It’s here! It’s here! It’s actually happening!
Did anyone else do that? Set an intention for Hindsight 2020, when they’d have all their shit figured out? Well, I did, and I marked it a long time ago. Like, 20 years or more.
The confluence of midlife and that symbolic cliché struck me long before I knew what a bitch this shift would really be. I mean, I knew it would be. My early life was traumatizing. I knew it would be the work of my life to process all that.
I planned to have it done by next month, haha! The weird thing is, I do.
2019 was the first successful hard year I’ve had. It was productive. There were so many opportunities to state feelings of upset, anger, and fear without freaking out, and I did.
The thing I have that I didn’t before is confidence. I trust myself for the first time.
The sexual violence I experienced during festival season, culminating in Burning Man, was a trauma I only just released… last week. I didn’t realize how much of it I was still carrying around until I wasn’t.
I’ll never allow predators to remain again. I know it, because I don’t apologize anymore for my limit. I don’t question anymore if I’m worth walking away from people who don’t honor my boundaries. My safety’s not negotiable.
I’m not asking too much. Refusing another chance – when your needs have been stated and ignored, multiple times – is normal. It’s called Healthy Boundaries.
“Actions speak louder than words.” Listen, dummy!
(It takes time to learn a foreign language, and quite literally, boundaries are not my native tongue. It is what it is. I got it now. I probably have an accent that gives away my place of origin, but that’s fine.)
I don’t believe in a three-strike rule. “Fool me once, shame on you… twice, shame on me” doesn’t suit me either. A second chance is fair. That’s the benefit of the doubt. Use it to show me that my faith in you is wisely invested. Or don’t, but that tells me about you, not me. I’m not shamed by that.
I legit did not know that. I couldn’t connect it to emotional truth, that I really am allowed to call it what it is, disrespect, and walk away.
“Disregard those who disregard.” That’s my mode of operation. No guilt or guess-work.
Y’all, I know my boundaries for the first time. Take that in. It’s life-altering.
Kids who grow up with abuse have to love the person(s) hurting them. Boundaries don’t form there. I forgive myself for being a perfect target, because I didn’t create the circumstances that made me a victim.
It’s weird that it took me so long, because I knew what I knew what I knew… but I didn’t. I knew what I didn’t want. I had an idea what I did. But real boundaries? I just didn’t have any. I couldn’t. I didn’t know what they were. I had only fear of what I didn’t want to repeat, and terror of being found out: I’m not worthy!
Well, I am. Let’s build something!
Now, the only thing keeping me from the future of my dreams is inertia. And that’s a big one for me. I’m lazy. I could blame my luxurious, indolent Taurus. I could blame a life of vigilant fear. (You hunker down and dip your toe in, never swimming freely.) Yeah, sure, all the things. I could blame. But I’m staring down 50. It’s now. Holy shit!
I’ve joked for decades, “My epitaph will read, ‘Lovingly gave half her life to sleep.'”
If I don’t get up now, I will die never having truly committed to any life. I’m sitting, waiting for it, watching. Get UP and make it! It’ll be janky and maudlin, and bad ass.
I feel myself very clearly looking behind me at that mad, manic, wild, amazing first half. I see me – oh, wow – aching for that girl, understanding that girl, cringing and regretting that girl, and LOVING her. I am so strong. I survived! I fought like hell not to stick my head in the sand that shields my family from reality. I’d rather kill myself than hide from the truth. I LOVE THAT ABOUT ME. I stared down death to live honestly.
What I see now is courage. I had strength without the tools to voice it in meaningful ways. I was screaming for my very life, and that’s how it felt. What I see now is power expressing itself weakly, and it will again, but not as often, and not blindly.
I’m not as afraid as I was, even two years ago. I think that’s about where the shift took place in space and time. The last two years. In other words, now.
I see myself pivoting, with intention, 180 degrees, to look out on a tabula rasa. Its blankness doesn’t scare me. I don’t have to control right this second what might happen out there. I’m going to make what I make, and I’m excited! I want to start walking, now.
A sad truth of this change has been the adjustment of several relationships. Unfortunately, young Christie’s friends aren’t used to this middle-aged lady’s insight. I built those friendships when I was sick, and those patterns of interaction don’t work for me anymore. I’m not operating from weakness, and I’m not apologizing.
I had to leave a decades-old friendship last year. I sent a card six months later for her birthday, a love letter, really. She called. I answered, glad to put it to rest and move on, only to have her start up with justifications and explanations, and a complete lack of awareness. She was still in a fight that didn’t matter anymore. I tried to work through it – I believe in working through it – but we were talking in circles. At the end of the day she confirmed what I saw for the first time six months prior: a woman who will not share responsibility for misunderstandings. I owned my shit and wouldn’t let her off the hook for hers. I deserve friends who apologize when they’re wrong, of their own volition. I do.
She can’t. She’s not sorry. She’s comfortable in a world where I blame myself for the behavior of others. “I’m fucked up. What do I know?”
Not anymore. Level up.
I had no idea she needed to be “the healthy one” until I got better. In 22 years, we had two fights. After the first, I acquiesced (apologizing without reciprocation) because I needed her and didn’t know my worth, so I couldn’t recognize that she didn’t either. After last year’s argument, I couldn’t stay in a friendship that won’t grow with me.
I love her so much, and I know she’s out there with no clue why our friendship is over. She actually thinks it’s because we had a fight. She needs me weak, and if given the opportunity, she’d go over the minutia again, to prove her point under the guise of seeking accord, when it’s long-since irrelevant.
That friend is the keeper of my youth and beauty, of joyful exuberance, freedom, and fun! I’m still fun, can’t help it, but it’s different. I’m fun, with edge. And I love my edge! It’s wicked and sharp, still silly and laughing at my own expense, but not… young anymore. Anyway, the pictures in my mind of this sweet friend and me are footloose and fancy free, if anything ever was. We pranced through mountains, singing, and swam in glacial lakes – head underwater three times or it doesn’t count – not a care in the world. She’s a hallmark of an unpolluted era. She holds my innocence, and I love her forever.
I wrote about the friendship that changed after Burning Man, the couple I introduced who got married out there and then hung out on Zafod’s art car after he assaulted me. It doesn’t hurt anymore to accept them at their level. They were friends of long standing that I thought of as intimates, but I see now a childish eagerness to make family of peripheral community. They’re friends. Their values are different from mine. Okay.
I like them. I enjoy them. I’ll seek them out at every gathering. I invest nothing more.
One more important friendship is in 2019’s crucible, on the verge of moving from sister to drinking buddy. We’re in process, and I think we’ll be okay, but my new boundaries are being met with a resistance familiar to me now. The equalizing of power imbalances doesn’t feel as hopeful and thrilling to others as it does me, it seems.
“I’m changing,” I told her. “Keep up or don’t.”
I have no delusions that my patterns and problems will go away, but I’m a different person. EMDR is hard. I hate/love it. I’m hoping to love/hate it soon, but one year in, I still can’t sleep soundly the night of a session. It’s disruptive to a brain!
I have gods-honest panic attacks now, not just the white-knuckle, jaw-clenching stranglehold I’ve had on the day-to-day. On one hand, I prefer it. It feels more honest, less monster under the bed. “Okay, you’re real. Let’s face this down and really talk to it.” On the other hand, panic attacks fucking suck.
I asked my therapist if I’m having fits now because growing new neuro-pathways has basically turned me into a toddler. He said yes, haha! It feels like it. It eases my mind a little to think of them as the tantrums of helpless child because, well, it amuses me, and because a phase is less menacing than a condition.
I don’t have a panic disorder. I have anxiety and control issues, sure, but I inherited those from a scary childhood. I expect it to settle, because I also feel, for the first time, like a mature adult who can handle her shit without losing it.
I DARED, and I’m so glad I did. I see real results from intense psychotherapy.
(Sometimes, when my practitioner passes over the hand buzzers, I still see them coming at me in slow motion. It’s the craziest thing, like I can watch how I used to “pop out” of my body, but I stay in it now. It makes me feel faint, and I feel it in my whole body, the fluttering in my gut, the tingling and numbness in my limbs of staying put instead of running away from what’s about to hurt.) (At this point, as a kid, I just started screaming god-knows-what stream of consciousness, and by age 7-8, I was being mocked for how “smart” I was. I couldn’t stop the violence, but I could get in your head.)
I’m not afraid of that screaming thing in me anymore. It kept me alive. It’s the same warrior that made me willing to stare this down, and put it to rest. Real strength is nascent in me yet, but I trust it. I believe it. I can do it. I am.
It’s not my fault what happened to me, but it’s my responsibility now.
Looking forward, the only thing I have to confront (that has nothing to do with cPTSD) is that laziness I love to cuddle down with. I have to muster up some self-discipline! I got no time left. If I keep sitting, I will actually die waiting for my life to happen.
So, to that end, here are my plans:
Get my ESL certification in preparation for moving to Bolivia to teach English.
Finish my recovery. (Unlike Donald Trump, my bone spurs were real. You don’t get out of Vietnam. You get surgery.)
Keep up Afro-Brazilian drum lessons until I can…
Return to yoga and dance!
Audition for Samba Fogo drum corps.
Restring my guitar and start online lessons.
Participate in SLC’s 3rd annual Rock Camp for Womyn (with my non-binary sibling who plays guitar!)
Build the E11 Temple again (Hindsight 2020 theme!) and join an art installation crew.
Tarot… Actually learn the deck, and do readings at E11.
Cook something healthy at least once a week, for the love! (I’m skinny fat.)
Oh. BULLET JOURNAL! Why have I never done that? Oh, yeah. I’m not busy enough to need a planner. But I love lists, and I love pretty things. Boom, done. Bullet journal.
Write short blog posts. 😆
(P.S. Two fights in 22 years? [222!] “I’ve been tripping myself up” repeating old patterns of unhealthy relationships. Another germane cliché? [I fixed my toe, and relationships are changing.] I love synchronicities, and that’s too coincidental not to notice.)