Making Space

I spent the greater part of Saturday purging, cleaning and organizing.

Bathroom cabinets were cleared of all their contents as I mercilessly chose what would stay and what would go. Old make up, lotions I’ve never used, and expired medicines all found a new home in the trash. Jewelry I haven’t worn in years sits in a pile now to either be taken apart to make new jewelry or given away. I stripped my bedroom closet down to bare bones filling 4 bags to donate.

In my hallway is a deep, cedar lined closet where for the past two years I’ve dumped all the stuff I didn’t know what to do with. Jackets, board games, a picnic basket, wires and cords for who-knows-what, scarves, hats, the file cabinet full of tenant folders and legal forms, a vacuum, an old curtain rod, old greeting cards and important papers. Even an ironing board! And I am pretty sure I haven’t ironed in, oh, 3 years. I attacked the closet with a vengeance pulling every item out and deciding whether it was going to my storage unit downstairs, being donated or trashed.

I was making space.

I am a person of action. I don’t do well sitting and stewing in my thoughts. I think better when I am doing. And in the doing I was reminded that I use planning ahead as a way of controlling my life and subsequently, my feelings. I’ve been lost in planning for a couple of months now- thinking about what I’ll need to get rid of and what I’ll need to move around, what kind of rug will go with the new couch and how I’ll find enough room for everything. I’ve been so focused on the details that I’ve successfully avoided feeling my feelings. And so I thought about color palettes and shelving and not how I was going to change to my life.

You see, Mr. Darcy is moving in.

Next month.

This is a monumental happening as I have never truly done this before (nor has he). The longest I’ve lived with a boyfriend was a summer and we broke up at the end of it. I am not the kind of person who needs to see her significant other every day. I have spent a great deal of my adult life single yet actively dating. I’ve kept my independence ferociously even when I’m seeing someone. That’s probably why 9 times out of 10 I dated men long distance. For as social and outgoing as I am, my home is where I completely let all my guards down and get to be me. And so, in agreeing to co-habitate with Mr. Darcy, I am giving that final nod of approval, of yes.

I am saying- you can come in. To my heart.

He arrived mid-closet purge to find me sweaty and disheveled, surrounded by piles of my stuff. I hadn’t seen him for a few days and I was struck with how utterly adorable he is. How his eyes crinkle up in an easy smile. How his scent is now familiar as he pulls me to him. I took him by the hand and pointed out what I’d been doing, beaming a little with pride. We stood talking about how to modify the hall closet to fit all my clothes and he just kept looking at me with that look and trying to sneak in kisses through my words. With a mouthful of kiss I said, “You’re moving in.” And I finally, in that moment, FELT IT. Tears leapt up into my eyes because holy shit, I love this man. I love him so much I am willing to risk it.

We’re doing this. We’re going to live together.

I Am

Last night somewhere after 10pm something shifted. Inside myself, a switch was flipped and a light came on. And I remembered one of my favorite quotes:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

I had spent the previous 24 hours feeling torn up about a situation that was not my fault even though the other party was doing their best to bully and guilt me into believing so. I had talked it over with trusted confidantes, my therapist, my bosses. I had listened to everyone else. . . but not to myself. And the moment I took action based on my own gut instincts, I felt better. It didn’t change the reality that I was in the middle of a shitty situation but what it did do is change how I perceived myself within that situation.

You get that? I changed my perception of myself.

I no longer felt afraid or like a victim. I shone my light on every single thing I was afraid could happen and was shocked to not feel paralyzed by my fear. Instead I remembered who I am. And I stood taller knowing that I have the power to define how I feel about myself. No one else.

And that, my friends, is no small feat.

Honoring

Carving his place in the world. (Picture courtesy of Weiss Eubanks Photography)

Dear Tomato,

When you asked for gratitude letters* I had, quite literally, just stepped out of a therapy session wherein I realized something quite profound about you. Right timing, indeed.

What I realized is this: Besides my father, you are the most significant man in my life.

When I think about all the big moments since meeting you at 17, you are there. You’ve seen me through: My high school graduation. Prom. Countless birthdays. Losing our virginity together. Moving away from home. Finding love. Losing love. Lather, rinse, repeat. Mini-breakdowns. College graduation. My sister’s wedding. My mom moving out of my childhood home. My grandmother’s passing. Moving out of state.

I remember you reading me “Freddy the Leaf” while we waited for the call about my Dad. I hold that memory dear to me- your kindness and friendship through my grief was a testament to your heart. There were three people in the room when I got the news my Dad had died and yours were the arms I fell into.

You are always catching me.

Thank you for that and for being in my life through all the highs and lows, the belly laughs and tears. For truly seeing me even when I could not. For always being my lighthouse, my mirror, and my best friend.

Go with happiness,

Sizzle

****

*I am sharing this letter I wrote to Tomato with all of you in honor of his birthday (which is on Sunday!). Tomato does a really fantastic weekly show called The Baub Show. It focuses on what’s right in the world rather than what’s wrong. He rotates guests and co-hosts (sometimes I’m one of them!) and lately has been sharing letters of gratitude on the air. This letter was one I sent in even though he was definitely not requesting letters written to him. I couldn’t help it though. I had something to say. It’s hard for me to keep my trap shut.

Do yourself a favor and if you’re not already a listener, check it out on Mondays at 7pm PST or download previous podcasts. You won’t be sorry!

Hey Tomato- Here’s hoping this year is your best one yet. I’m so damn proud of you for so many reasons and love you to the moon and back. Happy birthday!

Listen Here

I have a very expressive face. I realize that you’re just going to have to take my word on this since your experience of me is through these words but trust me, it’s true.

Also, you should note, that I am a horrible liar.

This is not the best combo because every emotion I am feeling will wash over my face and HELLO TRANSPARENCY. This is one of the reasons I avoid playing poker. I have no poker face. (No, I will not play poker with you.)

Add to this that I am a direct person. I’m not the type to coddle and ass kiss. I am nice but not in the sense where I will say one thing and mean another just to make sure that no one gets their panties in a bunch. That shit pisses me off. You want someone to blow smoke up your bum? I am not your girl.

So let’s review:

Expressive face. CHECK.

Horrible liar. CHECK

Direct communicator. CHECK.

Put these all together and what do you have? Apparently, a checklist for trouble.

I am almost 37 years old folks. I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to all of a sudden be the type of person who will swallow my opinions and thoughts in an effort to make other more passive people feel comfortable. Your INdirectness is not my problem.* Just like your feelings are not my responsibility.

Though, I’m just now learning that your feelings are not my responsibility. My therapist informed me of this a few days ago and when she said, “You need to remind yourself that their feelings are not your responsibility” I laughed. Laughed! Because that is so far from my realm of reality I felt like she was asking me to learn another language. I suppose she is in a sense- a new emotional language that does not require me to fix or rescue or control anyone (except me).

For the record, personal growth sure is a lot of work.

But I guess what I am getting at is: I’m not going to stop being fundamentally who I am which is a person who speaks her mind, who will always tell you the truth even when it’s hard, who will probably say too much but mean every word, who cares enough to give a shit and say so, who will not just say what you want to hear when what you really need is a (loving) kick in the ass.

I refuse to apologize for who I am or to buy into your bullshit that your inability to communicate your own feelings and needs are somehow a result of me being me.

Got that?

Good.

I’m glad we had this little chat.

Carry on.

*By “your” I do not mean you in particular. This is a general you.

Assert

Apologies for my first-ever password protected post yesterday. I had some heavy stuff that I needed to vent about but it wasn’t stuff that I felt comfortable having out there for just anyone to find. And by “anyone” I mean anyone associated with work. If you want the password, just email me! I felt a lot better, as I always do, after writing about it. It didn’t make the issues disappear but it helped me sort out how to tackle them. I appreciate everyone’s comments and advice.

I think part of my frustration was that I was swallowing a big part of my personality. I am an assertive person. Hell, I TAUGHT assertiveness for years to women and girls. But sometimes I lose my footing and second guess myself. I know that I can be an over-sharer. That I can often be inappropriate. That maybe I am too open. I think I’m pretty hyper-aware of my limitations and faults but I’ve been working on not letting them define me. Because we’re all imperfect. I just refuse to wallow in it.

So yesterday after venting I finally grabbed my confidence by the proverbial reins and spoke up on my own behalf and guess what? It was good! Sure I was a bit scared and maybe my voice wavered but I didn’t go  off half-cocked nor did I lie down like a door mat. And afterwards? I felt so much better. The problem is not fixed but it’s being faced.

Have you ever noticed how that is often the biggest hurdle? Facing the problem.Most of the time we  create these awful scenarios where a confrontation would inevitably blow up if we said or did anything to stand up for ourselves. In our minds the idea of it paralyzes us when really we just need to tell the fear to STFU and do what we’re afraid to do. 9 times out of 10 it will not even come close to the horror we fear it will be. I am reminded of this every time I speak up for myself. I encourage you to do it too. Liberate yourself from imagined fear!

Is there something you’re avoiding dealing with? Are you imagining the worst that could happen and letting it silence you?

Message Received, Universe.

Should you choose to go, do, and be, Sizzle, at the end of your life, shocked and dismayed, you’ll likely exclaim that because of all the uncanny events, wild timing, weird coincidences, and sheer chance encounters, all of your life’s good fortune must have been your destiny.

Or, should you choose to wait, wish, and hope, at the end of your life, shocked and dismayed, you’ll likely exclaim that because of all the uncanny events, wild timing, weird coincidences, and sheer chance encounters, all of your life’s bad luck must have been your destiny.

Sizzle, do you see what the difference is?

It ain’t me,
The Universe

I want the entire latte, not just the foam.

I’ve been getting home after 8pm almost every day for over a week which means I either don’t eat dinner or eat it around 9pm and then fall into bed to get not enough sleep. I am tired to my bones. Between pulling off a fundraiser at work (successfully, I might add) and having multiple issues crop up at the building along with two open apartments, to say I’ve been slammed is an understatement.

So that’s my main excuse for not writing.

My secondary excuse is more emotion-based. Like I said, I was feeling punchy. I even went so far as to write a list entitled: “People I Want To Punch In the Face”. There were eight people on the original list along with the reason(s) why I wanted to cause them harm. It was rather cathartic. A week has passed and I don’t feel as full of rage but at the same time something shifted in me. I just feel D.O.N.E. with the bullshit. Maybe I say this all the time (do I say this all the time?) but I mean it. A switch was flipped and I am on a rampage. The kind that doesn’t lay down and let you walk all over her, treat her like shit, blow sunshine up her ass, take her for granted or be an asshole all over her for the 100th time. Time’s up! I’m walking! Later!

It’s a weird feeling but a good one I think…once I get underneath the spazzing and uncomfortableness of this newfound self-confidence. I’ve always been good at faking self-esteem but lately I am not actually faking it. I just have it. And boundaries and a backbone to boot. I’m not running around being mean to people. Quite the contrary. I’m owning what I want and need and not settling for mediocrity. It’s totally bad ass. If you’re not doing this already, I highly recommend it.

Let’s start a revolution.

“Find a cure/Find a cure for my life/Put a price/Put a price on my soul/Build a wall/Build a fortress around my heart/Oh my god/Oh you think I’m in control/Oh my god/Oh you think it’s all for fun/Is this fun for you?” -Oh My God, Ida Maria

Growing a Backbone Where My Wishbone Was

I got this email yesterday from someone I used to care about but have long since only harbored ill will towards. The email made me furious and so I did what any hot head naturally does, I shot off some one liner response. But then the ex-Catholic in me needed to confess so I called up someone more level-headed than me.

Two guesses who that was.

Kaply listens to my bullshit with patience and utter amusement. I’m telling her what went down and she says, “Baby girl, you have every right to be mad. You have to get mad at the right people and stop holding it all in. It just eats you up inside.” (Paraphrasing.) I tried not to cry and said, “I don’t feel like I am worth it.”

And then I really started crying.

Fuck.

I have a really difficult time expressing my anger towards men. My dad was extremely passive aggressive and basically a doormat. You could yell in his face with all the rage in your soul and get only a snide remark made under his breath or total silence. Each equally infuriating. My anger never got to be heard and now as a grown up when I get mad at a guy, I feel irrational and talk myself out of saying anything because I assume they won’t want to hear it because I DO NOT MATTER ENOUGH TO BE HEARD.

I have no idea how to be appropriately angry but I tried. I sent another email expressing how I really felt, letting all the anger and sadness pour out and felt like it was the meanest email I’ve ever sent anyone. I called Kaply again to talk about what I wrote and since she is basically the Queen of Mean and one of my closest friends, I value her opinion. She didn’t think it was that mean. I still think I was mean FOR ME but there are meaner people who could send meaner emails. But you know what? I had every right to be angry and he deserved to hear about it. I don’t care if he “gets” it or even if he feels bad. I needed to say what I’d been carrying around inside of me for years. Because I matter. My feelings matter. And I don’t have to swallow my feelings for the sake of someone who stomped all over mine.

It felt pretty liberating.

So to the person who felt my wrath who is probably still reading my blog even though I specifically asked him not to anymore- that new me you so cunningly referred to in your email? Yeah, you just met her.

Tough Love

I’m pretty good at a pep talk. The rallying cry. The YOU CAN DO IT speech. Just be prepared- I don’t really beat around the bush. Like, ever.

I was thinking about all the “advice” I’ve dolled out recently and it struck me: I should heed my own words.

Such as:

“The longer you keep up this failure talk, the longer you are going to feel like you are alone and suffering.”

Or:

“Do you honestly believe that is how you deserved to be loved? To be left? To be emotionally cut off? To not be chosen? To not be fought for? To not have a person you have given everything to not return that in kind? To have a person NEED you but not actually ever make you feel wanted? . . . Love yourself better than that. Love you first! Love you best!”

Um, yeah.

So here is what I am telling myself today:

Dear Self,

Quit succumbing to your old pattern of pleasing everyone first and thinking about yourself second. Stop with the I-am-less-than and prove-it-to-me mentality. It’s boring and not useful. You’re always trying to be one step ahead of everything- knock it off. You’re too damn hard on yourself. Maybe if you’d just shut up for once and LISTEN, you’d finally get it.

You get to choose. YOU! Own that power and wield it wisely.

Love,

Yourself

It’s Up to Me

I came to a startling realization while talking with Kaply and crying in my idling car Friday night.

I’m not happy.

I actually haven’t been happy for at least a year. Happy in the sense that I am content with who I am and am doing what fills me with joy. Happy as in living my life for me, going after what I want, not defining myself by how other people view me or if a man wants me or not. I was sitting there comparing myself to other people’s successes, adventures and fulfillment, feeling jealous and bitter. What the fuck? That’s a total waste of time and energy.

In my last post I was talking about being willing to feel and that means feeling even when it sucks and is painful. I know it’s been almost three months since The Fella and I split but I swear it’s like I am just now getting around to grieving it. I think because the anger I was holding onto was blocking my ability to get to the sadness. The Fella was the closest I’d let any guy come to knowing me in a very, very long time. I wrestle with feeling like a failure because we couldn’t make it work. I struggle with guilt because I know I participated in the demise of the relationship even when I was checked out and that ultimately, I hurt him. I don’t think we could have fixed what broke between us even if we’d wanted to but that doesn’t make it any easier.

This is honestly the first time in a very long time where I am not seeking out romantic love, not dating anyone, not on the prowl for some sort of flirtation, or not carrying on with an ex pretending the problems of our former relationship were fixed by time and space (they never are). It’s just me alone with me. By choice. I’ll tell you one thing- it sure does give a girl a lot of time to think. I’m debating if this is a good or a bad thing.

It’s funny how we see ourselves. I know I am often overbearing, opinionated, strong-willed, and guarded. I talk too much. I worry more than I should. I spend way too much time thinking about other people’s feelings. I feel like I do myself and everyone else a disservice every time I put other people before me. If anything, I put too much time and effort into figuring out what might be best for everyone else BUT me. And I’m slowly learning that I have to just let people be themselves and travel at their own pace. I’m trying to find the balance between caring and over-caring. I’m trying to stop deflecting all my caring and give some to myself.

As I sat there in that car, my mind racing with my inadequacies and all the things I longed to try but didn’t because of some imagined deficiency on my part, I made a conscious decision right then and there to be happy.

Just. Be. Happy.

Something just clicked inside me and I’m rolling with it. This time right now is a gift. I’m going to find out what makes me happy and then do it with all the zeal I can muster.

Welcome to Operation Happy. 

I’ll keep you posted.

“I have accepted fear as a part of life, specifically the fear of change, the fear of the unknown. I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: Turn back, turn back; you’ll die if you venture too far.”  -Erica Jong