Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Mischief Managed and May Goals

Mostly I'm job search girl for at least the next few weeks, so send me all the luck you've got, dears!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Backtrack, A Cliff, and a Buffy Sing-along

After the last post, all full of accomplishment and yoga-y goodwill, I was inspired to send a sorry-I-was-a-jerk note to Scrabble Boy—I’d been thinking of him because our dalliance was an April thing and because our friendship ended, as so many of mine have, with me getting superpissed. Since the divorce, I’ve been working my way through the list of people at whom I’ve misdirected anger.

He accepted my friend request right away, as if he’d been waiting for it, and was equally apologetic and forgiving. We planned to do a call after I got back from Easter. (Hey everybody! I drove up to my sister’s and back without having a breakdown for the first time post-Sweetie! Credit to my cute little red car, I think. And time.) A funny thing happened when I hit the road though—all kinds of daydreams started to unspool about him—holding hands under the flowering trees, throwing him into my pretty princess bed and finally having my way with him, running away to join his life in Ann Arbor. (Cue Get Up Kids song…)

Though I loved the idea of reuniting with my poet self through him and seeing the last three years’ adventures through his eyes, the adventures seemed to pale in comparison with him. He was, at least in those daydreams, still the best one for me, the guy I’d choose out of all of them if I were given a chance. I hadn’t so much gotten over him as put a bookmark in that day we spent together, and as soon as we were on good terms, love started bursting out like so many tree-petals.

Easter was SUCH a good trip. I played Mario Party with the kids and earned almost no mini-stars. I took my niece and nephews to their local comic shop and bought my niece some manga and my nephew a sonic screwdriver. After we finished lovingly perusing the old-school Star Wars figures, we all went out for cocoa. It’s finally sinking in that I can still have my family, even post-Sweetie.

When I got home, I knew I couldn’t really bear to be updated about Scrabble Boy’s life. I’ve come too far to pretend that I want to be just friends with someone I love. (Annoying) gold star for being honest with him about that, and in the process I learned that he’d found someone shortly after his divorce and was happy with her. I sent him a perfect, distant, congratulatory response and that was that, but I was completely devastated by the news. I don’t know why it hurt so badly, but it did. I sometimes feel like everyone just pairs (or whatevers) up so easily and it’s still just a mystery to me.

The more I dismantle the defensiveness and fear that came from The Bad Thing, the more I realize some of that stuff was what’s holding me up, so it’s hard to hold myself together without it. I will probably find more of these pockets of feeling that got stuck because I was ill-equipped to face them at the time—my heart might be a TARDIS ride for a little while.

With that loss added to all the others and my defenses down, I felt like Wyle E. Coyote when he realizes he’s walked off a cliff. The bottom dropped out from under everything and for a few days, I was completely lost. I felt the loss not just of Scrabble Boy, but of my school, of Sweetie, of everyone I’ve lost in the past couple years’ adventures. I was so hyperventilatingly sad that I wondered if I did need a Girl Interrupted interruption, or shock treatment like Rory Gilmore got when she was on Mad Men. I thought I would never find love the way SB did because I would be tangled in this web of grief forever.

The feeling only lasted a couple of days—with yoga, sitcom episodes, and lots of writing, the devastation passed and I was able to get back on track. The main thing I learned from the Scrabble Boy thing is that hermit time is over, that reaching out has got to become the norm again. I’ve enjoyed these months of focusing on taking care of myself, but the loneliness is deep and wide and it’s time to rejoin the world.

So I did. Last night I joined some friends-of-friends for a Buffy sing-along and ice cream birthday party. (Can you believe that was a thing?!) I felt nervous because I’ve almost completely forgotten how to be social, but singing “Walk Through the Fire” with a bunch of cute near-strangers was as transcendent an experience as I’m ever gonna have, and I have been actually set on fire.

So I will. Walk through the fire, I mean. Though it seems impossible sometimes, I’ll keep moving forward until I work someplace safe and love someone(s) kind, until vulnerability and lightness and heart can thrive. Next weekend, everybody, is the Sparkly Festival of Awesomeness, not a moment too soon.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Momentous Therapy Milestone and Other Updates

It’s fitting that I’m writing this right before Easter because part of my psyche is starting a brand new life. For twenty-some years my high-school trauma has been a huge, stultifying influence, and I’ve finally begun to transform and heal away from it.

Last week was a rough one. Though I was already planning to transfer to a safer, more respectful school, the way my principal decided to officially notify me of her decision to force-transfer me was this:

Two years of giving it absolutely everything that I had, of tears and sacrifice and love and Sunday workdays, and all she thought I deserved was a form letter with seven words. I felt that familiar being-nothing feeling for a night, but as always the kids and the actual work took me through to solid ground again.

I can’t imagine why my soon-to-be-ex boss thinks I deserve so much contempt, but I decided that the way to say FUCK YOU to her without derailing my goals is to do as many kind and loving things for myself as I possibly can. So on Friday night, I went to a Yoga Nidra/Kirtan event at the yoga studio I was enjoying last summer. The Yoga Nidra part was an all-savasana guided meditation geared toward body awareness. It was an entire hour long. The lovely yoga teacher said a lot of things, but my favorite part was when she was focusing us on our chakras. When she said “heart chakra, green” I felt it and saw it and I’ve felt it and seen it on and off all week.

I spent Saturday in a fancy garden, further unwinding from the school week. As I walked among the topiaries and fields of tiny blue flowers, as clear directive came up inside me: “Let things change.”

Therapy was on Sunday, right after church. Each week, I’ve been telling her the Bad Thing story and each time my anxiety levels have lessened, like magic. This week, she had me focus on just the part where the rapist is inside me, the part that’s always been the most difficult to articulate.

I started off with the usual anger and fear but as I talked, something changed. I want from harsh, stubborn emotions to pillowy sadness. Behind my closed eyes, everything inside me went a lovely, soft spring green. I cried relievingly and gently for the fact that I hadn’t been kept safe, for the deeper abandonment that led to me being at that party instead of in a safe, loving home, for the fact that both he and I had to go through something so inhumane, so disconnected from our divine selves. I tried to address him but as I did, he just…evanesced, floated up off me as foggy green light and was gone.

I opened my eyes and blew out the candle, full of kind sadness and relief. I got there. After twenty years of holding on, all of the kindness and support and adventure and work had finally allowed me to let it go. The badness and horror I always thought was an essential part of me was moved to something outside me, something else.

The Bad Story was all about integrating with my inner teenage self, and I went on talking after story time, I landed on the next character who needs attention and care: little me. For the next part of therapy, I’ll find ways to connect with and heal the child in me, who is still stuck in fear and abuse. I get to care for her and get her all situated, and now I know I can do it.

To that end, on the way to my family’s today, I’ll stop and take a walk at my rural childhood home. I’ll look at the flowers and birds and hear the quiet. I’ll go to the small town where we did church and groceries and go to the drugstore where my brother and sister and I used to get our allotted 25 cents worth of penny candy every week after church, and I’ll get Little Me whatever she wants, probably something sparkly.

The best update of all is: last night I had a little gig! The Cute Church couple had me read some poems at their adorable music night, and Cute Church Guy backed me up on stand-up bass. Friends came and listened, and I even sold a couple of books.

I started with a poem that has a singing epigraph:

“There is more love somewhere.
There is more love somewhere.
I’m gonna keep on
‘til I find it.
There is more love somewhere.”

Hearing my whole voice telling me the truth, in a gorgeous historic room with my adorable friends, I started to believe it. I am not the nasty things that happened to me. I’m love all the way through, and the more I can admit that, the happier I’ll be. This feels like the end of a story and I’m so, so grateful for everything that got me here, especially, dear reader, you.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Yay, Still Spankable!

It's fantastic to know I'm (sometimes) past the part where I'm scared of sex and ready to both whale on somebody and get whaled on. I'm not supersure in the long term about the FWB-ness of my relationship with Mr. Sweetface (I'm kinda in a place where I want to graduate to romance. And, um, my own stuff.) but I am grateful for the kind, tingly way he ushered me back into the world of sexytimes last night.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Big Therapy Project, Week Seven: Let’s Be Hospitable to Anger

Last weekend was tough. After telling the story twice this time to the therapist, I was so immobile as to temporarily be unable to move my hand across the page. I was scared, jangled, and raw, and I got thoroughly convinced that she would never be back again, that she would abandon me and I’d be stuck in that surly, raw state forever. Of course she didn’t; by the end of the weekend I had two appointments, but the feeling that she was gone was no less real.

So guess what triggers me now: meditation. Are you kidding me with this? Sunday morning, I went with Gold Star Winggirl to try out the mindfulness group at church. I sat for a full twenty minutes (usually I average about five) and it was lovely—there was an emphatic robin trilling outside and rain on the window panes.

But then the fucking people started to talk. They talked about not being disciplined enough in their mindfulness, which strikes me as not just a first world problem, but a made up one at that—really?! Not enough of our lives are controlled, we have to make up ways to police our thoughts, too?

Then the woman to the right of me (I was secretly thinking of her as the Ignorant White Lady, since the week before we overheard her tell the anti-mass-incarceration speaker that she’d never heard of such a problem.) said that mindfulness helps her because sometimes she has feelings that she mistakes for anger when they’re really just vulnerability or pain. Others talked about mindfulness as a way to slow down their knee-jerk reactions. All of those things are reasonable to say, but they filled me with fury. I piped up (nicely) in favor of feeling all of our emotions and heeding our knee-jerk reactions sometimes.

Nothing bad happened at all, but after I piped up I felt like I’d gotten in trouble for something. I was terribly frightened, angry and nauseous. Maybe it was just that we were in a circle taking turns talking just like when we were being questioned by the police in the end of the Bad Thing story, or maybe it’s just what mindfulness brought. By the time we were taking a short second meditation, I was fully upset and wanted to run out, but stayed put so I didn’t disturb anyone’s peace.

I apologized to GSW for “letting her down.” That’s how it feels when I can’t adjust to things, when I can’t fit in. A lot of the time lately, I feel like I’m failing at some basic and easy human thing. I envy her her ability to mingle in groups, to take them or leave them instead of always feeling under attack. This fear of groups is something I’ve always had, but it’s getting worse and worse as the Bad Thing fights to leave my system.

In a touching and odd demonstration of friendship, GSW snuck her church coffee cup into her purse—I’ve never seen petty theft act as a gesture of solidarity before, but it worked. We skipped the regular church service in favor of catching up in a cafĂ©, but I never did shake the feeling of having failed her, of being disconnected, and I “knew” she’d be gone like all the other friends.

Though I didn’t speak angrily in the meditation group, I felt saturated and poisoned by anger there, and strangely this is probably a good thing. Each time I tell the Bad Thing story and get to the rape part, I can’t address the anger I feel, it’s too vast. Perversely, I try to tell it as nicely and charmingly as possible so I don’t scare the therapist or get in trouble. I guess I’m glad the anger is coming out, even if it is in vexing circumstances.

Even if I do weirdly try to be sweet when I tell it, it is the nastiest and deepest anger. The closest I’ve come to actually expressing it was during the Scary Party fiasco, and though at that time I felt like I would drown in it, I was still coming at the real issue sideways. I want to look directly at the anger: I’m pissed off two decades later that someone was inside me unwanted, that I was too robotlike to fight and kick, that I was used in such a senseless and pleasureless way, and especially that the experience stayed there in my hoo-ha, a minefield waiting there for any man kind enough to fuck me. That someone so vile and thoughtless could inhabit part of my body for so long makes me frustrated and livid. I’m angry that I may never have a real relationship with a man, that PIV sex may never feel safe and normal, that I never found a way to get the experience out of my body before now.

I think I’d like to make friends with the anger that I was so move to defend in mindfulness class. Instead of being scared and ashamed and letting it make me feel like a monster, I want to embrace it. I’m angry. I’ve always been angry. It’s one of the emotions that humans have and it happens to be one that often motivates real change. Anger deserves just as much care and love and therapy hours as sadness does, maybe in this case, more.

All those years ago and since, I was so overwhelmed and terrified and ashamed by the anger that the Bad Story brought that the only way I thought I could protect myself and others from it was to turn it inwards, where it lived as self-hate and sadness. But, as we’ve seen from all of my various reenactments, it’s only making me angrier that way. If I can welcome it, make it safe, and draw it out, maybe the anger will release me and make way for other emotions, for the next adventures.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Best Calendar Item

Just wanted to celebrate the fact that Mr. Sweetface is coming over Saturday for Mad Men and snuggles. Maybe even spanks, if I'm up to it. Could use a nice release, if my dear psyche will cooperate. Either way, warmth and man-smell, mmmmmm.

March Checkmarks, April Goals: Good Job!

Even though the month often seemed impossibly dark, (Fancy new side-effect to the Big Therapy Project/work stress? Memory lapses that make me feel like my work's own Jerry Gurgitch.) I still overachieved on self-kindness. I hope to do the same next month!