Let go my ego

I read this article recently that really stuck with me over the course of the last few days. It said something along the lines of “I really thought we’d had a connection because we talked everyday but then I began to realize that we didn’t because we never got into the deeper subjects that mattered”. I’ve looked at a lot of my relationships lately with that thought in mind lately.

I just got off the phone with my mom and I’ve gotta say, we don’t have that problem. I sometimes feel like I talk too much about my own stuff and because she’s my mom, she’s always willing to listen. I think I will constantly be reminding myself to listen more, talk less. But at the same time, we talk about everything. From trivial to tumultuous, we go there. I appreciate that about our friendship now.

I don’t know what it is about my college but for some reason, I’ve noticed more and more lately that a lot of people don’t engage in anything. Like the taste of blase is so tempting, they’re unwilling to try something new. My mom just said “I never noticed until I got here, how many people in life really just like to skate by, waiting for other people to do their work for them”. She went on to say that in her groups where this is happening, she finds out the real life lesson is usually something entirely unrelated to the group material. Once, it was about a bully in the room and learning how to (metaphorically) disarm her. I find that to be the case for myself more often than not.

I’m taking an art education class this semester and the first two weeks for me were SO frustrating. I feel like I’m sitting in a room of kindergarteners. I mean, I have had years of study in art (before this college, it was at my community college). In total, I’ve studied art — and I mean really studied art — for almost 6 years. I found out during a small group exercise last week that one of the girls in my group had only taken one other art class before and that the words coming out of my mouth sounded like an entirely different language. The thing is, I needed to hear that. I think my lesson this semester is in temperance and humility. Fine, I’ll take it. I have already decided I will make office hours with my teacher to explain to her why I’ll be a lot quieter in the weeks ahead. I hope she’ll agree with me when I level with her. I don’t want to intimidate or come across as a know it all. But I can see it in her eyes when she looks pointedly at me, she’s desperate for engagement and she doesn’t care 9 times out of 10 when I’m monopolizing the discussion. 

My problem is that I fear I will never be challenged intellectually at my current school. I’ve been here a year and so far, I’ve had two classes that I found remotely interesting. It’s really unfortunate and it is pretty soul crushing for something who finds knowledge to be akin to a fountain of ecstasy. When I was at community college, my brain was constantly exploding with new concepts and essays and wow, I never realized I was so spoiled. I fear I will never feel that way again for as long as I’m here.

My vent is this: HOW DID YOU GET SO FAR IN LIFE WITHOUT A BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF ECONOMICS, POLITICS, CULTURE, ETC?! Were we not required to take the same general education classes?! HOW have you NOT absorbed ANYTHING!? I just don’t understand how it’s even possible. My mind does not compute. No wonder facebook has destroyed our minds. These “peers” of mine just regurgitate and all I want to do is fall asleep listening to it. WAKE UP PEOPLE USE YOUR DAMN BRAIN.

Complacency and apathy are my biggest enemies. Ironically, when I use the word enemy, I don’t even feel angry about it. I almost wanted to say “disinterests” or “turn offs”, like my mind couldn’t even muster up the right emotions to feel.

I just don’t understand it and in many ways, I wish I knew how to blend in more. Flowers for Algernon sits heavily in my heart. I wish I understood how to conform and stop caring like everybody else. Is it so wrong to want to actually learn something? I understand that I will forever be looking at my classes from the lens of theoretical “life lessons” to take home at the end of the semester but really… I just want to learn something academic for a change. I want to be challenged. I wish I’d gone to a different school. I want something better.

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What I should’ve done first

It’s hard for me to be specific about this post. But let’s just say, I met someone when I was with my ex. I told him I was unavailable (and it killed me to do it considering he is clearly the better man) once things got more serious between me and my ex boyfriend and for the most part, he respected that. Since I’m recently single, circumstances are different. I am a lot of things but I am NOT a cheater. I think cheaters are fucking cowards who can’t get their shit straight, operating purely on fear and lack of character. 

I think the question I forgot to ask myself lately was “does he deserve me”? You know I’ve been putting so much stock into his merits/feelings and I think I neglected to appreciate my own for a second. Let me just be clear, I am awesome. A lot of people say they’re “rare breeds” but really, I mean it when I say I am a rare person. In addition to that, I have many desirable qualities and abilities and I know that I am like a fire that can’t be put out, I always burn hot. I mean that as a metaphor for success, not one for temper (although sometimes that also burns hot). I am kind, compassionate, creative, patient, loving, forgiving, etc. Seriously, the list of my positive qualities runs long. But there’s more to it than that because everything I do, I do with my entire being. I mean there are definitely exceptions like when it comes to my Children’s Art course I’m in right now where I’m just plain bored. In the area of relationships, I’m a badass partner. I have my faults sure but I am worth it.

I have dreams of a career, I have dreams of a life. I never want to feel like I will look back one day and think “should I have done more?”. I excel. A lot of my friends used to pick on me for staying in California… but seriously how could I leave my sister to do it all alone? I am loyal to a fault. When it comes to blood, I will never ever leave her behind. I say that with gritted teeth and a crap ton of conviction (pun intended).

What I feel right now is a lot of mixed emotions. I talked to my psychic about my feelings and what I’m meant to learn at this point and she said maybe it was about working through my fear. I agree with her. I needed to work past my fear of abandonment so that I could finally focus on my self worth. Who I am now, who I want to be, and how I need to act in order to make those things happen. When I met him, my world opened up. It was like this hallway I’ve never seen before suddenly lit up and there were endless doors I could pick from. Of course, my brain immediately tried to run down the hallway. I really need to stop doing that. My last relationship taught me a lot but mostly, it taught me caution. It was only during the break up that I saw how my ex actually saw me in the world, in relation to himself. After a year of undying patience and commitment, it was just shocking to hear the words out of his mouth. To see his perspective was just… I will never forget it. I mean, I always knew he was clueless but that? That was beyond offense.

But I also forgive myself for it and I know that I really did do everything I could to make it work. I showed him so many interpersonal skills. He took a crash course in dating and I don’t really know who else in the world would have had the patience required to teach him that stuff. I burned out after a year of it when most people would’ve left after the first week. I turned a fuckboy into a relationship person. Where he was once a 4 year old, he is now entering puberty. Lucky for him, he’s a man so he can take his sweet time growing up.

I think it’s not just because I’m a woman that I constantly revert to thinking “everything is my fault”. I think it’s still the stupid guilt and weird childhood stuff from my mom that brings me to that place. So when I took stock of my life recently, and the people in it that brought me to this headspace, it took me much longer than it should have to recognize I am worth more than the treatment I am currently receiving. I don’t know what to do about it either, because there’s really nothing I can do except wait or leave and I really don’t want to give up. 

I’ve played the waiting game for the last 13 years and one thing I have learned over the course of that time is that they always come back. I still get texts years later from people who want to start things up with me because they weren’t ready the first time around. It’s always sort of satisfying to see this happen time and time again.

The annoying part is, I didn’t start this. He was the one jumping in with both feet, unafraid of the dark water. I was direct and honest always. I was fun and flirty and I asked for nothing and he gave me endless time and effort. Finally, I turn around and I think I’m sort of ready to start something and he walks away. Maybe for reasons I will never discover but knowing my luck, I hope that isn’t the case.

Stage 1?

I’m about to break up with my boyfriend. I haven’t been able to for the last week or so because again, that delicacy issue has me stuck. He actually threatened to kill himself when I tried to last week. I have so little patience for his shenanigans and yet I’ve been forced to keep boosting his mood. He got sick all of a sudden and I’m trying to wait it out a few days before I drop the bomb. It’s insane to me that a grown man has to be treated like this. Every time I text him back, I’m biting back the attitude I want to throw: apathy and resentment.

I don’t care how your day is.

I don’t care how you’re doing.

I don’t care if you’re feeling flirty.

I don’t care.

I really don’t care.

I care if you are well and if you take care of your health. Regardless, I want to treat you with kindness and compassion. I will treat you how I would like to be treated. I make jokes to myself about the personal prisons I find myself in. This relationship, while constructive, has been one of those circumstances at least for the last week.

Delicacy keeping me down

I haven’t had much to say lately. I’ve had a long semester.

It’s winter break now and the holidays are my least favorite time of the year. I hate the buzz of them and all the traditions I’m expected to adhere to. Because I didn’t grow up in one house but several houses, I’ve been adopted by more and more families as the years go by which roughly translates to an insane amount of gatherings and expectations. You probably thought you hated just seeing your own extended family? Buying gifts for only one set of strangers?

Try half a dozen different groups of people. Ever since my grandma passed and my family moved into her house, that part of the family has sort of floated between different locations. One year we’re on one part of town, the next, a two hour drive. It’s all very complicated. This year I went to four full thanksgiving meals. Not drive bys, but full sit-down dinners. It lasted several days. This Christmas will just be three gatherings and a couple drive bys to drop off gifts. As I’ve gotten older, more people reach out because they’re also getting older and subsequently more sentimental. One year, I’d really like to do a friendsgiving. I doubt that’ll ever happen.

This year, I discovered that my significant other is weak. I knew he was when we started dating, but this… this is different. I hate delicate partners. I may become anxious quite a bit, debate running for the hills now and again, but I never let fear control me (the only exception being heights, which I plan to work on via rockclimbing). This year, I saw the most unattractive quality expressed in my significant other and I felt a crack form in between us. I can’t unsee it, I can’t unlearn it, and I definitely can’t dismiss it.

I’m still stuck. He’s a wonderful person and I enjoy his company and for now, he’s sort of the right person for me. Being a full time student means I don’t have much free time so the fact that he’s a hermit is ideal for my needs. But I know that it’s reaching an ending point and after tonight…seeing that… I don’t know if my mind will let me “let it go” and I wish this wasn’t the case really. I like this relationship. It’s fun and light and comfortable. Expectations are low, moods are usually high and I blow off steam in productive, mindless ways as opposed to the more reckless ones the other half of me prefers. It’s a safe place. I cannot believe that I’m trying to convince myself of the need to compartmentalize and cut the guy some slack just so I can maintain this relationship for as long as possible. I know there’s still something here and to end it now would be the wrong decision. But I’m also concerned because I don’t know how long I can really hold out now that I know how deep his weakness runs. Physically, he’s really strong. Like really strong. But emotionally? Not in the slightest. I just don’t know what the answer is here.

Usually when I notice little things, I overlook them that’s fine. A little snobby? A little insensitive? Whatever. Useless to waste brain power thinking about. This though? This boils down to a fundamental personality difference and those are much harder to overlook. I fear whenever I look at him now, I will have this stupid image of the weakness burned in my mind. The antithesis of rose colored glasses. Our anniversary is next week. I’m not sure what to do.

The even shittier part is that in my mind, I’ve got the timeline in my head all worked out for an “appropriate ending”. Like I can’t end things on our anniversary, that’s just fucking awful. But I can’t do it right before school either. Maybe I can wait it out until summer. I’m really not sure. I have never before dealt with a man so delicate. He has done nothing to wrong me and I can’t hurt him. This fucking sucks.

Welcome back, it’s been a while

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Abandonment issues are really weird. You know, it’s been around twelve years now (I think, but math has never been my strong suit) and I still feel the ghost of them. Sometimes, it colors my interactions with friends, tells me to build boundaries and shelter myself from lifelong friendships. Sometimes, it takes a really long time to even become aware of their effects before I find the strength in myself to start making changes. That’s the biggest reason why I find myself attracted to art. That’s the one time where I am most comfortable being completely vulnerable about my perspective on the world. Mostly because my history informs my present, my work ends up being something about my mother. Hurrah.

When it comes to romantic relationships, I don’t know why I still find myself surprised when they show up like a hated ex who likes to ruin all the newfound good stuff I’ve started to build up.

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It was a normal day, nothing different from any other. Except that I’ve sort of become comfortable hearing from my boyfriend either via text, snapchat, etc, on a daily basis. Even if that’s just an “I’m just saying hi xx” and that’s it for the day. Maybe it’s just a silly picture of him doing something in his room. But regardless, that happens everyday now. Call me spoiled, but I think I expect that. And then he didn’t contact me at all and I started thinking to myself, ‘he’s leaving me now’ and I couldn’t shake this feeling like he was seeing other people and I wasn’t good enough anymore and throughout my whole paranoid breakdown, I knew that’s just what it was: a silly reflection of my deep seated abandonment issues. It had absolutely nothing to do with him and yet it totally paralyzed me for a few hours, maybe even a day. It doesn’t help that my exes have been totally fucked up people (another reflection of my mommy issues). I just thank god that I don’t have to deal with both mommy and daddy issues. That would make for a really torrid milkshake of psychological bullshit.

So there I am today, in the shower with him and he’s soaping my back and I started crying. He never knew I was crying and I didn’t turn around just to show him I was crying but just the simple act of touching me sweetly, broke me. I drove home and cried again because my heart was just a total mess. He’s actually perfect for me at this point in my life and I will not do what I usually do: lose interest to avoid being hurt and abandoned. Because that’s what I always do at around a year of dating someone. I find out I either rushed into a terrible relationship or slowly retreat into myself so that I don’t have to deal.

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I’m just going to keep myself aware of my own bullshit as much as possible and hope for the best. He’s definitely got his own list of skeletons he’s working through and it’s kind of incredible because we’re both bringing out better versions of one another and I think that’s really healthy and great. Everyday, I feel like the luckiest girl alive. When I leave him, I feel starved for his presence even after like nine month of dating which is a feeling I hope never leaves. I’ve done it right this time (with his help one hundred percent). I haven’t jumped into bed with a stranger. I haven’t chosen to ignore some major personality flaw. We’ve done all the steps, the ones that make a really strong foundation for a good relationship and I’m ridiculously proud of that.

And yet, here come the stupid abandonment issues to haunt me. They make me hesitate when I feel like reaching out, they make me overthink things I know shouldn’t be weird. The minute I’ve been single for a while, I seem to be more aware of myself and my actions and I really feel like I’m doing everything right. The longer I’m with someone, the easier the doubt steals in. The only thing that makes sense right now is graduating, being a good sister in my sorority, and taking advantage of every damn resource I’m paying for in college. All good things, I know. Thank god for writing, right?

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Home.

It’s taken me a year but I think I’m finally understanding why I stayed in my sorority. Like most things, the benefits of a decision don’t usually reveal themselves until the end. Since I’m at the halfway point – I go alum in Spring- I’ve been weirdly sentimental lately. All this talk at recruitment practice has reminded me of the way I felt before I joined. It reminded me of all the reasons I was seeking strong female bonds.

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People will say that it’s all fake and that we’re paying for friendships. On some level, there’s truth to that. But I guess it’s kind of like being in college and then paying to go to an all girl’s school at the same time. There are events, sports, uniforms, rules, bitchy people, drama. But there’s also a deep understanding that everyone is there for the same reason: to be a part of something. Even if that something doesn’t really mean that much in the grand scheme of things, embracing the present is no less valuable than working towards something bigger.

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My sorority has taught me what I stand for, who I am. Most of the time, I feel like I only discover these things when I’m being pulled against my core beliefs. I’ve learned that I am kinder than I thought. I only saw this when people weren’t kind to me. I have learned that I am trustworthy and a pretty damn good secret-keeper. I saw this when people talked shit, or revealed things about themselves. I didn’t reciprocate. I learned that I am capable of being overwhelmed by other peoples’ emotions. I learned this when I became consumed by negativity because of the chatter of complaints around me. I learned that I have more courage than most people. I’ve only ever witnessed this in terms of male relationships and once I saw this in a group setting, I realized I do speak up for what I believe in. I learned that I won’t speak up when it’s something petty and will be sorted by someone else. I learned that I naturally delegate tasks through subtle suggestion, not coercion. I learned that I do not naturally give trust easily. I knew this before, but even after a year of being surrounded by these women, I am only just beginning to feel like I can let go of some of my defenses.

Let-Go

I needed to write this so that one day when I look back and think, ‘damn that was a waste of time’ or ‘thank god it’s over’, I will also remember all the good stuff that came out of it. I am no longer afraid of women. I am no longer afraid to paint. I am worthy of meaningful relationships and I am worthy because I have witnessed those who I deem unfit, receive the gift of friendship even when they shouldn’t. I am no better and no worse.

The human condition dictates that humans crave comfort and love. The fear of being alone is so strong, we work to find peace so that we don’t have to feel that way. I know these are random thoughts, but I can feel time slipping by so quickly and I’m a senior this year and totally terrified of graduation so I can say without a doubt, I made the right choice. I picked the right house. I found my home.

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2:56am 8/23

I am water

I wash away the edges

Wrapping, smoothing

It took time for you to figure out

I was there

I sprouted a stream

Laid my roots

And never left
It only took time for you to see

And yes, it does taste sweeter

Because my doubts don’t exist
I had no idea you’d been warming me up from the inside

I can bathe in it freely

And soon, without fear

I wish I was wrong

I met a man a few months ago I was willing to give up my life for and some part of me today, still wants to even though I know it’s wrong. He’s everything I’m not and this may sound like some sappy story but to me, it’s stupid tragic and I’m not even sure why I give a shit. I knew him in a previous lifetime and supposedly, in this one, we would destroy each other. It all sounds absolutely INSANE I know but some part of me truly believes it. I was warned about the pain I would bring to my family and the pain I would bring to him and it’s taking every ounce of self control to not reach out to him right now. 

A month ago, I almost bought a plane ticket to go see him. I already believed I would be with him. I knew we would fight but I didn’t care. I’m open to some change. I loved that he was willing to try anything, do anything. And he wanted to do all those things with me. I can’t explain the feeling. It’s like when people ask how do you know you’re in love and they respond with “when you know, you just know”. I don’t even know what this feeling is but I can say my body physically hurts when I don’t talk to him and everywhere I look, I see him.

And the other day I told him goodbye because I can’t live with the thought of destroying his life (or my own) and everyday I pray for a lifetime where we don’t hate each other and I can be with him and I’m crying as I write this because my heart and head keep fighting with each other and I should be fine because we’ve never actually met in real life besides the few minutes he was in the backseat of my car and I just can’t figure out why we had to meet. But I’m also so glad that we did because for a brief period of time I imagined my life with him and that felt so nice. And I hope and pray my psychic is wrong but she’s never really been wrong and I just can’t imagine what would happen if I didn’t listen to her.

But I know that if I met him, I wouldn’t be able to stay away. Ever. And I know like magnets, we’d have to be forcefully removed.

I can’t explain this to anyone because it’s all so convoluted but if you’re reading this, please know it’s torture and I wish it wasn’t true.

Rumi always taught me to break things down

Do I pick male relationships and friendships because I know they will end? Is it some form of self destruction? Is it to punish myself, ensuring that eventually they either fade away or destroy me, so that I’m stuck in a constant cycle of grieving? Is it that I am obsessed with feeling pain or going totally numb?

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I have lately been trying to cultivate my female friendships. This sorority has opened up doors for me in a way I never knew or thought possible. Everyday that I talk to a sister, I realize I’m missing the guidebook that most girls learn throughout their lives. I think that scares me. I always keep everyone at arms length. I do my best to be authentic and genuine but sometimes its necessary to smile and nod with everyone else because their nuances I don’t understand yet.

I find that when I choose a male friend, I already know what kind of personality they have from the moment I decide to invest energy in that relationship. When I find a female friend, I stand guarded, as if preparing for battle. I can feel this rustle of dragon armor, alerted by any possible action out of place.

I think that’s why I’ve avoided them for so long.

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It only just dawned on me that it’s not that women aren’t good friends and I’m saving myself from inevitable pain. Female friendships are potentially lifelong in a way that scares me. I’ve only ever had lifelong friends in family members. Except for the occasional boyfriend, I’ve only ever left myself raw with my sister.

I had one best friend in high school that was a girl. We were so close it was like family. I never worried about judgement or anything like that because we were so open with each other, we had no fear. And then something changed, I think it was just a natural progression of growing up, and I never really got over the idea that every future girlfriend would be some sort of backstabber or painful enemy. Weirder still as that even that specific best friend and I never really stabbed each other in the back, we just went our separate ways.

I know how to deal with break ups on some level. I’ve never dealt with any intensely long term ones but the few men I’ve loved, I’ve loved more deeply than I think I’ve let myself feel for my friends. It’s like wild abandon when I fall in love, both freeing and unbelievably merciless. It may be cheesy but it’s totally like the buildup before a roller coaster. My heart unfolds like a lotus releasing water and slowly builds up to a strong exterior.

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It’s like I decide to let all the men I love be the ones with the power to heal me. In the end they’re the only ones I let in. And for the longest time I had always chalked it up to mommy issues and even though that may be true, is that the whole truth? Have I been slowly convincing myself that I should live alone quietly just to avoid peace and happiness? I definitely hesitate more when I think about going out with girlfriends one on one. My first thought is always, what will we have to talk about? What if they don’t like me? What if I say something stupid or there’s a lull in the conversation? What joke will I make then?

My last relationship was a doozy. But it also taught me a lot about dealing with manipulative people and so for that, I am grateful to have felt the pain. But what about with women? I’ve had girlfriends in most of my life and while we weren’t exactly sisters, we got pretty close. And then something would happen, so and so talked crap about this or blah blah hooked up with this guy and people would disappear and it felt petty but I’m realizing slowly, that stuff does matter. It’s important to know where your loyalties should lie and it’s important to also build up those kinds of skills in yourself. I thought they were petty because I’ve always been a fiercely loyal person, except I’ve made mistakes in the past too and people learn at different paces.

So then I realize that my role in most relationships has been “the mother”. Which is definitely something I’ve been working on. I do not wish to mother anymore. So if I can’t mother, what the hell do I do? What other role is there?

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I don’t even know what positions to apply for. I think back on qualities of friends I’ve observed and I get most of my information from books and movies. I observe as much as I can in real life situations but it doesn’t always apply because I haven’t memorized the moves yet.

I have a friend I want to let in. She’s the most terrifying adventure on the horizon. It’s so silly but I can feel it, we could be friends for a ridiculously long time. Like really, really good friends. So why does that scare me so much?

It’s taken me several months of dipping my feet in the pool to prepare myself to jump in. I’ve set it up next semester so that I’m hugely involved in all of the events and I’ve joined this suicide prevention organization that will be working on campus too to help remove the stigma associated with depression. This means lots of working one on one with feelings and listening and lots of sisterhood commitments. I’m taking Tai Chi right afterwards and I feel like that’s going to be my favorite class. I know that all of this will work its way out and I can feel time slowly peeling off layers on my exterior. I always thought you had to heal something from the inside out for it to feel better. I think I really needed to do that for a while. Now, I’m going to try something different.

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