Id like to thank the universe for cutting short the funk I’ve been in these past few months. I knew something was about to happen. I could feel it building up over the past few weeks. Amid all the inner turmoil, I would catch glimpses of whatever “it” was…little glimmers of hope, of putting puzzle pieces together in my brain. I kept up with my “work”…meditating my ass off, writing in my journal, researching attachment types, abandonment issues and emotionally unavailable men. The other night, I tearfully sat in my friend’s driveway, telling her how desperate I was to change my attachment type, knowing full well the only way I was ever going to stop the pattern of only being drawn to emotionally unavailable men was to believe in my own self worth, and to make peace with the first emotionally unavailable relationship in my life… the one with my dad. Easier said than done, people. Easier said than done.
I spent another day soul-searching. Reading. Listening to podcasts. I knew I had all the answers in my possession, I just had to figure out how to make them work. I could feel an impending shift inside me. I went to dinner that night with my friends, still tearfully talking about the same thing, but telling them “something big is about to happen to me…I can feel it.” And wouldn’t you know it… I woke up the very next day, and the angst was gone. Just like that. It lifted. I exhaled. I smiled. I thought about trying to figure just what it was that made it go away, but I stopped… No need to. I just wanted to enjoy it.
I felt like a damn rock star. I kicked ass at work that day. I ended up finishing early because everything seem to line up just right. I noticed a lot of synchronicity throughout the day, and knew it was the universe falling into place for me. I ended up completing a lot of tasks I had put off for months. Every interaction I had was joyful and purposeful. I was mindful of everything. I was walking on air and felt unstoppable.
Are you waiting for me to tell you about when the other shoe fell? Well, I’m not going to. The synchronicity is still happening. I still feel no inner turmoil. It’s been days now, and I’m still a rock star. Carry on.
We had another unseasonably warm day today in New England. At least, that’s what they say. I don’t really think we should be calling it that anymore, because I can remember being out on my boat the last two Octobers. I would have been out on it today for sure, if the marina hadn’t closed last week. Everyone’s been asking me if I’ve put the boat away yet. Each time they ask, my smile disappears and my shoulder a slump a little bit as I nod my head. It’s almost like I’m slightly in mourning. Then most of them end up feeling bad for bringing it up. I know, I know…it’s a first world problem. I don’t really mind having first world problems. I mean, if the worst thing I have to worry about is boating season being over, I’m doing pretty well then. Of course, I always have bigger things to worry about than that, but I’m making a conscious effort to try to not worry about those ones. This one’s easier because I know it’s temporary. Summer WILL return!
So, what’s a single woman to do on a sunny, warm Saturday in October? Well, seeing how I live on Cape Cod, the possibilities are ENDLESS! I’m sure your mind is racing with various exciting scenarios. Well, whatever it is you’re imagining, just stop. I went to the dump. I mowed the lawn. I did three loads of laundry INCLUDING all our sheets. I took my mom to two yard sales. I pulled weeds from the walkway. I helped the boys clean their rooms. I’m sure I did some other things that are apparently not even worth remembering. However, I find all of this to be somewhat satisfying, as I neglect ALL these things during boating season. With me working this new job and trying to squeeze in time on the water on my days off, there just isn’t time to keep up with the house and the yard. There were many days over the past few months where our house looked like one of those houses on Cops…trash littered everywhere, hungry dirty children wandering around without adult supervision.
Not to mention, I’m still getting used to the yard being my responsibility. So, I’m sorry to my neighbors who had to watch things get kind of out of control over here the past few months, but a single working mom just has to prioritize things sometimes. Besides, my crappy yard just makes yours look nicer, so… you’re welcome.
Well, I finally received the print copy of my article. I started this whole “getting something published” journey back in the spring, and it’s kind of like waiting for a baby to be born. No, not really. Bad example. It’s more like waiting for a vacation you planned well in advance. Yes, that’s a better comparison. You plan the trip, and once you book it, you’re PUMPED. You tell everyone you know about it, you are so freaking excited to go there, and then you kind of have a let down, as you realize you have to spend the next several months just living your ordinary life until the day rolls around. Kind of like the trip I just took to San Diego. I bought it LAST November on cyber Monday (BEST day to purchase online trips, FYI….$600 for round trip airfare and 4 nights in a hotel ON the ocean). We were so excited when we bought it, then had to face the reality of a New England winter and spring (basically just one long cold shitty season), go through the summer and then get excited again as the date finally neared. We just went last week, and it was amazing. And the day I returned home, the paper copy of the American Journal of Nursing was waiting for me. Perfect homecoming after a perfect vacation.
And, I read a book on attachment relationship types on the plane, and it allowed me to let go of the angst which had been building up inside me regarding yet another failed relationship. Sometimes, just having the answer to “why” is good enough.
Well, I am happy again…finally. Feeling at peace and ready to conquer the world again. Thank God….
Last night my ex husband came over to celebrate our son’s birthday. We have an amicable relationship, but really haven’t spent too much time together this year. He moved out a year ago, after a tense and difficult summer. I think we’ve learned how to co-parent without pressing each other’s buttons by keeping our distance and creating boundaries. Not too shabby for someone I cringed at the thought of last summer.
Our son opens his gift and soon disappears to his room, in his typical teenage boy fashion. My ex and I are left sitting at my dining room table alone. I can’t even remember what we were talking about initially, but the subject changed to my father. I haven’t really shared much about my problems with my dad on here, and I’m not so sure I want to start tonight, but we’ll see…
Jeez, I can’t really go on with the rest of the story without giving you some sort of background on my dad. Hmm…
OK, so in brief… my dad loves me. I know this to be true. I can feel it when I’m with him. He loves me in the best way he can. The only way he knows how. It is difficult for me to accept this way, because I crave so much more. Intellectually speaking, I understand why he is distant. Emotionally, it kills me. Hey, that summary REEKS of someone in therapy, doesn’t it??
So, my ex tells me my dad reached out to him to see the boys. Another long story about why he needs to go through my ex, but I’ll sit on that one for a while. I’m pleased he’s making an effort to see them, but the conversation leads from one thing to another to another and the next thing you know, I’m crying…pouring out a few raw pieces of my soul…to my ex husband. I just couldn’t help it. The tears were down my cheeks before I even realized what was happening. And I just kept talking. Sharing the pain of my unmet emotional needs regarding my father, with the man who also left my emotional needs unmet for the past 20 years. Crazy, huh? The weird thing is, it didn’t feel crazy. He appeared to be listening sincerely, and appeared to feel bad for me. For all I know, I could be wrong about the sincerity, but I really don’t think so. He validated a few of the things I’ve done…things other members of my family have criticized me for. As much negative shit he and I have been through with each other this past year, he still understands what it’s like to have a dysfunctional childhood. At least that’s something we can connect on.
I spent a good half hour there, talking to him about my family, my childhood, the pain, the abuse…and for those moments, it felt like we weren’t in the middle of a sometimes tense divorce. It wasn’t like we were best friends, either. It was like we were two people who understood familial pain, and he was listening to me without judging me. Kind of a big deal, now that I’m looking back on it. We had some moments of tenderness last night.
I stopped crying and we went upstairs so he could say goodnight to the boys. He checked out my drum set and listened to me play a song, and he didn’t laugh at me at all. I’m actually getting kind of decent at Creep….for a 45-year-old brand new drummer mom. We walked downstairs, while he gave me advice on fall lawn care and getting things ready for the winter season around here. It came time to say good-bye and he hugged me. Not a quick, meaningless fake hug…but a long, sincere, probably sympathy hug. Normally, that is the exact OPPOSITE of something I would want to do with him, but I accepted it. And thanked him. And meant it. While I in NO means would even consider reconciling with the man, or even want to spend another evening with him like that, it did prompt me to think of how I don’t have a man in my life to support me during all this, and that left me feeling kind of empty…
You know, even though he’s not apologizing for all his stuff over the years, I forgive him. I forgave him well before last night. That’s the reward of processing your shit. That’s how you know you’re healing…when you can forgive someone who’s not sorry and feel good about doing it. I had told him about forgiving one of my family members, one who had treated me so badly as a child and still can be quite toxic to me. I told him how even though I can’t have this person in my life, because it would just cause me more pain, I’m still loving this person, from a human standpoint, from a distance. I’m wishing this person peace, as I know it can’t be easy being so miserable and agitated all the time. I asked him if he thought that sounded crazy, and he said yes. He and I…simply not on the same energy level. He’ll never “get” me, and that’s ok. That’s why we don’t live together anymore. But, he got me enough last night to create sincere, tender moments between us. And I’m smart enough to know that when those unexpected tender moments arise with someone, I don’t ignore them. I will heal.
Do you know what happened today? I became a published author! Granted, it’s just an essay in a nursing journal, but it’s kind of exciting to me. Not only because it’s validating, in regards to my writing, but because it’s a story that changed my life and I’m just full of joy it’s being shared. Maybe, just maybe… it will change someone’s perception. That’s how we change the world…one person at a time, one story at a time, right?
I find I do my best writing when I’m being honest. Not necessarily honest about other things and other people, but about myself. When I strip down to the raw details, exposing my flaws, owning my deficits… being real… it doesn’t matter if anyone else likes it, or praises it, or praises me. All that matters is I’m being true. And I think everyone can relate to someone being honest and vulnerable, whether they agree with them or not.
My essay tells the story of a difficult nursing experience I had with an alcoholic. Spoiler alert: I’m the asshole in the story. If you want to check it out, you can read it in the American Journal of Nursing by clicking here.
This shameless plug of my newly published essay was written in response to Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Social Consciousness Saturday.
I cried at the gas station today. Just a little. It came out of nowhere, I think. Well, I’m sure all the country music I’m listening to isn’t helping. All in all, I think I’m doing pretty damn well. I’m continuing to make impacts with my patients at work. I’m loving having routines again with the boys being back at school. Family dinners are the best! I’m keeping social with my good friends, the one’s who love me and check in on me and value me. I’m meditating, and attending my meditation class every week. I’m going to therapy, working on getting back to being happy just being me. I’m getting there. But today, as I’m driving around to see my last few patients, I became sad. For some reason, I started thinking those stupid unlovable thoughts again. I hate them. Why can’t they just stay away? I’m doing EVERYTHING I’m supposed to be doing to rid myself of them. Fake it till you make it, then fake it some more, I guess.
I’m standing there, pumping gas, with one more patient to see. The sun is shining warmly. There’s hardly any wind. A perfect afternoon to sneak a few hours in on the boat. But work is work and you just can’t predict how long it’s going to take, and today took longer. That’s probably another thing contributing to my sadness…putting the boat away soon. For all I know, I could’ve had my last day out there already. So anyway, I’m standing there, pumping the gas, and I see a man across the way, finishing fueling up. I look at him. He glances at me and carries on. Nothing special about it. Just an average guy who happened to be pumping gas at the same time as me. Next thing you know, I’m crying. Flooded with the thoughts of my inner critic, or inner child, or whoever the hell it is that knows I’m never going to find the love I’ve been craving my entire life. Boom, back in an instant. I’m swallowing hard, blinking away the tears, wondering why the fuck I’m crying at the gas pump over love. God, what is going on with me? Last year, I was perfectly fine to never have even a conversation with another man again, and now I’m aching with emptiness at the knowing of it’s not ever happening for me.
I think my problem is that I finally opened my heart enough to admit I wanted it to be loved. Yeah, I think that’s it. It’s easier to not want love when you seal that sucker up. Safer. You’re protected that way.
But no, I had to go and open the damn thing up, exposing its vulnerability. And when you open it up, and nothing happens, it’s a weird kind of fragility. It kind of starts to close and harden, like it’s going to heal, but not like the old shell. Just a light scabbing occurs, and as soon as you move, it cracks open again. And it bleeds…right out your eyes and down your cheeks at the gas station. So yeah, I suppose if I just stay home, lying around, doing nothing with anyone, just being still, stuffing it all down, numbing myself with TV or Facebook or nothing…it might harden enough to last. Harden, mind you. Not heal. Big difference. Because I don’t want to harden my heart. That’s armor. Protects you enough, but doesn’t let anything in at all. I also don’t want it to be raw and hurting, either. Because then, when nothing comes in at all, it burns. Neither one is significant of good living. What I truly want is for this heart to be loved and nurtured and adored and held gently. I want it to be needed. I want it to be healed. God, that’s vulnerable just to admit, isn’t it? To acknowledge I want my heart to be loved, yet admit it isn’t? Admit it hasn’t ever? Admit it most likely never will be? Not the way I need it to be. I’ve learned that lesson. Excessively. Doesn’t mean I won’t still try, even though I know the lesson. I just don’t like the alternative. Which I guess is why I cried today. I don’t like this alternative at all, and apparently, I’m totally onto the fact that I’m faking it. Damn.
I’m getting better, though. I kind of love myself enough to know what I deserve and not to take less, just because that’s all that’s offered. Kind of.
I’m turning 46 this year. I think that’s kind of a long time to go without being loved. Or loved in the right way. I know some people never find love. Never have children. Never got to grow up having family. So many of us never find what we yearn for. I’ve been told by just about every man I’ve been with that I want too much. I always felt so ashamed for that, trying to figure out how to stop being so needy and how to just be happy for what’s offered to me. I’m trying to not do that anymore. Though there’s not really any men in my life to try it on, so I guess the “trying” part will have to wait. However, I’ve just recently discovered the concept of “attachment types” and let me tell you, it’s opened my eyes. (Thank you, Deborah!) You can read about them here. I’ve got to figure out how to stop being attracted to these “avoidance” types. Or, figure out how to change myself to a “secure” type. Not happening any time soon, I’m sure. In the meantime, I’m filling my days with work, my kids and my friends. (I’ve got my drum lessons in an hour…working on a Metallica song!) Trying to fill up as much of the day as I can so I don’t notice what’s lurking. But I notice, anyway. Funny how you can be surrounded by people and still feel lonely. I know I won’t be able to stay this way forever. It will either harden back up, or it will just break. So for now, I’m just protecting it and loving it the best I can, and hoping someday, my love for myself will be enough.
I keep using the phrase, “ebb and flow” lately, when referring to my life…my healing…my whatever. I’m over a year and a half into this “work” I’ve been doing, and lately… I have more days than not where I feel I haven’t made much progress at all. I can’t even bring myself to read my posts from last year, back when I was badass. Back when I was fixing appliances and taking names. Back when I spoke my truth and became empowered. Back when I learned what brought me joy and I did it. Back when I knew my worth.
OK, I suppose that last sentence is a bit misleading. It’s not that I don’t know my worth. I know it. I’m just having a hard time feeling it. Yes, there’s a difference. Feeling it, (or not feeling it, in this case), is that inner voice. My inner critic. My superego. The one who laughs at my intellectual self, who is the one who tells me I’m worthy. My intellectual self uses all the new language I’ve learned, all the research and knowledge I’ve gained, and says it to my inner self. Over and over and over. But my inner self is ebbing….or is it flowing? I’m never sure which is which, when talking about life’s highs and lows. Anyway, my inner voice isn’t matching up to my intellectual voice anymore. And I hate it.
God, I was so freaking strong when they matched up. I was powerful. Even I wouldn’t have messed with me back then. Hell hath no fury like an empowered woman who knows her worth! I became that way by removing all of my triggers. Easy! Live in a bubble and all is well…tra, la la….
My bubble was so perfect, so believable…I didn’t think I needed it anymore. That’s a core dilemma, isn’t it? Stay in the bubble so you don’t get hurt, or go out of the bubble so you can attempt to live a real life? TOUGH decision! In the words of my future boyfriend, Garth Brooks,
“And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d of had to miss the dance”.
I swear, sometimes I think Garth is the male country version of Oprah…speaks to my heart. Anyway, I’ll save you the details, but right now…I’m outside the bubble. I can’t even get back in, because the only way out is to pop it and hope for the best. And well, the best didn’t happen. I know, I know…that’s how life goes. Trust me, my intellectual self has been telling me that for weeks now. That’s what’s interesting about being outside the bubble this time. The first time, which just so happened to be right after I realized I had been living in a cocoon my entire life, well that first time was so raw and eye opening, I didn’t really mind it. I liked it. For the first time in my life, as painful as it was, I felt like I was living. I saw life and felt experiences, painful or not, with a new clarity…from a new perspective. My inner self and my intellectual self matched up quickly. The puzzle pieces started falling into place and my year of “work” paid off.
Of course, I didn’t completely realize that in order to stay in that place, I had to live in the bubble. Bubbles are transparent, and you don’t even notice them if you stay busy enough. But I’m not so busy anymore. I sold my company. I have a much less stressful job. I’ve been separated long enough that it feels normal now. The kids are busy and off conquering the world, now that one of them has a car. I don’t need to journal 10 times a day anymore. I have time. And when you’ve got time on your hands, and your inner voice is telling you you’re not worthy, life gets difficult.
So, I’m spending my time flip flopping between the two voices. One saying, “Other people get those things, Jami. You don’t. That’s just how it is.” And the other is saying, “You are worthy and things will come when they are supposed to. Trust the process.” They say a lot of other things, but I’m trying to make a long story a little less long (sorry). I spent my entire life listening to that first inner voice, the one who knew I wasn’t supposed to have the things I long for in life. I never even asked for them, because I knew. That’s toxic shame for ya…it’s a bitch. I had no clue that another voice even existed, let alone knew the things it would say to be true. And I feel blessed to have been able to figure out a way to listen to that second voice last year. Not only listen to it, but believe it. I believed it right up until about two months ago. That’s when I hit the ebb, (or flow?) and started to realize that I had been wrong all along. “Other people get those things, Jami. You don’t. That’s just how it is.” Right now, most of me feels like maybe I was just faking it all last year, because this is what feels real right now. My empowered self feels like an act. Fooled you, suckers! And guess what? Even admitting that makes me feel ashamed. Gosh! (read that like Napoleon Dynamite). Staying miserable is easier…
My saving grace in all of this is that the difference between this time…the difference between hearing that voice now and when I heard it my entire life before, is that I have that intellectual voice now. My tool box is at least over halfway full. I never had a counter voice before. I never flip flopped. I was just unworthy, plain and simple. No argument to be made, as the opposing side did not exist to me. At least now, I have an argument. And even though my inner voice is kicking ass right now, I am holding on to a thin thread of hope that if I focus on the process, my intellectual voice will prevail.
That’s what faith is, right?
I have but one motive for this post: to share my summer joy with you. I’ll never ever ever take for granted that I get to live here💕
What’s with me and all these rebirths? You’d think one would be sufficient. That’s the thing about me…if I’m going to do something, I’m going to DO it. I’m hard-core like that.
I had a rebirth last year. That’s what I like to call it…”rebirth“. It’s easier than saying “I lived my life traumatized, numb and in pain until I couldn’t take it anymore and experienced PTSD, spent a year in therapy, learned to meditate, had a spiritual awakening, learned to write, sold my business, left a bad marriage, told my soul piercing embarrassing shame story to the world…and to my family…, released 30+ years of shame and guilt, discovered my self-worth and emerged a new me“. A “Rebirth” is easier, right?
I felt like I was back in a cocoon this past month. Even though I emerged as a butterfly last year, I never really took flight. I came out with my new wings and just sat there for a bit, looking at them in wonder. I even got comfortable moving them up and down, feeling a little pride in having them. Earlier this summer, I thought I was about to take that first flight. It was pretty amazing to realize it was finally happening. I can remember saying to my therapist, “don’t you think it’s too soon?” I was scared. However, my inner voice was telling me this was a go, so I went. If I’ve learned one thing this year, it’s to listen. So, I flapped my wings and got ready for flight. But the flight got canceled. Dammit, I hate it when that happens! You get all packed up, build anticipation, make all the plans…and they cancel the damn flight. And like most people, when your exciting travel plans abruptly disappear, you get pissed. I became angry, sad, even in denial for a bit. I kept trying to talk them into rescheduling the flight, explaining why I needed it so bad. Nope. Once a flight is canceled, you just have to suck it up and wait for the next one. My problem is, I had a hard time sucking it up. I was like a little kid, stomping my feet, pouting, crying…”Whyyyyyyyyy???? Even though I knew exactly why. Intellectually, I understood everything. Emotionally? Hell no. My inner child still needs some work. She’s fragile. I get it. She’s been through hell. I don’t blame her for feeling rejected, resentful, hurt, unworthy… that’s what traumatized inner children do when flights get canceled. And those feelings are so painful, they decide, “well, I’m never going to try to fly again, if this is how it’s going to end up!” I ended up believing her, for a bit. That’s been our survival tactic our whole lives. Numb, avoid, protect. So easy to slip back into. My inner voice was telling me to stop, but my inner child is a little bit louder…
Here’s the thing…all those things I wrote in the first paragraph, describing my original “rebirth”…those things don’t just go away. So sure, I spent some time feeling unworthy, swearing I’d never fly again. But it didn’t last long. Not long at all. And to tell you the truth, the flight wasn’t even cancelled. It was just rerouted to a place I wasn’t expecting to go to. It’s like booking a trip to Hawaii and as you’re buckling your seat belt, they announce you’re going to Cuba. “Wait…I think there’s been a mistake. I’m supposed to be going to Hawaii. I paid for Hawaii. I packed my hula skirt and everything….” Too bad the pilot doesn’t care about what you planned for. He’s the one flying the plane. Flying that plane. So, I did some thinking. Did I want to try Cuba? I’ve heard some people go there now, but not many. It’s rich with culture, but not the safest place. There’s a pretty decent chance you are going to get hurt there, even if there are some nice parts to it. No, I decided….I did not want to go to Cuba. Even though it hurt to know my Hawaii dreams were dashed, I didn’t want to take the risk of getting hurt in Cuba. I’m pretty sure they have a sub-par medical system there, and most likely, the hurt I receive there won’t be as easy to heal. My inner voice was telling me I was worth so much more than Cuba, and I listened. So, I unbuckled, grabbed my bags, and cried my way off that plane. Picture one of those kids in the toy store having a temper tantrum. Yup, not pretty. I cried for a few weeks, wishing I could change the past. Angry at the pilot for making me think we were going to Hawaii. Angry at myself for not noticing the fine print on the ticket. Sad at the realization I was never going to get that hula lesson, even though I was SO damn ready to try the hula.
Here’s where the rebirth comes in….
In the old days, I would have stayed on that plane. I would have put my desires aside and taken whatever was handed to me, because it was better than nothing. I still would have cried and felt the anger, even though I was on a trip. I would have shamed myself for doing so. And those negative feelings would have lasted FOREVER. Seriously…they may fade, but they leave an imprint in your soul and shape the rest of your life.
Now, since my first rebirth…since I filled up my emotional tool box… I got off the plane. I allowed myself to have the emotions, because hey…it does suck when your plans are foiled. We’re talking HAWAII, people!!! It’s disappointing. I even shamed myself a bit, but…and here’s the great part…I realized what I was doing. I noticed the old behavior. I could tell I was back in my cocoon again and was about to feel that familiar sense of suffocation. And even though it took a few weeks of struggling…I changed my thought process, and I am now out of that cocoon. Maybe Hawaii will happen some day, maybe it won’t. But I sure as hell am not going to Cuba.
Instead, I went to the jewelers. I’ve been procrastinating having my wedding band cut off. It was my grandmother’s, and we all know how attached I am to her, and this ring. But we also all know I’m never going to get back to my marriage weight in order to get it off my fat finger, so I had it cut off yesterday. Damn you, French fries!! I may never meet my soul mate, but I’d hate to miss on him taking me to Hawaii because he kept walking when he saw my ring. Or maybe I’ll just take myself to Hawaii. Either way, it’s time for a new me…again. My wings are out and I think they’re ready. Commence “Rebirth, part two”.