Tonglen Says…

… I get to breathe in bitter disappointment when I feel it. I’m alright. Nothin’ wrong with feeling shitty every now and then. However, I agree that:

Complaining continues to create the vibration of what you don’t want. Today, take your focus off of what is wrong and focus on what is right and how you desire things to be. Put all your love, energy, mental power and decision-making toward what you want, and do not entertain thoughts that are to the contrary. You are more responsible for the way you feel than your environment, circumstances, or relationships. Step toward love today, step toward the solution.” – Jackson Kiddard, author

That was a nice reminder.

I know the solution. Estrangement and love are not mutually exclusive. They can coexist quite nicely. They already have. I’m down today, and fine.

I Feel Like A Failure

It’s been doggin’ me all week.

Last weekend, I attended a 50th Anniversary reunion at Playmill Theatre.playmillFor the happy version, visit my travelogue: http://dreamermadwoman.blogspot.com/2013/06/playmill-theatre-celebrates-fifty-years.html

I put a lot of pressure on myself to “get it right” in Yellowstone. My last two trips were pretty disgusting. I hitch-hiked out of the Park in 2007 to get away from the nastiest, bickering old friends of mine. All I could think was how we were traumatizing some granny from Iowa on a Bucket List trip of a lifetime to the oldest national park in America. They were screaming at me at a rest stop and cursing, so I just walked away and stuck out my thumb. I still can’t get that horrified woman’s face out of my mind. (I am proud of my behavior with those two hostile people. Never once did I participate in kind. But I was still there to be a scar on some innocent midwesterner’s experience of a thrilling, beautiful place.)

The second, in 2010, was all my fault. I flipped out on an ex-boyfriend, when I should never have agreed to a road trip with him. He’s jealous, judgmental, and not very bright, bless him, but I am responsible for my behavior! He was just so negative and controlling. It’s still up to me to behave. I didn’t. I’ve used my sharp tongue to destroy more than one person in my life. I recognize that it’s not my fault that childhood abuse formed neurotic pathways in my brain, but I am determined to exorcise verbal violence from my toolkit before I die. ‘Til then, I have some real self-loathing to contend with when it comes to certain memories. That trip is one of them.

Right now, my memory of a good weekend is marred by an argument with my sister. I didn’t make it out without another fight! I’d had such a wonderful time, and one phone call ruined everything. Ugh. I called to ask how long she thought it would take to drive through the Park. I wanted to see the Wyoming side of the Tetons with joyful reconnections fresh on my mind, to replace that drive in utter silence with my brutalized ex. I wanted to see it… clean. But I’d have another hour-and-a-half to get to Rexburg from Jackson. Better off just to drive the hour-and-a-half from West Yellowstone, we determined.

“What’ll I do all day?” I laughed.

“I have a big dinner planned for the afternoon,” she offered.

“Oh, Mel,” I lamented. “I hope you can understand why I can never come into your home while he’s there [her husband].”

“Well, he didn’t come in when you picked up the car,” she pointed out. (Why would I suspect that he’d be home on a Thursday? In any case, I wouldn’t have gone in if my nieces hadn’t wanted to show me their new kittens.)

“Okay?” I wondered.

“And when I asked if you could use the car, he said, ‘Yes, that’s very important to her.'”

“I appreciate that.”

“And he did all that work on it.”

“I thanked you for that, too, and it needed to be done anyway.”

“I’m just trying to tell you he’s not the monster you think he is.”

“I never said he was a monster. I know he’s a whole, complex person. But he did a monstrous thing.” (And, still, no one has ever apologized.)

“He loaned you his car, Christie.”

“I borrowed my sister’s car.”

“It’s ours. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.” Click. Just like mom. (“End of conversation.”) Just like Christmas 2011. (“I don’t want to hear it.”)

I texted that I was prepared to disagree and maintain mutual respect, and would have preferred a good-bye to a hang-up. She claimed that she said good-bye, then repeated how generous Dan had been with that car. I gave in to childish rage and replied, “Well, if I owe Dan my honor and reverence for your car, I guess you share responsibility for running me out of your home that Christmas. You say your piece, won’t hear mine, he’s the muscle that shuts me up.”

She still pretends he never attacked me, when she’s the one who held him off of me! She’s delusional, and I’m sick of everyone in my family putting words in my mouth, drawing conclusions about me, and telling me what a horrible person I am!

In West Yellowstone, I saw the shuttle bus. I had no idea they’d extended the route. I knocked on the door and said to the driver, “You mean I took the Express to Rexburg to borrow my sister’s car to drive here, when you could have brought me?”

“Don’t you feel stupid now?” he teased me.

Boy, did I ever the day I drove out.

I hate my family and my role in it. I hate that I can’t stop playing my part perfectly! And then I blame them when they don’t see me as anything other than an ungrateful child. I hate that I am the only one who’s willing to acknowledge fault and still come back and try. I can’t anymore. I’d already made peace with that, but I didn’t realize I can never see them again. It SUCKS.

So I didn’t have time to drive through the Park. I decided to stop by the family cabin, which my grandparents sold in the 90s. Island Park is too crowded now. The cabin is different. And run down. I focussed on the happy memories made there and took a small walk.

Then I went to Mesa Falls, where Melanie took me in 2007 when she rescued me from the angry lesbians. I hoped to spend some time sending her love and gratitude. The thing about my sister is that she truly is the kindest, purest, most sincere and beautiful human being EVER. She only wants love and happiness for everyone. But she puts blinders on to feel it! And she’s as big a dictator as mom ever was. She will not listen to anything I say. Not even to learn that I’m not the monster she clearly thinks I am!

I couldn’t find Mesa Falls. It was the stupidest thing. The turn off said 14 miles and it never appeared. I went back and forth and back and forth, rereading every sign. I couldn’t find it. I felt like such a failure. All I wanted was huge water to deafen me and wash the ick off of me of total failure, yet again .

Mel standoffishly drove me to the shuttle stop, and I blathered about how great the trip had been just so we wouldn’t sit in silence.

In fact, I wish I hadn’t gone. I think/hope that will pass. Good times were had. Just not enough to justify how much money I spent to see and do things I’ve seen and done a million times. Especially when I failed to just get along, already! I really hate my family. I hate what it means to be in my family: that we do not tolerate difference, we do not listen to one another, we do not apologize. We do not, according to my definition, actually love each other. Or if we do, we’re really bad at it.

To me, my family means failure. “If you find yourself continuing to speak to someone who cannot hear you, then neither of you is listening.” — Charlie Morris

Job [Dis]Satisfaction

It would be hard to overstate how much I dislike my current assignment. I’m surprised, really, by how difficult a time I’m having here. I LOATHE this place! I’ve withheld judgement during the learning curve, which can be… bitchy (on the inside, only, cuz I know me and I know it’ll go away). However, I’ve been here for a month now and my disdain only grows. In fact, it’s becoming personal.

I hate the people I work with, except for one, who is quirky, stylish, smart, hard-working, and ambitious [simultaneously pursuing graduate degree], and the others who just do their boring tasks quietly, if vacantly. The 2 women whose professional lives most impact mine NEVER SHUT UP. I’ve tried to be patient, because I’ve had/ will again have this problem myself. But seriously, shut up! What makes you think we care about the minutia of every nuance of every idea and event in your life!?

One is very old. Seventy-nine! She should have retired five years ago at the very least. She doesn’t take care of herself, eats candy and doughnuts all day, then complains about the consequences. I know how thick her blood is, and she showed me her cellulitis!!!

She thinks her conscious stream of thought interests everyone else, and she’s losing her memory. “She must be very lonely,” I tell myself, urging patience. I’m a story repeater, after all, finding myself so utterly engaging and my stories so entertaining that they warrant second, third, and life-long reiterations. She was surely this character, too, when she was bright, young, and relevant. But I cannot take it. (Of course, I can.) Still, I want to crawl out of my skin or tear into hers!

I worked in hospice, for god’s sake! I’m terrible.

I haven’t struggled with guilt like this… ever. I’ve felt exceedingly blessed by the seeming-effortless skill I have of recognizing guilt as a signal for repair and restitution, or simply a destructive emotion that, not serving me, is quickly discarded. I’ve never sat in guilt this long. Feelings of hostility plague me; their amplitude alarms me. It’s affecting my life, and I’m in charge of that choice.

So I feel angry with myself for giving that power away, and giving so much sway to base and compassionless emotions. I actually have compassion training! I feel weak and defeated. And ever-impatient, screaming inside, “SHUT THE _____ UP!!!”

This woman makes the other prattling municipal drone intolerable, when normally I could tune her out like an inconsequential gnat. “You are not clever,” I want to inform her. “And saying the same sarcastic thing 3 different ways does not change that.”

I consider the practice of Tonglen. I breathe them in, because we are all irritating. I breathe them in because we are all irritated with our fellowman and our jobs some days. I breathe in my anger and personal failings, because we all fail. I breathe out patience, compassion, and understanding for myself and others, all the while feeling fake, ungrateful, and empty. I’ve spent time praying that I can stand to do this for a year. I made a commitment I wish to honor. Furthermore, I have a lot to learn, gain, and offer here. I also feel vulnerable being so candid about the ugliest parts of myself. Right now I just feel like crying. It’s the first time I’ve given concrete voice to what’s been sapping my energy for the entirety of this, my favorite month of blessed early Spring.

“God loves April babies more, but May’s his favorite month.” And I’m a total bitch.

Happy One-Year Blogiversary! A Review:

Have I accomplished the goal I set with this blog?

I’ve chosen estrangement from my parents. That feels like failure, so I’m inclined to answer, “No.” However, my stress set-point is reduced. Knowing I expect nothing from them has calmed me down. I still get depressed; I still get annoyed; I’m still attitudinal. I’m less defeated. Until I sent that letter to dad after Thanksgiving, I still hoped to someday be included in the circle of things/people they accept/love. Now I don’t. Nothing’s changed. Any change took place more than a year ago, when I realized, “Holy crap, I’ve been delusional. They’ve never accepted me and they never will.” Once dad saw that I would never tow the line, I became second-class, a stepdaughter. Mom is silent. I am the former Mormon whose disapproving family merely tolerates her. Somehow, writing them off, literally, put me at ease. It’s profoundly sad, but it’s done. Now I can heal.

I feel like I’m lying to myself, that the only true healing is reintegration with them. Maybe that’s the lie. I don’t know how I feel about my progress. I guess I’ll tell the story.

****

In November 2011, I was fired from a job I worked for over 5 years. It was a very untoward sacking, and I didn’t handle it well. I had a breakdown and called my mother for support. She panicked, hearing only my “attack” voice, and began attacking me. We have never communicated successfully, peacefully, or even kindly. Since I was born, it was war or walking on eggshells. Offended, and out of habit, I did, then, attack her. She went crazy. It actually scared me. She was speaking nonsense. It was so strange and confusing it shocked me out of our pattern, fight to the death. (In my youth, I won by getting smacked around. “When you lose your temper, you lose,” she advised me, not intending irony. “Brain over braun,” I gloated. I remember taunting her that she had to hit me because she couldn’t outwit a 6 year old.)

On this day in November 2011, I realized for the first time, “Wow. I cannot turn to my mother for comfort. She has none to give.” It was ultimately softening as to my lifelong strife with her. She is at wit’s end at all times. There’s no comfort, even for herself. I was sad for her, and ashamed for taking so long to notice that my continued demands on her were chipping away at her sanity.

I was disappointed in myself. I have wonderful support. I couldn’t be satisfied by my mother’s past attempts to help me, because I wasn’t satisfied by her understanding of me. And I didn’t trust her. Anymore, she can’t even try to help. She’s… different. She’s old. She doesn’t have to do this anymore! It was actually one of the most freeing, loving moments of my life. At the time, I was in such a state that I simply got off the phone quickly and called my best friend, as I should have done in the first place.

Then the texts started. Mom has generational electronic anxiety. She’d never texted me before. The messages were vile. They were crazy! I asked her to stop. She didn’t. I called and explained precisely what I wrote above, that I understand now something I’ve never seen before. “I was wrong to keep coming to you. I’m so sorry.” But she wasn’t listening. She was screaming more disturbing, frightening things than she’s ever said before. In our long violent history, she’s hung up on me innumerable times, often rightfully so. This was the first I’d hung up on her. The texts kept coming. I took the bait, and three days of verbal volleys ensued.

Finally, I sent an apology to mom for participating in the latest battle, and promised it was the last. I told her I loved her, but wouldn’t be speaking to her for now. “I have to set new boundaries in order to avoid falling into our traps.” She mocked my new-found maturity, finding it “interesting that [I] would set these boundaries without first consulting [her].” (“Personal boundaries don’t require consensus!”) My friend forbade me reply.

(I saved the exchanges for weeks, rereading and reliving them until my friend insisted I delete them. I needed my proof and righteousness so badly I’d let it kill my soul, but she loves me too much to watch me choose my demons over my truth.)

I called dad. “Obviously, you’re privy to what’s been going on. I want to apologize for my participation in it. I was wrong, and I’m done. I tried to explain it to mom, but she can’t hear it right now so I want you to understand that this time is different. I see things in a way I never have before.” I explained the life-altering epiphany I had, that she has no comfort to spare and I was hurting, even damaging her by continuing to demand it. “I’m telling you, this will never happen again. I’m sorry it took so long for me to see.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

“Thanks, dad. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Christmas 2011

I was nervous, but excited to see my mom. I felt, like I said, a new softness for her. I regret the years I’ve made her pay for the abuse that started my life and shaped the way I see the world. She made very serious mistakes that caused me real, lasting harm, but I see in the lines on her face how deeply she regrets her choices. I’m her greatest heartache. That makes me sad. She’s just a little girl with a cold, disapproving father (spare-the-rod sort), who’s known since she was twelve that she was depressed, whose life ran away from her, whose anxiety took over in the form of blinding rages against her mouthiest child. (No, I will not shut up!) I hate to say it, but I pity her. I love her so much and I admire what she survived. I admire her convictions. I admire her intent to live a righteous life. She is the least hypocritical Mormon out there. She lives her life quietly, honestly, honorably, by the credo, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” She is self-sufficient and shy, and loves the Church for reminding her to extend a hand of service to her fellowman. She’s just the well-meaningest thing you ever saw. I feel so bad for her.

At dinner, my father and brother in-law started throwing out hypothetical situations with which to hate homosexuals. I hate my sister’s husband for this change in my family, and I am endlessly disappointed in my father for not noticing, and participating. We didn’t spend all of our time judging others before Dan appeared. Now it’s all they talk about! My sister married a good ol’ boy from Mississippi, who told her when they were engaged that he left his home because he didn’t want to raise his family around black people. Now, we’re from the potato part of Idaho, not the neo-Nazi part, but a boy that far away wouldn’t know to make the distinction. He handpicked Idaho for reasons of complexion. Once there, he found the Mormon church. I’m ashamed of how easy it was for a weak white man to find empowerment in the priesthood, as well as a pretty girl who survived a turbulent family by disappearing into the woodwork, a properly opinionless woman.

You might think, knowing me as you do, that I disliked him from the beginning. Well, yes, I did. I was bratty and snide. But I grew up. I began to appreciate his talent with animals. Mostly, I came to respect how much he adored my sister’s growing family. My biological father didn’t care if I lived or died, as far as I knew, and it meant the world to me that my nieces knew their daddy loved them. I thanked him again and again for that, and for being a good provider. I went out of my way to use specifics and make it personal. My sister is happy, and I’m grateful. I gave my brother in-law thoughtful presents, like Church magazines on Daddy Daughter Dates and a framed black-and-white I took of his beloved golden retriever, Maggie. I took endless photos of him and his daughters laughing and playing. He’s never spoken to me, except to make fun of me once in front of his buddy. (I didn’t know that Bear Lake is one body of water straddling Utah and Idaho and not 2 lakes with the same name.)

One time, I drove my brother and I to Mel and Dan’s for Easter dinner. “Every time we’re there,” I complained. “He’s going on about another group he hates.”

“You don’t know him,” he responded, annoyed. was in junior high then. “You haven’t been here for a long time.”

“Fair enough,” I replied. “I haven’t.” Maybe he was right.

Walking through the door, we were met with Dan’s voice. “Well, I don’t know about you,” he jeered, “but I wouldn’t want to live next to a bunch of Jews either.”

I shot my brother a look.

“Don’t!” he ordered.

“Mmm hm.” I walked off, sanctimonious.

No, I never liked my sister’s husband. It is with much chagrin that I think of my girls learning his values. But it is in this that I find purpose. That’s what Fun Aunt Christie is for! Someday, somehow, they might see, “There is another view.”

Christmas 2011 was different. It was never so egregious as to take place at the dinner table, or if it started to, dad would joke, “Watch out for Christie.” (Hilarious.) Til now, it had always been conversation I could avoid or disagree with in a passing manner. I knew Dan would rather I just shut up, but I had a job to do. And for heaven’s sake – literally! – can we not talk about hatred on the night of our dear Savior’s birth? You call him your Lord and yet you seem to forget the very message of his life: To love the OTHER. This is the holiday! Get it? HOLY DAY. And you use it to advance hatred? I expect as little from that Klan member Dan, but not my dad. I sat in silence for as long as I could, but I just kept thinking, “What if one of my nieces is gay? What if a little heart is breaking right now? What if someone at this table at this second is just dying inside?” I don’t think any of my nieces is gay, but that’s not the point. It’s not okay to teach that, ever. At Christmas, it’s downright sinful.

And I was embarrassed! My brand new, young sister-in-law was meeting us for the first time, together. This is Christmas here. This is who you married.

I was adversarial, I won’t deny. I didn’t yell, but I was self-righteous. “That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard! I cannot believe [such and such]…”

(Dad argued that a gay urbanite would be more likely to die in the Alaskan bush than a straight city-sweller. I think sexual orientation has no bearing on adaptability, but in our dictatorship family, dissent is not allowed.)

I’d never seen my dad so angry. He’s very mild-mannered, but he was hateful. “You can call me a bigot if you want, Christie,” he snapped, “but that’s how I feel.” Whoa. I never saw my father as a bigot, until he accused me of calling him one. That’s what bigots do. My sister’s husband is a bigot, racist, sexist, all of it. My father’s just a guy from another generation who’s only ever known people who look, think, and act like him.

(I consider my restraint heroic for never having screamed at him, “How do you not see that your brother, the tap-dancing rancher, is GAAAAAAAAAAY!???) (I admire and love my uncle more and more. Faithful practicing Mormon, celibate, never-married, one of the most pleasant, generous, loving people I know. A kind, joyful man. And fabulous.)

My folks left after dinner. Mom thanked me for their gift. Dad wouldn’t speak to me.

Before bed, my sister pulled me aside. “Christie,” she started, “I don’t know how to say this.” My stomach dropped to my toes. “Don’t go to mom anymore.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“She can’t handle it anymore.”

“I know. What are you talking about?” I asked again. “Oh.”

It all made sense now, dad’s hostility. He didn’t believe me when I shared my epiphany, or if he had, he didn’t care. He was still mad at me, and talking about it behind my back to the rest of the family. They get together, decide what my behavior means, and tell me about it during the holidays.

“You can come to me,” my sister offered.

“I’m the one who said I wouldn’t turn to her anymore.”

“I don’t want to hear it,” she cut me off.

“Melanie, you just said I could come to you…”

“Go to bed, Christie,” Dan ordered me from upstairs.

“My sister and I are just fine,” I told him, turning back to my conversation. “Melanie, you can’t unload misinformation on me and then not listen to my perspective.”

“I don’t want to hear it,” she said again.

“Are you even listening to yourself? ‘Come to me. I don’t want to hear it.'”

“I’m not as smart as you, Christie.” (Such an unfair cop-out!)

“Wait,” I pleaded. “It didn’t happen like that. I told dad I wouldn’t go to mom anymore – and I haven’t – so there’s no point in you saying it now.”

“CHRISTIE!” Dan roared.

“I’m having a conversation with my sister,” I stopped him.

“NO!” he screamed. “SHUT UP, you BITCH!” My face must have betrayed shock. “You are a bitch!” he doubled-down.

(I was surprised. At his behavior. That brand new sister in-law was behind the door he was standing next to, and all four of my young nieces were sleeping in the living room. I could see them!) (Oh, and all strong women are called bitch. Idiot.)

“My sister and I are working this out just fine,” I sneered. “Thanks.”

He charged down the stairs with his fists clenched, chest pushed out, face purple, and veins bulging. Melanie jumped out from behind me and held him back. The whole time he’s screaming, “Shut up, you bitch! You’re a bitch! Shut up!”

“All I’ve ever said to you is thank you,” I yelled. “Thank you for being a good provider! My nieces know their daddy loves them! Thank you! All I’ve ever said is thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Again and again, a mantra.

“Shut UP! Shut up! Don’t you ever shut up? Shut up, you BITCH! You’re a bitch!”

Melanie finally screamed, “DAN!” and broke his gaze from me. He wanted to kill me. He wanted me to know he could.

I ran upstairs. I cried all night, had my brother take me to the bus stop in the morning. “I don’t mean to put words in your mouth,” I said to him, “but I wouldn’t mind if you told Dan that you don’t appreciate him talking to your sister like that.” (He didn’t.)

Later, instant messaging, Melanie denied that Dan ever attacked me. Then, when proof forced her to admit it, she excused him.

“His veins bulge all the time. And you didn’t seem scared.” (So it’s okay?!)

I reminded her that I grew up beaten and learned Fight over Flight, to the death. I remember two times specifically as a small girl that I believed I was going to die, once while watching my arm turn blue and once running down the street in stocking feet in the rain. I didn’t get far. Flight fails. Stand your ground and show no fear.

New Year’s 2012

I began having a strange cluster of health problems and pain that ultimately resulted in a diagnosis in March of auto-immune disease, but not before going under anesthesia for tests. I reported a reaction to Sudafed when I was a baby. The doctor wanted to know what happened, and I couldn’t tell him. He wouldn’t put me under until he knew, so I called my parents. They, of course, screened the call so I left a detailed message. And another. And another. Finally, I said, “I understand. I won’t answer when I see it’s you, but it’s very important that I get this information. Please leave me a message. Thank you.” NOTHING.

I left one last very stern but calm message. “How long are you going to shut me out? This has gone on long enough!” I scolded them. “I require medical treatment and I cannot proceed without information that you have. You should be ashamed of yourselves.” Within an hour I received a breezy voice mail with the info I needed and not a hint of acknowledgement of having ignored my pleas for weeks.

We never spoke again.

Thanksgiving 2012

My parents have held Thanksgiving for my immediate family at their new house in Twin Falls, ID, for years. I didn’t have a car so I rode with my aunt to Thanksgiving at Grandma’s in Pocatello. I’ve been the only representative from our branch for years, so I had no expectation of seeing anyone last year other than cousins and my beloved grandmother.

Imagine my surprise when, days before the holiday, I received a text from my sister. “Mom, dad, Ren and Alicia (brother and sister in-law) are coming over after dinner at Grandma’s. You’re more than welcome to come.” I was sick. (And astonished. In what world am I welcome in that house? WHAT COLOR IS THE SKY ON YOUR PLANET?!) I was only just beginning to look at the pain from the year before. Whenever that anger and heartache would boil, I just looked away. That’s not my style. I believe only by facing our fears can we hope to understand, learn from, or conquer them. This one was so big I gave myself permission to pretend it didn’t exist. It worked. And then that first anniversary was here. I had to look. I was furious. I allowed myself to seethe. I know me, and I know anger is part of my process, but I was terrified to see those people. I was too bottled up, too disgusted to see them. This was a holiday, a time to celebrate gratitude and grannies, not a time to explode.

I sought the council of my best friend. “What do I do? I can’t talk to them! I can’t face them!”

“Stick to your Grandma,” she advised me.

“I can do that.”

Wednesday night, I had total insomnia. Thanksgiving Day I was fairly twitching with fear and lack of sleep, but doing okay. I was enjoying the company of my cousins and nieces and feeling like maybe I’d worried for nothing. Coming down the stairs, however, I realized that dad and I would be bottle-necked alone and I began to panic. In my mind, I was running. Looking back, it feels like I had tunnel-vision on the bottom of those stairs. My dad elbowed me in the side and laughed, “You still not talkin’ to us? Har har.”

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!!!

I flipped around, finger in his face. “You owe me an apology!” I yelled under my breath. “You accused me of calling you a bigot. I have never called you a name in my life!” No one was the wiser and I took a seat with an uncle’s family rather than with my own.

I didn’t sleep again that night. I didn’t sleep for sixty hours straight.

I wrote my dad a letter apologizing for snapping at him. “I’ve learned that anger is easier to feel than pain and that pretty much sums up the first half of my life,” I wrote. “I really want a better second half.” I told him that 2012 had been one of the most difficult and rewarding years of my life, “and I did it completely alone, without support from my family and very little communication. I must conclude, then, that I’m better off that way for now. May it bring peace for all of us. I love you both.”

****

I don’t know. I’m still in it, I guess, far from forgiveness. I look at what I just wrote and think, “Is this just more evidence-gathering?” Am I just arguing my case to an obliging faceless, virtual public? “I’m RIGHT!” Is that all this is? It might be.

Or… Is this out of me at last? I’m the kind who has to tell the whole story until I’ve worked it all out. I try to be conscious of that dangerous place where you switch from working it out to rehearsing the script. I’m not even close to getting stuck in this. Right? I feel like I’m barely beginning to look at it. I was so raw last year, I couldn’t even think about it. It took more than a year to process the indignity of how I was fired! I only started looking at the holiday collapse of my family during the holidays. I think I’m gonna cut myself a break and say it all this once without judgment, without questioning my own motives. That’s my experience of what happened. There. It can only get further and further behind me.

Cluck like a chicken if you read all that, ha! That’s alright. I wrote it for me. Now I’m done.
support

Ugh!

Rats! Curses!

It’s hard to feel like “Success is showing up” when you show up with quivering voice, forgetting your breath, ruining your phrasology and musicality. It was… not good.

First, the age-old problem of hands. What the hell do I do with my hands? Amateur! You never clasp your hands. If you can’t engage in a natural way, they hang at your side!

Next, eye contact… I could NOT look at them. So I tried the over-their-heads trick, but then I thought, “No, you’ve already broken the fourth wall. Too late to sing to an invisible audience now. PERFORM! Look at them and sell it!”

So there’s ME have this internal dialogue – not a character, not a professional – lacking any joie de vivre! I was completely removed, talking to myself, not to them.

You know what’s worse than singing a big song? Disappearing inside of it. “You Can Always Count On Me” is such an easy piece to love, but I was a frightened little girl, certainly no woman known by “lots of smirking motel clerks who call me Mrs. Smith.”

They did let me finish. It was hell, but the girl before me was cut off. I think they could see that I can sing; I was nervous. They gave me ample time and opportunity to relax into my performance. I didn’t! In the second verse, I made exactly the same mistakes with my breath as I did in the first. Only this time, rather than cheat the breath in, I just ran out and faltered weakly at the end of the phrase!

I’m disappointed. But resolved, I suppose. Voice lessons it is. I didn’t practice sufficiently. That’s all there is to it.

They liked my joke. 🙂

Through The Store Window

I try, I really try. That’s what we’re all doing here. Hence, they must be trying, too, but from my perspective my family is comprised of walking shells. “Turn a blind eye…” Repression, fear, and the unexamined self make for superficial, unfulfilling relationships that I cannot abide. I devolve into my lowest self, that angry brat who insists she will be HEARD, dammit! The more I demand it, the more they zombie out. For me, they are crazy-makers. I have to walk away. It is the act of courage it takes to grow up at long last and, in future, treat them and myself with gentleness, respect, and love. Developmental trauma’s a bitch. But I continue to repent myself, re-parent myself, forgive all of us and look on the whole sorry lot with tenderness and compassion. For now, I can do it only from the outside looking in.

“Friends are god’s way of making up for family.” I have been blessed with the companionship of like partners who treat each other as the therapist’s couch, and laugh and cry and love and hug and connect. There is nothing superficial about my urban family.

I never dreamed that my family of origin and I would fail, but the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result, as they say. They cannot be different. I must be.

Grow up, Darling Daughter. The time is now. Forgive. And remember, you cannot perceive the future. Not even with your connection to Spirit.

“… which they dismiss as utterly insane!” I scream back at my angels. I’m loath to let go my screaming little banshee. She protected me for a long time.  

*sigh*

We’ll love in our own broken way. At an arm’s length that is miles and miles long. My heart breaks to acknowlege my personal truth. Historically and currently, my immediate family is harmful to my mental health. And I to theirs. Blah.

I miss them. I mourn the loss of a dream of domestic bliss with them.

I been cryin’. Must be Christmas.

(Super stoked for 2013! Hope we don’t all die next week. 🙂 hehehe.)