I still pray for it:
To become the butterfly
promised in the books of my youth.
I’m beginning to suspect
Inspired by the word prompt: transformation
I still pray for it:
To become the butterfly
promised in the books of my youth.
I’m beginning to suspect
Inspired by the word prompt: transformation
I don’t know what I did
But I did something
My heart catches in my throat
For the other shoe to drop
It always does
Does positive thinking work
When you feel flawed at your core
Mantras on top of a knowing
Deeper than deep
That you do not deserve good
Their echoes create a silent tragic opera
Tears threaten to fall
The nausea I feel holding this truth almost knocks me over
How do I solve a problem
I do not understand
Point me to the wizard
Let me beg the sorceress
A few years back, a teacher suggested to me the idea that when challenges happen in my life (“challenges” being a woke way of saying when bad shit happens) I ask the question “Why is this happening for me?” rather than “Why is this happening to me?”
That everything that is happening contains lessons that are designed to contribute to some necessary growth that ultimately will contribute to my living my greatest life.
It is a lovely idea. Unless, that is, you are in it. When it is feeling like the Universe is is just out to get you, the idea that things are happening for your highest good can seem, well, ridiculous.
In those moments, I tend to feel like a total victim. In my mind, I am sure that somewhere there are people whose lives are working out just great. That there are people to whom these shitty things do not happen.
I bemoan why these things must happen to me. Does the Universe think so little of me? Am I such a loser that I do not deserve good?
This response to difficult or bad things happening is learned. It comes from a wounding from long ago, at an age when I had no ways to cope. No way of understanding bad things happening other than to assume that it was my fault: that I was in some way not worthy of good.
This wound and the subsequent thinking and feeling habits that developed out of it seem to be getting kicked up again and again lately.
It’s this new apartment and the renovation and new furniture.
(I know, I know. These are luxury problems. It isn’t what they are. It’s what they kick up.)
Without realizing it, somehow, somewhere in my psyche some part of me, the wounded part, has loaded this new home with some kind of meaning that runs way deeper than up leveling to a newer, nicer home.
This new place and new things seem to represent something that is impossible to reach or maintain. Unbeknownst to me, some part of me needs this home to be perfect.
Things keep happening. A strange stain on the new velvet couch that I sweat was not there before. A little work spot on a new leather chair that I also swear was not there before. The furniture is not even in use yet! We’ve had it all covered as we’ve finally moved in.
I would almost believe there’s a sprite or gremlin playing tricks on me.
This all started weeks ago. First the new floor buckled in places. The very well-put-in floor. Then the AC leaked and caused a tiny bit of damage. Then the spot on the velvet couch I mentioned that was not there until it was: it can only be seen at an angle, but still. It was perfect. Now it is marred. Then the marks in the leather chair. How? When? Who?
Each new event sends me into this painful spin of confusion – disbelief, anger, hurt. Why? Why us? Why our new things? Can’t we have one month to enjoy this place before things become marred?
Am I such a loser that I do not deserve nice things?
Then I get enraged. Why do others get happy lives and my one chance at goodness is once again stripped away from me? Can’t I have just one beautiful thing for a moment?
Woah. I know this is all way too loaded for just this situation. I don’t remember ever feeling this way before about any place or thing. And yet here I am and it is deep. Things are being triggered here!
And I know, I know. These are total luxury problems.
I should be grateful for the abundance. And I am. But why are the gifts I get always dented?
It can feel so dark and sad.
I guess it is time to tend to that girl’s wound. The one who first decided that she was unworthy of good.
I see I have someone to get to know.
I breathe and try to trust that I will gain clarity at some point. I try to remember that this is happening for me. That there is an opportunity for me to heal something. I am just so murky and in it right now. I cannot see it. Yet.
But I will.
And I will grow through it, somehow.
And I will gain a new friend, if she’ll have me. The wounded girl.
There is is…
Just “for me.”
The first stain on one of our new furniture pieces.*
* In our brand new home, we are now living with pretty, lighter rugs and fabrics whereas before we had pretty, pre-strained things that had come from my parents’ home in Texas.
I have been dreading the first spill. Trying to embrace that the day will come.
It was today.
It was made by me. I was sitting at my new desk. I had carelessly left a ballpoint pen with the wicked stylus protruding. My forearm sent it flying, and it fell. My heart fell with it, and I knew before I looked what I would find: a small black ink mark on the new purple office chair seat.
I found ink mark stain removal guidance on line, but we all know how perilous that can be. (The kinds of products and things they assume you have laying around is astonishing.)
I madly read through different ideas, then made a daring attempt involving hairspray, q-tips and mild dish soap.
At first, it looked like I’d not only not gotten the ink out, but I’d created a much bigger stain than the black dot of ink.
“That is what you get,” I thought, “for thinking things could be perfect.”
Somehow, (blessedly), my cleaning attempts have worked in the end. Thank you Perseus.
For today, I can continue the illusion that all will stay pristine forever.
(I know, I know. It is only a matter of time.)
In the meanwhile… I shall tempt the gods as I wait.
Fifteen months ago, I began a deep letting go process.
I was very sick, suffering from an unexplained exhaustion that kept me housebound for much of the summer.
Coincidentally, for a year my husband and I had been waiting for a larger apartment in our building to become available. We were happy where we were. We just wanted another bedroom and a larger kitchen.
In the beginning of this “sick summer,” one of these larger apartments became available. It was being sold unlisted, by the owner, who would not price it. “What will you pay for it?” he asked.
And so I began to look around, to see what was in the neighborhood that was comparable, to get an educated idea of the value of the apartment.
And along the way, I began to see possibilities that I had never even let myself imagine for us.
I saw apartments, alright. And some not with just an additional room and larger kitchen.
I saw some with balconies and a gorgeous view of the river! With a seasonal pool!
Who were we to have such niceness?
It was a real stretch for my husband and I to imagine buying such an apartment.
The move we had been considering before this exploration of what was out there in our ‘hood would have been almost lateral. If we’d gotten that apartment in our building, we’d have basically recreated the apartment we have had these 8 years since marrying. I am pretty sure we’d literally have just brought over everything, just changed the kitchen and added a room.
We’ve both loved the home we made together. Somehow, his furniture and the furniture we brought up from my parents’ houses in Texas after my Dad died three months before our marriage all blended into an eclectic, beautiful style.
We have loved our home.
But I now realize that even before the summer, I had been working towards this letting go, this deep clean, this moving on, this full-on “now” presence in my own adult life.
In January I did a sweep of all my things and let go of a great deal. Yes, I applied as much of the Konmari technique as I could, and it was amazing, and freeing. I even finally went into stuff in storage and let it all go…stuff from my parents’ house I had not been able to deal with or use that had sat there since 2010.
I thought, great! I did it! My therapist and I applauded my actions.
And yet. I was still surrounded by furniture and other things that were my parents’, my mother’s, my grandmother’s. And I could feel the heaviness of it.
And so somehow, unconsciously, this drive to move took over. We daringly made an offer on the apartment with the view. It was accepted.
This was not a lateral move. It was a stretch up. Way up.
We hired an interior designer to help. What?! Who am I?
(I call him the wedding coordinator I did not let myself have. Brilliant call.)
And I made a Big Decision: We. Would. Get. All. New. Furniture.
All my parents’ stuff? Letting it go! But how?! Some stuff can go to the Salvation Army, but my parents’ stuff?? Most of our furniture I couldn’t bear to give to strangers.
In December, impulsively, my cousin, who loved my parents and has a wonderful wife and two little kids, happened to take a trip up here from Texas for a weekend. I asked if they’d mind looking at our stuff to see if they might want anything down the road.
Miraculously, they agreed to take most of it. They were thrilled! (I was elated!)
Other friends who just happened to be buying new, larger homes who were in need and interested are taking the rest.
It makes me so happy for it to go to people who will use and love it. To not have it sit in storage, unused.
I have kept just one item. An upholstered chair that had been my great grandmother’s, that I had climbed up into as a toddler in my grandma’s house. A chair that my mother had kept. A chair that I have always loved.
We have had it reupholstered and the wood frame repainted. It had to be basically remade. (My husband still thinks it a bit crazy of me.)
I cannot wait to see it with the beautiful new pieces that we chosen for our new home. It gives me a deep joy, and I feel love around it.
We are on the precipice of actually moving in now. We closed on the apartment one year ago. Began renovating it in January.
Most of the process has been relatively smooth: the getting financing, board approval in the new building. The renovation. The decisions. The shopping. The decorating.
Putting our current apartment on the market. Going into contract.
Our current apartment closes next week.
And so here I am, packing and sorting. The move is actualizing now. What has been theory up until now is happening.
I have let go of most things. The rugs/furniture are all spoken for. Most doodads have been given away.
But some I just could not part with yet. Things of my mothers that were in a china cabinet that will now go to my cousin’s.
I have these things in a few small boxes in storage. They won’t be in the new place. I really want to let them go. I just find it so hard to give them to a thrift store. But I am working towards it.
My mother’s china, my cousin wants. Yay! But these other things…
I now realize some part of me is afraid I will wish for them someday. When I am old and alone, won’t I want to be surrounded by proof I lived and was loved?
And deeper yet: if I let these things go, does it make me a bad daughter? Does it mean I loved my parents less?
Am I a bad person if I do not keep the little blue bird figurines my mother collected?
Will she feel forgotten or unappreciated if I just let them go?
Who am afraid it will hurt?
These are difficult questions. There is reconciling to do, which doesn’t happen overnight.
Maybe Konmari can do it swiftly, the way she does.
I am doing the Curry Technique for this final bit. I am in a life/shifting, deep dive excavation of my very soul. I have been living this process that has been 18 months in the making to get here now, on the verge of really letting go of all this physical evidence of my parents and brother, now dead some years.
Of really moving on from these years of grieving. These years of finding a new paradigm. Of finding a new footing in this world without three very key people in it.
It has gotten quite challenging here at the end. We’ve had some new apartment issues. The new wood floor has buckled in places. The central AC’s leaked.
What does it mean? What is it reflecting about our process? The floor is literally the very foundation of our home. The leak? Is it literal tears?
These issues at this point have felt overwhelming. Like the last 6 miles of a marathon.
(I have had fantasies of selling the apartment and all the new stuff in it as is and living out of one suitcase somewhere. Yesterday I had to force myself to drive home. Everything in me wanted to drive away and never return. Seriously.)
Yet here I am. Putting one foot in front of the other. Showing up. Letting go daily.
I am continuing to walk to the edge of this precipice.
Here I am. On the verge.
And soon, in just days, I will leap.
There was an incredible full moon the other night. It stopped me in my tracks, in the way the moon often does. I reflected on why the moon holds such significance for me.
The moon holds my secrets
Bears witness to my tears
Bathes me in her magic glow
With the knowing of the years
The moon holds my secrets
I turn my face into her light
She whispers words of comfort
Through the darkness of the night
Does the moon speak to you?
I share my posts on Alan’s site:
And then, just like that,
The sky cracked open
And joy spilled out
Maybe someday I will…
Feel confident about my talents
Love my thighs
Forgive “God” for not giving me what I secretly demand of life
Appreciate my own heart
Speak up for myself in the moment instead of going blank until it is too late
Embrace my imperfections
Drink enough water
Go to sleep simply
Leave my phone out of the bedroom
Be able to do three pull ups
(Do one pull up)
Stop caring so much what I think others will think of me
Spend more time in a day talking positively to myself than I do negatively
Really start living
I am on an adventure with my nephew.
When I graduated from high school, my Granma took me on a trip to England, Wales and Ireland. It was a generous gift.
She’d traveled extensively in her life, as had her mother, my Great-Grandmother Burns. They’d both lost their husbands early and ended up living quite rich and adventurous lives as widows.
My Gran had taken my two brothers before me as they each graduated. It was a tradition.
So when my brother’s first born graduated from high school, I had the impulse to carry on the tradition.
My Gran was long-since dead, and my Mom – her daughter – had died a few years’ past.
So I decided to do what I knew they’d have loved to do.
I took my niece on a trip to London and Paris in 2016. My sister-in-law came too, which was almost as good as my Mom being there. She is warm and loving, just like my Mom.
It was a wonderful trip. I cherished our time together and felt my parents’ presence (my father and other brother had recently died as well) with us.
And now here I am, my nephew and I on an adventure. And this time, we are all here together: my husband, my nephew, my brother, my sister-in-law and my niece.
My nephew chose Norway and Sweden to explore. None of us had ever thought of visiting either, but of course we were all game!
So here we all are, in Norway.
And it is heavenly.
The beauty of this country is just magnificent.
But of course, it is all really about being together. We feast our eyes on the landscapes. We laugh and laugh. We eat delicious food.
Once again, I sense my parents, and my brother somehow here, happy for us.
Maybe my niece and nephew will someday carry on the tradition and feel my presence there, too.
Sometimes, life is too hard.
I mean it. Sometimes, I just have to give up.
Not permanently. Not in a dangerous or devastating way.
But yes, I am saying that sometimes you just have to say, “Enough.”
Do not get me wrong. I am all for positivity.
If it were not for having learned to watch my thoughts and understand that I am not my thoughts or feelings, I would surely be dead today. My thoughts have a tendency to the dark side. The side that urges me to death. The side that has had enough of pain and sorrow and wishes for me a return to the void as soon as possible.
I have come to respect and have compassion for that dark side tendency of my mind. It is, its own way, trying to help me survive. But I have put it in the back seat of my psyche as a passenger on this ride through life. I do not let it drive. It would drive me off a steep cliff, like that last scene in “Thelma and Louise.” I observe it. I am not it.
Back to positivity. I thoroughly believe, after much personal experimentation, that there is, indeed, a tremendous power in our thoughts. Choosing life on a daily basis and choosing how to respond to life and the thoughts and feelings that arise as a result of living moment to moment are a crucial key to my having a fulfilling existence with some degree of serenity.
I have learned I can direct my thoughts. I can see when they are in a groove, an old, habitual, familiar song. I can pick up the needle off the record (remember those?) and set it on a new groove. I can literally rewire my brain over time with consistency and commitment.
I believe in and have benefited from the power of mantras and affirmations.
These are all tools I use to co-create a rich and full life each day.
I also believe, after many failed attempts to do otherwise, that there is a value and a necessity to having times where I can throw my hands up, literally and figuratively, and say to the Universe, to God, and, perhaps most importantly, to my Higher Self and all of my selves: “I give up!”
Somehow, for me, exercising my ability to say “Enough, I cannot go on another inch, I am done, that’s it!” has been very important.
Some part of my spirit, deep down inside, perhaps very young, very formerly traumatized, needs me to heed her desire to say, “No more.”
I tried to push away her voice for many, many years. First, I drowned it in food and alcohol. Later, I drowned it in positivity and recovery. Finally, I stopped and listened. Really acknowledged and listened.
I had to truly stop snd listen. Once I could hear her voice, it was very easy to find compassion for her pain and her suffering.
She did not trust me at first. Understandably, she had no reason to believe that I had any interest in her needs whatsoever. I get it. I’d neglected her for so long. Denied her existence, or worse, judged and bullied her. At first, I didn’t trust myself to be able to help her, make her feel safe.
But I made a commitment to her to always be there for her. To listen and help her. To make her the priority over anything else, as a matter of fact.
To parent her. And as a parent, I do not let her run the show. She is too young. Too raw. Too wounded. But I do honor her needs. I take them seriously. I give her attention, affection, acceptance. I give her my love.
And when she says “Enough,” we stop.
Not forever. Not in a dangerous or permanent way.
But we stop. I stop.
I unplug from the striving. The adult-ing. The New York City drive-ing.
I go on strike. I take a pause. I withdraw from the world.
I take a beat. I let her relax as fully as she can. I hold her hand and say, “I know. It is hard. I hear you are weary.”
And then, when she has had my attention and has been given a rest, when we both feel that it is time, I get back into my life and the world again.
She snuggles back into my heart, and lets me enter fully into the moments of my life.
And so I enter back into my life again. Awake. Ready to strive. To pursue. To stretch and grow.