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Inner Voices


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?

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Life is a highway

My husband moved out 3 days ago. We started this process exactly a year ago this month. After yet another giant argument about sex, needs and responsibilities and ending with me finally saying out loud that our entire marriage has been us pretending, we noticed “the shift”. Our typical post-fight silence lasted a good two weeks longer than the usual day or so, until the awkwardness was too much to bear. Realizing we had to do something other than staring at the floor for the next 20 years, I suggested marriage counseling. He reluctantly agreed. It was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.  I know, it seems as though our therapist was not successful, seeing how I started this story by announcing he moved out, right? Well, let me tell you…our therapist was successful. Sweet baby Jesus, was she successful!

Here’s the thing: you think you are planning your life and making the decisions, but really…you’re just along for the ride. It’s like using an Uber driver fresh off the boat from Ukraine.  He’s been here 2 weeks and speaks about 12 words of English. You gotta pay attention and take charge of the route or you’re going to end up on an unwanted tour of the city, stopping by his Uncle Vlad’s house “to pick something up”.  Sure, your decisions affect how your life turns out and the direction it takes, and sometimes (well, most of the time, for me) you make shitty decisions that cause detours that make your journey a lot longer than it should be…sometimes years longer. And if you’re anything like me, you get in the habit of making those same shitty decisions, over and over and over again. You get to the point where you don’t even realize it’s you that’s making them. You tell yourself, “I’ve just got shitty luck”.  You think that Uber driver and his Uncle Vlad are representative of all that’s out there. Eventually, though, if you happen upon a great therapist at the right time, and the stars and Universe align, and you work on yourself; that painful, exhausting, dirty, unpleasant work…you realize why you took that detour down that dark alley so many times and learn that even though you had to drive through 20 years of bad neighborhoods being touched and leered at by guys like Uncle Vlad, your destination is the same as if you took the highway. You’re just never going to arrive at that destination on the roads you’ve been taking. You realize that even though you’ve never even been on that highway, that some people have, and those people seem happy. And you know what? You want to be happy. You become aware that the reason you took the back roads is because you always felt like you didn’t deserve to take the highway. “Girls like me don’t take the highway. We have to hitch hike or ride our ten speeds through the ghetto to get there”. That’s how I always thought I was supposed to get places…on my bike, or even walking…but never on the highway. I always figured it just wasn’t in the cards for me, because that’s just how it had always been.

I met my husband when I was riding my bike. He had a nice car and liked to use the highway, but it never seemed like he enjoyed taking me on the highway with him. I think he resented me a little bit for tagging along. It was his highway. I didn’t care. Well, I did care, but it was so much easier traveling on the highway that I took those feelings of caring about it and stuffed them in a box deep down inside me. So, we spent 20 years together, driving on the highway together, yet not together. And after 20 years of that lonesome yet togetherness highway driving, I realized it wasn’t the highway I’d heard about, because it never ended. We never got off the exit. “Why aren’t we getting anywhere?!” It was an illusion…a never ending highway. Twenty years is a damn long time to be driving with no destination. The car fills up with half filled water bottles and gum wrappers, you spend all your money on gas and constantly argue about which way is the best way, and you end up wondering how you ever even tolerated that annoying sound he makes when he breathes. Then, one day, you realize that box you used to stuff all your feelings in so you could stay on his highway all these years is chock full. It’s so full, it hurts. So, you open it. The thing is, once you open it and let those feelings out, you can’t fit them back in. You try…you try hard, because those feelings hurt like hell. They are ugly and embarrassing and excruciatingly painful. You definitely regret opening that damn box, but it’s too late. They aren’t going back in. No fucking way are those giant feelings fitting back in that pathetically tiny box. They mock you for even trying.  They are angry as hell for being trapped in there, and are either going to swallow up every last bit of your soul or you are going to deal with them. That’s it. Those are the two choices. So…I pulled up my big girl panties and dealt with them.

So, yeah…couples therapy didn’t work. But individual therapy did. And I mean…it really DID! It was like upgrading from your dad’s old fold up road map to the latest Garmin GPS…damn! Who knew there were so many different highways out there? Highways that actually GO places! And all those side roads that take you through great and beautiful neighborhoods! And the best part? I deserve to travel on them. Let me tell you, the most rewarding byproduct of my therapy journey is that I’ve transformed from worthless to deserving.  That transformation was worth every tear, every painfully processed memory, every bit of that difficult and exhausting work I did, and continue to do, in therapy. So yeah, I got off that highway to nowhere and sat at a crossroads for the past few months, but I’m moving now. I’m moving slowly, but I’m moving. I’m checking out this shiny new GPS and plotting my next path. Maybe I’ll stay on it awhile, or maybe I’ll get off at the next exit. I’ll figure it out when I get there.

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