiences in order to increase intimate connection, which of course could result in injury, mostly of the emotional kind. But that’s half the adventure, right?

I’ve been working on being a better listener since I learned how to talk. (Mostly because I never learned how to stop talking, and thus, learning how to listen will always be a project on which I should focus.) I am a verbal processer, which is beautiful but also really frustrating, because combined with the ADHD and my love of information, I’m a whole bunch of output, when I should be better about attempting to increase the input balance.

I even interrupt my own sleep to talk. Last night, I woke up boyfriend in the middle of the night (accidentally, I was talking in that half-awake, mostly unconscious but really urgent, I-have-a-point-to-make-but-I’m-also-half-asleep-so-I’m-probably-slurring-a-little way) to tell him that even though we’re trying to track our sleep using his FitBit, the experiment is already compromised because of his own awareness of it. Sleep me was very concerned about sharing the Hawthorne effect with him. I think sleep him was not as excited.

However…even with that basic communication shortcoming, people have always confided in me, which is amazing because I love knowing stuff and also because I love knowing that I’m a safe space for secrets or sharing. Having a safe space is important. If you want to know someone, you have to know their experiences and perspectives, and in order to find out that there might be commonalities, someone has to start the sharing.

It’s a basic tenet of communication: you throw down information; I match and expand; you respond; the conversation continues. In order for that to be effective, someone has to get beyond the weather and get real.  It doesn’t have to start with an onslaught of depth, it can be as minute as an interest, a hobby, a passion, whatever. And you can work from there.

Vulnerability as a means of connection is curious – why don’t we do it more? I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a fear of judgement, of being seen as “other,” of being rejected. When I open up, sharing an embarrassing story or an emotional memory, having someone judge me in a negative way is the very last thing I want. Who is that person to be critical of something that is mine? Who am I to be critical of something that is someone else’s? Often, to the observer, the vulnerability being communicated is basic, simple, easily addressed or managed. But that’s not the case, and we’re foolish if we think otherwise. Life is messy, sticky; things and events and experiences adhere themselves and change our course and perspective in often unknown and unseen ways.

I think that’s part of the problem with vulnerability – sometimes you don’t have to respond. People assume that there’s a necessary or basic etiquette-driven platitude, but there’s often not. That’s why vulnerability is so different than superficial communication. It changes the conversation. Sometimes the hearing is enough. The presence of another, a subtle acknowledgement of the veracity of one’s experiences.

I’m not advocating an all-out, no-holds barred onslaught of information as a means of connection. That would be far too overwhelming.

Vulnerability is hard. I know this, because even though I sit here and preach from my ivory tower of vulnerability-as-a-way-of-life immersion, I also struggle with it. It’s like I have two levels – the first, not superficial, but also not that deep, and then the level where I lock everyone out. Sometimes I’m not even vulnerable enough to acknowledge my own feelings to myself. I think we’re all like that, at least in some ways, defiant and resolute in our thinking and unwilling to share with others.

There are 800 TED talks (not an accurate figure) about vulnerability, and countless articles touting the benefits. It’s like the new emotional kale; it’s everywhere! It’s an awesome principle, but of course, there are risks. Opening up and then being let down can be absolutely devastating. However, opening up and being embraced and accepted can be the most healing feeling, and to me, it’s part of the root of the human experience. Trusting other people sucks, but we have to do it to really, actually thrive, because the marrow of life isn’t surface-level bullshit, it’s deep and it’s gritty and it’s real. And if you want to get at the marrow, (ha, popular food of the late aughts for a thousand, Alex), you have to sink your teeth in and get ready to get real.

I’m currently out of time, because apparently, I have a job, but my roommate and I are in the process of ruminating more about vulnerability, and so perhaps we shall return with additional ideas. But for now, have the above. J

 

 

On the Cyst-uation, Femininely

It was a long week that week. It ended up all being fine, of course, but not without some unnecessary panic (per usual):

A couple of weekends ago, after a most magical evening of sunsets and whiskey and champagne and a fantastically sexy dress and a general bubble of love radiating between boyfriend and myself (definitely because of the dress), I spent several hours in the emergency room, directed there urgently after a kidney ultrasound (we were originally on the hunt for kidney stones) turned up what the imaging department assumed was an ectopic pregnancy. I knew something was up when the ultrasound technician stopped joking with me and stood up and mumbled something about a phone call, and after a very pregnant pause (ha), I was ushered into a small office and told to speak to an emergency doctor on the phone.

I tried to take a deep breath, a futile attempt at remaining open to whatever was coming. She asked me if I was sitting down (that’s never good news); I said no; she told me to sit down (again, I thought, if I remain standing, will the news become less heavy? Can I keep it at bay by remaining vertical?), and then told me that it was an emergency situation due to the fact that it was an ectopic pregnancy (for the uninformed, that’s when an egg gets fertilized but doesn’t implant in the uterus as expected – instead, it finds another place, which is dangerous and problematic). They imagined I was 8 or 9 weeks along.

I was numb, not overwhelmed, but informed and unfeeling. I had the nurse go find boyfriend, and he came in and held me, not knowing why he was holding me, but holding me nonetheless as I stood, no longer feeling as though I could be confined to chair, not yet shaking, clutching a phone, saying, “Uh huh,” and “Mmmhmmm” over and over again, robotically.

I’d stopped listening to the doctor the minute she’d uttered the words “ectopic pregnancy,” and she was attempting to reassure me that it was all right and that she’d had one at some point and blah blah blah. I froze, then, my eyes no longer focusing, my brain no longer thinking, everything shutting off; the main reactor had shut down, and the rest of my processes were losing power.

I went into handling mode, the part where I make a plan. We were going to get a copy of the ultrasound to take with us to the emergency room. I offered to take an Uber so boyfriend didn’t have to go with me. (He told me I was being ridiculous, of course he’d take me.) I cried a bit, as it settled over me. I look like Voldemort when I cry – my eyes get red and squinty and I’m cursed with a genetic predilection towards swelling in the eye-region, so the redness and the swelling join forces for the ultimate in anti-attraction.

Some people cry daintily, or prettily. I am not one of those people. I cry like a banshee when I really let it go, hiccups and snorts and the whole shebang. But that was not a let-it-go moment, instead, I just turned red and swelled, wishing I hadn’t worn mascara, excusing myself to stare at my face in the fluorescent lights of the bathroom, not feeling like I was looking at myself at all, staring into the face that wasn’t mine, but had to be, in the mirror. Alone.

He took me to the emergency room at the hospital nearby; my doctor’s office had called ahead. I made jokes the whole way over. At one point, I looked down at my flat stomach (I’ve been doing so much acro yoga and biking lately, and I’ve been proudly declaring that I’m getting “an ab” – which I totally am), and murmured, “We made a thing.” A tiny thing that was not viable, and thus was not really a thing at all, but still…a thing. I’ve never made a thing before. He repeated it. “We made a thing.” And he held my hand, or put his on my thigh, squeezing gently, reassuring me.

I sat there, numb and businesslike, alternating between attempting to breathe and fighting back tears. The guy who checked me in at the emergency room knew sign language, and I told him my favorite story about the teacher whose personal sign in the ASL dialect is a K swung back and forth to mimic the way her arm skin swings when she writes on the board. He told me that his sign was an L held against his forehead. We laughed when he told he was quite young when he picked it and that at that time, he didn’t know that it also is a common sign among kids that denotes that one is a “loser.” (It’s generally directed at the loser, by means of silent insult.) (When we left the ER, I called a goodbye, putting my hand in an L on my forehead, making him laugh.)

They hooked me up the IV quickly, dating the thing. That’s a bad sign. They don’t date the thing if you’re not going to stay. I laid there, in my jeans, stabbed in the arm and hating it. They were sending off bloodwork to figure out how far along I was, how high the hormone levels were, and if we were going to have to do surgery or if it could be handled by a pill. I changed into one of those extremely odd gowns, all buttons and strings in strange places. I think there’s got to be a better way (a better way, yeah-ah) – I’m thinking plush fuzzy bathrobes with access slits for medical procedures?

The nicest woman I’ve ever met came in and patted me on the leg and called me Honey and asked me how I was doing. I respond so well to mothering. She commiserated and gave boyfriend the “take care of her” talk and then told me that I wasn’t already adopted, she’d adopt me. I loved her immensely and immediately.

Then there was the doctor, a wonderful woman who came in and introduced herself and then said, “We’re already at panic level 100, but let’s dial it back a notch and make sure you’re actually pregnant first.” I laughed, because you’re right, here we were at threat level orange when maybe this could have been a threat level blue situation. She sighed because they’d sent the long-form blood test out instead of the short-form quick result test, so we were in limbo for the foreseeable future.

We hung out, joking about stuff. A couple weeks before, I’d been grumpy with boyfriend about everything, and had told him that I wanted him to be nowhere near me but also to hold me. He’d been very confused. That was – and remains – a completely accurate description of how I felt in that moment. I was happy to be able to say, aha! The reason I felt that insane juxtaposition of feelings was because I was pregnant. It was a nice excuse.

Alas, it was not the case. The test results finally came back: not pregnant, no ectopic pregnancy. Relief flooded through me, then confusion. So now what? As it turns out, it’s a cyst, totally normal (well, mostly). It’ll either go away on its own, or it will burst and send me back to the ER with horrible, unbearable pain, or it will grow and then they will have to surger it out of me.

We missed the gala that we had been planning on going to that night. I was disappointed, because I’d been looking forward to going. We went home instead, me exhausted and over-wrought, emotionally turbulent. I needed fifteen minutes to cry, and so that’s what we did. He laid down on his bed and his nestled me into his shoulder nook and I sobbed (the pure sobs, gulping and pulsing and hot, my entire body shaking as I let it all pass through me, out in loud wails and snorts, hot tears streaking my face). When I felt the calm settle back over me, I pushed up and off of him and went to wash my face so we could still make it to the second of our planned evening events, a comedy show, which we did. Turns out a bit of foundation and some well-placed blush with a few flicks of a mascara wand can turn even the puffiest of people into mostly gorgeous members of society.

After that, there was a deep sleep. I faded into the nothingness of unconsciousness gratefully and smoothly that night, no time allotted for lying awake, a welcome respite from the flood of things and the day itself.