Thursday, November 11, 2010

Existentialism & the End of a Friendship

Recently a relationship in my life has changed; I tried to prevent this from changing, specifically for the past 2 months, but in my heart have known for some time that it has being transforming from the healthy and constructive relationship that it once was to something else. Focusing on the last two months though, I had been torn between a) the pain brought on by hurt, sadness, and the selfishness of another, and b) the knowledge that confronting the person who caused a. would end an important friendship. I had hoped that I could overcome or ignore a. and prevent b., I hoped that time would pass and I would be okay with the damages, or at least accept them and let life do what it would.

A wise woman told me that as life ran its course in this relationship, space, distance and reality would bring an organic ending or healing (she assumed ending, she was both wise and correct, though I had hoped for the latter), and that I did not need to force outcomes.

Considering that it felt like, still does truly, there was a complete lack of awareness from a.’s executor (hence forth called “x.”), the ripples set out by x.’s actions (resulting in a.) were continuing to expand inside my brain and heart. I was having a hard time balancing between the choice of managing the size of a. within me to attempt the prevention of b. (which was unthinkable to endure), to risking b. by confronting x.

And then it happened. I failed at preventing b., actually that is incorrect, I failed to maintain the size of a. within me, perhaps because it is unreasonable, and vain, to think one could prevent what felt like the inevitable just because they don’t want it to be true. And once a. was out, once some of it was said to x. there was no going back. Initially x. seemed aware (which was a happy surprise) and apologized (for a moment at least) and I thought that b. would not happen. I was elated! I had been wrong, despite the failed efforts in the past for me to be heard by x. regarding things that x. did not like or want to hear, and my feelings of impotence in an important relationship because I often feared b. thus not risking telling x. important things (previous to this current situation that brought about a.), and despite my fears of stone-walling or defensiveness, I had clearly been wrong and assuming the worst of a friend I loved so much; all along x. had been aware! But that was also incorrect. No sooner said (an apology) than was it rescinded. Shaking from hurt, frustration and anger, no longer just at me because a. had to get out as it was eating away at so much space in my heart and brain, but angry that it was true. That friendship was limited by x.’s capacity to see beyond x. My thoughts that years of friendship could outweigh how x. and my friendship have transformed within the past, were futile. X. decided, in less than the time that it was taking me to process these messages (less than 24 hours that is) - that had fluctuated from apology, to taking it back, to sincerity, to confrontation - that the whole friendship should end – without trying. X. even blamed me for much of it.

Following this crushing, if even someone expected experience, I was unsure where to go. In times of trial would I not usually talk to x.? Thus in my “now what” stage I feel that it may be best to evaluate this situation in the context of the four existential givens.

Beginning with this question: Is the inevitable simply inevitable? Yes and no, because that solely supports the concept of determinism, and, existentially speaking, I believe that destiny exists. If destiny does exist than we are not totally free, because of the concept of thrownness (that some basic conditions of the world are beyond our control) perhaps there was corruption to this process, or experience. This might make sense in a minute.

The four givens (basic truths about existence) and their application (my interpretation) of them to this experience:

Existential Given #1: Freedom, Responsibility, and Agency

This is complicated and it is very hard for me to articulate but in short, I was allowing myself to be a product of my biology, unconscious, and environment; allowing my fears to prevent my living authentically. To be free, responsible and not live in a passive state, I must try to exercise my will. I am responsible for my efforts to control b., but not for the actions of x. Just as I was not responsible for the egregious behaviors of x. that led to a., I could not prevent x. from making x.’s choices. I concur with the philosophy that people make decisions based on their own interpretation of meaning, and I assigned specific meaning to b., which was rooted in an awareness of the risk of feelings of despair, loss, and sadness if a. was expressed. But those are parts of a human prison, because freedom is not external, being controlled by this fear was only creating a more painful end.

Existential Given #2: Death, Human Limitation, & Finiteness

In this case this is a symbolic death. Yalom (existentialist) argues that there are “two ways of denying death: 1) the ultimate rescuer and 2) specialness. Both are tied to the heroic. With the ultimate rescuer, the heroic is an external hero while in the conception of specialness, the hero is internal.” I wanted to prevent the death of this friendship (i.e., b.) so I thought (unconsciously) keeping a. to myself was somehow heroic, like there was a specialness to preserve and I was good for trying. I do believe that there was a specialness, but I also believe that all things (in this case relationships) are finite, I was just hoping that it was finite in terms of physical death, that it would endure within the boundaries of my human life, not end within this year. It’s an understandable hope, because man is an irrational creature, but not accepting limitations such as those within this relationship was not heroic, it was a form of denial.

Existential Given #3: Isolation and Connectedness

For my purposes here I will consider the concepts of interpersonal relationships, and (a very limited understand and application of) the concept of I-Thou / I-It relationships. I firmly believe that we were made to be in relationship with others, that we need others to survive. Interpersonal isolation is a “way of being in relationships” that are “not satisfying relational needs.” A refusal to accept that there is a limit to this human relationship, put me at risk of a “neurotic, dependent, and symbiotic relational pattern” that prevented me from growing in my ability to relate on a deeper level. Perhaps I was moving from the I-Thou genuine relationship, with all of its mutual risks, to an I-It relationship. When “relationships are reduced to effective communication and management I-It), something precious is lost.” Because of my fear of that loss -of rejection and hurt to both myself and x. - I would not accept the reality of isolation, even at the cost of authentic connectedness.

Existential Given #4: Meaning vs. Meaninglessness

“An essential assumption of the existential theorists is that people are meaning seeking creatures. It is meaning that can make existence bearable. Conversely, the lack of meaning is one of the greatest existential terrors. Becker (1973) said it well: "Man cannot endure his own littleness unless he can translate it into meaningfulness on the largest possible level" (p. 196).”
There are three types of meaning, false, transitory, and ultimate. Recently I (unintentionally) employed transitory into my relationship with x. Because I believe in growth and friendship, and that we, as humans, are both meaning seeking and meaning creating creatures, I thought that this was in the pursuit of an ultimate meaningful relationship. However following many occurrences of the past year, specifically of recent events, I was, without realizing it, living inauthentically, and irresponsibly, consequently preventing any true meaning. Thus allowing my relationship with x. to have false meaning. Allowing the development of an increasingly destructive relationship (internally for me if nothing else) I moved to create a negative transitory meaning that prevented growth or the fostering of an authentic relationship. Transitory became coping. And from an existential perspective, “merely surviving or coping is not really living.”

These existential givens were mostly lived out unconsciously. While I intentionally kept a. to myself because I feared b., I unintentionally constructed a new narrative that could not have anything but a destructive meaning. I did not know how to cope, so I stopped living.

Relationships need to be shared, and I did not feel any sharing from x., which I interpreted from a lack of awareness, and thus limited my own sharing. I still feel much of that (x. not being aware or taking responsibility) is true, but I can only trust that it is my interpretation of x.’s feelings, because I believe that truth, such as this, is subjective because objectivity is always suspect. I’ve read that a belief in objective truth is a belief that “bias has been contained, bracketed, or eliminated.”

In the opinions of others, some who have shared them without my asking - people who witnessed the events that led to a., not who have only heard my side - in their (as much as possible) objective opinions more than validate a.

I have been unable to respond to x.’s final message. My husband thinks that perhaps that is best, that all of x.’s words are out into the universe and maybe that’s enough. I am unsure. I have been afraid to say anything, publically or really privately, like there is a necessary mourning period and expressing happiness or being ‘okay’ somehow undermines the meaning of my previous relationship with x. Nonetheless with the quickness in x.’s decision to end our relationship (although I want to believe there was a significant internal struggle) it may be self-centered to think that it matters to x. what I put out there. That not wanting to hurt x. is an unnecessary concern, because x. did not mind hurting me – in causing a. or allowing b.

I used to say, mostly jokingly, not to cross a writer because they’ll immortalize you. I feel that despite my best intentions in keeping a. to myself, that x. (who is a writer) has interpreted it as a personal affront and for whatever reason (of which I hold many, primarily rooted in hurt opinions of) seems to have let this go quite easily, even made it a positive part of their current life experience. Making me a negative, when I know I am not.

All of this supports the theory that b. is, all in all and ultimately, the best outcome - but how can that be felt lightly? I cannot help but feel terribly wounded by all of this, and my response can only be to write this, an evaluative (while still emotionally directed) view of recent happenings. Hoping that I can find some solace or ending to the numb feeling that remains within me.

I desire freedom from this existential angst. With the removal of the object of fear (fear has to have an object, in this case b.), angst should not continue, it “has no such "constructive" measure” upon which to hang. It remains my own “nondirectional emotion” that I need to let go of. It is an act of living as a free agent that I can responsibly let this go, knowing that the consequences of my actions only went so far (are what they are), and the consequences of x.’s are beyond my control, and are x.’s own responsibility.

In the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, “Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you.”

Saturday, October 16, 2010

oh man, i'm depressing!

i just looked at my last few posts. honestly until this incident i had not felt like quitting for 2 weeks - which is total progress. seriously, two whole weeks! i was accepting errors, moving forward, doing okay, still had crappy moments but wasn't all pathetic about them. i guess i am more likely to write about the bad feelings than the good.

when i get that feeling in my gut that i am screwing up i am compelled to write. when i feel good i think, "oh i should write" but move right along with doing something else.

i will make the effort to write some of the good things - especially on my other blog about being an intern. it isn't too inspiring to new interns to see that things for me suck.

rejection / failure

I got an email from a 1st/2nd grade teacher about how counseling class, that I teach alone, has a negative impact on her students & how incredibly unhappy she is. I feel stupid & like I suck. Teachers don't like that they have me instead of my supervisor, like it isn't fair that they get the "intern" & not the "real" counselor. It was a class that ended with 3 boys crying & fighting - I should have gone to the teacher to report it & get guidance, but I didn't. They weren't crying by the end of our meeting after. But apparently two other kids cried later. What the heck did I do???

I know these are life lessons, but I feel like I failed. I hate failing and making mistakes, like I should naturally be able to do it all well. I know I am new at this and haven't worked with little kids in 14 years and never as a teacher, but I thought it was going okay, sans the crying children . . . but 6 & 7 year olds cry when they say mean things to each other. Well, 32 year olds cry when they feel like they did something wrong . . .

But there really is this air of annoyance that they get me instead of my supervisor. I hate that. Like I suck just because I am not already licensed. They seem to forget that there is a time when they were in training too. But I hate that my supervisor will talk to the teacher without me because I am not there on Mondays & that makes me feel awkward.

I put all of this pressure on myself, like I represent me, my supervisor and my school and so when I screw up it reflects poorly on everything. Which I realize is a little self-aggrandizing. And on most levels I know that I am over-reacting but it is my first big incident & it comes from the scariest teacher at the school. She is amazing with little kids but REALLY intimidating. I am afraid that I will cry when we all meet, or even just my supervisor and I meet.

So my ultimate over-reaction? I should just quit & accept failure. Because THAT'S the best choice.

I went to that bad place. The one where I think, OH MY GOD I should have stayed in the couples, marriage & family counseling program. OH MY GOD how much debt will I be in to become something I am bad at???

These are the times when I am supposed to remember why I have the words "It Is" literally tattooed on my skin. It is for two reasons, one being the theory that life is what it is, and what matters is what we do with it. Like the platitude, "this too shall pass", the idea is that some things are out of control, even the responses to things that were in our control, and as scary as it may feel, the situation will pass. (Although as a side note, I kind of think that teaching 1st & 2nd graders may sometimes involve kid's behavior that is a little out of my control) And that before it does pass, all I can do is make the choice to deal with it, be humbled and accept what has happened, and whatever consequences befall on me. OR to make the choice of running and hiding, or simply quitting.

I am supposed to go to a festival at the school today, I don't want to because I will have to see the teacher and my supervisor and I feel ashamed and weak. And I REALLY don't fit in at this school, so it feels awkward. You are expected to come for the whole thing, bond and share in cider and a harvest dinner. I want to stop by, see some kids, have some cider and leave.

Exactly when will I develop social skills to interact with other grown ups? Does that come in my mid-30s?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"too much" but not "overwhelmed" (09/2010)

As he left today my supervisor asked if I felt overwhelmed. I said no, that I had in the morning but that I felt better now. Which was true, but that is different than feeling okay. How do I verbalize that it isn't that I feel overwhelmed, rather, I feel disappointed. I'm disappointed in myself, in my inability to do what I should be able to do. In my frustration. In my desire to cry after things go wrong. In how apathetic or boring I must seem because I don't express emotion or response. How inadequate I feel and not to mention the part of me that is comparing myself to other-intern who I feel is probably perfect and bubbly.

Some days I just feel like I'm not good enough. Like I made a bad choice. A mistake. A really, really expensive mistake.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"disclaimer from a since moved blog-posting"

**Disclaimer - stories regarding events of childhood - and even their potential or actual impact on adulthood are not intended to drag the name of perfectly fine adults through some proverbial mud. I do not hold ill will to people or behaviors from childhood, but our actions influence who we grow up to be. I believe our experiences, our stories, impact who we are - but so does conscious choices. What we do with them, those experiences, is what matters now and next. Negative, positive, or mixed, they are pieces of a larger picture and ultimately it's like a a mosaic.*

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tales from an Insecure Intern (09/2010)

Week 1, Day 1: I actually forgot where my husband works. I lost my grasp on the English language.

Friday, September 3, 2010

You Became Who You Are

Once upon a time I was a free spirit. I loved and I hurt with passion. My world was saturated with color. It was both dramatic and serene, and when I felt it was with all of me, or as much of me as I knew how to give. Then things changed; age, depression, heartbreak. Choices had consequences that led to a desire for a more sustainable and traditional stability, which for me meant sacrificing art and beauty. It didn't have to mean that, but part of feeling with all of you can mean living in a polarized world.

It was the start of 2000 and after I stopped self-medicating with dancing and drinking; I had to figure out what it meant to not be fragmented and what that might have to do with growing up. I put some of that colorfulness away because it didn’t feel safe for me, it bled into the fringes – which was a place I knew and lived but where I couldn't survive. Learning to do that, without really learning how to do the work, was complicated, painful and incomplete.

In 2001 I started taking medication. Unfortunately I let what you hear happens with medication happen to me. I stopped writing and painting. My polarized world became more polarized. And life went on and I lived and loved and traveled. I saw and felt beautiful things. But I developed inhibitions and walls. And the walls grew and grew like a castle fortress.

Some 9 years have passed. Three careers, 1 divorce, a different state, and a new marriage later, I am taking stock. Towards the end of my first marriage my husband had often told me that I was not the woman he married. He had married an artist and I was not an artist. I know now what he meant, but I don’t think he did really. I had new art, new passions, but less me. At the time I was still writing, not often though and without his notice, but it didn't really matter because I wasn’t really living. It wasn’t that I had just stopped creating but something inside me seemed to stop, it was missing – the me that he had loved because of the passion and free spirit seemed to be gone. And when we separated I told myself that wasn't going to be the case anymore, because I would do what I had always longed to do. I would travel. Live with abundance. Move to the Dominican and be - just BE.

But I didn't. Instead I did the work. The work that I should have started in 2000 I started in December of 2006. I have worked hard but remain a work in progress.

Today I saw Eat, Pray, Love with some girlfriends and thought that a version of that life, with the self discovery and travel, is the life I always wanted and in some ways still do. I want to live with less fear. I want to LIVE. But I saw something different. I used to think that I could only live that life while single, that if I wanted to travel or move somewhere across the world that it had to be just me. But it doesn't. Dreams can be shared and loved and lived together. Dreams can adapt, they don’t have to end.

Do I think we are going to move away? Maybe not. Am I open again to the idea of looking outside of my comfort zone - my white suburban SW Portland life? Yes. This girl who came to be, she is who I am meant to be - but not all of her. Life is not for this timidity. Life is for abundance and surrender. It is not for fortress walls and brokenness and TV shows and 15 facebook posts in a day; it is for sharing, loving, laughing and being. All things can cross over and in between, but it is bigger than what I have accepted.

I received a written prescription from the doctor yesterday that read: Make your own schedule a priority. "Own" was underlined three times. And that is what I need to do. The other informal prescription was to meditate. I meditated last year and I started to feel a peace. Before then there were a handful of times that this had happened and all were in artificial settings. Wonderful, but artificial in that they were not where I lived. It was Yosemite, or on a frozen lake, a rolling river, nature - places where God is easier to breathe in. But peace right in the context of my own life? I didn't know how that could really be.

All true peace must come from within; it is just easier to find when you are not in your day to day or it is simply hard to feel while in the city, because there, I guess I mean here, you have to work harder for it. You, me, we are in chaos, so it involves carving a space in your real life to make it happen.

For a class last year we had to create mandalas. A mandala is many things; it can be an artistic representation of the cosmos, like a focus for meditation. Ours was sort of that, but also about defining our self and our spirits. I chose a music box and painted it, glued poems and quotes by L’Engle and Wordsworth, passages from the Book of Counted Sorrows and on the top this poem that I wrote:

My soul speaks loudly.
Then silently.
The ancient words of God;
They are worn into the grooves.
Worked by the hands of my ancestors.

I think that is true. And it is speaking now. I hear the ancient words because they are worn into the grooves of my soul, woven into my very existence and reality. They say that as long as I am breathing, it is never too late to live.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Brokenness

I was just thinking about brokenness. I thought of it the other day and then again tonight as I was watching tv. It was a big episode and following significant changes in these characters lives. Of course set to Jeff Buckley most things sound dramatic and feel depressing, but it was interesting. It was interesting and sad. Not sad because of the tv show, but because of the feeling of brokenness; the expression worn on the face of a shattered heart.

What I was thinking is that I no longer know what to make of it. It has been a long time since I saw things in a remotely black and white way, but I still had an outline. I still had an idea of God and humanity fixed somewhere deep inside me. Something that, sensible, logical or not, was real. I don't think I have that anymore.

I have felt broken in the past. I have been broken in the past. And even at those times I had something deeper to believe in, something that held the big things together - or that I knew caught the big pieces as they fell through the proverbial sky. Now I don't know. I don't know what I believe in. I don't know if I believe in anything discernible. I believe in the existence of God and I know that inside I still have a love for Christ, but I don't feel anymore. What bothers me is there is no existential/spiritual crisis. It is like one day it had all drifted away and my heart and soul were silent. They aren't void and absent or aching, they are just silent.

Being cognizant of this, essentially having come into awareness of these feelings that developed quietly over time - has awakened something. It is something I cannot really explain. Is it fear? Is it contentment with the unknown? Or solemness with having lost something without feeling loss?

I don't know. I miss being in want of God. But I don't miss it enough to fight for it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pop!

All around the mulberry bush
The monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey thought 'twas all in fun.
Pop! goes the weasel.


I feel like the weasel. In SO very many ways. Pop! Most of them are too pathetic to post.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Scars

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

I had just read this excerpt from the Velveteen Rabbit earlier this week, and then I heard it tonight in my friend's wedding. I take it in a slightly different manner than the pastor intended, but it is the same basic idea. To be "real" - whatever that means to you - hurts, but is worth it. Some times though, it doesn't feel like that. It feels like I am done feeling. Like I would rather have my eyes in my sockets, and ears that don't flop quite so much, and to live on a shelf, untouched, with my un-mussed fur and well tied bow. But that isn't reality, and that isn't how we want to be or live. Not usually.

Aren't we all the velveteen rabbit in one way or another? Don't we all have some good scars from being real, but also some bad ones?

My best friend just published her second book (HIGHLY recommend it: Magical Shrinking: Stumbling Through Bipolar Disorder, www.christianewells.com)and on her blog she posts about an experience of working with a girl who is a cutter and recognizing so many things in that moment, and connecting to how she herself was one years ago. She writes this line about what happened following a girl asking her if she was a cutter, noting the most visible scar, a vertical one that runs up her wrist:

"I said yes, and we sat in silence, looking at our scars."

I am too tired to really write, and too emotionally spent from a messed up day - full of my pettiness and over sensitivity, and elements of fiction blurring the truth, because both make me hurt and one rubs in the pain of the other - and now my head is full and I need to slow my thoughts or (preferably) put them in a drawer and try to rest.

I miss blogging, maybe getting it out, out into a space where I am pretty sure it is no longer read, but it is out there, some where, is helpful. It eases some of the loneliness, to think of common connections.

Oh that sounded dramatic.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

just not doing anything i should be

time seems to stop yet pass quickly. the hours run and run and my activities stand still. my doctor said that she doesn't understand how i can be disorganized and yet say that my new medication is helping me be focused. i tried to explain that my brain isn't disorganized - my life is. my life is disorganized. i have a theory that, well is correct, that if i could just get my house clean then i could get everything, or some things done. which i currently don't do. i have so much homework, and cleaning, and people to call, and emails to write. yet i just sit. i write to my colleague about a client who gets so overwhelmed that she can't do anything and i think that it is amazing that i am emailing her at all since i am too much like that client. and unfortunately that client knows. what is she some sort of see-er? (hazard of watching Angel)

anyway. a whole day wasted minus an oddly hopeful meeting with my boss. which i almost started crying. thank god for calming techniques ACTUALLY working for once.


wow, i'm DREARY.

What are you trying to tell me Willow Tree?

April 05, 2010

It looks like sun, I can see it through the hanging branches of the willow tree. Lighting up the softest, sweetest greens. Yet the water taps my windows and moves the newly formed pond around the apparently broken drain in the parking lot below.

It was pouring this morning when I left my doctor. I was pouring, the sky was pouring, we were in a synchronized dance - we struck a perfect balance. And then it let the sun out. Is it trying to tell me something?

I look into my spreadsheets and documents. I review work samples and folders. I think of writing letters to my students, but instead know I need to prep a presentation, and apply for a job. A job so that I can pay rent next month. And then rent makes me think of bills. Bills that are late.

The world is heavy and burdensome. But I am eerily calm. Empty? It is hard to say what I am. I am moving forward through the stacks of homework, but not making the needed calls to get the bills paid and stop the threat of collection. Is there a threat if nothing in red has arrived? Is that how I should be seeing my world?

And the bank. And the kitchen sink. All things in need of attention. But I write, and stare at willow trees and passing birds, and at my sleeping cat. I feel the knots in my stomach tingle, and the joints in my hand contract and pull into themselves. Straining my neck to crack I try to release its pain. And it makes that sharp sound, and I feel my tendons reject the pull on the shoulder, but the spot inside my neck is happy, if just for a minute or two. I stretch back and hear the popping through my hips, feel the aching in my shoulders. And I think, "Lately, I feel so old."

I turn to the pile of orange folders to my left, and think I should put them in a traveling cabinet of sorts, make my class more organized. I turn my head to the living room and debate an episode of television with lunch, knowing it is a very bad idea.

But my hands hurt and I don't want to type. And I don't want to think of the pain or to-dos, for just a little while. And I want to not feel, physically, and to feel motivated mentally. And I want my doctor to be wrong, because I want a cup of coffee. And her theory of no sugar and no coffee is unacceptable. Can I follow the rest and leave those out? That may be my only choice.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Memories/Skin

Why would a person want tokens from their past? Why would they keep things that upon holding them in their hand could make them sad? Evoke an array of feelings. Is it not better to erase things? To file them away in your brain as far away from your immediate memory as possible?

No. I have labeled, altered, hid, and run from memories. Surely I need to let go of some, physical and otherwise, but I like to keep pieces of people, and stories. I want to have tangible things that remind me of who I was, who I am, who I've loved. I can re-write how I see them, but I do not want to delete them.

In but 3 decades I have been so many people, yet wearing the same skin. How? How can it be? I have been beautiful, and ugly. Sweet, and cruel. I have loved, and I have hurt people, I have been careless with mine and others' hearts. And some of that I wish I could forget. I find it interesting, and impossible, that people claim that they do not have regrets, that they learn from their choices etc, and do not hold onto them. To me I think you can do both, because I have. I hold regrets, and I learn from them, or try to. That doesn't mean I should dwell on them, which I am wont to do on occasion. But it means I know them. Our actions are burned into us, imprinted on our souls, and in our thoughts and there patterns and development. I see them in me, the good and the bad. I see them in the creases around my eyes - the laugh lines, the aging, the marks. These are all parts of a complex life, a human existence.

Life is a series of choices. Some that, my God, I would do differently. I cannot pretend otherwise. It is always difficult to say that though. If I love the people in my current life, and I know it is the actions I have taken that led me to them, then how can I say I would do things differently? Because this string of reality, this person that I am, would not exist; so I would not know what I am losing. Just like I do not know what I would have gained had I not made certain decisions. The primary reason I would not do things again is not for my happiness being more or less than it is, but for a chance to not have hurt the people I love. That is what I would rather erase. Remove the stains from my actions in the way that they affected other people. Nothing is harder for me than knowing that I have hurt my family and friends.

Life is like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. I turned to page 32 instead of 67. I took one path, if I had taken another, which literally could have been one different turn of a page, then I would not be who I am. The lines on my face would be different. And other people's lives would be different.

That is one of the things that is so amazing about reality, if any of us had made one different decision, turned to page 59 instead of 91, not gone to a BBQ one night, or even returned a call, we would not be where we are. Some people would say that that is the marker, the sign or thing that tells us we are where we are meant to be. And perhaps they are correct. Because every cause has an effect, ever action a reaction, but that doesn't make all of our actions okay; and it doesn't mean that I should erase what happened before I turned those pages. Before I altered the course of mine and others' lives.

So my original question, why would a person want tokens from their past, really does tie into this. We have taken our paths, chosen our inadvertent adventures, but we are creating, and sadly forgetting, memories all along the way. For me in an effort to live with the bad, I have sometimes altered the good. To make me look or feel better for things I chose. Or I have forgotten the good, it has been overshadowed by the darker story lines; so the tangibles sometimes help refocus the intangible. They help ground some memories, remind me of love, of happiness in the same skin but as a different person.

In many ways people may never change, but in many, many others, everything else about them can be different. I have remained ever the same, yet I am a dramatically different person living a dramatically different life since I turned from page 31. It is a difficult dance between knowing, remember, forgiving, forgetting, wanting to keep, or hold onto pieces of the past - all of these components. But we are the sum of many parts, which means we carry those within us, and sometimes we should carry them outside too. On a shelf, or in a closet. Or in a box.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

when the sun & moon stop dancing

I watch the horizon. I watch the melting lights. I see the colors bleed as the darkness falls. I feel the weight of night as it is sliding in, and then quickly conquering the day. At winter, at least. Winter is the time of the conquering. In summer the day and night dance, they state up late together and laugh. But in Fall they start to distance, every year the same, pulling and pushing at evening, and by the full throws of winter, the storms that lack the enthusiasm of lightening and thunder on warm wet days, the light is pushed down deeply - completely, traceless.

That is this week. This month. Months? The darkness started with a creeping and then spread. It has invaded all of the pieces. The sum of the parts make a messy mosaic. The colors go bland and the aching prevails as the tiles expand and contract while the glue tries to breathe but cannot as it is pressed together, art on background, forced to stick and dry. It is as though all of the light stood in the back and the glue poured over it, tiles at first delicately placed, developing their image, were then pushed aside by this parade of madness as the pieces fell. The picture, less discernible, except for the memory. Brains, hearts, and bodies have memories of their own, unconsciously formed. They have this memory, or shadow of a shape that you can see, feel - if you look closely enough.

This season's mosaic is like that. The images cry out calling for splashes of color occasionally pushing through only to be pushed down by the heaviness of the night sky. I am left begging the stars to come out. Pleading with the constellations to fight for me. But deaf can be the ears of the heavens. Not the ears of God. But the universe's tongue goes quiet, and the sea of people around, even with their love, joy, and beauty melting into me, they do not sustain. So I go home and the river within purges itself, spilling out into my strained subjective reality.

The madness on parade, within, with out swallows the sensibilities, the faculties, and compress a whole girl into a small box - big enough for an ocean of sadness, small enough to hide within.

Tonight the rain will not fall, just a dark curtain leans in on me. Heavy it hangs, strung across the sky.

About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
I am a daughter, sister, friend, wife, counselor and colleague. I am a work in progress. There may be some pieces out of place and things might be messy, but it's okay. I would rather accept that I am still unfinished than think that this is it. You can find my comments on faith and spirituality on my blog: http://themessinessoffaith.blogspot.com/ And my comments and anecdotes on life at: http://sheisaworkinprogress.blogspot.com/

Books That Matter. Well, some of the many that matter.

  • Magical Shrinking: Stumbling Through Bipolar Disorder, Chris Wells
  • Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • An Abudance of Katherines, John Green
  • Dave Pelzer
  • Franny & Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  • I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley
  • The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris
  • The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, Daniel J. Siegel