Posts Tagged ‘family of origin’

Emotional Attachment

June 12, 2018

I woke up a tiny bit off.

Not a lot, but just enough to notice.

I felt a little flat.

Sometimes when I feel this way it’s because I am trying to avoid feeling anything.

So I disassociate a little, go about my day, do my things, make my bed, get dressed and do my hair, make breakfast, get lunch ready for work, look at my calendar, make coffee.

You know.

Routine.

I can check out a little in my routine.

But.

It all came clear when I peeped social media.

Oh hi there.

I wasn’t expecting to see that.

But.

I should have.

I have been sensing it in the air.

I thought about it a couple of days ago.

There’s a birthday coming up, isn’t there?

And yes.

Thanks social media.

There it was on Facebook.

Hi papa.

Happy birthday.

Today you turned 69.

Sigh.

I haven’t seen my father since he was in a coma over four years ago.

I ceded responsibility for his health to the State of Alaska.

I sat by his side for four days and cried and talked and held his hand.

I wrote him a long card that I had bought at a gift shop in the Anchorage Museum a friend had taken me to one afternoon.

“Enough, you’ve had enough time in the hospital, come out, get some air, let’s do something not related to the hospital and the ICU.”

I found a really cool card with raven totems on it.

I bought it for my dad.

I left all my information in it.

My phone number.

My address.

My email.

I said I loved him and hoped he was going to get better and be safe and be happy and get healthy.

I told him I forgave him.

I’m actually not sure I wrote that in the letter, but I told him that.

And I asked him to forgive me.

He wasn’t always the best dad.

I wasn’t always the best daughter.

And I let him go.

My last  night there before getting on the plane the nurses encouraged me to talk to him more, that thought that he might wake up to my voice.

He never did.

I waited until I couldn’t wait any longer, I had to come back to San Francisco, I had to go back to work.

I had to take care of myself.

I kissed him on the cheek.

I was surprised by the warmth of his face and the softness of his skin under my lips.

My eyes welled up with tears and I left.

He woke up about a week later.

On my birthday of all days.

I saw it was the number of the hospital in Anchorage.

I answered.

It was one of my dad’s nurses, “your father’s awake and he wants to talk to you.”

“Hi ___________________ I said softly, I call my father by his first name.  A psychological defense of distancing that I learned at a very young age.  My father ceased being papa when I was six although there were a few scattered times in my adolescence that my father reclaimed the moniker, he’s always been known to me by his first name.

He said, “my balls itch and the nurse won’t let me scratch them.”

Sigh.

Happy birthday.

That really wasn’t what I wanted to hear from my dad, but then again he was awake and that was something else.

He’d been in the coma for two weeks.

Then he cawed at me.

“Caw! Caw!”

Like a crow.

Like a raven.

I teared up.

He’d gotten my letter and either he’d read it or someone read it to him.

He understood and he was letting me know that he’d gotten the message.

I felt big crashing waves of emotions.

And then.

The nurse had to get him off the phone, for he kept trying to take off the bandages around his skull where the craniotomy had happened to relieve the brain swelling he’d had as a result of the accident he was in.

And accident that was propelled and fueled by his alcoholism.

Those were the last words I got from my dad.

I wondered about him today.

I felt a similar feeling last year around this time.

An urge to reach out.

An urge to connect.

I tried a cell phone number that I thought might work.

It was disconnected.

Just like I was.

Detached.

Removed.

Far, far, far away.

I checked in with my person today, I told on myself about my father’s birthday and some guilt and shame that was coming up.

I got lovely perspective and calm soothing words and an invitation instead to get a candle for my father and light it and that it be a scented candle, a smell that I like.

And when I smelled it I would send a little prayer up to God for my father.

I lit that candle tonight when I got home.

Kona coffee scented.

Seems apropos.

My father was born in Hawaii.

I miss you papa and I hope you are well and happy and content.

I won’t reach out further.

There is too much illness and disease and dysfunction there for me to get involved in an emotional imbroglio.

Rather.

Today.

I reached out to those who are my chosen family, friends that have seen me through rough stuff with my parents, friends who love me.

I called an old friend from Wisconsin from my undergrad days.

I got a hold of a friend of mine from high school.

And I reached out to my two best girlfriends from my graduated school program.

Then I loved hard at work.

“I think we are all emotionally attached to you,” the mom said, so sweet, with such tenderness and vulnerability.

I am a soothing presence in their lives and that was sweet to hear and much appreciated.

I got to help put the baby down for a nap when he was super upset.

I got to hug the little lady and make her all sorts of her favorite foods.

And.

Oh.

The oldest boy just crawled right up into my lap today at the dinner table.

He wasn’t feeling well and he just wanted me to hold him and scratch his back.

He put his head on my chest and asked me to sing him a lullaby.

It was the most heartbreakingly sweet thing ever.

Having this eight year old boy curled up on me listening to me sing “Hush Little Baby.”

My family of origin may not be the family I wanted to have in my life.

And I’m ok with that.

They did the best they could.

Besides

I have such amazing family in my life.

My family of choice.

And for that I am beyond grateful.

Luckiest girl in the world.

 

 

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Ready, Set

March 28, 2018

Interview!

My PhD interview is tomorrow morning!

Holy crap.

I’ve got to get all the profanity, crassness, and foul language out of my system before going in.

Although, to give myself some credit, I am an articulate person.

I have a way with words.

Plus.

I interview well.

Which was not a talent I would have recognized in myself previous to this experience, but when I reflect on how I have done historically in interviews, I usually get the job, or the school to accept me.

Sometimes even when I don’t think I have done so well.

Hell.

Most times.

Most times before not too long ago, I would think that I hadn’t gotten in.

I didn’t think I was going to get back into my Bachelor’s program at UW Madison, I mean I seriously fucked up my first round of schooling there.

But I did, I interviewed with the dean of admissions after sending in an application letter to be readmitted and I was shocked I mean, shocked, when they let me back in.

There wasn’t even any waiting period, the woman basically told me at the end of the interview that I was accepted back.

That I could start that Spring!

It was the fall term and I think I had interviewed at the end of November, beginning of December.

I had not planned on that.

I hadn’t planned on getting in, I was “humoring” my best friend and a good friend of hers, a boss that I worked for, by applying to school again.

“You are just too smart to not be in college,” my boss said, echoing my best friend’s sentiments.

“If you don’t apply, I’m going to fire you,” my boss continued.

“What?!” I said, incredulous.

“I’m serious, Carmen, you really are just too smart, and I wouldn’t feel right if I wasn’t encouraging you to go back to school, go back, we still want you to work here, but you really should go back.” He concluded.

Of course I applied.

I didn’t want to lose my job.

And maybe there was a part of me that wanted to go back, to get my shit together, to do it right this time.

But I hadn’t expected to get right in, nor that I would be able to start in the Spring semester.

I had only a few weeks to adjust to the idea that I was going to be back in school full-time.

My boyfriend at the time was not at all pleased.

He was, in hindsight, though I couldn’t see it at the time, very jealous of my time.

He was also displeased, I suspected, because he had dropped out of UW Madison a couple of years prior and hadn’t managed to get his shit together to go back.

He did eventually.

After doing time for a felony conviction for stalking me.

But that’s another story, for another time.

Suffice to say.

The encouragement of my friends got me in and the encouragement of my friends here in San Francisco got me into my Master’s program.

I think they’re all still behind me for going for the PhD.

Last time I checked in with anyone it felt that way.

Although a few acquaintances did register surprise.

“Two more years of school!”

“We’re never going to see you at fellowship again!”

True.

And not so true.

Yes.

I will still be busy.

But I think I have learned well over these last few years to balance out my studies with my job, my recovery, and my social life.

Sometimes better than others.

And sometimes I really had to work hard at it.

Hell.

It’s been all hard work.

“Sometimes I wish I was done with the hard work!” I expressed to my therapist today.

We had a really huge session.

In fact, I left over time with her saying that she would like to support me in whatever I needed regarding our session.

I thanked her for that.

That’s the second time in a month my therapist has let me know that I can reach out for support after hours, or without having a session scheduled.

Though I don’t think I will do that.

I was quite touched.

I am, however, going to do some work.

The work it doesn’t really end.

It just changes.

And I change.

That’s the hope, anyway, that I will change.

Grow or die.

Ha.

Well.

Perhaps not that stark, not that black and white.

But I was pretty miserable today and sad and angry and upset.

I talked with my therapist about my health stuff, going really into detail, letting her know how I was affected by the system I seem to be unable to get out of.

And.

By my history.

What health advocacy looked like in my home.

In my family of origin.

Which was shit.

I only went to the doctor in an emergency.

There was no healthcare aside from the mandatory doctor’s physical before school each year.

There was only a doctor’s visit when something horrible was happening.

And it had to be really bad to get the attention of my mom.

Really bad.

I remember an incident that happen when I was seventeen.

Mono, strep, and tonsilitis all at the same time.

I was delirious.

I remember calling my mom and begging her to come home from work.

She told me she couldn’t.

I walked around the house crying and delusional with a fever that was so high the emergency room doctor chastised my mother for not bringing me in sooner.

He was irate.

It was one of the few times I remember my mom getting me a special treat from the market, croissants (day olds, but fuck, I had never had such an amazing piece of bread) and crab salad (fake crab, but crab!) and ice cream.

I certainly felt special and the words of the doctor faded out of my perceptions in a haze of fevered ice cream eating and sleep.

But the impact lasted.

I wasn’t allowed to ask for help, I wasn’t allowed to get sick, I wasn’t helped out when I was, I had to take care of myself and figure it out and doctors, dentists, hospitals, the medical system, all seemed scary and also not allowed for me.

I have done a tremendous amount of work to get through it and to be where I am, but it raised its head and there I was in therapy with a pile of tissues around me and angry tears on my face.

And.

Oh, the gratitude.

Some client advocacy from my therapist who made some suggestions and gave me some very valuable information.

Information I will be acting on pretty much immediately.

Well.

First the interview.

Then new insurance!

It’s how I celebrate now.

Not popping a bottle of champagne.

But rather.

Gifting myself.

Better.

Health care.

Officially.

#adulting

Saturday, May 19, 2018

February 3, 2018

The Nourse Theater in Hayes Valley.

COMMENCEMENT!

The date is set, the place has been set, now I just need to get through the next four months of school.

My God.

It is actually going to happen.

I am going to graduate in May!

I’ve never been to the Nourse Theater, but it looks lovely.

I had, for some reason, thought it would be at the Palace of Fine Arts, I seemed to recall having seen photos from a previous cohort’s graduation, but it’s not there and though I love the Palace, I’m happy the commencement ceremonies will be held close to my school.

It feels right somehow.

I’ve a few ideas for what I want to do to celebrate, definitely toss the hat up into the air.

Which reminds me I think I’m going to have to purchase a cap and gown.

An expense I really don’t fucking want to deal with since well I’ll only be wearing it once, but I don’t believe the school rents them.

What I have heard from a few people in my group supervision at my internship, is that folks from previous cohorts may lend them out.

Unfortunately both the people in my group supervision who graduated last year from my same program are a lot shorter than me.

Like, a lot, I wouldn’t be able to fit in a cap and gown that either of them wore.

I’ll suck it up, just one more expense that I wasn’t counting on when I applied to the program.

Like the $5,000 I will have spent on a licenced therapist while I’m in the program.

I love my therapist though, she’s great, also a graduate from the same program that I am in, and I do get her sliding scale fee, $120 an hour, since she knows I’m a student and my school requires that I see a licenced MFT while I’m in practicum.

At first it was really hard to think about spending that kind of money once a week, but having been with her now for 33 sessions, I track them on my Track My Hours BBS app, I can say with not one doubt in my head that it’s been so worth it.

Having an outlet, having support, having a place to explore whatever I’ve been going through while I’ve been in practicum has been such a huge help.

I have worked around a lot of family of origin trauma’s, incest, neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, violence in my family system, with my father, with my step-father, a five-year relationship that went sour and led to being a statistic on domestic violence, my alcohol and drug use, and abuse and subsequent journey into recovery.

It still amazes me that I am sober, that I didn’t do a rehab or a recovery house.

The thought of having to do that scares the living shit out of me, I see a lot of folks in and out of recovery houses and there doesn’t seem to be an answer there.

Perhaps an introduction to a solution, definitely a clean and safe place off the streets, but so often the folks I see from those places don’t seem to have much hope.

Then again, my own perception is probably skewed.

Anyway.

Therapy.

My therapist.

So fucking glad to work with her.

I have worked on self-esteem issues, self-advocacy, self-care, setting boundaries.

I have worked through transference and counter transferences with my clients.

Frankly such a relief to have that as an outlet.

I had a couple of back to back days of intense client sessions.

Really good, don’t get me wrong, but super intense.

Grateful that I get to show up for my clients and be a good therapist.

At least I think I’m good.

The feedback has been good, both from my supervisors and from my clients, but my God, there’s always so much more to learn.

And then there’s all the learning that I have done.

All the work that I have done over the last two and a half years, so much work, so much processing, so much learning, so many articles and books and videos, so, so, so many fucking papers, so much practice, so much showing up, being vulnerable, leaning into the vulnerability and growing.

Painful growth and glorious growth and heartbreaking growth.

I can’t wait to graduate.

The ritual is important for me.

I know it will probably be boring as hell, but there is something here that needs to be done for me, an enactment, the crossing of the stage, the flipping the tassel on my cap from one side to the other, to signify that I have graduated.

I need that ceremony.

It feels very important to me to acknowledge the rite of passage.

And I want to have a party.

I really, really do.

I really have thought quite a bit about having it at Ocean Beach, a bonfire, blankets in the sand, some snacks, I don’t really care about food, but some cold bevvies in a cooler, all non-alcoholic thank you.

I think it would be easier for me to facilitate than making reservations for a big dinner party somewhere.

It’s not so much the food that’s important, it’s the people.

I see a big bundle of balloons on the beach, a bonfire, and a bunch of folks standing around and hanging out, simple, easy, sweet.

The only drawback to Ocean Beach is that the beach doesn’t really have bathrooms, there are port-a-potties, but that’s it.

Then again, like I can’t handle that, how many times have I gone to Burning Man?

Heh.

I did have it suggested that I have it at my house, and there’s some appeal there and also not, I can’t decide.  I could have a fire in the back yard, there’s a fire pit, there are tables and chairs and the yard is big enough to accommodate plenty of folks, and there’s a bathroom.

I’d probably need to clear it with the landlady, but I can’t think that she would say no.

There’s also a grill I could use.

I just get a little edgy about having people come in and out of my house, but then again, it could be sweet.

Oh, so many things to plan.

But not right yet.

Not right now.

Now is time for sleep.

It’s been a long week.

Grateful that I made it through.

Grateful for all the love in my life.

So.

Deeply.

Deeply.

Grateful.

For all the love.

 

Asking For What

April 4, 2017

I need.

Not always.

But a lot more.

Even when it is uncomfortable.

Like it was today.

My employer left me a check for the work I did over the weekend and it was not correct.

It was much less than I had anticipated and I knew, knew without a doubt, that I would need to address it.

There were years and years when this sort of thing would have thrown me for a loop.

All the things I’m not allowed to say, to ask for, to accept.

That I am enough, that my time is worth my payment, correct payment, that I am allowed to correct a mistake, that I can have conflict.

And resolution.

I knew that there was no malice on my employer’s part and that it was simply a mistake.

But.

For a few minutes, about the first fifteen at work, I was a bit upset.

Then.

I reasoned with my own self, with my stupid, silly, unwarranted fears, and I got the fuck over myself.

So when my employer came home today and handed me the check, I handed it back and said, “I don’t feel this is correct, would you please double-check the math.”

She did, I was correct, and she re-wrote the check and then added, that it had been an accident, which I had known, but still felt good to hear, and then she apologized.

My goodness.

It was a nice moment.

It was uncomfortable, but I did it and I didn’t make a big deal out of it either.

I just acted as if.

Fabulous.

Of course.

I blew my load on that one and when presented with an opportunity to do more of that same negotiating for myself, I couldn’t quite do it.

I was going to kill another fantasy and ask a guy out on an official date, we did that “we should hang out dance” last week when I bumped into him in the neighborhood where I work and I saw him tonight after work, but I couldn’t quite pull the trigger.

I suspect I wasn’t ready to kill the fantasy quite yet.

I will.

To move on would be nice.

Maybe that will be one of my goals in therapy.

I have my second session tomorrow and my therapist, I sort of like saying that, suggested that I think about what some of my therapeutic goals are.

We already agreed that her supporting me through the school program was a big draw for me, especially as she went through the same program.

She also suggested that we look at ways that I could manage my anxiety.

I figure I’d love to work on dating.

Which means I will probably be addressing a lot of family of origin issues.

I will need to address the abuse, trauma, neglect, incest, and emotional violence I grew up with.

No biggie.

REALLY.

Heh.

I can clearly see a number of patterns in my dating life–emotional love affairs with unavailable men, being in love with unavailable or uninterested men, not being in relationships for years, crushing on guys but not saying anything, obsessing, blah, blah, blah.

Not knowing how to date.

All of it, really, goes back to instinct and ways of being that don’t serve me.

I can fucking see it clear as day.

But.

I haven’t a great road map for moving forward.

And really.

I am my own worse navigator.

I had sent out that message a few days ago to a man I have always had a crush on and getting a pretty decent response for yes, let’s do a coffee in the next few weeks.

I sent back my availability and haven’t gotten a response

So of course, last night, as I’m about to drop off to sleep, my diseased brain attacks.

“Psst, you should have paused longer before responding to his message, you came off too eager.”

Fuck you brain.

This was followed up by a brief, thank God, obsessive thought of what should I have messaged instead to get the result I want….

Ooh.

Aha!

There.

That.

What should I have said to get the message I wanted.

Well, duh, lady, that’s manipulation.

And if it’s not meant to be I can’t manipulate it into happening.

And if it’s meant to be, I can’t fuck it up.

Whew.

Also.

I am human.

If I made a “mistake” in my communication that led to this man not responding in the time I wanted, then I made a mistake and I’m allowed to make mistakes.

I can fuck things up.

I don’t like to fuck things up, I want to be perfect.

But I suspect that need for perfection is what really stands in the way of me killing the fantasy with the other guy I saw tonight.

I want to get it perfect so I can control the results.

Again.

That’s manipulation.

So.

I vow here.

Just to get it off my chest, next time I see dude, I’ll just cut to the chase and pin down a time to “hang out.”

I would rather fall flat on my face than try more to figure it out.

I can see that the figuring it out is never going to serve me and it will just drive me nuts over time.

I’m already crazy enough.

Hello.

I’m in therapy.

Hahahahaha.

Sorry.

Not sorry.

I had to.

Anyway.

Seems there’s plenty of fodder for my therapeutic goals.

Ahem.

I’ll be back in school this upcoming weekend, so that will also land on the table, or the couch, as the case may be, plenty of stuff to look at there.  Although I feel quite prepared for the weekend of classes.

I’m actually almost completely finished with my reading for not just this weekend, but the final weekend, for my Couples Therapy class.  We have a fairly big final project/paper that I wanted to have as much reading done for as possible, get all the lectures under my belt and be ready to tackle it right away after the weekend of classes.

I just want to finish so I can go to Paris.

That’s really where my brain is at.

The one fantasy I am not willing to kill.

Paris, my dream, my reward, my carrot to get me through the next two weekends of classwork.

It’s all happening.

And I’m allowed to stand up for it and take it in and accept it.

This life.

Lovely, luscious, and all mine.

I don’t want to waste it on fantasy and unrequited love.

I want to be present for the gift it is.

One moment at a time.

All the things.

They are happening.

Yes.

Yes.

They.

Are.

Slight Change Of Plans

November 25, 2015

But so slight.

I’m still going to Paris.

Despite the sharp inhalation of breath my mother took when I told her on the phone today.

“I bought the tickets before the attacks mom,” I said, I could feel her getting instantly wound up.

I was also walking my bicycle into the garage at work, so there was not a lot of room for conversation on the topic.

And I hadn’t called my mom to talk about Paris.

Rather my eldest aunt who passed yesterday was my reason for calling.

I didn’t know my aunt that well.

Suffice to say that I didn’t know a lot of my family all that well, but I do have fond memories and I do remember thinking when I was younger that she was kind.

Perhaps I don’t have a recollection of thinking that thought exactly, but that is what comes to mind when I remember her.

Thanksgiving or Christmas at her house a year when my grandparents, for whatever reason, had decided they did not want the hassle of having the whole family over for the holiday.

I recall there being a lot of conversation about where it would be and it ended up being at my aunts house.

It was an oddly warm Christmas, ah yes, it was Christmas, and I remember playing outside in the back with one of my cousins.

Tether ball, I think.

Oddly enough I got along with them really well, in fact I thought that of all my cousins the three daughters of my aunts were my favorite.

Two were fraternal twins.

And I was fascinated by the fact that they did not look at all identical.

As I thought twins should look.

Of course this was before I know what fraternal and identical twins were, but twins, we had them in the family and that was special.

I sort of felt that their family was special in general.

They seemed to have escaped the lash of weirdness that was on my family.

I was thinking about it today and though there were more than one or two black sheep in the family, I think my mom sort of took the cake for a while.

I definitely felt that we were the blackest of the black sheep in the family and that my cousins, well, they were normal, well-adjusted, sweet girls.

They each had their own rooms and the house was cozy and warm and nice.

Middle class.

White Wisconsin.

Nice.

My immediate family lived so far below the poverty line that when I learned what the poverty line was I was shocked to realize how poor I had been growing up.

I mean.

Fucking poor.

And I’m not upset about that.

I didn’t know the difference.

I don’t recall thinking I was suffering.

I mean.

I think I just thought our family was weird.

But I had no clue.

A little grown up time of my own.

A lot of perspective and distance and yes.

I can see the screaming dysfunction at work in the family dynamic.

There is still dysfunction.

But then again.

What the hell is normal?

There is no normal.

I was chatting with a dear friend on the phone earlier and he said, “normal is a setting on a dryer.”

Ayup.

And usually I still have to add minutes to the normal setting.

There is no normal.

And.

If there is.

I’m not so certain I want any of it.

I do want the fantasy of doing what I am getting to do after  I have the reality of doing the heavy lifting, with my brain that is.

I got the tickets to the ballet!

My darling poulette bought them online today and I was mistaken, it is not La Bayadere we are going to see.

Nope.

We are going to see some modern ballet.

Which is just as exciting if not more so.

I’m going to be accompanied by dear sweet people whom I love and adore and I am going to get dressed up, like a princess, and I am going to the Garnier Opera House in Paris at Christmas, Wednesday, December 23rd, at 7:30 p.m. to see the ballet.

Luckiest girl in the world.

I also talked with my friend about having dinner with my Parisian friend, I mean, who better will know where to go for a nice meal before the opera?

I’m so excited.

And yes.

I got the good seats.

We are sitting in the loge.

1ères loges de coté 22

Translation: BOX SEATS!

Merry Christmas baby.

Pack something nice to wear.

There are four sets of box seats in the Palace Garnier and we are on the first, premier, of the balcony, I wonder should I purchase some opera glasses?

Bwahahaha.

Nah.

I won’t need to because we will be so close to the stage.

Box seats.

I am over the moon and so glad I agreed to splurge on the more expensive tickets.

I am grateful that I get to spend the money to allow myself and my friend to have an amazing experience together and to also have my new friend from school there too.

My God I am grateful.

So grateful.

I am also grateful that tomorrow is my Friday.

Yay four day weekend.

So much work to be done.

There is more work for me to do on my days off than I have on my days on.

Although, arguably I could say that it’s a balance this week as there has been more work at work, grandparents are visiting for the holiday.

Which on one hand is fantastic, the boys love their grandparents.

And on the other tends to throw a little monkey wrench in our routines and schedules and the boys also get to have a lot of treats with the grandparents.

Ah sugar.

My nap time nemesis.

I should have had some quiet time today with them, but they were too wound up so instead, I employed them in the kitchen and they helped me make dinner: sushi rice, wild king salmon marinated in lemons and olive oil with spices and lime zest–baked in the oven, roasted brussels sprouts with garlic and brown butter, and organic strawberries for dessert with sliced apples from the farmers market.

 

The boys helped me to squeeze the lemons and mix the spices and herbs in the marinade for the fish, they also sprinkled love on top of everything.

Love is the best spice.

They were so proud of the meal.

And told their grandparents how hard they cooked everything.

It was adorable.

And the adorable train will roll out of town for me soon.

Where I will be departing for the burying my head in my homework part of the holiday.

“What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” The mom asked.

“Homework.” I replied.

That.

And dreaming about the ballet.

In Paris.

What am I going to wear?!

Hashtag.

Luxury problems.

 

The One Thing I Don’t Like About You

October 14, 2015

Whoa.

Hey there cowboy.

It’s too early to have my inventory taken.

It got taken anyway.

I got an apology that was very sweet when I pointed out how it felt to be scolded.

My friend, I know, I heard him, did not mean it to come out that way.

The way, I think, I could be wrong, hind sight is never truly 20/20, is, “hey, there’s this thing you do and it detracts from who you are and what an awesome person you could be, why, you’re amazing, you could be even more amazing if you changed this thing about you.”

I bristled.

I always bristle at criticism.

However.

Thank you grad school work, specifically, yes, I am going to say it, thank you T-Group.

Ugh.

All the fucking work I did in that class, and have yet to do, there is a big paper due for the class, one that I won’t focus on quite yet as I have a few other papers ahead of it, but one I do have to address some reading for really soon, although perhaps not this week, all the work.

Well.

It paid off.

I don’t see myself the way that others see me.

My friend says I have all this talent for writing and creativity and such.

I quibble.

I say.

Nah, shucks, I ain’t all that good.

I don’t know the caliber of my writing or the goodness or lack there of.

Or.

Any of it.

I do know that I have gotten better and so much of that has to do with the constant, daily, showing up to write.

I write, on average, 2,500 to 3,000 words a day.

My blog is about 1,1200 to 1,500 words and then I write three pages long hand in the morning.

The days that I write a paper, like Sunday, I wrote over 5,000 words.

5,000.

Damn Gina.

That’s a lot of words.

Even if I started out with just a middling talent for writing, all the practice is going to produce better results.

I will say, I will agree, that I have an ear for words, I like them, they sing to me, I like finding different ways to look at them and arrange them.

Even.

I would argue.

How they fall on the page.

When I started breaking up my lines and sentences more often in my blogs, I liked the way they looked better.

They, the blogs, also felt better.

I don’t have a cognitive theory behind it.

I just like the way it looks.

Plus.

I feel like I am actually transmitting my thoughts and ideas as they fall out of my head.

My writing is extraordinarily stream of thought.

“It reads like you talk,” one of my dear friends told me, “I feel like I am having a conversation with you when I read it.”

So nice to know my voice comes across.

The voice of the blog, Auntie Bubba, is not always the voice of the woman, but it is always damn skippy close.

The two are very entwined.

The only difference is that I have more honesty in my morning pages and less manipulation of words, patterns, rhymes, poetic schemes, or poesie.

I love that word.

Just say it with me.

Poesie.

Of course its French.

Don’t be a silly rabbit.

So.

My friend has noted my skills at language, but also noted my lack of skills around some things which are considered basic self-care, the criticism received was that, man you’re an amazing woman, but you sure put taking care of others a head of you.

REALLY?

Wow.

How insightful.

Fuck you.

I jest.

I know I put other people first.

It’s a survival skill.

Now.

What my friend perhaps doesn’t see, and I won’t argue his assessment, he’s certainly not the first to make it, if it looks like a spade call it a spade, is that I have come so far from how bad it used to be.

Progress.

Not perfection.

I also heard concern for me, which I have heard echoed to me a lot lately as I embarked on the journey of 8 million miles, graduate school, take better care of yourself.

The thing is.

People.

I am trying.

I am trying so hard.

I bought myself flowers on Sunday.

I cooked food for myself to take to work.

I take long, hot showers.

Man, the one tonight, you could have scraped me off the bottom of the shower stall.

I take care of the physical stuff when it arises.

Hello.

You know.

The sexy stuff.

I almost didn’t tonight.

Even though I was thinking about it and the timing was good, home earlier than usual, early start at work, no housemate around, no housemates kid around, light some candles and set the mood Martines!

And I just felt, well, tired.

But.

I also knew that it was time to take time.

And.

Yeah.

Like that.

Better now.

Thanks!

And though I am not rankled by my friends words.

Specifically, what the conversation went like was something to the effect of, “the only thing I don’t like about you is that you don’t take better care of yourself.”

He meant.

I need to put myself first.

My feelings were hurt.

But.

There was also this underlying awareness.

Ok.

Well.

He’s not the first one to say it this week, so what exactly am I doing that doesn’t look like good self-care?

I go to work, I’m on time, I show up, I do a great job with the boys, I ride my bicycle to and from work (most days, got a ride in today which is when the conversation happened), I bring home-made food with me.

I drink a big glass of water as soon as I wake up.

I brush my teeth three times a day.

And.

I fucking floss once a day.

Who out there flosses?

Exactly.

I keep my house clean.

I listen to music every night when I blog.

The Orb is playing right now.

I eat organic food.

I make really nice coffee.

I have pajamas.

Although, I think it might be time for a new set.

I know that I work a lot and I work hard, but you see, there’s no one but me and I have become accustomed to a certain kind of living.

It’s simple, but it’s mine.

Shh.

Me thinks she doth protest too much.

What self-care I need is to implement more joy of living.

Which is why I love Burning Man so much, it’s play time, even when it’s hella hard work.

“I noticed something,” my friend said, “you only go to the beach when you are sad.”

Ouch.

Fuck.

He really does see me quite well.

So what did I learn from T-Group, from my friend, from my people, and my cohort, from my community?

That I could stand to have some more laughing and silliness and how I am going to manage that, I don’t know.

I suppose, start by surrendering to the idea that I am going it all alone.

Rely a little more on others.

Give myself a break.

Walk down to the ocean for no reason other than it’s there.

Go to a museum.

I have not been to one since my trip months ago to LA, way back, to that wonderful time when I had time, before school started.

Any kind of fun.

Something for myself.

I fully acknowledge that the first feeling that comes up is sadness.

Grief.

Fun is some how equated in my mind with grief.

Now.

This is something I am only now, I mean now, in this moment realizing.

I have some sort of negative correlation to having fun with loss.

There is so much to unpack here, I am not going into it after a long day at work and having already devoted an hour to reading my Human Development text.

Which in and off itself can sometimes be a challenge to read when I reflect on where I come from and how many battles I have had to soldier through growing up the way I did.

The deck was stacked.

It was so stacked against me.

But.

There is joy too.

In the memories of my childhood.

The orchard in Windsor.

Climbing trees.

Flying kites at Warner Park.

Riding my bicycle.

Ice skating.

Playing relay races at the park during the long slow twilight of summer nights.

Sitting in the back yard, the grass high, watching the clouds roll by.

Maybe that’s all I need to do.

Go lie outside somewhere and watch the clouds go by.

What were the skies like when you were young?
They went on forever and they, when I, we lived in Arizona
And the skies always had little fluffy clouds
And they moved down, they were long and clear
And there were lots of stars at night

And when it would rain it would all turn, it, they were beautiful
The most beautiful skies as a matter of fact
The sunsets were purple and red and yellow and on fire
And the clouds would catch the colors everywhere
That’s neat, cause I used to look at them all the time when I was little
You don’t see that

Layering different sounds on top of each other
Layering different sounds on top of each other

Little fluffy clouds and little fluffy clouds and
Little fluffy clouds and little fluffy clouds and

Cracked Open

August 12, 2015

I knew it would happen.

I have been on the verge for days now.

I’ve only been here in Petaluma for the graduate school retreat for 2.5 days.

Retreat.

Ha.

It is boot camp.

But at least it’s boot camp in a really pretty place.

Not that I have seen much of it, just a few glimpses walking between classes and going to the dining hall for meals, but you know, the view is pretty when I have gotten to take it in.

And.

This morning.

So sweet.

So special.

I was sitting out on a deck behind the building in which the first class of the day was to be held writing my morning pages and I heard a rustle in the grass and looked up.

Deer.

A doe and her fawn.

Just there.

Not even ten feet away, more like five or eight.

I don’t know that I have ever been that close to a deer.

The doe looked at me and the fawn regarded me, then I bent to my pages and they bent to their graze and it was a perfect communion of you do your thing and we’ll do ours.

They nibbled grass so close to me that I could actually hear them chewing it!

That was an awesome moment.

And there have been many awesome moments.

Bonding with my cohort.

Bonding in ways that I did not know was possible around issues I did not even know to think about in ways that I had no frame for contemplating previous to being here.

The defect of being the perfect little school girl, having to have my readers all read and my books all read and taking notes and listening attentively and sitting up front and raising my hand.

Here, I’m here, “present,” I said when my name was called for roll this morning.

Present.

The gift of getting to be here.

Not that many people get to go after their Masters degree.

Not that many people get to have this kind of experience.

I am hanging out with some pretty smart cookies and doing some deeply intensive, thoughtful, powerful work.

And I am working.

Let me not put too fine a point on it.

This is serious shit.

And I keep showing up for it even when I wanted to vomit in my mouth today and pee my pants at the same time when my professor handed out additional readings and said, oh there will be more posted to the syllabus on the web and here are the instructions for the five papers (FIVE!) you have to write for the course as well as a presentation that has to be done partnered up with another person in class, and the final project, which we’ll talk about tomorrow.

I was going to start hyperventilating.

I got full.

I got so full of information I stopped taking any in.

My partner looked at me, “are you ok?  Do you need to use the bathroom?”

“I’m not going to pee my pants, I’m just overwhelmed,” I said and laughed, but it wasn’t a laugh that went much further than my mouth, it wasn’t a body laugh or a joyful laugh, it was a forced exhalation of air, and a let’s move on to the next part of this exercise so we can break for dinner.

The entire cohort wandered to the dining hall in a haze of books and papers and comparing notes with the other half of the cohort and their reading schedule and who like which professor and interestingly enough, some folks switched and even though I was having a hard time navigating the amount of work that was just handed to me in my brain, I could see that I was in the right class for me.

“Have you felt this before,” the woman sitting next to me at dinner said when I told her how overwhelmed I was and the experience of being handed more work and just trying to organize it all in my brain.

And I realized I had.

We started talking about it and I shared about how no one else in my immediate family had gotten a college degree, though my mom did do some college courses, she never got her degree, which means of course that there is no one in my family who has gotten a Master’s degree and how I have had to rely on myself to go through this process.

Although that is not necessarily true, I have had my support networks, but they don’t look like traditional support.

Anyway.

I just realized how hard and for how long I have been trying to get out from underneath the pains and traumas, and dramas and neglect, the abuse and the historical ramifications of my family and it was hard work, constant struggle and effort and more to get where I am and then to get into and through college, and I don’t blame my family, they did the best they could with what they had, but I was always looking for a way out.

School was my way out.

“And you got out,” she said, and patted my hand, “you’re here.’

Ahhhhhh.

I felt tears prickle my eyes.

I did get out.

And I am here.

Present.

To be in this gift, to be a gift, to myself and to my community and to my family.

A full meal, a couple of cups of coffee and a refilled water bottle, back to class for another three hours.

Where I broke open and broke down.

We had the most powerful lecture and the significance of the work that was done is too great for me to write in great detail–I have to go to bed soon and get up and do it all over again tomorrow as well.

Suffice to say I was not the only person in tears or who had to excuse themselves to have a cry in the bathroom or blow their nose, many, almost all of us of the sixteen, were in tears, we all worked through some stuff, we all processed, we all really got aboard the therapy bus and the journey really is happening.

I saw things.

I resolved things.

I grieved.

Oh man did I grieve.

I also yelled at God a bit.

Then I listened to my fellow cohort and we all shared and it was stupendous.

This is such a gift and I know not what the bloom will look like on the flower.

But the shell of the seed has germinated.

The husk is cracked.

And I have adequately, sufficiently.

ABUNDANTLY.

Watered the seed with my tears.

I almost didn’t write tonight.

But I am glad I did.

Just to let the tears dry a little on my face and unload a little.

It’s good.

It’s all good.

And.

It’s so very, very, very.

All the things.


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