Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday

It's quiet this morning up on the bluff. It usually is, unless the creatures in the canyon get into a pre-dawn skirmish, but that's a marker of summer and we're just barely into the tendrils of spring.

There is no wind, even though I sometimes secretly wish there were. Jon comes to visit on the wind, and I woke up with him on my mind, which is right where he was when I went to sleep last night.

Good Friday.

What a name.

It's supposed to be good, because we know the end of the story already – that we're about to have the promise of forgiveness in a few days, and boy could we use it. I only went to confession once, and I lied the whole time because my sins were not age appropriate. Instead, I told the priest I had stolen some candy from the 7-11, even though I've never stolen any thing ever, because I was too ashamed to sit in the darkness and tell the truth.

I often still am.

The priest sent me home with a few prayers to say, and I hoped that the same prescription to treat stolen candy would work for lying to my parents about sleeping with a much, much older man. Maybe stop that madness, too, if I'm honest, but at the time I couldn't be.

In later years I would learn that the forgiveness I'm seeking on behalf of others offers no respite for me. That Mary herself cannot absolve one of Stockholm Syndrome, and that lies beget lies and the punishment is crucifixion. No amount of 'good enough' can protect you from the weather.

I've never been much of a Catholic, despite attending church on the weekly and participating in a number of sacraments. None of it resonated with me much until I saw Jon up on a cross, the man I loved crucified for the benefit of others, scripted by Andrew Lloyd Webber, enacted by the graduating class of 2003. Now I can't see a cross without seeing Jon's face, and hearing 1970's rock opera.

So naturally, on the eve of Good Friday, my thoughts drifted back to the man I saw crucified, resurrected, and then struck down by the circumstances of life. In the past I used to chide myself for grieving a loss I couldn't have prevented while simultaneously holding the nagging thought that maybe I could have done something. Maybe if I had been a Better Girl and Done Something else, that he wouldn't have frozen to death. The dying is bad enough, but there is something so much more gruesome about god stealing your last breath without leaving a mark, just slowing and stopping your heart.

Something so lonely.

There is wisdom in a dedicated day of grieving. I'm not making this one up – just ask the Germans, who call Good Friday “Grief Friday.” I'm not sure if Disney got to this one and white-washed it along with the other Tales, or if it was a sloppy handwriting snafu, but I'll say its a vote for the humility of the multilingual, that there is always more to the story.

I started telling the truth recently, inspired by a lesson from my friend Zreba. My grief would wake me in the middle of the night, and I would cry and be angry that I couldn't seem to rest despite needing sleep so badly. Pardon me for mixing faiths here, but in my appropriated version of Islam, God comes close in the early morning hours to hear our prayers. So now when I wake, as I did this morning, it is an opportunity for prayer. A date with god, who apparently has something to say.

Or hear.

Grief is not a phase, it is a cycle which is activated by an unseen force - barometric pressure or the Mayan calendar. And there is goodness in it, too. Even without knowing that resurrection is possible, that death is temporary, that wisdom is greater than the confines of my feeble mind.

The Truth of the matter, the gift of Easter, is that in the end, even this will be beautiful.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Your Dirty Mind

Your Dirty Mind...

I'm talking to you.

(and me)

You who has been accused of having a dirty mind - unclean thoughts.

(me too)

I'd like to take this idea off of the table – the idea that your thoughts are like muddy footprints on the china. We can take this very same earth and make a ceramic vessel from which you would be proud to pour tea, but in this context or that, it is evil and unsavory.

Water can be dirty, I suppose. Unclean. If it is polluted with chemical runoff or parasites, but even then, it isn't evil.

I'd like to assert that you aren't either.

The thoughts you have? The ones The People tell you are dirty? These are not true statements, unless you're a potter or a gardener or an archeologist and you are fantasizing about your craft. Or maybe, like me, you have a private fondness for the landscaping stores with all sorts of ground cover and rocks, neatly sorted into likened piles?

But if you're thinking about food, or sex, these thoughts are not dirty or bad. What a disservice I've done to myself by labeling ideas in such a way. My Ayurvedic practitioner says the poisonous thoughts I think while I'm eating will do more damage than the nature of the thing itself, even if I'm eating hot dogs and cotton candy.

I have found this idea to feel true.

The trick is what I allow to become me, and what I let pass through.

And, in truth, my work is to allow myself to eat, and forgive myself my trespasses and the pleasures I've denied myself by sealing off everything that ever touched the earth.

I love your dirty thoughts.

(for the record)

(so can you)


Santa Fe can’t help but be beautiful, even in her grief at the end of the day.

The end of my visit.

The doors. 

The doors feel like a boneyard in the low light, and I feel that, too. Ornate - exquisite - evidence of the storms they have held out, the weather they have survived.

(If only I could see the beauty of my own character in the same light.)

Yesterday a friend told me that I’m like Santa Fe in the following ways: quaint, unassuming, vibrant, sweet, savory, and wise.

Ok, then. I’ll take it. Try it on. You can have your perfect beach girls, I’ll proudly be a girl of the desert, with windy hair and freckles.

More beautiful for the storms I’ve weathered.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Good Old Days

I feel gross.

Have you ever had the moment - the rainy Saturday morning, perhaps - when you decided it was time to clean out the attic or the guest room closet? You put your hair up, start some uplifting, motivating music, and set to work?

It goes well for a few minutes - maybe a good hour - as you assemble a pile of things that no longer serve you, toss mismatched socks and the things that never fit, or will never fit again, because you're not the person you used to be?

(In so many ways)

Then you get to things like ticket stubs or photos you forgot to frame, the dress you wore That One Time, and you get a little wistful and teary.

(The good old days.)

And then... the shirt that belonged to That Guy, and the jewelry your grandmother gave you that is relatively hideous and unwearable, but still smells vaguely like her or her memory, and the painting supplies that you bought for the class you never took, the things you hid and denied from the world, and so on?

Pretty soon, you are in tears, with your life strewn haphazardly around you. All the things you thought you were and hoped you might be, along with some of your deplorable patterns and adorable coping mechanisms.

This is where I am in this moment. The un-packed-ness of the feelings and behaviors, anticipating the resentments that are somewhere on the shelf I won't get to until next month (at this rate). Wondering why I didn't open a good book, or start sharpening my knives, or some other meaningful and useful possibility.

The temptation to shove it all back into the closet is overwhelming. The Joy Lady says to take it all out, put it all on the floor, and I think that perhaps she is in cahoots with the Recovery People and my nemesis Bob Villa, who all seem to have the very, "You've got this!" sort of attitude.

(I'm not feeling very 'got this' surrounded by the fallout).

This is the part they don't picture in the brochures, the work that they do at the commercial breaks, the awkward adolescence of the process.

I want to bypass the sweaty and rageful yelling phase, where I Tell The Closet Who Is Boss, and swear to Never Buy Craft Supplies Again. It is a prayerful, tearful process this time as I get to the roots of why I hang onto horrible jewelry, and how the life I had planned will not be the life that I live.

I have found some solidarity recently, which is good. Because my closet has more than forgotten socks and iPhone Chargers of Yore... there are bones. Feelings. Half-drunk bottles of poison I ingested while hoping the other person would die. Which they didn't, mind you, because that isn't how poison works.

Shame, blame, and their sister despair, toe to toe with me and my Wild Ideas.

It is ugly, and feels bottomless, as each artifact lends another nuanced flavor of emotion. I have been afraid of all of them, shame in particular, who I had hoped would evaporate during the years of entombment.

The relief I felt when his things were carted off by the angels of Two Men and a Truck was palpable. It served as a distraction from the emptiness that remained, the things that have gathered dust in the name of place-holding. My house is filled with Things that have no meaning or significance to me, they are simply things that serve a purpose or disguise this dwelling as a home.

And this closet? This closet, and that one, and the one in my psyche? The 12 Steppers seem to know a thing or two about them that the yogis missed – that within them are the relics that will explain the emptiness, the worthlessness that I've been trying to address with Other People's Problems and work and selective focus.

And this time? I've done the Magical Thing, where I've asked for help, and accepted it. Which seems to be the secret tool to skillful unpacking – the off camera doulas who have Seen This Shit Before. Help says, keep going. Even if you feel gross. Even if shame had birthed kittens or gremlins in the interim. Even if anger and rage are buried landmines from battles won and lost, whose venom has rotted and intensified in the ensuing years.

Keep. Going.

So I am, and so are you. Because this is the work. If we don't, we'll be pulled under into the basement, rolled by some other crocodile, or burn the whole thing down and start again only to find the ghosts and the work have followed us.

I'm grateful for the gift of solidarity, the example of what life can look like when you Follow the Instructions, which, if you're assembling something from Ikea always start with “Find a man with a pencil behind his ear.”

Ask for Help.

(And accept it).

Let the Good Old Days rise again.

Friday, March 9, 2018


"Your Center is a place you can Trust."


My yoga teacher said this last night, and it took me down, the way only The Truth can. The internal tears waiting for the socially appropriate time of my drive home, when they escaped into the dark hollows of I-25, the route that has absorbed so much of my sorrow this past year.

There is inherent wisdom in me. God and The Universe, the angels and the star dust that is currently wandering around as this Thing Called Me have within them a compass that is set to my own destiny.

(Yours does, too).

I Fucked Up Royally this past weekend, operating against my internal truth, my own center for reasons that are mostly irrelevant to you, I'm sure. Normally I would spend a goodly amount of time punishing myself for this, feeling immense shame that I have hurt both myself and others. It would be untrue to say that I haven't Gone There in the past few days, berating myself. But I've also resisted the urge to flee from my mistakes, to cut ties and Start Over.

Rolf Gates asked me (and a few dozen other people): is there wisdom in this?

I think so. I think the wisdom in making mistakes is not necessarily running from them, but amending them. Recalibrating and staying in conversation. This is a thing that is new to me, and it is awkward and murky, like my recovery has been so far to date.

Recovery from codependency is obscure – it doesn't have some of the clear lines that surround other addictions. It doesn't make it easier or harder, I imagine, just different.

My experience of recovery from codependency is one millimeter at a time, one moment at a time, one interaction at a time. For awhile, I withdrew into the Joy Room and avoided dating (and men, truth be told). That was important. I've said I'm Ready a few times, with some hilarious and tragic results. I'm struggling to find the nuance that isn't full brake pedal or full gas pedal, but also isn't both at the same time.

(This weekend was both at the same time.)

My god, the effort.

I remember very little from that one time that Jon taught me to drive a manual transmission car on the Air Force Base parade grounds, but I think that it involves something like a third pedal that says – I'm ready for the next gear.

This is interesting to me today.



I'm learning to drive again, with new rules. It's clumsy, and the car stalls. And while I could get out and kick the tires, or give up and walk or just die where I am, I'm tuning in to the gifts of the past. The ghost of a man who had infinite patience. The teacher who said the right thing at the right time.

The highway home.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Time Out

I used to do this Thing.

(I did it yesterday).

The Thing I did? Make sure I don't get ahead. Contend for the silver medal. Work for it, and then stab myself in the foot six steps before the finish line.

Yesterday people Asked Me For Help, which is perhaps one way The Universe says - hey, girl, someone wants to hear from you. I swatted it down. Got a little bratty. Felt overwhelmed that people would come to me for help, especially for something as complex and nuanced as Relationship Advice.

I have marked my success with an outdated ruler, in centimeters and metric tons of logic, antiquated units rather than stepping into what I do know. What I do have to offer.

The Truths I know are these:

I had - and have - a wonderful relationship with The Ben, who was once my husband. We talk on Facetime at least once a week, and we stick to the promises we made That One Time we stood in front of the people: I'm here to support your spiritual growth, no matter what - and - you call, I answer.

We got divorced, because our relationship didn't fit into marriage shoes anymore. It evolved, it grew, it changed. But it doesn't mean we love one another less or more.

At the same time, I saw the horrible Facebook memory of yesterday. The last day of February last year was the day I said publicly, in the face of the terrible truth that was unleashed against my will, that a subsequent relationship was built on lies, manipulation, stalking, cheating, and Pride. I dropped off of Facebook, and said I needed Help, and that I didn't know what that Help was.

One. Two. Three.

Powerless, Came to Believe, Turned Over, like a dog in the street that said - someone - everyone - help me please.

How can one person have both experiences? In that order? On what authority can I offer you anything?

So instead of answering gracefully, I got snarky. Sarcastic. I tried to be witty and funny, but I also did a disservice to the wisdom I've been entrusted with. I'm afraid that the idea that some of you see me as Worthy inspires the automatic reaction of self-sabotage.

How adorable, right?

I'm writing to say I'm sorry, mostly to myself. Because I've worked, studied, and lived hard to earn the seat of the teacher, and all I've done is disgrace myself.

So tonight I get to sit with that - put myself in time-out and think.

What do I have to offer you?

A lot.

I'm not bad at relationships. I know a few things. Not everything, but enough that there are certainly a few nuggets worth sharing.

And you asked, so I'll answer.