Wednesday, September 5, 2018


Joy disappeared first, but she went quietly, and so it was a year or more before I realized she’d gone off trail, and I resigned myself to the fact that she was lost forever.

(I felt lost forever.)

I did not find joy or salvation in a man. 


But I couldn’t have found him without her. And this is the room I devoted to her safe return. This room was my yellow ribbon of faith, my “missing” poster, and the bowl of milk I left out during the longest winter nights when god would wake me early and I would pray, or try to.

She would visit in my delirium, leaving whisker-prints in milk and fairy dust.

This room became my altar and my haven, a living dreamcatcher who had a stronger backbone than I had at the time.

She is a permanent fixture in my life.

A reminder that I’m responsible for my own experience, and that if I seek joy, I’d better make her feel welcome.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Keeping Score

Anxiety found me this morning, somewhere on the trail.

I had thought I'd outrun her, or detained her last week between the couch cushions in my trauma therapist's office.

Sometimes I think if I deposit $125 and some tears, that she'll leave me alone, but she's nothing if not loyal.


She must have something left to teach me.

Today I remembered, sooner than I have in the past, that ignoring her is the best way to have her turn up the volume. So I spoke up, and said the truth about where I'd lost myself. I asked for help.


I didn't beat myself up.

The number of times I've kept score, or run away, or counted myself out for not meeting my unachievable standards for myself?

I think I'm finished now.

I would like to redefine adulthood as telling the truth about myself, asking for help when I need it, and not keeping score.

And maybe finding gratitude for the hard moments. The visits with anxiety.

And what she has to teach me.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Love Languages

I love the idea of love languages.

You've heard?

There are five ways people like to be loved. Not to simplify an idea that somehow occupied the pages of an entire book, but some people like gifts, some people like touch, some people like quality time, some people like to hear nice things about themselves, and some people like for you to do nice things for them.

I like this idea. It's super cozy, just like any idea where I get to nicely compartmentalize people into little boxes in my mind. And while I think it's overly simplistic for a life partner (romantic or otherwise), it is useful for employee recognition. Like if public recognition makes Sally's skin crawl, it's nice to know that so you don't shame her when you're trying to appreciate her. If she wants a $5 Starbucks gift card instead, BLESS HER, THAT'S EASY.

So yes, ask your employees and volunteers. Pay attention that some people would rather get a nice card with a few words of praise instead of another Chipotle gift card for their birthday. It's not the magic of the languages, it's just being attentive.

Also, if someone gives you something, that was the point. Say thank you for being appreciated, acknowledged, or remembered. Then pass the intention along. Appreciate. Acknowledge. Remember.

When it comes to intimacy, I think it's too simplistic to pick a love language using an online quiz and deciding Now And Forever, this is how I love you.

People get touched out. Gifts are hard to shop for. Words are hard to come by sometimes.

Love is multilingual.


Control is not a love language, but boy can it disguise itself as one.

You can use nice words to be mean.

Recognition and service to shame.

Touch to contain.

Gifts to obligate.

(I have done all of these things).

“You owe me,” is how some people say, “I love you.”

(This is not love).

I'll leave that to Rumi, and Rupi Kaur, and poets who have a better sense of what it is. But I'll tell you what it's not.

I think love says – follow your inner calling, your own path. Be true to yourself, even if it isn't with me.

Love reminds you that you can swim - invites you out of the burning lifeboat to save you from the impending undertow.

Reciprocity, not transaction.

And here is the secret to know if you're loving with a side of control and manipulation: is it important that the person on the receiving end know that what was offered came from you?



Your gift, your service, your words, may have been a downpayment on future expectations.

And the only things more likely to cause suffering than unmet expectations?

Those you've paid for.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Sink the Ship

I spent this summer hoping.


(I had hoped never to do such a thing again).

There was a three week window that I spent primarily in bed or on the floor in front of the fireplace, lost in mental fog, exhaustion, and the after-effects of spiritual overspray.

I was sick, not just depressed, but it's a chicken/egg scenario in my world. And while I used to tolerate it or write it off as the weather or an anniversary of some travesty or another, this time I got mad.

And I let the anger out.

(My therapist will be so proud).

Which isn't why I did it – to be clear – but I have had other opportunities and let them pass by, or deflated them. I suppose I will give myself credit for saying “I'm supposed to tell you I'm angry with you,” earlier in the summer, which was indeed a step.

I wish that saying I was angry felt better, but it didn't make the anger go away. And that's not the point. The point is saying – your behavior is not ok, and neither are my boundaries.

Let's right this ship?

Or sink it.

I remain committed to the idea that I want to participate in friendship – relationship – whatever – as though we will be cordial in 5 years, whether we're married or passing on the street.

(That's my integrity speaking. I'm so glad I found her.)

I'm sitting with how often and how loudly and how clearly I have to describe and define my boundaries before I sound like border patrol, or put a sign in the window, “attack dog lives here,” or make a t-shirt that declares, “I'm a walking trauma bomb.”

My speech is either so muffled and overstuffed with softeners that the point is lost in the message, or unleashed and bloodthirsty.

I can work on that.

And I am. Clarity without fangs.

You stepped on my toes.

(or my heart)

Please don't do it again.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Angry, Out

I am so angry right now.

I haven't let myself be angry like this in years, or maybe ever. Normally I'm angry IN, seething and self-destructing and punishing myself. Looking for the cause, the mistake I made, the butterfly wingflaps that accidentally started the landslide or anguish.

The 'lack' in me that let tower crumble.

Now I'm angry out.

This is new.

The last time I remember this I was five. I said "bullshit" and the daycare mom tried to wash my mouth out with soap. I'll spare you the details, but I should have been charged with assault, although I was acting in self-defense.

(And I was five).

My Teacher, my dearly departed Hunter, would tell me to go for the bones of this anger. The marrow.

Dig, dig, dig.

It's a good thing I'm at my parents' house, and there is a garden, and work to be done, otherwise I'd probably have a friendly visit from the HOA or the police or the utility company, even though this digging is certainly in self defense.

Or preservation.

(Or destruction?)

There is a part of me that isn't coming into tomorrow.

The part who says:

"Tell me how to be good enough."

Fuck that part.

There is no such thing as good enough for another person.

Friday, July 27, 2018

There Is No Word For This

There is no word for this.

I have a recurring dream. Someone is chasing me. Sometimes I know who they are, and sometimes it's just a presence. I barricade myself in a room, I call 911, and cannot speak.

It is happening again.

I'm at war with my being, betrayed by my body.

Down for the count, with only the power of my mind to save me, and she's distraught and fatigued.

(there is no word for this).

There are Things that happen to those of us in bodies. Sometimes the plumbing gets stopped up, or the chi doesn't flow, or we do something to invoke shame.

If we're in man bodies, we have word for a broad range of dysfunction – emasculate. It could refer to any number of things, like the plumbing and chi, or the way we're treated by our partner or our boss or society. Castration on any level. Removing one's sexual force, one's gendered identity, one's power.

You get the idea, regardless of your gender. You feel the empathy or the victory. Pathos.

I think I feel this, in the way my body has betrayed me.

But I have no way to tell you.

There is no word for this.

I'm not fighting for a diagnosis – I don't need a pill or a listing in the DSM – but simply a way to convey to you the dream feeling of opening my mouth to report a very real terror, and having nothing to say.

I have so much to say.

For the partners of PTSD.

For the widow parents who have lost children.

For those who experience birth after death.

There is no word for this.

When the thing that is lost is not visible, unexplainable.


The First Step

The first step, as they say, is admitting that you are powerless, and that your life is unmanageable.

In my case, the powerlessness relates specifically to people, more specifically to men, and most specifically to romantic relationships (real or imagined) I have with men, and how I use them to PROVE the theory that I'm not good enough.

(to exist)

There's a thing they say, in the rooms of Al-anon, about how your role in not being treated like a rug, is perhaps not lying on the ground and allowing people to step on you?

In related news, I have removed the carpet from one stair. It took an hour, some prayer, and quite a bit of dexterity.

Bob Villa did not offer any support in this, nor did Jesus make an appearance.

Deep bows to The Man With The Staple Gun, circa 1981, whose diligence and dedication allowed me to burn three times the karma with all of the effort it took to remove each and every blessed one.

I have unending gratitude for Cynthia St. Aubin, who talked me through the simultaneous removal of the mental, emotional and spiritual carpet.

It's important, I think.

To get off the floor.