Community is Difficult

Sometimes I think I’m too fickle for church or community or whatever. But I know that’s not really true. I think the struggle I have with community involves the need to form deep, personal relationships with those I commune with. I want to be best friends…okay, not really. But I do like talking regularly. And by talking, I mean texting, because phones are for people who don’t mind awkward pauses and anxiety-ridden, unedited comments. I want more than a once a week “hi, how are you?” Because seriously, who actually asks that with genuine interest anymore? No one really wants the answer. They would rather check Facebook on their phones and avoid eye contact. (#Guilty)

I recently started participating in a new “church” community. I say “church” because it’s more a group of people who sit around, sometimes sing, talk about God or Jesus or life, and drink beer. And talk about all the beer and how wondrous it is. Unless, of course, it’s Michelob or Bud Light. That’s not beer. It’s an insult to beer. And your liver. I digress. This church has been really beautiful and helpful as I recover from previous-church trauma. But in the last few weeks, my interest in it has waned. (And I’m about to dish out a whole lot of selfishness…so just bear with me and understand that in writing this, I’m also processing how I feel…word by word.)

A few weeks ago, one of the “leaders” approached me that a new girl was going to attend “church” and the leader thought I would get along with this girl because of similar interests observed online. No big deal, right? Sunday rolled around and New Girl showed up as promised. As it turns out, this girl is so hot it makes my soul hurt. And my jealousy rage. And even more ironically, she and my husband have a mutual connection. Dagger meet heart. On that fateful Sunday, I sat around and watched as everyone was enthralled by her. Only a few months prior, I was sort of the new toy and everyone wanted to talk to me and get to know me…I felt like I was finally forming relationships I’d longed for for years. And then it just dropped off…almost entirely. And now, everywhere I look online, they are doting on Hot Girl. She’s the new toy. (And seriously, this girl is great, she’s par for the course. She has good taste in music and people.) I think her entire presence sort of reinforced the fact that I’ve been wanting to (and trying to) make deeper connections with this group and it just hasn’t happened. The four leaders of the church have been friends for years and they possess a bond that I share with other close friends. These bonds are almost impenetrable, I get it. And I’m not asking to be their new best friend or even be #3 on their speed dial (do we even do speed dial anymore?), I just want more of a connection…otherwise, it’s going to be really easy for me to stay at home. Sleeping in on Sundays is like a morphine addiction. Fucking amazing.

I feel wretched for even having these thoughts. It’s not the church’s fault…because I haven’t openly said (until now), “I need more.” Because everyone has busy schedules, lives, and obligations and I don’t want to be another item on their to-do list…especially if they don’t feel the desire to reciprocate a friendship. In all of my previous communities, I was able to make a steady connection…build a friendship with someone where I felt like I could invest. And it’s astounding that I’m even considering seeking MORE from these people…cause church is fucking difficult (see previous posts). Community is difficult. Perhaps the church members sense my distrust and that’s why they hold back…they don’t want to overwhelm me. I’m not sure. And I don’t want them to read this and feel bad, like they’ve let me down or something.

I didn’t realize how much I needed that connection to stay invested. Before, the relationships just happened and they occurred organically and sometimes hastily after I got involved. I’ve been so damn lonely…for a very long time, lacking that intimacy of a good friendship. I have best friends and they live hundreds of miles away. I don’t have people to visit during the week or converse with after a long day (other than my husband). I don’t have anyone present, tangible, that I can access weekly that will hang out with or talk to me. I see online that some church people are hanging out together because that’s what they do and have done for years. Because they’re friends. How does one flat out ask…”Hey, can I come?” without looking like the dorky afterthought? I don’t want to push myself on people. And I’m shit at asking people to do things…but maybe I should try. I can’t expect that they will always seek me out.

It’s the worst possible feeling to need community and be absolutely terrified of it. Because I know the more I invest, the more I risk. But I’m tired of denying the fact that I need people in my life. I don’t need them constantly, I just need to know they’ll be there if I ask. And in turn, I’ll be there for them. That’s what friends are supposed to do.

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Beer Church

I highly recommend reinventing yourself. I’ve done it probably a hundred times. It somehow manages to strip away the bullshit of the past. At least for a little while. Each time I went through a break up with a boyfriend, I cut my hair in some chaotic way. The hairstyle was usually an effort to communicate that I wanted to be left alone. Don’t talk to me, don’t flirt with me. Just walk away. See the ‘fuck off’ on my forehead? That’s for you. In reality, I was heartbrokenĀ and just wanted someone to really, authentically love me.

I’ve started over so frequently that I’m starting to wonder if I’m actually evolving or if I’m the same or a mixture of both.

Part of the reason for the reboot….public humiliation. Almost five years ago, my (ex) husband and I went to a tiny church and met some really cool people. They were all tattoos, piercings, and cuss words and I felt absolutely at home. Pass the bourbon, take communion, and recite the Celtic prayers. I loved it. About a month in, my ex started having an affair with one of the church members. Our church consisted of about 12 people. So I’d met the woman. We’d had conversations. I’d been to her house. Five years later, I still don’t fully understand what makes people behave in such a cruel way.

I left the church almost immediately. I couldn’t sit in the same room, share the same space they did…all the while smirking at each other in their adulterous triumph. Everyone knew what was happening. The wife is almost always the last to know…especially if the husband is a gifted liar. I parted with one congregation and entered another. I went by my maiden name and it was perfect. No one knew my business. No one knew the shame I felt as a result of my ex’s infidelity. My business wasn’t plastered in their frontal lobes. I was just H…this young, single adult female who wanted to help out. My identity stayed hidden for about 3-4 months and then gradually I let people know who I was and where I’d come from. The beautiful part was that they accepted me. I wasn’t ostracized for getting divorced at 26. I was welcomed for who I was in that moment. Who I’d become in the aftermath.

Fast forward a year of bliss. I’d developed some of the closest relationships of my life. The church members became my extended family. I was particularly fond of the pastor and his wife and children. He was my mentor, my second father. We talked about beer, golf, and god. He taught me many things and helped me recover from the devastating loss of my dignity. I took care of his children, stayed at his house when they went out of town. It was humbling to be so loved by people I respected.

And then it fell apart. Again.

A man and woman whom the pastor trusted, came in and tried to destroy this sanctuary with lies and dissension. They started rumors…fostered bitterness between church members, and everything began to dissolve. I was falsely accused of having an affair with the pastor, my friend…who I cherished. But even before that rumor, there were others. Gun shy, I stepped away from my responsibilities at the church to get some space and clarity. I tried to determine who my friends were…and understand my enemies. And then my pastor died unexpectedly. No goodbyes. No absolution. No closure. He was just gone. My friend. My mentor. Gone. The air was thick with grief and despair and I couldn’t breathe. For months.

So I left. Because it was the only way I knew to survive. And I stayed away for 3 years.

And then I went to beer church. It’s fucking terrifying how much I want to love this small group of people. I do love them…I don’t want to. Bad things tend to happen when I love people. They leave…or they betray me. They shred me. I enteredĀ the group with a fortress built around me. Don’t come close. Stay away. I’m intrigued but I’m frightened. But in their genuine love and compassion, they disassembled my wall brick by brick. And now they know a bit more about who I am. I’m no longer anonymous. I’m vulnerable…standing in the open and petrified that the 3rd attempt at community is going to be my undoing. I don’t know how many more times I can reinvent myself before I run out of ideas. And I hate that I want to risk it again. Jesus Christ. I mean, I look at these people and I want to say, “in our next life…please find me so I can spend as much of my time with you as possible.”

That’s beer church. It’s people, sitting around drinking good booze and talking about life. It’s love. It’s the talking, the loving, the caring….that creeps into the shattered fragments of my heart and heals it.

Merry F-ing Christmas

I’m absolutely NOT in the mood for Christmas this year. Typically, I’m the one begging my husband to decorate in late October. I love the lights, the tree, the millions of random ornaments, all that holiday cheer and shit. This year? Fuck it. I put up my tree in early November in an effort to psych myself into wanting to celebrate. We were supposed to have the little blonde lunatic for the latter part of the holiday break…but custodial wars have eradicated any hope of seeing her before her birthday next September. Additionally, we acquired a kitten that made it his sole mission to de-ornament the fucking tree. Every morning for several weeks, I walked into the living room to discover Christmas carnage. He considers himself a champion for scaling to the very top and knocking off my prized Disney ornament AND chewing through the strand of lights so the damn tree looks like it belongs in Charlie Brown’s Christmas special. The cat should consider itself fortunate that it has nine lives.

As soon as we knew for sure that the kid wasn’t coming to visit for Christmas, I took down every single decoration and put them back in the boxes. Now the kitten has nowhere to hide. Take that, you little shit. There’s so much more to this I-Hate-Christmas diatribe that I can’t say here…because legal system. I admit, I’ve let this entire situation rob me of my holiday joy…but it’s difficult to be excited about a holiday that centers on family when part of my family isn’t here. If I didn’t have obligatory events for the next two days, I’d seriously consider being a hermit and binge watching episodes of the West Wing.

Relatives, friends, and random ass people tell me to stay positive and focus on the end goal, but I need to be allowed to wallow occasionally. I’m not laying in bed every damn day eating bon-bon’s (WTF is a bon-bon anyway?), refusing to shower or go to work. I’m still living and moving forward. But holidays feel like the clock has stopped ticking and I’m trapped in yuletide hell. I’m watching the world be festive and content, meanwhile I’m too pissed to paint or drink or do any measure of self-soothing activities. I’m angry and sad all the goddamn time.

Ironically, the only time I feel some semblance of peace is when I’m having a beer with friends…because most of them don’t know about the custodial nightmare my husband and I are enduring. And when people don’t know, they don’t ask questions and they don’t offer bullshit advice. They simply conjure up happier topics of conversation over good music and beverages and allow me to escape reality for a little while. I’d like to hope that next Christmas will be better but for now, I’ll just be satisfied to survive this Christmas with an ounce of grace. And maybe a pint of really great beer.

The Struggle is Real

Pain makes me have A.D.D. Particularly emotional pain. Perhaps I should clarify, pain makes me unable to focus on anything but the source of my frustration. Eating, thinking, painting, conversing…everything suffers because of this ONE issue I can’t seem to resolve. So far this afternoon, I’ve had a few conversations, sketched several paintings, and written a page or two of my thesis. Productivity occurs when I’m just distracted enough to forget that my heart is broken. But the moment I’m reminded, I may as well turn my computer off and grab a beer. Emotional struggles are like a one-way ticket to the couch. I can’t even listen to music. It’s like everything becomes irritating as hell. None of my coping skills are working. I’m just fucking angry and sad…almost all the time. I want to bite things or break things or do something besides feel helpless.

There is a perpetual ache in my chest and tears threaten to fall. Today is one of those days when stillness makes me want to rage. Everywhere I look there are reminders. Seriously, everywhere. I’m sitting in a room full of reminders and I want to pitch a tantrum and destroy everything. I don’t know how to escape. I’m either trapped in the space or trapped within myself, unable to turn off my brain. God, I wish I didn’t give a shit. This would be so much easier. Out of sight, out of mind. I could toss the physical reminders into a barrel and light a match. Poof, gone. But I can’t do it because…reasons. Tangible reminders make it more difficult to let go of the emotional attachment. And I’m getting tired of holding on…

I don’t know if I’ve ever been this chronically troubled in my life. The struggle is real.

Starting Over

Yesterday I visited a church. Of my own volition. I haven’t done that in four years. I haven’t wanted to. I’ve been at peace with enjoying my Sundays at home since I stopped attending church in 2011. I’ve experienced enough trauma in church over the last 30 years, I should have PTSD…but I don’t. If anything, I’m just bitter and skeptical.

But yesterday, I decided to try again. The decision to cross that threshold is much more difficult than I wish it was. I wanted to talk but I also wanted to be invisible. I hid in the corner by myself like Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club. I thought maybe if I didn’t make eye contact, I’d go unnoticed…but I didn’t. This particular community remembered me from a visit last month, when I met the lovely/kick ass artist, Frank Schaeffer. Granted, when I went to hear Frank speak, I didn’t know I was joining a small group of people holding church at the World of Beer. As I waited for my turn to talk to Frank, I conversed with a few of the church members. I met one of the “pastors” who was intrigued by my Fuck Cancer shirt and flip flops. He said he can always tell a lot about people by the shirts and shoes they wear. He said that by the way I was dressed, I wanted to be casual and not give a shit but was still a bit too afraid. Astute assessment, but this guy is also a top attorney in the area. He probably knows how to read people. In any event, I saw some potential in his little flock and decided to put my fear in the Fuck It Bucket and scope out the scene again when I was ready.

Sometimes I feel bad for declining an invitation to join a group. Yesterday, several church members asked me to move out of my corner and into the open to join the circus of conversation. Each time, I said no…preferring to stay out of sight. The collective dialogue was about the metamorphosis of church and how it’s become a cumbersome entity that hates gays and persecutes anyone who looks or behaves contrary to some arbitrary set of rules. And yet the religious assholes wonder why the church is dying.

In church, I’ve seen pastors cheat on their wives, verbally abuse members with racist/misogynist ideologies; witnessed people being accosted for having an abortion or for being gay; watched marriages dissolve from infidelity between church members (including my own); seen people falsely accused of heinous acts (including myself); and wondered what the fuck is wrong with people. So why in the hell would I ever choose to pursue this endeavor again?

I guess I keep trying because as much as I’ve had my heart broken, I’ve also managed to have it healed in the company of people who actually believe in love and act on it. The last two churches I participated in, I was nearly destroyed…but there were specific individuals who picked me up out of the ashes and spoke compassion into my bruised soul. And I’m kind of hoping that I’ll find some measure of what church is supposed to be while participating in this new community. I know there will never be a perfectly safe place because we’re imperfect people. But I’m starting over with a new awareness of who I am and what I know to be true about others. I hope this is the beginning of something great but I know I’ll be okay if it’s not.

Sound and Fury

Yesterday, I met Frank Schaeffer.

Frank. Schaeffer.

Friends, you probably don’t know the significance of this moment (give me time, I’ll elaborate). Many of you may not even recognize his name and that’s okay. In the art world, he’s…magnificent. If you like texture and color, reminiscent of VanGogh (a personal favorite), check out Frank’s work (www.frankschaefferart.com). Truly extraordinary. He’s the most famous person I’ve ever met. But more than that, he’s human. He’s just like the rest of us. Knowing of the tormented emotional and mental backgrounds of many of history’s famous artists, I wonder what motivates Frank’s brush to move across the canvas in the manner it does. Why does he choose those colors or the specific designs? What’s the meaning? What thoughts are coursing through his brain, down his arm, and out the tip of his paintbrush?

What you also may not know about Frank Schaeffer is that he’s a New York Times best-selling author for both fiction and non-fiction publications. Another element I believe many artists share…the constant need to move the thoughts from the confines of our craniums out into the universe. Whether that’s through a painting, a blog post, or a novel, etc. The words have to come out. The feelings must evacuate us, lest we become consumed by them. Perhaps my ruminations are simply projections of my own need to create, but that’s a deeper discussion for another time.

Yesterday, Frank spoke at a church I attended at The World of Beer (the only worthy church location). Church scares the shit out of me. I went because a friend of mine told me I should meet Frank because Frank was “my kind of people.” By “my kind of people,” my friend means that Frank doesn’t bullshit, likes beer, participates in deep conversations, and gives a damn about the people in his life. My friend’s assessment was accurate. The moment Frank started to speak, I was captivated. I felt like he stepped inside my brain and walked around for a while. It was the most soothing, most invigorating speech I’d heard in years.

After he concluded, the group of us migrated outdoors for beer and more conversation. I kept feeling the need to talk to Frank directly but like a good introvert, I found an excuse to avoid it. He’s talking to someone else, he’s eating, he’s busy. I’ll just sit here and read his latest book and pine for the moment when I can sit in his proximity. If you’ve never met Frank, you’re missing out. This man looks you in the eyes, holds your hand, hugs you, and talks to you like you matter. He exudes such compassionate energy.

A moment presented itself (thanks to an opening provided by my friend) and I began discussing art with Frank. I’m a painter…and for me, “art is not a thing, it is a way.” Frank and I sat together for over half an hour discussing art. He poured buckets and buckets of encouragement into my mind and soul and rendered me quite speechless. In fact, the entire drive home from the event, I could hardly concentrate on anything else.

I’ve been reading his book (“Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God“) off and on since yesterday and in it, he quotes Macbeth:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing
.”

Frank has his own reasons for including the text and it carries a specific meaning relevant to the book’s content. But when I read those lines of Shakespeare, I reflected on part of Frank’s talk (in front of 15 people at a random bar church in Arlington, Texas) yesterday. We’re sucking the creativity out of life. We’re stressing out about all the bullshit…the career, the bills, the mediocrity, and we’re losing touch with ourselves, with who we’re supposed to be. We neglect our souls, we discard our families…and for what? The sound a fury of a society who expects us to think and behave like a bunch of fucking robots.

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Life is so much more than sound and fury… Life is “giving love, creating beauty, and finding peace.”

The Vacation I Never Took

God, I’m tired. Like monumentally exhausted. I’d say my non-fatigued to fatigued daily ratio is 1:6. I’ve been distracted and stressed enough to forget important meetings, confuse my regular schedule (because it changes daily), and have panic attacks while taking out the trash. Yesterday I almost took the wrong highway to my destination. My appetite is all over the place. I don’t really want to eat anything but ice cream and even then, I’m a rather uninterested in it. Oh, cereal! Cereal has now become a central focus in my life. Thanks, Rory Gilmore.

My goal today was to finish sorting through shit for my thesis so I can start piecing it together and hopefully meet the January 1 deadline. So far, I’ve only accomplished about 1/4 of my intended goal while drinking coffee, having a conversation with a professor, nibbling on a cheeseburger, checking Facebook, listening to Pandora, and watching the latest episode of The Vampire Diaries. Did I mention I play episodes of Parenthood in the background while I type? No? I’m also supposed to Skype with a friend later. And I have to tutor other people’s kids for a few hours. And I’m waiting on important e-mails to arrive, as well as notification of when I can take my car in to have a recalled part replaced.

When did this become my life?

Bills, deadlines, bullshit, stress, worry, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, frustration, anxiety, and traffic. FUCKING TRAFFIC.

When did the joy disappear?

September 25, 2014. That’s when joy vanished. I’m pretty sure. Something really fucking awful happened on September 25th and I can’t seem to crawl out of the chasm that appeared under my feet. I’m somewhere down there, just above the scorching flames of hell, and just below that mysterious land of acid trips where unicorns and leprechauns run freely. I like to call that mysterious land, “The Vacation I Never Took.”

I have good days and bad days and today feels like the latter. I woke up with this burden hovering over my eyes like a damn rain cloud full of liquid lead. Just before I awoke, I had a nightmare related to the events of September 25th. The thing you, dear readers, should know about my nightmares is that they are chronic and very realistic. I feel pain when I dream and wake feeling sore and weary. F you, REM cycle, my nemesis. In this particular nightmare, I felt like I teleported into the mind of another person…like our dreams were being linked so we could converse and say all the things we haven’t been able to. Then I woke up and wished so much that the dream was real. Instead of feeling joy, I was overcome with sadness and disappointment; like god (or the universe or whoever) had toyed with my subconscious and gave me this nightmare to fuck with me. I’m not thankful for the dream because I know it’s not reality. My reality is still hell.

There isn’t an amount of meditation or prayer to bring me peace (or so it seems right now). There’s only staying busy and occasionally frantic, just so I remain distracted long enough to get a reprieve. I’m able to forget for a few hours a day at best; then I feel hopeful that at some point, this turmoil will abate. And then the night rolls around again, filling my mind (and body) with the truth of the chaos that’s become my life.

It wasn’t so amazeballs before September 25th, so maybe the events of that day just magnified the discrepancies in my daily conduct.

That place, The Vacation I Never Took, I should go there…maybe they have cereal.

Somewhere Here and In Between

I’ve been warring with myself for what feels like forever, or at least since 2002, when I changed my major from Pre-Med to Psychology…and then changed it another five times before graduating. I went from knowing the answer to the dreaded question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” to wandering aimlessly in the halls of several universities and graduate programs looking for the meaning of life. I envy all you people who have your shit together and know what job you want and you actually follow through. Meanwhile, I’m over here drinking endless cups of coffee and losing myself. I’m the kind of person who needs to have her ducks in a row, but in my world, every third duck is typically a fucking chicken.

Lately, I’ve been trying to accept the transition stage, the place of “almost”…the waiting room. The place that reminds me that I’m thirty years old and still in school, pursuing this ambiguous, fleeting dream that I can’t quite decipher. It’s difficult to be a dreamer and unable to immediately fulfill growing ambition. I like to implement as much as I like to plan, sometimes even more so. For me, the happiness comes in watching the goal come to fruition. I greatly anticipate that moment when I can stand back and admire the final product; but in my desire for a hasty destination, I neglect to appreciate the journey.

I have substantial issues with control…if you couldn’t tell. The hardest part of accepting this (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual) place I’m in is letting go of where I am and who I think I should be. Letting go isn’t a single decision I make now and then never have to do it again. I do it daily, hell…some days, I do it hourly because I want to be more, do more, and see more than what’s before me and the frustration is mounting. Meanwhile, I’m missing opportunities to experience joy and dismissing the positive because the present situation pales in comparison to these futuristic notions swimming in my psyche. But the struggle is futile at times because who knows where I’ll be tomorrow or the next day. In theory, I could wake up on Wednesday and decide to give no fucks about finishing graduate school, but I doubt it. I’m too invested in where I’ll be after I receive the certificate of program completion.

In choosing to let go, I have to actually let go…I can’t just say I’m moving forward and then keep turning my head back to see what’s chasing me. It only serves to slow me and make me less effective. Negative energies are nooses around my neck, fetters clinging to my ankles, begging to weigh me down. When I think negatively about my circumstances–like being a thirty year old graduate student and working numerous part-time jobs to get shit done–I lose the potential of cultivating joy in the midst of struggle. Like the fact that I’ll have gained knowledge I wouldn’t have otherwise acquired once I finally GRADUATE…and that working part-time allows me to be a better parent for my little blonde lunatic. I’m not stuck…I’m just in the waiting room. And it’s okay to not understand the purpose for the transitions in my life. It’s absolutely alright to feel the myriad of feelings I have while I’m somewhere here and in between.

Side note: I haven’t listened to this band in over a decade, but the lyrics of this song appeared magically in my brain (why my brain chose this song and not some rager by Nine Inch Nails, I’ll never understand) and I thought it was appropriate.

Somewhere In Between by Lifehouse (No judging for Lifehouse, it’s a good song, damn it.)

I can’t be losing sleep over this, no, I can’t
And now I cannot stop pacing
Give me a few hours, I’ll have this all sorted out
If my mind would just stop racing

‘Cause I cannot stand still
I can’t be this unsturdy
This cannot be happening

This is over my head but underneath my feet
‘Cause by tomorrow morning I’ll have this thing beat
And everything will be back to the way that it was
I wish that it was just that easy

‘Cause I’m waiting for tonight
Then waiting for tomorrow
And I’m somewhere in between

What is real and just a dream…
What is real and just a dream…
What is real and just a dream…

Would you catch me if I fall out of what I fell in
Don’t be surprised if I collapse down at your feet again
I don’t want to run away from this
I know that I just don’t need this

‘Cause I cannot stand still
I can’t be this unsturdy
This cannot be happening

‘Cause I’m waiting for tonight
Then waiting for tomorrow
And I’m somewhere in between

Passive Aggressive

I hate being ignored. Correction…I hate when people can spare a few minutes to ‘like’ a photo or post on Facebook or Instagram but can’t spare the same amount of time to reply to a text message or phone call. I also don’t appreciate when it takes days or weeks for people to reply. It takes what…thirty seconds to reply to a message (unless you’re me and have two uncooperative thumbs on touch screens)? How hard it is to communicate with someone in that amount of time? You could do that while taking a shit or brushing your teeth. But no…some people like to just fall off the grid. I get it. I like to crawl away in my room and disappear for an afternoon, but if I receive messages or inquiries from people, I reply. Call it common courtesy.

I’ve been dealing with shitty communicators for about a year and I don’t understand the behavior. Especially when they weren’t shitty communicators before. Did life just get that fucking busy? I’m more than willing to challenge the busy status quo. Marriage, work (involving multiple clients and commuting over 200 miles a week), grad school, parenting, and home management all occupy my time. But I still keep appointments and find a way to recharge my introvert battery. Perhaps I’m just better at time management or I’m being judgmental of others. Both are likely true, but honestly, I don’t care.

I’ve never been a confrontational person. I don’t like voicing my opinion (face to face) only to look like a petulant child who didn’t get their way. But part of growing up is learning to communicate effectively. Being able to tell a person who hurt you that they made a mistake in a nice, compassionate way. This is where I’m a shitty communicator. I don’t want to hurt people even though I’ve been hurt. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt that they’ve just had a shit storm hit their house and they can’t possibly spare thirty seconds to talk to me. Am I unreasonable in my frustration? Am I being selfish for having expectations and needs? Should I just let it go? Or do I speak up?

I found out a week ago that my therapist moved across the country and didn’t tell me. Not one fucking word to notify me that I’d never get to see her again…unless I feel like moving to another state. This isn’t the root of my irritation, but it definitely tipped me over the edge when trying to be patient with people who fail to give me important information. I’m hurt. I valued her tremendously and it makes me feel like I didn’t matter to her. And there are other people in my life who I love, who I’ve been there for, who I need…and who are just not up to par with me anymore. And it makes me sad. Are we just outgrowing each other and it’s manifesting in the increasing silence between us?

I don’t really know how to proceed, how to word myself adequately, so I’m being passive aggressive and writing about it. Maybe they’ll read it and realize I’m talking to them. But if they can’t bother with a thirty second text message reply, I doubt they’ll spare the time to read my rant. I’ve got to get better at being honest about how I feel.

I’m hurt. You hurt me. You ignored me. I don’t like it. Please stop.

Just to be with Her

I haven’t written in a while. There are many reasons why, but it boils down to being busy as hell. Honestly, I’d like to write something life-changing or poetic or remotely inspiring, but I don’t have it in me at the moment. I’m tired. I’m weary. My brain is clusterfucked with the monumental to-do lists and the triple checking and the living, breathing, enduring of every day life. Sometimes I think I have OCD but it manifests in sleepless nights, acid reflux, and irritability.

I spent half the summer with my 8 year old step-daughter. I don’t really like children, but I LOVE her. I love her more than I ever thought I could love another person beyond my husband and parents. I don’t even love my brother as much as I love this child. Blondie and I were very much in the establishing rapport phase of our relationship when she came to our home in early June; but by the end of the month, we were buddies, sleepover mates, and swimming partners. Her voice, her laugh, her soulful blue eyes, and her ridiculous tan…so many things to love and cherish about her. The shitty part is that I only get 8 weeks a year with her. Before long she’ll be too big for piggy back rides and bedtime stories. I just want to press pause on her development so that she stays this sweet little blonde tornado who loves to shower my home in Barbies and pink.

Parenting totally fucks with your selfishness…or at least it should. In one phone call last year, I went from knowing there was this tiny child 2,000 miles away to literally holding and laughing with her. She went from abstract concept to actual human in one conversation. One decision. Now, all my conversations somehow involve her, my calendar year revolves around her flights to and from our house, and my office is now her bedroom. Nothing is the same. And I could tell you that it’s the greatest decision I’ve ever made (it is…) but….parenting is difficult. Talking to and relating to her is as easy as breathing, but there’s all this extra shit that many people don’t take into account: Co-parenting with her mom, custody arrangements, court documents, and that constant worry for her safety. When will it stop???? Life was so much easier before all of this. But was it as rewarding? I have no idea. I was content before when it was just me and her dad; and now, I’m in this mental and emotional state of agitation and it just never fucking leaves me. It’s like a leach attached to my heart, sucking all of my ideas and thoughts and feelings and redirecting them from me to her. I don’t like it. Can’t I just go back? Parenting is a conscious choice every moment of every day. I’ll never be able to go back and start over without the knowledge of her existence.

In the last few months, I’ve learned that contrary to popular opinion, your children don’t have to love you back. They don’t even have to like you. Just like building any relationship, love and respect and trust are cultivated over time. I’d like to think I’ve earned all three in the months I’ve spent getting to know my step-daughter. We have a good relationship and I’m thankful. I just wish the entire situation was…easier. Not the fatigue or the other selfish bits, but the process of parenting a child when there’s 2,000 miles of distance separating us. I wish it was out of sight, out of mind but I’m not that great at compartmentalizing anymore. And Blondie needs to know that someone out there loves her, makes wishes on stars for her, and would cross oceans and planetary systems, just to be with her.