Posts Tagged ‘relief’

Huge Relief

September 10, 2017

To change my mind.

To see where I was taking on too much.

To apologize and make an amends to a friend.

To get honest with my person and with myself.

To see where my priorities lie.

To let go.

To surrender.

Such relief.

I have been grappling with something for a few weeks now and I suspect that recent events in my life, like letting go of the idea that I have to go to Burning Man every year for the rest of my life and that I always have to be working toward something, coalesced this afternoon as I rode my scooter into my internship.

I don’t want to do the Aids Life Cycle Ride.

Let me clarify.

If I wasn’t working 40 hours a week, interning 15 hours, and going to graduate school full-time I would be totally down with doing the ride.


I realized.

I am working so hard already and to commit to another commitment seems fool hardy, prideful, and unrealistic.

I like to believe that I am superhuman.

“You don’t have to be Super Carmen,” my person told me, “Carmen is good enough.”

Fuck me.

I forget that all the time.

As if I am not constantly trying to self-improve, do better, live harder, go bigger, I am not enough.


Good fucking grief.

I am enough.

I also realized that I had self-sabotaged myself by committing to do something that would make me re-arrange my already super full schedule and in effect make it so I would not have any days off.


Yes, that’s right, I would be working full-time, seven days a week, for the next 10 months.

Fuck that.

I deserve to let myself have a little down time.

To love and be loved.

To not go crazy in my last year of my Masters program.

I mean.

I’m still working six days a week, I’m not slacking.

I rode my scooter to my internship and thought, it’s ok to change my mind, it’s ok to see where I bit off too much and it’s alright to acknowledge that maybe I knew this all along.

That maybe I didn’t buy the road bike when I had the chance because I really knew I didn’t want to do the ride.

I think I was setting myself up to give myself an out.

I had run into my friend who convinced me to ride again a week before I went to Burning Man and his talks about doing training rides made me feel nauseous.

How the hell was I going to fit it in?

I started to consciously let myself know that maybe, just maybe, it would be ok if I changed my mind.

I actually think going to Burning Man really helped me with that.

I realized there, at the event, on a very deep level, that I work really hard to work really hard on my vacations.


Just maybe.

Instead of busting my ass, granted for an amazing cause, and I don’t regret the $95 I dropped to register, it’s a gift that I wouldn’t ask back if I could have it back, to bust my ass on my vacation.


I might want to actually have a vacation.


Lay on a beach.


Sit in a fucking cafe and read a book, people watch, drink coffee at ridiculous hours and not worry about getting up at the crack of dawn to ride 100+ miles and then come back from a seven-day ride, for which I would be using my vacation time, to go right back to work.

I mean.

Maybe I want a real vacation.



When I said it out loud, when I got on the phone with my person, I got to my internship a little early simply so I could have time to talk with my person, I felt the biggest most amazing relief.

I knew in that instant that it was the right decision for me.

“Honestly, doll, I’m relieved to hear you say this, I was wondering when you were going to come to this realization.”

OH my god.

I love that he doesn’t judge me, that he didn’t tell me to not do it, that he let me have my process, and then to have it reflected back to me with honesty, well, that was that.

I’m not doing the Aids ride.

And I am ok with it.

We talked a lot about things happening in my life and I shared about a great deal of joyful things and it was so good to catch up.

I also talked about doing a trip for my graduation.

What that might look like.


Paris, maybe L’Ile de Re, where my friend has a family home, off the West Coast of France, especially since she was such an important part of my first two years in the program.

That it might be really nice to see her and celebrate the accomplishment.

She was also the person who has said time and again how much I would like Barcelona.

In fact.

My savings account, I have two, one is my prudent reserve, and the second, my travel savings, is called Barcelona.

Not “going to Burning Man” again next year.

Not “doing the Aids LifeCycle ride and spending over three thousand dollars on a bicycle, gear, and who knows how many countless hours on the training.”


It’s named, “Barcelona,” because when my friend mentioned how I should go I thought, that would make a great graduation trip.

So maybe instead of sabotaging my dream with stuffing in more than I can handle, it’s ok to admit I made a mistake.

I told my friend tonight face to face and sat down and talked to him.

He totally got it, and then he added, “I totally honey potted you into agreeing, you know I did, don’t feel bad that you can’t, it’s ok.”

It’s ok.



Thank you.

I apologized again and hugged him and that was that.

I need to apologize to the three people who donated and then I think I’m clear.

I’ll also contact my ride representative and rescind the ride number, the ride will fill up and someone else will get to ride in my stead.


I also contacted my assistant director, who is in charge of scheduling my clients and said, I need to not take clients on Saturdays.  I can do a consult now and then, but no clients.

At least for this semester.

I feel a lot better.

Much clearer.

Much cleaner.

And so relieved to be just regular old Carmen.

Super Carmen gets to put her cape back in the closet for at least today.

Thank God.

It needs a dry cleaning anyhow.



From Garbage Bags

October 24, 2015

To graduate school.

I was sitting in my Therapeutic Communications class and something was said about the video we had just watched, a really intense video of Nancy McWilliams demonstrating psychoanalysis with a woman who was trying to negotiate a domestic abuse situation.

It was a surreal story.

It was just an hour of therapy and so much ground got covered and the therapist was amazing, directing subtly, strengthening the client, reflecting back to her, empathizing with the client.

I got a lot out of it.


I also got annoyed with a fellow in my cohort who kept asking questions.

Pushing questions that, as I saw it, were serving the person asking them but then, the professor used the questions to illustrate some key points in the reading we had to do for class and also to help teach the class some really salient information about being a therapist.

We, as a class, were then invited to see how our own need for resolution may be at odds with the clients.

I remember flaring up inside when the questions were being asked and feeling that there was this well of antipathy inside me.

I got annoyed.

Then I realized that I was annoyed because if I had been that woman, if I had been that client, and the solution was to get me to see a solution immediately, I wouldn’t have been able to get there, in fact, I would have said, fuck you, fuck the therapy, and I will deal with this on my own.

In effect.

What I did do.

On my own.

With a lot of help from some close friends, I got out of an abusive relationship.

It was not physically abusive until the end.

He hit me when I broke up with him.

I ran out into the street.

In the middle of January with no socks on, a pair of jeans underneath a flannel nightgown.


For those of you that know me, this is highly unusual.

Even in the dead of winter.

Even in Wisconsin.

Even in January with below freezing temperatures.

I always, since I was about 17 and the step father moved out of the house, I always, slept in the nude.

That night.

I wore a nightgown.



I don’t know.

I can’t say.

But I did.

And when I ran shivering, scared, uncertain where to go and which direction to take.

I knew I couldn’t go running down East Johnson Street, he would find me too fast.

I ran to the Sentry Shopping Centre that was on East Washington.

I ducked along the cement walls and found my way to a pay telephone, remember those?

I called 911.

I got a response and they said they would be sending a car out to me.

That was when I heard my ex-boyfriends car.

In all actuality, our car, it was just as much mine as his, we had both bought it, an older Jetta.

I could hear it turning and I hoped it was heading toward East Johnson.


It wasn’t.

And I got frantic with the operator on the phone and tried to cram myself down into that very small phone booth and make myself invisible in my flannel nightgown with corn flowers on white cotton, with a ruffled that was piped with blue ribbon, with cuffs that reminded me of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie.  I watched the car, the little blue Jetta grinding up the street, hoping against hope that he could not see me flattened against the wall of the phone booth.

I believe.

Looking back.

That was the last time I ever wore a flannel night-gown.

It’s been thirteen years since that night.

Almost fourteen.

Will be fourteen in January.

That’s when I left him.

The operator on the 911 call held me together until the police arrived to take me to a friend’s house.

I will never forget the way the lights looked wicking past the back seat window, the calls coming in over the radio, the destination never seeming further away as the sodium street lights glowed sullen in the snow, the hush of the streets, the lack of traffic, the drive around the lake on John Nolan Drive.

Then my friend’s house.

I refused to talk to the police.

I did not give up the ex-boyfriend.

I was too co-dependent.

I did not want him to get in trouble.

He got in trouble anyway, it just took a little longer.

I suppose I could have navigated it differently, but I didn’t know the difference and I didn’t know how to do it.

I do now.

But I look back at that girl, that young woman with such love and compassion, what I went through to get from there to here.


How long I told myself that it was normal, that it was something that happened, that I could somehow normalize the trauma of fleeing my own home in my nightgown in January in Wisconsin.

I was isolated.

My friend, my best friend and her husband were in town visiting and they noticed it.

Another friend and her partner were in town.

They all had tried to get me to see the light at some point.

My ex-boyfriend pretty much blamed them for the timing of the break up.

He was probably right, but I did not understand how much until later.

My best friend navigated me going into work the next day to tell them I had an emergency and was leaving town for the weekend.

The plan was to get my stuff and take me up North to Hudson where I could chill out and figure out what I had to do next.

I was in shock.

My ex saw us leave my place of employment, he had been driving around Madison all night looking for me and who knows how many times he was circling the block where I worked.

He whipped into the parking lot and flew out of his car, our car.

He tried to get to me.

He tried to talk to me.

My friends were all in shock.


He spit on me.

Full on in the face.

Suddenly the guys stepped forward and corralled him.

My friends got me into the back of their car.

We pulled out burning rubber.

Two seconds later my ex got in his car and pursued.

My friend’s husband lost him after a few intersections.

We flew to my house.

I unlocked the door and having no idea what to do, I grabbed a large black garbage bag and threw random clothes into it.

I ran around my house.

My sweet little home that I had lived in, nested in, hosted Christmas dinners and Thanksgivings in, had made our home, was now an unfamiliar territory or terror and fear and I just had to get out of it.

My ex didn’t get back to the house before I left.

I was that fast.

I huddled in the back seat of my friend’s Saturn and numbly watched the landscape go by.

I remember passing a refinery and thinking how spooky and eery and utterly beautiful it was in the night with the flashing lights and the mists shimmering into the black void of sky.

I reflected on this in class.

All the memories that came up.

Then the tears.

The joy of knowing, that despite myself, for it would be another long year and a half before there was closure and ultimately, really not until I moved to San Francisco in 2002 did I get finality on the relationship (he stalked me for a year and a half and I got a restraining order that he violated once then he got to go jail and do work release through the Huber program the city had in place for inmates with work release options, two full years of restraining order and yet I saw him twice more before things were all said and done.  Ah alcoholism, how I love thee, not), I had made it out.

I made it out.

I had tears of utter gratitude and awe on my cheeks at how far I have come.

From being a woman fleeing her own home with a garbage bag full of random grabbed things.

To a fully self-supporting, radically self-reliant, strong, resilient, loving, kind, compassionate, tender-hearted woman.

From garbage to graduate school.

A small transformation.

A flowering woman in bloom.

A wide open heart.

Vulnerable and strong.

“We both were tempered by fire,” my friend told me, leaning into me in sweet confidence, “but the heat of your fire was hotter than mine, and I want you to know I acknowledge that.”




And full of empathy and compassion.

For the client on the video screen who couldn’t get out.


For myself.

The woman who did.

My life continues to unfold.

And amaze.

I am graced.





Hurt So Good

November 11, 2013

But it still feels bad.

I went to Suchada today for some relief.

I got beaten up, in the best possible way and stretched and pulled and rubbed and stomped on.

My housemates boyfriend said, “just tell them to stomp on your face.”

Well, I ain’t so sure about my face, but I was more than willing to have them stomp on my shoulder.

I awoke earlier than I thought I would on a Sunday, which is not a bad thing, I will allow myself to sleep in, but if I am not tired it’s just mental masturbation and the thoughts get rolling and there is no relief.

Fingers crossed there will be some relief here in a few minutes.

I just took a big dose of ibuprofen.

When I got up this morning I felt good, stoked on the day, despite a smidgen of anxiety around having a day completely free and open to do anything I wanted to do.

I wanted to practice, most of all, saying yes to the moment.

I had a great breakfast, two big mugs of Holler Mountain coffee from Stumptown with some unsweetened vanilla almond milk, I wrote four pages long hand and was shaking out the rugs and sweeping the floors when my housemate texted and said,

“hey!  We are going to Trouble to get coffee, come!”


Despite the coffee I had already imbibed I did go and have an Americano, so good.

We sat in the little parklet outside the cafe and talked shop and chatted up the neighbors and I met some more folks in the hood and we hung out in the golden sun and the chill autumn air of the Outer Sunset, the ocean glistening benevolently in the distance, drawing my eye to it again and again.

What also drew my eye?

The big poster with a yard sale happening at 46th and Irving.


That’s where I live.

Skate boards, surf stuff, girls clothes, art, bring your own cup mimosas.

Ah, a hipster yard sale.


And it was.

I picked up a Bialetti Espresso maker and an awesome teal coffee mug for $2.


The Bialetti itself, though not in the box, was obviously never used and brand new it runs generally $35 depending on what model you get.


“Oh, you should get this!” My house mate pointed to a corner of the yard, they really were hipsters–the guy in the owl poncho was so hip I had to stand a little back and bask in his hip aura–and I was having fun picking through the goofy tchotkes they had, I turned and she was looking at two boogie boards.

I don’t even know what a boogie board is, but I have heard tell they are wild fun.

There’s no standing up and you just play in the white water.

I guess.

I will investigate.

I will put on my wet suit and go on down to the beach and play.

I have not been able to re-connect with my friend with the long board, but as he’s back in town from a recent vacation I suspect I will soon.  I do have the tentative date to go to Pacifica next Sunday with the girl I ran into last night in Noe Valley and if I can’t get to him by then I figure I will just rent a board in Pacifica, get a taste of another kind of board experience.

Anyway, the idea of going out to play in the water sooner than that was really appealing and when my housemate and her boyfriend, who is a surfer amongst many other things, said, it’s a good boogie board, get it.

I did.

I asked, “how much?”

“Um,” the guy in the owl poncho said, pushing his square black frames up his nose, “how about $5?”

Done and done.

And now I have a boogie board.

Boogie Board

Boogie Board

I was ready to leap off into the sea right then and there.

“Excellent, now I can just go out and not have to wait for anyone to have the time to go out with me,” I said gleefully hugging the little board under my arm.

The difficulty for me has been meshing up schedules for the surfing to happen.

“Oh no you don’t,” the boyfriend said, and my housemate, linking her arm in his, agreed.

“You don’t ever go out to Ocean Beach alone, the undertow can drag you right out to sea.”

Then her boyfriend told me a nice little horror story about how it had happened to him.



But I still want to go.

I know I should go with someone though.

Even if it is just to sit and watch me wave good-bye as I get pulled out to sea and drift off toward the horizon to be devoured by sharks.  At least there will be someone to tell my housemate she can rent the in-law out again and my parents might want to know.

I might have gone down today, but I had managed to get myself booked in to Sudacha.

Both the housemate and the boyfriend assiduously recommended it.

They sort of put the fear of God into me by how tough it was going to be.

So when I got there I made sure I checked the box that said first time and as I looked over the areas of the body I wished them to focus on I paused while debating the level of pain I wanted to be in: Soft, Medium, Hard.

Traditional Thai massage is done with hands, elbows, and feet.

There was going to be someone standing on my shoulders.

I circled medium.

I couldn’t quite bring myself to circle soft.

Turns out I probably could have circled hard and I may just do that the next time I go.

I will be going again.

It was intense and I felt muscles that had not been massaged in years singing their creaky hoarse way bright and clear and loud.

But not my shoulder.

Damn it.

Out damn spot.


I think there is something else going on.

I am going to make an appointment to be seen by my doctor again at Kaiser now that I have officially received clearance to go to them via Healthy San Francisco.

Which is not free, but is something I can handle at this time.

I also received a nice welcome back letter informing me that I would still be able to see my old primary care physician.


The ibuprofen has not kicked in yet, I will be taking it easy the rest of the night, and picking more up tomorrow.

I have a full week of nanny.

I shall rest.


And be grateful that despite not getting all the kinks worked out, I did get a lot of attention to an area that needed it bad.

It was also really good for me to lie still for an hour.

Really good.

More of that in my future.

And boogie boarding!

%d bloggers like this: