Tightrope Walking

It’s been a week since my life blew up, quite literally, inside my body. I haven’t left the house unless you count walking out into the backyard. I haven’t put on a bra or driven a car or slept without waking with a pain in my abdomen or some distant memory of the trauma of last Monday. I don’t have much of an appetite but I make myself eat so I can take my pain medicine. They gave me Oxycodone which I hate. It made me have the angry sads and coming off of it was unpleasant. I’m still very sore in my belly so I take my high dose ibuprofen and take it easy as I can. I cry at random- at a touching scene on the TV, when I walk by what would be the baby’s room, when the delivery guy brought flowers from a friend, when I do too much and get winded. I’m going a little stir crazy and missing out on the most beautiful Seattle weather but the thought of returning to work or being social or even going to the store paralyzes me.

I do not yet have a new normal.

Everything feels overwhelming to me and I care very little for the bullshit of life. There is so much of it and there is nothing like a traumatic emergency surgery and loss of pregnancy to shake the snow globe of perspective. I am waiting for things to settle so I can see clearer. Right now I feel panicky and I try not to let my mind drift there, to the dark place of what ifs and worst case scenarios. There are too many maybes and I’m too tired to play them all out. They do nothing to help me exist in this new reality. We’re trying to just take it day by day, sometimes hour by hour, until we have our follow-up appointment next Wednesday where we will bring all our questions about what’s next.

It’s funny what you think is your worst thing. As a kid, my dad dying was my worst thing. Then I got cancer and thought, wow, this is definitely The Worst. And then I had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy which jeopardizes our chances for having a baby and I’ve got a new Worst Thing. There will always be trouble coming, won’t there? Seven months ago I was worried what my first pap smear results would be after my cervical cancer surgeries. That was our big hurdle then. And we waited and worried and hoped and wondered and tried to heal as we do now. What I said back then rings true again today:

I have never been more acutely aware that the great lesson of my life is patience. To lean into the waiting and the wanting and the wondering. To trust the process and let hope buoy me when I feel myself spiraling into what ifs and worry.

I have no idea what’s next. Do we ever? I used to think all my plans and lists would keep me safe. My coping mechanisms that served me all those years are laughable to me now. Oh honey, I want to tell my younger self, there is no such thing as safety. Life is a tightrope and you can spend your life building a net without ever getting up on the wire. Or you can take it step by delicate step, balancing, falling, and getting back up again and again. But you can’t look down. Only out and up because, sweet girl, the views are spectacular.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

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Being vs. Fixing

At some point I just decided to stop fixating on fixing myself.

Maybe it was turning 40 that flipped the switch. My 30’s were chock full of deep soul-searching after my tumultuous 20’s. I spent too much time feeling not good enough, analyzing that feeling, and trying to fix it. Most of my posts from back then were about that struggle- my daddy issues, my child of an alcoholic issues, my body image issues, my worthiness issues. Am I all fixed now? No. It’s just that the focus isn’t on fixing but rather on being.

Being what? Being kind to myself. Being authentic. Being less in a hurry to be different from the person I am right now. Because this woman I am? She is flawed for sure but she’s also worthwhile. She’s got a lot going for her.

Maybe it was finding the love of Mr. Darcy that helped me settle into myself. It’s an amazing gift to be loved by someone the way he loves me. His unconditional acceptance of me has forced me to examine my own opinions about my worth. Our relationship pushes each of us to grow and I can honestly say I like myself better with Mr. Darcy.

Maybe it was the cancer summer that made me look at life differently. I used to think I could outsmart life. That I could plan thoroughly enough that I could best any bad thing that might occur. That by playing out every worst case scenario and masterminding a Plan B, I’d be set. And then a doctor called to tell me I had cervical cancer and life laughed in my face.

I am grateful to my cancer for many reasons but the biggest one is that it showed me how to accept- accept myself, accept fear, accept love, accept life. There is no amount of worry or planning that will give you control over every outcome. Life is often about dealing with shit that happens when you’ve made completely different plans. I do not know what the future holds but I can see what today is full of. My appreciation for the little things has grown exponentially.

Whatever combination of circumstances brought me to this place, I want to acknowledge that I’m here. I’m here not apologizing for who I am or how I feel. I cannot stress how monumental that statement is for me to make. I have thrown out the list of all my issues that need resolving before I can be worthy of love and happiness, before I can enjoy my life.

I’m just here, being me, enjoying my life without qualifiers.

Flashback Post: The Men I Dated

Four years ago I wrote a post about some of the men I dated. The really awful ones. I discovered this because I was about to write the same post. This is a pitfall of being a long-time blogger: You may have already told that story. Oops.

I’ve decided that since I’ve been blogging forever and have some old posts worthy of seeing the light of day, I’m going to do a series of flashback posts. For those of you who have been along for the ride a long time (thank you!), these might sound familiar but for the rest of you it’s a new story.

A Preface: Back in my dating days, I used to make up nicknames for the guys I  went out with. This was at the request of friends who were like: WE CANNOT KEEP ALL THESE GUYS STRAIGHT! PLEASE CREATE A SYSTEM! So yeah, I had a few periods of what I’ll call Extreme Dating. I went out on a lot of dates- sometimes just once, sometimes a couple times, some would stick for weeks or months. In between a few good guys came along but I would usually screw that up royally because I wasn’t really into liking myself back then and I manifested my low self-esteem with my poor choices in men.

Enjoy!

*******

I’ve taken to re-reading my old journals. All 16 of them.

It’s sort of like watching a horror movie where you are half-covering your eyes and screaming out to the lead actress: DON’T GO IN THERE! THAT’S WHERE THE KILLER IS! But of course, she goes. She always goes.

In my case though I feel like yelling: STEP AWAY FROM THE ASSHOLE! Damn, I really did date some serious wankers. And all the while I took it on as some sort of mission to understand and grow and enrich my life. Blargh. What a load of crap. I sure wasted a lot of time on men who were very bad for me all for the sake of “personal growth.”

The worst part of re-reading these journals is seeing how much energy I poured into relationships that went nowhere. Blind people probably saw they were not going anywhere and yet, I kept at it. I suppose it was not all in vain. I did become wiser (and a little jaded). And I’ve certainly honed my ability to sniff out a jackass. Finally, at almost 36, I can recognize and appreciate a nice guy.

At least I think I can.

If not, let me live the lie for a little while longer.

I thought I’d share some of the wieners winners:

The Guider– Um, this could potentially be too graphic for my blog (Hi! Mom!) but he was the kind of guy who “guided” you to his cock. ALL. THE. TIME. Jesus, enough already. I know where it is and I will visit when I feel like it.

The Krazy Korean– Hi, stalker. He brought me a bunch of “gifts” from 7-11 when he first met me and then within the first 10 minutes said, “I’ve been wanting to do this ever since I met you” and then promptly kissed me. Maybe that could be romantic in certain instances but it had only been TEN MINUTES. He then proceeded to call me at work when I never gave him my work number, show up unannounced repeatedly and tell me I had never dated a real man (until him, of course). Buh Bye.

Sweatpants– No man has ever made a compliment sound like a put down better than him.

Hairy Lizard– Maybe the first sign should have been that he wrote back to me from his on line profile when he was technically dating someone. (Why was it is still active?!) Maybe the second sign should have been that he told his girlfriend he was meeting up with some guy friend instead of me to see a concert in my town and then tried to dance all sexy up on me during the show. (It didn’t work.) Maybe when he was single weeks later and he finally kissed me I should have stopped right there. Because he kissed like a lizard.

Puff Daddy– Picture it: Me in my vintage 1940′s coat all gussied up and him, in an electric blue leather jacket, gold jewelry, gold sunglasses, driving up all smooth in his Cadillac. Within the first fifteen minutes as we rode up an escalator he tried to kiss me. When I pushed him back he said, “What? I’m just trying to get a little of your chapstick.” So I handed him the chapstick from my pocket and smiled. Side note: He ate sushi with a fork.

Self-Help Guru– This guy was a piece of work. He had a show on local access TV telling people how to live their lives fully. Every date was like visiting a life coach. He could do a wicked good Sean Connery impression though. Side note: Don’t simultaneously date guys who have one letter difference in their names because you will inadvertently call one by the other’s name possibly in the heat of a moment. D’oh! The end.

Pencil– The condom broke and after that he disappeared. Turned out he was seeing someone else after dating me for over a year. I had to find out from mutual friends who saw him with her. But with that break up came clarity, a loss of 60lbs and the end of my pot smoking days. Happy ending!

Mr. Grass– After a few weeks together he admitted he was a pot addict so while he was trying to get healthy we tried just being friends. That did not work. I believe at one point I said: How about we can the friends thing and just have sex? Priorities. I know. During the two separate times we “dated” he lived in the woods illegally or in his van. He also is the man who said to me once, “I don’t know what I’d say to someone if they commented on your body shape.” How about you say, “You are a shallow asshole”? Which is basically what I said to him.

King Ick– Do not get me started on this one. Years down the drain and multiple journals full of this King of the Horribles. Let’s just say that no one has ever made me feel more like a piece of shit than him. There is a reason I have referred to him as “the personification of my self-loathing.” Side note: He also lived in his van. Yes, that makes two homeless boyfriends. I AM A WINNER.

Mick– A one night stand that turned into a 6 month relationship. Proof positive I should avoid one night stands at all cost because I clearly do not know how to do them. Also, he was a pothead and hated himself and was probably a sex addict.  He would frequently punch walls, have complete freak outs and say horrible things to me out of his own self-hatred. He even fake cried when I broke up with him. FAKE CRIED.

And this is just a partial list!

Hangs head.

(originally posted as Wise Up on April 1, 2009)

 

Advice for a 1st time Mammogrammer

One of the perks of turning 40 is getting a mammogram. I say perk because I’m lying to you. I recently had my first mammogram and I feel it is my duty to tell you two things. Because before going to get my first exam, I’d only heard women reference the uncomfortableness of having your breast squished between two bits of machinery. That’s it. No one clued me in on what to wear to my appointment and as a person who likes to show up as prepared as possible it would have been super helpful.

Listen to me now, hear me later: A) You should wear pants or leggings to your appointment.

I was brought back to a changing area with dressing rooms and lockers. She handed me a gown and directed me to a room, looking at my bare legs, boots, and dress saying, “You can remove everything but your shoes, bra and underwear I guess.” I disrobed and donned the gown, leaving on my shoes which created quite a fashion statement. I secured my stuff in a locker and headed to the back waiting area where women sat reading magazines, waiting their turn to get their boobs squished examined. I sat down and immediately noticed that every other woman was either wearing pants or leggings under their gowns. OH! So by wearing a dress without leggings to my first mammogram appointment I had completely outed myself as a newbie. Or an exhibitionist. Ooops. I sat, feeling their eyes scan my bare legs, as I tried to read up on the latest celebrity gossip.

Sitting among the clothed-legged ladies wasn’t the biggest embarrassment of the appointment though. Because when they called my name and took me into the exam room, I realized that I would be standing for the entirety of the appointment in boots and underwear with a robe off one shoulder like some kind of sick stripper.

Important to also note: B) If you’re going to go bare-legged, at least have the decency to wear cute underwear.

Luck for me, my radiology tech was a smooth operator probably used to such rookie mistakes made by patients. And while the exam itself is uncomfortable, it wasn’t terrible. All those appointments with my gynecologist examining my cervix made the boob smooshing a relative breeze. I’ll take the boob machine over the stirrups any day. The exam basically consists of the tech taking your breast and sort of (wo)man-handle it into place on a cold, flat piece of machinery and then positioning your arm so they can clamp down the top of the machine onto your breast, making a boob pancake.

Side note: I did not want to eat pancakes after this experience.

It’s relatively quick and soon, you and your boobs are getting changed out of your robe and you’re off to enjoy the rest of your day where hopefully your boobs will get a rest from being handled. Unless you like that sort of thing and have sexy plans for the evening.

If you haven’t had a mammogram and you’re in your 40’s or have a family history of breast cancer: GET YOURSELF AN APPOINTMENT. Early detection is key and you know how I feel about early detection. And wear some pants to your appointment!

**My mammogram results came back clear, thankfully, because my cervix is problematic enough. I don’t also need boob problems.**

Workaholism

When I lived in The Cruz, one of the jobs I had was at an AIDS organization. I started out as the Volunteer Coordinator then got moved into writing grants when a boss deemed my skills worthy (I did not enjoy it but I liked getting a bigger paycheck). From there, other duties were added on and by the end I was the Director of Development, managing the grants, fundraising events, donors, and a handful of staff and a couple interns.

I worked all the time. The amount of work required of me in that position just fueled my workaholic tendencies. The organization was quite broken thanks to multiple Executive Directors who mismanaged and one who the biggest lying egomaniac I’ve ever met (but he’s a story for another day). I put 120% of myself into that job. Despite its many ups and downs, it taught me a lot about who I am as an employee and a leader.

That was the last job I had before I moved to Seattle. When I arrived here I had no job but had five weeks worth of savings. I applied many jobs and went on something like 12 interviews. I turned down jobs (clearly, it was a different job market seven years ago) because I wanted to be sure I was accepting a job that I could do well in, in an environment that would not require me to be a workaholic to prove my worth. I moved to Seattle to change my life and that meant changing my work habits.

We live in a culture that glorifies being a workaholic and being perpetually busy- two things I strive to NOT do anymore. So many people I know have their work email on their phone or check it when they are not on the clock, or worse, on vacation. YOU ARE ON  VACATION SO BE ON VACATION. (Remember back before the internet when people just went on vacation from work?) I do not think that because you’re always checking into work you are a better employee than me. I do excellent work in my position. I help raise millions of dollars. And when I go on vacation, I make sure my work is done or tasks are delegated so that I can BE ON VACATION. When I leave work for the day, I leave it there. Because I have a personal life. Because life is too short to work all the damn time. Because there are people who deserve my attention, including myself who deserves down time and the opportunity for self-care.

I do not admire people who can’t turn work off. I don’t think it makes them a better employee or harder worker or more important. I feel sad for them, actually, because there should be more to life than work. I’m lucky that I have a job that I am good at, that helps the world be a better place, doing work I (usually) enjoy, and that I can leave at the office. I don’t ever want to go back to my old workaholic ways. It didn’t make me a better worker and it definitely didn’t make me a better person.

What about you? Are you a workaholic or a recovering workaholic? What do you think about this?

“Enough”

I read some of my old journals the other day. You know, the kind where you use a pen and write words on paper. (I believe that’s considered retro now, that’s how old I have  become.) Entry after entry I talked about how I needed to lose weight. The pages were filled with body hatred and self-loathing, interspersed with boy drama. But the idea that I didn’t deserve love because I wasn’t thin, the notion that if I couldn’t get to a certain weight, nothing in my life would ever work out, was ever-present. It made me so sad to read. Because essentially I’ve spent my entire life feeling bad about my body.

I’m a week away from 40 and still haven’t figured out how to fully accept my size. I have wasted so much time and energy on this. I’ve been on every diet. I’ve been fatter; I’ve been thinner. I’ve gone to therapy. I’ve tried everything except self-acceptance. I would go out on a limb and say that one of the biggest regrets of my life is that I’ve never been able to look in the mirror and say, “I’m beautiful.”

The biggest bullshit lie I’ve ever swallowed is that thin equals beautiful. I’ve spent a lifetime unable to love myself or feel worthy of being loved because I am not thin “enough.” This message is delivered to us pretty much everywhere we look. I’ve found it reinforced in the media ad nauseum and in my relationships, particularly with some of the men I mistakenly chose to give my heart to. The guys who said I’d be “really hot” if I lost weight (but they’d still have sex with me) or who claimed they didn’t know what they’d say if a friend of theirs commented on my size (no one ever had) or who casually mentioned over dinner that his friends looked down on him because he dated me (because of my body) (I never met these friends and assume they were imaginary). I could go on but I don’t really want to fall into a shame spiral this early in the morning.

When I turned 30, I quit smoking. I was an “occasional smoker” I’d say, but then I was smoking on breaks at work and on my drive home and at parties and after dinner and well, I was a smoker. But on my 30th birthday I gave it up, finally, after many failed attempts. I thought about how I wanted to become a mom and be around for as long as I could for my kid I’d someday have and so I quit.

For my 40th birthday I’m giving myself another gift: I’m quitting body hatred. I’m not going to stop working out or eating vegetables or taking care of my health. I’m just going to drop the ridiculous guilt and shame cloud that I’ve lived my entire life under. My problem hasn’t been not knowing what to eat or how much to work out. Rather, I’ve been stuck in my body loathing, operating from a place of hate and embarrassment rather than self-love. It’s just that, you guys, I’m tired of feeling less than because I weigh more than someone told me I should. I’m fed up with it defining my worth. I’m over the bullshit and done living out the lie.

Happy birthday to me.

On Being Ready

When I was single, I used to curse my fate and wasted hours wondering why I couldn’t find someone to settle down with. For so many years I felt like not enough, an obvious outsider in the land of coupledom, the fifth wheel, that friend who was always going on dates but never really had a partner. But now that I am days away from marrying Mr. Darcy, almost three years into our relationship, I am glad it took me until I was 36 to find my Mr. Right and until I was 39 to get married.

You see, all that time I spent dating random guys (or as some would say “sowing my wild oats”), I learned a lot about myself, about relationships, and about love. So when I finally met Mr. Darcy, I was in a place where I was ready. I haven’t been bothered by any nagging regrets- did I live out my single days to their fullest? Why yes, yes I did. I have the stories to tell and the scars to prove it.

Every guy I dated before Mr. Darcy helped shape the woman I am today- for better or for worse- and I’m grateful for all of them, even the ones who broke my heart. Because in its breaking, I learned how resilient my heart is and it grew stronger every time. I have no regrets for the life I’ve led or the men I’ve shared it with. I even got lucky a few times and dated some really great guys who are now among my closest and best friends. In fact, three of them are coming to my wedding.

The other day as I walked through our old neighborhood, I kind of chuckled to myself. Six and a half years ago when I moved to Seattle, I wanted so desperately to fit into the scene there. The dirty emo hipsters with their tattoos and tight jeans and retro outfits, their late nights at bars and hangover breakfasts on Sundays. I wanted to be cool too. And maybe I was. Maybe I still am. But I realized then as I dodged smoking teens and street musicians and girls much younger, thinner, and hipper than I, that I’m so happy with my life. My suburban life with Mr. Darcy in a house we own, at jobs we like, surrounded by friends and family we love, the hope for a child alive inside of us, about to get married to one another. This is the dream I never thought would come true. It’s so much simpler than I ever thought and yet, more than I thought was possible for myself.

So many of you have been on this journey alongside me, reading my updates, and giving advice and support. It feels like forever ago and simultaneously like yesterday that I was lamenting my single life and my poor choices in men- so much so that my friends intervened with the Boyfriend Review Board. Remember that? Luckily Mr. Darcy (who was known as Bachelor #4 back then) passed with flying colors.

You guys? I’m getting married on Sunday. I can hardly believe this is happening to me.

Trying Hope & Worthiness On For Size

Sometimes I forget I have cancer. Like, hours will go by and I didn’t think about it. Those hours are a liberating while they exist but when I remember, I feel a metaphoric gut punch.

So that’s probably why I’ve been operating in a closed off mindset this past week. I’m not really allowing myself to feel anything about my cancer or my upcoming surgery. I’m on auto-pilot. It’s almost like I’ve settled into this new normal in which I am a person who has cancer. It’s still weird to say, “I have cancer.” It feels a little like cheating because I’m not sick outwardly. I don’t feel like I deserve to go around claiming it when there are people hooked up to chemo, losing their hair, battling fatigue and puking and not being able to work or play with their kids. I know I said we shouldn’t compare our worst things and here I am doing just that. I never said I wasn’t a hypocrite.

The surgery next Wednesday isn’t scaring me like last time probably because it’s a known thing to me now. I know where to go, what to expect, trust the hospital to deliver great care, and understand the process. I wouldn’t say I am looking forward to it but more that I want to move through this next part of surgery and recovery to get to the results part. As much as I am terrified of what the results will be, I have to face it.

But still, I’m having trouble really feeling hopeful. I feel like saying that out loud is a total jinx but it’s my current truth. I learned growing up that hoping just got you hurt. I’m trying to learn that you can hope and still get disappointing news and that doesn’t mean the hoping was hopeless. Does that make sense? Hope is a powerful tool to keep ones spirits afloat. It gives lightness to a heavy thing. It’s important to have, especially when shitty things are happening but the hardest to grasp when you’re in the muck of all the shit. I’m working on this daily though I don’t know if I’ll ever be “good” at it.

Another thing I’m not sure I’ll ever be “good” at is fully grasping that I matter to people just by being me. Take a look at this:

Cards of love and encouragement.

These cards that hang in my meditation room are a constant reminder that people care about me. Each one lifts my spirits and makes me pause to consider how I’ve been living under false assumptions.

In therapy, I work a lot on my sense of self-worth. I’ve operated under the notion that I had to do certain things or behave in particular ways, and hell, even look certain ways (thin) to be worthwhile. I’ve struggle with feeling worthy of love pretty much my entire life. And then the doctor finds some cancer in my cervix and WHAM! I’m flooded with love from friends near and far, friends that I only known through the internet, old friends I haven’t spoken to since elementary or high school who somehow remember me so clearly and so fondly – all which forces me to look at myself in a new way.

Sometimes I feel like Stuart Smalley with my “gosh darn it people like me!” realization. Other times I joke that this must be what attending your own funeral is like. I know it’s morbid but seriously, when else do you get to receive this kind of outpouring of love? It’s bigger and deeper than any birthday celebration.

I’m trying to digest all this. That I do impact people in a positive way. That I do matter to people (some of whom I’ve never met in person). That I am important in this world just by being little old me. I hate that I had to get cervical cancer to learn some of these important life lessons but I’m grateful nonetheless to be able to see myself and the world with new eyes and a more open heart.

I will always have fears, but I need not be my fear, for I have other places within myself from which to speak and act. -Parker J. Palmer

It’s Moving Day

Today is The Day.

Last night after packing for upwards of 8 hours (interspersed with a trip to our house and subsequently breaking our back door knob), I lost it. As in I broke down crying while attempting to help Mr. Darcy roll up a rug.

Seeing our apartment boxed up, the curtains taken down, the dust bunnies the size of Dash, shook me. I dislike chaos and miss the comfort of my routine. I spent 4 years making this apartment into a home and the prospect of starting over in a bigger place that we own is daunting. Eventually I will hopefully just feel excitement but right now I feel sad and a little lost.

I know it’s time to move on. Just like when I lived in The Cruz and decided to move here. It was hard to leave and I felt many mixed emotions but it was the best choice of my life. Look it where it led me? To this- engaged to a sweetheart, buying a house together, and planning our wedding. All my dreams are coming true. I’m so immensely grateful even while I am completely freaking out.

Speaking Truth, Facing Fear

One of the things that is hard about changing yourself is that you have to figure out how to be in relationship with people in a new way. This can prove to be especially challenging when it comes to relationships that have been around a long time. If the changes you’ve made upset the general make up of the status quo in the relationship, you’re going to need to have a chat with them. Or, you could just avoid the relationship. Which, telling you from experience, will only work for a short period of time and then you’re probably going to have to suck it up and talk.

You see, I have this mental list of people I need to have a sit down with. A Relationship Summit type of talk if you will. Because I no longer feel like I can comfortably exist in the confines of the relationship without speaking up about the truth of my feelings and my heart’s hope for the future of our relationship.

Am I looking forward to doing this? Um, no. Absolutely not. I’m pretty much postponing it for as long as I can and/or avoiding any deep conversation with these folks. I figure I will a) eventually get so uncomfortable, I will be forced to do it or b) they will call me out on being weird/different and I can’t lie my way out of it (Note: I am a terrible liar) or c) I find my bravery and just do it. C would be preferable.  Now if I could only find my bravery.

This weekend my mom and I had lunch. I will admit I was anxious about it because from my perspective, my mom and I have not been getting along for a couple of months years. Lately, I’ve been avoiding having any one-on-one time with her in an effort to keep a hard conversation at bay. I didn’t want to hurt her. I didn’t want to get hurt. Blah, blah, blah. I had a lot of reasons but really it all boiled down to fear.

My relationship with my mom isn’t one I go into here very often. She reads my blog (hi mom) and for the most part, I’ve found it easier to talk about my other parent, the one who passed away 19 years ago. I’ve spent a long time in the throes of my grief over my relationship with my dad and it’s just recently that I feel a sense of acceptance and peace with it which I guess is why I now feel like I can face my relationship with my mom.

Basically, my mom and I have some deep stuff to work out and there was no way it was going to get better or we were going to have the closeness I (we) want without a heart-to-heart. I’ve spent most of my life putting up a barrier between my family and me as a way of keeping me safe because I didn’t feel emotionally safe in the family. I acted like I had it covered, that I was strong, that I didn’t need anyone when in truth what I wanted and needed was the exact opposite. I have come off as angry and ferociously independent to the point that it has alienated me from them. My mom has given me space because she didn’t know what else to do. To her it seemed like that is what I wanted and that I didn’t like her or being around her.

The last thing I wanted was space. I can admit that now and did so to my mom over salads at a restaurant where hits from my high school years played over the speakers and I tried to hide that I was crying from the other diners.

I didn’t want that space. I wanted my mom to see I was hurting and stuck under a burden of pain that I didn’t know how to give voice to. My mom did the best she could in a difficult situation. I can empathize with her, especially now as a grown up trying to have a successful, healthy relationship with Mr. Darcy. Through tears we managed to talk through some very difficult subject matter. I really can’t recall ever telling my mom that my feelings were hurt before- maybe when I was a kid but not as an adult. But there I was, saying it, while “Tainted Love” played.

The thing is- I want to have a good relationship with my mom. I want us to enjoy each other. I don’t want to waste any more time being angry about stuff that can’t be changed. It turns out I just needed my mom to hear I was hurt and for her to acknowledge it and say “I’m sorry”. I don’t know if I could have had that conversation any earlier as much as I wish I hadn’t wasted time being mad or feeling hurt. Everything happens in its own time, right? I’m just grateful that we took that first step towards healing. I hope we can both continue to work on our relationship and have fun together again.

I’m pondering the other conversations I need to have and trying to work up the courage to start them. If I ultimately want closeness with people it’s going to take me being vulnerable and brave. I’m going to have to speak up. I’m going to have to acknowledge my feelings and my behavior. Because if I really am different, than this is part of the new me.