Tuesday, September 1, 2015

do you still perform autopsies on conversations you had lives ago?

donte collins

Monday, August 10, 2015

I edited and published my previous post on the day of one of my long-ago ex's birthdays.

We dated so many years ago that I don't want to share it. (Eight.) Since then we've dated other people--as far as I can tell he's had a serious girlfriend for several years, and I, of course, am engaged.

Our relationship didn't break up so much as slowly disintegrate in painful chunks of disappointment. (On my end. Definitely more on my end.) I wonder if it would be easier had there been a clear break. A simple, This isn't working, and we're so young. So let's just be done, shall we? Agreed! Perhaps there was such a conversation, or many, that I've forgotten.

Something I'm realizing about myself: I'm a terrible historian when it comes to my own life.

But kids will be kids (and indeed, we were just 19 or so), and so for every text that said I'm seeing someone else there was another Hey, what's up? And 19-year-olds do not have the wherewithal to know that that question is an answer in and of itself. That no hope or deep emotion should be tied to sending or receiving such a text. And never, ever at night. 

Nonetheless. In the few years after we were definitely, definitely over, after I'd moved back to Seattle and begun dating women and started graduate school, I'd remember his birthday. Sometimes I'd reach out to wish him a happy one, or I'd tell a friend, or I'd silently think, His birthday is today. I still remember that. I hate that I remember that. 

And then I started remembering his birthday very hazily. It would be early August, and I'd think, There are quite a few birthdays at the beginning of this month. And I'd make some joke about counting nine months back to see what exactly was at the root of all of these babies. And perhaps I'd recall his after thinking of the others. Like a sweet little girl I used to nanny.

This year, I completely forgot. I didn't even notice it on Facebook; I couldn't tell you whether Facebook notified me or not.

There's a lot to be said and understood about why I held on to the story of dating him for as long as I did, but I think it is mostly this: He represented a time when I so badly wanted to be wanted. And yet I also thought, I knew, if only I were thinner, or shorter, or funnier, or more spontaneous, or . . . He'd like me as much as I liked him. And it's not that we'd be together, necessarily, but that I'd be validated as a woman of power, beyond my occasional ability to bring someone home at the end of a long night.

And we want validation the most from those least inclined to offer it, don't you think?

(It was never his job to validate me.)

Never mind his flaws. A few years ago I was talking about this ex with a friend, and he interrupted me and said, "Remember when you made a list of reasons why he wasn't a good boyfriend?" I laughed out loud because yes, I did. He was not the love of my life. He wasn't even a one who got away. But he was symbolic of so many transitions and reckonings. It's pulling threads apart, this business of growing up.

I was at a good friend's bridal shower yesterday, and she and I were talking about what's changed since each of us has gotten engaged. I explained that for me, among many things, it's the unexpected and welcomed absence of what ifs. What if this relationship had worked out? What if I had pursued this or that person? And here, I want to be one hundred percent dreamy, to say I never wondered about and romanticized the past while in a relationship. But that would be a lie. And this blog is about truth-telling, as much as I can see it and muster the courage to share.

But here's what happened when I got engaged, here's the honest-to-god truth: I didn't have to be intentional about it, reminding myself there can't be any more what ifs. It happened so naturally, so effortlessly. No more what ifs. Only her. And that experience has been so freeing, so beautiful, so comforting, so exciting. Equal parts hardly noticeable and in-my-face tremendous.

I never thought this ex and I would end up back together. God, no. I never thought that about any ex after being with my current partner. But I did wonder what it would have taken to make it work with them. And whether the qualities I recalled about exes really were as good or awful or in-between as I remembered. Simply, I spent time analyzing. And now, I don't.

I don't want or need an exit strategy anymore. I don't want or need validation from exes that I was an easy or fun person to date. That they were proud to be with me.

Nowadays I jump on our bed, wrap my arms around her, and ask in the most ridiculous, silly, rhetorical way, Do you love me? Do you think I'm prettier than all the girls in the world? And her yes is what matters each time.

I always thought it would be more difficult to write about him. This guy whose birthday just passed. But it was so simple. This is a season for moving beyond the past and sinking into the present, and it has come upon me so swiftly and gently I hardly noticed. The first falling leaf in fall. A sweet and safe place to be.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

on the joys & frustrations of blogging




So here's the thing about blogging. It is indeed tricky and public and ripe with potential for embarrassment and varied interpretations. In college I discovered blogs that melted me, that spoke my truths, that helped me heal some of my most broken parts. I started my own blog, in part to keep better track of my writing than in scattered, half-filled journals, in part to hone my writing skills, and in part to give back to this incredible community of bloggers who share themselves so deeply and vulnerably. 

I take someone feeling offended by my posts quite seriously. I know the feeling--the punched in the gut, head rush, tearful reaction to someone insulting me. I know the feeling of being hurt and insulted but not being able to defend myself.

Unless you read my posts and then comment on them or contact me directly, you can't defend yourself right away. And that sucks, doesn't it? It's a weird sort of situation akin to hearing gossip about you second or third hand. I welcome people replying to me. But it doesn't always happen, and the hurt can be felt anyway, even months later when a situation seems to have been resolved in some way outside of the internet.

I also take someone reading my posts and concluding I'm being overly dramatic and too sensitive quite seriously. Because dude, I get to be sensitive. I get to own my particular molecular constitution that makes me feel a lot of things all of the time. And if talking--writing--through my anxieties and neuroses makes it easier to move about in this world and connect deeply with others, then it's a very good thing to do. It beats a lot of other coping mechanisms. (Note to self: Write post on the goodness of sensitivity.)  

Ever since I was a young kiddo I wrote to express and process painful feelings. I still have diaries from when I was in grade school, in which I wrote about feeling left out or someone hurting my feelings. I worry that this comes across as terribly narcissistic. Boy do I wish I could control these feelings. I know as an adult that it's not about me. Or that sometimes it very much is about me, but that no one person has the final say in who I am. It's okay if some people think keeping a blog is silly or that my passions aren't all that interesting, and so on. It's not as though I have to show up in the same third-grade classroom with the same mean girls all year. There's more than enough room in this world for the people who like you and the few that don't.

As Glennon Doyle Melton puts it, I think I was born with an extra dose of sensitivity. And from early on, writing was my way of handling those feelings. As an adult, I hope my readers see evolution. That I don't end angry posts with rage and indignation, but with some clarity and sense of forward movement.

When I write about feeling angry towards something or someone, I never mean to convey it as the absolute truth of the situation as a whole. I don't mean it as, I am right. You are wrong. The end. In fact, I think in just about every post of that nature I try to acknowledge that I am 100% biased, and that I do 'wrong' things just about all the time and that finger pointing is no more than 'kettle, kettle, black, black.' But that's the point. To normalize these experiences. To give myself permission to feel things that are uncomfortable. And to ingrain in myself a sense of hope about rising above anger and feeling wronged, getting to the root of what's so hurtful about it, and sharing that hope with others.

The point is, I don't write hurtful things in order to malign but to process and move past. And I don't write about something flippant that won't bother me a day or two later. I get that most uncomfortable feelings pass. And when they don't, when something still nags at me and strikes me as hurtful or unfair after days or weeks of sitting with it, I unravel it here and try to find some meaning from it all--particularly if the situation involves someone who refuses to or can't, for whatever reasons, engage directly with me.

I wrote above about my fear of being perceived as overly sensitive. I suppose another fear is that people think I see myself as holier-than-thou. Look at me, with all of this insight and inner peace! Oh, fuck no. If my posts appear polished and insightful it is the result of work. Talking with my partner, parents, friends. Rolling it over in my head. Reading my favorite pieces of writing. Peace with inner and outer conflict doesn't come naturally to most of us, myself so very much included.

I took a yoga class for the first time in some while the other day. And my body buzzed each time the instructor reminded us to let go of resistance. I think that's what writing is mostly about for me. It's letting go of resistance, and acknowledging what is. And most of the time, what is is more than tolerable. It's really very good. And that's the beginning and the end of it.
My best guess is that I was born with an extra dose of sensitivity to life’s brutality and my own nakedness. - See more at: http://momastery.com/blog/about-glennon/#sthash.tlCl8ybz.dpuf
My best guess is that I was born with an extra dose of sensitivity to life’s brutality and my own nakedness. - See more at: http://momastery.com/blog/about-glennon/#sthash.tlCl8ybz.dpuf
My best guess is that I was born with an extra dose of sensitivity to life’s brutality and my own nakedness. - See more at: http://momastery.com/blog/about-glennon/#sthash.tlCl8ybz.dpuf





And I smiled at all the many ways she has shown me what I hope to be in this world.

sarah hepola

Sunday, July 19, 2015

My bones said “write the poem.”

andrea gibson, the nutritionist 

Writing is vulnerable. Writing is pouring my heart (and guts and bones) out. Writing on the internet is sharing something permanent. I shouldn't want to do it. But I do.

And I must. I must.