confessions from a pillow fort

confession: in college i had a dance professor who told me the most healing thing she’d learned to do in her fifty years on the planet was to wrap herself in a pink blanket and cry when she needed to cry, to let the pink blanket hold her in a way her mother and ex-husband never did. i’ve bought many pink blankets in my adulthood for myself and others. i donated my pink blankets before i moved last year. i wanted to leave their tear-soaked healing in the place where i cried the tears. but today i’m here again, in this place i’ve cried the most tears, without a pink blanket. i put on pink socks, pink panties, a pink shirt and made a pillow fort that i’m not leaving all day.

confession: his birthday is today. he is eight years old today. but i haven’t seen him since he was three.

confession: i can do anything i want. the choices are too many. i remain in the pillow fort and read a book.

confession: you can do anything you want. i hear the excuses you make for why not. i’m calling bullshit.

confession: in my limitless available choices, it is easier for me to notice what i don’t choose than what i’m choosing because i’m choosing not to _____, ______, and ______. i choose to continue not doing rather than doing.

confession: given that my singular goal is enlightenment, i was stupefied to realize that i waited until last week to revisit my practice of humility. my last round of practice with humility was a couple years ago, but i didn’t understand the essence of humility since i tried using humility as a weapon to beat down insecurity and arrogance. humility doesn’t battle ego. humility partners with self-worth and lightly follows the unknowing into a creative spiraling chaos, holding hands as equals.

confession: she listens. i talk fast and repeat myself, trying to get all the words out before i censor any. after listening, she talks more slowly without repeating. i wish i could talk without repeating but i synthesize through repetition. i’m grateful for her patient listening.

confession: i got what i asked for. having received it, i’m not sure i want it. i left my hometown because i had become too comfortable in that environment. living 1,700 miles from home is more uncomfortable than i imagined possible.

 

 

 

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confessions of the wrong tattoo

confession: i’ve spent three years searching for the artist to ink my next tattoo. i’ve found her in philadelphia, the right artist but the wrong tattoo. i know before she’s designed my idea that it will be the wrong tattoo, inked in black instead of color, but i’ve committed to getting the wrong tattoo because i admire her style and i haven’t fucked up in a while and i learn more from fucking up than getting it right, so i’ll get the wrong tattoo from the right artist and see what i learn next. tattoos are permanent only if one is unwilling to have the inked skin burned off, which hurts more than tattooing, but i’m not afraid of pain or lasers burning my flesh and my desire to learn is ignited. i trust my mistakes, as lessons, to transform into exactly what i’m meant to understand, have, be, and do.

confession: nine days ago my youngest cousin among the ones that are double-family (blood-related and chosen) picked me up from the airport and took me directly to the liquor store for whiskey and then shopping because in my pms hormonal state, i hated all my clothes and half of everything that passed through my field of vision. he was exceedingly patient with me all weekend, looking out for what i needed most (an arm to lean on while walking in stupidly tall high heels, a flask in the parking lot before church, two cups of tea after church to rehydrate before more drinking transpired during easter dinner). i’m sure i thanked him, but not enough. i can never thank him enough for his intuitive caretaking of me, honoring my vulnerability and raw heart, bridging the gaps i can’t cross by myself when my awkwardness prevents me from connecting in the ways i long to.

confession: reading about found poems, my understanding incomplete, i write a poem about misunderstandings sourced in my experience without borrowing words from outside sources, which exemplifies a pattern in my life–doing it my way, incorrectly, alone, never lonely but restless and incomplete.

confession: monday morning scrolling through social media and liking all the pictures i’d missed in my three-day hiatus because i holed up inside myself, my apartment, my work, without making room for other people’s joy, saving up my relish of their joy for monday morning to boost my motivation to finish what i’ve started because i’m heading back south later this week.

confession: he called it a visit. i perceive it as one-third of my life that i live there.

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booby traps

i’m booby-trapped on the inside. there are triggers and springs and gaps and holes with camouflaged covering and nets waiting to snag me. environmental factors, calendar dates, thoughts, memories,  feelings, or physical sensations can set off any of the traps at any time and i spend days cutting myself from, digging out, or untangling what’s got me wrapped. during days i’m trapped i listen to stories spin inside my mind waiting to reveal a secret or skill or map to find my way out.

yesterday i learned of a summer music festival taking place during a weekend i’ve reserved to spend with someone significant. my first thoughts were to figure logistics so that we could attend the music festival together. my next thoughts tumbled into a story that this person wouldn’t want to go, this person wouldn’t like the music, attending the festival with this person might diminish my enjoyment of the event.  resentment surfaced toward this person, setting off a booby trap. these resentments spun stories i’d never thought or heard inside my mind before. the stories accompanying the resentment escalated from “i resent deferring my musical tastes to theirs when we’re together” to “i’m not my best self with that person” to “i don’t want to spend time with that person anymore.” this escalation transpired rapidly without substance to confirm truth or validity. these resentment stories unfolded without communicating with the person to inquire if this person would want to go to the festival. i hadn’t yet paused between my enthusiastic discovery of this annual festival and subsequent dip into resentment stories if i want to attend the festival this summer or if i’d rather wait and attend a different year. the resentment stories prevented me from seeking other alternative festivals with similar line-ups on more convenient dates, during a weekend that hasn’t already been held in reserve to spend with someone else. booby traps, y’all. don’t believe the stories you tell yourself. most stories are fiction, lies, habits, or old news.

alternate story of the same scenario that has taken me 24 hours to construct and replace the instant resentment story:
i’m digging the line-up for that festival. because that festival coincides with dates reserved to spend with another, i’ll ask and see if they would like to go. if it isn’t their groove, i can investigate other festivals on subsequent dates for a similar line-up this summer.

i wish the alternate story had sung out in the first round, but it didn’t. booby traps are tricky. my lesson for the week is to be on the lookout for booby trapped thoughts, feelings, and stories that prevent me from living deep into my truth and peace. odds are that you have some booby traps hiding inside some of your stories, too.

 

 

 

 

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confessions of kinder with irritable undertones

confession: i’m trying to be kinder which requires more effort than i feel i can muster in certain moments which is why and when i have to exert more effort and mindfulness. trying to be kinder this morning meant deleting the text message i was typing and letting the phone call go to voicemail so that i didn’t express my annoyance. i waited until my irritation abated before communicating. i can’t tell if he’s annoying, i’m irritable, or both…and the reason or combination doesn’t matter when the intended outcome i seek to deliver is more kindness.

confession: two days after last week’s blog posting (three days after i wrote the unsent letter) the ex-wife texted to tell me she had been dreaming about me several nights in a row, some strange dreams, some laugh out loud funny dreams, and in all i was beautiful. i texted back that i had written and not sent a sweet-sad letter to her, that i’ve been feeling sweet-sad about most things for several months. she texted back that she understood, that as always we were having parallel experiences. i can’t decide if it is comforting or disheartening that she and i continue to be connected and understand one another after many years apart and that i’m the only one keeping us apart.

confession: i could have spoken up for myself and what i believe and what i know has been repeatedly scientifically studied but i didn’t. he was certain that he was “right” therefore i didn’t waste breath or spoil the mood by disagreeing with him. it seemed like the best choice in the moment. i regretted it the next day. ironic for me but unknowing for him, i changed the subject to “authenticity” and then listened to him debate its meaninglessness as a construct. by listening i sought to understand his perspective while continuing to keep my thoughts and opinions to myself. he doesn’t notice my quietness. like authenticity, my silence on a subject is a meaningless construct in his world.

confession: if airplane tickets were less expensive to change, i would change mine half the time. instead, i keep the original dates and shrink or expand whatever i want most to complete or avoid within the ticketed window.

confession: she knew she was safe telling me the uncensored details because she knows i live those same details everyday.

confession: we confirmed that i had bad taste during our shopping date and still managed to find a sexy dress that snugged up my curves for $10 that day.

confession: i knew i was paying too much, that i could get them on the internet for half the price, but i wanted those pills right then. i bought them but didn’t take them yet. the day is young and the week is only beginning.

confession: the world is big. i want to explore most of it (there are some ugly parts i’d rather skip). i attempt to do, think, or experience something new each day. today’s new thing is ahead of me, waiting to surprise me. tomorrow’s new thing is going fishing with a new friend and an old friend who is willing to bait my hook.

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a letter unsent

i have a 24 hour rule for thick-feeling correspondence. i wait 24 hours between writing and sending to see if feelings have shifted by the act of writing. i wait to see if what i’ve written will benefit the reader, wait to see if the content requires editing for clearer and kinder communication, wait to see if i should keep my words to myself. sometimes i send the correspondence to a different loved one than the one it was originally addressed. the following is a letter i wrote to my ex-wife yesterday that i won’t send to her but i’m posting here in honor of all the letters (mine and yours) written and never sent.
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hi hon.
how many years has it been? (as if i haven’t counted each excruciating day; it has been five years, five months, and 26 days.) i know it’s me, not you. you’d see me if i would. you didn’t leave, i did. i drove by your house one night a few years ago. middle of the night late. lights off inside the house. a different car in the driveway. i didn’t stop, park, stalk, just drove past and then deeper and farther into the night. that’s how it’s been for me since i left you, deeper and farther into the darkness.

yes, there have been others: flings, friendships, and relationships with corresponding excitement, passion, and intimacy. hopefully, you’ve had them, too. but none resemble us or ours.

i’ve considered my options. i’m still alive. i wasn’t sure i would survive. some days i’m still not sure but i’ve learned to hang on and wait for another day. i don’t usually have to wait more than 47 days in a row before a better feeling arrives.

i moved from austin but i’m back every month. last time i landed in our hometown i realized that if i met you for the first time now, i wouldn’t fall in love with you. if i met you now, i’d recognize things i’d misperceived before. if we met now, we’re changed. you wouldn’t fall in love with me, either. i’m softer and harder, more vulnerable and more protected. i’m split wide open and closed down at the same time. my eyes are brighter and sadder. how are your eyes? i couldn’t see them in the photo you sent a couple months ago, hidden behind sunglasses.

i still write letters to you, different than this one. i write to you the way i wrote to you when i was traveling the world. i write my everyday passing thoughts, feelings, and experiences to you the way i wrote them when i believed all our life adventures would be shared.

i wonder if the empty space inside me that ripped open when i left you will ever fill again. i doubt it. the hole stretches wider over time. time doesn’t heal everything. time doesn’t heal arthritis or alzheimer’s or cancer. time worsens some things.

i wish i could tell you i’m happy. i hope that you’re happy. i know you pretend to be. when i was with you, i pretended, too. i don’t pretend anymore. i quit spending time with people who asked me to pretend, people who couldn’t breathe what is, what comes, what sits beneath.

i miss you. i don’t know who you are now, who you’ve become, who you’ve grown into. i miss knowing.

i love you always.

 

 

 

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three seasons in review

in the months before i moved to philadelphia i was certain that great new friends awaited me. i felt excited to meet them, knowing they might show up anywhere at any moment. when i arrived in philadelphia with all of my clothes and boots and books from austin and my collection of rustic mexican artwork, very few of these pieces made sense in philadelphia. i left most everything in boxes for the first three months. i got into bed and rarely got out during those months. i allowed myself to succumb to a depression that i’d been holding back for a year or longer. i let myself fall into the dark pit inside me. people closest to me knew about my depression because i had no energy to hide my sadness. my self-mocking revelation for that season was “depression is so sad.”

my father took the entire summer to die, mostly unconscious in a hospital bed. i waited with him in limbo, him in his hospital bed in austin, me in my king size bed in philadelphia. i waited for anticipated relief at his release from this earth. when he finally expired, i felt nothing. no relief, no sadness, no loss or gain. my depression remained stagnant. not worse. not better. nothingness replaced sadness.

i felt nothing for two months. i wished the nothingness resembled shock or any other stage of grief, but i wasn’t grieving.

last fall in a shifting conversation with the poetess, she helped me reframe my depression as an integration of nihilism. since adolescence i’ve understood that my pain and suffering and surviving are inherently meaningless but i had been able to keep the meaninglessness contained in an intellectual partition devoid of emotional response. at this point in life, i am despairing of the meaninglessness. this integration of nihilism is nothing new, not for me or for anyone who has traversed through this world. my singular goal of enlightenment is my focused attempt to transcend the meaninglessness or at least to suffer less from it.

i spent half the winter in austin, half in philadelphia. there was no winter in austin. patches of bluebonnets and redbud trees bloomed on the first of february. the trees continue to look like skeletons in philadelphia. blackened hills of snow are clumped along the streets.

i’ve made only one friend in philadelphia that i’ve mostly neglected this fall and winter that has become spring.

but something significant has transpired.

in the past few months i’ve deepened my friendships with my dearest ones in austin, people i’ve loved for years and never spent enough time with when i lived there full-time. philadelphia has delivered the great friendships i hoped for, but differently than expected. the newness of my friendships has emerged from a deepening commitment to my loved ones in austin. these friendships have grown stronger with cherishing recognition and devoted nurturing of their infinite value.

 

 

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keep going

just keep going.

i’m only at the beginning. (aren’t we always at the beginning? if we’re practicing beginner’s mind, we’re always at the beginning.) this month i want to quit every day. every day i tell myself to keep going.

it’d be easier to quit. it’d be easier to do what we’ve always done but doing the same things we’ve always done won’t take us anywhere new.

just keep going.

i know you’re tired. you’ve been tired more than rested for most of your life. keep going anyway. go slowly. pause for a nap. then get up and keep going.

keep going back to the places that hurt, not to punish yourself, but to heal yourself. let yourself feel the hurt rather than run from it, cover it up, ignore it, avoid it. keep going back to touch the pain with more softness, with more lightness, with more kindness.

seek out places you’ve never been before to explore new ways and directions to grow. you have more options than you’ve imagined. begin investigating more options. bring more options into your awareness.

stay home if you prefer. take out the trash. scrub the tub. sweep the floor. put laundry away. clear your mind. clean your heart. forgive something or someone.

keep going.

take a class. go online if you don’t want to get dressed and go out the front door. learn something new. download free language lessons and learn five new words. begin with five new words. then keep going.

dance. run. do push-ups or jumping jacks or jump rope. anything to get your body moving. move your body. stretch. breathe.

go outside. smell the air. feel the heat or the cold, depending on the day. breathe. study the colors. notice tiny changes each day.

keep going.

yes, you can take a nap now. when you wake up, keep going.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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